WrestleMania XI might signal the moment when Vince McMahon went "too far" in terms of celebrity tie-ins. After all it seemed like the only reason to buy this event in terms of the build up was if you wanted to see NFL Legend Lawrence Taylor in the ring. That he was fighting the distincly mid-card Bam Bam Bigelow (who lest we forget had been fighting a midget clown at the previous year's WM) meant that it was even less of an exciting prospect. That said, the match wasn't a complete washout. It was by no means a classic but LT seemed to be having a whale of a time (especially when on the offensive) and lets face it, it was better than seeing such ring generals as Jay Leno and David Arquette during WCW's "glory days" (and in the interest of fairness, better than seeing Mr. Britney Spears Kevin Federline wrestling in the WWE).
It was probably a combination of Bigelow being a "no-name" and a distinctly poor looking undercard that led to the disappointing buy-rate for WM XI. The match pitting Diesel against his genuine best friend Shawn Michaels aside, there were no real burning issues you HAD to see. That Michaels and Diesel failed to raise the roof in the manner that they would have liked (a fact that Michaels both admits in his autobiograhpy and then "subtly" blames on how Vince set out the match) means that there is literally nothing you would want to watch again. King Kong Bundy as an opponent for The Undertaker results in a stinker (as you would expect), The Blu Brothers were non-descript opponents for the sinking Allied Powers (Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith) and if I didn't know better I'd suggest that Bret Hart's performance in his dull, dull match with Bob Backlund was a distinct middle finger to Vince for the drop in the card since he headlined the previous two years. There really is nothing of any lasting importance here.
WM XII is by far a better show (though I should point out it drew a lower buy-rate than the previous year's show). Shawn Michaels wrestles for the World Title again, this time in an hour long "Iron Man" match against Bret "The Hitman" Hart. I personally feel that the match is slightly overrated (the political decision to limit the number of falls in the match makes it very slow paced) but it is still a great match. The Undertaker and Diesel put on a shockingly good match (easily the best the 'Taker had had at WM up to this point) too which shows that when Nash wasn't being lazy (as he would often prove to be in WCW) he could put on a show. You also have the bizarre Roddy Piper/Goldust "encounter" (one couldn't call it a wrestling match) which is certainly different. The sight of OJ Simpson's infamous White Bronco car chase being spliced into this battle merely makes you thankful that Vince never got around to pulling the trigger, if that's not a quip in bad taste, on his idea to actually have OJ wrestle in the WWF. The rest of the card is fairly non-descript. Steve Austin has a very inauspicious WrestleMania debut against Savio Vega, the six man tag match that opens the show is a waste of Owen Hart, Vader and Davey Boy Smith and as amusing as it is to see current WWE King of Politics Triple H get squashed by a returning Ultimate Warrior it's hardly must-see WWF TV.
WrestleMania XI is a show I never really want to see any of again and the fact that WM XII's legacy largely rests on the Iron Man match (available elsewhere) means that this is another set that is hard to recommend. Given that it features on of the best matches of it's era (Bret Vs Shawn) it just about sneaks 3 stars from me, but without that encounter it would barely scrape a 2.
on 14 January 2007
This is an interesting DVD containing some decent wrestling, some dire wrestling and one mindblowing match.
Firstly we have Wrestlemania XI, which is considered by many to be one of the weakest 'Manias. This is unfortunately accurate. To begin with we are given a dreadful botch-fest of a tag match involving Davey Boy Smith and Lex Luger taking on the perenially abysmal Blu Brothers. Things pick up slighty in an Intercontinental title battle between Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon, though this match is easily forgotten. The contest involving Undertaker and King Kong Bundy is as vile as it sounds. Next is another forgettable match where Owen Hart and Yokozuna battle the Smoking Gunns for tag team gold. The I Quit match between Bret Hart and Bob Backlund is reasonable but should have been a hell of a lot better. Shawn Michaels then drags a rather good match out of Diesel in the WWF title contest.
The main event, Bam Bam Bigelow vs Lawrence Taylor is wretched beyond words.
Thankfully Wrestlemania XII is much better. We begin with a fairly decent tag title bout pitting the Bodydonnas against the Godwinns. Next up we see
a six man tag match involving Vader, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog and
their opponents Jake Roberts, Ahmed Johnson and a morbidly obese Yokozuna which is somewhat of timefiller, but entertaining. Following this comes the first installment of the Backlot Brawl match between Roddy Piper and Goldust. This is little more than a recurring joke match. Next up is a solid match between Savio Vega and Steve Austin, some good wrestling there. Then we see the much hyped return of the Ultimate Warrior as he takes on a pre Triple H Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The result? A dreadful "squash" match. The penultimate match shows us the Undertaker battling Diesel in a match which is average at best, boring at worst. That brings us to the main event, a brilliant Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. These two were unquestionably the finest in-ring performers in the business at this time and this is clearly demonstrated here.
All in all, this isn't the worst of the Tagged Classics.However there are
better collections out there, although I would recommend this but mostly for the Hart/Michaels match.
on 17 July 2012
I bought these two classic Wrestlemanias as they cover a key period in my time as a wrestling fan. I stopped watching wrestling towards the end of 1995 (I may have just about endured Royal Rumble '96) before getting back into it in late `99. This was due to my age (I was 13 and older than the target audience) and because the WWF was going through a frankly dire patch. As a result, I saw Wrestlemania XI at the time, but had never seen Wrestlemania XII. I have reviewed them here separately.
The aforementioned dire patch that the WWF was experiencing in 1995 is pretty much summed up by the card they put together for this Wrestlemania. Even on paper it looks bad. Moreover, the entire event smacks of budget restrictions, a lack of star power and poor booking. None of the matches have any real substance to speak of, and the show feels at best like another edition of the interminable `In Your House' pay-per-views that were introduced that year, or at worst like a slightly upmarket episode of WWF Superstars. It is surely one of the worst Wrestlemanias ever.
The opening match pitting Lex Luger and the British Bulldog against the useless Blu Brothers is mercifully short, and is followed by one of the card's better matches with Razor Ramon and Jeff Jarrett battling for the Intercontinental title. Both were good workers at the time although the match doesn't flow particularly. Ramon eventually wins via a disqualification, which was a fairly common finish in the pre-Attitude era. Following this, the Undertaker is saddled with a large and useless lump - as he would often be in the 1990s - in the shape of King Kong Bundy. Needless to say the match is only saved from being a complete lemon by Mark Callaway's efforts to make Bundy look competent, and he emerges the victor, as is par for the course at Wrestlemania.
Owen Hart and Yokozuna defeat the Smoking Gunns in another forgettable encounter, while Bret Hart beats Bob Backlund in an `I Quit' match which should have been much better than it ultimately was. Roddy Piper is the guest referee for this and is sadly underused. Speaking of being underused, this Wrestlemania took place at a time when Vince McMahon was still lead commentator, relegating Jim Ross - arguably one of the greatest wrestling commentators there has ever been - to an interviewer role previously reserved for the likes of Sean Mooney and Todd Pettengill. McMahon was never a great commentator, and his partnership with Jerry Lawler didn't quite work at this Wrestlemania or the next.
The WWF Championship is on the line between Shawn Michaels and Diesel in what is ultimately a very average and disappointing bout. In fact, the focus seems to be more on the "celebrities" at ringside (Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and some bloke nobody has ever heard of), who add nothing and celebrate with eventual victor Diesel at the end for some totally unknown reason.
The main event of the night is a bizarre one. Clearly, Vince McMahon was desperately trying to increase the company's fan base and his chosen method was to use NFL superstar Lawrence Taylor as a wrestler. This certainly sparked interest in the mainstream media, although the decision to pit him against Bam Bam Bigelow was probably not the best. Bigelow was my favourite wrestler at the time, but he was not a star. Had Taylor been pitched against Hart or Michaels, the interest may have been greater. As it turned out, Bigelow's profile was not high enough for a defeat to matter much, and his resistance to Taylor's incredibly stiff offence probably go some way to explaining his involvement. Taylor would have taken most people's heads off with some of his blows. The match is actually not bad, partially because WWF road agent Pat Patterson was used as referee in order to guide Taylor, who eventually wins.
The final match perhaps saves the event to a degree, but in truth as a major pay-per-view it is best forgotten. It wasn't the only low point that year though - it was only a few months later that Mabel (later to be come perennial jobber Viscera) was crowned King of the Ring...
I was intrigued to see this Wrestlemania, mostly because it followed such a poor effort the year before, but also because I had heard good things about it. I had already seen one match from it: the Hollywood back lot brawl which is featured on the Roddy Piper retrospective DVD.
The event only actually features six matches, as confusingly the WWF tag team title match takes place during the 30-minute pre-Wrestlemania show. This involves the Bodydonnas with their delightful manager Sunny (Tammy Sytch) beating the Godwinns in the final of the tag team title tournament, which is extremely average. This show also contains a totally unfunny and bitter skit which depicts `ironic' versions of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage (the Huckster and Nacho Man) in a match refereed by `Billionaire Ted' (a reference to WCW owner Ted Turner). If anything was likely to make even more WWF viewers switch over to WCW, this kind of desperate attempt to claim the moral high ground was.
The first match of the actual event sees Vader, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog defeat Yokozuna, Jake Roberts and Ahmed Johnson in what is actually a good match with some strong story-telling. The excellent Yokozuna takes centre stage while Vader and Roberts both turn in good performances. The next match is interesting for the sea-change that it signifies: Savio Vega, a typical mid-card nobody from this era of the WWF, is beaten by Stone Cold Steve Austin, soon to be one of the sport's biggest stars when the Attitude era kicked off. Austin had arrived in the WWF under a `Ringmaster' gimmick which never took off, but on this evidence it was somewhat apt as his technical proficiency is clear at a time before injuries took their toll. In June 1996, he would memorably win the King of the Ring tournament.
Sadly, the WWF reverts to type in the next match with a typical short-term, headline-grabbing segment. The Ultimate Warrior returns for the umpteenth time to a huge ovation, and pointlessly beats another future megastar, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, in under two minutes. Things fortunately pick up soon after with a good big-man tussle between the Undertaker and Diesel. The Undertaker inevitably wins but not before an enjoyable encounter which both men emerge from with credit. In amongst all of this is an unusual bout for the WWF at the time: a Hollywood backlot brawl between Roddy Piper and Goldust, which is as brutal as it is ultimately silly. Its overt viciousness and laughable ending was in many ways a blueprint for WWF matches of the future.
Finally, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart meet in an Iron Man match (another departure for the WWF) for the WWF title. Naturally the match is strewn with rest holds, but it is actually very good and doesn't drag on as would be the danger in such matches. Both men put in superb performances and make the closing stages essential viewing. This match and some of the others on the card certainly make for a better spectacle than the previous year, which wasn't hard to achieve but is still noteworthy.
Overall, these two Wrestlemanias depict a massive transitional period for the WWF, which was struggling to compete with WCW in almost all areas (an issue which would only get worse as 1996 wore on). Slowly but surely though, Vince McMahon was trying to make the transformation to the Attitude era, and evidence of this can be seen in Wrestlemania XII. By all accounts Wrestlemania 13 is very similar with things only really taking off Attitude-wise the year after that, as is well known. In 1995 and 1996 though, the WWF were just trying to keep their heads above water, and it shows.
on 21 September 2014
Wrestlemania XI: Not the most exciting Wrestlemania ever but obviously part of a set, so.... Diesel VS. Shawn Michaels is ok but the Lawrence Taylor VS. Bam Bam Bigelow match is the only reason to watch this DVD.
Wrestlemania XII: Contains possibly the best Wrestlemania match of all time, the Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Personally for me, I was astonished at how good, brutal and funny the Hollywood Backlot Brawl match was but then at the same time, incredibly disappointed by the Ultimate Warrior's return match, against HHH and by how short it was / the lack of any fight either man put into it.
on 26 November 2008
Wrestlemania 11 and 12 on tagged classics again makes for good viewing and again in terms of value this is rich in value,the events are similar in the quality of the matches ranging from killer all the way down,and at times its a painful descent,to the ragings filler matches,it was part and parcel of this era and i guess it still is part of the company even today but i love it all the same,the iron man match lasting over a hour is worth it on its own as it is never boring,oh yeah,bret hart and hbk are involved in that and there is some painful looking comedy as roddy piper and goldust square off and much more besides,so i suggest picking this up to you but beware of the dreaded average and you will be fine.