Wrestlemania XI: Good Friends, Better Enemies
April 2, 1995
Hartford Civic Center
Celebrity involvement is literally as old as Wrestlemania itself. The first Wrestlemania saw Mr. T team with Hulk Hogan in the main event. Wrestlemania 11 took things even further, as NFL legend Lawrence Taylor would step into the ring to battle Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow and Taylor got into it at the Royal Rumble, and they agreed to face off at Wrestlemania.
Meanwhile, the new WWF Champion would be relegated to the sub-main event. Diesel completed his meteoric ascendance by winning the WWF Championship from Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden a few days after Survivor Series 1994. It took him only eight seconds, as he spiked Backlund with the Jackknife Powerbomb and pinned him in the middle of the ring. Diesel was supposed to be the man, but his booking was curious: First, he and Bret Hart fought to a draw at Royal Rumble, and now he wasn’t going to main event Wrestlemania. HIs run as champion would prove to be a failure, and I think the way he was booked played a large role in that.
Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are our hosts tonight.
The Allied Powers vs. The Blu Brothers
The Allied Powers were Lex Luger and British Bulldog, a mediocre team with a great name and theme music (a remix that combined both their themes). The Blu Brothers were the Harris Twins in mountainman getup with Dutch Mantel as their manager (as “Uncle Zakariah”). This is a basic tag match, with the Powers showing off their power moves early, then the Brothers taking control by cheating. They work their heat spot until Luger tags in and levels one of them with his signature forearm. He taunts Uncle Zakariah, but that allows their Blu Brothers to pull some Twin Magic and the match continues. Finish comes when Bulldog executes a pretty nice Diving Sunset Flip from the top rope for the pin.
Rating: *½. Decent opener.
Gorilla Monsoon interviews Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie.
Intercontinental Championship: Jeff Jarrett © vs. Razor Ramon
Jarrett stole the title from Razor at the Royal Rumble with the help of The Roadie. This time Ramon has the 123 Kid in his corner to help him. Razor storms the ring and throws Jarrett out at the start. Ramon generally controls the match with his power, but Jarrett is able to cheat to get an edge. Razor takes a risk coming off the second rope for a Bulldog and hurts a knee that Jarrett injured at the Royal Rumble. Jarrett hits the Kneebreaker and locks on the Figure Four. Ramon fights and turns it over, but can barely stand. That doesn’t stop him from hitting a Super Back Suplex. Razor goes for the Razor’s Edge, but Roadie chop blocks his knee right in front of the referee for a disqualification.
Rating: ***. Cheap finish, but a good match.
123 Kid goes after Roadie, but gets leveled by Jarrett. Jarrett locks him in the Figure Four until Razor pops back up and beats on him.
Interviews with Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Sid, and the Million Dollar Corporation follow. They’re conducted by some dude from NYPD Blue.
Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy
Taker was locked in a long rivalry with Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation and DiBiase brought in Bundy as a hired gun. DiBiase has Paul Bearer’s urn because IRS swiped it at the Royal Rumble. Taker dominates the match. Bundy barely gets in any offense. There are some shenanigans at ringside with Bearer and DiBiase fighting over the urn, and Kama (later The Godfather) gets involved. He takes off with the urn, setting up a feud that lasted for several months. Bundy hits the Corner Avalanche, but Taker no-sells it and gets the pin after a Flying Lariat.
Rating: ½*. Lame match.
World Tag Team Championship: The Smokin’ Gunns (c) vs. Owen Hart and ?????
Owen’s mystery partner is revealed to be Yokozuna. Yoko had been gone since being beaten by Undertaker in a Casket Match at Survivor Series. Everybody works on everybody’s arms early in this match. Arm Drags, Arm Wringers, Armbars. The Gunns keep control with double team moves until Owen manages to stealth tag Yoko, who squashes Billy with a Leg Drop. A hot tag ends with Billy getting crushed with a Belly to Belly Suplex and then squashed with the Banzai Drop. Bart breaks up the pin, so Owen tags in and covers Billy after Yoko throws Bart out of the ring. Owen’s celebration is hilarious. Notably the crowd popped big for the “heels” winning.
Rating: ***¼. Quite enjoyed that. Classic tag match, but I loved Owen and Yoko as a team. Owen’s a little shit of a heel and he hides behind his monstrous friend.
Todd Pettingill interviews Bam Bam Bigelow, who says the WWF is his house and Lawrence Taylor is in trouble tonight.
I Quit Match: Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund
Backlund beat Bret for the title back at Survivor Series when Owen convinced Helen Hart to throw in the towel for her son to save him from Backlund’s Crossface Chickenwing. Roddy Piper is the guest referee here. Piper obnoxiously gets on the mic asking both guys if they want to quit roughly every 30 seconds. Backlund keeps blocking the Sharpshooter, leading Bret to lock him in a Figure Four instead. Backlund is able to turn it over and escape. Backlund works on Bret’s arm to set up the Crossface Chickenwing. Backlund locks it on, but Bret escapes and hooks his own Crossface Chickenwing, resulting in Backlund yelling something unintelligible and Piper calling the match.
Rating: **½. I’ve heard Bret call this the worst match of his career, but I didn’t think it was terrible. Nothing special, and the abbreviated length and Piper on the mic didn’t help.
WWF Championship: Diesel (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
Diesel has Pamela Anderson in his corner, Michaels has Sid Vicious and Jenny McCarthy. Diesel tosses Shawn all over the ring to start. Shawn takes some ridiculous bumps. Shawn manages to turn the tide, and despite being almost a foot shorter than Diesel he looks credible beating him up. Shawn is able to control the match with his quickness, cutting off Diesel’s comebacks with high-flying offense. Shawn scores a big Flying Elbow, but can only get two. He keeps his attack focused on Diesel’s ribs. Shawn goes to a Sleeper, which Diesel escapes by running Shawn into the corner.
Shawn scores with Sweet Chin Music, but the referee is down because he twisted his ankle falling off the apron. Shawn comes off the top rope and gets caught, then Sidewalk Slammed by Diesel. Diesel fires up and the boos are noticeable. He spikes Shawn with a terrible Powerbomb (Shawn’s fault, he came down on his feet for some reason) and gets the pin.
Rating: ***¼. Not bad, not great. These two would work better together with Shawn as a face and Diesel as the heel, which they proved in 1996. Shawn’s selling was so good that he go the crowd’s sympathy, while Diesel started to look like the big bully beating him up.
Diesel celebrates with both Pam Anderson and Jenny McCarthy.
Todd Pettingill interviews Shawn and Diesel. Shawn says he had Diesel pinned, and he’s the real champion.
DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation comes to ringside: DiBiase, IRS, Tatanka, Kama, and King Kong Bundy. Then we get LT’s All Pros: Ken Norton Jr., Chris Spielman, Rickey Jackson, Steve McMichael, and Reggie White.
Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Taylor starts hot with Clotheslines, second one sending Bigelow to the floor. He follows with a Bulldog and a Hip Toss. He looks absolutely fantastic. Bam Bam jumps Taylor, but his advantage is short-lived as Taylor comes back with a Clothesline. Bigelow hits some headbutts, then a Boston Crab. Bigelow hits a Moonsault, but jams his knee and can’t cover. Taylor comes back with a slam, but Bigelow turns it around and hits the Diving Heabutt. Taylor kicks out again. Taylor makes a comeback, hits some forearms, then goes to the second rope and comes off with a Flying Forearm for the win.
Rating: **½. About as good as it could be. Taylor could only do a few moves, but Bigelow carried him. Hard for Bigelow to ever draw money in the WWF after getting beat by a guy who had never wrestled before, but that wasn’t what McMahon was concerned with apparently.
A thoroughly average show. Nothing bad, but also nothing great. Main event was good under the circumstances but weak in the scope of history. This was a bad time for the WWF, and this show is mostly reflective of that. This might be the Wrestlemania that feels the least like Wrestlemania. Really just another show. Bland setting, no huge matches. You can absolutely skip this one.