April 2, 1995
Hartford Civic Center
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry "The King" Lawler
Kathy Huey, a special Olympian, kicks us off with a stirring rendition of America The Beautiful.
The Allied Powers vs. The Blu Brothers
The Powers are Lex Luger and The British Bulldog, two underachieving singles competitors who Vince packaged into a tag team since they didn't have anything going for themselves on their own. It should be noted that their music is awesome, as they mixed Luger's theme with the Bulldog's British one. It remains a favorite of mine to this day. The Blus are identical twins with a mountain man recluse gimmick who would later become known as Skull and 8-Ball of the DOA and The Harris Twins. They're dressed kind of like the Berzerker, who coincidentally the Bulldog was scheduled to wrestle at Wrestlemania VIII but never did, causing me to lose several hours of sleep each night for the next siz months. OK, maybe not. There are a ton of photographers surrounding the ring who get in the way of the wrestlers on more than one occasion. The Powers start off hot, double teaming the Blus. Davey Boy hits his delayed suplex and a double clothesline on both Blus, but a cheapshot from the heels turns the tide. After some boring Blus punishment, he makes the hot tag to Luger. Lex knocks one of them out with his (now downplayed and virtually ignored) loaded forearm but the Blus switch places behind everyone's back and when he covers it only gets two. The fresh Blu goes for a piledriver on Luger but the Bulldog comes off the top rope with a sunset flip on him to win it for the Allied Powers at 6:33. The crowd approves. * Weak opener.
Jim Ross makes a habit of catching the losers on their way back down the aisle after every match and attempts to get a word with the Brothers Blu here.
Gorilla Monsoon talks to Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie backstage.
Intercontinental Title: Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett (Champion)
Razor Ramon has his buddy the 1-2-3 Kid in his corner to ensure the Roadie won't be able to blatantly interfere like he did at the Royal Rumble when Jarrett beat Razor for the Title. Razor and the Kid try to rush the ring, a difficult feat to accomplish with all the photographers in the way. Razor attacks at the bell and gets off a slew of two counts in a really fast sequence. Jarrett tries to use his speed to avoid Razor, but Ramon catches him with a right hand and covers for two. Jarrett slides under another fist but gets up and gets clotheslined to the floor to a huge pop. Jarrett climbs back in and almost becomes a victim of the Razor's Edge, but the Roadie saves him by dragging him out of it and out of the ring. Jarrett instinctively heads back towards the dressing room, willing to take the countout and keep his Title, but the Kid prevents him from doing so and tosses him back in where Razor gets a rollup for two. Jarrett misses a ropesplash and Razor tosses him to the floor on top of the Roadie. Jarrett is again disoriented but upon returning to the ring he connects with his neckbreaker, then puts Razor down with two consecutive standing dropkicks. He struts after hitting his ropesplash while Razor gets to his feet and blocks a kick attempt. Jarrett goes for the enziguri and misses, but Razor misses an elbow in turn and Jarrett scores a near fall. Razor counters a hiptoss with a backslide for two, but Jarrett comes up with a clothesline to get a two count of his own. Razor fights out of a Jarrett sleeper and the Kid gets a Razor chant going. They go through a couple of double knockout spots to build the crowd's anticipation for the finish. Jarrett runs into Razor's fallaway slam and lands on his back near the ring post. The Kid tries to crotch him from the outside, but Jarrett counters and kicks him backwards, sending him flying into the guardrail. Razor goes for a second rope bulldog, but misses and lands on his knee, leading to Jarrett applying the Figure Four Leglock. Razor reverses it after a minute or so and the crowd goes nuts. Both men struggle to their feet limping, and Razor ducks a right hand and hits his back suplex off the second rope. He positions Jarrett for the Razor's Edge again, but the Roadie runs in and clips his knee for the DQ at 13:32. ***1/2 The Kid charges the ring and goes insane on everyone with flying kicks and a wild four man brawl erupts. It takes awhile for officials to break it up and when they do Jarrett emerges with a legitimate bloody nose. Razor wins the match but Jarrett retains the gold. Great match.
Celebrity guest, Nicholas Turturro of NYPD Blue interviews Shawn Michaels, Psycho Sid, Jenny McCarthy and some members of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation, but can't find the one person he's really after: Pamela Anderson.
Todd Pettengill roams through the crowd and gets former Chicago Bears runningback, Neal Anderson's, take on Lawrence Taylor's big match later on. That reminds me, I used to kick some serious ass with Neal in Nintendo's Super Tecmo Bowl. I'm telling you, he's the best runningback in that game by far. Back in the day I had many a four hundred yard rushing games with him (yes, four hundred!).
The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy
Larry Young, American League umpire, is the referree in this one for some reason. DiBiase has the Undertaker's urn here after IRS stole it from Paul Bearer at the Rumble. Taker does the ropewalk and a bunch of clotheslines early. A Bundy clothesline puts The Undertaker on the floor where he grabs the urn away from DiBiase and returns it to Paul Bearer. Taker goes back to work on Bundy and DiBiase motions for help from his Corporation. Kama runs down the aisle and swipes it back from Bearer. He leaves with it, boasting to JR that he's going to melt it down into a necklace. Bundy chokes out the Undertaker in the ring during all of this and gets off a bodyslam and a kneedrop, his lone offensive moves. He holds a chinlock way too long, then hits an avalanche that the Undertaker no sells. Taker slams him and finishes him with a flying clothesline for the pin at 6:39. 1/4*
Nick talks to LT's all pro team who all cut the same exact interview, then stumbles upon fellow celebrity guest Jonathan Taylor Thomas upsetting Mr. Bob Backlund in an intense game of chess. Backlund apparently views this as a microcosm exemplifying all that is wrong in America today and demands that children take education more seriously and show respect for their elders. Funny bit.
Gorilla gathers a few words from a very distraught Paul Bearer as well as the Undertaker.
Todd talks to George Martin, a former teammate of LT, in the crowd.
Tag Team Titles: The Smoking Gunns (Champions) vs. Owen Hart & A Mystery Partner
The Gunns gave Owen a Title shot with a partner of his choosing because Owen felt that he and Jim Neidhart were eliminated from January's Tag Team Title Tournament unfairly. He's also embarking on the first step of following Bret's footsteps. He'd already beaten Bret and won the King Of The Ring as Bret had, but now Owen wanted to win the Tag Team Titles (as Bret did twice), and eventually the Intercontinental and WWF Titles (as Bret held each on multiple occasions) so that he could claim that he, not Bret, was truly the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Owen grabs the mic from Howard Finkel and introduces his mystery partner as the man that beat his brother for the WWF Championship two years ago at Wrestlemania, Yokozuna. This was Yoko's first appearance in the WWF in four months and he looks to be even bigger than when he left. Owen starts the match and the Gunns work his arm. Owen works in his classic wristlock counter and tags in the big guy, but Yoko misses a leg drop and tags Owen back in. The Gunns hit him with a double russian legsweep, then double dropkick Yoko to the floor to clear the ring. The Gunns hit their awesome back suplex/neckbreaker combo on Owen and follow up with their finisher, the Sidewinder (Bart holds Owen in a side suplex position and Billy leg drops him to the canvas). They cover, but Yoko distracts the ref and by the time he makes the count, it only gets two. Owen makes a blind tag to Yoko, then catches Billy with a drop toehold to set up a Yokozuna leg drop. That has to be one of my favorite tandem moves ever. Yokozuna goes to his nerve hold, then holds Billy in place for an Owen missle dropkick, but Billy moves and Owen hits Yoko. Billy makes the hot tag to Bart, who bodyslams Owen. The Gunns criss cross, preparing to try something on Yoko, but Owen pulls the top rope down, sending Bart crashing to the floor, and Yoko catches Billy with his monstrous belly to belly suplex. He drags Billy to the corner and hits the Banzai Drop to a surprisingly large pop from the Hartford crowd. Yoko tags Owen in. Owen teases applying the Sharpshooter, then thinks better of it and merely covers Billy for the academic pin to a monster face pop at 9:40. Owen Hart has won his first WWF gold, his first Championship of many. He's not shy about celebrating it either. Good match too. ***
Stephanie Wyand narrates a video package on the annual Fan Festival.
Todd Pettengill interviews the "Beast From The East", Bam Bam Bigelow. Bammer cuts an excellent promo about how Lawrence Taylor is coming into his world tonight and he doesn't have a prayer of beating Bigelow in a wrestling ring.
I Quit Match: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Bob Backlund
With the Diesel experiment in full force, it's him and Shawn going at it in the Title match, even though it should be Bret and Shawn. But all is not lost as we're given this convenient blowoff to that whole unresolved Bret/Backlund angle from the end of '94 to give Bret his win back. Howard Finkel introduces Rowdy Roddy Piper as the special guest referee, a decision which Vladimir appluads. Geez, the only time he isn't wearing his Hot Rod shirt, and Piper shows up. Go figure. When speaking of Piper, perhaps the term referee is a little misleading here because a more accurate title would probably be something like "Guy who's there to shove the microphone in their face every two seconds to check for a submission". This match turns into a condensed version of what they're capable of, as Bret's Sharpshooter is blocked early so he hooks a Figure Four instead. When Backlund escapes, he softens up Bret's arm for the Crossface Chickenwing. Bret refuses to quit when Piper asks him and starts to come back, but posts his arm on a missed charge. Backlund goes for the Chickenwing, but Bret counters into his own. Piper jams the mic in his face and Backlund yells something unintelligible that Piper somehow feels constitutes a submission. Bret takes the win at 9:34 as a result. **3/4 Pretty underwhelming, but still very solid.
Jim Ross confronts a wide-eyed, coked-out Mr. Backlund in the aisle. He tells JR he "saw the light" and wanders around aimlessly. OK there, Bobbo.
Nick reports to Vince that Pamela Anderson is still nowhere to be found and some "adjustments" have been made with the celebrities as a result.
Todd gets some last words from WWF Champion, Diesel.
World Title: Diesel (Champion) vs. Shawn Michaels
Howard Finkel introduces the guest celebrities: Home Improvement's Jonathan Taylor Thomas as the timekeeper, and Nicholas Turtorro as the ring announcer. What ever happened to JTT anyway? Talk about falling off the face of the Earth. Shawn enters with his bodyguard Sid behind him and MTV's Jenny McCarthy on his arm. Hey, the hell with Pam. Speaking of Pamela, she ends up entering with Diesel instead, just to show up Shawn. Shawn's popularity, even as that cocky heel everyone loved to hate, was really skyrocketing around this time, and a lot of people assumed he had a strong chance of winning the Title here. I know I was pulling for him at the time. Diesel climbs in the ring and backdrops Shawn out to the floor before the match even officially begins.
When it does, Shawn comes back in and initiates a really quick, cool sequence that ends with a big Diesel right hand, an exchange strikingly similar to that of Jarrett and Razor earlier. Shawn talks strategy with Sid and works Diesel's arm for a bit, but Big D just tosses him aside and hits a huge backdrop. Shawn Flair Flips out of the ring on a corner whip and lands right on top of a ringside photographer. Shawn, frustrated, throws the photogrpaher aside and yells at him. The great thing about being a heel is that when you get upset you never have to supress your true emotions. Back in the ring, Shawn spits at Diesel just to rile him up, then goes to work with a series of fists. Diesel blows a press slam pretty badly, but Shawn covers for him beautifully by playing it off as if he caused Diesel to drop him in the manner he did. Diesel suplexes the challenger and sends him to the floor with a knee lift. Shawn is just doing an awesome job of selling here, maybe too good depending on who you ask. As popular as he was becoming, he's still the heel and while at times he was perfect in putting over Diesel's offense, at times he also forgot to protect Diesel's babyface status. If the smaller guy gets beat up long enough, soon the fans will begin to react to it, and once that happens it's not hard for the big mean looking seven foot monster to be portrayed as the bad guy.
Sid talks trash with Diesel and the D-Train misses a huge big boot. Shawn takes him out with a cactus clothesline, then skins the cat back in. He climbs to the top rope and crossbodies him on the floor to a big pop. Shawn then connects with a baseball slide, as opposed to a hockey slide. He tries again but Diesel moves and goes for an elbow, only to miss and hit the steel post instead. Shawn hits his awesome splash off the apron to the floor. Shawn goes to work on him in the ring, as Diesel staggers into a second rope bulldog. Shawn gets two off it. The match has slowed down a lot since the first few minutes. Too much punching and kicking going on, probably due to their large size differential. Shawn hits a reverse elbow out of the corner for two. Diesel is left face down in the middle of the ring and Shawn delivers his elbow drop off the top rope. It gets a two count for him. Diesel tosses Shawn over his head a few times to show signs of a comeback, then goes for his throatdrop over the turnbuckle, but Shawn counters into a sleeper instead. Diesel's hand goes down twice, but he comes back with a pair of clotheslines, the turnbuckle throatdrop, and a rope splash. The crowd isn't very receptive to Diesel's comeback to say the least. A Flair Flip puts Michaels on the floor. Diesel follows, but Shawn rolls in. Referee Earl Hebner has a sidebar with Sid on the floor and turns his ankle in the process. Diesel climbs in, Shawn ducks a clothesline, and Diesel turns around and walks right into the superkick. Shawn covers for what would be a clear three count, but there's no ref. By the time Sid throws Hebner in, Diesel kicks out at two. It should have been a really dramatic spot, but Diesel kicked out way too early. Sid undoes the turnbuckle pad while Diesel hits a big back suplex on Shawn. Shawn gets to his feet first and goes for the second rope bulldog again, but this time Diesel sees him coming out of the corner of his eye and catches him and side suplexes him in one smooth motion. Sweet spot there. Diesel screws up, as he slingshots Shawn into the corner but does so from way too far away. Shawn has to really launch himself just to make contact with the second turnbuckle, as opposed to the exposed top buckle which I'm pretty sure he was supposed to hit. Diesel hits the big boot followed by a crappy Jackknife. Unlike when Shawn hit his finisher, Hebner is in position for this one, and counts three for Big Daddy Cool. Diesel retains the Title at 20:32. This one had its obvious flaws, but a good portion of it was really hot and it was fun to watch. ***1/2 Sid pulls Shawn out of the ring to take him back to the locker room, and Diesel celebrates in the ring with Jenny, Pam, JTT, and Nick.
I like the placement of this one on the card, since the midcard booking teased the Shawn win even more, and when Diesel did win to "send the fans home happy", it teased a Bam Bam Bigelow win in the next match.
Shawn Michaels cuts an excellent interview with Todd Pettengill. Says Shawn about the missed count, "You've got to be kidding me!" That pretty much says it all. He and Sid whine at length about Hebner's poor officiating. The plan was for Shawn to have a rematch with Diesel a month later at the first In Your House, but those plans were changed the next night when Shawn was injured on Raw. On that same famous edition of Raw, Sid turned on Shawn, powerbombing him several times (this caused the injury), only for Diesel to make the save. This turned Shawn face and reunited Shawn and Diesel as the top two babyfaces in the company. Yeah, that Bret Hart guy got overshadowed for most of the year, battling such devious villians as Jerry Lawler, Lawler's evil dentist, Isaac Yankem, D.D.S, and ruthless pirate, Jean Pierre LaFitte before someone woke up and put the WWF Title back on him to set up Shawn vs. Bret for Wrestlemania XII.
Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
The Million Dollar Corporation, consisting of Ted DiBiase, IRS, King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, Kama, and Nikolai Volkoff, are there to support Bigelow, while LT's All Pro Team consists of Ken Norton Jr., Chris Spielman, Ricky Jackson, Carl Banks, Steve McMichael, and Reggie White. They surround ringside, as LT and Bigelow make separate entrances. Pat Patterson is the referee. LT starts off hot and riles up Bam Bam. Bigelow soon controls with power moves. He hooks a lame half crab that doesn't even look like it's painful, and LT makes the ropes. Bam Bam hits his moonsault off the top rope, but hurts his knee on the landing and can't cover immediately.. He later hits his headbutt off the top, and LT kicks out at two just to kill both of Bam Bam's finishers. LT makes the comeback with a few forearms, and a single forearm shot off the second rope is enough to pin Bam Bam Bigelow at 11:39. Ted DiBiase verbally berates Bigelow for "embarrassing the Corporation" (with good reason) while LT, his son, and the All Pro Team celebrate in the ring. The match wasn't horrible, about **, but it did basically destroy Bam Bam's credibility. He was allegedly promised a big main event run in exchange for doing the job, but someone must have changed their mind on that one because it never really materialized. Fed up with the Corporation blaming him for this humiliating loss, he did turn face after this and enjoy a nice little partnership with Diesel, but that's not quite the same. Oh well. At least he got to headline a Wrestlemania that garnered main stream media acknowledgment as a result of LT's involvement. I'd say it's a fair trade off.
Wrestlemania XI Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 78:09
Average Match: 11:10
Average Match Rating: **1/4
Top Moments: The hot IC Title match, the celebrity interaction, Owen's mystery partner, Bret's big win, Shawn's performance, LT/Bam Bam
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