411’s Countdown to WrestleMania 28: WrestleMania 12

March 17, 2012 | Posted by Larry Csonka

WrestleMania XI saw Bret Hart out of the title picture as he did battle with Bob Backlund for revenge over losing the WWF Title. Shawn Michaels the year prior tried and failed to gain the WWF Title as he did battle with former bodyguard Diesel. As different as their paths were, they ended up with the same destination, WrestleMania XII. The match was the Iron Man Match. A match guaranteed to go 60-minutes to give us a WWF champion. This would be a feud that would change the scope of the WWF in later years, but the first big match was here at WrestleMania XII. An Ultimate Champion would return to the biggest stage of the year and The Undertaker had another “big” challenge. A WrestleMania with the smallest card in terms of the number of matches presented due to the Iron Man Match….

* Vader, Owen Hart & the British Bulldog (w/Jim Cornette) defeated Yokozuna, Jake Roberts & Ahmed Johnson (w/Mr. Fuji) @ 13:10 via pin
* Steve Austin defeated Savio Vega @ 10:07 via pin
* The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hunter Hearst Hemsley w/Sable @ 1:39 via pin
* The Undertaker defeated Diesel @ 16:45 via pin
* Hollywood Back Lot Brawl: Roddy Piper stripped Goldust @ most of the night
* WWF Heavyweight Championship, 60-minute Iron Man Match: Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) defeated Bret Hart to become the NEW WWF Champion @ 61:55 via pin (1-0)

Scott Rutherford
BEST MATCH: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels [****1/2] It’s been interesting since the Bret/Shawn DVD came out just how much perspective was thrown on this match. Everyone just KNEW that neither guy wanted to be the first to job plus Bret was legit pissed at having dropped the title and publicly showed his displeasure for jobbing. Turns out everyone was wrong! These guys were co-operating perfectly and Bret actually suggested that neither guy jobbed during the match to make the eventual winning pinfall all the better and the pissed looks from Bret was staged to build heat for a return match and to tweaked the boys backstage. So now, when I watch this match, I can view it was the well worked and perfectly orchestrated match it actually was than the over-analyzed match it wasn’t. Not one of my favorite matches of all time but certainly one of the best matches of the 90’s.

WORST MATCH: Roddy Piper vs. Goldust [-**] I get the concept but this match totally blew. I give props to Piper and his leap on the hood of the car as Goldy nearly ran him over legit, but the whole fight, stupid police chase back to the arena and Piper winning by stripping Goldust down to his garters was in no way entertaining and would have been better used a proper match since this card was restricted by the length of the main event.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: This goes probably more into the hidden highlight column – Steve Austin and his two belt shots on Savio Vega. Steve wasn’t even mildly chilly yet, but he was definitely channeling something resembling frosty during the segment of the match. I mean, he BLASTED Savio with his first shot and then did it again to really emphasize that you don’t fuck with Austin. Mere months later he is “Stone Cold” and one bad MF’er.

MVP OF THE SHOW: Bret and Shawn tie. You really can’t separate the two in good conscious as they each brought something to the Iron Man match. Bret had that solid mat game and ability to pace the long match and Shawn the sizzle of his high spots and great athleticism in selling everything. Just a great blend of two styles.

OVERALL SHOW RATING: 6.5/10 – Very much a one match show but when that match accounts for roughly half the wrestling on a 2.5 hour long card you can’t complain. I can’t go any higher with that rating because the undercard besides a bright spot or two is totally unremarkable. The main even however, saves it in spades.

Chad Nevett
BEST MATCH – 60-Minute Iron Man Match for the WWF Championship: Bret Hart (C) vs. Shawn Michaels: [*****] This is one of my favorite WrestleMania matches — one of my favorite matches period. The first half is Michaels sticking to the mat, proving he can match Hart in that respect, while working the left shoulder beautifully. The second half is Hart going to work on Michaels’s back and punishing him even worse than he did Hart in the first half. And, yet, neither man can score a single pinfall or submission. And never does that seem like they’re not selling the damage done. Every kick out just makes the match seem bigger, more epic, more like each man is digging deep to hang on and not give up that first fall. Part of me can’t help but feel that Hart got screwed when the match restarted (what’s the point of the time limit then?), but that’s the sort of personal reaction you can never get rid of — and somehow only adds to your appreciation of an absolutely classic like this. This set the standard for every Iron Man match that followed it — and rightfully so.

WORST MATCH – The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley: [1/4*] Was this even a match? At first, I was leaning towards Goldust/Roddy Piper, but at least their match told a story. This was just Helmsley hitting a few moves, the Warrior no selling, the Warrior doing his usual shtick and winning. It was a squash where the best thing I can say about is that Helmsley’s timing was great — he was always where he needed to be to make the Warrior look as good as he possible could. Which wasn’t much, really.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW – The Overtime Period: 60 minutes would have been enough, even with a draw. Michaels didn’t win, but he didn’t lose, while Hart retains the belt without beating Michaels. That would have been a pretty good finish to a great match. But, then, they restarted the match and Hart began attacking Michaels viciously, angered that the time limit wasn’t being honored and that he could possibly still lose the title. Then, Michaels hits a desperation Sweet Chin Music finally, stopping Hart’s attack, and leaving him open for a second SCM to finish the job and deliver a feel good ending where we actually got a winner and it was the man realizing his boyhood dream.

MVP OF THE SHOW – Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels: Two incredibly talented guys busting their asses for over an hour of wrestling? Name someone involved in this that managed to come close to topping that.

OVERALL SHOW RATING: 6.0 – With one match taking up well over a third of the time and that match being pretty fantastic, WrestleMania XII is carried to an almost respectable rating on its back. The rest of the show was purely average in a way that I’ve learned almost all WrestleManias are. Hell, most ‘Manias are one-match shows as well, they just don’t get a match of this quality. The show, wisely, wasn’t overbooked. They knew how much time the main event would need and kept the undercard sparse enough to give the show a decent pace. Who knows where it would have been without Hart and Michaels, but it wasn’t a complete loss before them either.

Sean Garmer
BEST MATCH: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (Ironman Match)[*****] – I remember as a kid watching this and crying because my favorite won the match. I watched the match again when I was older and almost started crying again because how awesome this match is. This is a match that any fan of wrestling has to see. The first 30 is a bunch of just mat wrestling interspersed with some brawling and clotheslines to the outside, to give them a breather. Unless you watched the NWA, most WWE only fans didn’t get to see stuff like this hardly ever. It was also surprising because it was Shawn Michaels that was doing a lot of the chain wrestling stuff. This obviously shows that HBK was so determined to win the title that he did his homework and learned a lot of wrestling stuff to compete with Bret Hart. Michaels also works on Hart’s arm in a very consistent fashion for a large part of the chain wrestling part of the match. There’s also a nice spot in that time period where HBK knocks the timekeeper into next week with a thunderous SuperKick. There are a lot of people that don’t like what they did because there isn’t a whole lot of “traditional action” going on. However, I would say that this is still the best iron man match WWE has ever had because they set the correct platform for how it’s done. You start off slow and then build to a climax and cause drama. I think having a bunch of falls like The Rock vs. Triple H at Judgment Day, takes a lot of the drama away from the match. This is also great because they didn’t use weapons or have any stupid DQ or countout falls either.

The last 30 minutes is just move after move after move, with a ton of action going on constantly. The high-flying spot with Michaels hitting the cross body to the outside on Hart was great. Then he made me love the match even more by rolling Hart back in the ring before the ref could count him out. Both men did some incredible stuff here with Michaels pulling out a Dragon-Rana, a Perfect Plex, and he even flips over the turnbuckle onto the floor to name a few spots. After the flip to the outside, Hart smartly starts working on the back of Michaels capping it off with a Super Back Suplex. After that, the match kinda goes into a more methodical pace with a little bit of everything mixed in there, until about the last five minutes. The last five minutes is just phenomenal (cause I can’t believe these guys aren’t totally gassed at this point) where Michaels goes into super comeback mode with some great moves thrown in there. The last part where Michaels doesn’t quit from the sharpshooter is awesome drama. Overtime was short as expected where Hart blasts Michaels in the back for the first two minutes until HBK hits a SuperKick out of nowhere. Then he hits the full Sweet Chin Music and gets the win, just incredible match from two of the best to ever lace up those boots.

WORST MATCH: Ultimate Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley [DUD] – They could have done this on RAW the next night, there was absolutely no point of having this on here at all. Any of the old fans that stopped watching WWE and went over to WCW along with Savage and Hogan, are not going to comeback because Ultimate Warrior was on Wrestlemania XII for three minutes. I actually feel bad for Triple H here.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: Ironman Match Just Fantastic – I don’t think there was a bigger highlight than Shawn Michaels winning the title after such an incredible match. This was his first WWE championship and I don’t think anybody could ask for a better way to win it. It is certainly a “Wrestlemania Moment” but it could have been better if HBK wasn’t in self-professed dick mode at this point in his career, and Bret might have been able to shake his hand or at least hand him the title.

MVP OF THE SHOW: Shawn Michaels & Bret Hart – You have to hand it to both guys here, they went out there and delivered the best match WWE had ever produced up until that point, and certainly the best match at Wrestlemania up until that point as well. I could spend another hour talking about this match, but I think it speaks for itself. If for some reason you have never watched it, go on youtube and watch this thing.

OVERALL SHOW RATING: 8.0 – The Ironman match would make this an average show by itself because it is just that incredible. However, Undertaker vs. Kevin Nash is pretty good as well and certainly the best match Undertaker would have at Wrestlemania until WM 14 against Kane. The six-man tag-team match was good as well. The Back lot Brawl wound up stupid, (I could have done without the OJ Simpson stock footage,) but it was a neat concept for that point in WWE television. This was before the Attitude Era when hardcore matches became commonplace. I still think the first part of the brawl before they get into the cars and start the “chase” was cool. There are two matches on this PPV any wrestling fan should see. One of those, the main event, delivers on a massive scale.

-Remember to come back tomorrow for our review of WrestleMania 13…


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Larry Csonka