Things got pretty bad for the WWE in 1995. Business was down at every level, star power was diminishing and storylines and characters got even goofier as the months passed. Bret Hart, for most of 1994, had done well as WWE champion but Bret wasn’t Vince’s vision of what a main event guy should be. Vince wanted to create a star that would instantly rise to the top; Lex Luger wasn’t the guy and though people responded to Bret, but he wasn’t it either. Vince ended up going with someone who was running on diesel power. That’s right, they put the belt on “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel. Now, he had the look, and the size, to become a big time deal in pro wrestling but he was much more comfortable as a heel and not as a cheesey babyface. Business continued to erode as 1995 wore on, and with no real catch for this years WrestleMania, Vince decided on a new direction.
I don’t know a whole lot about Lawrence Taylor as I watch Superbowl and that’s about it when it comes to football. He was a name and Vince McMahon assumed he had the charisma to carry a show. Bam Bam Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor confronted one another at the Royal Rumble and after a series of barbs back and forth, we had our WrestleMania main event.
A special olympian sings America the Beautiful this year. The “really nice rendition” trend continues.
Allied Powers (British Bulldog and Lex Luger) vs. Jacob and Eli Blu: Lex Luger went from being one of the top guys at last year’s WrestleMania to being part of the opener a year later. I mean, he was still up there in terms of babyfaces, but it’s clear he’s seen better days. And MAN, WHAT A OPENER. Who was managing the Blu Brothers at the time? Uncle Zebekiah, or Zeb Coulter, as he would later be known as. You almost have to admire that out of all the times WWE has ignored it’s own continuity, the one time they actually follow it is from THIS gimmick. Not a very interesting match, both teams are kind of clumsy and stuff just looked like it was off. One of the Blu brothers misses a leg drop and Luger gets the hot tag. Blu Brothers do the twin magic thing and then proceed to not get a moment’s worth of heat. A blind tag allows Bulldog to roll up one of the Blu brothers for the win. *½
Jim Ross interviews Uncle Zebekiah who says he’d know he’d get hoodwinked in the big city.
Nick Turturro from NYPD Blue, a show from the 1990s that involved nudity and I guess police stuff, tries to interview Jenny McCarthy, but as it turns out the audio is shot and there’s no voices to be heard. Vince McMahon responds with his fake laugh.
WWE Intercontinental Championship – Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Razor Ramon: The 123 Kid had a backstage interview before this, speaking for Razor, but his audio was pretty choppy as well. Razor and Jarrett immediately go at it. Razor mostly dominates at the beginning, sending him out of the ring at one point. Jarrett grabs his leg, however, and starts working on it but Razor comes back and tries for the Razor’s Edge. With help from the Roadie, he escapes and starts walking away but 123 Kid forces him back. Eventually, Jarrett does gain control of the match only for Razor to make a comeback. 123 Kid tries to crotch Jarrett but he gets shoved into the guardrail, and then Razor misses a bulldog off the top rope, injuring his knee that was previously injured at the Royal Rumble. Jarrett gets in the figure four, but Razor manages to reverse it. Razor catches Jarrett and goes for the Razor’s Edge but Roadie just runs in and attacks Razor for a DQ. GREAT FINISH. **¾
123 Kid runs in for the save, but Jarrett knocks him down and sinks in the figure four. Razor jumps him and sends him reeling as Razor’s music plays. Given who had the political stroke around here at the time, why didn’t Razor just beat him to win the title?
We finally get that one promo earlier with Nick Turturro and you can tell it’s pretaped since it played out exactly like it did 20 minutes ago or so. He runs into Jenny McCarthy, who didn’t seem all that impressed with the Million Dollar Corporation hanging around her. Shawn Michaels walks in and Nick asks where Pamela Anderson is. Shawn says don’t worry about it, tonight she’ll be walking him out as champion. Sid, who is back after a WCW stint that was…cut short (let’s leave it at that, wink wink) yells a lot of mean things about Diesel. I think.
King Kong Bundy vs. The Undertaker: Oh. This doesn’t sound pleasant. The story of the match is that IRS stole the urn from the Undertaker at the Royal Rumble, so it’s in the hands of Ted DiBiase and his Million Dollar Corporation. Bundy clotheslines Undertaker out of the ring, and Undertaker responds by grabbing the urn from DiBiase and gives it to Paul Bearer. You’d think that’d be the end of that, right? NOPE! DiBiase motions for someone to come out and help him, and it’s none other than THE SUPREME FIGHTING MACHINE, KAMA. His gimmick was that he was a UFC guy. Or whatever the WWE’s idea of a UFC guy was in 1995. Seriously. The future Godfather takes the urn and tells Jim Ross he’s going to make gold chains out of the urn. Whatever floats your boat, dude. Bundy works him over but Undertaker awakens after a big splash. He gives him a shoulder tackle and actually pins him just like that, 123. Not as bad as one would think but not particularly good. *
Nick Turturro is back at Pamela Anderson’s dressing room. He runs across STEVE MCMICHAEL. As in, the future four horseman and terrible wrestler Steve “Mongo” McMichael. He’s looking for Kama and runs him down. The rest of Lawrence Taylor’s NFL team run down the rest of the Million Dollar Corporation. Meanwhile, Nick finds Bob Backlund playing a game of chess with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, star of Home Improvement, a show where Tim Allen grunted for nine seasons and people laughed, because…umm. The punchline was Thomas knew all the questions that Bob Backlund asked him and Backlund got mad.
Owen Hart comes out to introduce his tag team partner for the upcoming match. It’s none other than the person who beat Bret Hart for the WWE title two years ago, Yokozuna! He looks bigger than ever. The Smoking Gunns cut a promo. They cut off right in the middle of Bart’s promo cause it seemed like he had no idea what to say. He wasn’t much of a promo, you see.
WWE Tag Team Championship – Owen Hart and Yokozuna vs. The Smoking Gunns ©: This felt like a reaaaaaaaaaaally long match even though the crowd was generally into it. Gunns worked them over for the first part of the match. Owen gets the heat by slamming Billy’s back into the guardrail. He and Yokozuna go to work on him forever until he makes the hot tag to Bart. Bart runs wild for a bit, but for whatever reason Billy is tagged back in, and Yokozuna lays him out with a belly to belly and a Banzai. Bart breaks up the pinfall, but gets tossed out onto the floor. Owen is tagged in and motions like he’s going for the sharpshooter, but just lays down and pins him for the win. That was great. The match itself, eh. *¾
Bam Bam Bigelow is interviewed. They show a recap of his feud with Lawrence Taylor. He shoved Taylor at the Royal Rumble then he and LT get into it at the Times Square event the previous week. Pettingill says most of the country is behind LT. Bam Bam says he’s not worried about the fans, he’s worried about laying out LT. Pettingill then mentions LT’s NFL buddies. Bam Bam says he’ll leave it to the Million Dollar Team. Bam Bam says LT is a flash in the pan and he won’t leave me laying.
I Quit Match – Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund: They actually billed this as a “submission match”. Roddy Piper is the special guest referee because, well, I have no idea. Bret takes a lot of the match working over Backlund with leglocks and figure fours. Backlund finally starts working over an arm, trying several attempts at the crossface chickenwing. The submission work here was generally good, but I wasn’t feeling it. Bret attempts a sharpshooter but Backlund gets to the ropes. Bret goes for a charge in the corner but misses, allowing Backlund to get the chicken wing…but Bret has the ropes. He lets go, but Backlund can’t cinch it in and get Bret to the floor. Bret reverses it and manages to get to the floor. Backlund eventually says YES and the match is over. It was good, but kind of blah at times. It doesn’t make sense describing it in that manner, but those were my general feelings about it. **½
Jim Ross tries to interview Bob Backlund, but all he can say is “I saw the light”.
Nick Turturro is back. There’s been some “celebrity changes” or something.
Todd Pettingill is with Diesel. He cuts a lame promo about not being worried about Sid then starts to yell IN MID SENTENCE BY SAYING HE’LL BE LEAVING THE WWE CHAMPION. No, really, look at this promo. It’s hilarious.
Time to introduce the celebrities. Jonathan Taylor Thomas is the special timekeeper, the special ring announcer is Nick Turturro. Shawn Michaels comes out with Jenny McCarthy instead. But guess what? Big Daddy Cool ends up coming out with Pamela Anderson — who was originally supposed to come out with Shawn Michaels! ENGAGING STORYTELLING HERE, FOLKS.
WWE Championship – Diesel © vs. Shawn Michaels: The initial story is that Diesel keeps throwing Shawn out of the ring. One time, he throws him over and Shawn lands on top of a photog. Shawn responds by throwing him around like a rag doll in a hissy fit. Oops. Shawn clips Diesel as he’s distracted by Sid on the apron. Shawn clotheslines him to the floor and hits a huge crossbody off the top rope to the floor. He throws him into the steps then hits a big splash off the apron onto the floor, then continues working on the ribs. Diesel catches him and tries for a slingshot but Michaels floats over and shoves him into the turnbuckle and comes back with a sleeper. Diesel makes his comeback as Michaels does the Flair bump over the ringpost onto the apron where Diesel meets him with a punch. He misses a clothesline, however, and hits a superkick. Sid rolls him in but Diesel kicks out. Sid’s next plan is to remove a turnbuckle. Diesel comes back with a back suplex. Shawn goes to the top rope and jumps off but Diesel catches him with a sidewalk slam for another nearfall. Diesel slingshots him, but misses the exposed turnbuckle and instead hits the middle rope. Big boot, powerbomb, that’s it. An excellent performance by both men on a show that was sorely lacking a match like this up to this point. ***¾
All the celebrities come to the ring and celebrate with Diesel as the show goes off the air.
Wait, no, we still have the main event. Yes, this did in fact not close out the show.
Sid and Michaels complain about the loss backstage.
The WWE Network cut out a performance from Salt ‘N Pepa singing “Whatta Man” (I remember this from the VHS tape I had!), so instead we get an abrupt cut to the Million Dollar Team, who come out by jogging to the ring. Then an NFL theme played as Ken Norton Jr, Chris Spielman, Ricky Jackson, Carl Banks and Steve McMichael come out. I don’t know who any of these guys are aside from MONGO. Reggie White is then introduced, who is the captain of the All-Star Team. I think I’ve heard of him. Tatanka and Kama try to get into the ring with the NFL guys but they wield them off.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor: Taylor jumps him at the bell after some words and clotheslines Bigelow over the top rope to the floor to a HUGE pop. Ok, you can say whatever about the WWE title match not closing out the show but it’s clear the biggest star on this show is LT. Taylor hip tosses him to the outside then leaps over the top rope to the floor where he confronts Bigelow. He responds by climbing back into the ring, but stomping all over Taylor as he enters the ring. Bigelow bodyslams him and goes for the headbutt but LT moves out of the way. Bigelow sends him to the floor and secures a Boston crab. LT finally comes back with a suplex but Bigelow sends him back down with a headbutt and leg drop. Huge twisting crossbody by Bigelow but seems to have hurt his knee. LT makes a comeback after a jackknife suplex, which I’ve never seen before ever, but comes right back down with a heel kick by Bigelow. Another headbutt but LT kicks out. Bigelow argues with the ref as LT comes back with some punches, laying out Bigelow, then hits a punch off the middle rope for the pinfall. Considering Lawrence Taylor had like zero wrestling experience before this match, this was a miracle. Things looked weird here and there, but you’d think LT had been wrestling for years. It’s really amazing, all things considering. **3/4
LT and his teammates celebrate in the ring as Jim Ross interviews Ted DiBiase, who says Bam Bam has embarrassed the Million Dollar corporation. Uh oh, bad times for him. Then the show just simply goes off the air. Okay.
There was one really good match on this show. LT’s performance was something to behold. Everything else isn’t worth mentioning. Better than WrestleMania IX, though, so this doesn’t reach the all time low list. Not a lot of quality wrestling otherwise. But next year two guys will wrestle for one hour, and it was the greatest match of all time ever…according to some.