WWF WrestleMania XI Review!
Updated: Aug 12
WrestleMania X really does have a lot to answer for.
To give us a show that good with the bare-bones roster they had to play with gave us all false hope. In reality, WrestleMania XI was a far more realistic show with the roster they had. The cracks that WrestleMania X had done so well to paper over, were now bared for everyone to see and wider than ever.
Built around a feud between an NFL player and perennial WWF midcarder Bam Bam Bigelow, the show certainly had main stream buzz, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated even labelled this the WrestleMania that saved the WWF. However, looking at the other matches on the card, the lack of star power, the abundance of ridiculous and childish gimmicks that plagued the week to week television and the fact that things were only going to get worse for the WWF for a time, it's no wonder that this Mania is rarely spoken about - a stark reminder that 1995 is a very dark year in WWF's history.
But was it really as bad as people make out?
Sure the card looks weak, and the show itself clocks in at well under 3 hours, but maybe it is a hidden gem? Maybe rather than looking at the negativity of Slam! Wrestling labelling it the worst WrestleMania ever, maybe we should watch this show with Pro Wrestling Illustrated's comment that it was the Mania that saved the WWF ingrained in our thought process?
So let us delve deep into 1995, to Hartford Conneticut, as we look back at WWF WrestleMania XI!
In a time of less Pay-Per-Views, the feuds and matches from WrestleMania XI were primarily based on story-lines heading out of the 1995 Royal Rumble;
The Million Dollar Corporation were featured heavily in this show, with Bam Bam Bigelow pushing Lawrence Taylor whilst he watched the show, building the main event that garnered huge national press. It is thought that the WWF hoped that the mainstream exposure they would receive from putting Taylor in the main event would be akin to that of what Mr. T provided by being in the main event of the first WrestleMania. Rather than apologising for the push at the Rumble as he was advised to do, Bigelow issued a challenge for Mania, which the former NFL Linebacker accepted, training with Diesel to get in shape for the match. To considerably less fanfare, King Kong Bundy also returned at the Royal Rumble, aligning with the Million Dollar Corporation, attacking Undertaker, after his match with IRS, stealing the urn for the Corporation, and thus setting up one of Undertaker's lesser known WrestleMania match-ups
At Survivor Series 1994, the team of Diesel and Shawn Michaels dissolved after Michael accidentally gave Diesel a Sweet Chin Music. 3 days later, at a house show at Madison Square Garden, Diesel defeated Bob Backlund in 8 seconds to become WWF World Heavyweight Champion. In January, at the Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels won, last eliminating the British Bulldog, after that now infamous Skinning of the Cat, and earning himself a shot at the belt against Diesel at WrestleMania.
Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon continued their feud over the Intercontinental Championship after Razor Ramon dropped it to Jarrett at the Royal Rumble 1995. Despite having the opportunity to retain his belt via Countout having had his knee taken out by The Roadie, Ramon allowed himself to be goaded back into the ring and subsequently lost the match and belt to Jarrett.
Bret Hart and Bob Backlund had feuded on an off after the pair had fought over the WWF Championship. Bret had rolled up Backlund after he had mistakenly thought he’d won. He then attacked Hart after the match and turned heel, winning the belt from the Hitman at Survivor Series 1994 before losing it to Diesel 3 days later. The feud between Hart and Backlund then continued on and off all the way through until WrestleMania.
Firstly some admin;
WrestleMania XI from The Hartford Civic Centre (otherwise known as the XL Centre today) in Connecticut, had an announced attendance of 16,305, reportedly a sell-out, although lots of red seats were evident throughout. It had a buy rate of 1.3, down from the 1.68 of WrestleMania X, but up from the 1.2 of WrestleMania 12. Attendance was down from 18,065 of WrestleMania 10, and from WrestleMania 12 which was 18,852, but people assume that this might simply be because of the smaller venue size.
The event starts with a video package recapping the celebrities of former WrestleManias, but entirely skips over the classic matches they could have shown – for Goodness Sake, there was 2 just from the last WrestleMania in Owen vs. Bret and Shawn vs. Razor Ramon – but then, all becomes clear as this Mania is clearly centred around Lawrence Taylor and Pamela Anderson.
We then cut to wrestlers looking awkward with a proverbial who’s who of 90’s celebrities; Baywatch's Pamela Anderson, Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement standing with Allied Powers, MTV’s Jennifer McCarthy standing well away from Razor Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid, Nick Turturro from NYPD Blue standing and checking Undertaker’s pulse for some reason, Salt ‘N’ Peppa famous for the song ‘Push It’ are rubbing Bret Hart's bare torso and finally Diesel is in the locker room with Lawrence Taylor’s All-Pro Team.
This year, 'American The Beautiful' is sung by Special Olympian Kathy Huey, replacing originally booked Fishbone. It's relatively unspectacular and rather fraught with the same audio issues that plague the first 40 minutes of this show, but she is given a rousing round of applause come the end.
We cut to our commentary team for this show - Vince McMahon and Jerry The King Lawler – Vince thanks the loyal fans for sticking with them – this being the first Mania since the Steroid Trial - and welcomes new fans, describing WrestleMania as the standard of excellence in Sports Entertainment. The King adds that it's pageantry, Hollywood and an event fit for a King, where two worlds collide – the NFL and the WWF!
Match #1 – Allied Powers def. The Blu Brothers [Jacob & Eli Blu]
The Allied Powers are out first to some strange Second World War references from Lawler and Vince, who seem to be of the opinion that we don't know that the two powers of the UK and USA used to be allied. The Blu Brothers (more famously known perhaps as Skull & 8-Ball of the D.O.A stable, as the Harris Brothers from WCW or in TNA as minions of Vince Russo in his ill-fated stable Sports Entertainment Extreme – God they love a stable don’t they) are accompanied by Uncle Zebikiah, or as he is known to most modern wrestling fans Zeb Colter!
The Blu Brothers attack before the bell (how else would you know they are heels else) but The Allied Powers quickly gain momentum back with stereo Powerslams and stereo Lariats. It is quickly noticeable that Luger is a step behind Davey Boy during the tandem tag team offence, making the ex-heir to the Hogan throne look sloppy and lethargic.
Davey Boy keeps the momentum for a while, but over 10 years before the Bella Twins try it, The Blu Brothers perform some twin magic, which proves a legitimate problem, as even Vince and King can’t tell them apart, and even though I feel with King, it's a story beat, I genuinely feel Vince can’t tell them apart.
Lex and Eli remonstrate on the outside, meaning the referee misses a British Bulldog roll-up, and then misses which Blu Brother is legal. Davey finally manages to get the hot (or shall we say tepid) tag to Luger after Eli takes a baffling amount of time going for a second rope Elbow Drop, giving Davey Boy enough time to roll out of the way and tag in Lex. The Lex Express lays in strikes and Lariats, and hits a Flying Forearm, but Uncle Zebekiah gets onto the apron and distracts the referee, while twin magic happens again. The new Blu Brother (who the hell knows at this point) kicks out at two and gets heat on Luger, moving him toward the Allied Powers corner for a Powerbomb, where Bulldog hits a blind tag, performs a Sunset Flip over Luger and onto the miscellaneous Blue Brother for the pinfall victory at 6:34
Match Rating: 4 stars
Though a run of the mill inoffensive match, there were far too many shenanigans in a match with no heat. Davey looked amazing, with Luger paling in comparison – even in the audience reaction they got - but it marks the continued, remarkable descent of Luger who would ultimately leave for WCW in October of this year.
Patriotic fireworks explode in the ring as the Allied Powers pose, while JR catches up to Uncle Zebekiah on the ramp and attempts to interview him, after which Zebekiah cuts a completely inaudible promo about The Allied Powers pinning the wrong guy. But how can he be sure...?
The commentary team then throw to Nick Turturro who is supposedly with Pamela Anderson, but his audio isn’t working. Jenny McCarthy turns up as the pair continue to mouth until it cuts back to Vince and King. Vince utters an ominous line about how “You never can tell what will happen in the WWF, or to our crack audio team!” You absolutely don't want to be the person responsible for that issue, and you know from that comment that heads will have rolled! King then takes the time presumably set aside for that backstage segment to mock American Football again, saying that it is 11 men spending hours trying to move something very small – he says its like the Post Office.
Match #2 - Jeff Jarrett (c) def. Razor Ramon
[WWF Intercontinental Championship Match]
We cut back to the Royal Rumble 1995 to show how the Roadie’s interference caused Razor Ramon to drop the title to Jarrett in the first place, a Chop Block to the knee from The Roadie meaning Razor couldn’t hit the Razor’s Edge and consequently got rolled up by Jarrett.
As Jarrett enters, we cut backstage to Razor and his bodyguard…the 1-2-3 Kid, who cuts an abysmal promo which sounds like he is saying it from underneath a damn sink as the audio issues persist, saying that the Roadie better keep his nose out, or the Kid is going to take care of him! Sigh
Razor hits the ring and attacks Jarrett before the bell and spends a long period in charge of the match, tossing Jarrett around, getting a close two count with a roll-up before the Roadie saves Jeff from the Razor’s Edge. We then get a little bit of mirroring to the Royal Rumble, as Jarrett attempts to leave but is cut off by the imposing presence that is 1-2-3 Kid. Double J then crotches himself on the rope and Razor slams the Roadie’s head into the ring post with a satisfying thump.
Throughout this, Vince and King make reference to the weak knee of Razor, but Jarrett doesn’t go for it, instead hitting Dropkicks and a lovely looking Swinging Neckbreaker. Ramon misses a Bulldog from the ropes which looked like a really nasty bump for him to take, before Jeff finally locks in the Figure 4 which Razor manages to reverse. The match continues and both men are on the top rope with Razor hitting an Avalanche Side Suplex, but rather than going for the pinfall, he gets Jarrett up for the Razor’s Edge, but the Roadie slides in to Chop Block the knee again, giving Razor the DQ win at 13:32.
Instantly upon the bell being rung, Jarrett and Roadie set upon Razor, but 1-2-3 Kid attempts to clean house and an absolute melee ensues!
Match Rating: 5 stars
A solid overall match, but not as good as their Royal Rumble counterpart in my opinion. A strange finish to then keep this feud going again, but looking back, with the lack of star power, I suppose there wasn’t really anyone else to push for the Intercontinental Championship…Mantaur? Duke 'Dumpster' Droese? Sparky Plugg? The interference irritated me more than the Royal Rumble match as well, they seemed to be over-selling it massively. I would have also liked Jarrett to target the knee more early on as the commentary team actually did a good job selling it!
Jarrett (replete with a bloody nose) and The Roadie escape, JR attempts to interview Jarrett, saying that it was conduct unbecoming of a champion. Jarrett replies that he has always been champion and tells Razor that payback is a you know what; a payback for what I don't even think that Jarrett knows.
We then go back to the exact same Nick Turturro segment, this time blessed with sound. He is joined again by Jenny McCarthy but then Shawn Michaels and Sid enter as well. Shawn quips that not only will he enter with Pamela Anderson, but he will more importantly leave with the championship AND Pamela Anderson. Sid then screams a promo about fear leading to Diesel feeling sick and how his dreams have turned to nightmares. Shawn finishes the segment off, but his words are lost in the midst of Sid, who seems to be running out of batteries, shouting the word 'Nightmares!' at random points
Match #3 – The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer def. King Kong Bundy w/ Ted Dibiase
Ted Dibiase enters with King Kong Bundy first, holding the urn they stole at the Royal Rumble 1995 aloft. King says that Bundy has the quickest WrestleMania pinfall victory, which he did, a 25 second win at the inaugural WrestleMania against Special Delivery Jones. Not the first time you will be impressed with King's background knowledge tonight.
We then cut to serial irritant Tom Pettengill in the audience, who is annoying former Chicago Bear Neil Anderson, asking him about the main event of Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam, before making Anderson get into a 3 point stance – sigh – thank goodness for the bong of the bell that announced Undertaker’s arrival. At this point, Undertaker was 3-0 in the fledgling years of the streak having beaten Snuka at WrestleMania 7, Jake at 8 and Gonzalez at the infamously poor WrestleMania 9.
Taker starts the match hot, but cannot take Bundy off of his feet. It takes a series of Lariats, an Old School (as we know it now) and another Flying Clothesline to take Bundy off of his feet. In response, Bundy tamely clotheslines Taker over the top rope, where he lands on his feet, taking the urn from DiBiase and presenting it to a clearly overjoyed Paul Bearer before the pair pose with it.
The Ultimate Fighting Machine Kama then comes to ruin the party at the behest of DiBiase. He kicks Bearer squarely in the gut and takes the urn back up the ramp. This does beg the question however, are all these shenanigans merely to try and take away from the fact that Bundy was damn near immobile at this point? A picture in picture interview – during the match – saw Kama tell Jim Ross that the urn was his now and he intended to melt it down into a chain.
Meanwhile, Bundy has briefly moved from his strikes to a Bodyslam followed by a Knee Drop, which gets a 2 count. At this point however, it does seem that Undertaker has had enough. He powers out of the corner, hits strikes and a Bodyslam (which admittedly is not easy on a man of King Kong Bundy's sheer mass) of his own and a Leaping Clothesline tamely ends a tame match at 6:36.
Match Rating: DUD
Seriously, who did Undertaker annoy between 1993 and 95? Gonzalez and then Bundy? Bundy was awful here; his comically poor selling, plus the fact that they had to have the entire urn story to detract from the fact he couldn’t move and Undertaker couldn’t hit the Tombstone on him means it is well worth the 0.5 stars that Meltzer gave it. Not a match from Taker’s streak that will live long in the memory, that’s for sure!
We head Backstage once more, where we find Nick Turturro still looking for Pamela Anderson, but instead finds Lawrence Taylor's All Pro Bowl team, who call out the individual members of the Million Dollar Corporation in some of the worst seen promos I’ve seen; amongst them, future WCW man, Steven 'Mongo' McMichael!
Turturro then bursts in on a Chess Match going on between Jonathan Taylor-Thomas and Bob Backlund. Backlund has no idea who Anderson is, and is then infuriated when Taylor-Thomas beats him. He says that’s what’s wrong with the youth today, and proceeds to Pop-Quiz the small child with various questions on History and Geography amongst other things, all of which he gets right.
Match #4 – Owen Hart & Yokozuna def. The Smoking Gunns (c)
[WWF World Tag Team Championships Match]
Owen Hart enters first, and teases the crowd still further in regard to his surprise partner that he has been teasing for weeks (which, fun fact, was originally slated to be both Jim Neidhart and then future World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit.) Owen goes on to introduce him as a man who defeated his brother at WrestleMania, and that the reveal will really be a HUGE surprise...
Out comes former 2-time WWF Champion, Yokozuna. After months away from the company trying to shed pounds, he is now bigger than ever, weighing in at over 600lbs which is frankly astonishing. However, he gets a great pop and is accompanied to the ring by Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji.
The commentary team cut backstage to interview the Tag Team Champs, The Smoking Gunns. Billy says it didn’t matter about Yokozuna, while Bart stares at his hands, stumbles over his promo and is clearly timed out as the camera cuts back to the ring and Vince cuts in over him. An apathetic reception greets the Smoking Gunns upon their entrance, though Yokozuna attempts to help by garnering cheap heat, waving the Japanese Flag around in the ring as they enter (he was born in California.)
The match itself follows the same pattern as a lot of Yokozuna and Owen matches ultimately would, teams getting heat on Owen (who was by far the standout man in this match) before Yokozuna came in for brief bursts of power. Owen is double teamed for large portions of the opening salvo of the match, hit with an Assisted Neckbreaker and a Sidewinder, but Yokozuna distracts the referee, and Owen kicks out at 2.
Yokozuna is tagged in for one of his aforementioned brief bursts of power and hits a snug looking Leg Drop on the back of Billy’s head, which looked nasty. Despite his size and obviously growing fatigue, Yokozuna did bump well here for the tag champs. Eventually the big man hits a Bodyslam on Billy, drags him to the corner and hits the Banzai drop. Bart breaks up the pin on two, but Yoko, thoroughly gassed now, Back Body Drops him untidily out of the ring. Owen is tagged in, thinks about going for the Sharpshooter, but upon hearing the pop the move got, he transitions into a pin for the victory at 9:42 - what a heel!
Owen grabs the belts from the referee but at this point, Yokozuna is physically too tired to celebrate or to take the belt to begin with, leaning on the ropes for support, just as Jim Cornette likens his return to that of NBA’s Michael Jordan. Wow!
Match Rating: 4 stars
The match itself is completely forgettable, as were the Smoking Gunns really. Yokozuna looked terrifying at the size he was, and unfortunately would only proceed to get bigger, while the limbo Owen Hart found himself in was absolutely astonishing for a man of his talent coming off of the great 1994 he had; winning King of the Ring and his outstanding WrestleMania and Summerslam matches against Bret!
Todd Pettengill is backstage with Bam Bam who likens his opponent Lawrence Taylor to a flash in the pan, and says he will not be known as the man who lost to an NFL player – Ah, how about that for foreshadowing; much as I love Bam Bam, in this company, this is all he's really known for. It's true – search your souls, you know it to be true!
Match #5 - Bret Hart def. Bob Backlund
[I Quit Match w/ Rowdy Roddy Piper as Special Guest Referee]
For no other perceivable reason other than because of his great match that ended in a submission at WrestleMania 8 against Bret Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper is the Special Guest Referee for this match. No elaboration either from the commentary team as to why Piper has been included in this match, but he is out first, and to the biggest pop of the night so far. Conversely, there is no music for Bob Backlund, who is instead serenaded to the ring by enormous boos for what is basically a homecoming; Backlund living a stone's throw away from the arena in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Bret Hart then arrives to a hero's welcome, an astronomical pop that eclipses even the one Roddy received moments earlier.
It is the Hitman who starts in charge, wrapping Bob up in the ropes, and it's here it becomes obvious what Roddy Piper's sole role is as Special Guest Referee; to provide comedy by asking the competitors every 8 seconds whether they quit in an increasingly shrill voice; it becomes very annoying, very quickly.
Bret goes to work on the leg, leading to the one funny Piper moment, asking Bret after asking Backlund whether he quit, even though Hart was administering the hold, which the usually poker-faced Hitman laughs at. Hart continues to work the leg with a Figure 4 Leg-Lock, but Backlund keeps reversing the attempts at the Sharpshooter. Backlund on the other hand, is targeting the arm to soften it for the Chickenwing, wrapping it in the ropes and kicking it, then locking in two Arm Bars, neither of which get Bret to quit.
A moment then that makes this pointless and largely boring encounter even worse. King references Bret's WrestleMania 8 match and how that could have some implications on the outcome of this match here, clearly alluding to Piper and how he might harbour resentment toward the Hitman because of it. This would have been fine if Vince could actually remember who Bret had even fought at WrestleMania 8 - first saying, when asked if he could remember, that he'd got no idea then guessing the British Bulldog. Vince I know you've had a hard couple of years, but good God man, even King knows his background better than you.
Hart quickly rallies with another Sharpshooter attempt, but then runs at Backlund misses and hits the post shoulder first. Backlund uses this shift in momentum and attempts to lock in the Chickenwing but doesn't quite get all of it. Bret reverses it into his own Chicken Wing, causing Bob to make an ungodly noise that we were supposed to interpret as him quitting at 9:35 giving Bret the win.
Match Rating: 2 stars
JR catches up with Backlund as he heads back up the ramp, but he simply states that he’s seen the light and leaves.
This match was awful. Dave Metlzer awarded this cavalcade of nonsense 1.25 stars and even that for me is too high; it was disjointed, boring and punctuated with incessant and unfunny interjections from Piper. Bret Hart would go on to write in his autobiography that it was his worst PPV Match ever and it is hard to disagree really.
Backstage, we find Nick Turturro once again, who claims that Pamela Anderson has left the building, but other arrangements have been made.
We then have a procession of celebrities, with Special Guest Time Keeper for the next match being apparent budding Chess prodigy Johnathan Taylor-Thomas and Special Guest Ring Announcer being the aforementioned Nick Turturro.
Match #6 – Diesel (c) def. Shawn Michaels
[WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match]
Shawn Michaels is out first with his bodyguard Sid and Jennifer McCarthy in tow rather than Pamela Anderson to a pop that drowns out the end of Turturro’s ring introductions. As this is happening, we cut to Todd Petengill interviewing Diesel backstage, who cuts a promo where he stumbles of the word ‘retain for a couple of awkward seconds’ before making up for this by screaming the remainder of his promo. He then comes out to another big pop, one that I wouldn’t associate with Diesel’s critically panned title run; he is accompanied by Pamela Anderson though, which probably helped.
Shawn sells brilliantly for Diesel to start with, with the story early on being that Diesel could beat Shawn easily in the power game, so Shawn would have to grind him down and basically outrun him. Michaels takes some awful bumps during this match, especially to the outside, landing on his shoulders and neck at one point as he falls through the bottom two ropes. He does finally gain the ascendancy by clotheslining himself and Diesel out of the ring, and tries to capitalise with a Diving Crossbody from the top rope to the outside, a Splash from the apron to the floor, the top rope Bulldog Razor Ramon had attempted in an earlier match, and a Back Elbow Drop from the second rope, but still Diesel kicked out, and in the process, began getting unmistakable 'Diesel!' chants.
The Champion powers out of two DDTs but Michael continues to grind him down with a Sleeper Hold in the middle of the ring, after having worked the back with knees. Diesel finally gains back momentum by driving elbows into Shawn in the corners of the ring, and driving forearms into him, using his tights to keep him tethered to him, bringing him back to a forearm each time. Both men end up on the outside, and Sid distracts Earl Hebner, which works against Shawn as the ref misses the Sweet Chin Music and the resulting pinfall. Sid attempts to make amends by taking off the turnbuckle pad and pointing it out to Michaels, who can't take advantage.
Michaels goes to the top, but Diesel catches him effortlessly into a Sidewalk Slam. He then Slingshots Shawn into the exposed turnbuckle, before hitting the infamous Jackknife Powerbomb that Shawn doesn’t sell, for the win and to retain (that’s the word you were looking for earlier, Kev) his WWF Championship at 20:32.
Match Rating: 8 stars
This was easily the match of the night. Shawn made Diesel look great apart from being all Shawn about the final Jackknife, and Diesel had that landmark win his title reign needed – shame about the rest of it – MABEL! The story-line that this moved on was good, and it was probably the only match where the interference isn’t gratingly overbearing, finding the balance between off-putting and story progression. Plus, Nash made it through a match without tearing his quad, so well done!
Post-Match, Sid screams at JR that Shawn Michaels isn’t finished with Diesel and that it isn’t over. Meanwhile Pamela Anderson gets into the ring to celebrate with the champion, who also invites Jennifer McCarthy and Nick Turturro into the ring to celebrate with him as well.
Todd Petengill is backstage with Shawn Michaels and Sid, they replay the Superkick, Sid then stumbles over a Softball/Baseball reference about the need for two referees/umpires and Shawn bemoans that he had Diesel out colder than a block of ice, that he proved he was the best and he will do it again, if Diesel is man enough to face him.
Match #7 – Lawrence Taylor def. Bam Bam Bigelow
[w/ Pat Patterson as Special Guest Referee]
Vince is on ring announcing duties, as he introduces the entirety of the Million Dollar Corporation; Bundy, Tatanka, Volkoff, IRS and Dibiase. He then goes into full Hogan vs. Warrior WrestleMania VI opening package Vince McMahon, as he welcomes Lawrence Taylor's All Pro Team; Ken Norton Jr, Chris Spielman, Ricky Jackson, Carl Banks, Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael and their captain, Reggie White.
Straight away, Kama, Tatanka and Bundy are all knocked off of the apron by the All Pro Team, putting Wrestling in a great light. It's something that really irks me about this angle in general; fine, have the match, I understand that the mainstream buzz of the NFL going head-to-head with the WWF is a licence to print money, but don't make the profession look so pathetic and weak! Find a way for both sides to look strong as, even though the All Pro Team looked imposing, they aren't and never had (at this point at least) been trained Wrestlers! To me, it was a truly bad look for Pro Wrestling, in a time when people were already turning away from the promotion, and the business in general.
Bam Bam and then Lawrence Taylor, serenaded to the ring by Salt 'N Peppa, make their way to the ring and face off, with Pat Patterson standing between them in that now quite iconic stand-off. Bam Bam reacts first, pushing Taylor, who responds by slapping him hard across the face, before exploding into the start of the match with stiff jumping Forearm Smashes and a huge Bulldog.
Bam Bam, clearly stunned at Taylor's ferocity, rolls out and is confronted by Taylor who vaults the top rope onto the floor to face off with the Million Dollar Corporation, which is both impressive, and a testament to the amount of adrenaline clearly coursing through him at this point. After an inevitable, yet thankfully brief, stare-down between the Corporation and the All-Pro team, the action returns to the ring with both men rolling in, and Bam Bam takes control. He works the back and legs with a standard Boston Crab, before using modifications to really work the knees and spine of the squirming Taylor, following it up with a series of Falling Headbutts.
Bigelow ascends to the top rope and lands a Twisting Moonsault which never fails to impress me given his size, but also looked as though his knee connected with Taylor’s head. Due to this, he can’t make the pinfall straight away, and when he does eventually cover, LT can kick out at 2. Bam Bam retains control of the exchange, before ascending again to the top rope and hitting a Diving Headbutt, which Taylor again kicks out of at 2, leading to Bam Bam's first look of desperation, clearly thinking he would have had the match won by now.
Buoyed by this, Taylor rallies, hits a Jackknife which Bam Bam kicks out of at 2, a Side Suplex and a series of those great looking Forearm Smashes, rocking Bigelow and bringing a noticeable, but ultimately modest reaction from the crowd. He then goes to the top rope and hits a Diving Forearm Smash, flooring Bam Bam, and covers him for the victory in 11:42!
Believe what you want to believe as to why the WWF thought that putting an untrained and untried NFL player over an actual full-time Wrestler was a good idea, whether they believed it would be great publicity, or whether it be Vince's annoying habit of making sure that the last thing the crowd saw at a WrestleMania was a babyface win, but this didn't go over how then envisioned. I believe that everyone backstage expected there to be more of a pop for the Taylor victory, for the roof to come off of the place, especially judging from the 'LT!' chants during the match, but the crowd seemed a little subdued, and there is even a few whistles and whispers of boos.
Match Rating: 6 stars
For one final time, JR attempts to catch up and rub salt in the wounds of the loser of the match, in this case Bam Bam, on the ramp, who doesn’t say anything, ignoring JR completely, as he is being chastised by Ted Dibiase for embarrassing him, the corporation and the wrestling industry in general.
Back in the ring, and Taylor is literally being held up by his posse and his son, with the last parting shot of the show being a wide shot of the ring and Taylor's All-Pro team trying to haul his exhausted body from the ring. According to reports from Jim Cornette and Rowdy Roddy Piper, Taylor was that blown-up once he got to the back, that he could hardly stand or speak when he got backstage.
Was this WrestleMania good? No.
Was this WrestleMania the worst one yet like many people say it is? No. How can anything be worse that WrestleMania 2?
Don't get me wrong, this is absolutely a 2 match show, and the success of the main event lies solely at the door of Bam Bam Bigelow who should be showered with praise for dragging the match to being better than it had any right to be! Though it should be noted that for the rumoured $250,000 Bam Bam received for this match, I think anyone in the locker room would have been motivated to make it a serviceable match. The result was wrong, and unfortunately it does condemn Bam Bam to history as the man who lost to an NFL player, but he can hold his head at least a little higher knowing that it was a surprisingly good encounter.
Shawn and Diesel was great and in truth is the only match on this card that you should go out of your way to watch. Shawn proved that he was ready to reach the upper echelon of the company, something he would ultimately achieve the following year, while Diesel had another good match to put in his collection and the marquee win his title reign needed. He did have good matches, but unfortunately, when you pair him with Mabel, what do you expect him and the wider Wrestling community to do? He is unfairly tarred as the non-drawing Champion, and sure, he lacked the charisma of Hogan or even Shawn, but the state of WWF in 1995 was not Diesel's fault.
Everything else was boring or awful. The audio for the first portion of the show was dreadful, farcical for a company of WWF's standing at this point. Bundy was terrible, almost laughable, the Backlund match has to be seen to be believed (and not in a good way) while Yokozuna's staggering weight gain is the only real thing to take from that match.
To end then, do not watch this show. Sure, it's certainly not WrestleMania 2, or WrestleMania 9, but for some people to call it the WrestleMania that saved WWF is nonsense! It serves as nothing more than a reminder as to what the company and Wrestling was going through in 1995, and as that year was one of the worst in Wrestling history, perhaps it's better that we seal it away, along with this PPV, and never speak of it again.
Matches You Need To Check Out: Diesel vs. Shawn, Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor
Matches You Need To Avoid: The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy, Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund.