Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 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
If there is one thing that WWE does well, it is big milestone episodes where they are able to look back on what they have done before and praise themselves for it. The good thing is that this show has a lot going for it on its own, including the legendary ladder match and the two World Title matches, along with a second instant classic. Let’s get to it.
We open with a look back at the first Wrestlemania (egads it’s amazing how far they have come, even in nine years), with some awesome old school clips.
The opening sequence is just a look at the World Title participants without so much as a voiceover.
Little Richard and the Harlem Boys Choir sing America the Beautiful in a great performance.
Vince and Lawler explain the WWF Title situation, which is going to require some backstory. Lex Luger and Bret Hart were co-winners of the Royal Rumble, so both of them are getting title shots (since the triple threat wasn’t a big thing yet). Luger won a coin toss, meaning he will face Yokozuna for the WWF Title first, while Bret will face his brother Owen Hart (had Bret won the coin toss, Luger would have faced Crush). Bret will then face the winner of Luger vs. Yokozuna, no matter what happens in Bret vs. Owen.
We recap Bret vs. Owen, which is all about Owen wanting to get out from his brother’s shadow. Bret is one of the top stars in the WWF but Owen feels he is even better. They tried to win the Tag Team Titles together but the injured Bret wouldn’t tag out, costing them the titles. Owen turned on him as a result, which felt completely justified as Bret wouldn’t listen and tried to do everything himself. This is Owen’s big chance to prove that he’s a star in his own right and back up everything he has said about Bret for months now.
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
Dig that entrance where the X in the Wrestlemania logo slides apart, plus the entrance being opposite the hard camera as only MSG can make work. They go straight to the lockup, with Owen celebrating almost immediately. Bret wrestles him down and this time Owen has to go to the ropes for a break. Back up and Owen takes him down but this time Bret sends him outside to escape.
Owen slaps him in the face and then grabs a headlock, only to get reversed into a hammerlock. A rollup out of the corner gives Bret two and he armdrags Owen into an armbar. That’s broken up as well so Bret grabs a monkey flip, followed by a clothesline to the floor as things pick up for the first time. Owen teases leaving so Bret throws him back inside and hits a slap of his own, setting up another arm crank.
That’s broken up as well and Owen hits a spinwheel kick as neither can keep an advantage for that long. They head outside with Owen ramming him back first into the post. A backbreaker stays on the back and we hit a camel clutch as Owen plays Iron Sheik. Bret gets out (I knew he was better than Backlund) but charges into a belly to belly for two. Owen’s middle rope spinning crossbody connects and it’s off to the reverse chinlock with a knee in Bret’s back.
With that not working well enough, Owen tosses him to the floor, followed by a bridging German suplex for two back inside. It’s time to crank things up with a jumping Tombstone but instead of covering, Owen goes up to miss a top rope headbutt. Bret fights up and hits a clothesline, followed by a Russian legsweep for two. The middle rope elbow gets the same but Owen comes back with the enziguri.
Owen tries his own Sharpshooter but Bret counters, only to have his own version countered as well. A cradle gives Owen two with the kickout sending him outside. Lawler freaks out again, as he is glorious in praising Owen while yelling about Bret. A dive to the floor drops Owen again but Bret bangs up his knee on the landing. Back in and Owen goes right for the knee rather than letting Bret have a chance to sucker him in, including wrapping the leg around the post over and over.
Something like an Indian Deathlock has Bret down again so we hit the LET’S GO BRET chant. There’s something so simple about a chant like that but it just feels like wrestling. Owen goes a bit more classic with the Figure Four but Bret turns it over, sending Owen straight to the ropes. Back up and Bret whips him chest first into the buckle, setting up a bulldog for two.
A heck of a piledriver gives Bret two more, though it seems to tweak his knee a bit. Said knee is fine enough to hit a top rope superplex (Bret always made those look good) for another near fall as Bret is getting frustrated. Bret grabs a sleeper so Owen goes for the ropes and kicks him low to escape. Owen slaps on the Sharpshooter, which is reversed into Bret’s version, which sends Owen straight to the ropes. Back up and Bret gets whipped into the corner but gets up a boot to stop a charge. Bret tries a victory roll but Owen sits down on him for the clean pin at 20:22.
Rating: A. Absolute classic here and still probably the best opening match ever. What made this work so well, in addition to the great wrestling, is the story that they were telling. Bret was going as hard as he could but he couldn’t beat the motivated Owen, who had everything riding on this. If Owen lost here, he had nowhere to go and would go even nuttier, which was enough to get him past his brother. I’ve seen this one a ton of times and it is still great every time. Check this out again in case you haven’t seen it in awhile.
In the back, Owen is VERY happy with his win and says he told us all. This is more pride than anything else as Owen is finally validated. He even praises Bret a bit because while he still loves his brother, he had to win. That’s a great little detail and something you don’t see in a lot of matches and stories.
Wrestlemania II was in three cities and had celebrities!
Sy Sperling, the President of the Hair Club for Men, presents Howard Finkel in a toupee.
Doink The Clown/Dink The Clown vs. Luna Vachon/Bam Bam Bigelow
Makes sense to put this here as nothing serious should be following the opener. Bigelow wastes no time in dropkicking Doink down to start but misses a backsplash. Doink avoids a charge and works on an armbar, which lasts as long as you would expect. It’s off to Luna vs. Dink, the latter of whom starts with a quick spank. Luna chokes him on the middle rope, only to miss a charge on the ropes. Dink’s elbow drop gets two so Luna kicks him in the stomach. Dink drives her into the corner but misses something off the top for a crash.
This time it’s Luna going up, where she misses a splash (which got some height) of her own. The double tag brings in Bigelow and Doink, with Bigelow clotheslining him out to the floor in a heap. For some reason Dink is able to knock Bigelow down to his knees but Luna chases him back outside. Back in and Doink tries a sunset flip on Bigelow, which goes about as well as you would expect. Doink is fine enough to hit a jumping DDT on Bigelow, setting a missed top rope Whoopee Cushion. Bigelow knocks Dink off the apron and the top rope headbutt finishes Doink at 6:07.
Rating: D+. What else were you expecting here? There is only so much that you can get out of having a match mostly played for comedy, though having Bigelow and Luna win in such dominant fashion was a bit weird. At least they didn’t give it too much time though and it’s hard to get that annoyed at a match that is pure filler.
Post match Dink goes after Bigelow but gets taken down by Luna. The splash misses though and the clowns stand tall enough.
A Bill Clinton impersonator is here, complete with Jack Tunney next to him and IRS behind him.
Wrestlemania III was a huge show.
Randy Savage vs. Crush
This is billed as Falls Count Anywhere, which is true, but it has a twist to it, in that you get a fall but then your opponent has sixty seconds to get back in the ring. Yokozuna destroyed Crush a few months ago and Crush accused Savage, his former friend, of not checking on him. As a result, Crush beat the heck out of him, sending Savage into a rage, costing him a broadcasting job.
Now it’s time for revenge, so Savage charges at him in the aisle. That earns Savage a throat first drop onto the barricade for a fall on the floor less than a minute after the bell. Savage falls down at ringside but makes it back in with two seconds left. Crush ties him in the Tree of Woe and hammers away before going over to manager Mr. Fuji to get some salt. As you might expect, Savage gets out and knocks it into Crush’s face, setting up a top rope ax handle to the back.
The top rope elbow connects but Savage is smart enough to throw Crush outside for the pin, meaning the sixty second countdown is on again. Crush makes it back in with a second to go (and Fuji pouring water on his face/pushing him inside), meaning that was the most incredible elbow Savage ever hit.
Back in and Crush starts hammering on the back as they go to the floor again. They fight into the back with Crush being sent face first into a door, where they find some scaffolding. Savage gets the pin, but stops to tie Crush upside down in the scaffolding. Apparently never a Boy Scout, the rope slips and Crush falls down on the floor, but Savage gets the win anyway at 9:03.
Rating: C. This was a weird one as they mixed up a couple of stipulations, leaving us with a match that didn’t really work. Waiting for almost a minute after each fall made things drag a lot and that isn’t how such a grudge match should have gone. Savage out for vengeance in a wild weapons brawl should have been easy, but they twisted things around a bit here and it only kind of worked, mainly when they weren’t in the long rest periods. This would be Savage’s last match for the WWE, and it wasn’t a great way to go out.
Todd Pettengill is with the Clinton impersonator, who talks about how he has loved wrestling for years. IRS pops in for some tax jokes.
Video on Fan Fest, the ancestor of Axxess.
Randy Savage celebrates with the fans.
Randy Savage won the WWF Title in a tournament at Wrestlemania IV.
Women’s Title: Lelani Kai vs. Alundra Blayze
Kai, who challenged for the title at the first Wrestlemania, is challenging here as the company decided it cared about the Women’s Title again. The camera stays rather zoomed in to start before zooming out to show Kai running her over. Kai picks Blayze up for some choking and throws her down as Lawler talks about how much better Kai is at everything.
The yet to be named hurricanrana gives Blayze two but Kai tosses her outside. Back in and a butterfly suplex gives Kai two as this is one sided so far. Blayze fights back with some kicks and a snap suplex is good for two. Lawler suggests that Blayze looks like a horse before the German suplex retains the title at 3:27.
Rating: C-. Nothing to see here, though Kai getting in that much offense was quite the surprise. The problem is that the division was Blayze, Bull Nakano and maybe one or two other women, which didn’t leave many options. Blayze was good, but there was only so much they could do in about three minutes with a cold challenger.
The Fabulous Moolah and Nikolai Volkoff are watching.
Roddy Piper used a fire extinguisher at Wrestlemania V.
Shawn Michaels interrupts an interview with Rhonda Shear, a USA TV host, but Burt Reynolds interrupts and gets the girl. Reynolds seems to have no idea why he’s here.
Tag Team Titles: Men on a Mission vs. Quebecers
The Quebecers, with Johnny Polo (better known for his bird themes such as Scotty Flamingo and Raven), are defending but rapping Oscar is here with Men on a Mission. The champs jump the rather large challengers before the bell to start fast. Mo gets knocked outside but Mable runs the champs over with a double clothesline.
We settle down to Mo crossbodying Pierre for two and Mable drops the leg to make it worse. It’s back to Mo, who gets taken into the corner this time so the stomping can begin. Mo gets sent outside for a dive from Pierre for two back inside. A double hot shot gets the same as Lawler thinks Mabel has gone off to find food. Mo finally scores with a running flip attack but the referee doesn’t see the tag to Mabel.
Pierre misses a top rope legdrop though and the hot tag brings in Mabel to wreck the normal sized humans. A missed charge slows him down and the Quebecers manage a double suplex (Polo approves) to drop the giant. The Cannonball gets two but Mabel is back up with a spinwheel…well leg as his foot didn’t come close to Jacques’ face. An assisted splash crushes Jacques so Polo distracts the referee. Oscar breaks that up as Pierre hits Jacques by mistake. Another assisted splash hits Pierre on the floor and that’s a countout at 7:45.
Rating: C. This wasn’t the best match as Mabel is so big that you can only do so much with him and Mo just wasn’t very good. The Quebecers were a good team but they weren’t exactly miracle workers. Men on a Mission was a fun team just because of how bright and colorful they were, but you’re only able to get so far with this kind of a matchup.
Wrestlemania VI was the Ultimate Challenge, which proved that no one was unbeatable. In other words, pay no attention to that loser about to sign with WCW.
Donnie Wahlberg (of New Kids on the Block) and Rhonda Shear are the ring announcer and timekeeper.
WWF Title: Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger
Luger is challenging and Mr. Perfect is the surprise guest referee (in a referee shirt and matching pants for a different, yet still perfect, look). Yokozuna has Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji with him for quite the numbers advantage. Vince is doing everything that he can to make fans care about Luger, even calling him the embodiment of the spirit of America. Maybe calling him the embodiment of the spirit of someone who won the WWF Title at some point might help.
They glare at each other to start until Luger starts hammering away. The right hands put Yokozuna on the floor but Luger tosses him back inside, actually having learned his lesson from Summerslam. Back in and Luger goes up (Huh?) for a high crossbody (HUH?) for two, setting up the jumping elbow (which actually connects for a change) for two more. Luger tries a slam but Yokozuna falls onto him for the crash, meaning it’s time to start the slow beatdown.
Yokozuna pulls off the turnbuckle pad and we hit the nerve hold, which means putting his hand on Luger’s neck and not even pretending to squeeze. Luger starts fighting up and elbows his way out, only to get knocked down again. Some hard chops to the neck set up another nerve hold, which goes on for another minute plus before Luger is sent outside. Back in and we hit the nerve hold AGAIN, with Luger giving a look of boredom rather than pain, as this match is so far beyond dead that it’s actively turning into a zombie so it can die again.
Luger fights up and gets knocked down again, setting up the fourth nerve hold in a match that is just over eleven minutes long so far. That one is broken up as well but Yokozuna hits a belly to belly suplex. A missed charge sends Yokozuna into the exposed buckle though and Luger makes the clothesline comeback to put Yokozuna down.
Now the slam works (Lawler: “THAT WAS A HIPTOSS! THAT WAS A HIPTOSS!”) and Luger hits the loaded forearm. Mr. Fuji and Cornette come in but get decked, only to have Mr. Perfect not count with the two of them still in the ring. Luger yells at Perfect and shoves him, which is enough for the DQ at 14:38.
Rating: D-. This was absolutely dreadful and one of the worst major Wrestlemania matches of all time. Yokozuna could barely move and had to go to the same lazy hold four times in less than fifteen minutes. I know he’s huge and can’t move much, but maybe that means it is time for him to figure out something else. That didn’t help things, but it also exposed the other issue with Luger’s big push.
In addition to Yokozuna being terrible, Luger looked AWFUL here, as he did almost nothing but right hands and clotheslines. There are things you can do with an opponent the size of Yokozuna but Luger went as basic as possible, just like he did at Summerslam. At the same time, Luger looked bored out there with almost no charisma or anything close to it. Neither guy was putting in much effort here and it showed badly, as the fans calling the whole thing BS at the end being rather telling.
We go to the back where Mr. Perfect says you can’t touch a referee or you get disqualified. Luger comes in to yell at him but referees separate them. This was supposed to be a long term followup on Luger knocking Perfect out cold last year at Wrestlemania but Perfect left the company before it could go anywhere.
Vince and Lawler talk about the match, with Vince having to acknowledge the BS chants.
There was a blindfold match at Wrestlemania VII. THAT’S the match you pick from that show?
Harvey Wippleman yells at Howard Finkel about being a stupid New Yorker who has big ears and fake hair. He doesn’t like Fink’s suit either and rips it up, so Fink fights back. Cue Adam Bomb to go after Fink, but Earthquake of all people makes the save.
Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb
Powerslam and the Earthquake finishes Bomb at 34 seconds. I’m going to assume this was a time issue.
Jim Cornette isn’t happy with how the match with Luger went but all that matters is who has the belt. He loved Mr. Perfect’s officiating and remember that BOTH PARTIES agreed on the referee choice. As for Bret Hart, what matters is whether he makes it through the match with his career intact. Bret already lost to his brother and has a bad knee but he still has to face this monster. Cornette knew how to hype someone up like few others could.
Wrestlemania VIII had an Undertaker….something. No match or opponent is mentioned, but he sure was there.
Intercontinental Title: Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels
Ramon is defending and the title is hanging above the ring, because this is the ladder match. Ring announcer: “There are NO RULES.” He then explains how you win the title, which sounds a lot like rules. This is fallout from Shawn being suspended while still champion and being stripped of the title. Ramon won it, but then Shawn came back and said he was the real champion. Therefore, hang them both above the ring and see who can pull them down. Diesel is here with Shawn, meaning Razor has to keep glancing down at him.
Ramon blocks an early hiptoss attempt and hits a hard chokeslam (Razor was one of the first to really use that around here and it’s never remembered). Shawn comes right back with a running neckbreaker and starts hammering away as the cameraman has to avoid a referee. A charging Razor is sent outside where Diesel gets in a clothesline, which earns him an ejection. The camera stays on Diesel all the way to the entrance and we come back to Shawn getting flipped upside down in the corner.
A hard clothesline puts Shawn on the floor and it’s time to pull back the ring mats. That takes too long though and Shawn is back in with some stomping. Razor isn’t having that and punches him in the face, but the Razor’s Edge over the top is countered with a backdrop to the floor onto the exposed concrete. With Ramon down holding his arm, Shawn goes to get the first ladder, which is baseball slidden into Razor’s ribs.
Back in and Shawn drives the ladder into the ribs and then slams it onto Ramon’s back to keep him in trouble. Shawn makes the first climb so razor pulls his tights down on the way up for the save. Since that’s a bit embarrassing, Shawn kicks him down and drops the elbow to put Ramon back down. Shawn goes up the ladder and dives off with a splash for one of the most famous shots in company history.
Another climb is broken up as Razor goes simple by shoving it over. Back up and they collide for a double knockdown and a much needed breather (at least for Shawn, as Razor has mainly just been getting beaten up). Razor is fine enough to throw Shawn into the ladder in the corner for a crash to the floor, but instead of climbing, Razor drives the ladder into Shawn into the post. It works so well that he does it again and then catapults Shawn into the ladder, sending it crashing back down onto Michaels for a good looking bump.
Back in and Razor BLASTS HIM in the face with the ladder, knocking Michaels outside again. Shawn breaks that up as well but this time the ladder falls down onto him, which is quite the punishment. They both go up so Razor backdrops him over the top, only to fall as well, with the ladder bending underneath him. Shawn dropkicks the ladder to make another save and then gets smart by shoving the ladder onto Razor.
Back up again and Shawn hits a superkick, setting up another hard piledriver. Shawn heads to the top and rides the ladder down onto Razor’s in another famous shot before setting the ladder up again. That takes too long though and Razor shoves it over, with Shawn’s leg getting tied in the ropes. That’s enough for Razor to go up and pull down the titles for the win at 18:51.
Rating: A+. I could go with “it’s the ladder match” as the explanation here and it would be completely covered, but this is again almost all about Shawn, as it should be. When you look back at the whole thing, there are only a few big Razor bumps or spots at all. The rest is Shawn doing things to Razor, who is mainly laying there. Razor got the title, but Shawn got the glory and fame here, which is how it should be. This is the match that really put Shawn on the map and my goodness it is easy to see why, as he was a human pinball who made this look flawless. I would tell you it’s great, but again, it’s the ladder match.
IRS, the Headshrinkers, Rick Martel and Adam Bomb argue about who the captain is going to be in their ten man tag. Somehow, this results in the match being postponed to Raw in a few weeks.
Ted DiBiase meets the Clinton impersonator but Clinton doesn’t want to talk politics.
Wrestlemania IX was outside and Yokozuna cheated to win the WWF Title. And nothing else happened after that.
Video on Bret Hart, set to Making Some Noise by Tom Petty.
Video on Yokozuna.
It’s time for the main event so Jenny Garth is timekeeper and a seemingly hammered Burt Reynolds is guest ring announcer.
WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
Yokozuna, again with Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji, is defending and the guest referee this time is….Roddy Piper. Bret even sells the leg from earlier in the night on his way to the ring, with Yokozuna jumping him on the way in. The slow beating is on, with Yokozuna hammering him down and then standing around for a bit. Yokozuna cuts off the comeback attempt and chokes in the ropes, earning a tongue lashing from Piper.
Bret fights back again with a headbutt, which actually puts Yokozuna down, albeit after some staggering. Cornette pulls Piper out at two so Piper drops him with as much effort as you would expect. The delay lets Yokozuna knock Bret over again and the legdrop lands right on his face. Back up and Yokozuna very, very slowly hammers on Bret in the corner, only to miss the big charge.
Bret slugs away and drops the middle rope elbow, setting up the running clothesline for two. A middle rope….something is pulled out of the air to set up the belly to belly and it’s time for the Banzai Drop. That takes a good while to set up though and Yokozuna loses his balance, falling backwards in a big crash. Bret covers and Piper counts rather quickly (so quickly that he doesn’t see Yokozuna’s shoulder being off the mat) for the pin and the title at 10:33.
Rating: C-. It was better than the Luger match because it didn’t go as long, but this was another match where Yokozuna looked like he was gassed after every move. That is the reason you get the title off of him because there isn’t much that can be done with e champion who is virtually immobile after two minutes. Bret didn’t so much win the title as much as he escaped with it, but sometimes that’s all you need to do.
Post match Yokozuna goes after Piper so here is Lex Luger to shake Bret’s hands. Piper comes back as well and here is the locker room, plus the celebrities, to join them. Even Vince and Gorilla Monsoon get in there. Bret is carried on their shoulders….and here is Owen to come out and look at him, with a shake of the head to end the show. That’s great storytelling and something so simple because so many people can relate to it, plus it isn’t some long ago call back that requires some big explanation. Nice job.
Overall Rating: B. This show is kind of fascinating really. the show is beloved and considered a classic, but outside of the opener and the ladder match, the wrestling is ok at best and terrible at worst. It’s a two match show and those two matches are both all timers, but the rest of the show is around a D+. There are some long stretches without anything good going on and that makes this a bit of a chore at times.
Then there is the other part of the show that makes it so well regarded: the show felt important. This felt like a celebration of the history of the biggest WWF show and that was something worth bragging about. At the same time, look at how they celebrated it: a quick look at each of the previous editions and Vince hyping up how important the show is. That’s it. No stadium, no LOOK AT US LOOK AT US LOOK AT US and no ridiculous scripted speeches from commentary with words no one would use. It felt natural but still big, which is something that has been completely lost on WWE over the years.
Overall, this is a special show and something that every fan needs to see at least once, just for the two major matches. Both of them are Wrestlemania moments, but they are about all that is worth watching on the show. I don’t know why Lelani Kai and Earthquake are on a major show in 1994, but that isn’t what people remember. Either way, check this one out if you have the chance, because it still feels special.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books
Keep up with the LATEST WRESTLING RUMORS! Click here to sign up for the exclusive Wrestling Rumors daily newsletter, delivered right to your inbox.