The Audit: WWF WrestleMania XI Review

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With WrestleMania XXX weekend now upon us, I thought I’d Audit one more Mania in it’s honor. A lot of people have been complaining about the build to this year’s WrestleMania event, and the feeling is that the show doesn’t feel “BIG”. So what I’ve decided to do is go back in time and review a WrestleMania that wasn’t exactly ‘one of the best’. Hopefully by the time I’m done Auditing this WrestleMania below, both you and I will have a new found appreciation for WrestleMania XXX. I can almost guarantee I will.

WWF WRESTLEMANIA XI
“LT vs. Bam Bam”

It was April 2, 1995 from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut. The gate was something like 16,000 or so fans, which barely topped any of the three locations from WrestleMania II, and is credited as beating the WrestleMania VII crowd by a couple hundred people. Which, by quality alone is pretty sad, because Mania VII would blow this shit out of the water if you ask me. We stick with the three hour format, and only seven matches on the card. Well, that must mean the matches are going longer, which should mean QUALITY right?????? Right????? Well let’s take a look at the card…..

* NFL Legend Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
* WWF Heavyweight Champion Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels
* Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund in an ‘I Quit’ Match (Special Referee Appointed)
* Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon
* Tag Team Champions Smoking Gunns vs. Owen Hart and a Mystery Partner
* The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy
* Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith vs. Jacob and Eli Blu
Plus, Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Nicholas Turturro, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, LT’s “All-Star Team”, Salt-n-Peppa, and more!

That doesn’t look very promising, maybe they’ll surprise me.

* In the dark match, well no, there wasn’t a dark match. That’s just how low on talent the WWF was at this point. Now you see why Diesel was champion for an entire year?

The show begins with an opening video package highlighting the first ten WrestleMania events, some faulty microphone work as Vince tries to announce Special Olympian Kathy Huey who sings a rendition of “American the Beautiful”. Once she’s finished, Vince welcomes us to WrestleMania, but not in his usual screaming, shouting, jovial, pumped up way. Instead, he says it calmly, almost like he knows this shit is going to bomb. Vince & Lawler are at ringside for commentary, I can’t get over how uninterested Vince sounds compared to usual. But he had to love the ridiculous press, media, and paparazzi, at ringside for the evening. It’s actually quite ridiculous as two sides of the ring are filled with press on the outside, taking up so much room that if I paid for a ringside ticket I’d be flipping out. Everyone was there for LT.

(Notes going in: To call the tag division stale at this point would be an understatement. This would be the night Vince decided to try and revive the division by taking solidified singles stars and sticking them in teams to try and rejuvenate the division. Basically, the opposite of what they would normally do, taking teams and splitting them up to create stars. The Blu Twins (Ron & Don Harris) were still relatively new to the promotion with Dutch Mantell working as their manager, “Uncle Zebekiah”. Luger and Bulldog, as big name stars as they were, were going nowhere fast due to the depleted heel roster to work with. So McMahon slaps them together as a new team, and I do believe this is their first televised match as a full time team, complete with their own brand new theme music and tag team name, ‘The Allied Powers’. What you’re looking at here is two top level babyfaces battling two mid-card heels that had accomplished nothing at this point, or any point for that matter. But Vince loved the big guys, so they make the show.)


The Allied Powers (Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith) vs. Jacob and Eli Blu (with Uncle Zebekiah)

When this match was announced, Luger and Smith weren’t even an established team. I believe this is their first televised match as a team. They’ve now been labeled the ‘Allied Powers’ and come to the ring with a new theme that mixes Smith’s “Rule Britannia” with Luger’s “Made in the USA” theme. The Twins try and jump the Powers, but that doesn’t work out too well. Some shitty timed double team spots by Luger and Davey follow to clear the Blu’s from the ring.

The match gets going and Davey starts right away with a delayed suplex for 2. Smith ducks a double clothesline from the Twins, but nails both with his own clotheslines. Smith comes off the ropes but runs into a knee from the Blu on the apron. The Twins take over control. Smith with a small package, but the referee misses it because of Lex, and the illegal Blu breaks it up to make the save. The Twins stay on Davey with a double Big Boot. Smith keeps fighting back, but the Blu’s keep making both legal and illegal switches.

Eli Blu misses something off the middle rope and Smith makes the hot tag to Lex. Jacob tags in as well. Luger with his usual offense, repeating moves he did at the opening of the match, clothesline, powerslam, it’s like the opening all over again. Lex nails the illegal steel plated forearm of doom and goes for the cover, but Eli breaks it up. That brings Davey in. While the referee forces Smith out, Eli replaces Jacob in the ring. The illegal, yet fresh Blu Twin, sets Lex up for a piledriver, but fails to notice Luger has tagged in Davey Boy. While Eli bends over to hook Lex, Smith comes off the top rope with a sunset flip for the pin in 6:40.

Winners: Lex and Davey

After the match, Jim Ross tries to interview the losers, Zebekiah and the Blu Twins, in the aisle way. Zebekiah says they were robbed by the big city folk. The lighting doesn’t work for the interview and this entire thing is conducted in the dark.

(Post Match Thoughts: The WWF was trying to revive the tag division by using big names, but that doesn’t make a good match. When you want to get over two muscle-bound heroes you don’t stick them out there with guys much larger than them. Match looked awkward at times, wasn’t good at all. 1/2* at best)

Next, we go to the back with tonight’s roving reporter, Nick Turturro from NYPD Blue. He’s with Jenny McCarthy and the Million Dollar Corporation in the background. There’s no audio so they have to cut away as Kama starts to walk up to McCarthy. Remember this for later when they redo this exact segment with the same exact mannerisms. Wrestling Fake? Noooo!

 

(Notes going in: This feud had basically been a war of words up until Royal Rumble 1995 when Jarrett basically stole the WWF IC Championship from the Bad Guy thanks to the aid of the Roadie. Now Ramon is back for revenge, and his IC Championship, but he isn’t alone this time. Razor brings his buddy the 1-2-3 Kid to ringside to act as a second to thwart off any potential interference from the Roadie in this rematch.)

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (with Roadie) vs. Razor Ramon (with 1-2-3 Kid)

A pissed off Razor rushes the ring, forcing all of the pain in the ass members of the press to spread out of the way so he can get inside. Jarrett with a swing and a miss and Razor goes to town before posing with the Kid for some pyro work. Now keep in mind the bell has sounded before the pyro, or the referee taking the belt. Razor with some quick pin attempts, and then clotheslines Jarrett to the floor.

Back in the ring, Jarrett fakes a reverse body block and hits a sunset flip off the second rope, but it doesn’t work. Jarrett almost collides with Roadie on the apron, but he puts on the brakes. Razor sends Jarrett into Roadie anyway, and then rolls Jeff up for a 2 count. Ramon picks Jarrett up for the Razor’s Edge, but Roadie grabs Jarrett’s foot to save him. Jeff tries fleeing ringside, but the 1-2-3 Kid rolls him back in. Jarrett has a short bit of offense before crotching himself. Razor then knocks Roadie off the apron and tosses Jarrett over the top rope and back outside.

Jeff steps back in the ring and takes over with a neckbreaker, and then his game is on. Jeff with some strutting and some wrestling, working on the back of Ramon. Razor catches a foot, Jeff misses an inzuigiri, but Jarrett stays on top with a chinlock. Razor escapes and counters with a backslide for 2. And Jarrett right back on top of things. Razor fights back with some punches, but Jarrett locks on the sleeper.

Ramon escapes the sleeper pretty quickly, but Jarrett goes back to the chinlock. Ramon escapes that with a back suplex. These guys are moving through this match pretty fast, the rest holds are fast, as are the selling spots on the mat. Seems liek they’re trying to squeeze in more than the time they’re being allowed. Both men go down at the same time twice in a row.

Both men trade punches, Jarrett tries a body block but Razor catches and delivers a fall away slam for 2. Spinning punch by Ramon. The 1-2-3 Kid tries to post Jeff Jarrett’s crotch in the corner post, but Jarrett kicks him backwards into the steel railing. Razor comes off the second rope with a bulldog, but misses and blows out his knee. Jeff Jarrett capitalizes with the Figure Four! Roadie assists with leverage behind referee Tim White’s back. Ramon won’t quit and he won’t stay down for a pin. Razor finally turns the hold over! Ramon reverses the Figure Four!

Jarrett releases the hold, and now both men are hobbling. Jarrett misses a wild punch and Razor counters with a Back Suplex Off the top rope! Ramon calls for the Razor’s Edge. He picks Jarrett up again, and this time Roadie hits the ring and clips the leg of Ramon right in front of the referee for the DQ after 13:32.

Winner: Razor Ramon on a DQ

Directly after the bell, the 1-2-3 Kid slides into the ring to even the odds, nailing Jarrett and Roadie with all sorts of spin kicks. Jarrett finally attacks the Kid while he’s busy with Roadie. Jeff takes the Kid down and applies the Figure Four while Roadie assists. Ramon is back up and he attacks Jarrett. Jeff and the Roadie take off, but not before they grab the IC Title. Jarrett loses by DQ, but retains the title. What a payoff.

Jim Ross interviews Jarrett, who has a busted nose, in the aisle. Jarrett says Razor is nothing, and Jeff is still the champ!

(Post Match Thoughts: This was actually better than I remembered, thankfully. I don’t know that this match is going to save this show, but the guys came to wrestle and had a decent match. The DQ finish was shitty for a Mania PPV payoff. The Kid’s interference and stupid jacket were distracting at times. Roadie pulls Jeff to safety twice. Too much outside bullshit for me, but the guys did okay. **1/2)

Remember that interview from earlier with Nick Turturro, Jenny McCarthy, and the Million Dollar Team? They redo the thing, with the only difference being King Kong Bundy missing because his match is up next. Kama steps up to Jenny (AGAIN), Sid & Shawn Michaels also join the segment. Ramblings from Sid. Shawn will be champ. Sid is just ‘Psycho’.

– Barry Didinski, (remember him?) shills the WrestleMania XI merchandise. Sell those shirts!

– Todd Pettingill is at ringside to interview former Chicago Bear Neil Anderson about the LT/Bigelow match. Obviously, Anderson is behind LT.

(Notes going in: As part of the 1995 Royal Rumble event, the Undertaker was challenged by Million Dollar Corporation member Mike “Fake IRS” Rotunda. During the match, King Kong Bundy, another Corporation member, interfered and enabled the Corporation to steal The Undertaker’s urn, which was said to be the source of his power. After the Undertaker finished his business with Rotunda, he would seek revenge on the Corporation, namely Bundy, for stealing his urn. This would be that opportunity.)

Our referee for the match is MLB American League umpire Larry Young. With the MLB on strike the year before, Young is getting a spot here on WrestleMania for no real reason other than to add to the “star power”. Young would resume his MLB career with the 1995 season.

The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs. King Kong Bundy (with Ted DiBiase)

DiBiase brings the urn to ringside. Bundy tries a back jump, but Taker steps aside. Taker all over Bundy and delivers Old School, when it was still fairly New School, very early in the match. Undertaker with three clotheslines to take down Bundy for the first time. Bundy comes back with a clothesline that knocks Taker out of the ring, but the dead man lands on his feet and snatches the Urn from Ted DiBiase and hands it back to Paul Bearer. DiBiase starts to walk towards the back, waving for Kama, who takes the urn back from Paul Bearer. Undertaker goes after Kama, but Bundy jumps him from behind.

Jim Ross interviews Kama in the aisle right in the middle of the match. Kama says he’s melting down the urn into a chain so that he can wear it. How stupid. Bundy remains in control of Undertaker, slamming him and dropping a knee for 2. Chinlock for Bundy. Bearer tries to rally the crowd, but this crowd is mostly dead. Undertaker escapes, but Bundy follows up with the AVALANCHE! But the Undertaker no sells, and hits Bundy with a big boot, a huge bodyslam and the flying clothesline for the win in 6:37. Bundy just walks off afterwards all pissed off. Way to sell.

Winner: Taker 4-0

(Post Match Thoughts: This was boring, not necessarily the worst thing ever, nothing really got flubbed, but the match was bad. I don’t think anyone expected a barn burner, which is why they got 6 minutes, which was still too long for me. Better than Giant Gonzalez, yet not quite as good as the Superfly. The Undertaker’s streak of Mania squashes continue. With Bundy doing a job to a clothesline I did like that they added the big slam beforehand. This match gets 1/4* for not being as bad as it could have been. Might have even given it 1/2* if they had cut out that chinlock sequence and went right into the Avalanche spot.)

– Nicholas Turturro, our roving reporter for the night, is still looking for Pamela Anderson. As of yet, she is nowhere to be found! Instead he runs into LT’s All-Pro team. For some reason, each NFL player has a specific grudge with individual members of DiBiase’s corporation. Steve McMichael wants Kama, Reggie White wants King Kong Bundy, Chris Spielman wants Tatanka, Carl Banks wants Nikolai Volkoff… for some reason.

– Turturro then stumbles upon some goofy crap with Bob Backlund playing chess with Jonathan Taylor Thomas of ‘Home Improvement’ fame. Backlund becomes distracted and JTT calls checkmate. Bob loses to the 13 year old and throws a tantrum on today’s youth. Damn whippersnappers.

– Todd Pettingill is at ringside with George Martin, the former Giant. Martin used to play with LT. Martin is fully behind his former team mate.

– In Your House Promo. They’re giving away a house! It’s in a wealthy area, all you have to do is pay the gift taxes, the land taxes, and the bills. Good luck!

(Notes going in: I don’t even know how to explain the way this match was booked. Somehow, Owen Hart by himself, was given a tag team title shot along with a partner of his choosing. Owen would decide to name his mystery partner at the event, and no sooner. Speculation would go on for a few weeks as to who the Rocket’s partner would be. Jim Neidhart? One of his brothers? An ex-star making their return? I’m still trying to figure out how Owen just randomly got a tag team title shot with a partner of his choosing, without even earning a contention spot. That’s wrestling folks.)

Enough of the bullshit, Owen announces his partner is…… YOKOZUNA! And that makes sense on no level of booking, other than once again they’re trying to revive the tag division by sticking established stars together. Yoko had been gone since Survivor Series ’94 when he lost to the Taker. I think he was supposed to lose weight or something. Well, he didn’t.

The Gunns are surprised, they had a list of potential opponents, but Yoko wasn’t one of them. But that’s okay, they’re still going to go out there and successfully defend their tag team titles. Sure guys.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match
The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn) (c) vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart and Yokozuna (with Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette)

Since their beginnings in 1993, Billy Gunn’s mustache has creeped me out. Billy and Owen get things going. Owen with some good stuff on Billy and Bart. Yoko tags in but misses an elbow on Bart. Bart tries to capitalize, but Yoko is too big. Owen tags in and the challengers have the advantage.

Bart comes back with the hiptoss armdrag routine, and the Gunns nail Owen with a double Russian Legsweep, and a Double dropkick takes Yokozuna out of the ring! The Gunns work on Owen now with a back suplex and neckbreaker combination move for 2. Owen takes the chest bump into the corner buckles. The Gunns then land the ‘Sidewinder’ finisher, which is a Side Slam and elevated legdrop combination, but Yokozuna distracts to prevent a fall.

Owen makes a blind tag and drop toe holds Billy down while Yoko comes in with a Legdrop to the back of Billy’s head, and that woke the crowd up a little. Owen rams Billy’s back into the ring post outside before handing him back to Yoko. Doesn’t take long for Yoko to go to the nerve hold. Billy is about dead from the nerbe hold when he fights his way free. Owen tries to keep his team in control with a missile dropkick, but Billy ducks and Owen dropkicks Yoko down!

Billy makes the hot tag to Bart and the crowd doesn’t even make a noise. Owen tries to pull the rope down during a spot, but the spot is too early and Bart doesn’t take the bump. Bart drops Owen and Yoko, tag back to Billy. They try the spot again and this time Owen pulls Bart out to the floor. Yoko hits Billy with a belly to belly suplex and drags him to the corner. Bart tries to prevent the Banzai drop, but gets backdropped out of the ring. Banzai drop on Billy Gunn, and instead of going for the Sharpshooter, Owen just covers the dead Billy Gunn for the easy win after 9:42, and Yoko is winded.

Winners: And Newwwwww Tag Team Champions, Owen and Yoko

(Post Match Thoughts: The pairing of Yoko and Owen made no sense, other than to take two more legit players and stick them into a tag team. Brilliant stuff. Funny how your real teams like the Gunns and Blu’s are jobbed out to these new superstar tandems. I was never really a Gunns fan so I didn’t mind the title loss. I liked the deal with Owen playing up letting Yoko be the heavy, literally. Match was actually somewhat okay, but Yokozuna was clearly out of ring shape. **)

– A brief look at the original version of WrestleMania Axxess. This event supported the 1995 Special Olympics.

 

– Todd Pettingill is backstage with Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow is ready for his fight, this is his world, not LT’s. He knows he has the Million Dollar Team to take care of the All Star Team. LT doesn’t have a prayer.

(Notes going in: This feud really kicked off back in the summer of 1994. Bret Hart was defending his WWF Ttitle against Bob Backlund. Bob thought he had won the title, only to find out the match was continuing, and Bret scored a surprise pinfall, which ultimately led to the heel turn of Mr. Backlund. Bob would eventually defeat Bret at the 1994 Survivor Series with help from Owen Hart, where Backlund would regain the WWF Title after over a decade. Bob would lose the championship later in the week to Diesel, but he would continue his issues with Bret, even interfering in a championship match between Bret vs. Diesel at the 1995 Royal Rumble. This is the blow off match to a long running feud, where the loser is supposed to say the word “I QUIT”. There was much mention to the fact that Bret nor Bob had ever quit a match prior to this one. Of course, Skaaland had thrown the towel in for Bob all those years earlier, but Backlund had never submitted. The same can be said for Bret. At the very last minute, a special referee was named for the match, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was surprisingly announced as the referee for this match right before the match was to begin.)

– Unannounced, unadvertised, and likely a last minute addition, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper returns as a special guest referee for the second WrestleMania in a row. In this match Piper will have a microphone (bad idea) while the match is going on, waiting for someone to say the words “I Quit”. Can Roddy shut up long enough to let us enjoy the match. Let’s find out.

“I QUIT” MATCH – Guest Referee Roddy Piper
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Mr. Bob Backlund

As the bell sounds Bret goes right after the man who took his WWF Title.  Bret starts to work over Backlund and Roddy shoves a microphone in his face to ask him is he quits. That’s great, it begins now. Piper gets that damn microphone and it’s all over, asking people if they quit every 5 seconds for the rest of the match. Bret locks in a Furgure Four, Backlund hangs on and reverses the hold. The two wind up in the ropes for a break. Bret works on Backlund’s leg, while Piper keeps asking Backlund if he quits, even when he’s not in a quitting position. So fucking irritating. Bob finally takes over and IMMEDIATELY Piper wants to know if Bret quits. Come the fuck on Piper, Backlund JUST started getting the heat, you know better than to ask him if he quits yet. Piper even asks Bret if he quits after an IRISH WHIP. Fucking stupid.

Lawler reminds McMahon of the WrestleMania VIII match between Bret and Piper, wondering if maybe Piper might be looking for a little revenge tonight. Bob locks in a Fujiwara armbar and turns it into a chicken wing hammerlock, then right back to the Fujiwara. Piper asks Hart if he quits again, Bret responds “Hell No” in irritating fashion. For those who missed it, Roddy reminds us he said no. Bob turns thing into a simple standing armbar, but Piper still keeps asking, and asking, and asking. Bret counters out with a slam and then…

Mercifully, the original live version cuts out here and we miss the entire rest of the match.

However, this needing to be a detailed Audit, I’ve moved over to the WWE Network version of this match to finish it up.

So Bret escapes an armbar with a slam and takes over on offense. Backbreaker and elbow off the second rope by Hart. Bret goes for the Sharshooter, but Backlund gets to the ropes before it can be put on. Hart misses a shoulder charge in the corner and Bob Backlund goes for the Cross Face Chicken Wing to capitalize. Bret holds onto the rope to try and block it, but Bob pulls him off. Backlund hooks the hold but can’t take Bret down. The Hitman ends up reversing the chicken wing hold and taking Backlund down to the mat. Backlund screams every time Piper asks him if he quits, NEVER saying the words “I Quit”, but Piper calls for the bell anyway. Even the announcers can’t ignore Piper’s shitty officiating. This things over in 9:34.

Winners: Hitman Hart

Jim Ross interviews Backlund after the match. Bob says he has seen the light. What a goofy bastard.

(Post Match Thoughts: What asshole thought to give Roddy Piper a microphone during a match? “Wudda ya say?”. What do I say? You’re fucking irritating, you screwed up the finish of the match, and for the second year in a row you made a terrible referee. Match was actually okay, not very good at all, but okay, because it was much shorter than the Survivor Series match. But you mean to tell me they couldn’t come up with something better than this for Bret Hart at WrestleMania? Talk about dropping the ball. Piper really detracted from the match, but the match wasn’t all that good to begin with. I’m sure Hart was so happy with this shit. Hart didn’t even use most of his signature moves here, it just felt like “okay, let’s just get this shit over with”. *1/2)

– Diesel stands by backstage, waiting for Todd Pettingill who isn’t even there. God, this show is all fucked up. Nothing is going right. Diesel flubs his promo, gets mad at himself and starts cutting a typical yelling promo to cover it up. Diesel says he will retain.

(Notes going in: This history goes back to 1993, when HBK brought Diesel in as his bodyguard. Things started falling apart in the summer of 1994 when Shawn accidentally superkicked the big man at SummerSlam ’94. A similar situation would take place at the 1994 Survivor Series which would lead the split of the two long time good friends. Shawn would interfere during Diesel’s championship match vs. Bret Hart at Rumble ’95, only to turn around and win the Rumble match later in the evening in order to win this championship match as part of WrestleMania. If anything is going to save this show, this is the match, and Diesel is in it so that’s saying a lot.)

Vince hooks up with Nicholas Turturro one last time. Pamela Anderson is still missing, Turturro claims she has left the building due to an argument with Shawn Michaels. Things have been shifted around because of Pamela’s bitchiness with Turturro now acting as ring announcer for the match, Jonathan Taylor Thomas as time keeper, and now Jenny McCarthy is the escort for Shawn Michaels as he makes his way to the ring.

Here comes Big Daddy Cool, but he’s not alone! Diesel motions for someone to follow him out, and it’s Pamela Anderson! That dirty hepatitis infester hussy! That was not in her Royal Rumble / WrestleMania contract at all! Honestly, by 1995 I would have been happy with McCarthy instead anyway. Anyway, Pam accompanies Diesel to ringside, and both her and McCarthy miss the point of being on opposite sides of the match as they pal up and sit together next to super bodyguard Tony Garea. Keep an eye on the press in this match.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Match
Diesel (c) vs. “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (with Sid)

Michaels tries to jump Diesel before the bell, but gets backdropped out of the ring. Diesel poses with Pamela Anderson and pyro before we get things going. The media is in full effect here, surrounding the ring, and as you’ll see shortly, getting in the way at every turn. Michaels with some nice speed running the ropes early in the match but it comes to an end with a single blow from Diesel.

Shawn tries to work the arm of Diesel, but gets tossed around the ring for his troubles and takes a high ass backdrop before getting throws upside down out of the ring. Shawn lands on one of the press photographers and HBK gets PISSED. Shawn drags the photographer into the aisle and you can tall Lawler loves it. Fucking media. Sid distracts Diesel so Shawn can attack, but it doesn’t work. Diesel is ready, but Big Daddy Cool misses a charge in the corner. Shawn repeatedly tries 10 punches in the corner but keeps getting thrown off. Diesel tries a press slam, but sucks at it, Michaels escapes anyway. Diesel reverses a suplex and hits a kneelift that sends Shawn back outside.

Sid distracts Diesel again while Shawn recovers. Michaels slides through Diesel’s legs to get back in the ring like he’s Marty Jannetty. Shawn tries a sunset flip, but Diesel yanks him up into an elevated choke and drops Shawn crotch first across the top rope. Shawn retaliates with a clothesline that takes them both over the top rope, but Shawn skins the cat back inside and lands a flying body block off the top rope to the outside on Diesel. The press are starting to get wise, and getting the hell out of the way.

Shawn with a baseball slide on Diesel. Lawler claims Pam Anderson is worries, so the camera catches a picture of her and she’s not even paying attention, but rather smiling and waving at the fans. What trash. Shawn misses a second baseball slide, Diesel tries to ram Shawn into the post, but Michaels winds up reversing things and Diesel goes down on the floor with a rib injury. Michaels hits a running splash off the apron to the floor. A simple spot like that and Shawn made it look great.

Things slow down now as Shawn keeps the big man grounded. Shawn steals a page out of his buddy Razor’s book with a bulldog from the second rope, that only gets 2. Diesel reverses a whip in the corner, but Shawn counters with a springing back elbow again for 2. With Diesel on his stomach, Michaels with a flying elbow off the top rope into the ribs of Diesel for yet another 2.

Diesel counters a front face lock twice with backdrops. Shawn tries to go up and over Diesel, but the champ catches him for Snake Eyes, but Shawn slides out and shoves Diesel’s ribs into the corner buckle. Shawn goes to a sleeper hold. They do the three arm raise routine, Diesel keeps his arm up on three, and powers his way out of the hold by driving Shawn backwards into the corner. Diesel comes back with elbows and clotheslines, the big Snake Eyes, and the legdrop to the back of the head as Shawn lays over the second rope.

Diesel with an Irish whip and Shawn flips out of the ring to the floor. Shawn begs away, Diesel catches him and pulls him around by his tights. Michaels gets Diesel to follow him outside again, the official follows them out and twists his ankle. The referee goes down. Meanwhile, back in the ring Shawn hits the SUPERKICK, but there’s no referee to make the count! Come on ya damn referee! Shawn had the match won, but Earl Hebner fucked it up. Maybe that’s why Earl helped Shawn at Series 97, to make up for it. Sid throws Hebner in the ring, but Earl’s too late and Shawn only gets a 2 count.

Sid exposes a corner buckle for Shawn to use, but Diesel counters with a back suplex. Shawn covers Diesel for a near fall and goes to the second rope but Diesel catches him with a side slam. Shawn is up first, but Diesel slingshots him into the corner with the exposed turnbuckle, the only problem is, they are so far away that Shawn has to bump off the middle rope buckle and not the exposed steel on the top rope. Shitty. Diesel revs his engine after a Big Boot and hits the Jackknife Powerbomb with Shawn over rotating and taking the bump straight down in a seated position on his ass for the finish in 20:32.

Winner: Big Daddy Cool

Diesel calls all the celebrities in the ring for a final celebration.

(Post Match Thoughts: What can I say. It was a good match, and Shawn made the media think twice about trying to take over ringside. The first half of the match was nonstop Shawn making things look good. As things slowed down, you could tell Diesel was starting to get winded, but he worked through it. The finish was a little botched by Shawn missing the exposed turnbuckle, but it really wasn’t a necessity for the finish so it didn’t screw things up too much. I liked them adding the Superkick spot where Shawn should have won, that keeps him in the running for a potential rematch after getting screwed. Diesel wins to continue this almost all baby face winner card. Shawn really worked his ass off out there on the offense and in bumping, and credit to Diesel for keeping up for the most part. As for the ass bump during the powerbomb finish, Diesel claims Shawn did it on purpose because he was jobbing. ***3/4)

– Shawn Michaels is now backstage, and he is pissed off. He had that match won, Diesel was down by the Superkick, but the referee was down. He got robbed! Sid talks about more than one referee in other sports championship games, but the one they had tonight screwed HBK. Shawn says he shouldn’t even have to do this again, but he wants a rematch to get the title that’s rightfully his.

 

(Notes going in: Like most of the matches on this show, the storyline stems from the 1995 Royal Rumble. Bigelow had just done a job to the 1-2-3 Kid as part of a Tag Team Title match. Lawrence Taylor was sitting ringside, as a guest of Diesel. LT was seen laughing at Bigelow for losing to the scrawny Kid, something Bam bam took exception to. Bigelow ended up shoving LT down in the crowd, and Taylor popped back up wanting a piece of Bam Bam. While LT was held back, Bigelow left ringside in a rage. The following week on Raw, Bigelow was to apologize to Taylor during a ‘via satellite’ interview between the two. Instead, Bigelow would challenge LT to a wrestling match, which ultimately ended up at WrestleMania. The storyline was that Diesel trained Taylor, while LT would be backed by several NFL “All-Pro” friends to counteract Bigelow’s Million Dollar Corporation. Diesel was his trainer? Oh no, I might as well write this shit off now. To build things up further, LT would kiss Bigelow on the cheek in the matter of an insult as part of the WrestleMania Press Conference, and during a “WrestleMania Workout” session in NYC the two men would come to blows as they tried getting at each other. The WWF worked hard to keep the suspense going for the media.)

– Salt-n-Peppa and their DJ Spinderella get it on as they sing a version of “Whatta Man” for Lawrence Taylor. Out first is the Million Dollar Corporation of King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, Nikolai Volkoff, Kama, Mike “IRS” Rotunda, and Ted DiBiase. They must be rushing on time because the entire team jogs to ringside, even Bundy and DiBiase, who both look weird running to the ring. Out next is LT’s All-Pro team of Carl Banks, Ken Norton, Chris Spielman, Rickey Jackson, Steve “Mongo” McMichael, and captain, the late Reggie White. The wrestlers try and start shit with the football players, and the NFL’ers take some shots at the WWF stars.

Bigelow is out first and he legit scares S&P on the way to the ring. Kind of funny as Salt comes back, trying to play it off. Then it’s LT with his glory hound of an agent, God that guy irritated me, had to make sure he got in every shot with LT from the Rumble onwards. The media is all around the ring for this one. This is a press fiasco of epic proportions. If you’re a fan sitting on the floor, and paid all that money, then you’re pretty pissed off right now. Vince should have known better, but he wanted that media coverage.

Lawrence Taylor (with the All-Pro Team) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (with the Million Dollar Corporation)

We have a stare down and Bigelow shoves LT before the match. Pat Patterson is your special referee for the match and he takes FOREVER to go over the rules of the match. LT finally just slaps the shit out of Bigelow and the match begins. LT tosses Bam Bam to the ropes and levels him with a blow that knocks Bigelow to the floor.

Bam Bam is pissed and tries to jump LT in the corner but misses. LT dodges the attack and hits a Bulldog for 2! Crowd pops for that. Hiptoss by LT and Bigelow goes out to consult his Million Dollar Corporation members. LT jumps over the top rope to the floor and goes after Bigelow on the floor. Lots of pushing and shoving between all the stars at ringside.

Back in the ring, Bigelow takes over on LT, a simple bodyslam gets a big gasp from the crowd. LT moves from a headbutt and hits a shoulder tackle. LT tries a second shoulder, but Bigelow grabs him in mid air and drives him to the corner.  Bigelow applies a Boston Crab, but something happens and Bigelow loses balance and it gets turned into a shitty looking leglock. LT goes for the ropes, but Bam Bam drags him back to the middle of the ring. Taylor finally crawls to the ropes for a break.

Bigelow drags LT back to the middle for another leglock, allowing LT to continue to get his wind back. LT makes it to the ropes a second time. Taylor fights back with a shoulder block and a back suplex to take Bigelow down. Bam Bam is still up first and he lays in some headbutts to the body of Taylor. Bigelow goes to the top rope for a Moonsault and he connects! Bigelow sells it like he hurt himself. I don’t know if LT was supposed to move or what happened there, but Bigelow sells an injury and makes a delayed cover, and LT kicks out on 2.

Bigelow goes for a backdrop, but LT counters with a Jackknife Powerbomb. LT falls backwards with the move so it looks screwy, when I first watched this match I didn’t even know WTF it was until Vince said it. Taylor covers for 2. Bigelow comes back with a Ghetto Blaster looking kick to the back of LT’s head. More headbutts from Bigelow, and he connects with his finisher the Diving Headbutt! But LT kicks out on 2. Are you serious? A celebrity kicks out of a finisher?

LT all of a sudden has a second wind, he slugs Bigelow with two big shoulder tackles, then climbs to the second rope.

 

LT blasts Bigelow with a flying shoulder tackle from the second rope and scores the 1-2-3 after 11:41.

Winner\: LT, the mighty, mighty good man

A blown up LT gets the win. I can’t tell if he has a rib injury, or he just can’t catch his breath. He’s sucking wind pretty hard. His All Star team holds him up, but he sits hunched over.

We see DiBiase verbally assaulting Bigelow on his way to the back. Ted lets Bam Bam have it for losing to a football player.

The team has to carry LT from the ring to the stage where Salt-n-Peppa performed. S&P celebrate with LT and his All Star Team as S&P sing us off the air. What a mighty, mighty good man.

(Post Match Thoughts: I will say this, for a non-wrestler, LT performed quite well during the first half of this match. I’m not saying he looked like a wrestler, I’m just saying he looked like a celebrity who held his own and kept up with the layout of the match. It was clear LT was blown up for the second half of the match, and all the ground stuff started to get a bit boring, but honestly this whole thing was over quicker than Hulk vs. Andre so it was done before it had time to suck. It wasn’t a classic match by any stretch, but LT did hold his own. I don’t know how much they went over this match, but having Pat Patterson in the ring to help guide them through was a brilliant decision by those involved. I won’t rate this match based on a regular wrestling match, but rather I’ll take into consideration what it was and who was involved, that being a non-wrestler. I’ve seen so many celebrity matches go a lot worse. I’ll give them **3/4 for their troubles.)

THE FINAL AUDIT: Before I took on this Audit, I had thought about covering WrestleMania X. With 30 coming up, I thought 10 would be a nice round number, but I felt it was too easy with two stellar matches on the card. Then I thought about doing WrestleMania XII, the Iron Man Match and all that jazz, but again I thought, too easy. Instead, I took on a Mania that I haven’t viewed since it’s original airing, or thereabouts. I remembered it as being bad, and I was right. If you can salvage one thing out of this show it’s the World Title match. My general thoughts as I started this task was that at the end of the show, no matter how much I was worried about WrestleMania XXX possibly being bad, I KNEW I’d have new hopes for WM30 after I watched this night of shit. From audio issues, to lighting issues, to interviewers not even being where they needed to be when the camera cut to them, this show was the drizzling shits. After watching this, WrestleMania XXX will be great, no matter what. So when you’re watching Mania XXX this Sunday, don’t sit there shitting on the show, be thankful you’re not watching WrestleMania XI.

You’ve got 7 matches on the card, and only one of them reached 3 stars or better. They made up for the lack of good wrestling with the fact that they put over the babyfaces in 6 of the 7 matches. Even though Razor and Jarrett half way tried, and LT did the best he could, only one match on the entire show was really good enough to consider as a quality match. This was painful to make it through, and I can’t imagine how bad it would have been had this been a 4 hour event. I have to give this one a thumbs down, maybe a 3 out of 10 rating, that’d be around a D- for me. This was when the WWF (and wrestling in general) had reached the pinnacle of it’s decline. It shows. Hard to believe they could put on something this bad, and God knows why they stuck Bret in a shitty situation instead of throwing him in there with someone to add a second quality match to the card. Not only does this WrestleMania fail the Audit, I’d have to rate it near, or maybe even at, the bottom of the barrel as far as WrestleManias go. Sorry fans, but WrestleMania XI has been rejected!

I’ve gotten several reader requests for events they want to see reviewed during my “Request Month” of April. However, since I made this WrestleMania week review for the first week of April, and given that I have decided to MAYBE Audit WrestleMania XXX for next week (depending on how good/shitty it is), I have decided to expand “Request Month” to “Request MonthS”, there’s an ‘S’ at the end there in case you missed it. I’ll be taking your requests for the remainder of April and all of May! Just please, no WrestleMania requests! I’m over WrestleMania Audits for a while. We’ve got some good WCW and WWF picks coming your way already, but I’m still taking requests, so keep them coming… Til’ next time this is the REAL IRS, Ian R. Singletary, catcha later, tax cheats!

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