Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 1994's Wrestlemania 10

Monday, March 2, 2020

Wrestlemania 10 has so much to offer when you go back and watch.  Brother vs. Brother.  The culmination of Lex Luger and Bret Hart vying for the WWF World Heavyweight Title.  The not-so-great Randy Savage "Falls Count Anywhere" match against Crush.  The end of Lex's run at the top... but it's the ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon that will forever be first and foremost in the hearts and minds of wrestling fans when they consider Wrestlemania 10. 


In March of 1994, Wrestlemania returned to the home of the very first 'Mania for its 10th edition of the tent-pole event.  WM10 is notable for being the first Wrestlemania for the WWF without Hulk Hogan.  Hogan had since left for Hollywood and WCW, and the focus of the WWF and "The New Generation" fell on Bret Hart's shoulders.  Hart was featured heavily here at Wrestlemania 10, not just in the Main Event against Yokozuna for the World Heavyweight Title, but in a major month's long storyline that involved his younger brother Owen.  Wrestlemania 10 would also be the last match for Randy Savage in the WWF before his departure to WCW.
Before all of the hoopla, the fans in attendance were "treated" to a dark match of The Heavenly Bodies (Jimmy Del Ray and Tom Prichard) against The Bushwackers (Luke and Butch.)  Little Richard then opened the show to sing America the Beautiful.

After the Johnny B. Badd knockoff (I kid...) finished singing, we went right into the action with Bret vs. Owen Hart.  The feud between these two brothers dates back to the 1993 Survivor Series when Owen was eliminated because of miscommunication within the Hart team.  After the match (which Bret won), Owen interrupted to verbally attack Bret.  Bret depicted him as the jealous younger brother, and Owen claimed Bret was the bully big brother treating Owen like a baby while stealing the spotlight.  At Royal Rumble 1994, in a tag match with Owen against The Quebecers, Bret "injured" his knee causing the referee to stop the match.  Owen turned on Bret by kicking his injured knee, leaving him lying alone in the ring.  This set up the match between the two brothers at Wrestlemania 10.  


The two went back and forth trading submissions, and technical wrestling holds, each trying to outshine the other.  Owen eventually gained momentum by using several punishing power moves, including a Tombstone piledriver.  Moments later, while Owen stood outside the ring, trying to catch his breath, Bret came flying over the ropes to attack him.  Landing awkwardly, Bret "reinjured" his knee.  Owen used a figure four leglock to further weaken his older brother's leg.  After trading SharpShooters on each other, Bret tried to roll up Owen, but Owen hung on to block it and pinned Bret to win the match.  A true masterpiece, Chris Jericho calls this his favorite match ever.  Unfortunately, with the ladder match later in the night, this one often gets overlooked.



After Bret and Owen, Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna defeated Doink and Dink.


After the absolute classic between Bigelow and Doink, "Macho Man" Randy Savage made his final in-ring match for the WWF.  Well, not very much actually occurred in the ring, but it was a match.  The storyline leading up to the Savage vs. Crush fight was focused on a supposedly strained friendship between the two.  Who knew they were even friends?  



Still a year or so before his "convict" persona, Crush had since given up his bright orange "Kona Crush" persona and was now wearing mostly black, purple, and silver, having turned heel when he aligned himself with Mr. Fuji.  Randy Savage had been discarded as an in-ring talent and has spent the past year or so at the announce booth.  On a Monday Night Raw from 1993, Yokozuna assaulted Crush (allowing him the time off to change over from orange Crush to black Crush) in an injury angle.  Savage was one of the many wrestlers that entered the ring to try to stop the assault, and upon Crush's return, he singled out Savage for not helping sooner.  At Survivor Series 1993, Savage and Crush caused each other to be eliminated from their respective matches, and the feud slow boiled it's way to Wrestlemania.  In the Falls Count Anywhere match at Wrestlemania 10, for whatever silly reason, the rules were changed so that any time a wrestler was pinned, he had 60 seconds to make it back to the ring or he would lose the match.



Savage attacked before the bell rang and the match continued outside the ring for a while.  Mr. Fuji interfered numerous times using the Japanese flag or the dreaded salt in the eyes/baby powder trick.  Savage scored a pinfall outside, but then Fuji helped Crush back to the ring before the 60 second time limit, and the match continued.  Eventually, they brawled up the aisle and into the backstage area where The Macho Man pinned Crush. 


This is where the match made WrestleCrap history.  The Macho Man attempted to tie Crush to a pully and hang him upside down to prevent him from making the 60-second count-out rule.  Except, the pully didn't work quite right, and perhaps Macho was a little tired from the match and couldn't really lift the massive Crush off the ground.  Savage and Crush awkwardly attempted numerous times to get Crush's body to stay up into the air as we fans realized this was becoming a giant cluster.   Eventually, as Savage couldn't get the rope tied off properly, they decided the 60 seconds had passed, and Crush did not return to the ring, so Savage was declared the winner.  
Alundra Blayze defended her WWF Women's Championship against Leilani Kai in the next match.  After that, Men on a Mission (Mo and Mabel) challenged The Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau and Pierre-Carl Ouellet) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Men on a Mission won the match by count-out, but they did not win the belts. 


Following the Tag Team Match, the first of the two bouts for Yokozuna's World Heavyweight Championship took place.  After a coin toss by "President" Jack Tunney on RAW weeks earlier, it was determined Lex Luger would earn the first shot, and later in the night, Bret Hart would have his chance.  This two-match concept began back at the Royal Rumble just months prior when Lex and Bret eliminated each other, and both men were declared the winner. 


Lex slams Yokozuna on the USS Intrepid

The feud between Yokozuna and Lex Luger began aboard the USS Intrepid during the Yokozuna Bodyslam Challenge on July 4, 1993.  After several athletes failed, Luger arrived by helicopter and successfully slammed Yoko, beginning a strong push for Luger with a new American Patriot gimmick and the Lex Express bus tour.  This was to be a giant push towards eventual Wrestlemania glory for Luger, but behind the scenes by 1994, WWF management and fans seemed to lose interest.  This led to the co-Royal Rumber winner and two-challenger storyline.  Previously unannounced for the match, Mr. Perfect was made special "Guest Referee," and Donnie Wahlberg and Rhonda Shear made guest appearances as the celebrity ring announcer and timekeepers.  Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds and Jennie Garth (remember her?) would also make an appearance later in the show.



Luger started the match out hot, knocking the massive Yoko out of the ring.  After climbing back in, Yoko removed the turnbuckle padding from the corner, but as it always happens in pro wrestling, the move was reversed and Yokozuna hit his own head on the exposed metal.  Luger was then able to his clothesline and power slam finishing maneuver combination leading to certain victory until Yokozuna's managers, Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette, jumped onto the ring apron to distract Luger.  Luger pulled them into the ring and attacked them before covering Yokozuna, but Mr. Perfect failed to make the count while he was busy clearing Cornette and Fuji from the ring.  An angry Luger pushed Mr. Perfect, who disqualified him, ending the match (and Lex's run at the top) and gave Yokozuna the victory.  



The ending to this match was supposed to turn Mr. Perfect heel and set up a month's long feud between Luger and Perfect, but Perfect was injured shortly after and it never materialized.  Following this match, Earthquake defeated Adam Bomb in a quick bathroom break match.

This next match will forever be considered the gold standard for all ladder matches going forward, and quite honestly, I think it's the match that stole the show.  Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels had been in the midst of a feud for the Intercontinental Championship, going back to the fall of 1993.  "President" Tunney announced he was stripping Michaels of the IC belt for not defending the title often enough, but in reality, it was because, behind the scenes, HBK just refused to lose the title.  Ramon would win the title after competing in a battle royal.  After some time off, Michaels would return to RAW and refused to acknowledge the title change, insisting that he was the actual Intercontinental Champion. 

Today in 2020, ladder matches are seemingly a dime a dozen.  It's hard to describe to kids today who grew up with the thrilling and death-defying TLC matches during the early 2000s that featured the likes of the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian, but back in 1994, nobody had ever seen a match such as this.  Ladder matches weren't "new" to wrestling before WM10, but this was the first time the wrestlers used the ladder as not just a means to get to the titles hanging above the ring.  Ramon and Michaels used the ladder itself as a weapon and a springboard to other high flying moves that were brand new at the time. 



Ramon began the match by choke-slamming Michaels, but HBK quickly recovered.  The bodyguard for Michaels, Diesel (Kevin Nash), attacked Ramon and was ordered by referee Earl Hebner to return to the locker room.  Ramon attempted to pull up the padding from the concrete floor, but later Michaels would use that against him.  HBK used this opportunity to first introduce the ladder to the match and hit Razor in the stomach, chest, and back like swinging an ax.  He then tried to climb the ladder, but Ramon stopped him.  Michaels took a groundbreaking dive off the top of the ladder to perform a splash on Razor.  Ramon would then whip HBK into the ladder several times and then in one of the genuinely groundbreaking moments Razor suplex Michaels off the top of the ladder.  Michaels then dropkicked the ladder out from under Ramon, and they both used the ladder as a weapon in several more innovative moves.  Michaels tried to retrieve the belts again, but Ramon pushed him off the top.  When HBK fell this time, he got tangled in the ropes giving Ramon time to get the straps and become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion.


Following the ladder match, there was supposed to be a ten-man tag team match.  IRS, The Headshrinkers (Fatu and Samu), Rick Martel, and Jeff Jarrett were supposed to take on the babyface team of 1-2-3 Kid, Sparky Plugg, Tatanka, and the Smoking Gunns (Bart and Billy).  The announcers said the match was canceled because the heel team couldn't decide who the Captain would be and began fighting amongst themselves.  In reality, it was cut for time because the ladder match went long.  Bob Holly (Sparky Plugg) claimed in 2013 that he was standing in the gorilla position, and the producer repeatedly yelled at the referee to end the match, but Razor and HBK ignored the command and carried on so long they had to cut the match.  

To close out the show, we had the other World Heavyweight match, allowing Bret Hart his shot at Yokozuna.  The guest referee for this match was "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and featured guest celebrity appearances by Burt Reynolds and Jennie Garth.  


Yokozuna attacked before the bell, and Hart made several comeback attempts.  Eventually, Yokozuna was knocked off his feet.  Jim Cornette tried to interfere, but Roddy Piper knocked him from the ring apron to keep things even.  Yokozuna would eventually attempt a Banzai Drop to finish off Bret, but he lost his balance climbing the ropes and fell to the mat.  Hart quickly capitalized and pinned Yokozuna to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.  The babyface locker room emptied in celebration that Bret Hart was the new champion and face of the WWF as they entered the "New Generation" era.  The show ended as Owen Hart stood in the entryway, glaring angrily at Bret in a sign their feud was not over.


Following WM10, Shawn Michael's bodyguard Diesel, began to challenge Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship.  Just a few weeks after Wrestlemania, Diesel won the IC title from Ramon with the help of HBK.  This was designed as part of a significant push that saw him eventually win the WWF's Triple Crown in one calendar year. 

Bret Hart would continue his run at the top of the WWF, defending his World Championship against Diesel at King of the Ring.  At that event, Jim Neidhart, the real-life brother-in-law of the Harts, became involved and aligned himself with Owen.  To settle the feud once and for all, Bret and Owen would face each other in a steel cage match at Summerslam 1994.  Bret would carry the company (and the Title) for a few months until Survivor Series in the Fall of '94 when he lost the Title to Bob Backlund.  Owen had feigned sympathy and friendship for Bret following their cage match.  During the match, Backlund locked in his "chicken wing" submission maneuver on Bret and Owen grew distraught and frantic.  He "tossed in the towel" to save Bret from permanent injury, and Bret lost the World Title.  Following the match, Owen revealed he was faking when he instead began celebrating with Backlund. 

Backlund lost the Championship just 3 days later to Diesel while Hart would go on to have a pretty memorable feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler.


Lex Luger's days in the WWF were numbered following his loss to Yokozuna at WM10.  With the injury to Mr. Perfect, Lex Luger found himself floundering in the mid-card for a while before forming a tag team with The Britsh Bulldog as The Allied Powers.  Shortly after the Allied Powers fizzled out, Lex Luger left the WWF. He would make a landmark appearance as the first "defection" in the Monday Night War by making a surprise appearance on the very first WCW Monday Nitro in a weird collarless shirt that looks like something from the puffy shirt episode of Seinfeld.


And with that folks, we've completed another stop along the Retro Road to WrestleMania!  What can you look forward to next?  We're going to jump 20 years into the future for Daniel Bryan's moment of glory at Wrestlemania 30!

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