Thursday, January 27, 2011

WWF Wrestlemania 11

WWF Wrestlemania 11
April 2nd, 1995
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Attendance: 16,305

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry "The King" Lawler

This is generally seen as one of the worst Wrestlemania's in the history of the company, so let's see how well it holds up (or doesn't.) The big matches
tonight are the Bam Bam-Lawrence Taylor match and the big blowoff to the Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels feud for the WWF title.

The show starts off with Special Olympian Kathy Huey singing the national anthem. That's just odd honestly. Afterwards Vince and the King welcome us to the show.

Lex Luger/British Bulldog vs. Jacob Blu/Eli Blu

The Blu twins would be better known as the Harris brothers, only with hair here. Luger and Bulldog had absolutely nothing to do after the Rumble so they just stuck them in a team together, called them the "Allied Powers" and called it a day. The Powers dominate to start with clotheslines and Davey hits one of the Blu brothers with his trademark delayed suplex. The Blu twins try to double team Bulldog but he clotheslines them both. Uncle Zebekiah, the twins manager (Dutch Mantell in real life) trips up the Bulldog and the twins start to take the upper hand in the match. They switch in and out of the ring without tagging while the ref is distracted, delaying things a bit. One of the Blu brothers eats a few big boots from Davey Boy but the Blu's isolate him in their corner again. Hot tag to Luger moments later and he tosses the Blu's around for a bit. He hits a powerslam on one of them but doesn't go for the cover. A flying forearm from Luger gets two (isn't that the arm with the steel plate?) and the Blu's make another switch while Zebekiah distracts Lex. Jacob tries a piledriver but Bulldog makes the blind tag and comes in with a sunset flip on him for the 3 count at 6:34. Not a very good start to the show as this was basically just a slightly longer squash match with no heat or motivation on anyone's part. *

WWF Intercontinental Title Match
Jeff Jarrett (C) vs. Razor Ramon

Jarrett had been feuding with Razor for several months, beating him for the IC title cleanly at the Royal Rumble after Razor sustaned an injury, was counted out, and decided to restart the match after being goaded on by Double J. Backstage the 1-2-3 Kid speaks a few words of encouragement on behalf of Razor who's by his side. Kid is wearing some kind of bizarre karate-kimono type thing. Razor and the Kid storm the ring and get a few shots in on Double J who quickly breaks to the outside for a breather. Back in he's met with lefts and rights from Razor who clotheslines him back outside. Back in Double J attempts a sunset flip but is sat on by Razor for a quick near fall. Roadie gets knocked off the apron by Razor to the crowd's delight. Razor lifts Jarrett up for the Razor's Edge but he's too close to the apron where Roadie is able to pull Jarrett out of the ring and out of the Razor's Edge. He tries to leave but the Kid throws him back into the ring. Roadie eats the turnbuckle and Razor tosses Double J outside over the top rope. Jarrett is really getting dominated here as he and the Roadie are really bumping around for Razor. Back in the ring Double J finally gets some offense with a neckbreaker and a pair of dropkicks. He wears Razor down for a bit with a sleeper hold but he gets put into a backslide for a nearfall. They exchange some lefts and rights but Jarrett hops on Razor's back and applies the sleeper again briefly. He slams Razor's head into the mat for another two count. Back to the sleeperhold we go as the crowd begins to chant for Razor. They knock eachother out from here and are barely able to make it up in time to beat the ref's count. Razor drapes an arm over Double J for a near fall that the crowd really buys into. Back up Razor hits a few left hooks and then tosses Jarrett with his signature fallaway slam for another two count. The Kid tries to crotch Double J on the turnbuckle but gets kicked into the steel barricade. Back in the ring Razor misses the top rope bulldog and lands on his knee, the same one he injured against Jarrett back at the Royal Rumble. Seeing this Jarrett goes right to working on the knee and applies the figure four leglock right in the center of the ring. Razor eventually reverses it, applying the pressure to Double J instead. Razor lifts Jarrett to the top rope and hits a back suplex from the top, but he doesn't go for the pin. Instead he calls for the Razor's Edge, but the Roadie runs into the ring and clips Razor's bad knee for the DQ at 13:32. After the match the Kid cleans house with spinning heel kicks but gets left laying in the ring as Jim Ross tries to get an interview with Double J on his way to the back. Pretty good match here between these two that was spoiled by an unnecessary DQ finish and a bit too many restholds for the match's own good. **¾

Backstage Nick Turtorro, some quasi C-List actor, tries to interview some heels and Jenny McCarthy. HBK and Sycho Sid talk a bit of trash about Diesel.

Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy

This is one of those matches that sounds like a dream match on paper, but isn't something you'd ever want to actually see. Undertaker was in the midst of a seemingly never-ending feud with Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation at the time and King Kong Bundy as the latest ringer that the Million Dollar Man tried to bring in to defeat the Undertaker. The special referee here is an MLB umpire named Larry Young. I guess he's in need of work considering the baseball strike at the time. This match is just as slow and plodding as you'd expect, consisting mainly of punching and kicking for the first few minutes. Undertaker slips outside and simply takes his urn that DiBiase stole right out of his hands. Well that's one way to end your "feud" rather quickly. DiBiase calls Kama Mustafa down to the ring who takes the urn back from Paul Bearer, distracting the Undertaker long enough for Bundy to hit an axe handle on his back. The offense doesn't last long however as 'Taker quickly smashes his head into the corner. Jim Ross interviews Kama in the aisleway with the urn while the match is still going on. Kama claims he's going to melt it down into a chain or something, who knows. We're tortured for an additional minute or so with a sleeper on the Undertaker before the dead man finally hits a jumping clothesline on Bundy for the 3 count at 6:36. Awful, awful match that was simply an excuse for 'Taker to continue to squash people while not being involved in any meaningful angles or feuds. Just terrible. DUD

Backstage Turturro tries to find Pam Anderson but instead finds Steve "Mongo" McMichael and an assortment of other NFL players who are going to be in LT's corner tonight.

In some dark backroom Turturro finds Bob Backlund and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (the kid from Home Improvement) playing a game of chess in the dark. Truly a creepy visual here as you can only imagine what the fuck Bob Backlund was doing back there. Jonathan Taylor Thomas answers some trivia questions from Bob and gets them all right, sending him out in anger. Just a bizarre segment.

WWF Tag Team Title Match
Smoking Gunns (C) vs. Owen Hart/Yokozuna

Yokozuna is Owen Hart's big surprise partner here as he's making his return after being gone from the company since losing to Undertaker back at Survivor Series in a casket match. He's somehow even bigger than he was before. Backstage Billy and Bart Gunn say some meaningless words while I'm too busy staring at their awesome mullets and mustaches. The match starts off soon enough with Yoko waving the Japanese flag to some easy heat from the crowd. Owen and Billy start things off but Billy takes the quick advantage and tags Bart in. Owen tags Yoko in quickly who body slams Bart but misses an elbow drop to follow it up. Owen tags back in and starts working on a wristlock. Billy and Bart tag in and out frequently and hit a double-team version of a neckbreaker for a 2 count. They hit a few more of their nifty double team moves but Yoko distracts the ref. Now I'm starting to remember why the Gunns were popular, they had some nice double team moves. Yoko tags in and delivers a leg drop to the back of Billy's head. Yoko puts on a nerve grip on Billy's shoulder and they sit there resting for awhile. Crowd is pretty dead here and I don't blame them. Owen tries a missle dropkick from the top rope but hits Yoko instead, allowing Billy to make it to his corner and get the hot tag to Bart. Gorilla slam sends Owen outside and Bart slams Yoko back on his head by his ponytail. Ouch that looked painful. Billy tags in and they attempt another double team move, but Owen takes Bart out which allows Yoko to give Billy a belly-to-belly suplex and then the Banzai drop. Bart breaks up the pin though only briefly. Owen tags in and appears to go for a sharpshooter but instead decides to just hook the leg for the pin right there and he gets the 3 count, winning the titles at 9:42. Big pop for the heel title win here too, so this match pretty much failed on all fronts. The work itself wasn't that bad, but everyone knew the Gunns were losing here and nobody cared because of it.

Backstage Todd Pettingill gets a few words with Bam Bam Bigelow who says LT will be no problem tonight.

I Quit Submission Match
Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund

Rowdy Roddy Piper is the special guest referee here for no apparent reason whatsoever. This match is all about Bret getting revenge on Backlund after having lost his title to him back in a submission match at Survivor Series without ever actually saying "I Quit". To make sure no one gets screwed this time, you have to actually say the words "I Quit" to lose, this being one of the first official "I Quit" matches in that sense. Backlund had done absolutely nothing since dropping the title to Diesel in 8 seconds at MSG and the only reason he was sticking around and being booked here was so that Bret could get some heat back after his title loss. Bret dominates to start with elbows and headbutts. He goes for the sharpshooter early but to no avail. Piper keeps asking Backlund if he wants to quit after about 30 seconds into the match. Bret keeps going for the sharpshooter but Backlund weasels out of it. He flails around for a bit while in a figure four leglock but reverses it soon enough. More legwork from Bret for a few more minutes that leads to nothing as Backlund gets up and starts trying to work on Bret's arm. Bret takes a hard bump into the turnbuckle while Backlund looks to be getting ready to put him into the crossface chickenwing. Instead he takes him down with a weak armbar. Crowd starts to rally behind Bret while he's stuck in this very weak armbar. Piper keeps asking Bret and he keeps shouting "No!" in return. Bret starts doing his five moves of doom routine, backbreaker, diving knee from the second rope, and then applies the sharpshooter briefly but Backlund quickly gets to the ropes. Bret slams his shoulder into the corner and Backlund comes up from behind him and tries to lock in the Crossface Chicken Wing, but Bret holds onto the ropes briefly. Backlund tries to hook the leg and sink into the hold but eventually Bret reverses it into a chickenwing of his own which sends Backlund screaming, which I guess Piper interprets as him saying "I Quit" as he calls for the bell and awards the match to Bret Hart at 9:34. Slow match with legwork that went nowhere and no real emotion put forth by either man. Skip this one altogether and check out their match at Survivor Series 1994 if you want to see what these two are really capable of together in the ring. This was average at best and was all about Bret squashing Backlund to regain his heat. **

Backstage Todd Pettingill gets a few words from Diesel who says he's going to hold onto his belt tonight. Riveting stuff Mr. Nash.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Nick Turturro make their way to the ring to be guest timekeeper and announcer respectively. Shawn Michaels makes his way to the ring with Jenny McCarthy on his arm, looking smoking hot, along with Sycho Sid at his side, looking less hot. Diesel comes out with Pam Anderson, who looks disinterested at best.

WWF World Title Match
Diesel (C) vs. Shawn Michaels

This was the big blowoff to the breakup of Diesel and HBK after Diesel turned face in the fall and was pushed to the main event abruptly. This match was given Match of the Year by PWI in 1995, so we'll see if it's as good as I remember it being. Shawn bumps around for Diesel to start with a few backdrops before being sent outside the ring for a breather. Back inside HBK tries to lay some punches into Diesel in the corner but gets shoved off. He tries again and gets the same response as Diesel is just flinging Shawn across the ring to start things out. Diesel reverses a suplex and hits a big knee to Shawn's face, sending him back outside once again. Shawn continues bumping around the ring like a pinball for Diesel, going for rollups and backslides but being continously reversed by Diesel. Eventually Shawn gives him the old Cactus clothesline and then skins the cat back inside the ring. He leaps to the top rope and hits a cross body block from the top rope to Diesel outside of the ring! Excellent pace to start off this match. We get a nice shot of Pam and Jenny's cleavage while Diesel and Shawn brawl outside the ring. Shawn hits a big splash off the apron onto Diesel on the floor as this match thus far has been carried pretty much entirely by Shawn bumping around like a maniac for his buddy Diesel. Diesel clutches at his ribs on the outside for awhile but Shawn distracts the ref from counting Diesel out. Back in the ring Shawn has the upper hand, laying kicks into Diesel on the mat. He hits a Razor Ramon-esque bulldog from the top rope for a near fall. They reverse irish whips for a moment but Shawn leaps from the turnbuckle back onto Diesel with a big elbow for another near fall. A small "Let's Go Shawn!" chant begins to break out as it was becoming clear around this time that Shawn was going to have to turn face pretty soon, and this match infact is the one that some claim put him over the top in that regard. He hits another elbow from the top rope for another two count and goes for a powerbomb but Diesel powers out of it with relative ease. Shawn again goes for a move but is again tossed aside from Diesel's power. Diesel catches him running out of the corner but is rammed into the turnbuckle while Shawn leaps on his back and locks a sleeper hold on the big man. Now the crowd is getting behind Diesel again, rallying behind him while the referee checks Diesel's arm to see if he's still conscious. Of course Diesel's arm doesn't drop a third time and he's able to stand back up and slam Shawn into the corner. He clotheslines HBK into the corner twice and follows it up with Undertaker's old snake eyes move. Shawn does his usual running-into-the-corner and over the turnbuckle spot and leads Diesel around the ring, chasing him back inside. He delivers a few forearms and they take the fight back outside of the ring, brawling by the apron. The ref jumps off the apron to try and follow the match but he lands awkwardly on his leg and is nowhere to be found when Shawn hits Diesel with the superkick (not known as the Sweet Chin Music yet officially) and covers him. Eventually the ref makes it back in but only for a two count while Sycho Sid rips the protection off of a turnbuckle. Diesel delivers a back suplex and both men are out for the count. Eventually Shawn drapes an arm over Diesel for another close two count. Shawn leaps from the second rope but Diesel catches him and delivers a sidewalk slam. Diesel catapults Shawn head-first into the exposed steel turnbuckle and follows it up with some right hands and a big boot. Diesel pumps himself up and calls for the jackknife, which he delivers (a bit awkardly) for the 3 count to retain the WWF title at 20:35. Very good match here between these two and the only real highlight from an otherwise dismal show. Everyone expected Shawn to go over here so when he was pinned clean this shocked alot of people. Shawn's time would come soon enough though. They would go on to have much better matches together, but this was still a worthy world title match for a show as big as Wrestlemania. ***¾

After the match Diesel celebrates with a few of their C-List celebrities in the ring. Jonathan Taylor Thomas looks like a mouse next to the 7 foot Diesel.

Backstage HBK complains to Todd Pettingill about how he should have won with the superkick but the referee was distracted. This was actually a pretty smart thing to include in the match as it leaves the door open for rematches down the road and a legit argument for Michaels having been screwed in this match.

Pat Patterson comes to the ring to be the special referee for the main event. Members of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar COrporation and the All-Pro NFL team come out to support teir sides in the match. Reggie White gives Kama a forearm and the crowd loves it. I wonder if Vince ever really stopped to realize how bad he was making his company look by having a group of football players come in out of the blue and completely squash a large stable of the WWF's wrestlers.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor

Joy, it's this match. Still to this day people are trying to figure out just what the hell Vince as thinking by booking this as the main event of a show as big as Wrestlemania. On his way to the ring Bam Bam taunts Salt 'n' Pepa who had just performed. LT makes his way to the ring and to his credit he actually does look to be in very good shape still. They talk some smack and Bam Bam extends his hand for a handshake but LT attacks him instead and the bell rings. LT dominates early with some big punches, sending Bam Bam outside the ring to consult with Tatanka, IRS, and King Kong Bundy. Back in the ring he misses a splash in the corner and LT delivers a surprisingly well executed bulldog. It's just strange seeing a guy as big as Bam Bam get dominated so easily and so early, but LT continues to with a hip toss that sends Bam Bam outside the ring and reeling once again. LT follows him out and the MDC and All-Pros get into it while Bam Bam takes it to LT back inside of the ring. Patterson tells to Bam Bam to open his fists while he continues to pound LT into the corner, choking him with his boot against the bottom rope. LT retaliates with another big punch but he gets caught and slammed into the corner once again. LT tries to kick out of the corner but is just slammed right back in by Bigelow and then choked on the middle rope. Bam Bam locks in a Boston crab on LT briefly but Bam Bam can't hold onto his big frame and ends up just cranking back on only one of LT's legs. The All-Pros start rallying the crowd behind LT whose able to finally reach the ropes to break the hold. LT hits Bam Bam with a stiff right hand and then reverses a headlock into a big-time back suplex that The King credits to Diesel having trained LT. Bam Bam goes to the top rope and hits his quasi-moonsault but he injures his knee on the way down apparently and can only get a two count. LT tries for a powerbomb but sort of just drops Bam Bam the moment he's lifted him up, even earlier than Nash would with the jackknife. Well atleast LT is trying out there, have to give him credit for that. Bam Bam comes back with an enziguri and leaps off of the top rope with a diving headbutt, but only gets a two count to Bam Bam's disbelief. LT comes up behind him and lays in some very stiff-looking punches and then takes him down with a pair of running forearms. He climbs to the top rope and hits a flying forearm on Bam Bam for the 3 count and the upset win at 11:42. One of the most bizarre main event choices in Wrestlemania history and one that still puts a blackmark on the entire show, but it's actually a lot better than it had any right being. LT actually looked decent in there and Bam Bam was always good to carry someone, so this wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. **½

After the match LT celebrates with his family and fellow football players as we go off the air.

Bottom Line: Not one of more fondly remembered Wrestlemanias and for good reason too as there's really only one match on the entire show worth checking out, that being the Diesel-HBK title match. This was a serious transitional period for the company and some disastrous buyrates in the first half of 1995, including this show, would lead Vince to shake things up and eventually bring in a man by the name of Vince Russo to help book, and well, the rest as they say is history. Thumbs down for Wrestlemania 11 as a show, but the title match is worth your time.

Score: 5/10

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