The Law Reviews: Wrestlemania X

Wrestlemania X: A New Generation
March 20, 1994
Madison Square Garden
New York City

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Wrestlemania X is one of the more important Wrestlemanias, as it was the true coming out party for the New Generation. Hogan was gone, Randy Savage wrestles on the undercard, Roddy Piper is the referee in the main event but doesn’t wrestle, and Warrior is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we have Bret Hart, Lex Luger, and Yokozuna competing for the WWF Championship and Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon in the first televised Ladder Match. History abound here.

The major feud was a three-way battle for the WWF Championship. The WWF tried to push Lex Luger as the new Hulk Hogan in the summer of 1993, with him becoming an American patriot and riding the “Lex Express” bus across the country to campaign for a title match. He received his shot at Summerslam 1993 and won by count out. That meant he won the match, but not the title. Unfortunately for Luger, a clause in the contract for the match stated that Summerslam would be his only title opportunity as long as Yokozuna was champion.

Luger and Bret Hart were the final two in the Royal Rumble and controversy occurred when they eliminated each other. Both men hit the ground at the same time and were declared co-winners. It was determined that they would both receive shots at the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania. A coin toss was held and it was determined that Luger would get the first shot, and that the winner of his match against Yokozuna would face Bret Hart later in the show. To balance things out, Bret would have to compete in a match against his brother Owen. And we have the table set for a pretty great Wrestlemania.

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are our hosts.

We kick the show off with Little Richard performing “America the Beautiful.”

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart

We get a classic opening, as Howard Finkel announces the first competitor as being from “Calgary, Alberta, Canada” and the crowd pops for Bret, then turns to boos when Owen’s music starts to play. Bret makes his typical entrance to a big pop. This is supposed to be Owen’s chance to break out of Bret’s shadow. They break clean off the opening lock-up and Owen celebrates. That always cracked me up. Bret is a step ahead early, taking Owen down and riding him. Owen finally takes over with a Spin Wheel Kick. They go to the floor, where Owen slams Bret’s back into the ring post. Owen goes to work on Bret’s back, hitting a Backbreaker and locking on a Camel Clutch.

Owen shuts down a Bret comeback with a Belly to Belly Suplex, then a Crossbody. Owen hits a great German Suplex for a near fall. Younger brother is gaining confidence as the match goes on. Owen hilts a Tilt-a-Whirl Piledriver, similar to the move he nearly crippled Steve Austin with at Summerslam 1997, but drops to his knees here. Owen goes to the top for a Splash, but it turns out he was overconfident and Bret rolls out of the way. Inverted Atomic Drop by Bret, then the Russian Leg Sweep. Backbreaker by Bret. Lawler tries to make a point about Owen knowing Bret’s moves, but it’s nonsensical since Bret famously does the same five moves in every match.

Speaking of which, Bret connects with the Diving Elbow off the second rope. Owen counters and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Bret blocks and tries for his own Sharpshooter, which Owen blocks. Really playing up how evenly matched they are with all the reversals. Owen bails to the floor, where Bret lands a Pescado. Bret hurt his knee in the process. Owen immediately goes after the knee. This feud did start with a knee. Owen is flat destroying Bret’s knee now. Owen locks on the Figure Four, which Bret eventually turns over to escape.

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Now they’re both limping. Bret scores with an Enziguri and sends Owen sternum-first into the turnbuckle. Bulldog, then Piledriver by Bret. Bret hits a Superplex, but can’t make the cover until too late. Owen escapes a Sleeper Hold with a low kick, then locks on the Sharpshooter. Bret manages to trip Owen and lock in his own Sharpshooter! But Owen is in the ropes. Owen charges Bret in the corner and eats Bret’s boots. Bret goes for theVictory Roll, but Owen blocks it and gets Bret in a pinning combination for the win at 20:21.

Rating: *****. I have no complaints about that match. Crisp action, perfect psychology, great story-telling. One of Bret’s best matches, which is saying something.

Todd Pettingill interviews Owen Hart, who is obviously in a good mood.

Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon vs. Doink the Clown and Dink

Well, that’s a major comedown. I could describe what happens here, but it’s not of a ton of interest. Bigelow and Luna get the win after Bigelow’s Diving Headbutt.

Rating: *.

Falls Count Anywhere: Randy Savage vs. Crush

This came about after Crush was beaten and repeatedly Banzai Dropped by Yokozuna on an episode of Raw. Savage eventually made the save, but Crush was upset at how long it took. This is billed as the first Falls Count Anywhere Match in WWF history. Rules here are that after a pin the wrestler who was pinned has one minute to return to the ring for the match to continue.

Savage jumps Crush in the aisle during his entrance and they brawl. Crush quickly takes over, slams Savage on the railing, and gets the quick pin. Savage drags himself back into the ring, where Crush continues to pummel him. Crush gets salt from Fuji, but Savage manages to throw it into Crush’s eyes. Savage hits the Ax Handle, a Body Slam, and the Flying Elbow. He throws Savage to the floor and pins him. What happens if someone gets pinned in the ring? Seems like they hadn’t really thought about that.

Fuji helps Crush back into the ring. Crush takes over with a cheap shot and works Savage over on the floor. Crush goes for a Piledriver on the ramp but gets Backdropped. They fight into the backstage area, where Savage gets a pin. Savage ties Crush up with some wires. Crush can’t make it back to the ring, so Savage is the winner at 9:46.

Rating: ***. Fun match with some innovative spots.

Women’s Championship: Alundra Blayze (c) vs. Lelani Kai

This one barely gets going, as Blayze gets the win at 3:25 with a German Suplex. Wish they had given these two more time.

Rating: 1/2*. Didn’t have time to get going.

World Tag Team Championship: The Quebecers (c) vs. Men On a Mission

The Quebecers are managed by Johnny Polo, who would become Raven. I’ve always had a soft spot for Men on a Mission. They dominate this match until the Quebecers cheat and work over Mo. Good double team moves from the Quebecers. Mo manages to make a hot tag to Mabel, who ends up getting Double Suplexed. The assisted Swanton Bomb can’t get the win and Mable turns the tide with a Corner Avalanche. Johnny Polo drags Jacques out of the ring, where he’s counted out at 7:36. Quebecers keep the titles. Not exactly a Wrestlemania moment there. Though the match was better than I expected.

Rating: **. Solid match.

WWF Championship: Yokozuna (c) vs. Lex Luger

This is a long-running issue. Vince McMahon settled on Lex Luger as his new All-American good guy in the summer of 1993. Luger turned face by Body Slamming Yokozuna on the 4th of July and was subsequently set to face Yoko at Summerslam for the WWF Championship. Before the match it was announced that Summerslam would be Luger’s one and only chance at the WWF Championship. Luger won the match, but by count out. Thus, he did not win the title and could not receive a rematch. The stage was obviously set for Luger to win the Royal Rumble and win the title at Wrestlemania, but along the way the WWF started to hedge their bets. Thus, we had the controversial finish at the Rumble and the convoluted situation tonight.

Mr. Perfect is announced as the special referee immediately before the match. He’s an old rival of Luger, with the two having faced off at Wrestlemania IX the previous year. Luger starts hot and lands a Cross Body! Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it in terms of action. A Luger Body Slam attempt fails and Yoko locks on a Nerve Hold that lasts for about six months. It’s actually about seven minutes, plenty of time to put the crowd to sleep. Luger makes his comeback, slams Yoko, and goes for the Bionic Forearm. Fuji and Jim Cornette try to interfere and Luger takes them both out. Luger drops Yoko with the forearm and covers, but Perfect is “distracted” by the downed managers. Luger shoves Perfect, leading to a disqualification at 14:41.

Rating: ½*. Absolutely horrible match with a terrible finish.

Backstage, Perfect explains that he disqualified Luger for striking an official. Luger gets in his face. This was surely meant to set up a feud between the two, but Perfect’s back problems prevented that from happening.

Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb

This one is over in 35 seconds, as Earthquake dominates and wins with the Butt Splash.

Rating: Dud. 35 seconds.

We hear from Yokozuna’s “American Spokesman,” Jim Cornette. Typical entertaining Cornette promo.

Ladder Match for Intercontinental Championship: Razor Ramon (c) vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels was the reigning Intercontinental Champion last September when he was kayfabe stripped of the title for not defending it often enough. The real story was either that Shawn’s contract was up and he was considering jumping to WCW or that he failed a drug test, depending on who you ask. Anyway, Razor beat Rick Martel on Raw to become the new champion and has reigned ever since. When Michaels returned in November, he came out with an IC Title of his own. This would be the first televised Ladder Match in WWF history, with the winner being the man who could climb the ladder and pull down both titles.

Michaels has Diesel in his corner. Wrestling sequence ends with a Chokeslam from Ramon. Shawn comes back with a Swinging Neckbreaker. Shawn throws Razor through the ropes, where Diesel takes a cheap shot. At this point referee Earl Hebner ejects Diesel. Kind of a necessity, otherwise there would be no reason for Diesel not to continuously interfere. Razor throws up the mats, but nothing comes of it immediately. Razor goes for the Razor’s Edge in the ring, but gets Backdropped over the top onto the concrete floor. Shawn goes for the ladder, but Razor cuts it off. Shawn manages to hit a Baseball Slide, kicking the ladder into Razor’s face.

Shawn gets in a few more shots with the ladder. He climbs, but Razor manages to slow him down. Shawn kicks Razor off and hits an Elbow Drop off the ladder. Shawn slams Razor and climbs the ladder. Splash! We’ve seen that a few thousand times over the years.

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Shawn climbs for the belts, but Razor recovers enough to push the ladder over. Shawn props the ladder in the corner, but Razor reverses the Irish Whip and Shawn hits the ladder, then tumbles to the outside. Razor climbs, but Shawn hits him with an Ax Handle and knocks him off. Now both men climb. Razor Superplexes Shawn off the ladder, but the ladder gives out and Razor falls! Razor climbs, but Shawn weakly Dropkicks the ladder and knocks him off.

Razor comes off the ropes and gets dropped with Sweet Chin Music. Big Piledriver by Michaels. Shawn rides the ladder down from the top rope onto Razor. Shawn climbs, but Razor knocks the ladder over and Shawn is crotched on the top rope. Shawn gets tangled in the ropes, allowing Razor to climb and retrieve the belts at 18:47.

Rating: *****. Amazing match. Absolutely changed the game. There had been a few ladder matches before this, but this was the first one with broad exposure. This match influenced countless wrestlers and created a new genre of wrestling.

There was supposed to be a ten man tag match, but they cut it due to lack of time. To explain that, they go to a backstage segment where the heel team argues over who will be the captain in their match. It would have been Jeff Jarrett, Rick Martel, IRS, and The Headshrinkers vs. 123 Kid, Bob Holly, Tatanka, and The Smoking Guns.

The special referee for the main event is revealed: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper!

WWF Championship: Yokozuna (c) vs. Bret Hart

So here we are, with a rematch of the prior year. It’s Bret’s shot at redemption in both kayfabe and reality. No one to overshadow him this time. Yoko immediately goes to work on Bret. First several minutes are all Yoko controlling with his slow offense. Bret rolls out of the way of a Splash and they’re both down. Makes more sense here than usual since they both already had matches tonight. Bret keeps fighting back and starts to turn the tide. Piper goes outside and levels Cornette after he tries to interfere. Yoko is still in control and connects with a huge Leg Drop.

Bret dodges a Thump in the corner and connects with a Diving Bulldog for a super close two count. Second Rope Elbow gets two. Hart Attack Bulldog from Bret. Bret comes off the top but is caught in a Belly to Belly Suplex! Yoko goes for the Banzai Drop, but loses his balance and falls to the mat. Bret moves out of the way and then covers for the win at 10:21.

Rating: **. An adequate match given the circumstances.

In a classic celebration, all the good guys on the roster come out to celebrate with Bret. Then Owen comes through the curtain and watches the celebration. You can just feel the resentment. Perfectly done ending to set-up Bret’s first program as champion.

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Overall: A good and historic show. This cemented Bret as the top guy in the company and also served as the coming out party for the New Generation. The next few years were tumultuous for the WWF, as business was slow, McMahon was still battling the steroid charges, and WCW was growing stronger, poaching top talent every month. They weren’t the best years the company ever had, but the thing about wrestling is that no matter what the show just keeps going.

Grade: A-

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