WM PPV Countdown #24 – WrestleMania XI

WrestleMania has always relied on celebrity involvement. It is what makes it stand apart as a wrestling supercard and the involvement of people such as Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper and Muhammad Ali at the inaugural event set the standard for events to come. So in 1995 when the WWF struck a deal with NFL superstar Lawrence Taylor it looked as if they struck gold. Unfortunately it just fell flat.

At the Royal Rumble months before WrestleMania, Bam Bam Bigelow got into a ringside altercation with LT, which led to a singles match between the two signed for WrestleaMania. Bigelow was surrounded by “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase and his Million $ Corporation, which led LT to recruit a group of NFL all-pros to watch his back. The match ended up being far better than anyone expected as Taylor had clearly done some wrestling training and his natural athletic ability carried him through the rest. It has been called one of the best “celebrity” matches in wrestling history, and with good reason. Unfortunately while it was good as a sideshow attraction, it was actually built up as the night’s main event, over the company’s real performers.

LT and Bigelow delivered better than expected, but it left the rest of the card underwhelming. The long standing rivalry between Razor Ramon and Jeff Jarrett over the Intercontinental Title ending in a bad disqualification ending, which made sure the rivalry would continue for months thereafter. Main eventers Davey Boy Smith and Lex Luger were relegated to the opening tag team match, Undertaker continued his run of battling plodding overweight monsters with a win over King Kong Bundy and Bret Hart defeated Bob Backlund in a terribly boring I Quit match, that while ended their long standing rivalry, was made even worse by the poor officiating of Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Long time friends Diesel and Michaels did their best in the semi main event and had a petty solid match, easily the best of the night. But with Michaels in his first major pay per view main event and playing the wily villain against the monster hero Diesel the match felt off, and it was obvious Michaels would not emerge victorious. They would go on to have much better matches in the future with the roles reversed where Michaels as the courageous underdog and Diesel was the evil monster.

The one fun surprise of the night was the surprise return of Yokozuna as the mystery partner of Owen Hart. It successfully transitioned Yokozuna out of the main event and into a solid mid-card role while still making him appear as a major threat. Plus the dichotomy of Owen picking one of his brother Bret’s most hated rivals, someone who had beaten him numerous times, was a fun link to the Hart brothers’ long standing rivalry.

Match Results:
– The Allied Powers (Lex Luger & Davey Boy Smith) beat Jacob & Eli Blu.
– Razor Ramon beat Jeff Jarrett (c) by disqualification in an Intercontinental Championship match.
– The Undertaker pinned King Kong Bundy.
– Owen Hart & Yokozuna beat The Smokin’ Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) (c) to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships.
– Bret “Hit Man” beat Bob Backlund in an I Quit Match. Rowdy Roddy Piper was the special guest referee.
– Diesel (c) pinned Shawn Michaels in a WWF World Championship match.
– Lawrence Taylor pinned Bam Bam Bigelow.

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