Torch Flashbacks WWE WRESTLEMANIA COUNTDOWN - 1995 PPV Report (WM 11): Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow, HBK vs. Diesel, Hart vs. Backlund
Mar 14, 2010 - 12:00:42 PM
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Leading up to WrestleMania 26 on March 28 in Arizona, we will be publishing a daily WrestleMania PPV flashback report going back to 1992 at WrestleMania 8. We'll be publishing one PPV flashback report around 12:00 p.m. CST every afternoon until this year's WrestleMania.
-- Thursday, Mar. 11 - WrestleMania 8 (1992): Hogan vs. Sid, Warrior run-in
-- Friday, Mar. 12 - WrestleMania 9 (1993): Hart vs. Yokozuna, Hogan wins title
-- Saturday, Mar. 13 - WrestleMania 10 (1994): Razor vs. HBK, Bret vs. Owen
-- Sunday, Mar. 14 - WrestleMania 11 (1995): LT vs. Bigelow, Diesel vs. HBK
-- Monday, Mar. 15 - WrestleMania 12 (1996):
-- Tuesday, Mar. 16 - WrestleMania 13 (1997):
-- Wednesday, Mar. 17 - WrestleMania 14 (1998):
-- Thursday, Mar. 18 - WrestleMania 15 (1999):
-- Friday, Mar. 19 - WrestleMania 16 (2000):
-- Saturday, Mar. 20 - WrestleMania 17 (2001):
-- Sunday, Mar. 21 - WrestleMania 18 (2002):
-- Monday, Mar. 22 - WrestleMania 19 (2003):
-- Tuesday, Mar. 23 - WrestleMania 20 (2004):
-- Wednesday, Mar. 24 - WrestleMania 21 (2005):
-- Thursday, Mar. 25 - WrestleMania 22 (2006):
-- Friday, Mar. 26 - WrestleMania 23 (2007):
-- Saturday, Mar. 27 - WrestleMania 24 (2008):
-- Sunday, Mar. 28 - WrestleMania 25 (2009):
-- Sunday, Mar. 28 - WrestleMania 26 Live Coverage
WrestleMania PPV Flashback Report - WM 11 (1995)
April 1, 1995
Hartford, Conn. at the Hartford Civic Center
Live Attendance: 16,000 sellout
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
-- Find out how to sign up for a Torch VIP membership to access the Torch Staff Audio Roundtable Review of WrestleManias 1-9 right now!
HEADLINE: Bigelow-L.T. justifies its main event status
-- Diesel pins Michaels clean to retain title, Owen & Yokozuna win tag belts, Jarrett retains
Shawn Michaels was the stand-out performer at Wrestlemania for the second year in a row, but not without a nearly as impressive showing from a celebrity in his first in-ring appearance.
Lawrence Taylor, thanks in large part to Bam Bam Bigelow, held together his end of the bargain in a 12 minute main event, surpassing probably everyone's expectations. He and Bigelow put together what was for the most part a stiff-appearing, hard-impact, well-paced match. Taylor's offense consisted mainly of elbows to Bigelow's chin, but mixed in enough other moves to look competent. Unless he was putting on a convincing and extreme act after the match, Taylor likely has even more respect for wrestlers than he had entering the match as he appeared shaken and exhausted.
The Taylor vs. Bigelow match was the final match at Wrestlemania and was the major factor behind a major media presence. Taylor scored a pinfall on Bigelow after a second rope elbow to the face. Bigelow's victory was covered on many late night local news stations across the country and on CNN Sportsnight. The next morning many if not most major newspapers ran at least a short item on the match.
Diesel retained the WWF Title against Shawn Michaels with a clean pinfall victory just past the 20 minute mark. It was rated nearly unanimously as the best match of the night, somewhere from three to four stars by those responding to the Torch META Poll. Michaels didn't put in a performance of a lifetime, but did carry Diesel to a strong match.
The only match on the undercard that competed with the top two matches for "best match" consideration was Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett, which was hurt somewhat by its lack of a clean finish. Every other match ended via clean pinfall, so satisfying finishes were not a problem on a whole. Jarrett retained the Intercontinental Title when he was DQ'd for Roadie's interference.
The celebrity presence delivered as expected. The NFL football players were kept a safe distance from any potential fluke injuries and surprisingly weren't needed to distract from the L.T. match.
Overall the response to Wrestlemania on the META Poll has been largely positive, although many saw Wrestlemania as just an average or slightly better card - thus a letdown for what is supposed to be the showcase event of the year.
KELLER'S MATCH ANALYSIS
Vince McMahon stood in mid-ring welcoming everyone to Wrestlemania in his usual gravelly, enthusiastic voice. Only problem is no one heard him as the house mic and TV mics weren't on. After a woman from the Special Olympics sang America the Beautiful, the first match promptly began.
(1) British Bulldog & Lex Luger beat Jacob & Eli Blu at 6:27. Luger & Bulldog came to the ring to new entrance music combining the intro songs of both wrestlers. Jacob & Eli attacked Luger & Bulldog at the bell, but Luger & Bulldog took over offense quickly. Bulldog powerslammed a Blu followed by a Luger powerslam accidentally partially on top of Bulldog. Bulldog gave Blu a suspended suplex at 1:00. At 2:18 Bulldog small packaged a Blu while the ref was talking to Luger, so no count took place. McMahon mentioned that Bulldog is a former tag champion with the Dynamite Kid. At 3:48 the Blus switched places outside the ring. At 5:02 Luger got a hot tag and hit a Blu with a hard clothesline and a flying forearm for a two count. A Blu attempted a piledriver, but Bulldog dove off the ropes after a secret tag and scored a quick three count.
Not bad, but hardly an electric opener and void of any symbolism that times have changed in the WWF as Luger and Bulldog posed in the ring after their victory - unless it being the opening match was meant as symbolism. All four worked hard. It appears Luger & Bulldog are headed for tag title matches against the new tag champs. (*3/4)
Ross interviewed Blu's Uncle after the match who was, for the most part, unintelligible.
-- Read Dutch Mantell's recollection of the entire WM11 experience as the Blu Brother's manager on dutchmantell.com.
They went to Nicholas Turturro who brought out Pamela Anderson, although there was no audio, so McMahon and Lawler had to stall as audio problems were solved. To fill time, Lawler began explaining how football works to those who didn't know. Jarrett's intro music interrupted his attempt at comedy-filler.
McMahon then went to 1-2-3 Kid & Razor Ramon in the back. Kid held the mic and did all the talking as McMahon commented that Ramon looked upset. Kid's audio level was low. After the short interview, McMahon began saying something about Pamela Anderson when Ramon charged the ring so he had to stop in mid-stream.
(2) Razor Ramon (w/Roadie) beat Jeff Jarrett (w/1-2-3 Kid) via DQ when Roadie interfered. Kid wore a Japanese-style ring robe. Press photographers at ringside obviously hadn't shot pro wrestling before as they backtracked every time a wrestler came into the ropes. Ramon opened with a flurry of offense sending Jarrett out of the ring to confer with Roadie. Ramon punched out of an attempted sunset flip by Jarrett and scored a near fall of his own. Ramon punched Jarrett who fell back into Roadie who was standing on the ring apron. Ramon rolled up Jarrett for a two count. Ramon then went for the Razor's Edge at 1:55, but Roadie grabbed Jarrett's feet. Jarrett was headed toward the locker room when Kid cut him off and threw him back into the ring. Ramon rolled up Jarrett for a two count as soon as Jarrett reentered the ring.
Jarrett took over by choking Ramon over the second rope. As the referee admonished Jarrett, Roadie took over choking Ramon. Seconds later Ramon rammed Roadie into the turnbuckle and threw Jarrett over the top rope. At 4:04, Jarrett strutted in the ring after a couple dropkicks. Ramon scored a near fall at 5:10 with a backslide. At 5:50 Jarrett locked on a sleeper. Jarrett then switched to a facelock. Ramon backdropped out of it. After two double collisions, Ramon dominated offense with punches. Kid threatened to yank Jarrett's legs on opposite sides of the post, but Jarrett kicked him into the railing.
At 9:24, Ramon missed a second rope bulldog and sold a knee injury. Jarrett began working over Ramon's knee. At 10:00 Jarrett locked on the figure-four. At 11:51 Ramon reserved the hold. Both men limped around the ring. Ramon then gave Jarrett a top rope belly to back suplex and then signalled for the Razor's Edge. At 12:33, Ramon lifted Jarrett for the Edge but Roadie jumped in for the DQ.
After the bell, Kid ran into the ring and nailed both Jarrett and Roadie with enthusiastic flying wheel kicks off the ropes. Although Kid's kicking leg went over Jarrett's head, Kid's support leg actually nailed Jarrett in the nose causing a bloody nose. Kid then nailed Roadie with a barrage of hard roundkicks and a jump reverse sidekick. Jarrett then attacked Kid and locked on the figure-four leglock.
A really good match. Lost a quarter star for the non-finish. Kid's kicks and Roadie's bumps were during the post-match ruckus. (***)
Nicholas Turturro was in the heel locker room. He said he was looking for Pamela Anderson, but she was nowhere to be found. Jennifer McCarthy joined Turturro and fended off the attention the Million Dollar Team was paying her. Turturro then interviewed Shawn Michaels and Sid.
WWF Wrestlemania merchandise was pitched with an 800 number on the screen for orders. McMahon had trouble communicating with the pitchman, adding to the list of audio problems. Todd Pettengill then interviewed Neil Anderson and asked what he thought L.T.'s chances were.
(3) Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) defeated King Kong Bundy (w/Ted DiBiase) at 6:09. American league umpire Larry Young was pointed out by McMahon and Lawler. In the first minute Undertaker walked the ropes (which were too loose to walk very far on) and hit Bundy with a forearm. Bundy responded by clotheslining DiBiase over the top rope. Undertaker, however, landed on his feet, grabbed DiBiase from behind, took the urn, and gave it to Bearer. Bearer took off the lid and light shone upward from the opening. DiBiase began waving toward the locker room. Kama then ran to ringside and kicked Bearer. The urn fell to the ground and Kama grabbed it. Undertaker grabbed Kama by the nose, but Bundy attacked him from behind. DiBiase ordered Kama to return the urn to the locker room. On a split screen Ross interviewed Kama who said he was going to melt down the urn and make jewelry out of it.
At 4:00 Bundy got a two count on Undertaker after a kneedrop. Undertaker pressed Bundy off of him. Bundy then went to a chinlock. Undertaker absorbed a Bundy corner charge and threw his hair back to signal he was unphased. Undertaker then caught a charging Bundy in the face with a boot. Undertaker then hit Bundy with a flying clothesline and bodyslammed him for a three count. DiBiase yelled at Bundy as they went back to the locker room. McMahon commented that Undertaker's feud with the Million Dollar Corporation isn't over since he doesn't have his urn.
Another athletically disappointing Undertaker match, although he carried out his gimmick well. Combined with his gimmick, if Undertaker were to be more explosive and versatile in the ring, he might mean more. As it was, his match was just another all sizzle, no steak disappointment. (1/2*)
Turturro continued his search for Anderson. He interviewed the NFL All-Pro team who each talked about an individual on the Million Dollar Team. Turturro then walked into a room where Bob Backlund was playing Jonathan Taylor Thomas in a game of chess. Backlund said the interruption by Turturro is an example of what's wrong with America. He then asked Thomas a series of history trivia questions, all of which Thomas got right, so Backlund said that kids think they know everything.
Pettengill interviewed George Martin about L.T.'s chances. McMahon then plugged the May 14 (Mother's Day) pay-per-view. A goofy "In Your House" rap-like video then aired previewing the event. Contest rules were given regarding a chance to win a new house in Orlando as a promotion for the event.
(4) Owen Hart & Yokozuna (w/Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji) beat The Smoking Gunns to capture the WWF Tag Team Titles. Owen said his partner did what he always wanted to do - beat his brother to win the WWF Title. Yokozuna then came out. The Smoking Gunns said before the match they were surprised, but not scared. Owen did a handstand flip out of an armdrag and then poked Bart in the eyes. Yokozuna then tagged in at 1:07. At 1:55 The Gunns gave Owen a double Russian leg sweep and then double dropkicked an interfering Yokozuna out of the ring.
After Yokozuna crushed Billy inside the ring, Owen rammed Billy against the ringpost outside the ring. At 7:04, Billy made the hot tag to Bart. Bart cleared the ring of Owen and then rammed Yokozuna backward to the mat by the hair. A double team move by the Gunns turned into the beginning of the end for the Gunns. Owen pulled the top rope down sending Billy to the floor. Yokozuna then belly-to-belly suplexed Bart and gave him the butt splash from the second rope. Billy made the save, preventing Yokozuna from scoring the pin. Owen then entered the ring and made the cover and won the tag belts. Owen celebrated as a winded Yokozuna rested on the ropes. Yoko's half-hearted celebration and eyeing of Owen may have been the subtle beginning of an eventual babyface turn. (**)
A pre-taped segment with Stephanie Wiand aired on WWF Fan Festival. The segment included Adam Bomb plugging the Special Olympics scheduled to take place in Connecticut this summer.
Pettengill interviewed Bam Bam Bigelow. The first four matches took one hour, twenty minutes, leaving one hour thirty minutes for the final three bouts.
(5) Bret Hart beat Mr. Bob Backlund in an I-quit match at 9:35. In a surprise announcement before the match, Roddy Piper was introduced as the special referee for the I-quit match. Bret opened with a flurry of punches on Bob and went for an early sharpshooter, but Backlund rolled out. Piper asked Bob if he quit. As Bret choked Bob, Piper asked again and Bob said "no." Bob soon reversed a figure-four and took over offense. Lawler pointed out that Bret wrestled Piper three years ago at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental Title and wondered aloud whether there was still animosity between the two. Piper asked Bret if he quit several times when he was in an armlock. Bret said "no." At 7:50 Bret missed a charge into the corner and hit his shoulder on the ringpost. Backlund then signalled for the crossface chicken wing. Bob applied the hold, but Bret held onto the ropes. Bob pulled Bret off of the ropes, but Bob still couldn't lock it on completely. Bret then reversed Bob into the crossface chicken wing and fell backward. Bob squealed "yes" and Piper called for the bell at 9:35. Lawler protested, saying he didn't hear Bob say "I quit." Bret gave a half-hearted celebration in the ring.
Ross interviewed Bob after the match. Bob just looked into the crowd and said, "I saw the light. Did you see the light?!"
The match was much below expectations. The finishing sequence was anti-climactic and the content of the match was for the most part boring. What they tried just didn't click. (*1/2)
Turturro said he canvassed the whole building and couldn't find Pamela Anderson. He added that there has been shifting of celebrities. Pettengill then interviewed Diesel. Pettengill had to switch microphone's first. After grabbing an ugly brown microphone, he interviewed Diesel about his title shot.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas was introduced as the guest timekeeper. Nicholas Turturro was introduced as the guest ring announcer. In a surprise, the ring introductions began for the WWF Title match, thus saving the celebrity gimmick match for the finale (apparently out of concern that the media would turn their attention away from Wrestlemania after the L.T. match).
(6) Diesel (Kevin Nash) pinned Shawn Michaels at 20:24 to retain the WWF Title. Michaels came to the ring with Jennifer McCarthy instead of Anderson. Diesel then came to the ring with Anderson. Michaels ducked Diesel at the open and punched him several times. After a fast exchange bouncing off the ropes, Diesel sent Michaels to the mat with an elbow to the face. Michaels bumped over the top turnbuckle after Diesel threw him into the corner. Sid distracted Diesel and Michaels reentered the ring, but Diesel turned around and elbowed Michaels before Michaels attacked him. At 3:12, Michaels went for a suplex, but Diesel reversed it and hit him with a big knee lift, sending Michaels to the floor among the photographers. Michaels thumbed Diesel's eye before reentering the ring. Michaels attempted a sunset flip but Diesel grabbed Michaels by the throat and dropped him over the top rope. Diesel went for a boot to the face, but Michaels ducked and then hit Diesel with a clothesline over the top rope. Michaels then gave Diesel a top rope bodyblock from the top rope on the photographer side of the ring again. At 5:45 Michaels then gave Diesel a sliding boot. On a second attempt, Michaels missed. Michaels shoved his hand into the face of a different photographer. Diesel went for an elbow, but Michaels moved and Diesel went into the ringpost. Diesel clutched at his ribs at ringside. Michaels splashed Diesel off the ring apron onto the floor. Diesel remained on the floor a long time as Michaels broke the count several times inside the ring.
At 8:30 Diesel made it back into the ring. Michaels went for the ribs immediately. Diesel backed into a flying bulldog by Michaels for a near fall as he continued to sell his ribs. At 11:20 Michaels hit Diesel with a long flying elbow off the top rope for a two count. Diesel backdropped Michaels off of him but Michaels went back with a facelock. Diesel backdropped Michaels again. Diesel then reversed Michaels into the ropes and picked him up. Michaels slipped out and shoved Diesel into the corner turnbuckle. Michaels then jumped on Diesel's back and applied a sleeper. At 13:47, Diesel's arm was dropped by referee Dave Hebner for the third time and he barely kept it from falling to the mat. Diesel backed Michaels into the corner to break the sleeper.
At 15:00, after an offensive flurry by Diesel, Michaels flipped into the turnbuckle and to the floor. Diesel followed Michaels out of and back into the ring. Diesel pulled Michaels by the tights to mid-ring. At 15:19 Michaels caught Diesel with his superkick, which has knocked out Diesel on several previous occasions. The referee turned his ankle outside the ring when reprimanding Sid. By the time he made it back into the ring, Diesel kicked out at two. Diesel back suplexed Michaels sending both flat on their backs in mid-ring. At the nine count, Michaels lifted his shoulder and rolled onto Diesel. Diesel lifted his shoulder at the last second. Michaels then came off the ropes with a DDT attempt, but Diesel caught him and side slammed him to the mat. An exhausted Diesel failed to make the cover. Diesel slingshot Michaels into the corner turnbuckle.
At 19:58 Diesel hit Michaels with a boot to the face and then walked around the ring stirring up crowd response. The cameras showed that Anderson was clapping along with McCarthy. Diesel then jackknifed Michaels, who overbumped the move and landed partially on his feet, and scored a three count at 20:24.
Ross attempted to interview Michaels, who didn't say anything. Sid screamed that it's not over yet. Diesel then celebrated in mid-ring with McCarthy and Anderson.
A refreshing clean finish without Sid having an influence in the final pinfall. The match was well done. Diesel sold the rib injury well. Michaels was great. The match didn't surpass the high expectations, but probably didn't fall short either. Michaels showed he is a top worker, but didn't exactly rise to a new level. If the two have a series of matches, perhaps the next being at the May 14 pay-per-view, this was a well-booked first match in the series. It was hurt by the poor powerbomb finish. (***3/4)
Pettengill interviewed Michaels who said he had Diesel pinned after his superkick but the referee, who turned his ankle, spoiled his victory. Michaels said he proved he was the best and if Diesel is a real champion, he will grant him a rematch.
Salt 'n' Pepa sang a customized rendition of "Whadda' Man" previewing the main event followed by a rap involving the crowd singing "Go L.T. Go."
(7) Lawrence Taylor pinned Bam Bam Bigelow at 11:39. The Million Dollar Corporation was introduced. To the theme of Monday Night Football, the NFLers were introduced. The NFLers sent the Corporation from the ring. Bigelow then came to the ring followed by Lawrence Taylor, who received a huge pop. Lawler said L.T. had no chance since this is his first match. Pat Patterson refereed, not as a sign of a demotion, but to help guide the wrestlers through the well-plotted match.
L.T. slapped Bigelow, kneed him in the chest, threw him into the corner, and then clotheslined him over the top rope. "L.T." chants began again. Bigelow missed a charge in the corner. L.T. responded with a DDT. Taylor then punched Bigelow and threw him across the ring. Bigelow rolled out of the ring and was surrounded by the Corporation members. L.T. got impatient and met Bigelow outside the ring. Bigelow reentered the ring and stomped on L.T. as he reentered the ring. Bigelow then went on offense, which tested L.T.'s ability to sell, which is the toughest part of wrestling to make look believable. L.T. attempted a comeback, but Bigelow raked his eye.
At 5:05 Bigelow locked on a Boston Crab. Bigelow slipped it into a leglock, but L.T. reached the ropes at 6:00. Lawler, who is a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, mentioned he may no longer like Carl Banks of the Browns because he was in L.T.'s corner. At 7:27, L.T. back-suplexed out of Bigelow's hold. Lawler said he learned that move from Diesel. Bigelow, though, stayed on offense with two headbutts to his chest. Bigelow did a spinning splash at 8:19, but instead of covering L.T., he rolled off and grabbed his knee. Several seconds later he covered L.T., but L.T. kicked out at two. L.T. then gave Bigelow a loosely interrupted jackknife. McMahon said Diesel obviously taught him that. Bigelow nailed L.T. with an enzuiguri and a top rope headbutt for a near fall. Taylor began a final comeback at 11:10 hitting Bigelow with two hard elbows to the chin. L.T. then stepped up to the second rope and came off with a third hard elbow for a three count. The NFL players rolled Bigelow out of the ring. (**1/4)
Ross caught DiBiase scolding Bigelow as they walked back to the locker room. Taylor, appearing to be exhausted and injured, was carried from the ring on the shoulders of fellow NFLers. A hunched over L.T. then celebrated with Salt 'n' Pepa on the soundstage.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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