WrestleMania X: Bret Hart Stands Tall
Just blame it on Lex Luger. Blame it on the uncharismatic star who was on the "yellow brick road" to the WWF Championship and still didn’t win it.
When Hulk Hogan left the WWF after losing the belt to Yokozuna, Vince McMahon had his replacement ready. He was tall like Hogan, he was blond like Hogan (if Hogan still had hair), and he was even more muscular than Hogan.
Vinnie Mac’s kind of guy, right? He was going to be the one to take the torch after Hulk, and he was going to run with it.
There were some problems, though. He couldn’t connect with the fans, he couldn’t wrestle an entertaining match, and after McMahon pushed him as hard as he could, he pulled the plug.
SummerSlam of 1993 was when the "Lex Express" was going to ride into town and snatch the belt from the dreaded Yokozuna. But the train was derailed.
When Lex didn’t win the championship that night, I knew McMahon didn’t think he was going to be the guy. They put all that marketing effort into a guy who WCW wouldn’t even put their money behind. It was a mistake for McMahon, but hey, he tried his best to replace Hogan.
Of course, history could have been different, though it wouldn't have been much better.
The guy who was supposed to be passed the torch (before Hogan decided he would only lose to someone bigger than him) was Bret Hart. He already had a short reign as champion when it was time to take the title off Ric Flair.
But he lost it in that horrible match on a horrible pay-per-view event (WrestleMania IX) with a horrible ending in which Yoko won the title, and then lost again to Hogan in an impromptu match. Let’s just say that Bret was the back-up plan.
It didn’t need to be like this. Had Hogan only lost the belt to Bret at SummerSlam in 1993 before he balked at doing a job to someone as small as Hart. It probably didn’t even cross his mind that Bret would’ve probably carried him to the best match of his career, thus making him look strong in losing.
The WWF was struggling to connect again with the fans. They started Monday Night Raw the year before and were drawing nice ratings, even if house shows were struggling. But this was WrestleMania, and for one night, all was forgotten.
And where better to have it than Madison Square Garden, in New York, where the original WrestleMania was held?
The lineup wasn’t all that strong, but there was a certain mystery about the night. It started when they booked the Royal Rumble to end with two winners rather than one. Bret Hart and Lex Luger both eliminated each other to end the match and were both declared winners.
Vince created a scenario at WrestleMania in which the championship would be defended twice. With a coin flip, it was decided that Luger would fight Yokozuna first, with Bret facing the winner in the Main Event.
But Bret didn’t get off easy. He was also booked in a match with his crazed brother, the late Owen Hart.
That match started off the event, and started it in grand style. It was an outstanding match, especially as an opener of the pay-per-view show. You don’t necessarily want the best match first, because the rest of the night can be a let down, but they had their ace in the hole in hand. We’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.
It was great that they held off the Owen Hart full turn until Royal Rumble, because the fans were anticipating this matchup big time. And when Owen came out on top, it was all the more important, as it established him as the guy who beat the guy who won the championship later in the show. Sort of wrestling foreshadowing, if you will.
Many people thought Lex Luger would beat Yokozuna to then face the Hit Man later in the Main Event. But there was another twist in store: Mr. Perfect was the special guest referee, and he turned heel, costing Luger the match.
There was the longest and worst rest hold in the history of wrestling, and the match itself was a pure out-and-out stinker. At least the Perfect heel turn in the end gave Luger a program to work, since his title chase was over.
While the majority of the matches on the card were awful, there was a second diamond in the rough. It was arguably greater than the Hart brothers' match.
Shawn Michaels faced Razor Ramon in a ladder match for the Undisputed Intercontinental Championship. This is the gimmick match that gimmick matches are measured by today.
The contest was so significant that it’s alluded to almost as much as any match in WWF/WWE history. It helped etch HBK’s greatness in stone and was before its time in the spots and the bumps that were taken.
And it wasn’t just madness; there was a method. HBK didn’t even win the match, but his mere participation raise his status in fans' eyes.
The match saw both Michaels’ and Ramon’s IC titles (Michaels had been out, and in the mean time, Ramon won the belt) suspended high above the ring, and the only way to win the match was to climb the ladder and grab them both.
The man who could obtain them was to be named winner and champion. The ladder was used as a weapon and also as a platform for beautifully timed spots.
If you picking the match in the last 10 years that meant the most to the company, this one would be a damn good choice.
Then, of course, there was the main event with Roddy Piper as the referee. It was Hart versus Yokozuna for the championship.
Of course, if Yokozuna won, it would’ve been anticlimactic. You knew Bret had to win so that he could get his back from WrestleMania IX.
And that’s what happened. It wasn’t a great match, but it is remembered because of how it ended in the ring. Plenty of guys came from the back to support the Hit Man’s win and make it something special.
The only other match that really captured my interest that night was the grudge match between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Crush. It was another gimmick match: The competitors had to beat the other outside the ring badly enough that the opponent couldn't make it back in by a count of 20.
Savage won the match, though the finish was sloppy. He took Crush to the back, tied him to a pulley, and raised him in the air.
But Savage didn’t tie the rope well enough, and when he let go, Crush was dropped on his head. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to work, but when it’s live, sometimes it works that way.
Most everything else was horrific. The Quebecers defended their belts against one of the worst tag teams ever, Men On A Mission. They had zero charisma and even less wrestling skill. The Quebecers put on a decent show, but with MOM, there’s no way the match was going to be any good.
WrestleMania X showed that Vince McMahon’s vision had longevity and success. People didn’t think the original WrestleMania was going to work, but it did.
Heck, this year will be the 25th show. I think it’s been a success.
Results Summary from WrestleMania X
- Owen Hart defeated Bret Hart via pinfall
- Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna defeated Doink & Dink via pinfall
- Randy Savage defeated Crush
- Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze defeated Lelani Kai
- Men on a Mission defeated Tag Team Champions the Quebecers via countout
- World Wrestling Entertainment Champion Yokozuna defeated Lex Luger by DQ
- Earthquake defeated Adam Bomb via pinfall
- Razor Ramon defeated Shawn Michaels in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship
- Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna for the WWE Championship
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