Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: March 20, 1994
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler
There is a lot going on here, including a pair of WWF Title matches. Lex Luger gets to challenge Yokozuna for the title first, with Bret Hart getting the second shot later in the night. First up though, Bret has to get by his brother Owen. The more famous match of the night though involves the Intercontinental Title. Shawn Michaels had been the champion but was suspended over a failed drug test but came back with the title belt. While he was gone, Razor Ramon (now a face and red hot) won the title. The solution was to put both belts above the ring and have a ladder match that would wind up as one of the most influential matches of all time. Let’s get to it.
We open with a package on the first Wrestlemania as this is going to be a show heavy on celebrating history.
Vince introduces Little Richard and a choir to sing America the Beautiful. Richard sings a very nice solo version to start but the choir joins him for an encore and it picks up even more.
Jerry and Vince recap the World Title situation as well as Bret vs. Owen. Another piece worth mentioning is from the Royal Rumble when Bret and Owen tried to win the Tag Team Titles but Bret refused to tag out, leading to the mat being stopped due to a leg injury. Owen rightfully snapped and kicked Bret’s knee out, setting up the match here.
For reasons I don’t quite understand, the Fink isn’t doing the ring announcing.
We get the traditional MSG setup with the entrance opposite the hard camera. I’ve always liked that.
Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart
Owen shoves him away off a lockup and immediately celebrates in a funny moment. They hit the mat for a bit and Owen nips up to his feet, meaning it’s time for another celebration. Bret’s waistlock sends Owen to the ropes and he’s not so happy with that one. Owen slaps him in the face and things get serious in a hurry. We get Owen’s signature counter to a wristlock but Bret nips up as well and takes Owen down in an armbar.
A monkey flip sends Owen into the ropes and a clothesline puts him on the floor. This has been back and forth so far but Bret is clearly a step ahead. Back in and Bret returns the slap before going back to the arm. Owen fights up and hits a spinwheel kick as Lawler rants about how the Hart parents lied about Bret protecting Owen when they were kids. A backbreaker sets up a camel clutch on Bret, followed by a belly to belly for two. Vince: “YES! NO!”
Owen grabs a very nice German suplex for two as Bret’s back and neck continue to take a beating. There’s a tombstone to Bret but he avoids a top rope headbutt from halfway across the ring. Bret comes back with the Five Moves of Doom but Owen enziguris him back down. Neither guy can get a Sharpshooter so Bret sends him to the floor for a dive, only to come up holding his knee. Yeah I’m sure.
Owen goes after the knee and my goodness it might be legit for a change. A few leg locks don’t get Bret anywhere so Owen simplifies it with a Figure Four in the middle of the ring. The hold is finally rolled over into the corner and Bret is up with a hard whip to send Owen chest first into the corner (a signature spot that Bret usually takes). Bret gets a nice piledriver for two and an even better looking superplex gets a delayed near fall.
With nothing else working, Owen kicks him low and puts on the Sharpshooter as Lawler is ecstatic. Bret kicks him over and tries his own Sharpshooter but Owen is right in front of the ropes. Back up and Bret raises a boot in the corner to set up a victory roll but Owen drops forward into a rollup for the completely clean pin at 20:21.
Rating: A+. This is widely considered to be the best opening match in company history and it’s very difficult to put up much of an argument. They were going back and forth for over twenty minutes out there and it never once gets boring or uneventful. This had a great build and Owen is proven exactly right as he jumps out of his brother’s shadow and becomes a main event player.
It’s a great sign when there’s almost nothing to make fun of and it’s just one awesome move and sequence after another. Absolute masterpiece here and something that definitely needs to be seen to be appreciated because this is just a great wrestling match. That’s the right word: wrestling. These two were wrestling each other and it worked the entire way through.
Owen celebrates in the back and talks about how this is a great moment in his career. I could watch Owen’s giddy celebrations all day.
Wrestlemania II was innovative (not really) and had a battle royal.
Here’s the President of the Hair Club for Men who presents the Fink with a hairpiece. This didn’t work and didn’t last, which is probably best for everyone involved.
Bam Bam Bigelow/Luna Vachon vs. Doink the Clown/Dink the Clown
Bigelow and Luna are evil and Dink is a miniature version of Doink because just turning the big one good wasn’t enough of a waste of potential. Bigelow runs Doink over to start and scores with a dropkick. He misses a backsplash though and Doink hammers away without even taking his jacket off. It’s off to Dink, meaning Luna has to come in to take away the awesomeness that was Bam Bam Bigelow beating up a clown.
Luna chokes Dink on the middle rope but misses a charge, allowing Dink to drop an elbow for two. She misses a really high splash though and it’s off to Doink vs. Bigelow with the Bam Bam sitting on his chest. Doink comes back with a jumping DDT but misses a top rope seated senton, setting up Bigelow’s top rope headbutt for the pin at 6:11.
Rating: D-. The silence from the crowd tells you almost everything there is to know. It’s hard to get a New York crowd to not care about wrestling but these four managed to do it. This is the definition of the cartoon style feud that dominated the era and a good example of how stupid it was. It’s not a horrible match but it’s totally uninteresting, which is even worse in a lot of ways.
Bigelow can’t get his hands on Dink and the clowns bail.
And here’s a Bill Clinton impersonator, who Vince treats like the real thing.
Wrestlemania III was a really big show as well. For once they’re right on these things.
Randy Savage vs. Crush
Yokozuna hurt Crush last year and Crush blamed Savage for never coming to see him in the hospital. Crush attacked him, drawing Savage out of the broadcasting booth and back into the ring for one last run. This is falls count anywhere but it’s more like falls don’t count in the ring, as you win by getting a fall and your opponent not being able to get back inside the ring in sixty seconds, making it something like a prototype last man standing match.
The brawl is on in the aisle and Crush drops him throat first across the barricade (a move which helped start the feud) for a quick pin. Savage is back inside though (despite Mr. Fuji hitting him in the back with the Japanese flag) and the sixty second clock is already proving to be a bad idea. Crush ties him in the Tree of Woe for some shots to the ribs but stops to get some salt, only to have Savage knock it into his face. An ax handle and the elbow have Crush in trouble but Savage is smart enough to take him to the floor for the pin.
Crush is out cold so Fuji douses him with water for the save. Back in and Crush backdrops him over the top for that awesome looking landing that only Savage can do. Savage posts him head first and they fight into the crowd with Crush kicking him in the face. They fight backstage with Savage throwing him into a door for the pin, but this time he gets smart and ties Crush’s foot up with an electrical cord and handing him upside down. To make it even better, the rope gives way and Crush falls down but it’s enough to give Savage the win at 9:44.
Rating: C+. This is a tricky one as there’s a cool idea here but the clock thing was stupid. Look at Savage hitting the elbow but having to throw Crush to the floor for the pin. It looks horribly awkward and doesn’t feel like they’re really mad at each other. The ending was smart though and it was a violent enough fight but this would have been much better under the modern last man standing rules and with some more time.
The Clinton impersonator isn’t funny but he does a decent impression. I.R.S. is here to congratulate him on raising the taxes.
Video on Fan Fest, a precursor to Axxess.
Savage celebrates with some fans and we see his title win at Wrestlemania IV.
Women’s Title: Alundra Blayze vs. Lelani Kai
No story here. Blayze is defending and brought the title out of retirement back in December. It’s the same Lelani Kai (in case you thought it was a different one with the same name) from Wrestlemania I challenging and she runs the champ over to start. A headbutt puts Blayze down but she comes back with a standing hurricanrana for two. Some suplexes get two each as Lawler thinks Blayze looks like a horse. Back up and Blayze grabs her signature German suplex to retain at 3:25.
Rating: D-. Kai was nothing more than a name out of the past while Blayze more or less was women’s wrestling in America at this point. The title would be only be around about another year and a half before being dropped into a trashcan on Monday Nitro, putting it out of commission for several more years.
Roddy Piper put out Morton Downey Jr.’s cigarette with a fire extinguisher at Wrestlemania V.
Rhonda Shear, the definition of a ditzy blonde, is in the back getting his picture taken with Shawn Michaels when a pretty drunk looking Burt Reynolds comes in to steal her.
Tag Team Titles: Quebecers vs. Men on a Mission
Men on a Mission, a pair of fat rappers (Mabel, who is 6’10 and 500lbs, and Mo with manager Oscar) who wear bright purple and gold, are challenging. The Quebecers are Jacques (Rougeau/the Mountie) and Pierre (Carl Ouellet, a French Canadian wrestler) and are managed by Johnny Polo (better known as Raven).
Mabel gets double teamed to start but the big double clothesline drops the champs. Mo’s cross body gets two on Pierre as Lawler talks about how huge Mabel is. The Quebecers realize that Mo is their only option so it’s time for the choking. Jacques backdrops Pierre onto Mo for two before doing the same thing over the top and out to the floor. Back in and Mo’s running flip attack puts Pierre down and it’s Mabel coming in to near silence.
The champs hurt their backs as they try a double suplex but actually make the second attempt work. The Cannonball (assisted swanton bomb) gets two and Mabel does the power kickout. Back up and Mabel spinwheel kicks Pierre down to set up their assisted splash (Mo gets on the middle rope and drives Mabel down). Jacques fails at a save attempt but Mabel splashes Pierre on the floor for a countout at 7:43.
Rating: D. The match could have been worse but that’s a horrible ending to a not great match. I get that you didn’t want to put the titles on Men on a Mission, but the Headshrinkers were getting them in about a month so why not swap them out and give us the title change here? It would be better than on a random episode of Raw. Men on a Mission were a good enough fun tag team but that doesn’t mean I want to see them in major spots on the biggest show of the year.
Wrestlemania VI’s moment is the only moment you would expect it to be.
We recap Luger vs. Yokozuna. Luger turned face last 4th of July when he answered and won a bodyslam challenge issued by Yokozuna on board the USS Intrepid. This led to a long running campaign called the Lex Express, leading to Luger’s shot at Summerslam. Luger won by countout and had to win the Royal Rumble to earn this shot. He has the momentum on his side and knows he can beat Yokozuna but Luger is known as a huge choke artist so Yokozuna is probably still favored.
Rhonda Shear is guest timekeeper and Donnie Walhberg of the New Kids on the Block is guest ring announcer.
WWF World Title: Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna
Yokozuna has Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette in his corner. To make it even more interesting, Mr. Perfect is introduced as a surprise guest referee. Luger is the All American boy here but Lawler says the real American way is Arabian oil going into Japanese cars. Some right hands stagger Yokozuna but a big clothesline stops Luger in mid charge. A forearm puts Yokozuna on the floor but Mr. Perfect (in a referee shirt and referee pants which look like pajamas) doesn’t let Luger follow up. Luger tries a slam and can’t get it over this early, allowing Yokozuna to hammer away with the big clubbing blows to the back.
Yokozuna stops to pull off a turnbuckle pad and we hit the nerve hold on Luger as Cornette demands that the fans cut out the USA chants. Luger fights up after being in the hold for over two minutes but Yokozuna runs him over and even threatens Mr. Perfect. It’s back to the nerve hold again as the match has already died a slow death. They’re just laying there in the hold as the crowd gets more and more annoyed. Yokozuna finally throws Luger to the floor after three and a half minutes out of four were spent on that single hold. Back in and the hold goes right back on because Yokozuna needs to rest even more.
Luger is just laying on the mat as Yokozuna has his hand on his neck. The hold doesn’t even look good but it’s stayed on for the better part of five minutes now. Luger fights up again and sends Yokozuna into the exposed pad before pulling off the slam. The big forearm knocks Yokozuna out cold and Luger stops to beat up the managers but accidentally shoves Perfect in the process, drawing a DQ at 14:40. Remember last year when Luger blindsided Perfect after their match? Well Perfect certainly does.
Rating: F. This match wasn’t even fifteen minutes long and nearly five of that was spent in a rest hold. There’s no excuse for something like that as Yokozuna has shown that he can stay in an active match for long stretches. The ending was fine but the bulk of the match just crippled everything they had.
One other note: there’s a famous story that the ending was changed due to Luger shooting his mouth off in a bar saying that he was going to win the match and Vince changed the plans as a result. This makes no sense if you can see the glaring hole in the story: what else was Luger supposed to say? “Yeah I’m losing at Wrestlemania. It sucks but there’s nothing I can do about it.” Wrestlers always promise they’re going to win matches. It’s basic storytelling, but I’m supposed to believe that the story was changed because Luger stuck to the script? That doesn’t hold up and never will.
The fans are MAD over that ending and I can’t say I blame them. Nearly a third of a fifteen minute match was spent with Yokozuna rubbing Luger’s neck, which didn’t even go anywhere, like so many nerve holds don’t. This is Wrestlemania. The fans should be able to expect more from the World Title match.
In the back, Perfect defends his decision to a screaming Luger. This never went anywhere due to Perfect’s back flaring up again.
Wrestlemania VII saw Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth reunite one final time. That’s the moment they should show, but instead we see the blindfold match. Monsoon: “It was like the blind leading the blind.”
Harvey Wippleman comes out to yell at the Fink for his stupid haircut. It didn’t even help his stupid looks. Fink gets physical (which eventually set up a series of tuxedo matches between the two of them. These things should never be spoken of again.) but Harvey’s newest protege Adam Bomb comes out to grab the helpless announcer. Cue Earthquake of all people and it’s time for a match.
Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb
A powerslam sets up the Earth Splash for the pin on Bomb at 35 seconds. Well that was pointless.
Cornette and Yokozuna laugh at Luger for blowing it again. They’re more than ready for Bret. They saw that knee injury and Yokozuna is coming after it like a shark. The feeding frenzy will begin. It’s still bizarre to see Cornette raving like a madman in the WWF.
Wrestlemania VIII’s moment is just Undertaker’s entrance. His opponent isn’t even mentioned.
Intercontinental Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
I really don’t think the ladder match needs much of an introduction. Ring announcer Bill Dunn: “The following contest has no rules!” Then he explains how you win the match, which sounds an awful lot like rules. Razor is officially the only champion coming in and Shawn has Diesel in his corner. Feeling out process to start until Razor counters a wristlock into a chokeslam. A neckbreaker doesn’t have much effect on Razor and they head to the floor where Diesel clotheslines Razor down. That’s enough for an ejection and it’s one on one.
They head back inside for more fighting as the ladder continues to loom at ringside. Shawn fires off right hands but Razor loads up a quick Razor’s Edge, only to get backdropped over the top and onto the exposed concrete. Razor comes up holding his elbow and now it’s time for the ladder. Razor is up for the save but Shawn baseball slides the ladder into him to take over again. He drives the ladder down into the ribs instead of climbing though and it’s time for violence.
That bores Shawn so he throws the ladder at Razor instead. Shawn goes up the ladder but Razor makes the save, pulling Shawn’s tights down at the same time. Razor is still in trouble though as Shawn splashes him off the ladder to stay on the bad ribs. It’s so nice to see even some basic psychology in a match that would become defined by all the big spots. Razor pulls Shawn off the ladder to send him into the top rope, putting both guys down again.
After a cool looking overhead shot, Shawn sets up the ladder in the corner but Razor whips him in to send Shawn crashing down to the floor. A catapult sends Shawn face first into the ladder up against the apron and it’s time for Razor to climb. This time though it’s Shawn coming off the top to break it up, only to have the ladder fall on him in an even bigger crash. Both guys climb but crash back down with the ladder bending in the process, which would help play a roll in their rematch at Summerslam the next year.
Shawn dropkicks Ramon off the ladder and wisely shoves the ladder onto Razor. For some reason Ramon is right back up, only to eat a superkick. We get one of the most famous spots of the match as Shawn rides the ladder off the top and down onto Razor for a big crash. Shawn goes up again but Razor shoulders the ladder down, sending Shawn into the ropes, tying his foot up in the process. Razor climbs up and pulls down the belts for the win and the undisputed title at 18:49.
Rating: A+. It’s the ladder match and I think that’s all I need to say. This is one of the most perfectly executed matches of all time and it’s almost impossible to find anything bad about it. Both guys were made better here with Shawn getting to showcase how great he really could be. His rise to the top was coming and there was almost nothing that could stop him. This more than holds up over time and deserves the accolades it deserves as a perfect match. It may not be the most eye popping spectacle ever, but it was a perfectly done match on the biggest stage and it doesn’t get any better than that.
Rick Martel, the Headshrinkers, Jeff Jarrett and I.R.S. argue over who is the captain for the ten man tag so the match is postponed until tomorrow night on Raw. That’s one match canceled and you have to believe one cut horribly short. At least we got that epic nerve hold though.
Ted DiBiase tries to bribe Clinton.
Wrestlemania IX’s moment is Fuji throwing salt at Bret. The subsequent title changes are never mentioned.
Music video on Bret and Yokozuna’s paths to the main event with Bret’s set to Making Some Noise by Tom Petty.
Ring announcer Burt Reynolds introduces actress Jennie Garth as guest timekeeper. The special guest referee here: Roddy Piper, who may or may not want revenge on Bret for Wrestlemania VIII.
WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
Bret is challenging and limps to the ring to sell the knee injury from earlier in the night. Yokozuna jumps him before he can get in the ring though and Bret is in early trouble. A big headbutt puts Bret down and it’s time for choking. Bret fights up with some right hands and a headbutt to put Yokozuna down but he can’t follow up. The champ gets taken down for two but Cornette pulls Piper to the floor. That earns Cornette a right hand to the face as Yokozuna gets back up and rakes Bret’s eyes to take over.
There’s the big legdrop but Yokozuna throws him outside instead of covering. Back in and Bret avoids a charge in the corner and gets two off a middle rope bulldog. That’s the third time he’s used that move in two matches against Yokozuna but what else is he supposed to do against someone that big? Bret tries to go the middle rope but dives into a belly to belly. It’s time for the Banzai Drop but Yokozuna falls backwards (with no contact from Hart) and hits his head to give Bret the pin and the title at 10:33.
Rating: D+. The results helps but what was that ending? We know Bret can get him in the Sharpshooter or at least do some offensive moves to him but their big solution is to have Bret do absolutely nothing and get the pin? It doesn’t make Bret look like the conqueror but rather just like someone who was in the right place at the right time. This felt like a bigger deal than their last match and it was a more enjoyable moment as a result, even if they had another bad ending. Either way though, at least Bret is champion again.
A bunch of people including Savage, Ramon, Monsoon, Vince himself and the celebrities come out to celebrate with Bret but Owen shows up at the entrance to shake his head at Bret. He asks what about him and stares his still limping brother down to end the show.
Overall Rating: B+. Much like last year, the two best matches carry this show as far as it needs to go and the rest is just gravy. With two masterpieces and Bret winning the title that he deserves back to end the show, it’s almost impossible to call this anything less than very good. Unfortunately the rest of the show doesn’t support the top shelf stuff, but the rest of this show was just so strong that it carries everything else with it. This is one of the most well received shows of all time and it’s really not hard to see why with every major match hitting on at one major cylinder.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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