Thursday, March 14, 2024

The History of WWE WrestleMania: X

Well this is more like it.  Moving into the era of The New WWF Generation.....

Madison Square Garden - 3/20/94

For the tenth edition of 'Mania, the WWF returned to the hallowed Madison Square Garden.  This installment featured not one, but two WWF Title matches, as co-Rumble winners Bret Hart and Lex Luger each got a crack at Yokozuna's championship.

However it was the opening bout and a match where Shawn Michaels danced with a ladder that stole the show.

Since Luger won the coin toss to face Yokozuna first (not sure why that's winning exactly, but ok), Bret had to wrestle a secondary match prior to getting his own title shot.  Luckily for everyone, he had just begun a feud with his brother Owen, and the Hart brothers tore the house down in the opening contest.  Famously the brothers had worked out an action-packed, high-flying match but Bret realized the night before the event that a bunch of aerial moves would get Owen cheered instead of booed.  So they scrapped everything and started over.  No complaints from me - this match was twenty minutes of some of the finest wrestling I've ever seen, capped off by a career-making win for Owen. 

Still one of the best matches of all time

One of the weirder matches I've witnessed took place third on the card, as Randy Savage fought Crush in a variation of a Falls Count Anywhere match.  Now I'm not sure if someone in charge was drunk when they came up with this, or if they were just confused by the FCA rules, but in this case the object was to pin your opponent outside the ring, roll back into the ring, and hope the opponent couldn't get back in within 60 seconds.  There were three falls in this match before Crush finally failed to get back within the time limit, which meant that in a 9-minute match, nearly 3 full minutes consisted of one of the wrestlers waiting inside the ring for the other to climb back in.  Did TNA come up with these rules?
'Mania 10 had a pair of decent little title matches - Alundra Blayze vs. Lelani Kai (who also competed at 'Mania 1), and the Quebecers vs. Men on a Mission (better than it had any right to be) - before the first WWF Title match.

Lex Luger then challenged Yokozuna in a rematch from the previous Summerslam.  Unfortunately they were given way too much time and did basically zero with it.  Probably a good 4-5 minutes of this 14-minute yawner consisted of Yoko applying a trapezius nerve hold while Luger just sat there taking it.  Uhh Lex, maybe reach up and punch him so he'll let go of you?  Lex was booked to lose the match by disqualification when special referee Mr. Perfect basically turned heel on him, which famously led to....nothing.  No feud between the two followed this angle.  I guess it was revenge for Luger beating Perfect the previous year?

A pointless 60-second Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb squash was inexplicably sandwiched between Luger-Yoko and Michaels vs. Razor.  Not sure why, but the less said the better.

The Ladder Match - Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon for the undisputed Intercontinental Title.  If any match was going to overshadow both the main event of WrestleMania and the Bret-Owen clinic, this was it.  The years have actually favored Bret vs. Owen in my opinion, but at the time this match was the goddamnedest thing I had ever seen.  As it stands now they're still 1 and 1A for 1994 Match of the Year.  HBK and Razor (and apparently Bret Hart as well) created the prototype for the Ladder Match, and basically every such match since owes it a debt.  In terms of defining the Spotfest, this might be the most important single match of the 1990s.

Possibly the single most influential match of the 90s.

The main event saw Bret avenge his 'Mania 9 loss to Yokozuna in another decent 10-minute affair (which was also the first time two consecutive WrestleManias featured the same main event).  I think overall I like the 'Mania 9 match better as there was more back and forth.  Yoko dominated the rematch and only lost because he fell off the ropes while setting up the Bonzai Drop.  Pretty stupid ending really (like their first encounter).

WrestleMania X is remembered primarily for two matches, Bret vs. Owen and HBK vs. Razor.  It was also the first WrestleMania without Hulk Hogan, and officially kicked off the New Generation era, with Bret Hart truly carrying the WWF ball.  It was an uneven card but the fact that it spawned two five-star classic matches earns it a very high spot on the all-time list.

Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (just by a hair - this match holds up superbly)
Worst Match: Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb (harmless but also pointless)
What I'd Change: Savage vs. Crush should've been a normal Falls Count Anywhere match, and about five minutes should've been added (those five minutes could've been cut from Luger vs. Yokozuna).  Also part of me still wishes Luger had won the belt so he could've defended it against Bret in the main event.
Most Disappointing Match: The aforementioned Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna - a total snorefest that wasn't even close to their first encounter (which wasn't amazing by any means, but it was at least watchable).
Most Pleasant Surprise: I honestly didn't have high hopes for a match involving two guys climbing a ladder.  Man was I wrong.
Overall Rating: 9/10 - Yes the show was very uneven but it also included the two best matches of the year.

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