wrestlemania-30

There’s a reason why some people will contend that the first weekend of April is arguably the best stretch of sports. You have the NBA regular season winding down, the NCAA reaching its Final Four and most importantly, the greatest Sunday in the history of modern man that has zilch to do with commercials but brings everybody back around the TV – WrestleMania. Sunday, the most important pay-per-view in the history of wrestling will celebrate its 30th year of existence inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

So what are we to do? Oh simple, track down the history of the event to remind you just how good (and bad) this thing has been to wrestling fans. Kick in the fact that we also have a giant library of WWE, ECW and WCW matches and you kind of get overly nostalgic at the fact you in a sense, have your entire wrestling childhood in your hands.

That’s also a bad thing. A library, much like that laundry list of exes you wish you either A) didn’t deal with or B) got heartbroken by and wanted to write a killer R&B album about only that Drake & Usher beat you to it, has its pitfalls. And WestleMania, for all of its spectacle and grandeur has had some pretty terrible moments as well. So before we get into the best, we have to tackle – in the words of Jhené Aiko, “The Worst” WrestleMania’s that ever existed.

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01. WrestleMania IX, April 4, 1993

WrestleMania IX can officially call itself the worst WrestleMania ever for plenty of reasons, and the toga party idea at Caesar’s Palace was not one of them. A) It featured Giant Gonzales aka El Gigante in just a painted on body suit complete with rubber butt cheeks fighting The Undertaker. Yes, the Undertaker lost the match but due to disqualification via a chloroform rag – he won. This, of course started the entire cartoonish villain phase of The Undertaker’s career where he would probably be longing to squash Jimmy Snuka and Jake Roberts again.

B) The entire setup was largely contrived as by 1993 some of the WWE’s top stars were either gone or the fuse hadn’t completely been lit on some stars. Shawn Michaels was just getting in his role as “The Heartbreak Kid” and had Sensational Sherri as his manager. He fought in a rather forgettable IC Title match proving that yes, even Shawn Michaels can have a rather terrible WrestleMania. We can’t even begin to forget Lex Luger in his narcissist gimmick that bombed and then was turned into the next Hulk Hogan to fight Yokozuna throughout ’93 but always come up short. Always.

But there will be nothing worse than the last tidbit.

C) Hulk Hogan by all accounts had pissed away his good fortune with the company thanks to the steroids scandal that damn near crippled Vince and company and just generally being Hulk Hogan. The reign of Hogan as the top man in the company was fizzling out and just for one more night, he decided to flex his pythons (read: ego) one last time on the main event. It’s true, the E had another athletic freak of nature in Yokozuna who had destroyed everyone in his path and won the ’93 Rumble in rather dominant fashion. Okay, he was a Samoan playing a Japanese sumo wrestler but that’s neither here nor there. Fact is, Bret Hart was the sacrificial lamb to the slaughter and it should have been Bret trying with all his might to beat Yoko but ultimately subcumming.

We did we get instead?

Mr. Fuji throwing salt in Bret’s eyes, leading to Yoko getting the win. Hulk Hogan coming down the aisle pissed off at the decision but instead of doing the HONORABLE thing and letting Bret get a fair shot at Yoko, Hogan does the dick thing and challenges Yoko himself. To which Mr. Fuji agrees. AGREES. Next thing you know Fuji tries the salt thing again, hits Yoko, big boot, leg drop, new champion and everyone basically going WTF.

There’s a reason why WrestleMania X was the company’s saving grace because after IX, I’m pretty sure WCW could have done better. But then you have to remember what WCW was lke in 1993 and realize that wrestling was in a really, really bad spot then.

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02. WrestleMania XI, April 2, 1995

Otherwise known as Bam Bam Bigelow’s one shining moment not in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

There’s not a ton to completely hate about WrestleMania XI. Wait, I take that back, there’s not a giant amount of things to hate about WrestleMania XI since it blew off a feud between Bob Backlund and Bret Hart (Backlund at one point WAS the WWE Champion) and gave us one of the better celebrity matches ever between Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam where LT proved that freak athleticism and cocaine is a hell of a drug. You had Salt-N-Pepa appearances and probably the last WrestleMania that will ever be held in Hartford, CT.

But yes, there is plenty of bad here. Such as ’95 being another terrible year for The Undertaker when he had to deal with King Kong Bundy and a Ted Dibiase fronted stable that wanted to be the Dangerous Alliance so bad but couldn’t get the parts right. Bundy headlined WrestleMania 2, so we’re talking TEN YEARS between Manias where people gave a damn about him (and sort of still don’t). Hell, did you remember that King Kong Bundy is a footnote for “The Streak”? Neither did I until I re-watched this PPV a couple of weeks ago. But still, no we had to remember that the entire card save for maybe Michaels & Diesel for the WWE Title got outworked by Lawrence Taylor.

Oh, want one funny Taker tidbit from ’95? He fought Kama Mustafa The Supreme Fighting Machine (The Godfather in a UFC gimmick) over the fact that Kama melted the urn and turned it into a gold chain at Summerslam.

Again, I shit you not.

So where’s the good in WrestleMania XI? Um … the fact that the UCONN Women’s Basketball team got the loudest pop of the night according to reports? That Owen Hart and Yokozuna, two men who played heavily into a solid ’94 for the federation wound up being saddled on the mid-card here? That Diesel and Michaels had a pretty decent match with Michaels playing a dominant plucky little man against his former bodyguard? Yeah, oh and there was Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy at ringside. This is your reminder that you’re pretty damn old to remember when both of these two were sex symbols.

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03. WrestleMania 2, April 7, 1986

Okay, so what’s the problem with WrestleMania 2? I mean, it’s probably one of the earliest points of Vince McMahon over thinking and making things a mess even if they were revolutionary at the time. Mania broadcasted in three different venues (Nassau, Chicago, Los Angeles) and was held on a Monday. Those two factoids there should tell you why the WWE never attempted the stunt again. But we have to discuss the card – which was largely forgettable as you can get except for Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy debuting the classic blue steel cage in an otherwise forgettable main event that was basically the precursor to WrestleMania III’s main event that wound up changing the face of wrestling and legitimizing everything in sight.

As far as the card? Good grief there are some stinkers here. Nassau held the Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper boxing match, you know back when celebrity matches made worldwide headlines because Mr. T was still hot thanks to The A-Team and him being by far the greatest non-foreign Rocky villain ever in Rocky III (sorry Thunderlips) which pretty much sucked because the crowd turned on the match and starred cheering for Piper. Also, you know the woman calling matches here with Vince? Susan St. James, the wife of NBC head Dick Ebersol. In other words, Ebersol wanted his wife out of the house for three hours and kill us wrestling fans with her.

The good? The 20-man battle royal in Chicago where William “Refrigerator” Perry was in his prime of celebrity and Andre The Giant won by squashing a plucky little Canadian named Bret Hart. At least THAT arena gave us a damn near MOTY candidate with The British Bulldogs vs. Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake. Yes, Ed Leslie and the phrase “MOTY”, I shit you not.

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04. WrestleMania 27, April 3, 2011

Let us be remembered that only three years ago, The Miz headlined WrestleMania as WWE Champion. Let us also remember that the match damn near wasn’t even about the WWE Champion but rather a pissing contest between The Rock and John Cena who then announced a match for the next WrestleMania which rendered this entire WrestleMania rather pointless. The saving grace of it? Miz’s “Hate Me Now” promo that lead him to the ring and Cena using an Atlanta gospel choir and DMX to lead him out.

Alright look, Miz/Cena is one of the worst Mania main events thanks to John boy giving The Miz a concussion and him winning via countout of all things. That’s right, a countout ended the main event of the biggest show of the year. Do we get a match restart? Of course we do because The Rock has supreme power over even the “anonymous Raw GM” (which never was revealed by the way) and declares the match to be No DQ, No Countout and no time limit. Then he just interferes, Rock Bottoms Cena to give Miz the win then hits The Miz with a People’s Elbow as a sign of showing the fans, “yes, this shit was terrible and I deeply apologize for it, here’s something for you to go home happy with.”

Mania 27 may have been largely forgettable mainly because of a slew of things. Here is what kicked off Triple H’s fetish with trying to be better than his best friend Shawn Michaels at matches with The Undertaker by the two of them going No Holds Barred. What did we get out of it? Oh Taker looking completely exhausted and Trips somehow forgetting the shovel he would decide to use on Daniel Bryan a couple of years later. Trust me, Mania 28 in Miami could have had this slot just because of Bryan getting beat by Sheamus in 17 seconds but that pretty much kicked off the “YES” chants and put us where we are today.

Oh, how could I forget? Snooki wrestled in a six person tag match. I think we can move on from here now.

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05. WrestleMania IV, March 27, 1988

Two things that make WrestleMania IV largely forgettable save for the main event – one, it’s entire card – THE ENTIRE CARD – is built around the WWE Title Tournament that Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant screwed up a few months back all because Ted Dibiase wanted to do everything a capitalist in the ’80s wanted to do and that was buy his way to the top. Do they both get DOUBLE BYES into the quarterfinals? Yes. Do they wrestle to a dumbass double disqualification that gives Ted Dibiase a straight up pass to the finals? Yes.

Does Macho Man’s eventual win and moment get ruined because of HIS BEST FRIEND HULK HOGAN? Yes. Despite it being a technical masterpiece for the ’80s, Savage vs. Dibiase got ruined because Hulk Hogan had to hit Dibiase with a chair which led to Macho getting the win. Nevermind the fact that Savage had gutted through four matches that night and was the worthy winner but jeez man, this Hulk Hogan guy is just out of control.

And the lasting moment of the night I brought up? That image above with Savage holding Elizabeth up high on his shoulder, her near tears as her husband just won the WWE Title. Who got cropped out? Hulk Hogan telling us to cheer for Savage.

Bonus letdown? The same night, TBS and the NWA had Clash of the Champions ’88 (which when it gets to the Network I utterly urge you to watch) for FREE where Sting fought Ric Flair to a draw, there was a BARBED WIRE match with The Road Warriors and the entire thing pretty much was a glorious free PPV that lives now on YouTube.

5 Responses

  1. Floyd G. Raphael

    Cena-Miz didnt end in a count-out…..Cena got a Rock Bottom allowing Miz to get the pin, then the Rock gave Miz a People’s Elbow

    Reply

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