Wednesday, 2 July 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 10

WWF/ WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Event poster
March 20, 1994
Madison Square Garden, New York

The World Wrestling Federation which returned to Madison Square Garden for Wrestlemania X in 1994 was an entirely different entity than the one which had kick-started the group's rise to prominence in the same building only nine years earlier

Gone were the halcyon days of the rock 'n' wrestling connection, Hulkamania and Lord Alfred Hayes, replaced instead by a company struggling to recompose itself in the wake of The Steroid Trial and a mass exodus of the company's biggest stars. 

Whereas 1993 mainly bridged the gap between the old and the new, 1994 really was the year that the New Generation really came into its own, with the tenth Wrestlemania serving as a showcase of things to come.

Here's what went down.

Wrestlemania rewind
Our show opened with a sentimental lookback at Wrestlemania I in 1985, complete with overly soppy music and slow-mo visuals, before the modern era took over with tonight's opening graphics, and a theme tune that most newer fans think of as Linda McMahon's signiture track, but which to this writer will always be the definitive Wrestlemania theme.

The camera panned over a rambunctious crowd, eventually finding Vince McMahon in the center of the ring, trademark growl in tow, welcoming everyone to the show.

With the ring surrounded by a choir whose outfits were as bright-red as McMahon's bow-tie, the WWF Chairman introduced our first special guest for the evening, Marc Mero.

Oh no, wait. That's the actual Little Richard, who treated New York fans to an admittedly decent rendition of America the Beautiful. 

With that out of the way, McMahon introduced his co-host for the evening, Jerry 'The King' Lawler. Basking in the glow of MSG, Lawler enthused about watching Yokozuna leave the arena still WWF Champion.

Brother against Brother
McMahon then introduced us to a recap video, in which Todd Pettengil reminded us of the saga between Bret and Owen Hart, starting at Survivor Series 1993, taking us via the 1994 Royal Rumble and eventually bringing us to tonight, where a recently-turned Rocket finally got his chance to square off against The Hitman.

'The Rocket' Owen Hart vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
Yes, this match really was as good as you've heard.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Owen Hart battled his brother Bret in a classic opening match
Starting off in the early going with Owen countering his brother's every attempt at asserting himself, this one very quickly ascended into the all-time classic fans still rave about some 20 years later.

With McMahon and Lawler divided over which brother was 'ahead on points,' Bret eventually got the better of his brother with a stiff clothesline to the outside.

The Hitman continued with a couple of nearfalls and a series of arm-bars straight of Chris Jericho's Man of 1004 holds playbook. It wasn't long before Owen regained the advantage, abandoning the technical wrestling approach employed in the early moments and attacking his older sibling on the outside.

Back and forth they went, each man taking turns to punish the other in a thrilling contest well deserving of its five-star status.

Towards the climax, Bret dove over the top rope onto Owen, yet damaged his knee in the process. Back inside the ring, The Rocket took advantage by kicking Bret's leg out of his leg again and working over the injured knee, but still the resilient Hitman battled on.

Eventually making a comeback, The Hitman took control, shooting his brother face-first into the corner and dropping a leg for a two count. A bulldog and a piledriver followed, yet when Hart attempted a victory roll from the top rope, the younger Hart countered, pinning the former champion's shoulders to the mat for a three count.

From build-up to execution, all the way to the dramatic finale, this was a practically flawless match which transformed Owen Hart into a bonafide star.
Your Winner: Owen Hart

Backstage, Owen Hart, complete with an ugly glob of spit plastered to his cheek, fluffed another promo as he basked in his victory and doubted Bret's chances of winning the title later on in the show.

In another Wrestlemania flashback, Gorilla Monsoon reminded us of the near-disaster that was Wrestlemania II.

Howard's hair
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Howard Finkle got a new head of hair
Given the WWF's youth-orientated output at the time, our next segment was bizarre to say the least. Sy Sperling, president of hair restoration companny Hair Club for Men, introduced his latest client, Howard Finkle.

Sporting a spiffy new wig, Finkle looked so delighted with his new faux-do that he failed to remember his cue in introducing our next match.

Mixed Tag Team Match: 
Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink
There's much to suggest that this would be a pretty terrible outing, but that was actually far from the case.

Employing the usual mix-tag rules that saw Doink squaring off with Bam Bam and his mini-me partner battling Luna, this was actually a fun little bout that got better when the former duo were leading the action. Dink and Luna played their parts well too, and though this was far from a must-see attraction, the short time-frame and smart booking did make it at least enjoyable.

The heels won when Bam Bam planted the clown with a flying headbutt for a three count.
Your Winners: Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon

Bridging the gap between matches, Gorilla Monsoon took us back to Wrestlemania III, and the memorable showdown between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant.

Falls Count Anywhere match:
'Macho Man' Randy Savage vs. Crush (w/ Mr. Fuji)
As a ten year-old boy, I thought this match was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. It was do different, so unique, so awesome.

Now, as a 30 year-old man who really should be doing something better with his life than watching pro wrestling, I view Savage vs. Crush in an altogether different light.

Perhaps your jaded reviewer is just much more cynical in his old age, but this one really didn't age well.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Randy Savage hangs Crush upside down in their Last Man Standing Match
With brief bursts of high-impact brawling, interspersed with nothing happening at all, Wrestlemania's first Falls Count Anywhere was far from either man's finest hour.

Eschewing the rules of your usual arena-wide skirmish, this one had the added plot device of a wrestler having 60 seconds to return to the ring after being pinned. If he made it, the match would continue. Thus, we had as much time in which one man waited patiently for the return of the other, as we did any actual wrestling taking place.

Gradually making their way backstage, Crush (who looked more like he was back in Demolition than at any other time in his solo-run), was eventually pinned by the Macho Man. A throng of curious onlookers then watched as Savage tied up his opponent in a weird, ominous device that looked as though its sole purpose was to hang a pro wrestler upside down.

Since Crush was unable to make it back to the ring in the allotted time, Randy Savage won his final WWF match.
Your winner: Macho Man Randy Savage

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - 'Bill Clinton' enjoyed the show with IRS
In another weird skit, Todd Pettengill interviewed a Bill Clinton look-alike as I.R.S sat behind Mr. President. With the mic then thrust in his face, Irwin told The Toddster that he was delighted to be helping out the big man with his taxes. Alrighty then.

A brief respite then came in the form of a look back at that weekend's Fan Axxess event, where fans could enjoy such festivities as having Mike Chioda deliver a three-count as you pinned your brother, getting your photo taken inside a coffin with Paul Bearer and appearing on camera with Captain Lou Albano.

Back to Wrestlemania, Randy Savage claimed that we hadn't seen anything yet, before diving into the crowd at Madison Square Garden's Paramount theatre, were more fans were watching the action on close-circuit TV.

This took us to another Wrestlemania flashback, this time the Macho Man's WWF title win at Wrestlemania IV.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship match:
WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze vs. Leilani Kai
As far as I can tell, challenger Leilani Kai was the only active competitor to wrestle in a match at both Wrestlemania 1 and Wrestlemania 10.

Here, she put up a valliant effort against reigning champion Alundra Blayze in a short match that was enjoyable whilst it happened, and then instantly forgettable once it was over.

Since the whole return of the WWF women's division was built to revolve around the woman once known as Madusa, it should come as no surprise that Blayze retained her title, using a bridging German suplex as her weapon of choice.
Your winner and still WWF Women's Champion: Alundra Blaze

As Alundra celebrated her victory, cameras cut to ringside where former champion The Fabulous Moolah was seen watching on, alongside notable veterans such as Mae Young and Nikolai Volkoff.

Another recap followed, as Monsoon took us back to Wrestlemania IV, and that weird, overly long segment featuring Roddy Piper, Brother Love, and that guy with the cigarette.

Whoomp! There's Rhonda! 
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Shawn Michaels and Burt Reynolds
After Men on a Mission's rabble-rousing entrance, in anticipation of their upcoming tag title clash against The Quebecer's, Todd Pettengill was shown backstage with some woman called Rhonda Sheer, who fawned over Shawn Michaels. That was, until Burt Reynolds turned up, and she turned her attentions to him instead.

Burt then told us that he wanted to go to Fanfest. Apparently nobody told him it had already ended.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers (Jaques and Pierre w/ Johnny Polo) vs. Men on a Mission (Mabel and Mo w/ Oscar)

An entertaining bout from the outset, all four men did the best with what they had to put on a good show that really rejuvenated the New York crowd.

There was little to this match to make it stand out from any other countless tag team encounters, with Mo playing the babyface-in-peril to the Quebecer's nefarious heels, before big, bad Mabel eventually made the hot tag and began bullying everybody with his bulk.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - 20 years before Daniel Bryan, Johnny Polo began his own Wrestlemania "YES! YES! YES!" chant
A true highlight came when the champions managed to lift the massive Mabel up for a double suplex. This drew a loud roar from the crowd whilst, on the outside, manager Johnny Polo predated Daniel Bryan by 20 years and burst into his own chant of YES! YES! YES!.

Men on a Mission eventually won the match by countout, and celebrated with the tag team titles afterwards as though they'd won the things. Polo tried to get the babyfaces to give the belts back, but they completely ignored him. Intentional or not, that was pretty funny.
Your winners via countout: Men on a Mission (Quebecers retain the tag team titles)

Off to Wrestlemania VI next, and the Champion vs. Champion match between Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. Weird, since I don't believe either man was on great terms with the company at the time.

Special guest celebrities
In the run up to our first title match, our special guest celebrities were introduced. Rhonda Sheer was our special guest timekeeper, and Mark Whalberg's older brother would be our ring announcer. Oh, Curt Hennig showed up to referee, too.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Lex Luger
Special guest referee: Mr. Perfect
In the opening moments of the match, nothing happened. I mean, literally, nothing. Lex Luger walked around the ring whilst Yokouna got himself ready to compete and Mr. Perfect kind of looked on, uninterested.

Eventually, champ and challenger met in the centre of the ring, exchanging verbal taunts and open-handed slaps before brawling to the outside.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Lex Luger battled Yokozuna for the WWF title
Back in the ring, Luger took took to the top rope, nailing his opponent with an admittedly impressive flying crossbody.

What transpired from there was a match every bit as good as it could be given who was involved. Not a classic by any means, but a solid championship match in which both competitors played their roles well.

After absorbing some brutal punishment from the champion, Luger fought back with gusto, eventually knowing down Yoko for what would have been a three count, had Perfect not suddenly turned heel.

With both Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji laying prone in the ring at the hands of Luger, Perfect ignored Lex's pin attempt and instead focussed on reviving the two managers. Understandably aggrieved, Luger grabbed Perfect's shirt to get his attention. That was the last straw for the corrupt official, who promptly disqualified Luger.
Your winner by disqualification and still WWF Champion: Yokozuna

'Listen to this crowd, they know exactly how they feel about that result,' exclaimed Vince McMahon, as the New York crowd errupted with a very loud, very clear chant of BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Mr. Perfect was the special referee for Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna
Bullshit it may have been, but it was an exciting ending to a good match, and culminated in Luger confronting Perfect backstage.

Another look back to years past, this time we saw the terrible blindfold match from Wrestlemania VII between Jake Roberts and Rick Martel.

Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake
So, here's what happened:

Howard Finkle introduced Adam Bomb's manager, Harvey Wippleman. Wippleman stole the microphone and berrated Finkle with a series of very grownup insults including 'Big nose, monkey face and bannana nose.'

Wippleman then tore Finkle's tuxedo, causing Fink push Harvey on his butt. Adam Bomb himself then came to his manager's aid and grabbed Finkle by the throat. Earthquake, took Bomb to the floor, sat on him and pinned him.

That was that. Not much point in it, I'll give you that, but it was a distraction from the more serious bouts at least.
Your winner: Earthquake

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 10 - Jim Cornette cut an awesome promo on behalf of WWF Champion Yokozuna
Backstage, Pettengill met with WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette. 'Yokozuna is still the champion and that's all you need to know, petting zoo.' said Cornette, before cutting a scathing promo against Bret Hart. It was, as you might expect, pretty awesome.

A Wrestlemania VIII flashback took us to Indianapolis and an appearance from The Undertaker.

Obviously there would be no Undertaker appearance this year, what with him dying at the Royal Rumble and everything.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match:
WWF Champion Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Diesel) 
In another major highlight on an all-round entertaining show, Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels took it right to each other in the early going, both men seemingly desperate to declare themselves as the true Intercontinental Champion.

Following a squabble with referee Earl Hebner, Michaels' bodyguard Diesel was expelled to the lockeroom in the early going, leaving both men to after the vacant championship in an utterly gripping contest that delivered on all levels.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Razor Ramon makes his way to the ring for an epic ladder match against Shawn Michaels
With thrilling spots and action aplenty, Michaels/Razor 1 was rivaled only by the earlier Hart/Hart encounter in vying for the of honour of match of the night, if not the year.

Giving it absolutely everything they had, the two Kliq buddies produce a great match which ultimately ended when Michaels took a tumble off the ladder and got his foot caught in the ropes, giving The Bad Guy ample time to scale the rungs and retrive the belt.
Your winner and New WWF Intercontinental Champion: Razor Ramon

Up next, we were supposed to have a big tag team match. Backstage, the heel contingent, consisting of Rick Martel, I.R.S, Jeff Jarrett and The Headshrinkers couldn't agree on who would be the team captain, which apparently meant we wouldn't be having the match at all.

Back out in the arena, Ted Dibiase told Bill Clinton that everybody had a price for the Million Dollar Man.

Our final Wrestlemania rewind of the evening brought us the World's Largest Toga Party at Wrestlemania IX, and Bret Hart getting shafted out of the WWF title.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Razor Ramon makes his way to the ring for an epic ladder match against Shawn Michaels
A great video package, recounting The Hitman's rise to the top of the WWF, and his subsequent feud with Yokozuna, led us nicely into our main event of the evening.

Special guest schlebs
Before the actual action began, we got our special guest time keeper, some blonde from Beverley Hills 90210, and our special guest ring announcer, Mr. Bruce Reynolds himself.

Recieving a thunderous ovation from the MSG faithful, Rowdy Roddy Piper was introduced as our special guest referee.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match:
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
Having scraped by an earlier challenge from Lex Luger thanks to nefarious shennanigans from Mr. Perfect, Yoko returned to the front line to do battle with fan-favourite Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Like a true pro, Bret sold his leg injury from earlier in the evening all the way through this enjoyable championship clash.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 10 - Yokozuna charges at Bret Hart in their main event match
Once again, the champion dominated, but there was to be no repeat of their main event a year earlier. This time, Hart came up with the win after Yoko, still dizzy from the challenger's offence, fell off the top rope in attempting his Banzai Drop. Bret made the cover, Piper made the count, and we had a new WWF Champion.
Your winner and NEW WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

Celebrating in ring, Hart was soon joined by a visibly disappointed Lex Luger, along with Randy Savage and other top babyfaces, who celebrated with the new champion as the show went off the air.

And so we reached the end of the show, but the beginning of a whole new era in the World Wrestling Federation. With Owen Hart emerging as a true star, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon significantly raising their stock, and The Hitman leading the charge, things were looking promising for fans. 
An all round good show with few, if any, major duds, only the opening Hart Brothers clash and the IC Title ladder match are real must-see matchups, but this was by far one of the better Wrestlemanias the company had produced so far, and is a pretty enjoyable watch from start to finish. 

2 comments:

Six things I must point out:

1.Doink really lost his entire luster when Matt Borne left and Ray Apollo took over. Fans were cheering, but I was very sad that the mean jokes and sick entrance music were gone. Oh well.

2.The urban legend that Luger was supposed to win the World Title from Yokozuna but bragged about it the night before at a bar is not true. Even Luger said so in an interview he did in 2013:

"Contrary to what is said, Vince never promised me the belt. He never made me any promises at WrestleMania between Bret, or I, or Yoko. Nor did I expect him to make any. Why would he? I was thrilled to be a part of the main event of WrestleMania. It’s funny, I was talking to a guy in an interview recently and a guy said, ‘It was on your Wikipedia that you were drunk the night before at a bar at WrestleMania X and you were supposed to win the belt and Vince got mad at you.’ I wasn’t even anywhere near New York. I was with my wife and two kids in Hartford, Connecticut, staying with friends the night before WrestleMania. I did a lot of stupid stuff back then, but that wasn’t one of them. Rumor becomes fact sometimes, I laughed at that for years. Of all the stupid dumb stuff I did outside of the ring, that was one that I didn’t do. I always found that humorous, crazy how rumors can start. Who came up with that one?"

3.Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb was originally supposed to have been Earthquake facing off against Ludvig Borga, who had been off TV due to an ankle injury two months earlier. The WWF kept plugging Borga’s presence until about a fortnight before the PPV, when they finally realised Borga would not be ready in time and thus slipped Bomb into his spot.

4.Either the Steiner Brothers or the Smoking Gunns would've been better opponents for the Quebecers.

5.The ten-men tag match, which pitted IRS, Martel, Jarrett, and the Headshrinkers (with Afa) against Tatanka, Bob Holly, 1-2-3 Kid, and the Smoking Gunns, did take place on the April 4th episode of Monday Night Raw, two weeks after this PPV, with the heels getting the win when IRS pinned the Kid.

6.You forgot to mention that while Bret celebrated his World Title victory, Owen stood in the entrance aisle, staring a hole through his big brother to end the PPV.

Agree about Doink, he creeped me out as a kid, but then as soon as he turned I found him horrible, even as a pre-pubescent mark!

Can't believe I forgot to mention Owen's cameo at the end of Bret v. Yoko, that was a great moment. Well spotted!

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