It’s the WrestleMania that doesn’t feel like a WrestleMania, probably because of the location being Hartford Connecticut. Dave Meltzer or at least the twitter account that compiles Meltzer quotes from the 1990’s summed it up the best:
“Rumors that are flying that Wrestlemania XI will take place in Hartford, CT (I guess Utica and Poughkeepsie were already booked). [10/94]”
[adinserter block=”1″]Now that might seem a bit harsh, but having a WrestleMania in Hartford sticks out like a sore thumb, almost like the location of Superbowl XXXIX being Jacksonville. It just doesn’t feel right, but I can understand the reasoning behind Hartford being picked. The arena wasn’t that big so they know they could draw a big number compared to running the Meadowlands or any other big building on the east coast. While the Meadowlands would have been a logical choice because of the connection to the Giants, WWE cards had been drawing some horrible numbers. The highest number they drew in 1994 was 4,000 and that was a Bret/Owen main event. The event could be considered to be a financial success with 15,000 fans paying $750,000 and getting 1.3 buyrate which translates to 409,013 buys. While it is down from the business that WrestleMania X generated, it would be the last PPV to generate 400,000 buys until 1998.
Financial success did not equal a great card, outside of Diesel’s defense against Shawn Michaels and the Lawrence Taylor/Bam Bam Bigelow match/miracle. Bret Hart and Bob Backlund’s rematch of their rather good Survivor Series bout was pretty bad, Razor Ramon vs Jeff Jarrett also failed to live up to their Royal Rumble bout, and most of the undercard is forgettable. Owen Hart’s reaction to winning the tag titles was great though. It should be noted that this Mania was filled with so many production glitches that the home video version had segments from the Fox special and the Encore Plus special hosted by Piper spliced in to cover it up. Also, McMahon and Lawler had to redo the entire commentary for the event because of the production glitches. If it had not been for Kevin Dunn saving the master tapes of the first WrestleMania, he might have been out of a job that night.
It was also the peak of the company relying on celebrity involvement to get some publicity for the card. The opening package hyped more of the celebrity aspect showing all of the celebrities who popped up at WrestleMania. I do wonder if they showed Henry Winkler being happy that The Ultimate Warrior got his Ultimate Win. I’ve never minded the celebrity involvement as long it doesn’t hinder the show but Vince went over the top that year. He was also pushing Diesel as the next Hogan, sending him to as many events he could with the belt to get publicity. Remembering that makes me yearn for the days of Rock n Jock since it was on before WCW Saturday Night. Truly a child of the 6:05 when I was a kid.
So, why am I talking about this WrestleMania? I think with the roster the company had, it could have been a better card. Not a great card, but still something much better than we got. So, let’s get started.
Main Event for the WWE Championship: Diesel © vs Shawn Michaels w/Sid
Before you boo me and get the pitchforks, this was probably the best match of the card and it stays. Yes the involvement with Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy isn’t great and both of them look like they would rather be anywhere but Hartford, but it doesn’t minimize the match. The biggest problem is that the fans rooted for Shawn and Sid more than Diesel, so you need something to get heat on Shawn and Sid. On the Raw before Mania, have a confrontation between the two and Sid sneak attacks Diesel. I don’t know how a six foot seven man pulls off a sneak attack, but go with me. Have Michaels take a chair to the knee of Diesel and Raw ends with Michael holding the belt and doing the old Diesel/Shawn pose with Sid. Have Michaels distract the ref and Sid chop blocks him on the outside to get the fans against the duo. Michaels needs to be Ric Flair in this match, busting out every dirty trick in the book in order to topple the giant. If it works and gets the crowd against Michaels, then the crowd will get behind Diesel when he wins. Yes, Diesel still wins in this scenario, mostly to send the fans home happy.
Bret Hart vs Owen Hart
Yes, I know the big blow-off was the no holds barred match and Bret won that one, but Owen could dangle one victory over his big brother: WrestleMania X. Plus, Owen being the heel that he is can claim that Bret has only beaten in matches more fit for a Neanderthal like a cage match or a no holds barred match. I know that the feud was pretty much over at this point, but I think this card needs a good co-main event. The big final bout between the two at WrestleMania puts a final bow on everything when you consider that Owen ran in at The Rumble, taking away Bret’s chance at the belt. It’s not much to go on, but I’d rather see this than Hart and Backlund, which you could blow-off on a Raw or at the first IYH.
Razor Ramon and Lawrence Taylor vs Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Lawler (w/The Roadie)
Even though I am rebooking WrestleMania XI, I don’t want to get rid of Lawrence Taylor since he did bring the show some mainstream media presence. According to most people in the company, Taylor wasn’t a complete prick and or acted like he was better than everybody. All you would have to do is switch the Razor/Double JJ with the tag finals or have that happen right away. Instead of placing him in a one-on-one situation, I’d put him in a tag match and I think using the Jarrett/Ramon could be a way of extending that feud. I went with Lawler instead of the Roadie since you can build the feud rather easily by having Lawler run down Taylor and all football players on commentary every week. By putting Taylor in a tag match, you lessen the amount you have him do, but those moments with him in the ring will mean more. When he hits Lawler with a big tackle or even a forearm smash, the crowd is going to lose it when that happens. Jarrett and Lawler are good enough heels to get heat on Razor and LT, so I think this is a good match. You could still have the MDC presence at ringside to counter the NFL guys. What about Bam Bam? Glad you asked. You then have a Razor/Jarrett rematch for the first In Your House.
The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer vs Bam Bam Bigelow w/Ted DiBiase
After The Undertaker returned at SummerSlam, it was natural for him to revive his feud with Yokozuna. With the Yoko feud finished, Undertaker was placed in a feud with Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. Now, I can see the logic in it since Undertaker took out DiBiase’s fake Undertaker (Underfaker?), but a problem rose in that the MDC was a group of mid-level guys. It featured Tantanka (Never the same after the heel turn), IRS (Rarely used after Rumble 94 outside of a near tag title run with Bigelow), Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine, Nikolai Volkoff and King Kong Bundy. The one guy with the most credibility out of the group was Bam Bam Bigelow thanks to the mini-feud with Bret Hart in 1993. By removing Bigelow from the LT match, you put the best guy from the MDC against the Undertaker. It’s also an original match since Undertaker and Bigelow rarely faced each other outside of a few matches here and there. It’s a fresh match for The Undertaker and it’ll be a good match that’ll hopefully wash away the memories of WrestleMania IX.
Roddy Piper vs Bob Backl-err Mister Bob Backlund
I’ll be honest, I booked this one since Piper was still a name and I always thought it was wasteful to just have him pop up with no hype. It should be mentioned that Piper would float the idea of him signing with WCW to get Vince interested in him again. As for Backlund, I absolutely loved his crazy character during this time period and looking back at it; I wished he had held the belt till at least the Rumble. Drop it to Diesel then (Fun fact: Randy Savage was being advertised as the special ref at MSG) and you could get some mileage out of Backlund putting random big guys in the Cross Face Chicken Wing to show he could get Diesel in it. As for Piper/Backlund it could be built around Backlund condemning Piper for being a rebel and wearing a skirt. Would the match quality be the greatest? Probably not, but I think it could be a fun little bout mostly for the antics of both men.
WWF Tag Team Championship: The Smoking Gunns vs The 123 Kid and Bob Golly
The team of the 123 Kid and Bob Holly was a thrown together team (A good one at that) and the tag division was in pretty bad shape around this time. They won the belts at The Rumble, lost them the next night and the rematch ended prematurely, so this is their second chance at the belts. I would put this match in the opening spot to get the crowd going. Sure it won’t be as good as the Bret/Owen from last year, but it will still be a quality match none the less. It won’t be Bret/Owen, but it’ll be like Rockers vs Haku and Barbarian, a fun little tag bout to open the crowd. I really dug the Gunns as a team; they had good double team moves.
Mabel vs Jim Cornette’s Mystery Man
Did anybody really really want to see King Mabel? Alright, anybody outside of himself, Mo and that little midget plus his immediate family and maybe, just maybe Bill Watts? Nope, so let’s kill that idea before it ever popped into McMahon’s head by bringing back Yokozuna. It’s a simple build-up actually, have Mabel insult momma Cornette and Cornette claims that he’s bringing somebody to WrestleMania to shut Mabel up. Once Mabel is in the ring, cue Yoko’s music and he comes back to take Mabel out. It may sound bad to kill off any type of push for Mabel, but the company needs credible heels. After losing the belt to Bret, Yoko didn’t even get any rematches with Bret he did jobs for Luger and Razor before being teamed up with Crush. Heck, that didn’t even lead to much as he just floated around until Taker came back. With this, Yoko gets pushed in the right direction and you could even put him in the Mabel spot and at-least be a credible threat to Diesel.
The Allied Powers vs The Heavenly Bodies
[adinserter block=”2″]I almost put the Allied Powers in the tag title match, but I realized that they had formed only a few weeks ago. The Bodies would be good opponents for the newly formed duo since they’re credible heels and Cornette always can get the crowd against them. At this point, you want to build the Powers as potential challengers to The Gunns and the Bodies are the right team for that job. You have two heels that will stall and cheat to win so that the fans get behind the Powers when they make their comeback. Not much else to this match, the Powers need a win here and the Bodies can give them a good match.
The Million Dollar Corporation (Tatanka, IRS, Bundy, Kama) vs Adam Bomb, Duke Drose and The Headshrinkers
Losing the Bigelow/LT match is a pretty decent sized blow to DiBiase’s stable, so I gave them a eight man tag match. The Headshrinkers are on the way out and the Adam Bomb push fizzled out once he became a face. I threw Drose in there since….I’m running out of talent and he goes well as a blue collar dude going against rich guy lead group. I also came up with this match since it could be used as a cool down match at any point in the card. The Corporation gets a win since Bigelow is losing to Taker to keep the Streak going and the feud continuing. Also, I want the eight man tag to make air this time, since I actually wanted the ten man tag they had hyped last year. You know who would have been good for the MDC? Kwang. Just bringing that up.
Here is how it could have been structured:
-Diesel vs Michaels
-Taylor and Ramon v Jarrett and Lawler
-Owen vs Bret
-Allied Powers vs Heavenly Bodies
-Bigelow vs Undertaker
-Piper vs Backlund
-Mabel vs Cornette’s Mystery Man
-Eight Man Tag
-Smoking Gunns vs Kid and Holly
Overall, I think I did pretty good job with WrestleMania XI. It wouldn’t go down as an all-time classic WrestleMania but with the roster being what it is at the time, but it could still be enjoyable. It wouldn’t be a WrestleMania VII like hidden gem, but it would be much better than what we got. I appreciate anybody who has any better ideas for matches or how the card has been structured. Also, seriously check out WrestleMania VII, a lot of people were put off by the Gulf War angle which I can understand. The crowd is hot, Heenan and Monsoon are great and some of matches are pretty good. The opening tag match is good, the tag title bout is good, Savage/Warrior, an underrated Bossman/Perfect bout, DiBiase/Virgil is great for DiBiase being evil and the main event is damn good. Watch it and then thank me later.
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