Sports

WrestleMania X: Starring Lex Luger As Marv Levy

WrestleMania X-Man, I can’t believe I’ve completed the first ten years already. I can’t believe it took me an entire weekend and three fully-clothed showers to get over WrestleMania IX. Usually, it takes me a good week. I guess my resilience has actually increased with age.

-So it’s March 20, 1994, and we’re back at the epicenter of pro wrestling, Madison Square Garden in New York City. The event is billed as “Ten Years in the Making”, which proves that WWE and math have been mutually exclusive for far longer than the “Twenty Fifth Anniversary of WrestleMania” Though, technically, if WrestleMania was born on March 31, 1985, and it takes nine months to give birth, then technically, the seed may have been laid in June 1984. June 1984 to March 1994 may not QUITE be ten years, but it’s darned close. So, good enough.

-We kick things off with Little Richard doing America the Beautiful with a choir. The way his voice keeps cracking would indicate that some people don’t hit puberty until their sixties. I remember being ten years old and seeing the promo shot of Little Richard in the weeks before the event, saying he was going to be performing, and I excitedly told my brother that Johnny B Badd was coming to WWF. Seriously.

-Our hosts this afternoon are Vince McMahon and a recently acquitted Jerry Lawler, who has big shoes to fill in the Heenan/Ventura role. Lawler immediately stumbles out of the gate when trying to make fun of Little Richard’s voice. Somebody graduated summa cum laude from The University of Trying Too Hard.

-Immediately, we get highlights of what led up to the Owen Hart/Bret Hart encounter that will kick things off. It’s one of my favorite feuds ever, if only because I felt bad for Owen, being a younger brother myself. I remember in fourth grade, my friends and I talked about the feud and it seemed that anyone who was the oldest child sided with Bret, and us younger siblings were rooting for Owen. Contrast this to eight years later when the Hardyz feuded and we ALL agreed: they’re both sissies.

-Here to do ring announcing is Howa—wait, who the Hell is Bill Dunn? He sounds like some pitchy winner of the Vince McMahon soundalike contest. WHERE IS FINK!? I’d forgotten all about this development. Sigh.

-Bret and Owen are evenly matched, and it shows. The interesting thing is that, while Bret has been portrayed as the mat master, Owen has a counter for everything, outwrestles him in some cases, beats him to the punch, and then follows up with an insulting slap. Note to modern bookers: if you’re trying to book a heel as a jealous jerk, and you need to do it in a way where he doesn’t win sympathy points for being an underdog, just have him act REALLY obnoxious. Let Owen be your template.

-Not one to be outdone, after some more wrestling in which Bret takes control, Owen goes to the outside, Bret drags him in, and repays the slap. Good stuff.

-One thing I miss about Owen out of many things: the spinning heel kick. He just floors Bret with it and even the fans ooooh for it.

-Another thing I miss about Owen: the overhead belly to belly suplex. Is there anyone in wrestling who would give this much offense to a career midcarder as Bret would, even though it’s his little brother? As a quick aside, I just wanna note that ever since The Rock left, the main eventers have beaten the upper carders far more handily these days. This didn’t happen when Rock was there, as he would sell for ANYONE from Al Snow to Hardcore Holly to then-midcard Eddie Guerrero. That pretty much forced guys like HHH and such to take it down for the lower guys and help give them cred. I miss The Rock.

-Bret tries a German suplex, and Owen goes behind and gets a BEAUTIFUL German for two. See, Bret’s smart. He knows he’s getting the belt at the end of the night, so if he makes Owen look like a main eventer here, Owen gets to main event….against Bret! Easy matches for six months! Bret was pretty smart up until the day he said “Then Shawn gets me into the Sharpshooter….”

-The parade of awesome Owen moves continues, as Owen lands the Austin Killer, aka sitdown tombstone. Good thing he didn’t break Bret’s neck with it. Bret wouldn’t have had the energy to enjoy his post-show ring rat.

-To enhance the story of the match, each man attempts the Sharpshooter, but neither can apply it, due to each brother’s natural instinct. Then to heighten the drama, Bret attempts his slingshot pescado onto Owen and winds up injuring his knee. Can I get a “DUN DUN DUNNN!”?

-Owen slaps on the figure four, while Vince looks over at the timekeeper. I’m sure it was just a simple stretching exercise. You know, Vince stretches a lot of things like his neck, feuds, the truth….

-Did Bret just hit an enzuigiri on Owen? I guess it’s realistic. It’s better than his hidden character video game movesets on Smackdown vs. Raw that includes a standing roundhouse kick that I’ve yet to see him do. It’s not as comical as editing Andre so that he has the shooting star press. Not even close.

-Since I’m highlighting Owen’s supreme moves, here’s one for Bret: the best looking superplex in the business. Always puts a good snap on it. I’m enjoying this way too much.

-Owen finally gets the Sharpshooter (Vince, stop turning your head. I don’t want to see your Linda Blair impression), but Bret hooks the ankles and reverses it into his own, but Owen gets the ropes. Crowd is breathless.

-Then we get the shocking finish: Bret tries his trusty victory roll, but Owen drops the knees across the arms and Bret has nowhere to go, with Owen scoring the pin in the colossal upset. Owen was MADE here, and WWF finally had a credible heel to join Yoko and Shawn in the upper echelon. The best part is you didn’t need a blasphemous act or violent match to make Owen, either. Just beating an established star is all it took. Great, great match, and one of my all time favorites.

-Backstage, Owen is rewarded for his great match by getting to be interviewed by Todd Pettengill. How lucky of him. Owen also has a white splotch of spit by his lip. I hope it’s spit. If not, then Pat Patterson must have been watching that match in a room with a giant oscillating fan. Can we get a mop? And maybe a scrubber zamboni? Or two?

-FINALLY, Howard Finkel’s here. And he’s introduced by the first celebrity(?) of the night: Sy Sperling. Sy is not only the president of the Hair Club for Men, but he’s also a client. This is what happens when you tarnish the company name with the steroid allegations: all the good celebrities steer clear. Could’ve been worse after the Benoit/Signature Pharmacy story. “Tune in to WrestleMania 24 to see Stephanie Zimbalist, Kato Kaelin, and Vince the ShamWOW guy!”

-To help the crowd settle in after the spectacular opener, we resort to a comedy match with Doink and Dink facing Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon. Things I learn watching wrestling: a male midget and a normal sized woman is a “fair fight”. I also learned that some leprechauns bring bad luck. For instance, if you agree to exploit your dead uncle for storyline purposes, you’re cursed to spend six months feuding with one, and losing to him. Hornswoggle’s like an albatross.

-Hey, it’s not a bad little match when Bammer and Doink are in there. Whoever Doink was at this point, apparently Ray Apollo, was not a bad wrestler at all. Imagine if Matt Borne was still Doink. Nine years ago, in this building, you faced Ricky Steamboat in what was, at the time, the most important card in wrestling history. Now, you’re teaming a with a midget clown in a throwaway match. Ever see a man in a clown costume hanging from a bed sheet in a Motel 6 just outside Secaucus? Sounds life altering.

-So when Dink and Luna are in there, it degenerates into an alleged comedy match, where Dink grabs himself a piece of Luna, just for fun. If Molly Holly was in there, she could just turn around suddenly and clothesline Dink with her backside. That would be the sillest, yet hottest, move of all time. Molly was truly the unslutty Kardashian sister.

-Luna’s overselling is great. Of course, she’s also the whackjob that says she hates Christian because he’s a “pretty boy”. Hey now, Luna, you’re the one who married a wannabe vampire with love handles, not Christian. Let’s not be hateful, here.

-Just as I tire of Dink, Bigelow brings us home with a diving headbutt on Doink. Not a bad match at all. Didn’t say it was good either. Let’s leave it at that.

-Meanwhile, up in the skybox is a President Clinton impersonator flanked by IRS and several WWF officials, including Jack Tunney. Was this the only Mania that Tunney ever appeared at? I think it is. Personally, I always liked Tunney because he looks like Peter Gammons after three decades of drinking seven pints of vodka a night. And yet, he was still intimidating. I miss Tunney.

-Now for our next contest, Randy Savage and Crush in a falls count anywhere match. To win , you had to pin your opponent outside the ring, and the fallen foe had 60 seconds to get back inside or he lost. So basically, it’s falls count anywhere meets last man standing meets TNA. You know, because they overcomplicate things. I’m shocked TNA never did a “Last Blood” match where in order to win, you had to blade faster than your opponent. Dusty Rhodes would have been undefeated.

-Crush scores a fall by pinning Savage in less than a minute after spiking him on the guardrail. Imagine that. In 1988, Savage beat four men in one night. In 1994, he loses in under a minute. NEED TO REBUILD YOUR ENDURANCE?! SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM! Savage beats the count back inside, though.

-It’s a decent brawl, but nothing like you’d expect in a blood feud where Crush accuses Savage of betrayal, and then lacerates his tongue during a violent turn. WWF was still breaking out of the cartoon doldrums at this point. Actually, it was just getting worse. Tune into the WWF 3 months from now and watch as they end Leslie Nielsen’s career.

-Savage drops the big elbow, rolls Crush to the floor, and pins him. Fuji revives Crush with water and he beats the count. If you wanted to revive Crush, just tell em the kids are going into his guns-and-narcs closet again. These minute long pauses are going to be the death of me.

-Finally, Savage just lays Crush out backstage, pins him, and then hogties him to end things. Did Crush wake up screaming “NO, I’M SORRY, BRADSHAW, I WON’T BREACH LOCKER ROOM ETTIQUITE AGAIN!”? Savage wins, and then he celebrates in the theater room of MSG with the freeloaders. The last Mania hurrah for Macho, before something may or may not have happened. Oooooh yeeeeah.

-IRS talks to fake Clinton about raising taxes. You don’t have to ask him twice, Irwin.

-Clips of WWF FanFest are shown, including an appearance by HappyJack the Clown. Don’t ask me. Know how WWF AXXESS looks like it’s held on a giant convention floor? I think FanFest was held in my dad’s garage.

-Up until this point, Jerry Lawler has yet to make me laugh. Difference between then and now is that he’s stopping trying. Can we get Matt Striker on Raw?

-Now for the Women’s Title match as Alundra Blayze takes on Leilani Kai in….WOAH CRAP IS KAI UGLY! Seriously, it’s like they stuffed billiard balls in Tonya Harding’s mouth and beat her with a paint roller. Were they afraid that Alundra was too ugly and they brought in Kai to offset her? Geez, my eyes. I feel like I just watched the ending to Looking for Mr. Goodbar with those Clockwork Orange eye-stretch devices. Unsettling to say the least.

-I’m not going to lie, I’m scouring pictures of various pretty women to offset the horrors of Kai’s face.

-Thank you, Alundra for making it quick. And thank YOU, Jennifer Love Hewitt. Don’t listen to anyone, you’re not fat in the least. Mmmm….

-My bad. Moving on.

-Now for the Tag Team Title match, with the Quebecers facing Men on a Mission. Both teams never seem to get their due. Quebecers were just a skilled team who cheated like crazy and had STELLAR theme music. Meanwhile, MOM had the crowd alive everytime they came out and were in the right era, where rap was becoming accepted by suburban white kids. I think Vince should have pushed them over the Headshrinkers and Smoking Gunns, but what do I know?

-Did I mention Raven’s here, playing a cross between Shane McMahon and Sinister Minister? It’s worth noting.

-Match starts a little disjointed, but the crowd ooohs as both Jacques and Pierre manage to suplex Mabel, all 500 pounds of him. Anyone else a little off-put at the names here? Back in the day, if you had one name and were a tag team wrestler, you sounded tough. Ax, Smash, Crush, Animal, Hawk, Warlord, Barbarian. In 1994, it’s Mo, Mabel, Jacques, and Pierre. No wonder my generation grew up to embrace guyliner.

-Mabel kicks out of the Quebecer Tower, and eventually comes back with a spinning heel kick(!). That always floored me. How is Mabel useless at everything else, but can do a spinning heel kick? Color me impressed.

-MOM wins it on a countout when Pierre gets sandwiched on the floor. Mo and Mabel celebrate with the belts for some reason. Is every babyface stupid? Lord Helmet once said “Good….is DUMB” and I have to side with Moranis on this one. Good match, though.

-And now for the celebrities for the first World Title match: confirmed cougar Rhonda Shear is timekeeper and mega tool Donnie Wahlberg is the ring announcer. Know what’s fun? Run up to Donnie and say “Hey man, you were GREAT in Invincible!” and then run off while he yells obscenities with that dopey accent. Not that I’ve ever done it, of course.

-Donnie introduces the guest referee: “MIS-TAH….PER-FICT”. Perfect comes out wearing some garish pants. The only way he could have redeemed himself is to ask Donnie if he’s Milli or Vanilli. I’m mean.

-Yokozuna and Lex Luger for the WWF Title. It’s notable because when Lex came out, Vince literally screamed “YES! YES! YES! YOU CAN FEEL IT! YOU CAN FEEL IT!”. I think he has to overdo it with the noises during sex to make up for Linda’s half. What do you think?

-If ever a match were concrete proof that Lex Luger does not a Hulk Hogan make, it’s this one. If Hogan, in his prime, faced Yokozuna, he would at least pace it a little better than this. Luger has no sense of timing if he’s not facing Flair or Sting or Steamboat. He’s about as one dimensional as….something that’s one dimensional.

-Luger can’t slam Yoko. He never slammed him the first time either, so I don’t know what the big surprise is.

-To condense this rant a little bit, lemme summarize the next few sequences for you. Yoko applies a nerve hold, Yoko applies a nerve hold, and Yoko applies a nerve hold. Also, Yoko sweated a lot and Luger made crazed faces to indicate that he was selling. Cliff’s Notes, eat your heart out!

-Finally, Luger gets the alleged slam (as Fuji calls it, a HEEP TOSS) followed by the loaded forearm smash. After Luger beats up Cornette and Fuji and drags them into the ring, he covers Yoko, but Perfect refuses to count, due to Luger breaking about 46 fundamental wrestling rules, including “selling like Max Headroom having a seizure”. So Luger gets pissed, shoves Perfect, and Luger is disqualified. Wahlberg can’t even announce the winner, because Howard Finkel beat him up and took the mic. I’m assuming anyway.

-Backstage, Luger confronts Perfect and the situation gets heated. You know it’s bad when Tony Chimel has to help break it up. That triple chin makes for a good battering ram.

-The crowd chants something about bovine feces, and Vince says “These fans are not happy!”. Wow, so Vince CAN hear them when they’re mad! I never knew!

-Next up, to waste some time, Harvey Whippleman calls Finkel some derogatory names like “monkey face” and “banana nose”. I’d be very impressed if he repeated that to someone like Ron Simmons. Simmons beating up Whippleman would be the moment to end all moments.

-Oh, and Earthquake beats Adam Bomb in under a minute. Just wanted to mention since, you know, it’s kinda vital.

-Meanwhile, Yokozuna has a stern warning for Bret Hart. He really should have been warning Samoa Joe that if Joe eats just 5 more boxes of malomars, that they’ll be twins. Am I the only one who’s glad that Yoko was never given Rikishi’s gimmick?

-Now it gets good: the first ladder match in PPV history, as Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon do battle for the IC Title. As a childhood Shawn mark, I was looking forward to this more than anything. I mean, at this stage of life, girls were icky and I couldn’t wait to see Shawn. Somewhere, Johnny Weir’s nodding.

-Moron ring announcer Bill Dunn informs us that for this next match, there are “no rules”. Crowd cheers. I love you, New York.

-Shawn Michaels and Diesel look like something out of a David Bowie music video, and Razor Ramon walks under the ladder just for fun. That’s seven years of bad luck that somehow turned into 16 and counting. That’s not really fair, is it?

-After some early wrestling sequences, Razor abruptly takes control with his snap chokeslam. Soon enough, Shawn regains control and sends Razor to the floor, where Diesel attacks. Hebner ejects Diesel for his interference. Diesel gets thrown out in a match with no rules? Russo, that’s brilliant!

-Lawler notes that Razor gets his prescriptions written in spray paint. Finally, Lawler makes me chuckle. Took over two hours….

-Razor tries a Razor’s Edge and gets backdropped over onto bare concrete. Let the sickness begin.

-Spotfest or not, Razor could throw some awesome punches. Razor, Big Bossman, Goldust, and Jerry Lawler are first ballot inductees into the Worked Punches Hall of Fame. Shawn ups the ante by baseball sliding the ladder into Razor’s gut, then using it as a ramrod on the champ. Good stuff so far.

-Shawn goes for the belt, but Razor pulls his pants down, leading to Shawn hitting the first ever bare-butt flying elbow smash. It’s like half Randy Savage/half Randy West.

-Now for the video moment: Shawn’s superfly splash off the ladder onto Razor. It’s so precise, that it’s frightening.

Soon enough, we get Shawn being whipped into the ladder and over to the floor, and then Razor sandwiching Shawn into the post using the ladder. No wonder the man’s back was reduced to Swiss cheese. Razor also jaws Shawn with the ladder and sends him to the floor again. But as Razor climbs the ladder, here comes Shawn with a double ax handle to knock him off, sending the ladder falling onto Shawn. I’m still speechless at this match.

-Just for fun, Razor suplexes Shawn off the ladder, and collapses to the mat himself. Is it any wonder that both men fell in love with percocets?

-After Shawn gets the almost-Sweet Chin Music, and lands a ladder flume ride onto Razor, he tries the winning climb, but Razor slams into the ladder, crotching Shawn and getting him tied in the ropes. Razor goes up and Shawn frees himself a second too late as Razor pulls down both belts for the win. POSITIVE! FIVE! STARS! My favorite ladder match until Shawn/Jericho set the new standard at No Mercy 2008. Both men deserved their painkillers after this one.

-Meanwhile, the heels in the ten man tag can’t decide who the captain is, so the match is off. Works for me. Also, Dibiase tries to buy out Bill Clinton. I think Clinton’s waffling led to the Republican Revolution of 1994. Really.

-Music video set to “Making Some Noise” by Tom Petty to put Bret over before the main event. The supposed archive footage of Stu Hart watching a young Bret and Owen wrestle kills me.

-Here are the guests for the mainer: a smoking hot Jenny Garth is timekeeper (I’d keep time with her), a heavily drunk Burt Reynolds is the ring announcer, and Roddy Piper is the ref. Burt introduces Bret as “in his opinion, the greatest wrestler in the world today”. I’m sure Vince REALLY highlighted that one on the index cards.

-So it’s Bret and Yoko and for the gold, much like last year except with a better crowd and no Orange Goblin to speak of. Yoko attacks before the bell and IT’S ON~! Ten year old Justin thought Bret had no chance due to getting his leg injured against Owen earlier. Ten year old Justin also pegged the Eagles to win Super Bowl XXIX.

-Yoko just dominates, but he’s so winded from earlier. Bret gets 2 hours to rest and Yoko gets maybe 45. Did Vince flunk Physics or something?

-Bret finally knocks Yoko down and the crowd is loving it. See Luger? Those are called CHEERS. After Bret lands the middle rope elbow, Cornette pulls Piper out on the two count and gets decked. That’s it Roddy, knock about 12 layers of bitter off of him.

-The match seesaws a bit more, albeit slowly and within the story, until Yoko finally gets Bret in the corner. As Yoko goes up for the Banzai drop, he inexplicably slips and Bret moves away, covering the stunned Yoko for his second World Title. Not a good match, but it had a crowd pleasing ending. Afterward, Yoko chases Piper to the locker room, trying to beat him to the pork buffet. Yoko may have won, but after his death, Piper would get the catering tables all to himself. And how.

-So then we get the endorsement parade, as Vince says Bret’s going to lead the WWF into the new decade. Imagine that. Here to endorse Bret are Luger (marveling at a “winner”), Tatanka, Razor, Savage, 123 Kid, Bob Holly, Burt, Rhonda, Wahlberg, Patterson, Monsoon, and Vince himself, while Owen Hart stands in the aisleway with a look of shock and disgust on his face, as if to say “that should be me”. A truly underrated ending, maybe the greatest ending in WrestleMania history, next to Hogan endorsing Warrior from the aisleway at 6, Shawn crying at 12, and Eddie hugging an invisible man at 20.

-CYNIC SAYS: Well, here’s the deal: what was great was GREAT. Bret vs. Owen and Shawn vs. Razor find themselves among the top ten or fifteen WrestleMania matches ever, and that encompasses nearly 300 matches. What was bad wasn’t terrible, but most of the action felt so insignificant compared to the two incredible matches mentioned. There was a great ending with Bret winning, and that makes up for the slow match. Plus, it’s always fun to watch Luger fall short, isn’t it?

So far, there hasn’t been a WrestleMania that trumps #3 from 1987, but this one came the closest. Had the undercard been just a little better, #10 could have very easily taken over the top spot. As it is, I merely call the show “excellent” and it falls a little short. Much like Lex Luger. Take that for what it’s worth.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

[amazon_link id=”B0009E32TI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ’80s[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B00HRUQA8C” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Wrestlemania 30 DVD[/amazon_link]

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

(Visited 42 times, 1 visits today)

Justin Henry

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

Comments

About

Welcome to the Camel Clutch Blog. The CCB was born in 2007 and features blogs from over 50 different writers. Articles from the Camel Clutch Blog have been featured by some of the world's most respected websites including; CNNSI.com, Foxsports.com, Yahoo News, Business Insider, MSNBC, NBCsports.com, and more.

Writers Wanted

Do you have a passion for blogging? The Camel Clutch Blog is proud to have featured over 50 guest bloggers and contributors since its inception. The CCB is a great outlet for your blogging or a great way to promote your own site, blog, and/or podcast through Guest Blogging. The CCB reaches millions of people per year and you can be sure you will be read when you post on the CCB. Email Eric Gargiulo at [email protected] if you are interested.

Add to Flipboard

Connect with me

Link to my Facebook Page
Link to my Rss Page
Link to my Twitter Page
Link to my Youtube Page
To Top