And the night Shawn Michaels became Shawn Michaels.
Date: March 20, 1994
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler
Anyone that has read my stuff over the years knows that I believe Wrestlemania X7 to be the undisputed best show ever. This is one of the small handful of shows that I actually think about for awhile before saying X7 is better. On this show are two of the best matches of all time and two world title matches, all without Hogan. This show feels like a major show and it more than lives up to the hype. Let’s get to it.
We open with a clip from the first Wrestlemania. That still holds up to this day.
Little Richard and a choir sing America the Beautiful. The first version is just Richard but the choir kicks in on the second one, making for an awesome performance.
We recap Bret vs. Owen. Expect to hear the words “we recap” a lot tonight, because there is A LOT of backstory to this show. Back in mid to late 1993, Owen was getting annoyed at Bret getting all of the spotlight, but he went along with Bret and two more brothers on a Survivor Series team against Shawn Michaels and the Knights. The Knights were easily dispatched, but late in the match Owen was knocked into Bret, sending the elder brother (Bret) into the barricade. As his family went to check on him, Owen was rolled up and pinned, making him the only Hart to be eliminated.
This sent Owen into a tirade about how Bret was always hogging the spotlight. Owen challenged Bret to a match but Bret said no way. Instead, Bret offered to team up with Owen to win the tag titles, which was enough to appease Owen. At the Royal Rumble during the title shot, Bret injured his knee and refused to tag late in the match, causing the referee to stop the match due to the injury. Owen finally snapped and kicked Bret’s bad leg out from under him, fully turning heel in an awesome and totally justified moment.
Later in the night, Bret was in the Royal Rumble. He and Lex Luger were the last two men in the match and they both went out at the same time. No one could tell who hit the ground first, so they were declared co-winners. Therefore, both guys get title matches tonight. A coin toss was determined who would get the first shot at champion Yokozuna, which was won by Lex. Therefore, Lex gets a title shot first tonight, but Bret has to face suitable competition so he doesn’t get an unfair advantage in the later match. His opponent is his brother Owen (Luger would have faced Crush is Bret had won the toss). Got all that?
Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart
For reasons I’m not clear on, the Fink isn’t the announcer tonight. They lock up to start and Owen shoves Bret away, earning himself some celebrating. Bret takes him down to the mat but Owen escapes and celebrates again. Back to the mat for some amateur stuff but Owen grabs the rope. Owen tries to take it to the mat but Bret easily counters to send him out to the floor. Back in and Owen slaps him in the face to fire up his older brother.
More amateur stuff ensues and Owen gets to do his spinning counter to a wristlock, only to pull Bret down by the hair. Bret channels his inner Shawn and nips up before getting two off a rollup. Bret takes over with an armbar and a clothesline to send Owen out to the floor. Back in again and Bret slaps the blonde Hart before rolling him up for two. Bret hooks the armbar again before getting two off a crucifix. We’re about five minutes into this now and there is absolutely nothing to complain about. They get up again and Owen hits a sweet spinwheel kick to take over before stomping Bret to the floor.
Owen rams Bret back first into the post as the anger is starting to seep out. A backbreaker sets up a camel clutch back inside as Lawler is loving this. Owen yells at his brother in a great touch to the evilness. Bret breaks it pretty quickly but walks into a belly to belly suplex for two. A cross body by Owen is rolled through by Bret for two but Owen goes straight to the back again. Owen hits a German suplex for two and drops a leg on the back of Bret’s head for two more.
Bret tries to spin out of a suplex but gets caught in a tombstone. Owen goes up top but misses a swan dive, giving Bret the breather that he’s been needing. Bret starts firing back and gets two each off a clothesline and a Russian legsweep. There’s the backbreaker followed by the middle rope elbow for two more. It’s Sharpshooter time but Owen pops up and hits the enziguri to put Bret down.
Another Sharpshooter attempt is countered by Owen and a rollup gets two on Bret. This is very fast paced stuff. Owen heads to the floor and we get LUCHA BRET as he takes out his brother. He hurts his knee in the process though and Owen is very happy. Back inside and Owen goes for the leg, wrapping it around the post a few times because that’s what villains do. Off to an inverted Indian Deathlock by Owen but he lets it go before too long.
There’s a yet to be named dragon screw leg whip followed by a Figure Four (wrong leg of course) as Bret is in big trouble. Bret reverses and rolls into the ropes to break the hold but his knee is gone. An enziguri finally puts Owen down and buys big brother a breather. A headbutt puts Owen down again and there’s the chest first into the buckle bump for Owen. A bulldog gets two on Owen as does a sweet piledriver.
There’s a superplex for a delayed two as Jerry Lawler is freaking out. A sleeper is quickly broken up by a hidden low blow from Owen and it’s time for the Sharpshooter on Bret. The older Hart slaps the mat but it doesn’t mean anything yet. Bret reverses into a Sharpshooter of his own but Owen is right in front of the ropes. Owen charges into a boot in the corner so Bret loads up a rollup, but Owen counters into a cradle for the 100% clean pin.
Rating: A+. If there’s a better opening match anywhere, I’d love to see it. This was Owen’s coming out party and he looked excellent in doing it. Bret has no shame in losing here as he didn’t so much get beat as much as he got caught. This set up a great feud over the summer for the title between these two, but it never reached this level again. There was some DEEP psychology going on out there with Bret being hesitant to fight his brother and Owen using the advantage to catch Bret in a wrestling move, all on top of the leg injury. Excellent match and one of the best ever.
Owen says he told us all he could do it and he’s absolutely right.
We look at the Wrestlemania II battle royal.
Sy Sperling of the Hair Club for Men debuts a hairpiece for Fink. I’m thinking no on this one Howard.
Bam Bam Bigelow/Luna Vachon vs. Doink the Clown/Dink
Bigelow runs over Doink to start with a clothesline and a dropkick to silence the crowd. A headbutt misses though and the Clown pounds away a bit. Bigelow misses an elbow drop and it’s off to Dink, meaning Luna has to come in as well. This is your usual “comedy” but Luna does hit a running hip attack in 619 position but Dink starts running around in circles. The small clown goes up top but misses a dive.
Vachon goes up but misses a BIG splash, allowing the big boys to come back in. Doink pounds away but is clotheslined to the floor with one shot. Dink annoys both heels but Doink comes back in, only to be sat on in a sunset flip attempt. A charges misses the big clown though and a jumping DDT puts Bigelow down. The Whoopee Cushion (top rope seated senton) completely misses and Dink is knocked to the floor. Doink tries a suplex but Bigelow falls on him for two. The top rope headbutt is enough to finish off the clowns.
Rating: D. This was bad but not completely terrible. Doink wasn’t doing his stupid comedy and thankfully Bigelow didn’t have to look all that stupid, which is the worst thing they could have done. The match wasn’t much but to be fair they needed something to give the crowd a breather after the awesome opener. This wasn’t horrible.
Bigelow tries to crush Dink but Doink makes the save.
A Bill Clinton impersonator is here. Somehow I.R.S. gets a spot in the presidential box.
Wrestlemania III was awesome!
Randy Savage vs. Crush
This is the result of a big heel turn by Crush where he cost Savage his broadcasting job. The idea was Yokozuna injured Crush but Savage didn’t come visit him, so Crush turned on him. This is a twist on the falls count anywhere match, but the deal is you have to pin someone out of the ring and the pinned guy has 60 seconds to make it back to the ring, making it more like a last man standing match actually. It’s also no holds barred.
Savage charges at Crush in the aisle but gets dropped on the barricade for a pin in about 40 seconds. Of course Savage makes it back in (despite some Fuji interference) but that’s a nice quick introduction to the concept. Savage is put in the Tree of Woe where Crush stomps away. Fuji hands Crush some salt but Randy knocks it into the evil one’s face. A top rope double ax has Crush in trouble and there’s the big elbow, but Savage has to send Crush to the floor before pinning him. Smart indeed. Crush beats the count after Fuji pours some water on his face.
Crush comes back with a kind of hot shot to send Savage to the floor, but Randy immediately comes back by sending Crush into the post. They fight into the crowd where Crush superkicks Savage’s head off. A piledriver doesn’t work on Savage so they fight into the back. Savage rams Crush into various metal objects and gets a pin, but instead of leaving he ties Crush’s feet up with a rope and hangs him upside down. It doesn’t quite work as Crush falls just after Savage leaves, but the clock was running the whole time and Savage wins.
Rating: C. Keeping in mind that this was 1994, this was pretty good. Sixty seconds was too long of an interval as it was too long before the guy was in danger. If they cut it doewn to about thirty, this would have been much better. Either way, not bad here and more proof that Savage was still a very valuable asset to Vince, but for whatever reason (not Stephanie), he was let go.
Fake Clinton says he’s a fan. I.R.S. congratulates him on raising taxes.
We see videos from Fan Fest, which was the forerunner to Axxess.
Savage celebrates with the fans. He also won a tournament for the world title at Wrestlemania IV.
Women’s Title: Lelani Kai vs. Alundra Blayze
Kai was at the first Wrestlemania if that tells you anything. Blayze is the new champion after the belt was resurrected for no apparent reason. Kai, a Hawaiian/something else hybrid, runs Blayze over but gets caught in a sunset flip a few seconds later for two. Lelani comes back with a chokebomb for no cover but a bad splash gets two.
The champ comes back with a hurricanrana before there was a name for such a thing in America. Either way it gets two and we head to the floor. That goes nowhere so Kai hits a butterfly suplex for two. Blayze comes back with some basic strikes and some hair drags for two each. Alundra hits her bridging German suplex to retain a few seconds later.
Rating: D. Was there a point to this? I didn’t think so either so let’s see what was stupid about it. First of all, the “division” had two regulars in it: Blayze and a Japanese monster named Bull Nakano. Based on that, it’s pretty clear why the division was done in just a few months, not to be mentioned again for about four years.
Roddy Piper sprayed a non-celebrity with a fire extinguisher at Mania V.
Tag Titles: Men on a Mission vs. Quebecers
The Quebecers are defending and have Johnny Polo with them. About a year later, Polo would become Raven. The Men on a Mission are Mabel (Viscera) and perhaps the most worthless wrestler that I can think of at the moment, Mo. They were purple and gold and rap with their manager Oscar. That’s about it. Before the match, here’s some big chested blonde talk show host for Shawn to hit on. Burt Reynolds, pretty clearly bombed, shows up to steal her. From what I’ve heard, Reynolds was the biggest jerk on the planet backstage at this show.
The Quebecers are the Mountie and another Canadian who dress like Mounties. True story: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police yelled at the WWF and said they had to have their song (it might have been just the Mountie actually. Not that it matters) changed to say “We’re NOT the Mounties” because the RCMP was worried about people believing they were real corrupt Mounties. Wait why am I spending this much space on this match?
Anyway the champions jump the Men before the bell but 500lb+ Mabel runs them oveand brings in Mo. Since Mo is the most worthless wrestler I can think of at this moment, he’s easily beaten down and not many people care. Mo is sent to the floor and Pierre backdrops Jacques over the top and onto the worthless one. Back in and a double hot shot gets two on Mo. This is going nowhere.
Mo comes back with a forward roll attack but the tag isn’t seen. Wait yes it is and Mabel cleans house. The champions try a double suplex on the fat man but hurt their backs in the process. They try it again and actually get it to work as Polo celebrates. Pierre hits the Cannonball (assisted Swanton Bomb) for two and Mabel starts firing back. The Men hit their double splash but there’s no referee. END THIS NONSENSE ALREADY! Mabel splashes Pierre on the floor….and it’s a countout.
Rating: F+. There was no structure, there was no flow, Mo is worthless, Mabel is fat and worthless, the ending sucked, and there was entirely too little Johnny Polo. Was there ANYTHING good about this match? Oh wait the suplex was good. To give you an idea of how bad Men on a Mission were, they accidentally won the titles at a house show around this time as Mabel was too fat to get up on a cover and Jacques couldn’t kick out.
Wrestlemania VI had the Ultimate Challenge.
We do the “celebrities” for the first title match. Basically it’s the aforementioned talk show host and a member of New Kids on the Block. Seriously, that’s it. There’s a guest referee though: Mr. Perfect. Now remember last year when Luger knocked out Mr. Perfect? Well there was never any retribution for that…..but I’m sure it won’t mean anything here right?
WWF World Title: Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna
Yoko is defending of course and there’s also backstory to this. The idea here is that last 4th of July, Yokozuna held a bodyslam challenge on board the U.S.S. Intrepid. No one could slam him and the contest was closed, but a helicopter landed on the ship and out stepped Lex Luger. He hit a running forearm and slammed Yokozuna to get the biggest face turn in years. He then went around the country on a bus, begging for a title shot because he was MADE IN THE USA.
Anyway, he got the shot at Summerslam with the catch that it was his ONLY shot. Luger did indeed beat Yoko….by countout. Therefore he was frozen out of the title picture, unless he could win the Royal Rumble. We’ve already covered that though so here’s the first title match. Luger gets a bit intro with fireworks, but do you really think New York City is going to cheer him? Especially with BRET HART in the wings? You should know better than that.
Luger pounds away like any AMERICAN hero worth his (certainly not Japanese) salt. A big right hand sends Yoko out to the floor and there’s an ax handle to the back of the head. Luger busts out a freaking TOP ROPE CROSS BODY for two and a jumping elbow for the same. Since it’s early in the match, a slam completely fails and Yoko falls on top for two. Yoko rips a buckle pad off but we hit the nerve hold for a bit instead. Luger fights out of it but Yoko rams into him to stop any comeback.
Back to el nerve hold which has been running for about five minutes total now. Luger fights up but Fuji pulls the rope down to send him to the outside. Back in and BACK TO THE NERVE HOLD. After about 87 years Luger fights up and makes his comeback….only to be knocked down by a chop. Yoko tries to send Luger into Chekov’s buckle but gets sent into it himself of course.
Luger makes his REAL comeback and hits a clothesline to put Yoko down and there’s the “slam” (more like he picked up Yoko and dropped him). The forearm knocks Yoko out but Luger has to beat up Fuji and Cornette. Perfect won’t count so Luger shoves him…AND THAT’S A DQ! Holy screwjob! That’s clearly what the fans are chanting: screwjob, not some other word that starts with s and often comes after holy.
Rating: D+. It’s rare to see Luger as the star of a match but that’s certainly the case here. That nerve hold was RIDICULOUS as it was about 80% of the champion’s “offense”, although a case can be made that he was saving strength for later tonight which is understandable. This was a callback to something that most people didn’t remember, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fair game. Unfortunately Perfect would injure his back again after this and not be able to payoff this feud. Either way, Luger is officially a choker in the WWF and was done as a world title contender after this.
Luger and Perfect yell at each in the back.
At Wrestlemania VII, Savage and Liz reunited. The moment given here is the Blindfold match but screw that.
Here’s Harvey Wippleman to yell at Fink for having a stupid hairpiece. They get in a shoving match but Adam Bomb comes out to scare Fink. This brings out….EARTHQUAKE?
Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake
This is barely a match as Quake hits his powerslam and the Earthquake gets the pin in less than 40 seconds. This is what you call “being way over time and needing to hurry up.” I’m shocked Earthquake had a job at this point.
Cornette goes on a rant against Lex Luger and cats while also calling Todd Pettingill “Petting Zoo” before yelling about Bret Hart. Then he talks about fish and Bret starting a feeding frenzy of sharks. I could listen to Cornette ramble while still staying on point for HOURS.
The Wrestlemania VIII moment is the Undertaker. Seriously, that’s it. No mention of his match, whether he won or lost, his opponent, or anything shown other than a closeup of him walking to the ring. Just the Undertaker.
Ready for some more backstory? Back in 1993, Shawn Michaels was Intercontinental Champion but failed a drug test. To this day Shawn says he didn’t do it but that’s beside the point. We needed a new champion so Ramon won a battle royal and then a match to win the title. Shawn came back with the original belt and said he never lost, so he was still the champion. The solution? Put both belts on a ladder and let them climb up to pull them down in a classic match that might be the match of the decade.
Intercontinental Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
Shawn has Diesel with him here. Diesel is told to leave but just doesn’t because that’s the kind of guy he is. Basic stuff to start with Shawn blocking a hip toss but getting chokeslammed instead. They hit the ropes to build some speed and Shawn hits a neckbreaker. Razor gets sent to the floor and there’s a clothesline from Diesel, earning him another ejection which actually works this time.
Anyway Shawn gets punched in the jaw and Razor takes over again. Shawn is knocked into the corner before a BIG clothesline puts him on the floor. Razor exposes the concrete but we head back inside before he can use it. The Razor’s Edge is loaded up but Shawn backdrops Ramon over the top and onto the concrete, possibly injuring an elbow. Shawn gets the ladder but Razor jacks his jaw to stop it. The ladder is slid inside but Shawn hits a baseball slide to knock it into Ramon’s ribs.
Back inside again and the ladder is rammed into Razor’s ribs both in the corner and on the mat. Shawn throws the ladder onto Razor’s back which looks SICK. He tosses it at Razor against the ropes and goes for a climb, only to have Razor pull Shawn’s tights down and give us a rather unpleasant (or pleasant depending on your preferences) view. Not that it matters as Shawn knocks him down and climbs again, this time hitting a pretty famous splash to crush Razor again.
Razor saves another climb by shoving the ladder over, sending Shawn onto the top rope. We get a camera shot from above the ring, showing both guys laid out on the mat. Cool shot. Back up and Michaels is whipped into the ladder in the corner, knocking him out to the floor. Razor rams the ladder into Shawn’s chest with his back against the post. If that’s not enough, Razor launches Shawn into the ladder against the apron to keep Michaels in agony.
Back in and Ramon BLASTS Shawn with the ladder to knock him to the outside again. Razor climbs up but Shawn dives off the top rope to knock him down. The ladder falls onto Shawn in the process to keep both guys on the mat. They both start to climb but the ladder is bent. Shawn is higher up but can’t hang in a slugout with Razor. Michaels gets punched down but the ladder gives way under Razor, sending him down.
Ramon climbs again but Shawn dropkicks the ladder which doesn’t topple over this time. In a smart move, Shawn pushes the ladder over onto Razor’s back to take control again. A big piledriver puts Razor down so Shawn goes to the corner. In another famous visual, Shawn rides the ladder down onto Razor, crushing him yet again. Since he’s a jerk though, Shawn puts the ladder over top of Razor, but Ramon gets up and knocks Shawn off the ladder. Michaels gets tangled in the ropes, allowing Razor to climb up to unify the titles.
Rating: A+. This is one of the matches that reignited the midcard scene after things had died down for a bit. It also paved the way for the insane style that would start to dominate about five years later. That being said, it’s still a freaking AWESOME match with some iconic spots such as the splash. It also started Shawn on the roll of a lifetime, as the next year he would be in the world title match at Wrestlemania then win the title the following year. This match is required viewing for fans.
I.R.S. and company argue in the back, so let’s just cancel a ten man tag. In other words, we’re running long and don’t have time. It happened on Raw the next night and no one remembers it.
Ted DiBiase tries to bribe Mr. President.
Wrestlemania IX’s moment is Fuji throwing salt in Bret’s eyes. We don’t see the pin for some reason though.
Videos on Bret and Yoko set up the main event.
Burt Reynolds is guest ring announcer and my goodness he makes Scott Hall look like a poster boy for AA. Oh and Jennie Garth from Beverly Hills 90210 is timekeeper. The guest referee: Roddy Piper (pause for the huge ovation) who may or may not hate Bret because of what happened at Mania 8. Nice touch.
WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
Yoko is defending if you can’t tell. Burt is barely able to read lines off a card. Hart is STILL selling the leg from earlier, because that’s how awesome he is. Yoko jumps Bret to start and the fans are already fired up for this. Bret tries to fire back with some punches but Yoko stomps him down. Piper and Cornette get in an argument as Yoko blasts Hart. The splash misses though and Bret pounds away, only to hurt his head on a headbutt.
Hart actually manages to punch Yoko down and gets two off an ax handle to the back. The champion comes back with fat man offense and drops the big leg for two. A headbutt puts Bret on the floor but he gets back in at eight. Yoko misses a charge in the corner and there’s a bulldog out of the corner to put the big man down. That only gets two though, as does the middle rope elbow. Bret keeps limping and hits the Hart Attack clothesline for a delayed two.
The belly to belly puts Bret down but Yoko won’t cover for no apparent reason. Instead he loads up the Banzai Drop, only to fall victim to the powers of gravity. It knocks the wind out of the monster, allowing Hart to hook the leg for the pin and the title as the roof is blown off of Madison Square Garden for about the fifth time tonight.
Rating: B-. While it isn’t a classic, the fans were WAY into this and it’s a feel good moment to end the show. Bret was fighting a very different kind of match here rather than he did the previous year, as here he was taking it straight to Yoko instead of sticking and moving. Very solid match here all things considered and a great way to get the giant out of the title scene.
The locker room empties out to celebrate with Bret but Owen stands in the aisle and stares down his brother to end the show.
Overall Rating: A-. This is one of those shows where the bad stuff is bad, but on the other hand the good stuff is absolutely outstanding. With two of the best matches of all time on one show it’s easily one of if not the strongest Wrestlemanias from an in ring perspective. On top of that, the show had long lasting impact as the company focus shifted to the smaller sized guys and longer matches. This was an excellent show but some of the bad stuff can be fast forwarded.
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