Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 11 - WWF Wrestlemania XI (1995)

Date: April 2nd, 1995
Venue: Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
Attendance: 16,305

(Note: The following post was written prior to the McMahon lawsuit from January 2024).

They say that peering into each Wrestlemania tells you the state of the company at the time and this would hold true to a certain extent. Barring Wrestlemania 9, which was just a horrific show by any means, each 'Mania spotlighted the top stars, best matches of the time, and top-notch performance. Wrestlemania X was considered a good wrestling show, but 1994 would play home to other great wrestling shows from the WWF. Wrestlemania XI, on the other hand, was a good spotlight into everything that was wrong with the company, long before it would be truly damaging.

Wrestlemania XI took place during the heyday of the WWF's New Generation era and a Kevin Nash title reign; a period of time that most "experts" and otherwise consider to be the Dark Age of McMahon's utopia and this show clearly illustrates the road of mediocrity the promotion was headed. The fact that they had to crop this show up with any kind of celebrity presence - no matter how low-tier they may be - to try and drum up ANY kind of interest is a telling sign. When the only thing that really sticks to mind is the kid from Home Improvement beating Mr. Bob Backlund in chess during a backstage skit of a WRESTLEMANIA show, you've got problems.

The Allied Powers (Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith) defeated Jacob and Eli Blue and what a fall from grace for ol' Lex, going from WWF Championship contender to opening card fodder.

Razor Ramon (w/ 1-2-3 Kid) defeated Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ the Roadie Dogg) via DQ due to Roadie Dogg's interference. Razor had the bad knee that played into the match, but this was just a thing that happened. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something that was just there.

The Undertaker defeated King Kong Bundy via pinfall after a chokeslam... because I guess King Kong Bundy was too heavy for Taker to tombstone properly. Apparently, Taker's urn was stolen by the Million Dollar Corporation and while Taker did get it back during this match, a distraction by Bundy would cause the urn to fall into the hands of KAMA THE SUPREME FIGHTING MACHINE, who would turn said urn into a bunch of gold chains... which he probably wore when he started doing the whole pimpin' thing, if you get my drift.

Owen Hart and surprise partner Yokozuna defeated WWF Tag-Team Champions The Smoking Gunns to win the titles. Basically, Yoko squashes Billy and Owen takes the pin to celebrate like a pig in shit. The match was nothing special, but the post-match celebration with Owen is joyful.

Bret Hart defeated Bob Backlund in what was advertised as an "I Quit" match, but when Bret caught Mr. Backlund in his own crossface chicken-wing submission, he merely screamed into the mic and guest referee Roddy Piper somehow understood that as some semblance of the words "I Quit", thus calling for the bell and awarding the win to Bret... either that or Roddy wanted any excuse to get this night over with and just called for the bell, whether Mr. Backlund said "I Quit" or reciting the entirety of the Constitution of the United States Of America.

WWF Champion Diesel defeated Shawn Michaels despite interference from Sid to retain the title. This was Shawn bumping like a madman and thus coming across as the bigger star while poor Kevin Nash was left holding the ol' Diesel sack. This wasn't a bad match per se, but the street fight they'd have a year later would blow this out of the water. Close, but no cigar, chico.

NFL football great (is that the right term?) Lawrence Taylor defeated Bam Bam Bigelow in the celebrity main event of Wrestlemania XI. If this match took place today, people would raking Lawrence Taylor over the coals over the fact that he is the Wrestlemania main event in his first ever wrestling match. That'd be like CM Punk having his first MMA fight in the UFC or something... that having been said, the match was alright. Obviously, Taylor kept it simple with forearms and stuff... and this isn't going to be five-star quality anything, but for what it was, it was a perfectly fine match.

Take away the celebrity involvement and you're left with a card that's better served as one of those B-level PPVs like an In Your House or something like that. And that's probably what inspired the creation of those PPVs. A lot of this Wrestlemania card was largely boring and forgettable - yes, there's a good Diesel/Shawn match here, but jump ahead a year later and you'll find a much better one between the two that would serve as Kevin Nash's on-screen swan song in the WWF. The Lawrence Taylor/Bam Bam match is one of the rare good celebrity matches during a period when such a concept was inconceivable, but it's not exactly what I would call a must-see match. Wrestlemania XI is often called the dirt worst, but the simple truth is that it's not a terrible show - it's just terribly boring... and maybe that's a worse sin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.