The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day Ten

March 26th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today’s Tales of Wrestlemania is about Lex Luger.

Wrestlemania 8: Lex isn’t even wrestling. He’s being used for the World Bodybuilding Federation and appears to talk to Bobby Heenan about how jacked he is. Then he drinks some milk. Waste of time.

Wrestlemania 9: They’re really pushing Lex by not only going over Mr. Perfect, but claiming that he beat up Bret Hart earlier in the day. Unfortunately for the Narcissist, this match with Bret will never come to be.

Wrestlemania 10: Having become a patriotic Hogan knockoff, Lex has a title shot against Yokozuna. Despite all these hints that he and Bret are going to meet in the finals, Lex is screwed over by the man he beat just a year earlier: Mr. Perfect. Dang.

Wrestlemania 11: Any momentum Lex has ever had is long gone. Now he’s relegated to teaming up with the British Bulldog and opening the show. He still won’t be having any matches with Bret because he’s no longer in his league. That’s harsh.

Which reminds me, I remember a rumor that Lex was going to win the title at Wrestlemania 10, but blabbed it to a reporter and they had to change the booking of the show. I never found out if that was bullshit or not.


Date: March 14, 2004
Era: End of the Crossover Era; Beginning of the Cena Era
Location: Madison Square Garden in New York, New York
Notable Debuts: John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, John Morrison, Eric Bischoff, Bill Goldberg

Wrestlemania 20, or XX, is “Where it All Begins Again”. Where what begins? I’m not certain, but it’s going to happen again. Wrestlemania 20 has a reputation for being a show with one of the most feel-good endings of any wrestling event, except that it has been sadly ravaged by the history that follows. The mega-long show is based on good friends Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit reaching their destinies by walking out of the show as champions. It also features one of the biggest dream matches of the time turning into a hilarious disaster.

The Atmosphere

Huh. All right, so everything all beginning again is tied into Shane McMahon having a baby boy. That’s what the intro tells us. Madison Square Garden always brings an interesting challenge to the WWE crew, since it’s a pretty small place compared to the other main venues and they don’t have the room for huge ramps and all the explosive pyro. They are still able to put in a swanky video floor and a screen across from the hard camera that usually shows a graphic of who is involved in the match. I think it’s a nice touch.

What hurts the show is that it is five hours long. FIVE! As good as it is, it’s still hard to sit through just for that reason. They at least use all the excess time well, outside of Jesse Ventura walking out to interview Donald Trump for the sake of hinting that he might maybe, possibly run for president in 2008. Ventura is there as a Hall of Fame inductee in what is the first time they do one of those segments at Wrestlemania. I won’t lie, I thought something was sweet about seeing Bobby Heenan and Tito Santana shaking hands on camera after years of Heenan making fun of him. They also have a part where Vince McMahon comes out for no reason other than to thank everyone for helping sustain Wrestlemania.

Backstage segments include Bischoff and Johnny Nitro sending the Coach off to find the Undertaker, leading to Coach stumbling upon Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan making out with Moolah and Mae Young. The Rock leads a fantastic promo that includes making fun of the Hurricane and Rosey (Hamburglar and Grimace) for eating McDonald’s. Randy Orton does a promo in a stairwell about Foley that has too many different camera angles and cuts to be taken seriously. Best of all is Eddie Guerrero barging into Benoit’s dressing room and jokingly doubting his chances until Benoit snaps and insists that he’s going to win the title.

The video packages are fantastic quality. The one for Undertaker/Kane shows how talented Kane is by carrying an entire feud by himself. That one makes sense, since the show is lead up to the Undertaker’s first appearance in months. This doesn’t work for the video that sets up Goldberg vs. Lesnar, considering it’s almost entirely about Lesnar vs. Austin. Why? Because there were no more TV appearances left in Goldberg’s contract and the WWE didn’t want to pony up to hype up a guy ready to leave. Goldberg would later complain about the lack of lead-up to that match, which is a thinly veiled way of saying, “They should have paid me more.”

The Matches

Starting off the show, The Big Show defends the US Championship against John Cena. That’s right, Cena is curtain-jerking tonight. This is back during Cena’s rap gimmick, which people enjoyed because it gave him an edge. I agree with that sentiment (especially telling Brock Lesnar, “You dance around like you got potatoes in your crack. That’s a nice tattoo you have of your mother on your back.”), but this is one of those times when he tries to be too edgy for the sake of being edgy, telling Big Show he’s going to beat him like “a penis with an STD”.

So much of this match is Big Show domination. So much. There’s so little offense from Cena until the end. He hits the Attitude Adjustment on Big Show, which is of course a big deal, but Big Show kicks out. Cena is shocked. He prepares to use a chain and the ref gets in his way. Cena throws the chain so the ref chases it, puts on some of his metal knuckles with “CENA” written on them, punches Big Show behind the ref’s back, hits another Attitude Adjustment and gets the pin. On its own, it’s a decent match, but it’s one of those things where you look back years later and realize, “Huh. He was wrestling that kind of match back then too and the crowd hasn’t gotten sick of it yet.” At least the ending makes enough sense, unlike nearly any Cena match that ends with an STF.

Rob Van Dam and Booker T defend the World Tag Team Championship against the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley), La Resistance (Rene Dupree and Rob Conway) and the team of Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak in a Fatal Fourway Match. It starts off with the mayhem you’d expect from a match like this, including a spot where RVD slingshots Dupree into a Booker T superkick. It looks like it’s going somewhere until Dupree puts Booker in a rest hold. Seriously? A rest hold in a Fatal Fourway tag? The whole point of the match is that everyone can go all out without having to take an in-ring breather.

RVD gets tagged in and fights off every heel in the match singlehandedly. The Dudleys grab RVD for the Dudley Death Drop, but Cade attacks D-Von and RVD doesn’t get that extra impact going down. Amidst all the confusion, Booker T hits a scissor kick on Jindrak, RVD does the Five Star Frog Splash and the champs retain.

The show hasn’t been anything special so far, but luckily we have Chris Jericho vs. Christian to fix that. The story going in has to do with the two making a bet about nailing Lita and Trish, but Jericho fell in love with Trish, Christian acted like an asshole, told her the truth about the bet and beat her up in the ring. The two work so well together and they rightfully deserve their match to be so long (15 minutes). Jericho keeps going for his finishers, but Christian keeps escaping. Walls of Jericho? Grabs rope. Lionsault? Puts his knees up. Walls of Jericho again? Drags himself and Jericho out of the ring, where Jericho puts the hold on him again.

Trish eventually shows herself and Christian attacks her the moment she reaches ringside. Jericho comes to her rescue, gets Christian away for a moment and tries to help Trish up. She blindly elbows him in the eye, knocking him into a roll-up with Christian getting the pin. Trish begins to apologize to Jericho and right when it looks like they’re going to have a moment, she begins to slap the hell out of him and Christian jumps in with a Killswitch. Christian and Trish walk away, revealing that they’re together and that Trish happens to like it rough.

The next match is pretty interesting in its own right. The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection (Mick Foley and the Rock) wrestle Evolution (Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista) in what doesn’t seem quite as much of a handicap match at the time, considering Batista and Orton aren’t the big deals they’d later become. It starts with the dream match of Rock vs. Flair, which rules upon itself. This is the Rock’s last wrestling match and his first one in about 11 months, so he takes the backseat to Foley for the most part. But Foley is still in good enough shape, so it looks good when he hits Flair with his off-apron elbow drop to the outside.

Foley wants to get his hands on Orton, but Orton is shown to have Foley’s number. Even when they’re up against each other, Orton is good at eluding Foley’s offense. Or when Batista mounts and punches Foley and Foley comes back with a Mandible Claw, Orton immediately saves his partner and escapes just as quickly. Rock comes back in and gets spinebustered by Batista. Flair is tagged, who taunts Rock by doing his own over-the-top version of the People’s Elbow. Rock kips up, drops Flair down and hits his final People’s Elbow, including a Flair strut before the drop. Orton comes in an gets a Rock Bottom. Flair distracts the ref and Rock receives a Batista Bomb.

Foley gets tagged in and we finally have some real Foley/Orton action. Foley gets him with the double-arm DDT and pulls out Mr. Socko. As he prepares, Orton pulls out a surprise RKO, pins Foley and bails. Foley’s pissed that he lost out of nowhere and Rock tries to cheer him up.

Sable and Torrie Wilson take on Miss Jackie and Stacy Keibler in a Playboy Evening Gown Match. Sable and Torrie decide that they don’t want to wrestle in evening gowns, so they strip to their lingerie. Stacy does so too, but Jackie refuses. They end up forcing her to conform by stripping her down. It’s a very short match and it is really bad, but I have seen worse. I think what makes it bearable is the commentary by Tazz and Michael Cole, who decide to just have a good time and don’t take the match serious by any means. Torrie, like in that Candice match I talked about yesterday, shows effort in her in-ring performance, even if it is for a lingerie tag match. Torrie wins by rolling up Jackie for a pin while pulling down the back of her panties and spanking her. I notice Jackie wears underwear underneath her underwear. She really is prude.

Chavo Guerrero defends the Cruiserweight Championship in a Cruiserweight Open, featuring Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, Shannon Moore, Jamie Noble, Funaki, Nunzio, Billy Kidman, Tajiri and Akio. It’s a big gauntlet match, which I’m not a big fan of. Sure, the action is cool, but the concept of the match doesn’t make much sense. I can understand a Royal Rumble, where the guys in first have a legit chance of surviving to the end thanks to skill, luck and the effort of others, but the idea that someone in the beginning has to beat nine other guys in a row is pretty silly. Also silly: Ultimo Dragon trips on his cape when he walks out and spends a lot of his entrance shrugging to the fans.

Ultimo and Moore start it out, with Ultimo getting the pin after a Dragon DDT. Noble takes down Ultimo with a really sick front-face lock with leg scissors. He totally should have gone with the Dragon Sleeper. It would be so damn literal. Funaki flies off the top rope at Noble, only to be rolled over and pinned in just a couple seconds. Nunzio can’t best Noble either, succumbing to a count-out. As Nunzio and Noble argue about it on the outside, Kidman enters the match and hits the two with a Shooting Star Press off the apron. He reverses a top-rope hurricanrana into a BK-Bomb off the top and eliminates Noble. Rey Mysterio, dressed up as the Flash, comes in and has some good exchanges with Kidman until getting him with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top. Not only does Tajiri lose to the 619 and West Coast Pop, but during his part in the match, he accidentally sprays mist into the eyes of his ally Akio, who is deemed unable to compete because of it.

This makes it Rey vs. Chavo. There’s a spot where Rey bests Chavo and sees Chavo’s father Chavo Classic standing on the apron. Rey takes him down with a Baseball Slide and wants to follow up with a dive. The ref won’t let him. So as the ref checks up on Chavo Classic, Rey runs across the ropes, jumps OVER the ref, flips in the air and gets Chavo Classic with a senton. He enters the ring by flipping over Chavo with a Sunset Flip, but Chavo falls to his knees, his father grabs him by the hand to give him extra leverage and he gets the win. It has its moments and the cruiserweight work is really good, but the match is so blatantly, “Here, a bunch of flippy shit fit into ten minutes,” that it’s hard not to roll your eyes.

Speaking of eye-rolling, we have Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar! This one is hard to rate because it’s a horrible and near unwatchable match, but the fans turn it into the thing of legends. The story has been told so many times, so here’s the quick rundown: Goldberg is on his way out due to his contract expiring the day after the show. They decide to spend a couple months building up towards the last great dream match of Goldberg vs. Lesnar. Lesnar gets tired of the wrestling life and asks Vince for his release less than two weeks before the show. It’s agreed that Wrestlemania will be his final match. Just about everyone in Madison Square Garden knows that neither guy will be employed with the WWE the next day.

The crowd completely shits on both guys for having what should be a pure epic and making it a meaningless waste of time because they’re both bailing on the company. “YOU SOLD OUT!” “HEY, HEY! GOODBYE!” “WE WANT DOINK!” and many other great hits can be yours! The DVD does tone it down considerably, but not completely. They have to keep in the chants that Lawler foolishly acknowledges. In response to this crowd response, Lesnar and Goldberg agree to put on the worst match of their lives.

How boring is this match? I think I can sum it up with “tie-up stalemate”. Lots of no-selling and boring power moves. A big pile of nothing happens for at least ten minutes. Goldberg misses the Spear, gets hit with the F5 and kicks out. He gets the Spear again, then delivers a Jackhammer to win. It’s funny, since Goldberg was obviously planned to lose from the beginning, but by actually giving notice, he’s considered the lesser of two evils. Lesnar gets up and is obviously affected by the crowd’s negative response. He seriously looks like he’s holding back tears. He flips off the crowd, flips off referee Steve Austin and gets a Stunner for his troubles. Goldberg – who had flipped off some fans on his way out of the ring a second ago – comes back in to celebrate with Austin and gets Stunnered too. One of the potentially biggest matches of all time and in the end the only one left looking good is the goddamn referee.

This right here is the moment the Crossover Era died.

The team of Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty defend the WWE Tag Team Championship in a Fatal Fourway against the World’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas), the Basham Brothers (Danny and Doug Basham) and the APA (Farooq and Bradshaw). This one is considerably better than the other tag title match. Lots of double-team work from the WGTT, like Shelton bodyslamming a Basham onto Haas’ knee. Or when Scotty skins the cat and reenters the ring, he’s caught by the legs and the WGTT do that leapfrog-landing-on-the-suspended-opponent’s-back move they always do. Shelton’s momentum takes a nosedive when he tries to German suplex Rikishi. Rikishi bumps him with his butt and sends him flying back. Haas tries to help, but receives the Stinkface.

The ring begins to fill up as the match gets older, which is right around when the APA remember that they’re supposed to be wrestling. One of the Bashams gets the Clothesline from Hell, but Bradshaw is taken out before he can capitalize. Rikishi sits down on Doug (or is it Danny?) and gets the pin. Unlike the other match, they don’t even let you take a breath. It’s just good, quick action featuring eight good performers.

Victoria defends the Women’s Championship against Molly Holly with Molly’s hair on the line. I really think that these are two of the best female workers in WWE history. I really do. Unfortunately, this match absolutely sucks. I honestly think the Playboy match earlier is easier to watch. I don’t know what happened, but Victoria and Molly are completely boring here. Even when there’s something like a superplex, it feels droll. On commentary, Lawler continues to bemuse Jim Ross by talking about panties for the entire duration, including discussion on what kind of panties JR is into.

Molly tries to give Victoria a taste of her own medicine with a Widow’s Peak, but Victoria escapes, gets a backslide and gets the pin. Molly realizes what this means and runs for it. Victoria gives chase and runs into an ambush. Molly takes down Victoria and puts her in the barber’s chair. She has trouble with the razor, allowing Victoria to recover and spray Molly in the face with hairspray. She momentarily knocks Molly out and straps her down to the chair. The process takes so long that even when they come back from the Eddie Guerrero/Kurt Angle video, they’re still doing it. And you know what? This whole match is worth it for when Michael Cole and Tazz are back on conmmentary. Cole jokes around and asks Tazz if that guy manning the barber materials is Tazz’s barber.

In a very agreeable and matter of fact way, Tazz responds, “That guy does cut my hair. His name is Luigi.”

Tazz’s commentary is really funny sometimes. Did you know he hates the solar system? He can’t stand it.

Eddie Guerrero defends the WWE Championship against Kurt Angle. The flow of the match is really good. It starts off with stalemate mat wrestling. Eddie starts to out-wrestle Angle a bit and the aggression builds up. With that upward aggression comes more impact. It all builds up. While Eddie is able to beat Angle at his own game early on with mat wrestling, Angle is able to use Eddie’s lucha game against him by side-stepping a top-rope attack to the outside and forcing Eddie into the guardrail. It gets increasingly intense, including a part where Eddie starts taking Angle’s punches head-on and gets angrier and angrier. Kind of like the Latino Heat version of Hulking up.

They each make three attempts at their respective finishers. Eddie misses his first try at a Frog Splash. His second try is busted when Angle pops up, jumps to the top rope and suplexes Eddie into the ring. Angle later tries an Angle Slam, which is reversed into a DDT, making him prone enough that Eddie can get the Frog Splash. Only gets a two-count.

With Angle, he keeps trying to get the ankle lock on. The first time he gets it, Eddie reverses it into a Victory Roll. The second time he tries it, Eddie rolls forward and Angle is thrown out of the ring. Eddie begins to undo his laces and loosens his boot. The commentators suggest it’s to relieve swelling. Angle gets back to his feet and sees Eddie clutching his ankle in a prone position. Eddie absolutely kills here by staring wide-eyed at Angle and yelling, “OH SHIT!” Angle comes in, applies the ankle lock and becomes confused when Eddie’s boot comes off in his hand. He turns around and runs right into a roll-up pin that wins the match for Eddie. Perfect ending.

Undertaker vs. Kane is next and it’s also a blast. They’ve been so secretive on how the Undertaker’s going to appear in his comeback that even the teaser graphic for the match shows a giant cross in place of his photo. Kane comes out with the fake NYC buildings behind him all on fire. I always love that touch. Paul Bearer comes out soon after, yelling at Kane, “You’re no son of mine!” Got to love continuity callbacks.

Undertaker has his lengthy intro and comes in as a hybrid of his classic look and his biker look. Kane keeps screaming that Undertaker is not real and even slowly edges closer and closer to touch him and see if he’s imagining him or not. Undertaker explodes on him. Lots of great energy between the two that makes this infinitely better than their first go back at Wrestlemania 14. A lot of this has to do with Kane’s performance. Undertaker tries for Old School, but Kane grabs him by the throat. Undertaker strangles Kane back and we have ourselves a choke war.

Kane wins and does a chokeslam. He celebrates and gloats to the crowd, apparently forgetting that his brother likes to sit-up if you don’t pin him immediately. Undertaker does sit up and Kane gets scared. This leads to the best moment of the match. Undertaker throws Kane across the ropes and ducks down for a backdrop. Kane kicks Undertaker in the face instead. Undertaker stands right up and stares Kane right in the eye. Kane gives this nervous smile and shrugs, as if saying, “C’mon, bro! Let’s not be hasty, right?”

Undertaker wrecks Kane’s shit, chokeslams him and finishes him with a Tombstone.

That leaves the main event of Triple H defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Chris Benoit and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat Match. Not only is this an excellent match from all three guys, but it has a true feeling of suspense about who would win. If it was Benoit vs. Triple H, that would be downplayed because obviously Benoit would win. But adding Michaels brings it to another level. The way he’s included already has a heelish streak to it, since he basically tells Benoit, “Hey, I know you just earned your way into the match through the Royal Rumble, but you don’t understand. I REALLY HATE Triple H. Therefore, I trump you and get a title shot.” Would they really skip over Benoit so the more popular Michaels could get the high-profile Wrestlemania win?

The match begins with Michaels and Benoit arguing over who gets to beat up Triple H. Michaels takes a swipe at Benoit and is taken into a Crippler Crossface. Of course, that move doesn’t work as well when you have a third man in there to break the hold. It turns into a series of pairings. Benoit vs. Michaels, Triple H vs. Michaels, Benoit vs. Triple H. The Triple Threat psychology is top notch. When Michaels is dealing with Triple H, he does a kip-up, right as Benoit runs over and clotheslines him out of the ring. Benoit delivers three German suplexes to Triple H and goes to the top for a headbutt. While Benoit’s perched, Michaels comes back and crotches him on the top rope.

There’s too much good stuff going on, so I’ll fast forward. An attempt to Pedigree Michaels on a table turns into a double vertical suplex on Benoit through another table. That puts Benoit out of commission. Michaels and Triple H brawl, with Triple H busted open. There’s so much blood and cursing and Benoit in this match that you know you’ll never see it on WWE TV in this lifetime. Triple H hits the Pedigree and Benoit gets the save out of nowhere. He puts Triple H in a Sharpshooter and almost gets him to tap… right until getting Sweet Chin Music in the face. What makes it extra cool is how the camera man knew not to keep track of Michaels and instead let him appear off-camera at the last second.

Benoit kicks out from the pin attempt. Michaels tries another superkick, but Benoit evades it and launches him out of the ring. He walks right into Triple H, who sets him up for a Pedigree. Benoit twists out of it and locks on the Crippler Crossface. Triple H struggles with it and even tries to reverse it by flipping over, but all he does is force himself into the middle of the ring with Benoit not letting go. After a tense moment of suffering, Triple H finally taps.

Benoit celebrates his win and it’s well-deserved. Before throwing away his legacy, he represented that hard work and good in-ring storytelling could trump the lack of charisma and size. He was the anti-Hogan. As he steps down from the corner post, he turns around to see Eddie waiting for him with his own title in hand. The two longtime friends embrace and celebrate in the ring as it rains confetti. Time has not been kind to this scene, but for the time, it was certainly something special.


Date: March 23, 1997
Era: New Generation transitioning into Attitude Era
Location: Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois
Notable Debuts: The Rock, Mick Foley, Bradshaw, Chyna, Ken Shamrock

As WCW strikes gold by creating the New World Order, the WWF flounders and realizes it has no true aim. The talent is most certainly there, but the direction is unsure. A lot of this has to do with Shawn Michaels being a total taint and backing out of the show with a likely fake leg injury and claims that he’s “lost his smile” so he doesn’t have to lose to his real-life rival Bret Hart. Bret wins the title through other means and is set to defend it against Steve Austin, while Undertaker and Sycho Sid are set to face off. Shortly before the show, Bret loses the title to Sid, completely changing the face of the show yet again. As all this is going on, other future names start to make their rise up the card. Maybe things will work out after all.

The Atmosphere

There isn’t too much to talk about, though after writing about a five hour show like above, it’s a relief to wax poetic about one that’s only three hours. The intro leading in is all overdramatic about how the world is darkening, since the title is being fought over by a demon and a psychopath, the most popular guy is a drunk asshole and even Bret Hart has become a dick. Speaking of Bret/Austin, their video package is so goddamn cheesy. It’s Todd Pettengil narrating Bret’s backstory, as if reminding him what’s going on. “You are Bret Hart. You are the Excellence of Execution. You have been gone for nine months. You are not happy. You think Steve Austin is mean. Pink is your favorite color.”

I know that Sid pulled off one of his more impressive promos and the New Blackjacks had one that kicked ass (“The Blackjacks ride again!”), but the other ones don’t exactly leave an impression. In fact, I think that’s a good way to sum up the show. For the most part, Wrestlemania 13 doesn’t leave an impression, and yet here it is on my countdown at #6. How does that work?

The Matches

Our opener is The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) vs. the New Blackjacks (Blackjack Bradshaw and Blackjack Windham) vs. the Godwinns (Henry and Phineas Godwinn) and the team of Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon in a Four Corner Elimination Match. Wow, Furnas and LaFon. Remember those guys? They were two really good workers with absolutely zero gimmick. They were just there. The match is for the number one contendership and is one of the early uses of any kind of non-battle royal match that had more than two parties fighting it out.

Bradshaw and Henry start it out, but through a series of tags, Mosh and Thrasher are the two in the ring, forced to fight. Usually, this kind of spot is stupid, since it leads to partners fighting each other because they’re supposedly forced to. Mosh and Thrasher look at each other, smile, run across the ropes and start moshing into each other. The Godwinns, while not excessively horrendous, are still the weak link of the match. While it is cool to see the Blackjacks fight it out with the skilled Furnas/LaFon team (Furnas does a sweet hurricanrana on Windham), it isn’t to last. Both teams get counted out. The Headbangers continue on fighting with the Godwinns. The Headbangers use enough high spots to keep things interesting, at least. Thrasher gets tossed off the top rope onto Henry on the outside of the ring. He tries for a moonsault and misses. When Phineas goes for a Slop Drop on Thrasher, Mosh runs in, saves him with a clothesline, goes to the top rope and jumps off with a Stage Dive. He lands on Phineas and pins him in sitting position.

Rocky Maivia defends the Intercontinental Championship against the Sultan. The Sultan not only has Bob Backlund and the Iron Sheik in his corner, but Honky Tonk Man is doing commentary and siding with the masked Rikishi over the future Great One. This is a weird match to watch, just because of the negative fan reaction towards Rocky and his wacky punches where he’d start waving his arms around like an idiot between each impact.

Rocky starts out doing well for himself, knocking Sultan around. Then he goes to the outside and gets tricked into clotheslining the post. Sultan takes advantage of him and even gets him with a top-rope headbutt. Whoa. Did I type that right? Rikishi off the top? Damn. Rock starts to Hulk up and gets his second wind. While this isn’t so great of a match overall, I have to love it for one reason: FLOAT-OVER DDT! I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about, so let me elaborate. Back in his first couple years, the Rock had this really cool move called the Float-Over DDT. He’d run past, hook one of his opponent’s arms, swing around behind the opponent’s neck and fall back with a DDT. It was in the WWF Warzone game, I recall. The problem was, it only worked well when Rock did it to certain opponents. Mostly Ken Shamrock. So, yeah, I mark out when I see it.

Rocky gets a top-rope crossbody, but the Sheik has the ref distracted. Sultan gets him with a piledriver, but Rocky wins anyway with a roll-up. He does a post-match interview in the ring and gets pounded down by all the heels. Sultan hits a splash off the top and the Iron Sheik puts him in a Camel Clutch. Rocky’s dad Rocky Johnson (he inherited his first name and not his last?) runs in and tries to save his son, but he’s knocked over with an Iranian flag to the back. It’s okay, because FINALLY, ROCKY MAIVIA HAS COME BACK… to consciousness and he joins his dad in bodyslamming the Iron Sheik. They embrace and the fans still hate this guy for being shoved down their throats.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Goldust is easily the worst match of the night, even though it isn’t atrocious. It’s just mediocre. They hadn’t worked out the kinks of Goldust as a face, although crouching down and silently staring at Hunter and then exploding on him when he gets near enough is a fun spot. Once Hunter takes over, things get really slow. Really slow. I finally wake up when Hunter jumps off the top rope and Goldust counters by jumping up and hitting Hunter with his ass. Only Goldust could make that work.

The ending is great and almost saves the match. Goldust tries a Curtain Call, only for Hunter to slip out the back, kick him in the gut and apply the Pedigree. Goldust escapes by grabbing Hunter’s legs and slingshotting him into the ropes. He has a chance to get him with the Curtain Call, but he sees that Chyna has cornered Marlena on the outside. He rescues Marlena and brings her up onto the apron, just as Hunter knees him from behind. Marlena flies into Chyna’s arms. Hunter Pedigrees Goldust and pins him as Chyna crushes Marlena with a bearhug and throttles her around like a ragdoll.

Owen Hart and the British Bulldog defend the Tag Team Championship against Mankind and Vader. What an unorthodox tag match. Mankind and Vader are the heels and Owen is a heel, but Bulldog is in the middle of a face turn. This is when Owen is obsessed with the two Slammy awards he never even won, but acts like he did. He’s so damn proud that he lets the Bulldog carry both belts. The match is also interesting to see based on the styles. All four guys in this match wrestle so differently. Every possible matchup feels unique.

Early on, Owen tries a hurricanrana on Vader and gets powerbombed instead. Bulldog saves him from an early Vader Bomb and gets tagged in. Bulldog’s momentum doesn’t last, since Vader clobbers him with manager Paul Bearer’s urn. The Vader/Mankind team dominates, which feels weird when Owen gets the hot tag. Then again, it doesn’t take long for him to get beaten down too and the challengers give him a Demolition Decapitation on the outside of the ring. He later tags Bulldog back in, who hits Vader so hard that he knocks his mask off. Nice. He hoists up Mankind for the running powerslam, but Mankind escapes and locks on the Mandible Claw. Vader accidentally knocks Owen into Mankind, sending Mankind and Bulldog out of the ring. Mankind keeps the hold on the Bulldog and barely even notices when they’re both counted out. Anti-climactic ending? Sure. Unique, unsung tag match? Definitely.

Now it’s time for the match everybody remembers the show for. Bret “Hitman” Hart takes on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in a Submissions Match with Ken Shamrock as the referee. Bret is already on edge, showing absolutely no emotion when he hands his glasses off to a fan at ringside. They immediately get into a rolling brawl, go to the outside and spend several minutes fighting through the fans. When they get back towards ringside, Bret starts working over Austin’s injured knee. He gets inventive, like putting Austin in a Figure Four with the corner post between them and Bret hanging off. He gets some ringside weapons and folds a steel chair around Austin’s leg. The idea is that he’s going to jump off the top rope and land on the chair, completely destroying Austin’s knee. As he climbs up, Austin gets to his feet and cracks the chair right over Bret’s skull.

Austin puts Bret in the Boston Crab, but has to let go because Bret reaches the ropes. Wait, why? There aren’t any disqualifications and Bret was doing a submission earlier while hanging outside the ring. Who cares? It’s legal! Keep the hold on him! He tries a Sharpshooter on Bret, but gets a thumb to the eyes. They brawl to the outside, where Austin is thrown into the railing, cutting him open. Bret continues to punish the knee, but can’t get the Sharpshooter on him. Austin gets a second wind and starts stomping a mudhole in Bret, then strangles him with wires. Bret desperately conks Austin on the head with a ring bell and applies the Sharpshooter.

Bret Hart defeats Austin with the Sharpshooter. There’s your ending. It sounds so tame like that, doesn’t it? Nah, we know the real story. Austin tries his hardest to break the Sharpshooter and does for just a moment. Bret reapplies it and Austin cannot submit nor break it no matter how hard he tries. Blood pours from his anguished face in what is one of the most iconic pieces of imagery in the company’s history. Austin passes out from the pain and Shamrock has no choice but to end the match. Bret reapplies the Sharpshooter after the match and refuses to break the hold until Shamrock intervenes. Bret backs off from the potential showdown and is booed on his way to the back. Another ref tries to help Austin up and gets Stunnered in response. Austin leaves on his own strength and the fans chant for him.

This is easily one of the top five most important matches in wrestling history. It’s a brilliant double-turn that takes Austin from being a popular up-and-comer to a bonafide star. It’s funny how Hulk Hogan is remembered for being so strong in how he won when Austin is remembered for being so strong in how he lost.

Ahmed Johnson teams up with the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) to face the Nation of Domination (Farooq, Crush and Savio Vega) in a Chicago Street Fight. It’s hard to follow Hart/Austin, but at least there’s a strong level of badass here. I mean, okay, sure, the Nation has PG-13 rapping their godawful theme song on the way to the ring. Who thought those guys were a good idea anyway? But then the face team comes out and – holy Moses – Ahmed Johnson has spiked shoulder pads too! That rules! And they have a kitchen sink with them!

Off the bat, they beat up PG-13 and the then-undefined D’Lo Brown. The match is such a frenzy that it’s hard to even describe. There is one bit I found pretty funny where Hawk swings a 2×4 at Savio and misses. He hits the ropes and the plank goes flying into the air. Hawk catches it and Savio reacts by running the hell away. Animal botches a piledriver on a table, which I’m sure pissed off Ahmed. Botching is HIS job. The Nation starts using a noose as a weapon to strangle Ahmed and later Hawk, but it backfires and gets used on Farooq. Jeez. I don’t know if using a noose on a black guy in a race-based angle is the best idea.

They finish off Crush with a Doomsday Device, followed by clotheslining him with a 2×4. He’s pinned, which feels… lacking. He is only a flunky. If there’s going to be any kind of true victory, it should be by defeating Farooq. Then again, Farooq’s true fall would come a year down the road when the Rock betrays him and causes the mutiny that would enhance the Rock’s career. And to make up for that lack of true closure, Ahmed gives D’Lo the Pearl River Plunge just before he and Animal hoist the two jerks from PG-13 up on their shoulders and let Hawk clothesline them both with a Double Doomsday Device.

Now the main event. Sycho Sid defends the WWF Championship against the Undertaker in a No Disqualification Match. Fittingly, the Undertaker comes out in the same outfit he wore at Wrestlemania 7. Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Shawn Michaels comes out with a full pyro entrance that eats up a lot of time. He comes in to do the commentary.

When both champ and challenger are in the ring, Bret comes out to be all-out confrontational. He rags on Michaels for faking his knee injury, Sid for taking his title and Undertaker for betraying him by helping Sid win the title. Sid interrupts him with a kick to the gut and a powerbomb. Bret is taken to the back and Sid yells at him to get his whiny ass out of there. Now it’s time for the match.

This is not a popular match by any means. People hate this one and I can understand that. But this is one of those times where we’re going to have to differ. I don’t think Undertaker vs. Sid is great by any means, but I do think it’s good. Good enough. I do think that Sid is a decent enough wrestler and he works well with the Undertaker. Besides, at one point Undertaker kicks out of one of Sid’s pins and he responds by screaming, “GODDAMN IT!” at the top of his lungs. What’s not to like?

It has a real Godzilla monster fight feel to it, but does ultimately feel like a lesser remake of Undertaker/Diesel from the year prior. Similar bearhug and double boot spots. What sets this apart is that Sid comes across as someone who doesn’t give into the Undertaker’s bullshit. He isn’t out to excessively beat him down to prove a point, nor is he frightened. He just treats him as another opponent. There are moments of sloppiness, like when Sid jumps off the second rope and hits Undertaker with a jumping… choke? What the hell kind of move is that?

The ending is really good and makes up for much of the match. Undertaker throws Sid off the top rope and into the center of the ring. He goes to the top and hits a jumping clothesline. Undertaker sets up for a Tombstone, but surprisingly Sid reverses it into his own Tombstone and drives him down. Undertaker kicks out. They brawl on the outside and Bret hits Sid from behind with a steel chair. Undertaker chokeslams Sid and he kicks out. Sid gets back on top and prepares for a powerbomb, but Bret’s back on the apron. Sid attacks him, but gets driven down into the ropes. Sid bounces back, walks into the Undertaker and gets picked up for the Tombstone. Undertaker’s the new champ.

On another note, Sid apparently shit himself at some point in that match. I mean, I didn’t see any signs of it on his trunks, but that’s how the story goes. Poor Undertaker. Think of what it had to be like when holding him up for the Tombstone.

I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with Wrestlemania 13 being ranked so high, but I feel it gets by for both the Hart/Austin match and the fact that in my opinion it doesn’t have any really offensive matches. It’s no grand spectacle, but it is pretty solid.

Day One (#25-24)
Day Two (#23-22)
Day Three (#21-20)
Day Four (#19-18)
Day Five (#17-16)
Day Six (#15-14)
Day Seven (#13-12)
Day Eight (#11-10)
Day Nine (#9-8)
Day Ten (#7-6)
Day Eleven (#5-4)
Day Twelve (3-1)

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2 comments to “The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day Ten”

  1. Hilarious bit in the WM13 Undertaker match: There’s a scissors-shaped sign with “Sid” and “Arn” written on it.

  2. @Photon: That kind of thing is probably why Vince Russo expected a big reaction when Eric Bishoff once mentioned scissors in a promo to Sid.

    Gavok:I always figure the reason for rope breaks in no DQ matches is that that the rules that says ropes break hold and stop counts in still there, just unenforcable, so any sort of submission wouldn’t count.