Last week I revisited WrestleMania X (which you can read at this link) which from memory was my joint favourite event of all time. Today I will revisit the other contender, WrestleMania XII, and will then evaluate which was the best and finally if they have really stood the test of time.
This WrestleMania was similar to a modern day event in that most of the household names were no more and the roster was looking thin in terms of real superstars. Yet at the same time some loyal servants remained, along with plenty of hungry talent with lots of potential on the card just waiting for their opportunity. It is obvious that Vince McMahon was feeling the heat from WCW as rather than put his total faith in that youth he still decided to bring in a few old faces well past their sell by date (sound familiar?).
The event opened with a 6 man tag team bout, the first team had two superstars that should be in the Hall Of Fame already and if not for their own sad individual circumstances I’ve no doubt both would both have gone on to be WWE Champions, Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. Their partner was another who I thought should have achieved a lot more in WWE Vader. Their solid team faced the team of WrestleMania X main event heel Yokozuna, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Ahmed Johnson. A Vaderbomb on Roberts gave his team a pinfall victory after some vintage attempted interference from Jim Cornette. Nothing special but there was enough decent action to open the show, more of a shame that some talented performers were restricted to a small part in a ten minute 6 man tag.
Next up was “old school” WrestleMania’s annual freakshow/bizarre moment when Goldust faced Roddy Piper in a “Hollywood Backlot Brawl”. In this first, and less weird, part of the match (yes this was split into multiple segments) Goldust turns up in a gold Cadillac and what then takes place is similar to what you can view in pub car parks across the country on a Saturday night with Piper dishing out a “traditional” style beat down. Piper then sprays Goldust with his big hose *ahem* before being hit by a low blow and being run over by Goldust in the aforementioned gaudy vehicle (after some awful vehicle manoeuvring I may add). Piper then hijacks a white Ford and drives off after him.
Back to normality now with Stone Cold Steve Austin taking on Savio Vega. Austin “The Million Dollar Champion”, accompanied by Ted Dibiase, managed to deliver a fantastic technical wrestling match, an ability he had which is often forgotten by people more familiar with latter years post-injury “stomp a mud hole” Austin. Incredibly the crowd were not into it at all but it probably wasn’t helped by the camera switching to show “Rowdy” Roddy Piper being chased by police, a reference to OJ Simpson which wasn’t funny then so how the joke translates now you can imagine. Austin wins with a “Million Dollar Dream”, after he had viciously beat Vega over the head with his diamond encrusted belt a couple of times and choked him out first of course. He also continued to choke him well after the victory had been awarded, he looked like a great heel in the making.
Next up is a match that you wouldn’t believe possible if you are only familiar with modern day WWE. Triple H in his Hunter Hearst Helmsley blue-blood persona, accompanied by the future Mrs Lesnar, Sable, facing the retuning Ultimate Warrior and being squashed in about a minute. Incredibly this was not even after the infamous “curtain call” but embarrassingly Warrior had more airtime pre-match shaking the ropes than Hunter got to job in the ring. He managed to dish out a Pedigree within the minute or so of wrestling but just to add insult to injury Warrior didn't even sell it enough for Hunter to attempt a pin. The usual Warrior move combo followed and it was all over. Hunter was then involved in a backstage altercation with Marc Mero in his first WWE appearance so was given a little extra TV time.
This years final Hall of Fame inductee Diesel challenged the Undertaker in the next match, I'm sure I don't need to tell you what the outcome was but it was a damn fine slobber-knocker. This wasn't one for Dean Malenko fans, just Kevin Nash giving "The Phenom" an old fashioned beat down and taunting him like an old-fashioned heel until "The Deadman", thanks to the mysterious power of the urn, made a late and devastating comeback. Then the camera went back to the car chase only the gold Cadillac was heading back into the arena followed by the white, bloodstained vehicle being driven by Piper. After some amateurish backstage camera work that included catching a topless Diesel walking back to the lockeroom, something a I know a lot of ladies will have been thrilled with, they both made their way to the ring. I'm not going into too much detail with what happened next but it involved Goldust "touching" himself and Piper a lot before Piper stripped him down to his Victoria's Secret "underwear". Very odd.
Main event time and time for two of the greatest of all time going head to head in a 60 minute Iron Man match, Bret "The Hitman Hart" vs Shawn Michaels "The Heartbreak Kid". Despite their well documented personal problems on paper this sounded like one of the best matches of all time and it delivered. It is one of the purists, a brilliantly executed showcase of great skill and stamina which owed a lot to the many hours Bret had spent in the famous Hart "dungeon" with father Stu. Shawn was victorious in extra-time after a 0-0 deadlock but that would not be the end of the story, their feud coming to a head next year in Montreal in probably the most famous moment in the history of pro-wrestling.
Having watched both for the first time since I first saw them, I would say X is the better of the two. Both have a mix of good, bad and very ugly but it is the two moments in perfection in WrestleMania X that edges it for me, in XII there was only one match I would give 5/5 despite Austin and The Undertaker's great efforts.
Do they stand up to modern WrestleMania PPV events? Despite some truly awful attempts at humour, bizarre segments and pointless squash matches, there is nothing that you don’t still see today! One thing that has not changed in WWE in 20 years is Vince McMahon’s warped sense of humour. However in amongst the craziness there are dedicated athletes looking to make their mark in wrestling history and some even managing to achieve that. Some achieving such greatness they now reside in the Hall Of Fame today. There is no doubt for me the shows of the past compete with the shows of today. So is WrestleMania X still my favourite of all time? HELL YEAH!