May 10, 2009
March 31, 1996
The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Bret Hart (11/19/1995)
Intercontinental Champion: Goldust (1/21/1996)
World Tag Team Champions: Vacant (2/15/1996)
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler.
The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim) vs. The Body Donnas (w/Sunny) – WWF Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals
This wasn’t on the PPV, but made it to the Free For All pre-game show. I’m doing this more to further complete my title history page more so than because it’s a good match. The Body Donnas defeated the Bushwhackers and Savio Vega & Steve Austin (sub. for Razor Ramon) while the Godwinns beat the New Rockers and Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith to reach the finals of the tournament. Henry press slams the Donnas to start. Crazy Phineas fights out of the Donnas corner and goes nuts to send the Donnas out to Sunny. Henry calms Phineas down and takes over of his team. After knocking Zip off the apron, Henry catapults Skip out on top of Zip. A double-team slingshot suplex helps the Donnas gain the advantage. Some awkward exchanges from there between Henry and Skip. Heavenly Bodies-style double-team leg drop gets 1-2-NO! Rocket Launcher misses to set up Henry’s hot tag to Phineas. Just as Phineas goes for the SLOP DROP, Sunny hops up on the apron and shows off her Slammy award-winning buns to him. He can’t help but be mesmerized, as she draws him in like a fly heading right into a bug zapper as Skip rolls up Phineas for 1-2-3. (5:23) Even with the Body Donnas who I really enjoy, this was just a quick way to put the belts on them and not much else. *½
For partial reasons and because it’s MY review, I’m not going to do a recap of Huckster vs. Nacho Man.
Onto the PPV.
Vader, Owen Hart, & Davey Boy Smith (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Jake Roberts, Ahmed Johnson, & Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji)
If Yoko’s team wins, he gets five minutes with Cornette. This is SUCH a better idea than Yokozuna/Vader for a WrestleMania match considering how immobile Yoko was at this point. Think what you will of the rest of Yoko’s team. It’s a real ROMP ‘EM STOMP ‘EM brawl to start. Yoko’s team cleans house, setting up Yokozuna to launch Ahmed into a plancha on Vader. Now everybody heads to their corners. Yoko gets cornered on the wrong side of town, allowing Vader to tag in Owen. Yoko NO-SELLS Owen’s dropkicks and catches him with a chop. Davey Boy pulls Owen out of the way of an Avalanche, as Owen and Davey stomp Yoko to the mat. Tag to Vader, he draws Ahmed in while Owen rakes and chokes Yokozuna. Vader then proceeds to box Yoko down to the mat. Yoko comes back with a Uranage and tags Ahmed. He goes nuts on Owen and Davey and once Owen clears out, gives Davey Boy a powerslam. Vader runs in and nails Ahmed from behind. No tag whatsoever, but Vader stays in the match while Davey Boy stands around in the ring. Ahmed avoids a butt splash off a sunset flip and levels Vader with a jumping shoulderblock. And just like that, Bulldog takes back over with Ahmed. What is going on? Ahmed goes for the PEARL RIVER PLUNGE, but Corny jumps up on the apron as Owen breaks that up with a missile dropkick. Now Owen becomes the legal man all of a sudden and hits the ENZIGURI KICK HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD! Here comes Vader for a splash or two. Ahmed catches Owen with a clothesline and makes the hot tag to Jake! A series of left jabs follow a big right hand. Short-Arm Clothesline to Owen! DDT? Nope. Owen grabs the top rope and eats a knee lift instead. Jake runs into a knee in the corner and gets stuck on the Cornette side of the ring. Vader gives Roberts a short-arm clothesline, followed by an avalanche and a clothesline. Vader tags Owen for a flying elbow drop that gets two. Bulldog hits the RUNNING POWERSLAM for 1-2-NO! Vader delivers a splash to Jake and still only gets two. That’s it, Roberts must be high. Tag to Davey Boy, he misses a legdrop to set up the hot tag to Yoko. He takes his turn pummeling Vader down into the corner. He gets the Avalanche after all and takes out both the Bulldog and Owen Hart. Samoan Drop to Bulldog! Jake tags in and goes for another DDT on Owen, but Davey Boy breaks it up. Everybody clears out but Jake and Owen, as Jake finally hits that DDT the crowd has been wanting the whole match. Cornette comes in to whack Roberts with his racket, but gets nailed and almost takes a DDT until Vader comes in and saves his hide. Pump Splash to Jake! Cover, 1-2-3. (13:10) One of the rare moments when it’s a possibility that the heel manager could get beaten up that it doesn’t happen. Good formula tag match that was booked well enough to keep Yoko and Jake’s actions down to a minimum, yet still giving the crowd what they wanted to see from them. ***
Hollywood Backlot Brawl
Roddy Piper relinquishes his position as the acting WWF president to beat up Goldust. Razor Ramon was supposed to get a shot at the IC title here, but got suspended and sent to rehab for smoking weed. I believe this part of the brawl was taped the day before. Piper awaits Goldust as he’s wielding a “rubber” baseball bat. Goldust drives up to meet him in his gold Cadillac. It’s like Goldust is a classic comic book villain or something. Piper grabs a hose and sprays Goldust’s car down. Before Goldust can get out of the car, Piper is already beating his windows with the baseball bat. Goldust makes it out of the car by getting out on the other side only to get beaten up a bunch by Piper. They take out a catering table and then Piper throws Goldust into the side of a dumpster. Either its ketchup from the catering table, or it looks like Goldust is bleeding. Piper proceeds to beat up Goldust on his Cadillac before finally Goldust low-blows Piper and throws him into the dumpster. That gives Goldust enough time to get a breather and leave the scene in his car. Once Piper gets back to his feet, he jumps in his Ford Bronco and drives after him. For you ’90s kids out there, you probably already know what they’re going to do with that Ford Bronco. Back to the arena!
Steve Austin (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. Savio Vega
Austin’s got the Million Dollar belt with him. He looks sort of silly with it though. Big brawl to start, as they take it from the inside out to the floor. Back inside, Austin throws Vega shoulder-first into the ringpost. Following that, Austin winds up and nails Vega with a Polish hammer. Austin works the arm a bit, but then Vega FLIPS OUT of a hammerlock and catches Austin with a reverse kick. Meanwhile, Vince and Lawler talk to Roddy Piper sporadically on his cellular phone. Austin gives Vega’s arm a Polish hammer and sends Vega into the post again. Vega tries coming back with a clothesline, but he uses his bad arm! Vega tries to flip out of the hammerlock again, but Austin knows it’s coming and slams Vega back down on his arm. Flying Vertical Elbow Drop connects for two. Austin gets a Thesz Press to set up a rollup sequence. Vega can’t backslide Austin because of his arm! We take a look and see some OJ Simpson-esque footage of some cops following behind Piper’s Bronco. Looks like Vega hits the SPINNING HEEL KICK, but not good enough as he hits knees off a splash. Austin takes his time getting to the top rope and flies down right into a boot. Vega finally realizes he has another arm and fires away on Austin. He makes his comeback and delivers the SPINNING HEEL KICK, but Austin ducks and Vega wipes out the ref. DiBiase puts the Million Dollar belt on the apron for Austin to grab. Instead, Vega stops a Million Dollar Dream attempt with a big boot. DiBiase gets up on the apron and distracts Vega while Austin grabs the belt and KO’s Vega with it. He even drapes Vega on the apron and drives the belt down on his head! Back in, DiBiase wakes up the ref with a cold drink. While Austin has the chinlock applied (supposed to be the Million Dollar Dream, but he doesn’t have it locked in right), ref Tim White lifts Vega’s arm up once, twice, and three times gives Austin the win. (10:09) It’s a good solid match, but I think it’s a tad overrated by many. **½
Mr. Perfect gets a word with Big “D” in the back. Does he look like a man who gets affected by the Undertaker’s mind games? Nah, he’s much too cool for that. By the way, Diesel must REALLY love the Beatles. GOO GOO GA JOOB!
Meanwhile, Roddy Piper is heading to the Arrowhead Pond.
Ultimate Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Sable)
This is Sable’s WWF debut as her hubby formerly known as Johnny B. Badd just signed with the WWF. Lawler tells us that his “sources” say that Ultimate Warrior has ballooned up to 400 pounds since we last saw him in 1992. HHH hits the PEDIGREE early on Warrior, which he NO-SELLS and WARRIORS UP! Clotheslines and shoulderblocks ensue. Guerrilla Press Slam is followed by the WARRIOR SPLASH to completely squash Helmsley. (1:39) On WWE’s Warrior DVD, Triple H called the Ultimate Warrior the most unprofessional man he’s ever been in the ring with. How he could tell that from wrestling him for 99 seconds, I’ll never know. ¼*
In the back, Todd Pettingell introduces “Wildman” Marc Mero as the newest WWF superstar. HHH comes by and walks into Mero to trigger an altercation until Patterson and Brisco break it up.
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Diesel
Certainly a popular dream match back in the day. Neither man will give an inch to start. They go the floor where Diesel gets his face slammed onto the steps. Back in, Diesel slips out of the TOMBSTONE and takes a crossbody (!) for two. Taker hits Old Skool, but misses a jumping lariat. Back on the floor, Taker backs Diesel into the ringpost and swings a chair at Diesel, but misses and hits the post. Big D whips Taker into the guardrail and then posts him a couple times for good measure. Back in, Diesel wipes out Taker with a Big Boot. Diesel continues to hammer Taker down on the mat and then gives him a Side Slam for two. Snake Eyes connects, followed by the Bossman straddle. Big D unloads with knees in the corner, but then runs into an elbow. Both men proceed to Big Boot each other at the same time. Back up, Diesel grabs a bearhug. Taker escapes with a back suplex and hits a flying clothesline for two. Taker telegraphs a backdrop and gets nailed with a JACKKNIFE POWERBOMB! Big D is just too cool to cover him though. Taker sits up and receives another JACKKNIFE POWERBOMB! Again, Diesel is entirely too cool for school. When he does finally decide to cover him, Taker GOOZLES Diesel. Once they’re both up to their feet, Diesel knocks away the choke and levels Taker with a back suplex of his own. Taker sits up again, which freaks out Diesel. Taker hits the jumping lariat he missed earlier. He follows up with a Chokeslam and hits the TOMBSTONE for the 1-2-3. (16:46) Taker continues to improve with a good match with Diesel. ***
Roddy Piper and Goldust have made it to the arena. The fight continues out to the ring where Goldust starts to kick at Piper’s bad hip. Goldust starts beating on Roddy’s “bagpipes” and begins to molest him in the ring while he’s punching him. Piper manages to crotch Goldust up top and applies the testicular claw on him. He continues to embarrass Goldust as he rips off his ring attire to leave Goldust standing in his lingerie. One last knee drop to the balls and Marlena helps Goldust to the locker room while Piper celebrates in the ring feeling as though he has just defeated homosexuality.
WWF World Champion Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) – 60-Minute Ironman Match
Before the match, Howard Finkel announces Gorilla Monsoon as the official WWF President. After that, Shawn Michaels makes his most memorable entrance by zip-lining from the top of the Arrowhead Pond down into the crowd in easily the coolest entrance up until that time. Bret does his usual walk to the ring and gives his shades to his son Blade. Ref Earl Hebner explains the rules to give this more of a big match feel, which I think is pretty cool. You all know the rules. The one with the most falls in 60 minutes wins. Oh, by the way, Jose Lothario was the man who trained Shawn Michaels, which explains why he’s here in Shawn’s corner. Bret outwrestles Shawn to start until Shawn starts escaping from headlocks. Bret sticks with the headlock, but this time keeps Shawn grounded so he can’t escape. Instead of escaping by shoving Bret off, Shawn counters the headlock into an overhead wristlock. Shawn plans to work an armbar. The camera pans over to show Stu Hart and Freddie Blassie watching the match from the front row. Bret drop toeholds Shawn to grab the headlock again, but Shawn slips out and into a hammerlock. Bret backs Shawn into the corner and forearms him just when Shawn thinks he’s getting a clean break. Shawn fires back on Bret and headscissors him out of the corner to send Bret to the floor. Ten minutes gone by now.
Back in, Shawn returns to the armbar. Bret tries throwing Shawn over the top rope to the floor, but Shawn skins-the-cat and drives Bret down into the armbar. Bret shoots Shawn off into the ropes and hits a kitchen sink. He follows up with a headbutt to the groin and hits a legdrop. That weakens Shawn for a chinlock. Shawn hits a jawbreaker and returns to the arm with a Fujiwara armbar. Bret rolls away from the pressure and nips up. Shawn begins to leapfrog Bret as he comes off the ropes, but gets caught one time for a spinebuster into a possible SHARPSHOOTER, but Shawn slips away. With Shawn’s back turned, Bret comes up behind him and clotheslines Shawn to the floor. On the floor, Shawn shoves Bret into the ringpost. Bret sits down on the timekeeper’s lap, but then hops up when Shawn attempts SWEET CHIN MUSIC causing the timekeeper or whoever that was to get wiped out. Oops. Back inside, Bret reapplies the chinlock. Meanwhile, the guy who ate the superkick gets carried out by WWF people. After several minutes of that, Shawn finally escapes. Bret blocks an O’Connor Roll, but then turns around into a dropkick. Shawn starts working the arm again with the usual stuff at the twenty minute mark.
Bret backs Shawn into the corner and elbows him in the face. Shawn then reverses a corner whip with a knee and throws Bret shoulder-first into the ringpost. Shoulderbreaker by Shawn connects, as does a flying double-sledge to the shoulder. Hammerlock slam is followed by a few hammerlock shoves by Shawn into the corner. Bret slugs at Shawn with his good arm, but then telegraphs a backdrop and takes an armbreaker DDT. Nice. Bret stomps Shawn in the face to break up a cross armbreaker. Shawn stops Bret from capitalizing by sticking with the arm. Bret nails Shawn while he’s in an armbar and then hotshots Shawn on the middle rope! He follows up with a catapult as Shawn cracks his head on the top of the ringpost! Bret sells his arm though and takes too long to cover. Shawn fights back with turnbuckle smashes, but then Bret avoids a corner splash. Inverted atomic drop sets up a clothesline for two. Bulldog connects. Bret nearly gets slammed off the top, but pounds on Shawn and attempts Dick Murdoch’s knee drop bulldog. They don’t pull it off too well though as Hebner gets in the way. That’s 30 minutes gone without a fall.
Shawn gets two off a powerslam while Bret delivers a piledriver for a nearfall. Shawn slams Bret off the top and hits a hurracanrana which leads into some punches. Bret avoids SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but then takes a backbreaker for two. A back elbow stuns Bret, but he still manages to avoid SWEET CHIN MUSIC and rolls to the floor. As Bret walks around ringside, Shawn delivers a HUGE dive on Bret. Back inside, Bret rolls through a flying bodypress for 1-2-NO! Shawn flips out of a backslide into a small package of his own for two. Fisherman suplex by Shawn gets 1-2-NO! Well, we all know Shawn’s not perfect. Shawn grabs a sleeper and nearly puts Bret out. Shawn charges at Bret in the corner and takes a backdrop from inside the ring and backflips CLEAR down to the floor. Holy crap that’s insane. While it seems all Bret needs to do after that is roll Shawn into the ring and pin him, he picks Shawn up and drives his back into the ringpost before tossing Shawn back inside. Bret hammers on the back and whips Shawn hard into the corner. As Shawn tries to get to his feet, Bret drops a flying vertical elbow to Shawn’s lower back as forty minutes have elapsed.
With Shawn slumped down in the corner, Bret puts the boots to him and even delivers a pump splash to Shawn’s lower back. Shawn does his flip up onto the top turnbuckle as Bret follows him up and delivers a back superplex! Excellent. Cover, 1-2-NO! Bret works a rear chinlock for a while. Shawn punches away a superplex and leaps at Bret, but gets caught in the gut. Russian Legsweep gets two. Bret whips Shawn into the corner for a Harley Race corner bump when Shawn flies out and catches Lothario with his feet to take him out. Bret heads to the floor and whips Shawn into the steps where Lothario happens to be also to knock him down AGAIN. Bret says something to Jose and gets back in the ring with Shawn. Belly to belly suplex gets two for Bret. They trade blows, but Bret gains the advantage by nailing Shawn in the lower back. Shawn comes back with an O’Connor roll for 1-2-NO! Bret shoots Shawn out to the floor, setting him up a suicide dive from Bret after 49 MINUTES. Back in, Shawn counters a suplex on the apron, but then Bret *counters* Shawn and hits a bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! Bret pounds Shawn down again and grabs another rear chinlock as we come to the 50 minute mark without a single fall.
Shawn elbows out into a double-KO spot. Back up to their feet, Bret gives Shawn a superplex. It could be time for the SHARPSHOOTER, but Shawn kicks him off. Bret still has a hold on one of Shawn’s legs and applies a half crab instead. Oh, but Shawn makes the ropes. Backbreaker sets up the Flying Vertical Elbow Drop, which Bret misses as Shawn brings up both feet to block. Shawn dropkicks Bret back and whips him in the corner for the sternum-first bump. Shawn follows up with the Flying Forearm and the nip-up. Jumping back elbow connects right before Shawn hits a flying double sledge. Suplex sets up the Flying Elbow Drop for 1-2-NO! Doctorbomb (!!) connects for 1-2-NO! Moonsault Press by Shawn gets 1-2-NO! Shawn delivers a hurracanrana off the second rope for 1-2-NO! Shawn slams Bret and starts to go to the top rope again when his back nearly gives out on him. That slows him down a bit, but he still makes it to the top rope with only a minute to go. With Bret to his feet, Shawn flies down only to get slammed down and stuck in the SHARPSHOOTER! If you don’t think that is just amazingly dramatic the first time you had seen it, I just don’t know what to say to you. After 59 minutes and 25 seconds of avoiding the Sharpshooter, you get stuck in it with only 35 seconds left in the match is awesome to me. Anyways, Shawn fights it all the way to the end. (60:00) Bret starts to leave with the belt, but WWF President Gorilla Monsoon orders the ref to continue the match until somebody earns a fall. Back to the ring and Bret looks pissed. He works on Shawn’s back some more, but gets caught with SWEET CHIN MUSIC out of nowhere. He didn’t catch Bret good enough though. Shawn slides over to a corner and taps his feet to hit SWEET CHIN MUSIC for real this time for 1-2-3. Shawn Michaels wins his first WWF world title. He tells everybody to get the F out of the ring as he makes love to his newly won prize he worked 14 years to achieve. Despite all the attitude problems at the time, this was such an excellent story told by these two men. ****¾
Final Thoughts: As a pretty entertaining show, it made for an above average WrestleMania. Another thing you might notice about this WrestleMania compared to the prior shows is that there are NO celebrities. Instead of the glitz and glamour of b-list and/or has-been celebrities, this WrestleMania was all about the wrestling and I can appreciate that. Also, if you’ve never seen the Ironman match, watch it at least once in your life. It’s totally worth it. I also forgot to mention in the review how hot this crowd was. They never showed signs of winding down at any point in the show. It’s like the crowd was just as conditioned as Bret and Shawn. Dang. At any rate, considering that the Ironman match isn’t for everybody as it’s obviously 60+ minutes long and a good bulk of the show, I’m going to go with merely a mild thumbs up recommendation for WrestleMania 12. By the way, I’m really digging WWF ‘96. Well, so far anyway.