A dozen years of Wrestlemania and WWE appears to have mostly figured out how to book a solid show throughout. Entertaining. Technical wrestling. And over the top moments. This edition of Wrestlemania had everything.
Taking place in 1996 out of Anaheim, California, we're starting to get to the Wrestlemania's that I actually have some re-collection of. I didn't start watching wrestling regularly until I was a teen, but one match stood out above the rest, as it has throughout time.
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
These two always put on stellar matches, and they did so this time for more than 60 minutes. Hearing about this match, it sounded somewhat silly. How can 2 men entertain in a wrestling ring for 60 minutes? Hart and Michaels simply had that chemistry. They knew how to milk the time down, yet still, captivate the audience from the get-go. And the fact that match went 0-0, and then went to overtime really sold the entire thing for me. After an hour, it's just a wrestling match? What. Are. You. Thinking?! It absolutely worked though. While there have been other Iron Man matches that have stood out, this is the one that set the bar. So think about this. Shawn Micheals set the standard for the ladder match. The Iron Man match. Hell in a Cell. And I'm going to argue the Elimination Chamber. Wow. What an amazing area to witness. Thanks, Obama! I mean WWE Network.
Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler going at it on commentary
These two are charismatic together as an announce team. Absolutely great chemistry in their back and forth. Vince McMahon is an underrated commentator.
Rowdy Roddy Piper exposing Goldust
Once again, another shock-factor moment that I didn't expect. Personally, I found it more comedic than in poor taste. Still stands up in 2018.
Undertaker tombstoning Kevin Nash
That's a big dude and he got him up and put him down. I sometimes forget how powerful young Taker was. That dude could GO.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. The Ultimate Warrior
At the time, what a terrible result for the man with three H's. The Ultimate Warrior returned in spectacular fashion and demolished who would become one of the biggest names in the business and the future COO of the company. Incredibly waste of time and space here with this match considering what Warrior did after the fact. I understand Warrior needed a solid squash victory, but really? Not even 2 minutes?
Rowdy Roddy Piper calling in during matches
The concept and idea of the parking lot brawl and that expanding beyond the venue itself was unique. Obviously playing off the OJ Simpson chase, I understood it. However, doing stuff during other wrestling matches simply didn't work for me.
Following "The White Bronco" during the event
See the reasoning above.
Stone Cold vs. Vega had a strange ending that could have played out better
The match itself was pretty solid throughout. I love playing this match out in WWE 2k. But the ending cheapened the solid ring work for the 10 minutes prior.
Aside from the one waste of a match, this card was solid throughout. Obviously, there were fewer matches because of the 60+ minute Ironman Match, but HBK and The Hitman put the icing on what was already a solid foundation of cake. Of the Wrestlemania's I've watched thus far, this is certainly one of the best.
Would this hold up in 2018?
I think so. The Iron Man match told a fantastic story, and I think today's crowd would appreciate that. Especially considering all the perceived, and real heat between the two competitors at the time. HHH and Warrior would not stand-up in any era to be honest. And today's crowd still loves their Undertaker, so I could see that working too.
This is the twelfth piece in a Court of Nerds and Geekiverse collaboration that will present “34 Days of WrestleMania” as we look back on each Showcase of the Immortals as we lead you into WrestleMania 34. Keep an eye out for a couple of podcasts in the near future from Austin Brunner and Benjamin Raven as we break down each decade in podcast form.
See below for a roundup of those already up:
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