Monday, May 20, 2024
EditorialWrestlemania I-XXX Series. (12/30)

Wrestlemania I-XXX Series. (12/30)

566 views

TRENDING

**Article edited as of February 2018. Some videos have been deleted.**

Wrestlemania XII drew 18,853 fans to the Arrowhead Pond venue in Anaheim, California on March 31st 1996. The main card featured six matches (the lowest so far), including a Hollywood Backlot Brawl and a 60-minute Ironman match for the WWF Championship. No other championships were contested. The event focused on the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and WWF Champion Bret Hart, and the build-up to the event included many hardships for Michaels, before winning the Royal Rumble to earn the right to fight for the championship.

The commentary team consisted of Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler for a third year in a row. The event included familiar faces making their Wrestlemania debuts, including Vader, Goldust, Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H), Sable, Mark Mero, and The Million Dollar Champion (formerly known as The Ringmaster) “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The Ultimate Warrior made a return to the WWF after a hiatus between 1992-1996. Jake Roberts also fought in a match at Wrestlemania for the first time since losing to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania VIII.

The most apparent differences to previous Wrestlemania were the absences of a national anthem and celebrities. The event focused primarily around the wrestlers and matches, a rare occurrence in the Wrestlemania series.


Match #1 – Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart, and The British Bulldog) (with James E. Cornette) vs. Ahmed Johnson, Jake Roberts, and Yokozuna (with Mr. Fuji)

McMahon told us if Yokozuna’s team could win the match, they would get Cornette to themselves. After both teams made their way to the ring, a brawl broke out immediately. I wasn’t sure about the story behind this one, (they explained it briefly beforehand) I didn’t care for it. Apparently Owen and Bulldog were tag team champions, but decided not to wear the belts. The main feud was between Vader (who Vince labelled as a “monster”) and Yokozuna. I found the match to be clunky and slow, (with some questionable strategy from both teams) but still enjoyable. Jake Roberts received the biggest pops when he teased the DDT.

After much DDT teasing, Roberts finally managed to DDT Owen. Vader made the save and finished him off with a Vader Bomb. No one’s getting up from that. The stipulation ended up going to waste, as Cornette’s team stood strong with the “monster” known as Vader leading the way. The point of the six man tag was to make Vader look strong, but the match could have been better. There’s been worse opening matches It was Yokozuna’s last Wrestlemania match.


Match #2 – Roddy Piper vs. Goldust (with Marlena) – Hollywood Backlot Brawl

Razor Ramon was originally scheduled to fight Goldust, but was replaced by Piper due to his suspension for drug use. Goldust was the Intercontinental Champion at the time. Piper waited for Goldust to show up in his gold Cadillac, and immediately attacked his car with a baseball bat. The area was slippery after he used the hose to soak the area. Piper was aggressive in his attack on Goldust, as he used the baseball bat and the surroundings to beat him down. Both men had trouble staying on their feet, even more so after Piper used the hose on Goldust. Piper struggled to slam Goldust on to the hood of the car, and after some fumbling around, Piper decked Goldust with a stiff punch to the face, which also split his hand open.

Goldust retaliated with a low-blow, and pushed Piper head first into a dumpster. He quickly jumped in his car, backed up (and hit the parked white van), and accelerated towards Piper. Goldust ran Piper down, and quickly drove away. Piper recovered and jumped in the white van (no idea if it was his, or stolen) to begin a hot pursuit which continued on through the rest of the show. A rather amusing and brutal fight which resembled a street fight better than most I have seen. Two words to describe it would be “intense”, and “random”.


Match #3 – Stone Cold Steve Austin (with Ted DiBiase) vs. Savio Vega

Before Austin 3:16 existed, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was a cold individual who often used his wrestling ability (and cheating) to win matches. The match was set after Austin cost Vega, and himself, a chance to challenge for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Savio had a pre-match interview, before they made their entrances. The crowd reacted to Austin’s music, but nothing like the reactions he would receive in the years to come. Vega received little reaction.

The two men started out brawling, with Austin getting the upper-hand. The crowd remained silent for the rest of the match. Austin took control, as he kept the pace slow and calculating. On several occasions Austin used the turnbuckle to deliver double axe handles and flying forearms, showing how agile he was before his injuries.

The commentary team received a phone call from Piper who vowed he would get Goldust before the night was over. McMahon and Lawler ignored the action in the ring to focus on the footage showing Piper being chased by police (an old OJ Simpson joke), as the crowd remained silent. The crowd perked up when Austin attempted a flying forearm only to connect with Vega’s boot. Savio fought back against Austin until a spinwheel kick knocked the referee down.

DiBiase slyly placed the Million Dollar Championship on the ring apron. DiBiase distracted Vega as Austin picked the belt up and clocked Vega with it. Austin took it further by draping Vega across the ring apron and delivering another belt shot to the back of the head. Austin locked in the Million Dollar Dream, DiBiase woke the referee with a beverage (possibly coke?) to the face, and the referee eventually lifted Vega’s arm three times. Austin won the match by submission.

It was difficult to get into the match considering the dead crowd, Piper footage/phonecall, and Austin portraying The Ringmaster. Also Austin carried the match, Vega did nothing for me. The crowd had little reason to care, but looking back at it, the match is a great example of how good Austin’s athletic and wrestling ability was before his injuries. It’s worth watching to compare his old wrestling style, to the brawling style he became famous for as Austin 3:16.


Match #4 – The Ultimate Warrior vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Sable)

It was funny to see the original Hunter Hearst Helmsley, before his days with D-X. Ultimate Warrior made a grand entrance with a loud ovation. So the amusing match began with Helmsley attacking Warrior from behind and delivering the Pedigree finisher shortly after. Warrior no-sold it and stood up immediately, much to the delight of the crowd. Multiple clotheslines and a shoulder tackle followed. Warrior finished him off with the gorilla press, and a weak splash. A weak end to a weak match with the sole purpose of reintroducing The Ultimate Warrior. The crowd loved it, which is the main thing.


Match #5 – The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs. Diesel

A surprisingly good match considering Kevin Nash’s involvement. It was an intense back-and-forth brawling match which saw Diesel get too cocky for his own good. As he taunted The Undertaker, the crowd displayed their hatred for Diesel, and he responded with “I’m so good, it’s scary”. Despite all the mind games, Diesel was not fazed and delivered two Jackknife powerbombs and decided not to go for the pin. At one point, The Undertaker got frustrated with Diesel and tried to hit him with a chair, which if connected, would have put an end to his streak before anyone took notice of it.

Diesel looked like he could have beaten The Undertaker on several occasions, but vintage Undertaker at Wrestlemania fought back and overcame the odds. A combination of his flying lariat, chokeslam, and the tombstone piledriver, put an end to Big Daddy Cool.

In real-life, WCW had been in talks with Razor Ramon to sign him. Ramon stated he was offered “Sting money” (used as a measuring stick), and anyone of equal caliber could be brought in with him for the same amount of money. Nash didn’t want to leave WWF, but the offer was too great to ignore. Nash decided to sign with WCW not long after his match with The Undertaker, (as Vince could not match the WCW deal) and worked his final matches for the company, making this his last Wrestlemania appearance in the 1990’s.


Piper vs Goldust Continued – Goldust and Piper were seen making their way back to the venue. Goldust escaped from Piper with the help of Marlena, and they slowly made their way through the backstage area as Piper stalked them. They found their way to the ring, and Piper turned up and continued the brawl (still no referee … it’s a never-ending punch-up). Goldust managed to get the upper hand, and disturbingly caressed Piper’s backside. Both men liked using low-blows, and the hilarity went to another level when Goldust kissed Piper. As the fight continued, Piper slowly realized what happened, and became so angry he grabbed Goldust’s balls (the irony).

Despite Piper hating Goldust’s freaky and sexual nature, he decided to strip Goldust to reveal his undergarments, which of course featured bondage gear and a woman’s thong. Piper gave one final low-blow before Goldust gave up and limped away with the help of Marlena. Piper smiled at the fans as they responded positively. No winner to the match .. as it wasn’t really a match, but I suppose Piper won?. Hard to decide whether the brawl was epic or a flop, but the crowd loved it, which again is the main thing.


Match #6 – Bret Hart (c) vs Shawn Michaels (with José Lothario)

60-minute Iron Man match for the WWF Championship.

The hype video aired at the start of the show, and before the main event, which showed the WWF was taking the main event seriously for a change. I have to admit, I knew the result beforehand, but I had not seen the entire match.

Shawn Michaels made his grand entrance on a zip line from the top of the arena. Sadly this may never happen again after the Owen Hart incident. Bret Hart made his entrance as normal with a bunch of fireworks. Gorilla Monsoon was announced as the permanent president of the WWF, and Earl Hebner did a great job of explaining the rules clearly. The fans popped loud when the match finally got under way. Normally I would do a brief play-by-play of the main event, but not on this occasion. Instead I will post the match below for those who have never seen it.

 

The match is not for everyone. You would expect a true classic between these two, but something didn’t feel right as I was watching. Michaels decided to play Hart’s game for most of the match, as he continued to wrestle with Hart and work his arm over. Hart worked on Michael’s back and used many head/chin locks. The first thirty minutes dragged on as the fans sat patiently for a pin-fall. Hart tried for the sharpshooter early on, but aside from that, they both refused to use finishers for the first forty minutes. Not only that, but both wrestlers would break count-outs, which only made Lawler upset.

Michaels worked on Hart’s arm and shoulder for a long time, but Hart completely no-sold it. Michaels was guilty too of not selling Hart’s offense like he could have. The match included several moments where, if they were in any other match, a pin-fall would have occurred. On this day, neither man wanted to take a pin-fall, and the crowd got increasingly excited/frustrated as both men kicked out of everything. It didn’t help when Lawler got bored and started to make old age jokes (Jurassic park joke comes to mind) about Stu and Helen Hart. Michaels was beating Bret Hart at his own game, as Lawler stated Michaels would be ahead on points if it was an amateur contest. Oh yeah … and Michaels killed the timekeeper with a missed Sweet Chin Music.

So further into the match, Hart delivered a knee to Michaels who accidentally bumped the referee. And then the two continued countering one another and getting two-count after two-count pinfalls. In the final twenty minutes, Michaels was thrown to the outside and bumped Lothario, which got a loud reaction. Hart’s offense got stiffer as the match went on, especially after Michaels made the gesture to “bring it”. In the final ten minutes, both men started to sell their exhaustion, as Hart continued to put Michaels in submission holds. Michaels threw everything he had at Hart to get a pin-fall, until the 35 second mark when Hart caught him by surprise and locked in the sharpshooter. Michaels held on (despite an hour of his back being pummeled and stretched) for the final 35 seconds to end the contest a nil-nil draw.

Sudden Death – With orders from interim-president Roddy Piper, Gorilla Monsoon came into the ring and told the referee to send the match into overtime, and there must be a winner. Although Hart began overtime as the aggressor, Michaels decided to use Sweet Chin Music (despite only using it once or twice in the first sixty minutes) twice to knock Hart down and pick up the victory.

Following the match, Michaels could be heard telling Hebner to tell Hart to “get out of the fucking ring”, which was later revealed as kayfabe but could also been seen as the beginnings of the real-life animosity between them. Bret Hart’s son could be seen singing “sexy boy” as Hart left the ringside area. The belt was handed to Shawn as Vince sold it as “the boyhood dream has come true” several times. Michaels celebrated in the ring as Vince repeated his lines a few times. Lawler gave Michaels credit afterwards. And the show came to an end.


Conclusion

A PPV which lacked meaningful storylines aside from the main event and Undertaker vs Diesel. Having no other championships on the line meant all the focus would be on the main event, which could be seen as a bad thing if other championships changed hands before the main event. Aside from the lack of matches, I enjoyed the PPV more than Wrestlemania XI. It was refreshing to see the build for the Iron Man match, and other matches surprised me.

I found something entertaining in every match. The first match mostly for the Vader Bomb finish. The Goldust/Piper brawl was hilarious, intense and botchamania worthy. Steve Austin carrying his match with Vega was another highlight, as well as the destruction of HHH by the Ultimate Warrior. The Undertaker vs Diesel was easily the best in the series so far, with The Undertaker having to dig deep to keep his streak going. The main event was slow to begin with, but in the end delivered a very competitive match with many near-falls, and great mat wrestling you don’t see often.

The PPV could have been better, but after the silliness of Wrestlemania XI, I was happy to see no celebrities and a main event dedicated to deciding the WWF Champion. The main event surpassed everything that happened in Wrestlemania XI, so everything else was a bonus. I recommend Wrestlemania XII to anyone who would like to see the state of the WWF just before the Attitude Era began. Thanks for reading.

- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

- Advertisment -

Related Articles