So, how did the WWF TOP one of the best Wrestlemanias in recent memory???
They didn’t. Instead, they went from Madison Square Garden to the Hartford Civic Center. THEN, they enlisted Bam Bam Bigelow to carry the thing. Bam Bam Bigelow.
The man who, last year, took on a clown and his midget clown and tag teamed with his psychotic girlfriend to do it.
The main event, by the way, was Shawn Michaels facing Diesel for the WWF Championship.
And Bam Bam Bigelow vs. former football player and rapist, Lawrence Taylor was considered to be a better-sounding match.
As always, the facts were these:
- Tatanka was now a heel, part of the “Million Dollar Corporation” in a convoluted feud with Lex Luger wherein Tatanka thought that Luger had “sold out” to the Million Dollar Man. Turns out DiBiase was paying Tatanka to accuse him of these things. Why? Don’t know. Anyhow, Tatanka turned heel and that was that. He and Bigelow would team up at the Royal Rumble for the WWF Tag Team Titles. But they lost. Lawrence Taylor was, apparently, at ringside and taunted Bigelow after the match. This didn’t sit well with Taylor and two would feud all the way up to Wrestlemania. Did I say this match sounded stupid? That’s because it IS stupid.
- Razor Ramon would lose the WWF Intercontinental Championship to Diesel a month later on WWF Superstars after Shawn Michaels interfered in the match. He would go to King of the Ring and get eliminated in the third round by Owen Hart. His feud with Diesel, however, would carry on until SummerSlam when the future tag team and good friends would face off with the title at stake. Ramon would win it again in this match after Michaels, aiming a Superkick at Ramon, hit his friend, Diesel, instead. From then on, Ramon would captain a team at Survivor Series and end up in a feud against Jeff Jarrett who would go on to challenge Ramon for the IC Title. He would win it at the Royal Rumble after “The Roadie” (a short-lived “manager” for Jeff Jarrett) would take out Ramon’s knee from behind, ending the match in a countout. Jarrett, angry that the interference backfired, challenged Ramon to get back in the ring and restart the match. Ramon did so and ended up losing the title after a botched Razor’s Edge. They would square off here, at Wrestlemania, with Ramon getting another shot at the title.
- After the Tag Team titles went back and forth between Men on a Mission and The Quebecers, The Headshrinkers would win the titles and retain them for four months before Shawn Michaels and Diesel would beat them and get the titles. Because of the fore-mentioned botched Superkick, the two stopped functioning as a team. The Tag Titles were vacated accordingly. This resulted in a tournament for all tag teams who qualified to win the titles. The 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly would win the titles in this tournament and lose them a day later on Monday Night RAW a new team called “The Smoking Gunns”, a tag team with a cowboy gimmick. The two would defend against Owen Hart…and a mystery partner to be announced at Wrestlemania.
- The WWF Championship would trade hands once the inexplicable Bob Backlund would get into a feud for the title with Bret Hart. The two would face off in a “throw in the towel” match. The rules for this were that Owen and The British Bulldog would be in Backlund and Hart’s corners, respectively. At any time, during the match, either corner guy felt their competitor was finished, they would throw in the towel for their man, ending the match entirely. There was no pinfall, submission, or DQ. At one point, Bulldog would become incapacitated and Hart was trapped in the Chickenwing Crossface by Backlund. Because the rule stated that the only way to submit was due to someone throwing in the towel, Bret’s brother Owen began to fake like he was concerned and begged his parents (at ringside) to throw in the towel in Smith’s absence. At first, they wouldn’t do it but as the hold continued for eight straight minutes, his mother, Helen, finally did it. That wouldn’t hold. Three days later, after he had become a face, Diesel beat Backlund in eight seconds at a house show in New York to become the brand new WWF Champion. He would, in turn, defend the title against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XI.
In other WWF news:
- The Undertaker would make a return to action after Yokozuna beat him in the Casket Match at the Royal Rumble. After Wrestlemania X, Ted DiBiase claimed that he was in contact with the Undertaker and would be able to produce him. He did…and the Undertaker was back. However, this Undertaker was a heel. A week later, Paul Bearer confronted this new Undertaker and said that he wasn’t the real one and that he, too, had the Undertaker and would reproduce him. A match was announced at SummerSlam: The Undertaker vs….The Undertaker. In real life, DiBiase’s Undertaker was played by wrestler Brian Lee. Mark Callaway, the REAL Undertaker, would make his return at SummerSlam. At first, it looked like Paul Bearer had nothing but a casket rolled down to the ring with him. But then he opened the casket, and removed a giant urn…he opened the urn and light poured from it, fog would hit the arena…the lights went out and the Undertaker appeared at the entrance. He was slightly taller than the “Evil” Undertaker and to distinguish him from that Undertaker, instead of grey gloves and pant legs, he wore purple. The first person on his hitlist was, of course, Yokozuna, who he beat in a Return Casket Match with the help of Chuck Norris as his “enforcer”. For some reason, King Kong Bundy thought it was a great idea to return and become part of Ted DiBiase’s “Corporation”. DiBiase, furious at The Undertaker taking out HIS Undertaker, would send Bundy to take out the real one. The two would face off here.
- Lex Luger would go from headliner to the tag team world, teaming with The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. After feuding with Tatanka, Luger would team up with The Bulldog to face DiBiase’s Corporation consisting of Bam Bam and Tatanka…but not at Wrestlemania. So help me god…they faced off against “The Blu Brothers”. And I wish this was a gimmick where the opponents had a Blues Brothers thing going on. That would, at least, be fun. No…these guys were…something…big dudes who resembled Grizzly Adams and managed by a guy who looked like a backwoods reject. This was what the WWF had for Luger. It’s no wonder he left.
- Finally, Bret Hart, after dropping the title to Backlund back in November, challenged him to a rematch. This time, there would be a special guest referee in Rowdy Roddy Piper and the match would be won by making the other person say “I quit”.
And here we go…
We get looks at the first ten Wrestlemania events just in case we had forgotten. Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Nicolas Tuturro, Salt n’ Pepa, and Johnathan Taylor Thomas would be the superstars this year. Somehow, every single one of those celebs sounds more enticing than half the matches on the card.
This year, Vince McMahon enlisted the aid of Special Olympian Kathy Huey to sing America, the Beautiful. It’s way out of tune but she has a helluva voice. She gets a nice round of applause. Good job.
Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler are at ringside for the second straight year.
MATCH #1: The Allied Powers (Lex Luger & The British Bulldog) vs. The Blu Brothers (Jacob and Eli) (w/ Uncle Zebekiah)
The match is a pretty fast-moving tag team match and not bad, considering the competitors but ends weirdly. Luger hits his patented forearm on one of the brothers. His twin takes his place and Luger hits the pin. The guy kicks out of it and tries to go for a piledriver. Bulldog jumps off the top rope and hits a sunset flip on the Blu brother but doesn’t look like he tags Luger on the way in. The ref counts the pin.
WINNERS: Allied Powers via Sunset Flip pin
GRADE: D+. Starts well. Not wrestled well. Doesn’t end well. Not a promising start.
Post-match, Jim Ross interviews Zebekiah who is angry that the match went the way it did.
- After this match, The Blu Brothers would leave the WWF and return in 1996, only to leave in 1999. They would make appearances in the WCW, ECW, TNA and also wrestle independently.
- Lex Luger, after failing to win the tag titles with the British Bulldog, would separate from his partner after the two became sick of each other (kayfabe). He would leave the WWF later in the year and wrestle for WCW until 2001. In 2003, he joined TNA but would leave and go into semi-retirement, making one more return there in 2006. In 2011, he resigned with the WWF but doesn’t wrestle and currently manages behind the scenes.
Backstage, Nicholas Turturro is backstage with Pam Anderson and a few other superstars from the WWF. Mic issues, however, force the event to go back out to the ring. This happened earlier with America, the Beautiful.
MATCH #2: Razor Ramon (challenger) (w/ The 1-2-3 Kid) vs. Jeff Jarrett (champion) (w/ The Roadie) for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
We see footage of the build-up to this match. We get the 1-2-3 Kid backstage with Razor Ramon…and HE’S having mic issues as well. Ramon sounds irritated and says “Let’s go”. The match is incredible and is incredibly exciting. Jarrett is an incredibly skilled and talented wrestler and Ramon matches well against him. The match is back-and-forth with some incredible moves and near-falls. The match ends cheaply when Ramon hits the Razor’s Edge and the Roadie interferes, causing a DQ. Jarrett retains.
WINNER: Razor Ramon via DQ
GRADE: B-. Decent match but another fucking stupid ending.
Post-match, The 1-2-3 Kid takes out both Jarrett and The Roadie with a flying spin kick. This lights up the crowd BIG-TIME. This kid could fly and had so much energy. It ends when Jarrett jumps the Kid from behind and the Roadie holds the Kid in place so he can’t escape. Ramon makes the same and Jarrett runs off with his title.
- Jeff Jarrett would leave the WWF for the WCW later in the year but return in 1997.
- The Roadie would leave the WWF but return in 1996 as “Road Dogg” Jesse James.
- The 1-2-3 Kid would continue to wrestle in the WWF until mid-1996. After this, he would leave and sign with the WCW. Calling himself “Syxx”, he would become a big part of the nWo but return to the WWF in 1998 as part of “Degeneration X”.
- Ramon was supposed to compete in Wrestlemania 12 but had HUGE problems with drug abuse and would leave in 1996 and sign with WCW. He was a major part of the nWo and assumed his real name, “Scott Hall”, teaming with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash (formerly Diesel). He would return to the WWF in 2002.
MATCH #3: The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. King Kong Bundy (w/ “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase)
I might point out that Bundy holds the record for “fastest pin” – nine seconds. King says that they’re still having audio problems. Vince says, “Oh, yeah?” King says, “Yeah, I can still hear YOU.” Heh. Hooray! The Wrestlemania return of the Undertaker! His last match was complete garbage if you remember correctly. This is different. The Special Guest Referee is Larry Young, an American League umpire. DiBiase, I might add, has the Undertaker’s urn. That was part of the angle that I forgot to mention. This is your typical Undertaker match – the hard clotheslines, the Old School move off the middle of the top rope, the uppercuts, it’s a welcome sight. Near the beginning of the match, The Undertaker is clotheslined outside. He bumps into DiBiase who is backing away from Paul Bearer. The Undertaker simply takes the urn away and hands it to Bearer. DiBiase calls out Kama who kicks Bearer’s ass and takes the urn back. The Undertaker NEARLY gets it back but Bundy interferes and Kama runs away with it. He tells Jim Ross that he’s gonna melt it down and make it into a necklace. Meanwhile, Bundy just gets the upper hand and chokes the Undertaker. The match sloooooows down here. I cannot believe, 11 years later, that Vince McMahon and talents booking the matches didn’t realize that long holds really aren’t exciting in undercard matches. The match ends with The Undertaker slamming Bundy and finishing him with a Flying Clothesline.
WINNER: The Undertaker via Flying Clothesline
GRADE: D+. I’m glad that the Undertaker took on some better opponents after this. The Undertaker went 4-0, at this point, at Wrestlemania.
Post-match, The Undertaker goes after Bundy and DiBiase but Bearer holds him back. The Undertaker asks about the urn but Bearer hangs his head and shakes it. The Undertaker still hails Bearer as he always does.
Backstage, Turturro is still looking for Pam Anderson and runs into Steve McMichaels and LT’s “All-Pro Team”. Then runs into Mr. Backlund and Jonathan Taylor Thomas playing chess. Backlund goes apeshit and leaves after Thomas beats him.
Owen Hart comes out to the ring
MATCH #4: Owen Hart & Yokozuna (challengers) (w/ James Cornette and Mr. Fuji) vs. The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) (champions) for the WWF Tag Team Championship
Billy and Bart Gunn. Boy, this failed big-time, as popular as they were. I don’t know what possessed the WWF to have the Gunns drop the titles to Owen and Yokozuna. Owen was accomplished but Yokozuna’s popularity and run was coming to an end. The match is actually pretty good with Yokozuna carrying a good part of it in Owen’s absence. The end comes with Yokozuna hitting the Banzai Drop. Owen gets tagged in after Yokozuna clotheslines the other Gunn out of the ring. He just simply pins the incapacitated Gunn for the win and the titles.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: Owen Hart & Yokozuna via Banzai Drop
GRADE: D+. This isn’t looking good at all.
- The Gunns would soon enlist the help of Sunny, a fun little blonde manager whose intent was to break them up. In 1996, this came to fruition and Gunns would go on to compete in singles competition.
After the match, Vince shows a small blimp flying around the top of the arena. It’s photographing the ring and crowd.
Bam Bam is with Todd Pettengill who, somehow, went on for three years with this company. Bam Bam says that LT disrespected him and he will take LT down.
MATCH #5: Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Bob Backlund with special guest referee Rowdy Roddy Piper in an “I Quit” Match
Piper is out first. Backlund out next. Bret out last. This match is…surprisingly dull. It’s comprised of the two men trading submission holds and Piper sticking a mic in the suffering competitor’s face every ten seconds, asking if he quits. Backlund is a goofball, plain and simple. He’s WAY past his prime and he looks really idiotic, trying to put a Crossface on Bret, looking a lot like a man who is scaring his cats every single time he does it. It’s fucking ridiculous. Plus Piper doesn’t help things – Backbreaker (WHAT DO YOU SAY? – No.) Punch, knockdown (WHAT DO YOU SAY? – No.) Toss into turnbuckle (WHAT DO YOU SAY? – No.) Slap (WHAT DO YOU SAY? – No.) I mean, come on…there’s no real reason for Piper to even be in this match, as much as I love him. The end comes when Backlund applies the Crossface. Bret reverses. Piper asks if he quits but you cannot hear an answer. Piper calls the match for Hart. Meh. Can’t believe the match ends like this. Boring.
WINNER: Bret Hart via submission
GRADE: F. Seriously. I cannot believe I just rated a Hart match this low with the skill these two men possess.
Post-match, Hart celebrates. Jim Ross interviews Backlund who talks about seeing lights or some such bullshit.
Backstage, Nicholas Turturro says that Pamela Anderson has left the building for some reason. Welcome to Vague-amania.
More audio troubles abound as Todd Pettengill has no audio in his mic. He gets one that works and interviews Diesel.
MATCH #6: Diesel (champion) (w/ Pamela Anderson) vs. Shawn Michaels (challenger) (w/ Sid and Jenny McCarthy) for the WWF Championship
Out first is the guest timekeeper, Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Next is the guest ring announcer, Nicholas Turturro. Turturro announces the arrival of Shawn Michaels who is arm-in-arm with Jenny McCarthy and has Sid behind him. Diesel comes out next…then motions behind him…out comes Pamela Anderson who hooks his arm and walks to the ring with him. The two bimbos are stupid women who belong in the kitchen so they don’t do anything but sit there while the men do all the REAL work that women can’t. The match is pretty good in that Diesel is just huge but has strength and flexibility. Plus Michaels plays well against him. Diesel isn’t that big, dumb champion that Hogan is. He actually utilizes his strength well and is a damn good brawler. The match has so many near-falls where Michaels nearly has the titles and so many reversals where Diesel powers out of a finesse move that Michaels has him in. Even when Diesel gets the upper hand, it’s not like he’s Hulk Hogan where he starts to no-sell a bunch of moves. The match goes rogue when Sid injures the referee and Shawn hits the Superkick. He covers…but there’s no ref. When he finally DOES get in there, it’s BARELY a two-count. Sid cuts off the turnbuckle and tells Shawn to send Diesel into it. Instead, Diesel counters with a back suplex, causing both men to go down hard. Shawn goes and pins Diesel but only gets two. Michaels goes off the top rope and Diesel catches him, hitting a sidewalk slam. Diesel slingshots Michaels into the exposed turnbuckle and Michaels is out. This is where the end comes. Diesel hits his patented big boot and signals for the Jackknife. He hits one that Michaels has a tough time selling but Diesel covers, getting the pin. Good match.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Diesel
GRADE: B-. Not bad.
Michaels’ record at Wrestlemania is 2-5…he’d have one more Wrestlemania to go before finally hitting the big time…
Post-match, Diesel invites both women and the male celebs into the ring to celebrate the victory.
Todd Pettengill is backstage with Michaels and Sid. The two are pissed.
MATCH #7: Lawrence Taylor (w/ The All-Pro Team – Ken Norton Jr., Chris Spielman, Rickey Jackson, Carl Banks, Steve McMichael, & Reggie White) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Ted DiBiase & The Corporation – Tatanka, Kama, Volkoff, IRS, & King Kong Bundy)
The NFL is back in the WWF. The last time, if you will recall, is when the NFL and WWF would butt heads in the big battle royal at Wrestlemania 2. All the NFL guys come out last and all hell breaks loose. Bam Bam Bigelow is out next. He taunts Salt n’ Pepa for some reason. Lawrence Taylor is out next. The dude is huge. Pat Patterson is the special referee here. Bam Bam shoves LT and LT just decks Bam Bam. The match is on. Surprisingly, LT has some ring smarts in this match. Not only does LT have some incredible moves here, he also has strength and power to go with it. When was the last time you saw somebody toss BBB around this much. The storytelling is pretty good with LT getting tired of BBB’s cowardice and walking outside to confront, not only BBB, but the ENTIRE CORPORATION. That was pretty cool. Whereas LT carries the first part, BBB carries the next part, pounding LT and putting him in a Boston Crab as well as a leglock, both of which are broken when LT gets to the ropes. Bigelow does hit his big moonsault but hurts his knee on the way down and only gets a two-count. Taylor reverses a back body drop from Bigelow and turns it into a pseudo-gut wrench suplex. Bigelow hits a cartwheel kick, then, later on, a flying headbutt but only gets two. This is when Taylor takes over and hits a huge forearm into Bigelow’s face twice. The end comes when Taylor hits a Flying Forearm to the head and gets the pin. A decent, underrated match for what it was.
WINNER: Lawrence Taylor via Flying Forearm
GRADE: B+. Not a bad main event at all.
- Tatanka would leave the WWF in 1996 citing “family and spiritual issues”. At the time, the WCW was really gaining on (and, at times, surpassing) the WWF in terms of show quality, talent and entertainment value and offered Chris Chavis (Tatanka) a very lucrative contract. Chavis did NOT take it and would wrestle independently until 1998. In 2005, he would make a return to the WWE but was only featured in minor matches on WWE Smackdown. Citing schedule issues, he asked for a release from the WWE in 2007 and got it. He would go on to wrestle independently until 2010 when he made a one-time guest appearance on Monday Night RAW. Tatanka still wrestles from time to time and has expressed interest in making another comeback but has yet to return again.
- Bam Bam Bigelow would leave the WWF later in the year and, for the next five years, would wrestle with WCW and ECW from 1996 to 2001. He would wrestle independently in 2002 to 2006. In his time after ECW and WCW, Bigelow had his troubles outside the ring. He would relocate to an undisclosed spot upon his retirement. Ironically, four years after saving children from a burning building, leading to 40 percent of his body being burnt to a crisp, he would endanger a child with reckless driving. He also was found in possession of marijuana. A year later, he and his girlfriend were out, riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and would get into a crash. Bigelow had minor injuries while his girlfriend was listed in “critical condition”. Had she not made a full recovery, Bigelow might have been charged with homicide. In 2007, his girlfriend found him at home, in Florida, dead. His autopsy uncovered several drugs in his system including anti-anxiety drugs and toxic levels of Cocaine. He was only 45 years old.
- Nikolai Volkoff would leave the WWF following his run as a part of DiBiase’s corporation. He would return to the WWF six years later in a Gimmick Battle Royal and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
- Mike Rotunda AKA IRS, would move back to being a singles wrestler after DiBiase quit his wrestling career. He would wrestle in several minor storylines and work in PPV events until 1995 before going back to WCW as “Michael Wallstreet”. He would continue to wrestle there until 2000, when he would wrestle with All Japan Pro Wrestling. He would call it a career in 2004 to help manage his wife’s security company. He was hired back at the WWE in 2006 as a road agent where he would make several small appearances for the next few years on WWE TV.
- King Kong Bundy would leave the WWF later in the year and wrestle independently. He would make small appearances on TV Shows and in movies.
- Charles Wright AKA Kama (and formerly, Papa Shango) would leave the WWF early in 1996 and return in 1997 for a third gimmick…
That’s it. A decent event. Nothing special. Wrestling was in a sort of decline and WCW was becoming more and more of a fly in the ointment at this point with Hogan’s heel turn working FOR the company and not against it.
OVERALL: B-. Man, if only that Hart match was good.)
Let’s see what happens in Wrestlemania 12…