After thinking about it for a while, Iâ€™ve decided to change some of the style of my reviews. Instead of using the â€œgradingâ€ system, Iâ€™m going to go back to the star rating system because I think itâ€™s a system that most readers can relate to better. Iâ€™ve had a few e-mail me that they are not sure what constitutes a C or what constitutes a D-, etc. Similarly, instead of giving a show a grade at the end, Iâ€™ll just go with the thumbs up/thumbs down rating. This way, youâ€™ll know what shows are worth your time and which are not. The rest of the content of the reviews wonâ€™t change, though, so Iâ€™m just making some minor tweaks.
-A small video package shows highlights from WrestleMania I.
-Little Richard, with the help of a local church choir, sings America the Beautiful.
-Vince McMahon and Jerry â€œthe Kingâ€ Lawler are in the booth and they are live from New York City. This is the first WrestleMania that has commentary from McMahon and Lawler.
-A video package recaps the Bret Hart-Owen Hart feud.
-Opening Contest: Owen Hart vs. Bret â€œthe Hitmanâ€ Hart:
This is Bretâ€™s first match of the evening because he will be facing the winner of the Yokozuna-Lex Luger WWF title match in the main event. From a booking standpoint, I understand why Owen and Bret went on first, but isnâ€™t it unfair to Yokozuna as the reigning champion to have to fight in the middle of the evening and only get one hour of rest? When the ring announcer says â€œCalgary, Alberta Canadaâ€ the crowd pops huge, but itâ€™s Owen who makes the first entrance and that shuts them up. Bret gives his shades to an ungrateful fan at ringside, who sticks his tongue out after receiving them.
A mat wrestling sequence starts things and Bret uses his momentum to send Owen to the floor. Back in, Owen slaps Bret and hides in the ropes before Bret can get it on like Donkey Kong. An Owen blind charge sees Bret float over and roll him up for two. Bret clotheslines Owen over the top rope and slaps Owen and schoolboys him for two. A crucifix gets two. However, Owen catches Bret with a spinning heel kick and he stomps Bret to the floor. Owen goes to work on the back and a belly-to-belly suplex gets two. Owen hits a reverse body press off the second rope, but Bret rolls through it and gets a fluke two count. Owen goes for a slam, but Bret falls on top of him for two. Owen hits a German suplex for two and leg drops the back of Bretâ€™s head for two. Bret counters a suplex with a small package for two. Owen flips out of a backbreaker attempt and hits a Tombstone piledriver, which is okay because the Undertaker isnâ€™t on this show, but a flying headbutt off the top rope misses and we have a double KO. Bret catches Owen with an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline for two. A side Russian leg sweep gets two. A backbreaker and the second rope elbow drop that never gets a three count gets two and Bret predictably complains about the count. Owen hits an enziguri and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Bret goes to the eyes and tries his Sharpshooter, but Owen flips out of that. Owen rolls Bret up for two and the kick out sends Owen to the floor, where Bret hits a pescado and hurts his knee. Back in, Owen goes right after the knee, which McMahon tries to associate with poor sportsmanship. Owen applies a figure-four, which gets a couple of two counts, but Bret turns the hold over and gets into the ropes to force a break. Wrestlers need to study how Bret sold that figure-four because they could learn a lot from it. Owen tries to go back after the knee so Bret hits his own version of the enziguri, which I havenâ€™t seen before or since, and he leg drops Owen for two. A bulldog gets two. A piledriver gets two. A superduperplex gets two as the crowd now believes that any near-fall may end the match. Bret applies a sleeper, but Owen gets in the ropes and uses a mule kick to escape. Owen applies the Sharpshooter and Bret taps out, but this isnâ€™t 1997 so it doesnâ€™t matter. Bret powers out and applies the Sharpshooter, but Owen is just inches from the ropes and grabs them to force a break. An Owen blind charge eats boot and Bret goes for a victory roll, but Owen shifts his weight and stops Bret halfway through the hold to get the shocking pin at 20:20. The crowd is completely shocked at the finish. People probably already knew what I was going to rate this match, but if you like technical wrestling this one is for you. Rating: *****
-Todd Pettengill interviews Owen and Owen says that now heâ€™ll start getting the recognition he deserves and that Bret wonâ€™t be winning the WWF title later in the evening.
-Our WrestleMania 2 moment is the â€œawesomeâ€ 20 man battle royal.
-Sy Sperling, the president of the Hair Club for Men, introduces Howard Finkel, who now has hair. Finkel assumes announcing duties for the rest of the evening.
-Mixed Tag Team Match: Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink:
Bigelow pulled the anti-Bundy between WrestleManiaâ€™s X and XI as he went from wrestling midgets to the main event. Of course, he also went of the company by WrestleMania XII too. Doink squirts Sy Sperling with water during his entrance and Bigelow attacks him before the bell. Bigelow misses a splash and an elbow drop, so Doink tags Dink, who teases a confrontation with Bigelow, but Luna gets the tag. Dink does some sexual harassment, so Luna pounds away. Luna misses a dive on Dink when heâ€™s over the second rope and Dink drops an elbow for two. Dink runs circles around Luna so she just kicks him in the mid-section, which gets a small pop from the crowd, and then avoids a top rope dive. Luna slams Dink and goes for a top rope splash, but thereâ€™s nobody home and Doink and Bigelow are tagged in. Bigelow clotheslines Doink over the top rope and Lawler talks about WrestleMania IX and how other Doinks might show up, whereby McMahon sternly comments that there is only one Doink. Back in, a Bigelow blind charge eats boot and Doink DDTâ€™s Bigelow. Doink goes for a Whoopie Cushion, but Bigelow moves. When Bigelow runs the ropes, he collides with Dink and Doink goes for a side suplex, but Bigelow falls on top of him for two. A flying headbutt off the top rope finishes at 6:10. After the match, Dink goes after Bigelow, but Luna nails him from behind and Dink eats a splash from Luna. Mixed tags under these rules are hard to get heat because you canâ€™t put someone in peril and this was no exception. The crowd wasnâ€™t into this one at all, but it was booked properly as Bigelow and Luna dominated their inferior opponents. Rating: *
-A Bill Clinton impersonator shows up.
-The WrestleMania 3 moment is Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant.
-Falls Count Anywhere Match: â€œMacho Manâ€ Randy Savage vs. Crush (w/Mr. Fuji):
This isnâ€™t your usual falls count anywhere match as you have to pin your opponent and then your opponent gets sixty seconds to return to the ring. If they fail to do so, you win. Savage attacks Crush during his entrance, but Crush hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker in the aisle and hot shots Savage on guardrail to get a pin in 45 seconds. That spot couldâ€™ve been a disaster if the fans had stood up for Savage and refused to back away from the guardrail. Fuji nails Savage in the back with the Japanese flag in an attempt to prevent Savage from beating the sixty second count, but Savage still gets in with two seconds to spare. Crush beats on Savage as heâ€™s tied in a Tree of Woe and as the referee releases Savage, Crush gets salt from Fuji. However, when he tries to throw it Savageâ€™s face, Savage nails him and Crush is blinded instead. Interesting counter. Air Savage time and Savage hits a slam and a top rope elbow smash and intelligently pushes Crush out onto the floor where he can pin him at 4:30. They are really rushing through this thing, but I guess thatâ€™s the price we pay for a twenty minute opener. Fuji wakes Crush up by pouring ice water on his face and Crush beats the count by two seconds. Crush backdrops Savage over the top rope and pounds away, until Savage slams his head into the ring post in a manner that Christopher Nowinski would probably not approve of. Both men brawl to the backstage area and after sending Crush through a few doors, Savage gets a pin at 8:09. Savage ties Crush upside down with the assistance of a backstage apparatus and that ends up getting the win at 9:42. So thatâ€™s where John Cena got the duck tape idea for that Last Man Standing Match with Batista last year. Iâ€™ve never been a fan of this match. Itâ€™s not a satisfying blow off to the feud between these two that had been building for nearly six months and itâ€™s not even a good match by brawling standards. However, it is Savageâ€™s last WrestleMania match, so you can take that for what itâ€™s worth. Rating: **
-Pettengill talks with the Bill Clinton impersonator and Clinton says he loves wrestling. Irwin R. Schyster appears in the presidential box and thanks Clinton for raising taxes.
-Pettengill talks about WWF Fan Fest.
-Savage visits the fans in the Paramount Theatre, who are watching the match on closed circuit.
-The WrestleMania IV moment is Savage defeating four opponents in one night for the WWF title.
-WWF Womenâ€™s Championship Match: Alundra Blayze (Champion) vs. Leilani Kai:
The WWF womenâ€™s division had no direction in the mid-1990s, as they resurrected the division with Blayze, but gave her very few quality feuds or opponents. Itâ€™s too bad that they didnâ€™t bring in Bull Nakano until SummerSlam. A Kai blind charge leads to Blayze getting a sunset flip for two and Blayze gets another sunset flip for two off the ropes. Kai puts Blayze in a raised choke and pounds away. A slam gets two. Blayze gets a fluke hurricanrana for two and Kai goes back to the 1980s by tossing Blayze around the ring by the hair. A double underhook suplex gets two. Blayze makes a comeback out of nowhere and a suplex gets two. A couple of hair tosses gets two. A German suplex finishes things at 3:25. This was better than I remembered, but the crowd had no reason to care about it. I mean how hard would it have been to create a build whereby Kai was returning to WrestleMania ten years later to win back the title she defended at that show? Rating: *Â½
-The WrestleMania V moment is â€œRowdyâ€ Roddy Piper using his fire extinguisher on Morton Downey, Jr.
-Pettengill interviews Ronda Shear from USA â€œUp All Night.â€ Shawn Michaels interrupts to get a picture, but Burt Reynolds breaks up his advances.
-WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Quebecers (Champions w/Johnny Polo) vs. Men on a Mission (w/Oscar):
The Quebecers attack Men on a Mission before the opening bell, but Mabel takes them out by himself with a clothesline. When thing settle down, Mo and Pierre go at it and Mo gets a body press for two. Men on a Mission hit their drop toe hold/leg drop trademark move, but Mabel doesnâ€™t cover for whatever reason. Men on a Mission hit a double elbow drop, but the referee is more concerned with getting Mabel out of the ring and Jacques comes in and breaks up the cover. The Quebecers beat on Mo legally and illegally and Jacques backdrops Pierre onto Mo for two. They do the same thing when Mo is on the floor and that wakes up the crowd. Pierre rolls Mo back into the ring for two. A double hot shot gets two. Pierre goes for a top rope leg drop, but thereâ€™s nobody home and we have a double KO. Mabel gets the momentum swinging tag and he cleans house. However, when he tries to avalanche Pierre, thereâ€™s nobody home. The Quebecers go for a double suplex, but Jacques hurts his back. Pierre tells Jacques to man up and they succeed on the second attempt. The Quebecers hit the Quebecer Crash, but Mabel kicks out at two. Um, okay. From here things just fall apart as Pierre accidentally nails Jacques when he has Mabel in a sleeper and Mabel nails Pierre with a spinning heel kick. Men on a Mission hit their Stacked Splash on Jacques, but Polo distracts the referee and all hell breaks loose. Pierre ends up on the floor and Men on a Mission hit a Stacked Splash on him, but that causes a count out at 7:43. After the match, Men on a Mission pose with the tag titles even though they didnâ€™t win them. I hate when faces do that because it makes them look stupid. The crowd was dying for a title change here or something positive to cheer for, but the bookers had other plans. Rating: **
-The WrestleMania VI moment is Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior.
-A video package recaps the Yokozuna-Lex Luger feud.
-WWF Championship Match: Yokozuna (Champion w/Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji) vs. Lex Luger:
Ronda Shear is our guest timekeeper, Donnie Wahlberg is our guest ring announcer, and Mr. Perfect is our guest referee. To Fujiâ€™s credit, he limps to the ring because Randy Savage cleaned his clock at the end of the falls count anywhere match earlier in the show. Luger comes to the ring looking pretty angry and while you can sell that as determination, I think itâ€™s not a good sign of things to come. With Chinaâ€™s rise as an economic power and all, Iâ€™m surprised the WWF hasnâ€™t tried to bring the Yokozuna gimmick back. After a minute to stalling, Luger tears into Yokozuna, but eats a clothesline. He avoids a big fat elbow drop, though, and knocks Yoko to the floor with a right hand. Outside, Luger takes Yoko to the steps and hits a flying body press off the top rope for two. A big elbow drop gets two. Yoko turns the match around with one blow, as heâ€™s apt to do, and pounds and chokes away. Luger goes for a slam, but Yoko falls on top of him for two. Yoko takes one of the turnbuckle pads off and itâ€™s nerve hold time for a realllllyyy looonnngg time. Luger fights out, but runs into a belly-to-belly suplex. Yoko tries to take Luger to the exposed turnbuckle, but Luger blocks it and we have a double KO. Luger slams Yoko and hits him with the forearm smash and thing start to get nutty, as Cornette and Fuji try to interfere and Luger nails him. Luger covers Yoko, but Perfect is more concerned with getting Cornette and Fuji out of the ring. Luger shoves Perfect and tells him to count, but Perfect calls for the bell and disqualifies Luger at 14:39. The crowd is steamed at that finish. The match got off to a good start, but died a quick death when Yoko went on offense. Rating: Â½*
-Pettengill interviews Perfect backstage. Perfect says that he called the match down the middle and that he disqualified him because he put his hands on him. Luger runs backstage and gets in Perfectâ€™s face and WWF officials have to break them up.
-The WrestleMania VII moment is the blindfold match between Jake Roberts and Rick Martel.
-Harvey Wippleman runs down Howard Finkel and tears his jacket. When Finkel responds by shoving Wippleman, Adam Bomb runs down to take up for his manager. However, Earthquake runs in and that leads to our next matchâ€¦
-Adam Bomb (w/Harvey Wippleman) vs. Earthquake:
Earthquake nails Bomb from behind, powerslams him, and the Earthquake Splash finishes in 35 seconds. One of the quickest WrestleMania matches of all time. Bomb says in his shoot interview that they had a good match worked out prior to the show, but they had to do this because of the time constraints on the show. Since itâ€™s a squash I wonâ€™t rate it.
-Pettengill interviews Yokozuna, Jim Cornette, and Mr. Fuji. Cornette cuts a great promo against Luger and Bret Hart.
-The WrestleMania VIII moment is the Undertakerâ€™s appearance. Really?
-Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: â€œThe Bad Guyâ€ Razor Ramon (Champion) vs. â€œThe Heartbreak Kidâ€ Shawn Michaels (w/Diesel):
This isnâ€™t the first ladder match in WWF history, as Shawn and Bret Hart had done one on Prime Time Wrestling in 1992 when Bret was Intercontinental champion. You can find that match on the WWFâ€™s Most Unusual Matches tape, which came out in 1993 or 1994. However, this is the first ladder match on pay-per-view and was a fitting way to end this feud over who was the undisputed Intercontinental champion. This was also back in the day when there was only one ladder placed in the aisle and not a million scattered around ringside. Michaels flips around, but gets hit with a chokeslam. He shrugs it off, though, and hits a swinging neckbreaker and pounds away. Michaels tosses Ramon to the floor, where Diesel gives him a clothesline, and Earl Hebner decides to send Diesel to the showers. Back in, Michaels Flair flips and Ramon clotheslines him over the top rope. Outside, Ramon pulls away the ring mats, but Michaels takes the action back into the ring. Ramon goes for the Razorâ€™s Edge, put itâ€™s too close to the ropes, and Michaels backdrops him over the top rope and onto the concrete. Michaels goes for the ladder, but Ramon nails him and puts the ladder on the apron, but Michaels baseball slides it into his gut. Back in, Michaels grabs the ladder and rams it into Ramonâ€™s mid-section and back, which is just sick. Michaels goes for the title, but Ramon pulls his tights down and Michaels has to knock him to the canvas and elbow drop him from the ladder. The might be the only â€œfull moonâ€ elbow smash in wrestling history. Michaels splashes Ramon from the ladder, which the camera captures perfectly for posterity, and he goes for the title again, but Ramon pushes the ladder over and Michaels hot shots himself. Michaels sets up the ladder in the corner and tries to Irish whip Ramon into it, but Ramon reverses it and Michaels goes over the top rope and to the floor. Outside, Ramon now uses the ladder as a weapon and when the action spills back into the ring, Ramon nails Michaels in the face with the ladder and Michaels soars over the top rope. Ramon goes for the title, but Michaels flies off the top rope and knocks him off. Unfortunately for Michaels, the ladder lands on him when it topples over. Both men climb for the title and Ramon suplexes Michaels off of it, which nearly bends the ladder in half. It makes me wonder if they had a backup. Ramon climbs for the title, but Michaels dropkicks him off and tips the ladder over onto him. Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music and signals for the Razorâ€™s Edge, but hits a piledriver instead, which was the finisher he was using around this period. Michaels rides the ladder down onto Ramon and climbs for the title while the ladder is over Ramon, but Ramon shoulder blocks the ladder and Michaels crotches himself on the top rope and then gets his foot caught between the top and middle ropes. Ramon climbs and barely manages to get the titles before the ladder gives way to retain at 18:46. For new viewers, this is probably a tame ladder match when compared to what is done today, but it was mind blowing in 1994. The ending is really well done because when Ramon takes too long to climb to the top rope, Michaels gets his foot out of the ropes, but then gets his arm caught so he canâ€™t move toward the ladder. Rating: *****
-I.R.S., Jeff Jarrett, the Headshrinkers, and Rick Martel argue over who should be the captain for the ten man tag team match and McMahon tells us that it isnâ€™t going to happen.
-Pettengill talks to the Bill Clinton impersonator some more and Ted DiBiase is in the box and Clinton says that he isnâ€™t there to talk politics.
-The WrestleMania IX moment is Mr. Fuji throwing salt in Bret Hartâ€™s eyes.
-A video package hypes the main event between Yokozuna and Bret Hart.
-WWF Championship Match: Yokozuna (Champion w/Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji) vs. Bret â€œthe Hitmanâ€ Hart:
Burt Reynolds is our guest ring announcer, Jenny Garth is the guest timekeeper, and our guest referee is â€œRowdyâ€ Roddy Piper. Since both parties had to agree on these special guest referees, I REALLY have to doubt that Yokozuna and his crew would allow Piper, a FRIEND of Bret Hart, to referee this match. Then again, they mightâ€™ve thought that Piper might hold a grudge from WrestleMania VIII or something. Still, itâ€™s not very believeable. Yoko attacks Bret before the bell and pounds away. Yoko misses a big fat splash and we have a double KO. Bret headbutts Yoko, but does more damage to himself and we have double KO #2. Piper yells at Yoko for going to the eyes, which is funny when you think of Piperâ€™s signature eye poke, and Bret pounds Yoko to the mat for two before Cornette pulls Piper out of the ring. Piper decks Cornette and gets more heat on himself than what this match is getting. Yoko tosses Bret to the floor and Piper counts too fast, nearly counting Bret out and then having to stop the count before Bret is back in the ring. Yoko goes for an avalanche, but Bret moves and hits a bulldog off the second rope for two. The second rope elbow drop that never gets a three count gets two. A falling clothesline gets two. Bret dives off the second rope, but Yoko catches him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Yoko goes for the Banzai Drop, but falls off the second rope and Bret covers him for the win and the title at 10:33. The crowd didnâ€™t expect that to be the finish, but it erupts when the fall is counted. Iâ€™ve never been a fan of that finish since I think Bret deserved a more definitive victory and it didnâ€™t help that Bret took a few seconds to cover Yoko. If he was supposed to be â€œdazedâ€ an immediate cover was needed. This wasnâ€™t a great match, but both guys were tired from their matches earlier in the show, so you have to take that into consideration. Rating: *Â¾
-After the match, Yoko chases Piper backstage and McMahon anoints Bret as the leader of the New Generation. The faces pour into the ring and raise Bret on their shoulders and Owen comes out, but doesnâ€™t accept Randy Savageâ€™s invitation to get into the ring.
The Final Report Card: Since this show has Bret-Owen and the great ladder match, a lot of people tend to rate this WrestleMania highly. However, itâ€™s not a good show. After Owen-Bret, everything is incredibly dull until you hit the ladder match. The main event is probably in the bottom quarter of WrestleMania main events, but Yokozuna really wasnâ€™t a guy you wanted to have wrestle two matches in the same night. Ultimately, I have to give this show a neutral rating because even though it has two five star matches, the rest of the card was more suitable for Superstars than WrestleMania and leaves a lot to be desired.
Buyrate: 2.0 (800,000 buys)
Show Evaluation: Neutral
Tags: Adam Bomb, Afa, Alundra Blayze, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bret Hart, Crush, Diesel, Dink, Doink, Earthquake, Harvey Wippleman, Howard Finkel, I.R.S., Irwin R. Schyster, Jacques Rougeau, jeff jarrett, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, Johnny Polo, Lex Luger, Luna Vachon, mabel, Men on a Mission, Mo, Mr. Fuji, Oscar, Owen Hart, Pierre, Randy Savage, Razor Ramon, Rick Martel, Rowdy Roddy Piper, shawn michaels, ted dibiase, The Headshrinkers, The Quebecers, Todd Pettengill, vince mcmahon, What the World Was Watching, WrestleMania X, WWE, WWF, Yokozuna