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Flashback: WWF WrestleMania XI

WrestleManiaXI

The World Wrestling Federation by 1995 was pretty much at an all time low in terms of excitement and quality programming. Despite hitting a low point, the company was able to stir up some interest in their biggest event of the year. The event took place on April 2nd, 1995 in Hartford, CT with an attendance of 16,305.

An in-depth review of the show can be located HERE which were written by Scott and Justin from Place To Be.

The Card:
1.) The Allied Powers defeated The Blu Brothers
2.) Razor Ramon defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett by disqualification
3.) The Undertaker defeated King Kong Bundy
4.) Owen Hart & Yokozuna defeated WWF World Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns to win the titles
5.) Bret Hart defeated Bob Backlund in an I Quit match
6.) WWF World Champion Diesel defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the title
7.) Lawrence Taylor defeated Bam-Bam Bigelow

The show kind of a bizarre opening to the show with the team of Lex Luger and the British Bulldog taking on the Blu Brothers (Harris Brother), considering both teams were fairly new to television. Last year, Luger was competing for the WWF World Championship and now opens the show. The match, as expected, is pretty boring and not the way you’d want to start the biggest show of the year. It is a filler match to put over the new face tag team.

I mainly remember the Hall/Jarrett matches in WCW and TNA, and thus I’m constantly reminded in a good way about their series of matches in 1995. As you’ll recall, they had a good match at the Royal Rumble and that carried over here as well. These two worked very well together at a time when they were both in their prime. The disqualification comes into play to protect Ramon as the chase had to continue on with Jarrett getting a solid push after a year of pointless mid card feuds in 1994.

What is the appeal of King Kong Bundy that warranted a return to the company in 1995? He was really awful and the trend of Undertaker dealing with horrendous opponents continues. You know it is bad when Taker can’t pick up his opponents for either the tombstone or choke slam and had to settle for a clothesline to pin Bundy. Thankfully, Bundy wouldn’t appear on pay per view again.

One of the few bright spots in 1995 was the Smoking Gunns. Billy and Bart were young and more than capable of putting on a good match. At the time, there wasn’t a top level heel tag team to challenge the Gunns. Luckily, Owen Hart is amazing at anything he would ever do and having Yokozuna be introduced as his mystery partner catapulted them to the top spot in the tag division. They put on a good match and Owen gets his first championship in the WWF. Owen and Yokozuna is one of my favorite duos.

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The crazy Bob Backlund character is an entertaining one, but his matches were mainly lackluster outside of the Survivor Series ’94 match. The match is mainly Hart just dominating Backlund and it effectively ends the feud and Backlund is gone from the WWF. Instead of going back for the WWF World Championship, Hart goes down the card to work some fun undercard feuds. By the way, Roddy Piper was the special referee for the bout.

It’s the omen that the Kliq wanted and they delivered for twenty minutes of great wrestling for the WWF World Championship. While Diesel’s reign as the WWF World Champion is widely regarded in a negative way, his match with Shawn Michaels here was a fantastic display of what he was capable and how he should have been promoted. Of course, it’s mostly downhill from here, but we’ll get to that. Michaels proved to everyone that he was more than ready to be a top guy and this time next year, he’d get what he deserved. Nonetheless, this is easily the best match on the card and should have been the main event.

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Instead, the main event went to Bam-Bam Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor. At the time, Bigelow was a mid card act who hadn’t been pushed highly up the card or anything of the nature. As you’ll recall, back at the Rumble, Bigelow had a confrontation with LT and we eventually were given the dream match that nobody was dreaming about. To his credit, Taylor clearly worked hard to make the match the best he could and Bigelow was a champ in putting over the celebrity opponent. It is easily the highest Bigelow ever made up the ranks and was promised a big baby face push for doing the job. As we continue on with 1995 in the flashback series, you’ll see that doesn’t exactly happen. For a celebrity being involved in a wrestling match, it is a solid match that could have been a disaster, but, Taylor put forth the effort to make it passable.

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WrestleMania XI hardly comes across as the biggest show of the year. The roster isn’t nearly as strong as it would be years later. Undertaker continues to be put in poor matches. However, the show does have far more positives. Owen and Yoko forming a team, Jarrett/Ramon wrestling a good match, Diesel/Michaels putting on a great match, and a passable celebrity main event that would have better served Bigelow going over. A lot of people seem to ignore some of the positives, but they are there. This is more of a Mania if you’re looking to kill three hours and need some background noise.

What are your thoughts on WrestleMania XI?

Thanks for reading.

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