Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: WrestleMania X


*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

WrestleMania X: Ten Years in the Making

March 20, 1994
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
Attendance: 18,065
Buy Rate: 1.68

Dark Match

The Heavenly Bodies beat the Bushwhackers when Jimmy Del Ray pinned Butch

Pay Per View

Fun Fact: Jerry Lawler makes his surprise return to the company, joining Vince McMahon in the announce booth. His legal charges were dismissed after his accuser was deemed to have been lying. With those issues behind him, the WWF welcomed the King back with open arms.

1) Owen Hart defeated Bret Hart with a roll-up reversal at 20:19

Fun Fact: After both Bret Hart and Lex Luger were declared co-winners at the Royal Rumble, Jack Tunney announced that both men should receive title shots at WrestleMania, but to make it fair to the winner of the first championship match, Tunney declared that the opponent in the second title match had to wrestle earlier in the night against a “suitable opponent.” It was then decided that there would be a coin flip on Raw. If Luger won the flip, he would face Yoko first and Bret would face Owen, however, if Bret won, he would face Yoko first and Luger would face Crush. The outcome was pretty obvious, as everyone knew Randy Savage would be facing Crush, so the coin flip was kind of anticlimactic.

Scott: First off, there is an electric feel at MSG on this Sunday in an era where supposedly the product is sagging. I’ve hit this point in our previous two reviews, but what great planning by the WWF to hit the Northeast wheelhouse for their three biggest shows. Having the past three shows in Boston, Providence and New York City in front of the WWF’s most loyal fans was a huge boon to keep the product hot. Now, let’s talk about this opener. The feud started back at Survivor Series when Owen was the only Hart brother pinned in the match, thanks apparently to Bret being in the way on the apron. Owen was steaming that once again he’s pushed to the side for big brother. They apparently made amends over Christmas and at the Royal Rumble the brothers went after the Quebecers for the Tag Team Titles. We know what happened after that match and that leads us to here. Another great addition is that Jerry Lawler, who was thrilled that Owen broke free from the Hart clan and struck out on his own. So he adds extra energy to the commentary that was not lacking per se, but maybe didn’t have that personal touch to it since Lawler had been feuding with Bret in 1993. This match was a snapshot of what Stu Hart’s teaching methods were down in the Dungeon, with plenty of submission moves and chain grappling, but all connected to the story. Add to that the great psychology of Owen continuously getting frustrated when Bret would counter him on every move. The stories being told in the ring were fantastic and mix in Vince and Lawler’s commentary and you had a captivating match that started getting the Garden crowd at the edge of their seat. Owen was going back and forth with Bret, including the awesome dueling Sharpshooters moment late in the match. The ending, however, is what makes this match a classic. Bret goes for a victory roll in the corner, but Owen stops the roll in mid-stream and gets the three count. WHAT? Yes indeed, in what may have been WrestleMania’s first real upset, Owen Hart stuns big brother to start the show off on an historic note. Top to bottom this is easily the greatest PPV opener in WWF history and kicks off a fun storyline for the rest of the calendar year. Grade: *****

JT: As we are set to celebrate the tenth installment of WrestleMania, we return home to Madison Square Garden for the first time on PPV since August 1991. The hype and build for this show was really well done and as we will discuss, many of the matches were well setup and made sense. They also do a nice job blending in celebrities and memories while also focusing on the future of the company, putting the spotlight on its new generation of stars throughout the night. When we last left off, Bret Hart was a Royal Rumble co-winner and it was later determined that both he and Lex Luger would receive WWF Title matches at this show. Since Luger won the coin flip and received the first crack at the gold, it was announced that Hart would also have to wrestle a match earlier in the night to make things even for the main event. And it was then revealed that his match would be a true test as he had to battle his angry, estranged brother Owen. We saw the brothers torn apart at the seams in Providence and ever since, Owen has been gunning to take out his sibling and finally make a name for himself on his own merit. So, here we are. Brother vs. brother, a super hyped battle set to open this mega show. I will also note that Jerry Lawler is back in the booth here, his legal issues cleaned up. He joins Vince McMahon, setting up our announce team for the New Generation Era that was set to unfold. Lawler went hard into the story here right out of the gate, pushing Owen’s agenda along. The fact that both Harts were similar build and wore the same tights and wrestled a close style made this match pop even more. The build was so well done too and it dates back years to when the Hart Family started to be sprinkled into the mix. The fact that we know the family and its background so well makes this feud mean so much more. Both men worked on the mat early, trading holds until Bret ran Owen to the floor to escape a go behind. Owen didn’t like that and responded with a slap across the face. Owen continued to bend the rules a bit where he could, going to the hair to gain leverage. The crowd was fully behind Bret as he regained control of his brother, continuously frustrating him by fighting through any of Owen’s cheap tactics and eventually clotheslining him hard out to the floor. Owen would eventually swing momentum by cracking Bret with a spin wheel kick. As Vince wondered if Bret had the killer instinct to really take it to his brother, Owen dumped Bret to the floor and ran him into the ring post.

As Owen started to go to work, you could really feel Owen dumping all his long standing frustration out on the Hitman. He started to focus on the back, hooking in a camel clutch and talking smack while wrenching it in. He followed that with a great belly-to-belly for a near fall. Owen kept pouring it on, constantly going for covers, doing all he can to prove he can beat Bret in the middle of the ring. That is what this feud is built on: Owen proving he was better than Bret. And that is the story Owen masterfully told here through his quick hit offense and constant pin covers. Owen would hit a jumping Tombstone but instead of covering this time, he went up to the top. That would backfire, though, as he whiffed on a splash and landed hard on the mat. That gave Bret the chance to land a clothesline and mount his comeback through his standard attack. However, as King noted, Owen was prepared for what was coming and was able to hit an enziguri to cut it short. After they traded attempts at the Sharpshooter, Owen grabbed a near fall on a roll up but was forced to the floor when the Hitman kicked out. Bret took a risk and hit a dive over the top but seemingly dinged up his knee on the landing. When they got back inside, Owen mercilessly attacked the banged up limb. As Owen worked it over, Lawler started to wonder if the younger Hart suddenly had a change of plan and would look to cripple Bret instead of just beat him, especially when you consider what was still to come for Bret. Owen’s focus was laser sharp, only stunted when Bret hit an enziguri of his own. Bret would shoot Owen viciously into the corner and follow with a bulldog and a huge top rope superplex that popped the crowd big time. After trading big right hands, Owen drilled Bret low with a mule kick and then pounced with the Sharpshooter, hooking it in the center of the ring. Bret would power out of it and the two ended up tangled and eventually separated. After Bret dodged an Owen charge in the corner, he hopped up on Owen’s shoulders and rolled through with a victory roll, a move he had used successfully countless times before. However, instead of rolling with the momentum, Owen dropped to his knees and wrenched Bret to the mat to pick up the huge mammoth upset victory. That was a career making win for the Rocket. And it was a tremendous, Hall of Fame level match. It was worked to perfection by both men and told a fantastic story simply and effectively. I also really enjoyed the commentary too, as it enhanced the issue rather than beat us over the head with it. The match never slowed down or had any wasted movements and when you factor in the gravity of the feud plus Bret having to continue on despite the loss, it really carried a lot of weight behind it. This is easily the greatest WWF PPV opener to date and arguably the best WrestleMania match to date as well. And it was only the opener! Grade: *****

*** Hair Club for Men’s Sy Sperling brings out Howard Finkel, who shows off a full head of hair. The Fink takes over for Bill Dunn to announce the next six matches. ***

2) Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon defeat Doink & Dink when Bigelow pinned Doink with a splash at 6:08

Fun Fact I: This is the big blowoff to the Doink/Bigelow feud that started in the fall of ’93 when Doink tossed a pie into Bigelow’s face on Superstars. Doink played other tricks on Bigelow where he threw water and confetti on him and then tripped him with a broom. The two were expected to confront each other at Survivor Series ‘93, but Doink did not participate. Instead, the team that Bigelow competed against were the Bushwackers and Men on a Mission, all dressed up as Doink lookalikes. Bigelow did get a small measure of revenge on Doink by eliminating him from the ‘94 Royal Rumble. It was announced on the 2/20 episode of Wrestling Challenge that a mixed tag match would take place with the two clowns facing Bigelow and his on-screen girlfriend, Luna Vachon.

Fun Fact II: Claude Giroux was born in Quebec, Canada in 1956. He began his wrestling career in the late 70s after being trained by Little Brutus and Sky Low Low. His initially wrestled under the name Tiger Jackson and travelled through the NWA territories, Puerto Rico and Germany as a midget wrestler. He also wrestled in the WWF in the early 80s, sometimes teaming with his brother Lionel Giroux, who wrestled under the name Little Beaver.

In 1992, Giroux joined the WWF and was teamed with the Bushwackers in their feud with the Beverly Brothers. He soon began imitating full size wrestlers, a practice that was common for midget wrestlers in Mexico. His first imitation was that of the Macho Midget. During a match between Doink the Clown and Macho Man Randy Savage, Giroux came out from under the ring dressed as the Macho Man. This distracted Doink enough to allow Savage to roll him up for the pin. The character he is most known for came from pairing him with Doink. On the 11/23/93 episode of Superstars of Wrestling, Santa Claus gave Doink an early Christmas present, which turned out to be his new sidekick, Dink the Clown. He would remain with Doink into 1995 before the character was slowly phased out.

Fun Fact III: This is the second mixed tag team match in WrestleMania history. The first occurred at WrestleMania VI when Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire defeated Randy Savage & Sensational Queen Sherri.

Scott: So we go from a match that is revolutionary for that time in WWF history to a match that shows one of the WWF’s glaring weaknesses. Bam Bam Bigelow could be considered a great heel that is challenging for titles, and instead continues an insipid multi-PPV feud with a full grown clown, and his little midget buddy. It is completely evident that professional wrestling needed to get away from the silly, cartoony gimmicks that everybody loved in the Federation Era. Sure in 1987 it was fun, but we were also in our adolescent years. By 1994, the core fanbase were teenagers and had no patience for wrestlers dressed as clowns. Heel Doink was different because that was more of a counterculture clown and something fun and evil at the same time. Turn Doink babyface and add an annoying midget clown to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. This match is perfect to spell the crowd after the awesome opener, but as a standalone match there HAS to be something better for Bigelow and his main squeeze. Fortunately Bigelow didn’t have to lay down for either of the goofy clowns, and he gets the win. I’d like to think that Bigelow had more for himself on the horizon but of course Dink needed to get some heat back but Luna and Bigelow rough him up after. If Bigelow had smashed Dink with a splash, I would have smiled. Oh well. Grade: *1/2

Justin: After months of torture, Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon finally look to put their clown problems to bed. Doink started messing with the couple back in the summer and even though Bigelow has gotten some payback here and there, Doink would not go away. Toss in Dink and things got even more annoying for the Bammer. So, a mixed tag match was signed to put things to bed. Bigelow went right to work off the bell, wasting no time in violently punishing his clown nemesis. Doink avoided a senton splash and started to duck and dive until he was able to tag in Dink, forcing Bigelow to also have to tag. Dink would play some games as well, landing a shot here and there, but that ended when Luna kicked him in the chest. Dink wriggled free again but missed a dive off the top rope. Lawler was pretty funny here, begging for Bigelow to get his hands on Doink. Luna would come up empty on a splash off the top, leading to the big boys tagging back in. Bammer would send Doink to the floor, leading to Dink playing hide and seek with both his enemies. Back inside, Doink tried a sunset flip but Bigelow blocked and sat down hard on his chest. Doink recovered and went for a slam, but Bigelow twisted his weight and collapsed onto the clown. He followed that with his headbutt off the top to finish Doink off for good. That was a much needed clean win for Bigelow. After the match, Dink got Bigelow’s face but Luna grabbed him and slammed him to the mat. Dink avoided danger by avoiding a Bigelow splash and Doink ensured his buddy was safe from there. The match was fine with an OK mix of hijinks and wrestling but it was worth it just to see Bigelow put Doink down cleanly to end the feud and clearly assert himself as somebody that deserved much better than this. Grade: *1/2

*** We take a quick trip to the Presidential box, where a Bill Clinton impersonator is sitting with Jack Tunney and IRS. ***

3) Randy Savage defeats Crush in a Falls Count Anywhere match when Savage beat Crush by hogtying him in the backstage area at 9:40

Fun Fact: Counting Rumbles and Survivor Series matches, Randy Savage’s final WWF PPV record is: 13-12. If you take out the Rumbles (he participated in five and never won one) he is 13-7..

Fun Fact II: This feud started over the summer of 1993, during a World Title match on Raw between Yokozuna and Crush with Randy Savage on commentary. Recently, President Tunney had declared that Savage had been interfering too much in matches while he was commentating, so he gave Mach an ultimatum: stop interfering or lose the commentating gig. So, Crush, who was good friends with Savage, gave Yoko a good match, but ultimately fell short. After the match, Yoko attacked Crush from behind and squashed him with three Banzai Drops, all while Savage looked on from ringside, unable to assist his buddy. The vicious attack kept Crush out of action for about three months. During his off months, Crush would occasionally give an interview via phone on Raw and each time he would blow off Savage and only talk to Vince McMahon or Bobby Heenan. Finally, Savage arranged a meeting with Crush on Raw that would be called the “Savage/Crush Summit.” Strangely, when Crush came out, he was sporting a goatee and was escorted by Mr. Fuji. Savage and Crush talked things over, and Savage explained why he couldn’t help, and by the end they had shaken hands, hugged and made up. Of course, when Savage turned his back, Crush leveled him and proceeded to beat the shit out of him, including a vicious hot shot type move on the guard railing. The attack left Savage on the shelf for about one month. Savage returned and the two feuded until this match, including tangling at Survivor Series and Royal Rumble.

Scott: On the 10th Anniversary of WrestleMania, one of the show’s greatest performers has what will turn out to be his final WWF PPV match against the man who turned on him and had been avoiding him at every turn. We also debut a new gimmick match so of course it’s clunky and takes away from the match itself. Similar to the casket match concept at Survivor Series 1992, there were too many steps involved and it takes away from the action in the ring. After a successful pin, you have 60 seconds to get back to the ring. Really they should have just brawled all over the place and have a definitive fall. Considering how great Savage can be when there are no restrictions on a match, this one could have been a higher grade and maybe makes this show even more historic than it already is. Imagine this match going all over the place, into the concessions and the backstage area with weapons all over the place. But after the pinfalls you have 60 seconds to get back in the ring. That totally destroys any flow this brawl could have had. Instead there’s fighting and waiting, fighting and waiting. Finally Savage gets the pinfall on Crush, and then hog ties him to some kind of small scaffold or something. He can’t make it back to the ring and Savage wins his final WWF PPV match. What an awesome career from a Hall of Famer. He had five-star house show matches that many of us have never seen. I don’t know if anyone thought that at the time, but in hindsight it did feel like the epilogue of his WWF career. It was still a fun match, but it could have been better if the gimmick wasn’t so clunky. Grade: **

JT: Well, this is a sad moment as we have reached the legendary Randy Savage’s final WWF PPV match. He has had a storied career and some fantastic Mania matches, and it was cool to see him suit up for the Granddaddy one last time. His final WWF feud has been a good one, as Crush stabbed Macho in the back in October and the two had been warring ever since. For the first time in Mania history, we have a Falls Count Anywhere match, but there is also a weird stipulation added that allows the competitors a minute to get back to the ring once they are pinned outside of it. I have no idea what would occur if a pinfall happened inside? Or maybe it wasn’t even permitted. Savage wasted no time, charging at Crush during his entrance, but Crush made him pay by slamming him hard to the floor. He followed that up with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a hot shot across the guardrail for the first pinfall. That was a great callback to the October summit attack. Savage was badly hurt but was able to pull himself up and head to the ring, but Mr. Fuji smacked him with the flagpole, knocking him to the floor. Savage would recover again, sliding back inside with just two seconds remaining. As the match restarted, Crush methodically started to work over Savage, tying him in the Tree of Woe. As Macho was knotted up, Fuji handed Crush some salt, but that backfired as Savage tossed back into his eyes instead. Savage would slam Crush down and hit one last big elbow in a Mania ring. Realizing he had to pin him outside, Savage kicked him to the floor and covered him for a three count. Even though Crush was right next to the ring, it still took Fuji dousing him with water and 59 seconds for him to get back inside. Savage stayed in control but tried to charge Crush and got dumped over the top to the floor instead. The fight would spill into the fans, with Crush landing a stiff kick near the loading dock area. Savage would block a piledriver and whip Crush into the wall before running through a set of doors into a back room. The crowd was really heating up as Savage pinned Crush for a second time. Before leaving, Macho tied Crush up  and hung him from a scaffolding to ensure he couldn’t make it back in time, thus ending the match. Well, the match was just ok with some nice spots and decent brawling, but this was all about giving Savage a moment in the Mania sun and the crowd loved it. Crush was game to put his buddy over and Savage wrestled his usual gusto and ferocity. This feud has been a really good one to get Macho back in the mix and show that he could still go at an elevated pace. The 60 second stipulation hampered things a bit, leading to some dead spots instead of anticipation, which was probably the idea behind it. Still, there was enough here to make this a worthwhile entry into Macho Man’s WrestleMania canon even if it was a tad disappointing. Grade: **1/2

*** Todd Pettengil visits with Bill Clinton and IRS, who congratulates the President on raising taxes and doing a nice job running the country. ***

4) Alundra Blaze defeats Lelani Kai to retain WWF Women’s Title when Blayze pinned Leilani Kai with a German Suplex at 3:23

Fun Fact I: Deborah Ann Miceli was trained in 1984 by Eddie Sharkey and began working indie matches for $5 per match. Her career began to blossom in 1986 when she joined the AWA and began feuding with Sherri Martel, wrestling under the name Madusa Miceli. During her time in the AWA she also managed the AWA World Heavyweight Champion Curt Hennig and in 1987 won the AWA World Women’s Championship. In 1989 she performed a six week tour of Japan, winning and then quickly losing the IWA Women’s title during the tour. After the tour she stayed and began training in Japan, learning the Japanese style as well as other Muay Thai, boxing and kickboxing. She joined WCW in 1991 and was part of the Dangerous Alliance with Paul E. Dangerously. She mainly served as a valet for Rick Rude. She was brought in by the WWF in 1993 to revive the women’s division. The Women’s Championship had been vacant since 1990 when Rockin’ Robin last held it. Miceli, now wrestling under the name Alundra Blayze, won the vacant title in a six woman tournament with the final held against Heidi Lee Morgan on December 13, 1993. The match occurred on an episode of All-American Wrestling and was the only televised match of the tournament.

Fun Fact II: Leilani Kai is the only wrestler to compete on both WrestleMania I and WrestleMania X.

Fun Fact III: This is the first WWF Women’s Title match on PPV since Royal Rumble 1989, when Rockin’ Robin defeated Judy Martin.

Scott: Besides “The Fink”, we have the third of five people who were at WrestleMania I that is also here ten years later. The former Women’s Champ who lost to Wendi Richter way back in 1985 is back here to try and get the title back from one of the country’s best female workers. The former Madusa cut her teeth in the AWA and NWA and to this point was most known as part of the awesome Dangerous Alliance. Vince brings her in as they revive the Women’s Championship that was dormant the past few years and perhaps will add a little extra workrate to a company that needs more of it. The match isn’t much as Leilani had some standard 80s ladies’ offense but nothing much as Blayze gets the victory and moves on. A nice little placeholder and some history sprinkled in too. Grade: **

JT: It has been quite a while since we have had a Women’s Title match on WWF PPV and while some things have changed, some others have stayed the same. The change occurred at the top of the division, where newcomer Alundra Blayze is holding the gold as the new torchbearer for the company. Her opponent, however, is a familiar face. Leilani Kai competed in this very arena ten years earlier, losing the gold to Wendi Richter. She returns here to once again challenge for the gold. Blayze made her way to the WWF after a long run in WCW as Madusa and was a pretty big get for the company as they looked to relaunch the division. There very few North American women, if any, that were higher profile than her at the time. Kai looked to be in cement for parts of this as Blayze ran circles around her. She did show off some decent power with a stiff tree slam on the champ. She also looked really pissed off, especially in her Brenda Walsh “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” outfit. Kai dominated the action with slams and hair tosses, busting out her 1987 playbook, capped by violently chucking Alundra over the top to the floor. Blaze came back with a suplex and snap mare, followed by a German suplex into a bridge for the win. Well, that was spirited and Kai was pretty nasty in her mannerisms and attack. If she were a little younger, she may have had another run in her as a heel in this rebooted division. Alas, she was old. Alundra wins and moves on to her next challenge. Grade: *1/2

5) Men on a Mission defeat the Quebecers by countout at 7:42; Quebecers retain WWF Tag Team Titles

Fun Fact: MOM and Quebecers would go on to trade the tag titles two weeks later in England. MOM would win the belts on March 29 in London, but would drop them right back on March 31 in Sheffield. That would be the MOM’s only tag title reign. According to internet legend, the title switch was an accident, as MOM wasn’t supposed to win the titles in that match, but Mabel fell on Pierre and the pin was unintentionally counted.

Scott: Our second title match of the evening pits the heels with a cult following against three guys with some following but no workrate. I was never a MOM fan simply because they were hideous wrestlers and their manager Oscar may be one of the worst rappers in history. Jacques and Pierre are a great tag team with an equally great heel manager in Johnny Polo, and after regaining the titles in January they have been pretty solid as champions, but MOM are their toughest challenge. The match here is ok, as the Quebecers do the best they can bouncing around and putting MOM over as a credible team. They win the match by countout and we hear more terrible rapping from Oscar afterwards. The Quebecers keep the titles but lose the match. There really isn’t much more to say on this one, as the better team lost the match but kept the titles. Grade: **

JT: Up next is our second title match of the evening as the tag team gold is on the line. The Quebecers are still hanging on to their gold, finding all sorts of ways to escape tough challenges. Across the ring are the up and coming Men on a Mission and as usual, the crowd was quite into their entrance. I remember the Quebecers and Johnny Polo had an awesome promo leading up to this show where they did their own rap mocking MOM. Classic stuff. It was also surprising that we didn’t get the Steiners challenging here, but we would learn they were on the outs with the company due to payoffs and spending time in Japan. So, MOM gets the shot instead. Polo had a hell of a suit on here and he bails to the floor as his charges jump the challengers before the bell. They would chuck Mo to the floor and actually get Mabel down to a knee, but the big man came back with a clothesline that wiped out both champions. I have to say that watching how into MOM these crowds have been, if they had better looking gear and Mo didn’t look so old thanks to that dye job, they would have had a better run overall. They had a unique look and the rap gimmick really got people fired up. Mo grabbed a near fall on a cross body and then tagged in Mabel, who dropped a big leg on the back of Pierre. A quick double team behind the ref’s back would put he champs in control of Mo. They would use some effective double teams, including Jacques back dropping Pierre into a senton for a near fall. That was followed by Jacques propelling Pierre over the top rope and into Mo, who was recovering on the floor. As Oscar rallied the crowd, Mo ducked a clothesline and tossed his body into Pierre with a cannonball, but he wasn’t able to tag out thanks to the champs distracting the referee. Pierre would whiff on a top rope legdrop, now allowing for Mo to make a tepid tag. The big man cleaned house, but slammed into the corner when Jacques dodged a charge. The Quebecers tried a double suplex and actually got the big man over on the second try. That was a pretty cool spot that Polo celebrated accordingly. Pierre would head up top and connect with Le Bomb de Quebec, but Mabel actually kicked out. That should have been the finish. Pierre and Mabel would trade right hands but that led to some miscommunication with the champs. Mo would use his momentum to ride Mabel onto Jacques, but the referee was tied up and couldn’t count. The challengers repeated the move onto Pierre, but he was on the floor this time. Polo would pull Jacques outside as well and the champs ate the countout loss to keep their titles. Bah, didn’t care for the finish at all. I know MOM were fairly over, but there is no reason they couldn’t have laid down to give the Quebecers a solid win here. The match was just OK with some nice double team spots out of both teams, but otherwise the crowd was quiet and there wasn’t much heat behind MOM in this one. Grade: *1/2

*** USA Up All Night’s Rhonda Sheer (timekeeper) and NKOTB’s Donny Wahlberg (announcer) head to the ring as the guest celebrities for this match. Mr. Perfect is revealed as the special guest referee. ***

6) Yokozuna defeats Lex Luger by disqualification at 14:42 to retain WWF World Title

Fun Fact: President Jack Tunney announced that both WWF Title matches would feature surprise special guest referees. Mr. Perfect is revealed as the referee for this match prior to the bout starting.

Fun Fact II: After the cheap ending, the crowd was pissed at the decision and was loudly chanting “bullshit,” giving Mr. Perfect huge heel heat, and Luger and Perfect were headed into a big feud. However, Perfect got cold feet and backed out at the last minute, because if he started wrestling again, he would lose his huge insurance payout on his back, and he wasn’t ready to give up free loot just yet. Crush replaced Perfect on the house show circuit, and Curt Hennig vanished from WWF TV just a few weeks after this show. He would return as a commentator late in 1995.

Scott: Our first World Title match of the night pits the WWF Champion against one half of the Royal Rumble winners. Based on the cheers from Providence, Luger was definitely #2 behind Bret Hart in the popularity department. So that could lead to little doubt whether Luger actually wins the title here and we have a face vs. face match later or Yoko gets his win back from SummerSlam. The fact that Mr. Perfect is the referee does indeed show that some shenanigans could go down at some point. Perfect is a babyface but based on his past he isn’t adverse to heel tactics. The SummerSlam match was based on Luger getting off to a quick start but Yoko spent the middle of the match really using his weight to lean on the challenger. With this match being only a few minutes shorter than that one, the layout of it changed slightly. Luger really got off to a fast start and went for numerous quick pins here; clearly knowing the winner of this match has to wrestle a second match about an hour from now. Bret Hart, even though he lost a grueling 20 minute match to his brother, is in the back resting and will have a decent time of preparation. That fact alone correlates with the fact that when Yokozuna takes control he dives right into the nerve pinch submission hold to preserve energy. It’s probably a good three minutes of that hold, but at least Vince and Lawler keep the commentary going and the cameras shoot to the crowd and to Jim Cornette on the sidelines to try and hide the fact the move is hooked in for so long. Luger fights through it and eventually drills the champion with an exposed turnbuckle from earlier in the match. Luger keeps hitting clotheslines and then a bodyslam. He hits the bionic forearm that nobody talks about now (except Lawler) since Luger is a babyface. Then the shenanigans. Luger had the pin attempt and the three count, but instead of Perfect counting, he’s trying to get Mr. Fuji and Cornette out of the ring. Luger shoves Perfect, and our special referee disqualifies him. The ending is a big mess but it does keep Luger from getting pinned and Yoko keeps the title for later in the evening. The crowd is chanting “BULLSHIT”, which is very unlike a mid-90s WWF crowd. That brings me back to an earlier point about the wrestling fanbase changing. So we are set for our main event at the end of the evening. The match was ok, not as good as the SummerSlam match but serviceable for the moment. Grade: **1/2

JT: As we reach the halfway point of our show, it is time for our first WWF Title match. Jack Tunney had announced that each bout would have a special guest referee and this time out it is the returning Mr. Perfect, who gets a very warm welcome. Lex Luger had won a coin toss on Raw to get the first match here and he celebrated like it was a big victory, but honestly I think he got hosed. If he did win the belt here, he still had to defend it. I would rather only have to wrestle one bout with the gold on the line, and also have it be with a softened champion. Bret had a grueling match, but it opened the show and it was somewhat low pressure, as a loss didn’t affect anything. If Luger had lost the toss, he would have had a meaningless match with Crush and then be set up for one crack at the gold. Hart was the real winner on Raw. Yokozuna’s reign was now on month nine and he was starting to build an air of invincibility. If he were somehow able to escape this night as champion, then you had to wonder if anyone could beat him. As Lex Luger emerged with his new theme music, we can flashback to SummerSlam and that questionable match finish and wonder if it was worth it. The whole plan was to establish him for a strong win here, to finally cash in at WrestleMania, but based on the reaction here, it is clear the fans had cooled despite Vince gushing loudly and putting him over big time. While I think Luger’s new theme is fine in a vacuum, it was a bit too slow and quiet and added to his “laid back, whatever choker” vibe he already gave off. It didn’t inspire you, he needed something fast and upbeat. Luger laid into Yoko with fists and clotheslines immediately, rocking the big man, but Yoko planted him with a clothesline of his own. Luger dodged an elbow and popped Yoko again, leading to a battle on the floor that saw Yoko eat the steps. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Perfect’s referee jumpsuit. Perhaps it was an homage to Donny Wahlberg? Lex kept firing away until Yoko stopped him dead with a thrust. The champ worked Lex over a bit, yanking the turnbuckle pad off in the midst of the attack. The champ slowed things way down with his nerve hold, killing any momentum the match had and quieting the crowd. During one close up it looked like Luger was laughing while laying on his back, trapped in the hold, and then I realized Perfect was probably trying to crack him up as he checked in. Lex finally battled to his feet but Yoko put him right back down on the mat and then jawed with Perfect before going right back to the nerve hold. I am not sure they could have found a lazier way to both apply and sell this hold and it has just really killed the match. Luger got free again, but was dumped to the floor and smacked by Fuji. When he got back inside, they went right back to the nerve hold. And Lex would fight free once more, but yet again Yoko went to the nerve hold for a fourth time and now the crowd started to turn on them audibly.

Luger made one last comeback attempt but was cut short by a belly-to-belly. Before we got another nerve hold, Lex got to his feet and landed a few blows in, rocking Yoko and eventually knocking him down with a series of clotheslines. Yoko popped up but Luger slammed him and then clocked him with his forearm in the most exciting sequence of the match. Before Luger could cover, Cornette and Fuji hopped on the apron, but Lex slugged them both down. He would finally cover the champ but before counting, Perfect went over and tried to to clear the managers’ bodies from the ring. An angry Luger popped to his feet and lightly shoved Perfect to get his attention. Perfect didn’t take kindly to that and called for the bell and the DQ. Welp. The crowd really didn’t like that one, especially after the fourteen minutes of boredom they just sat through. Perfect stormed off as the crowd chanted “bullshit” while Luger stood dumbfounded in the ring, screwed again. Todd Pettengil caught up to Perfect backstage and that led to Luger arriving and the two arguing over the outcome. The match sucked. The finish sucked. Luger chokes again and you have to think this was a major blow to any credibility he may have had. To think they went the way they did back in August and this is where things ended up, all that promise of the summer of 1993 is gone in a puff of smoke. The Lex Express has officially been derailed. Grade: 1/2*

7) Earthquake defeats Adam Bomb with a splash at :33

Fun Fact: This match was supposed to feature the recently returning Earthquake facing off against Ludvig Borga, who had been off TV since January due to an injury. The WWF kept plugging Borga’s presence until about one week before the show, which is when they finally realized he would not be ready in time and thus slipped Adam Bomb into his spot. Earthquake had returned to the WWF on the 1/31 Raw. His stay would be brief with the highlight being his Sumo Match against Yokozuna on the 5/16 Raw. Earthquake was then written out of storylines in an angle where he was crushed by Yoko on a 5/14 house show, made to seem like it happened after the Sumo Match. John Tenta would head to WCW in the fall under the name Avalanche.

Scott: This had to have been an audible in the back to have this match go so short. Harvey Whippleman comes out to belittle Finkel and his bad toupee. Finkel shoved him and out comes Adam Bomb to defend his manager. Earthquake comes out, and :35 seconds later the match is over. Nice quick win for Earthquake but this was clearly supposed to go longer. Grade: DUD

JT: As the crowd is still buzzing from our last match, we rush right along to our next contest, where Harvey Wippleman is in the ring and gets into a shoving match with his rival Howard Finkel after Harvey had berated him. Things degenerate and Fink shoves Harvey around until Adam Bomb comes out for the save. As Bomb grabbed Fink, Earthquake came out and drilled him from behind. Quake would drop Bomb with a powerslam and polish him off with the Earthquake Splash to pick up the quick win. Well, you could tell they were pressed for time after that quickie. Quake had returned to the promotion earlier in January and was set up for a match with Ludvig Borga, but Borga’s ankle never properly healed and he left the promotion. Bomb stepped in but gets splattered here. Quake would hang around until May but left just as quickly as he arrived. This was reminiscent of a Mania match from the early years, squash city to keep the train moving. Grade: DUD

8) Razor Ramon defeats Shawn Michaels in a Ladder Match to retain WWF Intercontinental Title when he climbed the ladder and retrieved the belts at 18:46

Fun Fact: In the fall of 1993, President Jack Tunney stripped Shawn Michaels of the Intercontinental title for failing to defend it. Razor Ramon won the vacant title by winning a battle royal for the belt. Michaels did not recognize the title change and continued to promote himself as the real Intercontinental champion. This match was made to unify the real Intercontinental Title (Ramon’s) and the fake Intercontinental Title (Michaels’).

These two had been engaged in a brutal feud since Michaels returned in November and were on a collision course at this point. The feud also featured the 1-2-3 Kid and Diesel in prominent roles and helped those two guys get over as a result as well. After the match, Shawn was given five months off to heal up and recharge his batteries, and from late-March to July he stayed on TV as Diesel’s manager, even guiding him to an Intercontinental Title win in April. Michaels wrestled his return match against Razor on the August 1st edition of Raw and the rest is history.

Fun Fact II: This is the first televised ladder match in WWF history. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels competed in one in Portland, ME on July 21, 1992 that later aired on the Coliseum Video release Smack ‘Em, Whack ‘Em.

Scott: We have another debut gimmick here. Well on PPV anyway. If you either of the Ladder Match DVDs, you know that the gimmick started back in the early 1980s in Stampede Wrestling. The main companies (WWF, NWA, AWA) never used it in their 80s heyday. In 1992, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had a ladder match at a house show for the Intercontinental Title. But now to clear up the feud over who is the true Intercontinental Champion, both belts are hung over the ring. With it being in essence a no disqualification match, and a ladder being used as a tool and a weapon we have unlimited possibilities. They do some regular wrestling for the first few minutes, including Diesel with a cheap shot on Razor from the outside. The referee tosses him from ringside as a result, and then Shawn grabs the ladder. From here we are in fun, unchartered territory. Shawn and Razor use the ladder in different ways. Razor used it as a bludgeoning tool to hit Michaels in the face and the gut, while Michaels uses it to hit high flying moves, such as a memorable splash onto Razor that is forever been put in one video montage after another for anything. The creativity that both men use gives this match such a fresh composition never seen before in WWF history. The best thing here is that Diesel was kicked out of the match so that these two can focus on each other and climbing the ladder and grabbing BOTH belts. Both men go up the ladder numerous times to grab the titles but the other tips the ladder over, or in one memorable moment Razor yanks Shawn’s tights and we get a full moon at the Garden. The crowd is bonkers with every attempt by someone to climb up. At one point both men climb up and Razor does a crazy suplex off the ladder, bending the ladder in the process. We do see at one point perhaps the start of Michaels officially using the superkick as his finishing maneuver. He smacks Razor with it, and then rides the ladder over the Bad Guy’s prone body and at this point you think that after a haphazard 1993 and the suspension that Shawn was being rewarded with an IC Title run. However just as his fingers are grasping the belts, Razor tips the ladder over and Shawn is tangled in the ropes. Razor, beaten and slowed, puts the ladder up and slowly, slowly, slowly climbs up the ladder and grabs the titles just before collapsing to the canvas. We have our second five star match of the night because the innovation of a new gimmick along with two guys who went in wanting to steal the show after the first five star match of the night. The match by which every ladder match from here on out will be measured (at least the next decade). This PPV just went from really good to a classic. Grade: *****

JT: After a hell of a build since Shawn Michaels returned to the promotion, it was time to finally decide the one, true Intercontinental Champion. For the first time on WWF TV, we have a ladder match gimmick and they couldn’t have picked a better match to utilize it for when you factor in the angle and the competitors. MSG looked fantastic with the black and gold bunting and the two beautiful IC titles dangling from the ceiling. Michaels looked as locked in and cocky as ever as he strutted out to the ring, flanked by Diesel, ready to finally cash in and steal a PPV, something that had been expected of him for well over a year now. When Ramon entered, he tempted fate by waltzing under the ladder and cruising into the ring. The match had a fairly basic start but you could tell they were just laying the base down and getting things established. Ramon would get dumped outside, where he was met by a big Diesel clothesline. That didn’t stand well with Earl Hebner and he decided to toss the big man before he could levy any more damage. During that arguing, Ramon recovered and came back in hot, smacking Michaels around and knocking him back to the floor where he exposed the concrete but was stopped by Michaels before anything could happen. Back inside, Michaels blocked a Razor’s Edge attempt and sent the Bad Guy onto that exposed concrete with a back drop. That gave Shawn the first opening to go grab the ladder, which he successfully did. Razor met him and fought him off and tried to push the ladder in the ring, but Shawn caught him off guard with a baseball slide that crammed the ladder back into Ramon’s gut. Shawn would continue to use the ladder as a weapon, ramming it into Ramon’s ribs and then slamming it on his back before finally just throwing it at him, each time with authority. Michaels would be the first to chase the gold, but Razor yanked him down. Michaels remained in control, slamming the Bad Guy down and then ascending the ladder and crashing off it with a beautiful big splash. Razor would stop Shawn from grabbing the gold again, leading to both men colliding and wiping out. Shawn was the first to his feet and set up the ladder in the corner, but his plan backfired as Ramon reversed an Irish whip and sent Michaels careening into the steel and then up and over to the floor. Instead of going for the strap, Ramon slid outside and sandwiched Shawn between the ladder and post. Ramon followed that up by setting the ladder against the apron and slingshotting Michaels into it. The innovation and aggression here is top notch with each ladder attack resonating thoroughly thanks to the pacing.

They would battle back into the ring but Ramon sent Shawn right back out by smacking him with the ladder. Razor made his first attempt to grab the title, but Shawn scurried up to the top rope and dove into Ramon with an ax handle blow. After a few seconds, both men tried to climb at the same time, but it ended ugly when Razor tossed Shawn off and then collapsed to the mat with the ladder bending awkwardly, turning it into an unsafe teetering device. As both men recovered, Shawn ducked a clothesline and caught Ramon with a superkick. With the Bad Guy down and in trouble, Shawn grabbed the ladder, climbed the top rope and rode the steel down onto Razor. Again, so creative and violent. This was remarkably fresh and new for this company, making it a monumental match and one that you knew was an instant classic as it was happening. Shawn made another slow climb, but Razor popped up and tipped the ladder, causing Shawn to crotch himself on the top rope and get tied up on the way down. With Shawn frantically trying to free himself, Razor slowly climbed up, grabbed the gold and officially cemented himself as the only Intercontinental Champion. That was a fantastic battle with tons of unique and vicious shots. Sure, they may seem tame to the modern eye from a spot perspective, but the impact and violence of each blow was something to see. There were no lags and everything built and made sense, with Michaels really busting out some creative attacks and Ramon taking a bitch of a beating and still surviving to win. To me, due to the action, the build, the innovation, the violence and the historical significance, I have to dole out my second perfect match rating of the night. Grade: *****

*** There was supposed be a ten man tag match here, but due to time constraints, the match was cut out. They quickly showed the heel team in the back arguing over who was the team captain, and since they couldn’t decide, Vince McMahon announces that the match has been canceled. The match was supposed to be: Jeff Jarrett, Rick Martel, IRS and the Headshrinkers vs. Tatanka, Sparky Plugg, Smoking Gunns and the 1-2-3 Kid. The match ended up taking place on the April 4th edition of Raw. ***

*** Todd Pettengil checks back in with Bill Clinton, who is also chatted up by Ted DiBiase, who attempts to talk business and ends up getting blown off by Bill. ***

*** The legendary actor Burt Reynolds (announcer) and Beverly Hills, 90210’s Jennie Garth (timekeeper) are introduced as the guest celebrities for the Main Event. Roddy Piper is then revealed as the guest referee. ***

9) Bret Hart defeats Yokozuna to win WWF World Title when Yokozuna falls off the ropes attempting a Bonzai Drop at 10:30

Fun Fact: This was the first time that the same match headlined two WrestlemMnias, and the only time the same match headlined back-to-back WrestleManias until 2012 & 2013. Andre the Giant and Hogan Hogan main evented at WrestleMania III, but fought in the mid card at WrestleMaania IV.

Fun Fact II: Roddy Piper is revealed as the special guest referee prior to the match. This is Piper’s first PPV appearance since playing the bagpipes at SummerSlam 1992.

Fun Fact III: Leilani Kai, Howard Finkel, Roddy Piper, Gorilla Monsoon and Mike Rotundo are the only five people to appear at WrestleMania I and X on camera.

Scott: One year after he left Las Vegas without the WWF Title and forgotten in the hoopla of shoehorned Hulkamania, Bret Hart gets his long-awaited crack at the WWF Title he was screwed out of at WrestleMania IX. First off we have a special referee for this match too. It is the fourth person tonight that was also at WrestleMania I: THE HOT ROD! Roddy Piper makes his return to the WWF after losing to Bret Hart two years earlier at the Hoosier Dome for the Intercontinental Title. Maybe they were trying to cast some doubt into Piper’s neutrality like Perfect had in the first match? I couldn’t see Yokozuna somehow winning two matches tonight and leaving Champion, nor could I see another weird screwjob like last year in Vegas. They wouldn’t pull that off two years in a row. So conventional wisdom would tell you that Bret would finally be rewarded for being pushed to the side the past year in favor of both Hulkamania and the Lex Express project. As for the champion, well since we haven’t had a long-term heel champion since probably Superstar Billy Graham. So kudos to Yokozuna for being a solid World Champion who put over his character and his gimmick, as well as Jim Cornette for being able to do what Mr. Fuji really couldn’t do anymore which is act as an effective mouthpiece. The match is about as good as their match at WrestleMania IX was, with Bret selling a knee injury from the earlier match and Yokozuna dominating the action and trying to put the match away quickly. Piper decks Cornette to establish whose side he is on. I couldn’t see Piper turning heel here and costing Bret the match, as that would have been such a downer for this great NY crowd who’s been given a fantastic show here. Bret, other than some occasional punches, is in peril for pretty much the entire match. That’s odd considering he’s been in the back for almost an hour and a half while Yokozuna just wrestled like 45 minutes ago. Then, we get one of the oddest endings to a match ever. Yokozuna is about to Banzai Drop Bret to finish it, but he loses his balance and falls. Bret then just rolls over and pins him. That was very strange, but regardless the Garden goes bonkers and the heels chase Piper down the ramp. Bret raises the title up in the air, and then Lex Luger comes out. Luger lost a heartbreaker earlier but he does the right thing and congratulates the Hitman on his victory. All the babyfaces come out to celebrate, including probably Bret’s two biggest fans backstage: Randy Savage and Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla knew Stu Hart back in the day and must be filled with emotion seeing Stu’s son in his biggest moment. Savage and Bret came into their own in 1986 and have been contemporaries through the Federation Era. One of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history is subtle but awesome. As Bret is on the shoulders of his peers, Owen Hart slowly stalks up the ramp. His look of rage and jealousy at watching his brother be champion after beating him three hours earlier is fantastic. Great setup for the next few months of storylines. The match is average but the moment is historic. Grade: **1/2

JT: Well, here we are. It has been a very long twelve months since Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Title at WrestleMania IX. Hulk Hogan has come and gone, the New Generation is being launched, and the Hitman is still standing tall, thirsty to regain his beloved gold. The only question that remained was whether or not the Hitman could shake off the tough loss from earlier in the evening and get his mind right to hang with the monster champion. Also, you had to wonder how winded Yoko was from his previous bout. Roddy Piper is our second guest referee of the night, making his first appearance since SummerSlam 1992. It was a nice touch to bring out the Hot Rod and it was fitting to have him back in MSG here considering the role he played in kicking it all off. The crowd was psyched to see Piper and that ovation carried right over to the Hitman’s entrance as well. Hart was still hobbled after having banged his knee up in the opener. As he entered the ring, Yoko went right at him, not even waiting for the bell. Bret tried to slug his way out of the corner, but Yoko crumbled him with a right hand of his own. Yoko was moving pretty well, not giving Bret any sort of breather, a real 180 from his last bout. Bret hit a desperation dropkick, but Yoko swatted away a second way and went right back on the attack. Bret’s selling was great here and Piper did his best to help a bit by chasing Cornette off the apron. Hart found what may be his last opening by avoiding a big splash, but Yoko was first to his feet.  Hart met him with some strong punches to the jaw and then rocked both himself and the champ with a headbutt. In a nice spot, the two tired men traded blows while on the mat, ending with Yoko going to the eyes. Bret shook it off and again laid in a series of blows before putting the champ down with an axe blow to the back. Cornette would break up the count by yanking Piper out of the ring, leading to Roddy decking him to a big pop. Yoko went back on the offensive as the crowd did whatever they could to rally Hart. After nearly avoiding a countout loss, Hart looked to be cooked as Yoko wore him down in the corner. Then, things finally turned when Hart dodged a Yoko splash in the corner. With the champ staggered, Hart hit him with a bulldog off the middle rope for a near fall. He followed with a sharp elbow off the ropes for another two count and then really caught Yoko good with a running clothesline. All that momentum was quick evaporated as Yoko caught Bret coming off the topes and squashed him with a belly-to-belly. Yoko dragged Hart to the corner and climbed the ropes as he had done hundreds of times before. However, as he steadied himself for the Banzai Drop, the toll of a long night of action finally wore thin and Yoko collapsed backwards. Hart covered the stunned champion and picked up the win to earn his second WWF Title. What a great moment. I am not sure what to think about the finish, but they would play it off that Yoko was still woozy from Luger’s forearm earlier in the night. As the crowd went wild, a gaggle of Bret’s peers, officials, celebrity guests and friends paraded into the ring to celebrate with the new champion, the standard bearer of the New Generation, which Vince all but coins to close the match. And then, i a great touch, Owen Hart walks out into the aisle and stares his brother down angrily before walking off. It was a classic, fantastic, memorable close to what has been a really fun show. The match was pretty well worked, not as good as the year before, but still pretty solid, especially when you consider it was their second match of the night. But regardless, it was the final moments and the aftermath that really mattered. Grade: **

Final Analysis

Scott: Considering that the WWF was ripped through history for how they handled the booking in 1993, from aging Hulkamania to the lukewarm Lex Express, they started to really bounce back here. So in 1994 things had to go back to…1992? Well yes. The most over guy in the company was easily Bret Hart, and he was shoved to the backburner when Vince was given paranoid delusions by the Yellow and Red. As 1994 started, the Royal Rumble showed management that Bret was still the guy everybody loved. So on this night at Madison Square Garden, all the mistakes made in 1993 were rectified. Bret Hart wrestled one of the best matches of his career against his brother, and he had no problems putting Owen over to further the storyline. Then three hours later, he once again regained the WWF Title that was shamelessly taken away from him. His match with Owen may still be considered the greatest PPV opener of all time (until 2014 perhaps). On top of that you have a SECOND five star match between two guys who tried to (and might have) stolen the show from Bret and Owen. Shawn Michaels proved he could be trusted as a top flight performer and Razor Ramon may be the #2 babyface in the company after his ladder match win that made history. The rest of the show was entertaining and supplied fun (if not slightly dated) entertainment. What makes this show so classic is that is literally came from out of nowhere. WrestleMania III and WrestleMania VI had such crazy hype that they almost had no choice but to be classics. But in an era of history where there was no expectations anywhere, this show shattered the mid-90s glass ceiling and proved that anything is possible if you have faith in your product and book things that make sense. Taking risks doesn’t hurt either. As depressing as 1993 looked after WrestleMania IX, is as promising as the rest of 1994 looked after this show. Grade: A+

JT: Well, we certainly have a very different show from the last time the WWF delivered a WrestleMania. With a red hot crowd jammed into Madison Square Garden, the company paid off some long burning storylines, unraveled some simmering storylines and officially kicked off their New Generation with a show chock full of memorable moments and sandwiched inside a pair of ***** matches. While the rest of the action outside of the big two was certainly lacking, the storytelling was really good, feuds were blown off, the pacing was crisp and the classic moments littered the show. In addition to the two classics, we also had Owen Hart’s ascension, Randy Savage’s farewell, the returns of Mr. Perfect and Roddy Piper, the cementing of Lex Luger as a choker and the crowning of the Once and Future King. This was an apology and a thank you to the Hitman, a coronation of the future of the company, something that should have happened a year earlier. They did a great job making this show feel special, between the classic Mania moments and the way they paid respect to the past while looking to the future tied everything together. On paper, this may not always seem like a classic WrestleMania, but the show was loaded with fun moments and characters and two of the greatest and most historic matches in company history. Final Grade: A