411’s Countdown to WrestleMania 28: WrestleMania 10
This is one of those Machiavellian shows where everything winds up being tied together with everything else, so I need to explain a bunch of background that you need if you’ve never seen the show or weren’t around back then.
One year ago, Bret lost the title to Yokozuna who immediately lost it to Hulk Hogan the same night on a booking whim. Hogan then decided he didn’t want to wrestle anymore, but he didn’t want to put over Bret either. So, Hogan dropped the title back to Yokozuna at the 1993 King of the Ring. Bret won that King of the Ring tournament and, despite losing the title months earlier, continued to garner support among the fan base.
Vince thought he needed an all-American baby face, though, so they turned Lex Luger face without any explanation and had him challenge for Yoko’s title at Summerslam. Bret, meanwhile, feuded with Jerry Lawler over who was indeed “King of the Ring.” Luger failed in his bid to become champion and, due to a clause in the contract, couldn’t receive another shot. The crowd’s loyalties were split between Luger and Bret, so much so that they tied for WWF Wrestler of the Year voting (rigged, I know, but play along).
Bret continued feuding with Lawler all the way up to Survivor Series where the King and a group of his “knights” were to take on Bret and his brothers Owen, Keith and Bruce. Real life intervened when Jerry Lawler was accused of rape by two teenage girls. Lawler was taken off of TV and replaced by the returning Shawn Michaels.
Ah yes, Shawn Michaels. Michaels had developed a reputation as both a workhorse and a problem child. During the late spring and summer of 1993, he carried on feuds with Jim Duggan, Marty Janetty, and Mr. Perfect. He walked out the WWF, still the IC champion, forcing the WWF to strip him of the title. A battle royal was held to determine the top contenders for the title. Razor Ramon and Rick Martel wound up the last two men in the ring and a week later Ramon beat Martel to become IC champ.
Where was I? Ah yes, Michaels returned at the Survivor Series to take Jerry Lawler’s place. During the match between Michaels & the Knights and the Hart Brothers, Owen accidentally bumped Bret to the barrier. Shawn rolled Owen up, making him the only Hart brother eliminated in the match. Owen took exception to this, and blamed Bret for his elimination. Owen would later challenge Bret to a match, but cooler heads prevailed…for a while
Problem, Shawn still had the Intercontinental Title and a claim to it since he had never been beaten for it. WWF President Jack Tunney decided that they would hang the two belts up in the middle of the ring and have the first ladder match in WrestleMania history. Cool so far?
Yoko, meanwhile, was busy defending his title against any baby face that got in his way. Crush was one such baby face. On a memorable episode of Raw, Yoko defeated Crush and injured him with several banzai drops. Randy Savage made the save, but not before Crush was sent to the hospital. Crush came back very, very pissed off at Savage of all people. He joined with Mr. Fuji and destroyed Savage on an episode of Raw.
At the Royal Rumble, Bret and Owen challenged the Quebecois for the WWF Tag Team Titles. During the match, Bret hurt his knee and made an error in judgment, going for the Sharpshooter instead of tagging his brother. Bret’s knee gave out on him, and the Hart’s lost the match. Owen blamed Bret yet again and stomped on Bret’s injured leg. He left Bret in the ring and claimed Bret was selfishly keeping the spotlight to himself.
Bret was injured but accepted a fill-in spot in the Rumble itself and found himself face-to-face with rival Lex Luger. In a photo finish to the Rumble match, Bret and Luger both went over and landed at the same time. The decision was the first ever draw in Rumble history.
So we have two #1 contenders, which just ain’t decent. Jack Tunney decides that he’s going to flip a loaded coin and whoever wins will get the first shot at Yoko, the other will have to wrestle “suitable” competition. If Bret wins, Luger has to face Crush. If Luger wins, Bret has to face Owen. Well, Luger won.
That’s where we are now. Bret vs. Owen. Luger vs. Yoko with the winner facing Bret at the end of the night.
– 411’s JD Dunn
* Owen Hart defeated Bret Hart @ 20:22 via pin
* Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon defeated Doink the Clown & Dink @ 6:10 via pin
* Falls Count Anywhere Match: Randy Savage defeated Crush w/Mr. Fuji @ 9:47
* WWF Women’s Title Match: Alundra Blayze © defeated Leilani Kai @ 3:36 via pin
* WWF Tag Team Title Match: Men on a Mission defeated Les Quebecois © w/Johnny Polo @ 7:43 via Count Out
* WWF Title Match: Yokozuna © defeated Lex Luger @ 14:41 via DQ
* Earthquake defeated Adam Bomb @ 0:31 via pin
* WWF IC Title Ladder Match: Razor Ramon defeated Shawn Michaels to become the UNDISPUTED Intercontinental Champion @ 18:47
* WWF Title Match: Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna © @ 10:33 via pin to become the NEW WWF Champion
BEST MATCH: Bret Hart v Owen Hart [*****] I could easily go for the ladder match but this was one of my favorite matches of the entire decade. Owen & Bret had amazing chemistry and this is a technical masterpiece of selling and psychology. It’s probably my third favorite WM match ever (after Savage-Steamboat & Hart-Austin). It’s very rare that two wrestlers on top of their game run into each other at the precise moment when all the stars align and everything goes right and its at Wrestlemania. Even rarer when its two brothers who’ve been waiting their entire lives to tell this story. And brother v brother matches don’t always work out the way the siblings intended. Here it was all perfect and made Owen Hart a star in the process.
WORST MATCH: Earthquake v Adam Bomb [DUD] Well, it is only 30 seconds long. Just a total throwaway job match. Really didn’t need to be on Wrestlemania.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: The ladder match. I know I went with Bret & Owen as MOTN but the show will forever be remembered as ‘the one with the ladder match’. Both matches are classics but while I prefer Owen-Bret I acknowledge that Shawn-Razor is the one most people remember with greater fondness. And it is a phenomenal match. Shawn just seizes his opportunity with both hands. It helps that he has a friend and ally in Scott Hall to wrestle it with him because it becomes a co-operation where both guys get over. The WWF was in the process of re-building and they started with Bret regaining the title and Shawn Michaels arriving as the Showstopper. This was the start of Shawn having ‘the’ match on the PPV. The one you couldn’t miss.
MVP OF THE SHOW: Bret Hart. A tough choice but he did double duty. Taking the WWF title here allowed him to continue his good work that had been interrupted a year earlier by Hogan’s final vanity run as champion. He carried the company on his back for several difficult years until Shawn Michaels was ready to take over.
OVERALL SHOW RATING: 9.5 – One of the best Wrestlemania’s ever. Sure, most of the card is weak but there are two legitimate ***** matches. There are very few shows in the entire history of wrestling where that’s happened and I can only think of one other Wrestlemania that produced better quality (WM17) and that’s only because almost the entire card delivered.
BEST MATCH: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart [*****] – This was pretty much the perfect match. Two amazing competitors facing off on the biggest stage of the year. The MSG crowd was great, and the WWF showed that they had some balls by having Owen go over the man who was going to win the WWF Championship at the end of the night. Great match, great finish, great booking. I know, I picked it over the ladder match. But it was better.
WORST MATCH: Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb [*1/2] – This isn’t a knock on the performers, one of whom left us too soon. It was shortened because the show was running too long (another match was cut altogether), and suffered for that reason.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: Razor Ramon beats Shawn Michaels in the first televised WWF Ladder Match – This was the ladder match that started it all. Ladder Matches have come a long way in wrestling, all the way to Money in the Bank and Tables, Ladders & Chairs matches. This one started it all. It’s a great old school ladder match that featured good spots and tons of psychology. It ranks up there in my favorite ladder matches (HHH-Rock is #1), and will always be a big part of wrestling history.
MVP OF THE SHOW: Bret Hart – Bret Hart wrestled two matches for a total of 30:59, and finished the night on top of the world—as WWF Champion. Bret deserved this win for how he was treated at WrestleMania 9, and he deserves the MVP accolade even more. He lost the first match of the broadcast card in brilliant fashion, and still managed to be the most over wrestler in the house.
OVERALL SHOW RATING: 9 – This is normally considered to be a great WrestleMania, yet it is largely underrated. It featured three great matches, some great storytelling, and a great angle that started early (Owen beats Bret) and ended late (Bret wins the title and has a huge celebration in the ring while Owen looks on). The pacing was off, as the Earthquake-Adam Bomb match was shortened and a 10-man tag team match (Irwin R. Schyster, The Headshrinkers, Rick Martel & Jeff Jarrett vs. The 1-2-3 Kid, Sparky Plugg, Tatanka & The Smoking Gunns) was completely cancelled. But there is some great history (Ladder Match, Bret vs. Owen) and some great wrestling, too.
BEST MATCH: SHAWN MICHAELS vs. RAZOR RAMON [*****] This was the toughest category to pick. For the first time in WrestleMania history, there were two legitimate five star matches in Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon and Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart. While the Bret/Owen match is one of my favorite WrestleMania matches of all time, so is the Michaels/Razor match. The reason I chose to go with the Michaels/Razor match over Bret/Owen is because of the historical impact of the Michaels/Ramon ladder match. That match, not only led to a popularizing of the ladder match as a specialty match, it is the grandfather of such events as TLC matches and the Money in the Bank concept. If the Michaels/Ramon WrestleMania ladder match was a stinker, it’s likely the course of wrestling history may have been greatly changed. There’s a reason why the WWE continues to show highlights of this match almost twenty years later.
WORST MATCH: EARTHQUAKE vs. ADAM BOMB [DUD- NO STARS] This match went a whopping 32 seconds. There were squash matches on the old “SuperStars of Wrestling” and “Wrestling Challenge” that were more competitive than this match was. This was the tenth WrestleMania. It’s a huge WrestleMania. There should never be a squash match at WrestleMania, especially not a WrestleMania as important as the first WrestleMania without Hulk Hogan.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: For me, there were two main highlights to the show. The first was a personal highlight, whereas the second was a show highlight. The personal highlight for me was walking into the Garden, seeing the WrestleMania banners hanging from the rafters, and the special black and gold ropes. You knew that you were not seeing just any wrestling event. You were witnessing history. Anyone who has attended a WrestleMania event knows exactly what I am talking about.
MVP OF THE SHOW: Bret Hart. As amazing as Shawn Michaels performance was on the night that people started to realize that the “Heartbreak Kid” was on his way to becoming “Mr. WrestleMania,” Bret Hart is the MVP of WrestleMania X. He started off the show fighting his brother in a five start match. Then, he ended the night winning his second WWF World title after beating Yokozuna in the main event of the show.
OVERALL SHOW RATING: 9.5 – OK, I’m a little biased here. WrestleMania X was the first WrestleMania event that I attended live in person. I had second row seats right by the entrance way. My face was on TV more than Vince McMahon! At the time, Randy Savage was my favorite wrestler, and when he shook my hand as he walked down the aisle, I truly had a “mark out” moment. After the event, I felt that WrestleMania X was the best WrestleMania event ever. With two five star matches, and a World title change to close the show, how could you ask for anything more? Well, I really wanted to see Lex Luger vs. Bret Hart in the main event, so I was a little disappointed in having Bret face Yokozuna in the main event. That’s a small negative in an otherwise great night. Is WrestleMania X still the greatest WrestleMania event in history? No, but it still ranks among the better WrestleManias of all-time. Not bad for my first time out.
BEST MATCH: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart- Wrestlemania X had several good matches, and two utterly phenomenal ones. It was a really tough decision to decide which of those two deserved the ‘best match’ award, but in the end I plumped for the implosion of the Hart Family, as Bret met Owen to kick off the show. Both this and the later latter matches are two of the most perfect matches I have ever seen, but I feel Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart aged slightly better than Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, and thus it edges it’s way into the ‘best match’ category. This is pure pro wrestling at its absolute peak; every move executed incredibly sweetly, the story told beautifully… even the facial expressions were perfect. Any prospective pro wrestler should be made to watch this match on a continuous loop until they’ve committed it to memory.
WORST MATCH: Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb- This was pointless time filler, something that simply shouldn’t be necessary on the biggest show of the year. It was nice that Earthquake got to look good on the biggest stage, but that’s pretty much all I can say about this one.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: The Ladder Match- I’m aware that this wasn’t the first Ladder match in WWF history, nor indeed in wrestling history, but let’s be perfectly frank; it was the first one to genuinely matter. Previous iterations of the bout had been relatively low-key, lo-fi affairs (though definitely not bad matches,) and while Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had put on a barnburner in 1992, it was never televised. This, however, had the eyes of the wrestling world firmly trained on it, and Michaels and Ramon had to put across what a brilliant stipulation this was. I think it’s fair to say they did, and then some. This was a captivating spectacle, with several memorable individual spots- as examples, Michaels flying off the top of the ladder with a huge splash, and crotching himself on the ring ropes to allow Ramon to capture both IC titles, before holding them aloft to the delight of MSG. More than that though, this was smartly wrestled; neither wrestler destroyed their body, neither took suicidal bumps, and both refused to engage in a series of ‘can you top this’ histrionics- the spots accentuated the drama, they weren’t the drama in and of itself. For planting the most popular gimmick of the last twenty years into the collective consciousness of wrestling fans, the Ladder match definitely deserves to win moment of the show.
MVP OF THE SHOW: Bret Hart- This had to go to Bret Hart. He opened the show the loser of one of the best matches of all time, and ended it the WWF champion. A case could be made for Owen, Shawn and Razor, but when push comes to shove Bret ticks all the boxes necessary to be considered the MVP of this show.
OVERALL SHOW RATING: 9.5- My second favorite Wrestlemania, this had two of the greatest matches of all time, plus a highly enjoyable Falls Count Anywhere match between Randy Savage and Crush, and Bret Hart capturing the WWF Championship from Yokozuna. A little too much filler stops this from achieving full marks, but it’s still an amazing, must watch show.
-Remember to join us tomorrow as we breakdown WrestleMania 11!