Sports – Films – Reviews – Life Stories – Video Games It's all here on The Rif Files.
WWF WrestleMania XI
April 2nd 1995
Hartford Civic Centre, Hartford, Connecticut
Announcers: Vince McMahon/ Jerry Lawler
The 11th WrestleMania took place at a time where business for the WWF was down. The buyrate for WrestleMania X was 420,000 buys, this one was only 340,000. A drop of 80,000. I guess this would be one of those shows which was trying to by based on the WrestleMania name alone. The celebrity involvement was increased and for the second time since WrestleMania one, a celebrity would be involved in the main event.
Lawrence Taylor, recently retired NFL star, was set to take on Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event. The angle began at the Royal Rumble where an altercation between the two lead to this match at WrestleMania. My knowledge of NFL is poor but from what I understand, Taylor was a big name player so this of course gathered a lot of attention from the mainstream press. Also involved on the show was Pamela Anderson, who was famous for her role in Baywatch and various appearances in Playboy. She’d be involved in the WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and WWF Champion, Diesel. Bret Hart’s role was decreased, he would take part in an “I quit match” against Bob Backlund, who was now a crazy heel.
The roster was really thin and that’s because of rivals, WCW, picking up a lot of steam and plucking away at the WWF’s talent (Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage were in WCW at the time. Lex Luger would join later in the year). Following WrestleMania, WWF started to create monthly pay per views and that trend is still carrying on to this day.
The video package focuses on the celebrities who took part in past WrestleManias rather than the shows themselves. Special Olympian Kathy Huey sang America the Beautiful. She did well.
At ringside, Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show. This was their second year in a row as the announce team. Heel Lawler was a lot of fun while Vince was always good at putting over moments, but sucked at calling moves. What a maneuver!
The Allied Powers (Lex Luger & British Bulldog) vs. The Blu Brothers (Jacob & Eli) /w/ Uncle Zebekiah
It was clear there that the WWF lost confidence in Luger as a singles star, so they put him in a team with the British Bulldog. They were the faces. The Blu twins had a few gimmick, most notably as the Harris Brothers and Disciples of Apocalypse members, Skull and 8-Ball. Uncle Zebekiah is Zeb Coulter. 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. Post-match, Bulldog and Luger flex their big muscles whiles Vince has a wet dream at ringside.
Winners: The Allied Powers via pinfall
Rating: * ½
It was okay for an opener. Davey Boy’s sunset flip was impressive as a finisher.
In the locker room, Nick Turturo (of NYPD Blue) was trying to interview Jenny McCarthy.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Jeff Jarrett © /w/ The Roadie vs. Razor Ramon /w/ 1-2-3 Kid
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. 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.
Winner: Razor Ramon via DQ
Rating: ** ½
This was such a fun match. Razor & Jarrett always had great chemistry together and the DQ finished pithed the way for return matches.
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. Bless him.
Todd Pettengill roams through the crowd and gets former Chicago Bears runningback, Neal Anderson’s, take on Lawrence Taylor’s big match later on.
King Kong Bundy /w/ Ted DiBiase vs. The Undertaker /w/ Paul Bearer
Larry Young, American League umpire, is the referee 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, and then hits an avalanche that the Undertaker no sells. Taker slams him and finishes him with a flying clothesline for the pin.
Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall
Rating: ½ *
Dull match, at least it was short though. Undertaker is 4-0 at WrestleMania.
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 segment. I always loved Bob’s heel gimmick.
Up next is the tag titles match. The current champions, The Smoking 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.
WWF Tag Team Championship
Owen Hart & Yokozuna /w/ Jim Cornette & Mr Fuji vs. The Smoking Gunns © (Bart & Billy)
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). Bart whipped Owen into the corner and he did the sternum first bump that Bret was more known for. Billy hit an impressive legdrop while Bart dropped Owen in a side slam, which was good for two. Owen tagged in Yoko and the big guy dropped a leg drop to the back of Billy’s head. Behind the ref’s back, Owen rammed Billy back first into the ring post. Owen to a fan: “I’m a king. You all love me.” 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, and then catches Billy with a drop toehold to set up a Yokozuna leg drop. Yokozuna goes to his nerve hold, then holds Billy in place for an Owen missile 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.
Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & Yokozuna via pinfall
Owen Hart has won his first WWF gold, his first Championship of many. He’s not shy about celebrating it either, deserves it too. His over the top celebrations were brilliant. He carried the match and was without question the star of the match.
Re-cap from the WrestleMania fan fest.
Todd Pettengill is standing by with Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow 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
Special Guest Referee: Rowdy Roddy Piper
Bob Backlund vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
Backlund defeated Bret to win the WWF Title back at Survivor Series in a submission match where Bret’s mother Helen threw in the towel. This would be the rematch with the “I Quit” stipulation forcing one of them to actually submit. Bret pounds away at Backlund in the corner, and quickly whips him into the opposite corner. Headbutt and elbow puts Backlund down, and Bret goes for a sharpshooter early. Backlund shoves him off so Bret drops an elbow on him. Bret fires Backlund into the corner and chokes him out on the second rope. Piper gets really annoying very quick screaming “WHADDYA SAY?!?!” every few seconds into the mic. Bret goes back to the sharpshooter, but Backlund rolls through. Bret then locks in a figure four in the centre of the ring. Backlund turns the hold over so Bret rolls through to the ropes to break. Bret grabs the leg again and drops down on it grape vining the foot. Backlund is able to sit up and kick the face of Bret to break it. Backlund goes to work in the corner working the arm, before stalking for the crossface chicken wing. Bret turns away before Backlund locks it in, and Backlund then whips him into the buckle. Backlund drops down into an armbar takedown, and turns it into a hammerlock. Backlund delivers an elbow to the face, and then grabs another armbar. Bret slams out of the armbar, and delivers a backbreaker. Second rope elbow connects for Bret, and then he goes for the sharpshooter. Backlund is able to turn to the ropes again to stop the hold. Irish whip sends Backlund into the corner, but Bret’s charge comes up empty as he shoulderblocks the ring post. Backlund then stalks and locks in the crossface chicken wing. Bret reverses the hold into a crossface chicken wing of his own, and is able to drop down with it and Backlund submits. Post-match, whiles Bret celebrates, JR tries to interview Backlund who kept on saying that he “saw the light”.
Winner: Bret Hart via submission
Rating: * ½
Nothing compared to their Survivor Series match in ’94 and even Backlund botched the ending by saying “yeah” instead of “I Quit”. When you have two guys as talented as Bob Backlund and Bret Hart, you’d expect the best but this just didn’t provide the goods. Piper got annoying after a while and took away from the seriousness of the match. You could tell by Bret’s face that he wasn’t too thrilled about the match; he even went as far as saying that this match was the worst PPV match in his career. Don’t blame him.
Backstage, Turturo said he couldn’t find Pamela Anderson. The story was that she didn’t want to accompany Shawn because he was such a jerk.
Backstage, Todd Pettengill talked to World Champion Diesel. They had audio difficulties the whole show. They continued here. Diesel was Kevin Nash for those that don’t know although I’m sure most of you know. He cut a pretty generic promo, which was standard for him as a babyface. His promos as a heel were much better.
Howard Finkel introduces the guest celebrities: Home Improvement’s Jonathan Taylor Thomas as the timekeeper, and Nicholas Turtorro as the ring announcer. Shawn enters with his bodyguard Sid behind him and MTV’s Jenny McCarthy on his arm. Pamela Anderson 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.
Shawn Michaels /w/ Sid vs. Diesel ©
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 photographer 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. Post match, Ross tried talking to Shawn & Sid. Sid yelled about things not being done with Diesel. In the ring, Diesel welcomed all the celebrities into the ring. Vince called him the “new generation leader.” Not really, but Vince sure tried to put it over. In the locker room, Shawn complained about how he hit the Sweet Chin Music and the ref wasn’t there to count the pinfall. They showed the replay of it. Sid was yelling about how it wasn’t fair that there was only one referee involved in the match.
Winner and STILL WWF Champion: Diesel via pinfall
Rating: *** ½
Great match and credit to both guys involved. It was a unique dynamic. Shawn was the heel but the smaller guy whiles Diesel was the opposite. I guess that’s why Sid was hired back as Shawn’s bodyguard in an attempt to give Diesel some sympathy heat. Shawn would turn face soon after this match.
It’s main event time. The Million Dollar Team and LT’s Allstars enter the arena. 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.
Bam Bam Bigelow /w/ The Million Dollar Team vs. Lawrence Taylor /w/ The Allstars
Pat Patterson is the ref for this one. He was a road agent at the time and he could relay the match to LT if he happened to get lost in the match. Taylor attacks early with a smack and a forearm. He follows that up with a clothesline sending Bigelow over the top to the floor. Bigelow tries an avalanche as he comes back in, but Taylor moves and delivers a bulldog for two. A trio of forearms connect for Taylor and that is followed by a biel sending Bigelow to the floor again. Taylor hops out to the floor and a shoving match starts between the two teams at ringside. Bigelow rolls back in during the melee and Taylor follows getting stomped on the way in. Bam Bam delivers a kick to the ribs and stomps away at Taylor in the corner. Bigelow connects with a pair of headbutts then chokes out Taylor with his boot. Bodyslam connects for Bigelow setting up a diving headbutt, which misses. Taylor comes back with a forearm and charges at Bam Bam but gets caught and thrown into the corner. Bigelow continues the assault by choking Taylor on the middle rope. LT pushes Bigelow into the corner, but gets shoved back to the center of the ring. Bigelow locks in a Boston Crab, and turns it into a toehold before Taylor gets to the ropes. Cross toehold is locked in by Bigelow again, but again LT gets to the ropes. Taylor fights back with a forearm, and then delivers a back suplex. Bam Bam is first to his feet though and delivers a double axe handle. A pair of diving headbutts connect, and are followed by a legdrop. Bigelow goes to the top rope for a moonsault which connects, but he injures his knee in the process. The delay allows Taylor to kick out at two. They both get to their feet, and LT hits the ropes and delivers a sloppy looking jackknife for two. Bigelow comes back with a ghetto blaster and a pair of diving headbutts. Bam Bam goes to the top again this time for the top rope headbutt which connects, but Taylor is out again at two. Taylor comes firing back with a forearm and three shoulderblocks in the corner. Two running forearms set Taylor up for a trip to the top rope. From there he delivers with a top rope forearm, which results in victory for LT.
Winner: Lawrence Taylor via pinfall.
Rating: ** ½
The pop from the crowd was good. Taylor was excellent considering that this was his first time in the ring, he went beyond everyone’s expectations. Credit to Bigelow as well. He was amazing. He carried the match and his bumping was top class and his offence was believable as well. This was an exceptional match considering Taylor’s lack of experience.
The other players put Taylor on their shoulders and he celebrated. Meanwhile, up the aisle Ted DiBiase was interviewed by Ross. DiBiase was yelling at him for losing to a football player. Bigelow would turn face after this. Taylor continues to celebrate with the Allstar team and his son as the show comes to an end.
Best match: Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel – Both guys worked their asses off. Shawn was the better of the two but Nash held his own too.
Worst match: King Kong Bundy vs. Undertaker – The streak is impressive but it was loaded with poor matches such as this one.
WrestleMania moment: Lawrence Taylor getting the victory. He worked hard and got the company a lot of mainstream attention.
Top 5 superstars
1. Shawn Michaels: Busted his ass, his selling and bumping were outstanding.
2. Bam Bam Bigelow: Worked hard to carry LT. This was such an important match and he handled it well.
3. Lawrence Taylor: Went beyond everyone’s expectations.
4. Diesel: Worked hard against Shawn. Held the title up until Survivor Series.
5. Owen Hart: Won his first title here. His post-match celebrations were funny.
Updated rankings chart:
Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts
Hulk Hogan – 25pts
Bret Hart – 17pts
Shawn Michaels – 14pts
Ricky Steamboat – 10pts
Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper – 7pts
Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted DiBiase – 5pts
Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/Owen Hart- 4pts
Tito Santana/Andre the Giant/ Ric Flair/ Mr Perfect/ Lawrence Taylor- 3pts
Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/ Diesel-2pts
Sgt Slaughter/ Gorilla Monsoon/ Bobby Heenan – 1pt
Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 4
This is a WrestleMania which has been called both “the worst WrestleMania ever” and “the WrestleMania that saved the WWE”. I guess that’s a fair assessment. It was poor in terms of lack of quality on the card and it “saved” the WWE due to the press interest surrounding Lawrence Taylor’s involvement. There wasn’t an all-time classic on the card but the WWF title was great and the IC title match was fun as well. The main event surprised a lot of people. The whole thing just showed how bad things were in the WWF in 1995. In my opinion that was the worst year creatively in WWF history, and this show was a classic example of it. It may not be the worst WrestleMania ever, but it’s certainly the most forgettable.
WrestleMania Rankings so far:
WrestleMania 10 – 8
WrestleMania 8 – 7
WrestleMania 3 – 7
WrestleMania 7 – 6.5
WrestleMania 6 – 6
WrestleMania 1 – 4.5
WrestleMania 5 – 4
WrestleMania 11 – 4
WrestleMania 4 – 3.5
WrestleMania 2 – 3
WrestleMania 9 – 0.5
Up Next: The boyhood dream comes true for Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII