WrestleMania XI

December 5, 2010

I’m not sure I ever saw this show in its entirety before. I have memories of only a couple matches but that may be more due to this show being very forgettable than me never having seen it before. Even this morning the, the morning after I watched the show, I can’t even remember where the event took place.

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler were on commentary and Jim Ross was doing ambush style post match interviews in the entrance way, which was a horrible idea and did not work at all. This was the WWF vs. NFL show headlined by Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow, so it was a celebrity heavy show. LT has his All Pro Team consisting of a bunch of football players I couldn’t care less about with the possible exception of Steve Mongo McMichael who would later go onto to become a horseman in WCW. In addition to the football players, we saw, Jonathon Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement), Nicholas Toturo (NYPD Blue), Pam Anderson (Bay Watch), Jenny McCarthy (MTV), and the rap group Salt-N-Pepa.

With the possible exception of Salt-N-Pepa all of the celebrities were a complete waste of time. Maybe I was tired, but for some reason I thought the song Salt-N-Pepa did before the Main Event was pretty good. It was a variation of their hit song, “Whatta Man” and they added new lyrics about LT and Bam Bam which I thought came off great (Keep in mind I recently watched the Pile Driver album so the bar is pretty low gong in).

Before I get to the specific matches I wanted to comment on one thing I noticed that I thought was quite odd. There was a huge difference of positioning on this card for several people from WrestleMania last year. Lex Luger was in the Heavyweight Title picture last year and was in a completely meaningless opener this year. Bret Hart had the best match on the show and won the title, last year and was in a shitty pointless match this time around. Bam Bam was in a comedy relief match last year and headlined this year. Shawn went from IC Title to Heavyweight Title, so a big step up this year for Shawn, and Razor Ramon oddly enough was in the exact same spot as last year battling for the Intercontinental Title.

Allied Powers – The Blu Brothers: This was a real nothing match. The crowd popped on the finish but this was real basic and pretty bad. They completely botched their opening double power slam spot landing in a total heap. There was an odd insider reference made on commentary which they kept referring to. The reference was that this match was like the Normandy Invasion. Now the American and the Brit fighting together part I get but when you considering the Blu Brothers where billed from the Appalachia Mountains in the US, I doubt many fans got this reference. Where I think the reference came from was Tattoos the Blu Brothers had. I have a vague memory of there being heat back in the day or a story where they had to cover up the tattoos on their arms because they were Nazi SS tattoos or at least something that looked very similar.

Double J (w/Roadie) – Razor Ramon (w/123 Kid) (IC Title): This was a very fast paced match with a ton of covers for near falls so that match came off pretty good, despite a pretty shitty finish. The problem with the finish was that the Roadie did some minor interference from the outside behind the refs back, but when Kid tried to return the favour he got caught by the referee. That unto itself would not have been horrible except for the fact they were doing a DQ for outside interference later in the match when the ref caught Roadie interfering. They did a post match brawl which got a great reaction, so I guess no harm no fowl. Kid as a baby face was so weird looking back; he cut a horrible opening match promo and wore an absurd Japanese silk rope so cheering this guy after the years of X-Pac heat he’s garnered since this event was just so weird.

The Undertaker – King Kong Bundy: This was the first mention of “The Streak”. They didn’t call it the streak but they did acknowledge for the first time that The Undertaker was undefeated at WrestleMania, so it looks like after just 3 wins they realized they would be building a streak for Taker. At this point it was also pretty much a streak of poor matches; completely the fault of the gimmick and quality of opponents and tonight was no exception. There was nothing to this match except doing the angle where Taker gets his Urn back from Ted Dibiase (managing the Million Dollar Team) to only have it taken away again by Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine. Kama got the urn and said he would melt it down and make a chain to wear around his neck. Taker then beat Bundy after a body slam and a clothesline.

The Smoking Guns - Owen Hart & Yokozuna (Tag Titles): There was nothing memorable about this match at all except that Yoko won completely clean squishing Billy Gun with the Bonsai drop, so Yoko and Owen won the titles. Billy Gun’s mustache and his pantomiming firing his imaginary pistols were the true highlight of this match.

Bret Hart – Bob Backlund (I Quit Match): Roddy Piper was guest referee in his second Bret Hart WrestleMania match in a row. I have no recollection, nor was it explained, why Piper was the special ref. They announced the only way to win this match was to make your opponent say the words “I Quit”, this is important. This was real bad; I have no doubt this was the worst Bret Hart WrestleMania match up until he fought Vince McMahon 15 years later. Someone had to say “I Quit” into a microphone for there to be a winner and they only had a corded microphone which seemed really silly. Piper seemed to be not paying attention and at times even screwing around. At one point Bret was choking Backlund in the ropes and Piper asked Bob if he wanted to quit, yet not a minute later when they were working a figure four and got to the ropes he demanded a break. The comedy spot was after asking Bob several times if he gave up, he stopped and asked Bret if he wanted to quit, despite Bret having the hold on Bob Backlund and being on offense. Bret did not seem thrilled. Finish saw Bret put Backlund in the Crossface Chicken Wing (Backlund’s hold) and when Piper asked him “What do you say?” Backlund responded, “Yes”, Piper tried to clarify and asked again, “Do you want to Quit”, Backlund either not understanding the stipulation, or not wanting to actually say “I Quit” responded again, “Yes”, so Piper called for the bell and we got a bit of a botched finish because they were very specific at the start of the match that one man would have to utter the words “I Quit” to end this match and neither man ever did. What a waste of Bret Hart.

Diesel – HBK (w/Sid) (WWF Title): I was not a big fan of this match, but by this point in the night I was getting pretty tired. Nash flubbed his pre match promo; granted I shouldn’t be pointing out poor promo skills, but I found this funny none the less. Match started really fast with Shawn taking an ungodly amount of big bumps, which I think was why the match didn’t work for me. It was such a one sided monstrous ass kicking early on that I had a hard time buying the match once it slowed down and Shawn took over. Match was good, don’t get me wrong but not up to modern day HBK standards. Shawn had a lot of issues with camera men at rings side and physically threw a couple of them around and looked genuinely pissed about it. Shawn got a visual pin on the Champ during the match to set up rematches and Big Daddy Cool eventually won with a poorly executed Power Bomb. Shawn over rotated on the Power Bomb so his feet actually hit the mat first rather than landing flat on his back. I remember at the time Jericho calling me and wanting to know the result of the Main Event, because he was a huge HBK mark. I told him about the Power Bomb and commented that if he had rotated any further he might have been able to land on his feet. This gave Jericho an idea and on his next tour of Japan he did a spot with Ultimo Dragon where Dragon countered Jericho’s Power Bomb by rotating through and landing on his feet, I believe the first time that counter had ever been done.

Bam Bam Bigelow – Lawrence Taylor: Pat Patterson was the referee and again no reference as to why. I assume it was so he could help call LT through the match because it was likely Pat and Bam Bam that put this whole thing together. Considering this was LT’s first match and he was Main Eventing WrestleMania the match came off extremely well. Looking back on it now with the memories of it being pretty good, it was not nearly what I remembered. Bam Bam did a great job carrying a complete non-worker and took a shit load of stiff shots for his troubles. At one point Bam Bam even hit his top rope moonsault on LT, which no doubt was scary as hell from LT’s perspective. LT won with a forearm off the second rope and the crowd reacted pretty big. I’m not sure if LT got hurt, was gassed, or just selling out of respect for Bam Bam but he looked like he could barely stand up after the match.

On the whole this show felt more like a set up show than a WrestleMania. What I mean by that is that almost all the matches felt like angles and set up matches for more important matches down the road. The opener was just a nothing win to set up the new #1 Contenders to the tag titles. The IC Title match DQ and post match brawl was to set up rematches or tag matches, The Taker match was an angle to set up Taker vs. Kama, and the WWE Title match also set up further rematches.

Last year’s Mania at least had 2 absolutely awesome matches, where this year’s show didn’t have anything I would consider great and only 2 matches I thought were pretty good those being the 2 singles title matches. Bam Bam – LT was better than it had any right to be but looking back still a poor match. I’d say this was a thumbs down WrestleMania.

Lance Storm.