WWF WrestleMania X
WWF WrestleMania X marked, of course, the tenth instalment of the iconic sports entertainment extravaganza that is WrestleMania, and it returned to its original homebase of Madison Square Garden. With the exception of two notable omissions (Hulk Hogan, who had departed the company in 1993 having previously been involved in some way in the final moments of the first nine Manias, and The Undertaker, who had gone on an injury-related leave of absence after Royal Rumble 1994), the card delivered big-time, and in particular, we were treated to two of the greatest WM matches of all-time.
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
One of those was the opener between Hart brothers Bret and Owen. The story went that younger brother Owen was becoming increasingly jealous of his far more famous and far more successful sibling, which led to him finally snapping and turning heel at the Rumble. This was the battle for revenge, and it was a classic. It was a technical wrestling masterpiece, albeit one which didn’t delve too far out of the box. Everything was done for a reason, and everything was kept simple so that you knew exactly who the babyface and heel were (Bret noted that they had originally designed a different style of match, but Bret felt that changes were necessary to ensure that fans booed Owen rather than applauded his athleticism). That being said, there were still plenty of big moments, great counters and eye-catching moves from both men. In the end, Owen caught Bret in a cradle and earned one of the more surprising wins ever at WrestleMania. Not only did Owen win, but he did so clearly, and with a pure wrestling move no less. The layout of the match and the nature of the plotline meant that Owen enhanced his credibility while maintaining his villainous status, and with Bret not being harmed whatsoever. If only wrestling was still that easy to book in 2020. Bret’s night wasn’t over, though, as I will explain.
Mixed Tag Team Match
Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink
And now for something completely different … after Howard Finkel was treated to a new toupée by guest Sy Sperling, we had a tag match with a difference, as the pint-sized Dink teamed up with, erm, average-sized Doink to face the monstrous Bam Bam Bigelow and his female “main squeeze”, the wild Luna Vachon. This was largely a comedy match, with the clowns getting the best of the heels on multiple occasions (Doink and Dink were also incredibly over in the spring of 1994, despite what the wrestling purists try to suggest nowadays). Eventually, though, the notion of Bigelow losing to the circus-themed combo was too far a booking idea to consider, and a diving headbutt sealed the win for Bam Bam over Doink.
Falls Count Anywhere Match
Randy Savage vs. Crush
Next up, we had the first ever Falls Count Anywhere match on a WWF/WWE PPV, but with a difference. In this case, while pinfalls and submissions could indeed count anywhere, and while there were indeed no disqualifications or countouts, any such decision would be followed by the man losing said fall having up to 60 seconds to return to the ring, and if they were unable to do so, they would lose overall. A somewhat complicated stipulation, but it made sense in practice as Savage and Crush – who had turned his back on the Macho Man several months prior, going heel and aligning with Mr. Fuji – battled in and around ringside, exchanging falls before making their way backstage just under the net curtain in front of one of the balconies that made the old-school MSG so recognisable. There, Savage pinned Crush, and then tied his opponent up on a hanging wire so that he was caught upside down by the leg, thus giving Macho the time to return to the squared circle and to claim the victory for the match as a whole. I enjoyed this one, and it was a neat swansong to the legendary Macho Man on the main WWF stage, as he would leave the company near the end of 1994. This version of Falls Count Anywhere would never resurface again, though.
WWF Women’s Championship Match
Alundra Blayze (C) vs. Leilani Kai
Alundra had won the vacant WWF Women’s Championship back in December of 1993, and she was a top-quality competitor for the WWF women’s ranks to boast as a titleholder. The only problem was that there wasn’t really a division for her to actually be the champion of at this time. Case in point: this defence came against Kai, who had lost the Women’s Title to Wendi Richter in the same building at the very first Mania, but who had done virtually nothing in the previous few years. It was a cool nod to history, but that’s it, and the match itself was very much forgettable. Blayze sealed the win and retained her title following a German suplex.
WWF World Tag Team Championship Match
The Quebecers (C) vs. Men On A Mission
Mo and Mabel were the challengers to Jacques and Pierre on this night. On paper, this hardly measured up to previous and future tag team classics at WrestleMania, and other than historians and die-hards, most fans would find it hard to comprehend that this was the big showdown for the doubles crowns at the historic tenth anniversary WrestleMania. It was still a worthwhile contests with some noteworthy moves, but for the second time in three years, a Tag Team Championship bout on the grandest stage of them all would have a screwy finish, as Johnny Polo persuaded the champs to get themselves counted out, giving MOM the victory, but not the gold. (As a side note, MOM provided a rap song to mark WM X, which is worth tracking down on YouTube because of its cheesy nature, though not as much as their own theme song, which featured such lyrical gems as “All other other managers are not like me (Oscar), yeah, here we go”.)
WWF Championship Match – Mr. Perfect Is Special Guest Referee
Yokozuna (C) vs. Lex Luger
Luger and Bret Hart had co-won the 1994 Royal Rumble match, and WWF President Jack Tunney decided that both men would get title shots on the night. A coin toss determined that Lex would get his big moment first, and Bret would counter the notion of either Lex or Yoko competing twice by also pulling double-duty in the form of opening and closing the card. Both WWF Title matches would have surprise guest referees, and in this case, that official was Mr. Perfect, who hadn’t been on the scene for a few months. The bout itself was unfortunately terrible, with Yoko spending far too much time having Luger trapped in a seemingly-unthreatening nerve hold. There’s pacing yourself (and Zuna was massive), but this took things to another level. In the end, Luger finally escaped the most boring rest hold of all-time and seemingly had Yoko beat, only for heel managers Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette to try and get involved; Lex dispatched of them, but they did enough to continuously distract Perfect, even when they were seemingly back on the floor. Lex confronted and pushed Mr. P, only to then find himself disqualified, giving Yoko a dodgy yet logical route past the man who Vince McMahon had previously hoped would be the next Hulk Hogan. Though Perfect had turned heel by doing so on patriotic babyface Lex, fans in MSG were fairly pleased, because now it would be Yoko vs. Bret, and the occasionally-unlikeable Luger was now out of the running for the gold. Lex chased Perfect backstage (Curt Hennig had a sweet full-body referee uniform, by the way), but their feud would never be resolved, as Perfect pulled another of his real-life wrestling disappearing acts shortly thereafter.
Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake
After Adam and his manager Harvey Whippleman had harassed The Fink, Earthquake came out and pinned Bomb in little over 30 seconds. That’s it.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Razor Ramon (C) vs. Shawn Michaels
At this stage, you may be wondering why this is such a lauded Mania card. Well, the semi-final played host to another all-time classic in the form of the first Ladder match on a WWF PPV. Shawn had been IC Champ before being suspended; when he returned, Razor had won the vacant gold, but Michaels claimed to still own the original belt, and so he believed he was the rightful titleholder, which led to this match. You’ll probably already know what happens, so I’ll run through it quickly: both men traded the advantage early on, before Diesel got a little too involved and was ejected from ringside, leaving Michaels and Ramon alone to deliver a plethora of incredible spots, both with the ladder as a weapon and as a climbing frame. Of particular note was Razor sling-shotting Shawn into the ladder at ringside; Shawn driving the rungs into Ramon’s ribs; Shawn hitting a perfect splash off the ladder onto his opponent; and Michaels again taking a falling roll-out bump with the ladder in hand as he headed into the ribs of Razor. Finishers were attempted and avoided, and chases up the ladder to win the match were foiled multiple times. Ultimately, Ramon knocked Shawn off the ladder onto the ropes, where Michaels got his foot tangled, allowing Ramon to climb up and win the match, pulling down both IC belts to solidify his status as the true Intercontinental Champion.
It looks tame nowadays, but in the spring of 1994, this was truly ground-breaking, and way beyond what any WWF fans had ever seen before. This tremendous match was the beginning of Michaels eventually becoming known as Mr. WrestleMania, as well as emphasising that despite his loss, he was heading straight to the top of the WWF in given time. As for Razor, he was the winner, but in the WWF, this would prove to be his apex. Whether you consider this or the opener to be the better match of the night, there’s no doubt that a WrestleMania featuring two bouts of such incredible quality is something for fans to savour, and we weren’t quite done yet. (Incidentally, there was some heat on both men from varying sides after the match; Bret was angry that Razor and Shawn had used a finish that he requested they didn’t utilise for a stipulation that he himself had brought to Vince’s attention in the past, whilst a planned ten-man tag pitting The Smoking Gunns, Tatanka, 123 Kid and Thurman Sparky Plugg against Jeff Jarrett, IRS, The Headshrinkers and Rick Martel had to be scrapped altogether because this match overran so much, which once again proves that despite how good the Ladder match was, Michaels and Razor had reached the stage where everyone else was more or less collateral damage so long as they achieved their own objectives.)
WWF Championship Match – Roddy Piper Is Special Guest Referee
Yokozuna (C) vs. Bret Hart
In the main event, it was now time for Bret (who was nursing a “knee injury” from the Owen match) to get his opportunity at the master of the Banzai Drop, but with a twist: Rowdy Roddy Piper was back for the first time since 1992 to officiate the final bout of the evening. As with Yoko’s clash against Luger, he largely controlled the action, but thankfully there was less time spent in dull-as-dishwater rest-holds, and Bret showed more fire and energy, not to mention courage, in trying to exact revenge from WrestleMania IX (making this a Mania main event rematch) and dethrone Yoko as titleholder. That being said, the match would be decided not from excellence of, erm, execution nor from dodgy officiating (Piper had a ball chasing off Fuji and Cornette from the ring apron), but from a mistake: Zuna went up to hit his signature Banzai Drop, only to fall backwards off the ropes, allowing Bret (who would have been crushed to death if he hadn’t moved) to pin Yoko and win his second WWF Championship to a rapturous response. Post-match, most of the WWF babyfaces, along with Vince and Gorilla Monsoon, celebrated with Hart in a true feel-good moment (Lex showed sportsmanship by congratulating Hart despite his own disappointment earlier on). But there was scorn to be found, firstly by Jerry Lawler on commentary (The King made his return to the WWF here following a suspension) and by Owen, who stood in the aisle looking on, resentful that his biggest success had been overshadowed again by his brother, but with the realisation that their paths could cross again, and if they did, perhaps he would become WWF Champion then.
WWF WrestleMania X has some major hits to counteract the misses, resulting in a vintage old-school Mania card. It’s the best WM show of the New Generation era, boasting two of the greatest Mania matches ever along with some fine under-card action and a legendary final scene. There have been better WrestleManias overall, but this is definitely in the top ten, and it’s a worthy presentation to mark the first major milestone for the biggest wrestling event ever devised.