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A WrestleMania RetroSpective: Part 3

by Alixx D

Well folks, we're back for round 3 of our WrestleMania RetroSpective. When we last left TitanTown, they were coming off of their worst WrestleMania ever, Hogan was history, and everyone wondered how or if the WWF would be able to rebound. Would their "New Generation" be able to carry the standard set forth by Hulk Hogan and the "old guard"?

WrestleMania X was held March 20, 1994, at the place where it all began, Madison Square Garden in New York City. The setup for WrestleMania X actually begins at the 1994 Royal Rumble. Lex Luger and Bret Hart were the final two men in the ring, but both men went over simultaneously! After much hemming and hawing by Jack Tunney, it was decided that BOTH men had won the match, and both men would get a shot at WWF Champion Yokozuna. A coin toss determined that Lex Luger would get the first shot, with Bret getting the second title match at the end of the night. To keep it fair, Bret Hart would have to wrestle a second match, against his own brother Owen, who had turned on Bret during a tag team match at the Royal Rumble. The two went at it in a great technical match. Owen was the more aggressive competitor, while Bret held back a bit, not wanting to harm his little brother. After switching the advantage back and forth, Owen finally managed to get the pin, reversing his brother's Victory Roll for the win. Although the two would battle many more times, this would be the only pinfall Owen would get on his brother.

Lex Luger, meanwhile, was fighting not only to win the belt, but for the honor of his country against the Samoan WWF Champion Yokozuna. Luger dominated most of the match, knocking Yoko out with a flying forearm. Jim Cornette, Yokozuna's "American Spokesman" jumped into the ring to get Luger's attention, only to be knocked out by Luger. Fuji attempted to interfere as well, and met with the same results. Luger went for the cover, but special referee Curt Hennig (his opponent at WrestleMania IX, ironically) was trying to get Fuji and Cornette out of the ring. Luger finally had enough and shoved Hennig, only to see Hennig call for the bell, disqualifying Luger. Hennig and Luger got into a confrontation backstage, with Hennig's defense being "I called it down the middle, you don't hit a referee." And, although they played it off like Hennig was in the wrong, he was right. With the stage set for only the second WrestleMania rematch in WWF history, Bret Hart came down the aisle to face Yokozuna. Hart's WrestleMania VIII opponent, Roddy Piper was the special referee for this bout, which ended when Yokozuna fell off the ropes while going for his Banzai splash. Quickly, Bret covered Yoko and hooked the leg (sort of) to get the win. The locker room cleared out, with Lex leading the parade to celebrate Bret's win. Owen stood in the aisle claiming that it should've been him, since he'd beaten Bret earlier in the night.

However, as is often the case with WrestleMania, the main event was overshadowed by a spectacular undercard match. A few months earlier, Shawn Michaels had been stripped of the Intercontinental title for failing to meet "contractual obligations" (whatever that means). In the meantime, Razor Ramon had won the title, beating Rick Martel. When Shawn returned, he claimed that since he had never been pinned for the belt, he was still the champ, even carrying around HIS I-C title. The two met in what is quite possibly the greatest WrestleMania match ever, the infamous ladder match. The rules were simple: climb the ladder and grab both belts hanging from the rafters. The bout went for nearly 20 minutes, with both men giving 110%. The bout got so intense that several times both men were lying on the mat, just trying to get their breath. The end came when Razor Ramon pushed Shawn Michaels off the ladder and into the ropes. Shawn's leg got caught in the ropes, leaving him unable to stop Razor from ascending the ladder and winning the match. I don't usually call matches a "must-see", but this one is one of those. I've had several friends who've become wrestling fans solely on the basis of this one match.

In other matches: The Heavenly Bodies beat The Bushwhackers; Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon beat Doink and Dink in a mixed tag match; Randy Savage beat Crush in a falls-count-anywhere bout. Once pinned, a wrestler had 60 seconds to get back to the ring or be declared the loser. Crush and Savage both got pins, but for the deciding pin, Savage strung Crush up on a bit of scaffolding to ensure he couldn't get back to the ring.; World Women's champion Alundra Blayze pinned Leilani Kai; Men on a Mission beat Tag Team Champions the Quebecers by countout; and Earthquake pinned Adam Bomb in 32 seconds. The bout between Ramon and Michaels was voted 1994's Match of the Year in PWI Magazine.

WrestleMania XI came to us from the Hartford (CT) Civic Center on April 2, 1995. As with this year's event, the mainstream media was intrigued by the celebrity presence of Lawrence Taylor, who was wrestling Bam Bam Bigelow following a confrontation between the two at the 1995 Royal Rumble. Taylor came to the ring with an entourage of NFL players, including current WCW wrestler and former Horseman Steve "Mongo" McMichael. Taylor had been trained by WWF Champion Diesel, and even managed to get Bam Bam in a "jackknife" powerbomb before pinning Bam Bam, whose career to this day is dogged by his loss to the football player.

Meanwhile, in the main event, former best friends Diesel and Shawn Michaels squared off in a titanic bout that would be voted 1995's match of the year. The two men had been tag team champions together until 94's Survivor Series, when the two had a falling out. Diesel, meanwhile, had won the WWF Title from Bob Backlund in just 8 seconds a couple of nights later. Shawn Michaels went bell-to-bell in the (abbreviated) 1995 Royal Rumble to earn the title shot. Diesel and Shawn fought tooth and nail for 20 minutes, and at one point, Shawn Michaels had the match won, but his bodyguard, Sid had gotten involved, and the referee had injured himself and was unable to make the count. This gave Diesel the opportunity to regain the advantage, and one jack-knife later, Diesel became the first WWF champion since Hogan to retain his title at WrestleMania.

In other bouts: Lex Luger & Davey Boy Smith beat Jacob & Eli Blu; Razor Ramon beat IC champion Jeff Jarrett by DQ when the Roadie interfered; The Undertaker pinned King Kong Bundy; Owen Hart & Yokozuna beat Tag Team champs The Smokin' Gunns to win the titles; and Bret Hart beat Bob Backlund in an "I Quit" match. Roddy Piper was the special referee.

WrestleMania XII came to us on March 31, 1996 from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA, and featured another brutal bout and Match of the Year as WWF Champion Bret Hart faced Shawn Michaels in a one-hour "Iron Man" match. The rules were simple enough: The match goes for one hour. At the end of that hour, whoever had won the most decisions (countout, DQ, pinfall or submission) would be the WWF champion. Both men gave their all in this match, and put on an hour of fantastic wrestling. As with WrestleMania VI's Hogan - Warrior bout, fan loyalties were divided, and the cheered the match itself, and not just the favorite. As time expired, Bret managed to catch Michaels in his "Sharpshooter", but Shawn kept from submitting despite being in the hold for the final minute of the match. When the bell rang, no one had gotten a pinfall. Bret started back to the dressing room as WWF President Gorilla Monsoon and ordered the match into "sudden death" overtime. The first man to get a decision would be declared the winner. Reluctantly, Bret climbed back into the ring, only to be felled by Shawn's "Sweet Chin Music." Shawn covered Bret and got the pin and the title in 1:52 of overtime. Shawn celebrated the realization of his boyhood dream as Bret walked out of the ring, and indeed out of wrestling for the next several months.

In other bouts: Skip (Chris Candido) & Zip (Tom Prichard), with Sunny, beat Henry & Phineas Godwinn in the finals of a tournament for the vacant WWF Tag Team titles; Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, & Vader beat Ahmed Johnson, Jake Roberts, & Yokozuna; Roddy Piper beat Goldust in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl. After the match, (which also included some "borrowed" footage from the OJ Simpson chase) Piper stripped Goldust of his tights, revealing women's underwear beneath; "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (in his WrestleMania debut) beat Savio Vega; The Ultimate Warrior pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 1:38; and The Undertaker pinned Diesel.

Which brings us to March 23, 1997, and WrestleMania XIII, held at the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, IL. Once again, an undercard bout overshadowed the main event as Bret Hart and Steve Austin continued their heated rivalry that had begun at Hart's return match at the 96 Survivor Series, and continued through the Royal Rumble and In Your House: Final Four, in a submission match. UFC superstar Ken Shamrock was the special referee for this bout as Bret and Austin fought for what would be the final, and most brutal time. The two held nothing back as they fought inside and out of the ring. Bret Hart managed to bust Austin open with the timekeeper's bell, causing him to bleed heavily for the remainder of the bout. Bret was declared the winner when a combination of pain from the "Sharpshooter" and the immense loss of blood caused Austin to pass out. Shamrock stopped the match, but Hart refused to release the hold, forcing Shamrock to make Hart release the hold by giving Hart a belly-to-belly suplex. Bret was lustily booed from the building. Austin finally regained consciousness and refused the help of referees back to the locker room. As Austin left, the crowds cheered, and the legend of Steve Austin, fan favorite, had begun.

In other bouts: The Headbangers won a four-way tag team elimination bout that also included Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon, The Blackjacks, and The Godwinns; IC champion Rocky Maivia pinned The Sultan; World Tag Team champs Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith fought Mankind and Vader to a double countout; Ahmed Johnson & the Legion of Doom beat the Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Crush, and Savio Vega) in a Chicago Street Fight; and The Undertaker pinned World champion Sid to win the title after Bret Hart interfered.

Which brings us to the here and now. We are 2 weeks away from WrestleMania 14. I hope you've enjoyed this RetroSpective as much as I've enjoyed doing it, and who knows, we may do this again for another PPV down the road! Next time we'll have a WrestleMania "book of lists" and a full preview of WrestleMania 14.

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