WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of LT vs. Bam Bam BigelowMay 31, 2014
The 1995 WWE Royal Rumble had several major storylines.
It was the first year superstars entered the ring at 60-second intervals. It was also the night Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble match, staving off elimination in impressive fashion.
It was also the first time someone had drawn No. 1 and gone on to win the Rumble match.
However, all of that was overshadowed by something that happened in the match prior to the Rumble.
With the tag team titles vacant at the time, a match pitting Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka was put together. The winners would become the new champions.
Bigelow and Tatanka were considered heavy favorites heading into the match, but Holly and 1-2-3 Kid took advantage of several mistakes to pull off the upset.
It was what happened after the match that had the wrestling world talking.
The crowd that night in Tampa, Florida, seemed to take great pleasure in Bigelow being pinned by 1-2-3 Kid, heckling him profusely following the match.
Bigelow would take exception to this, finally shoving a man in the front row. But that man wasn't just any fan at an event. It was Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Taylor, known as one of the more feared players in NFL history, would not take that lying down.
Bigelow would end up challenging Taylor to a one-on-one match at WrestleMania 11. After turning down the challenge initially, Taylor would finally accept.
The match was set. Suddenly, WrestleMania 11 seemed to have little to do with Michaels' pursuit of the WWE title and everything to do with the fact that a former NFL player would be on the card.
WrestleMania 11 took place inside the Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut. The event featured just seven matches. All of them played second fiddle to Taylor vs. Bigelow.
Not only was this match taking place at the biggest show of the year, but it was the main event of the evening.
Taylor had plenty of support. The popular female group Salt-n-Pepa played him to the ring with their hit "Whatta Man." On top of that, he had several former NFL players in his corner to counter the fact that Bigelow had the Million Dollar Corporation in his.
Both Reggie White and Steve McMichael (aka Mongo) were among Taylor's allies.
The match itself was about as good as you could expect for one featuring someone who had never wrestled before. Though Taylor would go on to win the match with a forearm off the second rope, Bigelow deserves a ton of credit for making him look good.
WWE was clearly looking to get into the mainstream media, and that it did. But this was the first time the company really went overboard with the use of an outside talent.
At the time, WWE was a much smaller company than the money-making machine we see today, so bringing in Taylor for a match at WrestleMania was a risk worth taking.
But it also exposed its business in a way.
Everyone knows that wrestling has predetermined finishes, but keeping things as realistic as possible should always be considered.
WrestleMania has always been a place for celebrities to make an appearance, but putting one in a match, let alone the main event, was a bit of a stretch.
Yes, Mr. T was in the main event of WrestleMania 1, but that was a tag team match and he had the biggest name in the business, Hulk Hogan, as his partner.
This was far different.
A case can be made that Taylor was one of the toughest players in NFL history. But having him come into a wrestling ring and defeat one of the biggest, baddest Superstars on the roster was far from realistic.
Of course, this wouldn't be the last time someone from outside the wrestling world got into a WWE ring.
At WrestleMania 24, professional boxer Floyd Mayweather took on The Big Show. Mayweather may be 46-0 as a boxer, but watching him defeat the massive Big Show was borderline ridiculous.
At least that match wasn't the main event that night.
To a much lesser extent, WWE has booked celebs like Maria Menounos and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi to gain WrestleMania victories.
While WWE will always be keen on the use of celebrities to help push its product, putting them in the ring is something it should reconsider.
No celebrity, no matter their fame, should ever come into a WWE ring and defeat a WWE Superstar. Scripted or not.