After a toga-filled and somewhat maligned WrestleMania IX, the WWE returned to the home of the original ‘Mania: the iconic Madison Square Garden. WresleMania X will be forever remembered for two all-time great matches and the four legendary and tragic men that possessed the skill to execute them. Besides the high-level match quality, the event served as a transition to a new era of WrestleMania.
WrestleMania X Starts with a Hart Classic
Following Little Richard’s incredible rendition of America the Beautiful, wrestling fans were treated to another spiritual experience as Bret Hart faced his brother Owen in one of WrestleMania’s legendary opening matches. Coming into the match, Bret was the clear favorite of the siblings, and much more accomplished. The Hitman did not want to face Owen, but his brother’s constant disrespect and direct challenges pushed Bret to accept the match. Both Harts were of course considered as the pinnacle of in-ring wrestling talent, and this contest proved it without a doubt.
Owen raised the animosity early in the match with a big slap to the face of his big bro, and the two technicians traded picture-perfect counters and reversals. After a big clothesline that sent Owen out of the ring, Bret returned his little brother’s slap. Owen showed tremendous passion throughout the match, while Bret seemed somewhat resigned to the fact that he had to fight his family. In reality, the two had likely fought thousands of times in the famous Hart Family Dungeon, which added to the chemistry of the pair. Owen’s offensive onslaught contained a number of ring-rattling suplexes, while Bret looked for countering pins.
One of the most thrilling sequences included Owen hitting a pile driver, and then quickly ascending the ropes for a splash that Bret rolled out of the way of. After trading a number of big moves, both brothers unsuccessfully looked to lock in the Sharpshooter. Bret nailed Owen with a dive over the ropes, but the move injured Bret’s knee. Owen noticed the injury and focused his attack, wrapping it around the ring post and inflicting as much pain and pressure as possible. This included a nasty figure-four lock, which Owen seemed sure would secure his desired victory.
Even on one leg and with a championship match later in the night, Bret continued on. The Hitman hit a pile driver and top rope suplex of his own, but it was only enough for two dramatic two-counts. The crowd went wild for the two gladiators, who delivered shot after shot. The closing moments saw Owen finally able to put his foe in a Sharpshooter, which Bret reversed into one of his own. After a rope break, Bret got Owen upon his shoulders and attempted a victory roll. The plucky Owen was able to counter the roll and beat his brother with a sit-down pin.
The match is a must-watch for any wrestling fan, a coronation for Owen, and showcased the fast-paced yet technical style of wrestling that eventually becomes so exciting for wrestling fans around the world.
In Remembrance of Razor Ramon
As a somewhat new fan of wrestling, there are certain unwatched legendary matches for me to discover. During the lead-up to this year’s WrestleMania, I have been viewing previous events and have waited with anticipation to watch the famous ladder match between The Heartbreak Kid and the Bad Guy. I admit there were times that I worried that the match would not live up to its massive hype. I am happy to say that I was incredibly wrong for even considering it.
The match is full of wrestling perfection, beginning with the intro of Shawn Michaels accompanied by the one and only Kevin Nash. Of course, Diesel/Big Daddy Cool would become forever linked with Scott Hall, and this was just a preview of the magic all three men would create. Razor Ramon’s entrance came accompanied by a mega-pop from the MSG crowd, and the Bad Guy played his role perfectly, defying bad luck and ducking under the legendary ladder. Unlike the ladder matches of today, the match only featured the singular ladder, adding the drama of the spectacle.
Before the ladder was introduced, Ramon and Michaels started the match hot, including Ramon getting dumped hard to the exposed concrete on the outside by Michaels blocking a Razor’s Edge attempt. After seeing his big buddy Diesel being sent to the back (even though a ladder match is no disqualification), Shawn was the first to grab the red metal ladder with the intent to bring it into the ring. The ladder-based violence began with Michaels, as Michaels drop kicked the ladder into Ramon’s gut before he could enter the ring. The Heartbreak Kid continued to use the ladder on Ramon’s stomach, smashing his opponent with a series of hard-hitting and innovative moves.
The first attempt made at retrieving the two belts above the ring was made by Michaels, who eventually had to drop the elbow onto Razor, causing a near-wardrobe malfunction. Then came the famous splash, as Michaels once again gave Ramon a big shot to the stomach. Not to be outdone, Ramon began his attack with the ladder, including a hard Irish whip that sent Michaels sailing out of the ring. The ultimate sell-job artist, Michaels bounced off the around the ring like a human rubber band each time Razor hit an offensive maneuver. Both men gave their bodies in service of entertainment, taking hard fall after hard fall. The punishment was also felt by the single ladder, which was bent halfway through the contest.
One of the most exciting moves Michaels pulled off was riding the ladder onto Ramon from the top rope, which was executed with smooth precision. Michaels looked to be in a great position to retrieve his championship after setting up the ladder over Ramon, but instead, the Bad Guy shoulder tackled the ladder, causing Michaels to land groin-first on the ropes and twist his foot stuck between the ropes. This allowed Razor to climb the ladders and end an extraordinary match with a win.
The first ladder match in WrestleMania history set the bar sky-high for future contests. As WrestleMania approaches, make sure to revisit this classic match, or watch it for the first time like I did and simply marvel at it.
WWF Championship Feels Secondary
The opening Hart vs. Hart match and the Intercontinental Championship match strongly outshined everything else on this card, including the two WWF Championship matches. Bret Hart and Lex Luger each earned the right to challenge the monstrous Yokozuna by tying for the victory at the 1994 Royal Rumble.
First up in the duo of matches was the champion Yokozuna versus Luger, with guest referee: the returning Mr. Perfect. Luger versus Yokozuna was also guest-announced by Donnie Wahlberg, who came off looking like the coolest human being in the world for some reason. Yokozuna was accompanied by Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette and billed at a whopping 568 pounds.
The two wrestlers showed the extremes of the human physique and made for a hard-hitting yet slow-paced contest. Yokozuna dominated most of the match, clutching Lugar’s trapezius muscle and delivering hard chop shots. The champ was knocked off his feet during Lugar’s late rally, but Mr. Perfect would not count Lugar’s pin attempt while Fuji and Cornette were in the ring. Lugar put his hands on the guest ref, and Perfect disqualified the challenger and gave Yokozuna the victory. While the match left the crowd chanting BS, Mr. Perfect’s vertical stripe referee jumpsuit was as perfect as advertised.
After winning his first match, Yokozuna had to prepare himself for Bret Hart, who lost in a gruelling contest earlier in the night. The Yokozuna and Hart match was the main event of the tenth WrestleMania, and celebrities Jennie Garth and Burt Reynolds were the guest time-keeper and ring-announcer respectively. Rowdy Roddy Piper then entered the arena as the main event’s referee sans kilt. The champion Yokozuna employed a similar strategy used against Luger and easily controlled the match early on. A heavy headbutt by Hart helped knock the big man to the ground, as did the Hitman’s big right hands. After Cornette pulled ref Piper out of the ring during a count, Cornette ate a knockout blow from the Rowdy one. The resilient Hart took Yokozuna’s best shots and responded with his best and several pin attempts. The match ended with Yokozuna falling off the ropes when attempting to hit his finisher Banzai, which allowed Hart to pin the champion. The second match was stronger than the first, but a somewhat strange ending took out some of the steam.
Randy Savage’s Swan Song
In previous single-digit WrestleManias, Randy Savage was the most important wrestler not named Hulk Hogan. The two were consistently the main event players of the event, whether they were in the ring together or not. Mania X was the first time that Hogan did not wrestle, and Savage’s match was in the middle of the show instead of near the main event. Even in the mid-card position, Savage’s entrance was met with possibly the biggest pop of the night. The match would be the last of Savage’s illustrious WWE career.
Savage’s final opponent was Crush, accompanied by Mr. Fuji, and the two competed in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, where after a pin-fall the pinned competitor had 60 seconds to return to the ring. Crush secured a quick pin-fall after dumping Savage on the barricade, but Savage was able to make it back into the ring with a second to spare. The Macho Man hit his patented flying elbow and drug Crush to the outside for his first fall attempt. Crush and Savage began to brawl outside of the ring, which led to the pair heading into the concourse. Savage was able to pin Crush, and then smartly tied Crush’s foot to scaffolding and earned his final WrestleMania victory.
-X was the first time that the call team of Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler held the commentary table together during WrestleMania.
-The President of the Hair Club for Men Sy Sperling gave Howard Finkel a new head of hair in one of the strangest and unexciting celebrity moments I’ve ever seen.
-The uniquely hair-styled foursome of Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna versus Doink and Dink put on a pretty good tag match. Luna was especially impressive in a very solidly worked contest.
-Sy Sperling wasn’t the only president in attendance, as a fake Bill Clinton was amongst the crowd for the event, interacting with WWF stars IRS and Ted DiBiase. Hairstyles, Harry S. Truman, presidents, Donald Trump: it all makes some horrible WWE sense I guess.
-Fake Clinton was also interviewed by Todd Pettengill, which included an awkward reference to the country’s taxation issues. Classic 90’s stuff.
-Leilani Kai challenged Alundra Blayze for the Women’s Championship. The two put on a short yet impressive match that showcased Blayze’s speed and ahead-of-her-time move set.
-Before the IC ladder match, Michaels was out-cooled by a freshly permed Burt Reynolds. Reynolds was able to give apparent 90’s celebrity Rhonda Shear the vapors in a steamy backstage segment. Tough night for The Heartbreak Kid.
-The Quebecers beat Men On A Mission to retain their tag team championship. A solid tag match, but the highlight of this one was Oscar’s pre-match rap/pump-up session.
-Earthquake beat Adam Bomb with three moves. Seemed quite unnecessary.
-A ten-man tag team match was scheduled for the event but the team of heels could not agree on a captain and the match was called off. It was later revealed that the ladder match went overtime, causing the tag to be canceled. I think they made the right choice.
-The night ended with a heart-warming celebration for Bret Hart, as a who’s who of wrestlers came out to congratulate the Hitman on his win, including Luger, Savage, and Ramon.
As a whole, WrestleMania X began to showcase a new generation of WWE, was full of fun moments and will be remembered for two of the most legendary and influential matches in wrestling history.