wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania XI

July 24, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Shawn Michaels Diesel WrestleMania XI
WWF WrestleMania XI
April 2nd, 1995 | Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut | Attendance: 16,305

1995 was a rough year for the WWF. They weren’t doing well financially and provided fans with some of the lamest characters in history (Mantaur, anyone?). One way to up the excitement for the biggest show of the year? Bring in a celebrity athlete to compete. Lawrence Taylor was lined up and it was kind of a big deal. It’s interesting to note that some consider this one of the worst Manias ever and others have claimed it helped save the company. Let’s see how this goes.

Where will it rank among the rest of the WrestleManias so far? We’ll find out here. As a reminder, I’m reliving these WrestleManias and rating them on a 1-10 scale in these seven categories. They’ll be ranked by their total score.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.

Match Quality

The Allied Powers vs. Jacob and Eli Blu ~ Whatever I say about this match, just know that the Allied Powers had a dope entrance theme. Creative Control was out with Uncle Zebekiah, so it’s the Mania debut of Zeb Colter. WE THE PEOPLE. I will give them props for opening with this purely on the basis of the Allied Powers being over. That’s it. They started hot but the DOA isolated British Bulldog for the advantage. Lex Luger’s hot tag meant SCREAMING CLOTHESLINES. The Harris Brothers fell to an odd looking Bulldog sunset flip in 6:34. A weird way to start the show. It kind of worked as a showcase for the faces. The heels were dreadfully dull. [*]

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Jeff Jarrett [c] vs. Razor Ramon ~ A Royal Rumble rematch. The Roadie was supposed to be equalized at ringside by the 1-2-3 Kid here, but he still interfered. Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon were two guys who could put together a solid match and that’s kind of the definition of this one. It was solid. This had back and forth action, was worked at a pretty quick pace, and featured a fair amount of near falls. Razor missed a middle rope bulldog that caused him to grab his leg. Jarrett honed in for the Figure Four. Razor survived but he sold the hell out of the leg. When he set up for the Razor’s Edge, Roadie ran in and clipped his knee, causing a disqualification in 13:32. Like I said, a solid match. Though the finish made sense, it felt pretty cheap during a WrestleMania. [**¾]

King Kong Bundy vs. The Undertaker ~ After missing WrestleMania X, The Undertaker was back in action. His feud with the Million Dollar Corporation dragged on for a good chunk of 1995 and was never any good. This marked King Kong Bundy’s first Mania since 1987. A lot of this was built around the Million Dollar Corporation having possession of Undertaker’s urn. Early in the match, Undertaker retrieved it, only for Kama to steal it. So the match is kind of pointless after that. Undertaker withstood Bundy’s garbage offense, hit a body slam, and won with a leaping clothesline in 6:36. And Bundy sold none of it, getting up instantly and walking out. Trash finish to a bad match. But hey, it’s a step up from Taker’s previous Mania performance. [DUD]

WWF Tag Team Championship: The Smoking Gunns [c] vs. Owen Hart and Yokozuna ~ Yokozuna was the surprise partner picked by Owen Hart. He more for an interesting dynamic because he was the one guy in the match who wasn’t mobile. Even Bart Gunn was still moving relatively smoothly here. The idea of Yokozuna was quickly negated when the Gunns double dropkicked him to the outside. It set a precedent that if they worked together, they had a shot. This was odd because it didn’t have any true heat segment and didn’t follow traditional tag formula. I don’t hate that. Yokozuna had it won with the Banzai Drop, but Bart broke up the pin. Shortly after, Owen got the tag and signaled for the Sharpshooter, only to simply lay down and cover Billy to win the titles in 9:42. Decent little tag match. [**¼]

I Quit Match: Bob Backlund vs. Bret Hart ~ This got billed as a Submission Match at times, yet you couldn’t apparently win via submission. Only when your opponent said the words. Roddy Piper was the guest referee. As a Bret Hart fan, there aren’t many matches of his that I dislike. This is one of them. It’s his only WrestleMania stinker. I don’t have much to say other than it’s boring as hell. They just worked submission after submission in dull fashion and I almost fell asleep twice. The idea behind their stuff wasn’t bad, it just didn’t get executed in a way that worked. Bret countered the Crossface Chicken Wing into one of his own to win in 9:34. Yawn. [*¼]

WWF Championship: Diesel [c] vs. Shawn Michaels ~ Pamela Anderson was supposed to accompany the Royal Rumble winner, Shawn Michaels, to the ring. Instead, he came out with Jenny McCarthy while Pam was out with Diesel. These guys had the built-in angle of being former buddies. Early on, this was Diesel dominating and Shawn bumping his ass off. He made everything Diesel did look like a million bucks. Shawn turned the tide when Diesel got his foot caught in the ropes after a missed big boot. I loved Shawn skinning the cat to get back in the ring at one point, just like he did at the Royal Rumble. Shawn put the focus on the ribs. The referee tried to stop Shawn’s bodyguard Sid from interfering and hurt his ankle, so he couldn’t count when Shawn got the visual win after the superkick. Diesel finished off his comeback with an awful looking Jackknife to retain in 20:34. A very good WWF Title match. It was at its best when Diesel was on offense because Shawn threw himself around. You could see the crowd really wanted to cheer HBK. [***¾]

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor ~ The “Whatta Man” performance was cut from the WWE Network. This got off to an intense start, with Taylor slapping Bigelow and clotheslining him to the outside. The crowd ate that up. LT threw a ton of forearms in this match, but it made sense. They looked great and once he found something that worked, he went back to it. When you don’t have a deep repertoire, that’s the way to go. Bigelow took control and as expected, LT’s selling left a lot to be desired. Still, I appreciated how they managed to keep the crowd engaged and provide us with a pretty entertaining match. Taylor picked up the win with a diving forearm in 11:42. I feel like it went a bit long, but they made it work better than most of us expected. A solid little match. [**¾]

I came away feeling better about this card than I have in the past. There are some clear problems. The opener is boring, Undertaker/Bundy sucked, and we got a rare bad Bret Hart match. On the flip side, the other four matches are fine. Diesel/HBK was very good, LT over-delivered, and the IC and Tag Title matches were decent. About middle of the pack here.

SCORE: 5.5





Lawrence Taylor appearing in the main event will always be the most memorable thing on this show. It was a big deal at the time and remains the only time a celebrity got to compete in a WrestleMania main event. Sadly, that’s about all this show was memorable for. The rest of the show is incredibly forgettable.

SCORE: 2.5



Historical Significance


Again, this comes down to Lawrence Taylor. The fact that we had a celebrity main event WrestleMania for the only time in history is something notable. I also want to give a smaller shoutout to Owen Hart. This show marked his first title victory and that’s a notable accomplishment for a guy who went on to have a pretty storied career. Again though, that’s where this show caps out.

SCORE: 3.0



Booking Decisions


A fair amount of this shoe was booked well in terms of decisions. It’s not the card I would’ve put together for Mania, but they did well with what they had. Diesel retaining was the right move as it set up a babyface turn that vaulted Shawn Michaels into superstardom. LT winning in the main event, Bret Hart beating Bob Backlund, and the Owen/Yoko win were all good decisions. The only real blemish was the lame finish to the Intercontinental Title match. It felt like something out of an episode of Raw. Other than that, they made fine decisions but didn’t wow me with their choices.

SCORE: 7.5





A major struggle of this show. With the company struggling financially, it is understandable that they didn’t get a big arena for this show. That being said, this was rough. The Hartford Civic Center is not a good looking building. It looked cheap. The entire show came across like an edition of In Your House and far from what I want from a WrestleMania. They also had more than a few technical difficulties during interviews that just added to the woes. The opening video package was okay at best. Woeful presentation here.

SCORE: 1.0





This is the shortest WrestleMania to date. It clocked in at just under two and a half hours, though I guess a few minutes are missing for the Salt-N-Pepa performance. Thankfully, this show mostly moved along nicely. Nothing lasts too long and it’s a short enough show that it is kind of an easy watch. They also did a good job of pacing out the match order. We’d get something good and then something bad. You’ll breeze through this, even when the matches are bad.

SCORE: 7.0





It seems like the company tried loading up on celebrities to make up for the lack of special feeling elsewhere. Lawrence Taylor and Pamela Anderson were big gets. People forget how big Pam was in this era. Even Jonathan Taylor Thomas was notable. But Jenny McCarthy and Nick Turturro weren’t exactly big deals, while Salt-N-Pepa felt like a few years too late. The main non-wrestling stuff on the show saw these celebrities in random segments with wrestlers. They also threw in a show long story of Turturro and company trying to figure out where Pam Anderson was. It was pretty dull. I’d call this one a mixed bag.

SCORE: 5.0





Hey, we’ve got our first tie! WrestleMania IX and WrestleMania XI both come in with the same score. This show was one that had a better card than I remembered, but suffered in other places. It looked terrible and didn’t feel at all like the biggest show of the year. Combine that with a lack of notable moments outside of the Lawrence Taylor stuff and you’ve got a recipe for a show ranking near the bottom of the list.

TOTAL: 31.5/70


WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania III – 55/70
2. WrestleMania X – 52/70
3. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
4. WrestleMania I – 50/70
5. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
6. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
7. WrestleMania V – 39/70
8. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
9. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
10. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
11. WrestleMania II – 29/70

article topics :

Wrestlemania XI, Kevin Pantoja