With Hogan finally out of the picture, the WWE had to reinvent themselves. They changed their look and adapted a new moniker, as being the NEW GENERATION, but now had to find someone as the face of the New Generation. Not really having anyone else, they initially went with Bret Hart. But when Hulk Hogan bolted, Vince McMahon decided to find an new guy that could be marketed as an all-American kind of guy. Soon enough, Lex Luger went from being a narcissist to touring on a bus called the Lex Express. He was initially supposed to win the WWE title at SummerSlam that year against Yokozuna, but Vince McMahon held it off. After all, if they built up Lex Luger over the next year, fans would be CLAMORING for Lex to be the next WWE champion by WrestleMania, right?
Not really. Luger never really got over in his role as the top babyface. It might have been the loss at SummerSlam that sealed it, really. Hogan didn’t win the title after a long build – he won it immediately upon returning to the territory. Luger doing the same in his first championship win as a brand-new babyface would have gotten interest quickly, even if it was at the expense of playing a game of hot potato with the title. But regardless, he didn’t, and since he wasn’t that great of a worker and didn’t work with great guys, by Royal Rumble the Lex Express was running low on gas.
The Royal Rumble had its only tie in 1994. Lex Luger and Bret Hart eliminated each other at the same time, and it was eventually decided that it was a tie, and that both men would be receiving a championship opportunity at WrestleMania. A coin toss determined that Bret would be the one wrestling twice on the show: Luger would get the first shot at Yokozuna, then Bret. The Hitman’s other opponent that night? His brother, Owen Hart.
Originally, Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson wanted Bruce Hart to come in and turn on Bret, leading to a big brother vs. brother match. But Bret felt Owen could pull this off just as well. They were reluctant to do so, but eventually they gave in. After teasing a dissension at Survivor Series, Owen turned on his brother at the Royal Rumble when he felt Bret wasn’t tagging him in. Heated words were exchanged between the two leading to the big opening contest to start off the show. Bret didn’t want it to come to this, but eventually he had no other choice but to face his youngest brother.
They start the show with a montage of celebrities and wrestlers from the first WrestleMania. No Hulk Hogan, which is hilarious.
Little Richard is introduced by Vince McMahon to sing America the Beautiful. It was soulful, and awesome. Probably my favorite rendition at this point. They then throw it to Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler, a different commentary team than most years, as we are thrown to a video package that led to Owen Hart turning on Bret.
BILL DUNN is announcing the event tonight. This was because they thought Fink was too old at this point. He’ll be back, but this is a series of dumb Vince decisions. If a guy is the best at what he does and can still go, there should be no reason for him not to be there. I really don’t think anyone cares how old someone is as long as they’re still great. Even today, Fink is still great. But he’s not on TV because he’s “too old” or something. Lame. ANYWAY, he introduces someone from Calgary, Alberta Canada…and the crowd cheers. But Bret’s music doesn’t play… nope, it’s Owen’s. That was a great moment.
Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart: Some nice mat wrestling to start things off. Bret gets the better of him and Owen reels on the outside. They continue with back and forth exchanges until Owen gets the better of Bret with a spinning heel kick. Owen puts him in a camel clutch but Bret breaks free only for Owen to drill him with a belly-to-belly. More back and forth. Owen lands a great German suplex for a nearfall and manages to reverse Bret into a tombstone piledriver. Bret starts his comeback but Owen kicks out of it and turns it around with an enziguri. He goes for the sharpshooter but Bret reverses it. Huge plancha on the outside by Bret onto Owen, but he injures his knee in the process. Owen works on his leg at one point and even mocks him. This is so awesome. Bret eventually cuts him off, limping. He tries for a superplex and executes it, but only a nearfall. They both eventually get up as Bret takes him to the ropes but Owen low blows him from behind and puts him in the sharpshooter. Bret manages to reverse it but Owen immediately gets to the ropes. Bret then tries a lucha rollup from the top rope but Owen stops him and keeps him pinned for the pinfall. Yep, Owen beat Bret clean in the middle. Flair/Macho Man was more dramatic and Steamboat/Savage had a ton of great near falls, but I think overall this is one of the best back and forth matches I’ve seen so far. Just a clinic of great back and forth stuff that meant everything, from Bret’s leg selling to Owen’s near falls to EVERYTHING! Awesome match. ****3/4
Todd is with Owen who says he’s on cloud nine. He said he’d beat Bret and now he’s the best there is, best there is, and best there ever will be. Now he’ll finally get the recognition he deserves. Todd asks him about the title match later tonight.
Montage of WrestleMania 2. Gorilla says it was “very innovative”. Maybe a little too innovative. They showed Ray Charles and the battle royal.
The announcer introduces Sy Sperling, who is the president of Hair Club for Men. He introduces Howard Finkel, his latest client. Doesn’t look too bad. Usual WWE hazin-I mean ribbing. RIBBING.
Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink: Last year Doink was a cool heel. This year he’s a hideously lame babyface with an even lamer midget sidekick. Bam Bam takes out Doink immediately but Doink comes back with an armrest hold. Dink is tagged in and acts like an idiot while Luna is tagged in and they do a bunch of lame “comedy”. Vince McMahon’s concept of humor has been the same for decades, hasn’t it. Doink is tagged in and Bam Bam quickly takes him down. After more dumb comedy Doink comes back in but Bam Bam cuts him off again. Doink misses his whoopee cushion finish (that’s what it’s called, really). Dink gets knocked off the rope as Bam Bam hits the headbutt for the victory. Never have I been so happy to see a heel win. *
Dink acts like a dork again so the heels rightly take him out…kinda. I don’t even know how to describe this. Bam Bam and Luna go for a double splash but Bam Bam misses, only for Luna to get up. Doink gets up, but Dink has to sell Luna’s splash that I don’t think she was supposed to hit. Eventually the both of them get up and the heels bail.
Hail to the Chief is played as a Bill Clinton lookalike was in the crowd. Something upset Vince McMahon that week I guess. Funny subtle thing the announcers didn’t point out was that IRS was right behind him and Jack Tunney.
Falls Count Anywhere: Randy Savage vs. Crush: Savage didn’t even wait for Crush as he came out and jumped him immediately. Crush grabs him and throws him throat first on the guardrail then pins him clean. Just like that! But wait, there’s complicated rules that no one bothered to mention before the match — Savage has 60 seconds to get to the ring and manages to get there even though Fuji uses the cane on him. Crush puts Savage in a tree of woe position, then grabs salt from Fuji to throw at Savage, but he counters and it ends up on Crush’s face. Savage hits the elbow but doesn’t cover him. He instead rolls him to the floor and gets the pinfall there. Wouldn’t it make more sense just to pin him in the ring? When he throws him to the floor Vince McMahon says “oh, this makes sense” but um…no it doesn’t man. Savage posts then throws him into the stairs as they end up brawling into the crowd. Crush takes him out with a kick and tries to piledrive him but Savage counters with a back body drop. They brawl backstage where Savage pins Crush then ties him up with some cords and hangs him from some sort of contraption as he makes his way back to the ring. He beats Fuji up as the timer goes down and after sixty seconds the bell rings- Savage is victorious! Would have been a lot better without the dumb stipulations. **
Todd is trying to get an interview with “the president”. The punchline is what I mentioned earlier — IRS is behind him and says congrats on raising the taxes because it’s time people paid their fair share. Vince has had a weird fixation with the government ever since they indicted him. Maybe those two events are unrelated, I don’t know.
Randy Savage says something as he enters the MSG Theater and enters through the crowd. This is his last WrestleMania, and maybe it wasn’t the best match ever but I think if anyone deserves to be called Mr. WrestleMania at this point, it’s him. Some great, tremendous matches during his run that won’t be topped for several years to come.
WWE Women’s Championship – Lelani Kai vs. Alundra Blayze ©: In a weird botch; they showed Alundra’s name on the screen, then quickly switched to Owen Hart’s name. Oops. They have a short but pretty fun back and forth match. Alundra gets the win with a German. **
They show Fabulous Moolah and Nikolai Volkoff in the crowd. They don’t mention Mae Young right next to Moolah, but we’ll be seeing more of her later, in more Vince McMahon comedy segments.
They show WrestleMania V footage of Roddy Piper fire extinguishing Morton Downey Jr.
WWE Tag Team Championship – Men on a Mission vs. The Quebecers ©: In between entrances we got a short vignette between Ronda Shear, who hosted some USA Network show back in 1994, and Burt Reynolds. Hey, it’s a step up from last year. A lot of the match was Mo being worked on until Mabel hits the ring and destroys the Quebecers. MOM do a double team move, but the ref is distracted by Johnny Polo. MOM double team Jacques, then Mo enters to cover Pierre but Polo grabs Pierre and they just leave for the count out. Whoever thinks this is a great finish on PPV should be slapped. *1/2
MOM then celebrate like they won the titles. You didn’t, fools.
The great WrestleMania VI moment is…Warrior and Hogan facing off. Well, that was a great moment. Good call because nothing of value happened there besides that!
Celebrity time! Rhonda Shear comes out wearing something straight out of 1998 WWE. It’s still only 1994. She’s accompanied by Donnie Wahlberg, a member of NKOTB. No, not New Kids on the Block. They changed their name, you see. He’s the RING ANNOUNCER. He introduces Mr. Perfect, who is the special guest referee, for the upcoming title match.
WWE Championship – Yokozuna (c) vs. Lex Luger: Yokozuna, the champion, comes out first because, you know, Hogan. Or the future Hogan. Or the Hogan they wanted but eventually never really got. Cornette was wearing a fantastic ring jacket. Luger pounded on Yokozuna early, but Yoko drops him with one move. He takes him to the outside, where Luger counters and posts him instead. Luger actually gets to the top rope and does a CROSSBODY (!) but only gets a nearfall. From here it’s really long periods of trapezius muscle holds. I mean, LONG PERIODS OF TIME. Luger would occasionally fight back but would eventually get caught in one again. I’m guessing this is because they need a long match, but since Yokozuna has to wrestle later, and given his size, well, you know. Luger finally comes back to life, giving him three clotheslines and a bodyslam. A forearm shot sends him down, then Luger drills Fuji and Cornette to keep them at bay. He covers, but Perfect instead checks on Cornette. Then goes over to Fuji. Luger walks over to Perfect and shoves him, telling him to count as he covers him. Perfect slowly looks at his shirt, then at Luger, then walks over the corner and tells them to ring the bell. Yes, after all that we get another shitty finish. They kind of had to do this since Luger wasn’t winning and Yokozuna couldn’t lose twice on the same night, but it mean they could have done something less stupid. Also the match sucked. 1/4*
The big moment of WrestleMania VII? The blindfold match. Yes, one of the worst matches of all time on a WrestleMania show is considered a great moment.
Todd interviews Perfect who rightly defends his actions. Hey, Luger threw Cornette and Fuji around then shoved Perfect. Logically, that calls for a DQ. Luger enters the backstage area and soon the two have to be pulled apart. It was clear they were building a feud between these two, but it really went nowhere as Perfect would kind of disappear for about a year again.
Harvey Wippleman is in the ring. He and Howard Finkel go at it. Eventually, his tux pocket is ripped off. Ribbing, guys. RIBBING. Adam Bomb comes down and intimidates Howard until Earthquake comes to make the save and we have a match.
Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb: Earthquakes pins him in like under a minute with the butt splash. NR
Jim Cornette is interviewed by Pettingill. He says that Perfect made the right decision and Yokozuna still has the belt. Cornette talks about how Bret has to realize how he lost earlier tonight and has to come to terms with it. It’s not about winning the title, it’s about ihm remaining in one piece. Yokozuna is mad, hungry and enraged. He’s going to be the shark, and Bret will be the blood.
WrestleMania VIII. The great moment was “the awesome appearance of the Undertaker”. Seriously.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – Shawn Michaels vs.Razor Ramon: Two intercontinental titles hang in the air. Remember, Shawn was stripped of the title in September of 1993 for allegedly failing a steroid test. He’d be back by November but still carried around his old title. Razor won the title around the same time, so now we have two people claiming to be the champion. Shawn avoids the ladder in fear of bad luck, but Razor walks right under it because he’s cool. Back and forth early. Razor is sent to the outside where Diesel takes him out. The ref throws Diesel out as Razor and Shawn continue to go at it. Huge bump from the ring to the floor by Razor which he set up just minutes prior. Shawn grabs the ladder but Razor takes it away. Shawn responds by baseball sliding it right into Razor. The crowd gasps. This is only the second ladder match ever in WWE, and the first was on home video, so not many people have seen one live before this. Shawn pelts Razor with ladder shots as he sets it up and starts climbing. Razor throws him off, accidently pantsing him in the process. Oops. Huge splash off the ladder to the floor by Shawn. He starts climbing, but Razor grabs him and throws him off setting up a huge slingshot. Shawn sets up the ladder in the corner and tries to whip Razor into it but he counters and Shawn takes a huge bump on the ladder and falls to the floor. Eventually Shawn takes another bump on the ladder, being slingshotted onto it on the outside. Razor climbs up, but Shawn gets on the turnbuckle and leaps off with a sledge, sending Razor down and the ladder crashing on top of Shawn in the process. This is so awesome. Razor sets up the ladder and they both climb it. Razor punches Shawn off the ladder but he falls off too. Another attempt ends up having Shawn dropkick it out. Back and forth. Shawn goes for the Razor’s Edge but instead hits a piledrive (as Vince McMahon puts it). Shawn gets the ladder and jumps off on it, causing it to crash on Razor with all of his weight on it. He sets up the ladder again under Razor has he climbs. Razor shakes the ladder, then shoves it as Shawn gets his foot stuck on the ropes, then his arm as Razor climbs up the ladder and grabs both championships for the win. A lot of people have had more athletic spots, took crazier bumps and have had far more amazing dives in ladder matches after this one, not question about it. But in terms of telling a story, and incorporating it into a wrestling match, no ladder match has done a better job than this one. *****
The Headshrinkers, Rick Martel, Jeff Jarrett and IRS were all arguing who should be the team captain. This leads to Vince McMahon saying there wouldn’t be a match. Yes, because the heels couldn’t decide who should be captain. LOL.
More dumb president stuff. He and Ted DiBiase interacted. Really, that’s it.
WrestleMania IX moment — they showed Bret Hart getting salt thrown in his eyes. But hey, this does lead to the video package leading to the main event. Generic music played as they showed big moments for Bret, including his first title win. He gives a thumbs up, only for Yokozuna to come in and give a banzai splash. Footage of him is then shown as more sinister music plays and footage of him is shown destroying everyone.
The special guests for this next main event is Jennie Garth from Beverly Hills 90210 as well as Burt Reynolds, who we saw earlier. Burt announces the special guest referee, Roddy Piper.
WWE Championship – Yokozuna (c) vs. Bret Hart: The champion, again, comes out first. Bret is selling the leg big time. Yokozuna dominates from the get go. Bret finds and opening and manages to get a cover but Cornette drags Piper out of the ring. Piper responds by cleaning his clock. Yokozuna comes back, but misses a splash in the corner and Bret starts his comeback. Lots of near falls from Bret as he keeps taking down Yokozuna. He finally takes down Bret with a belly to belly in midair as Bret went off the top rope then goes for the banzai drop. Yokozuna, however, slips off the middle and Bret covers for the pinfall. Kinda anticlimactic, but I don’t think Bret could get him in the sharpshooter anyway so this works. About as good as a match Bret could have with Yokozuna at this point. ***
Bret celebrates until Lex Luger comes down. Is he about to challenge him like on a New Japan show? Nope, instead he raises his hand. Soon all the babyfaces, including Burt Reynolds, Gorilla Monsoon, Donnie Wahlberg, Randy Savage and others all celebrate with Bret, putting him on his shoulders. Owen stands in the aisle, looking pissed off. Savage taunts him to enter, but Owen refuses, throwing a fit and leaving when Bret’s arm is raised again. More celebrating as we go off the air.
In ring wise, this is the best WrestleMania so far with the opener being fantastic and the ladder match just friggin’ awesome. Everything else isn’t much to write home about, but this is a HUGE improvement from last year’s show. So the first Hoganless year of WrestleMania wasn’t bad at all. The WWE, however, was still in need of some starpower. Bret Hart was good, but there needed to be more. He started to look as to where he could find a big main event for next year’s WrestleMania, and eventually he found it, of all places, on the gridiron.