- WrestleMania XI
Infobox Wrestling event
promotion=World Wrestling Federation
date=April 2, 1995
venue=Hartford Civic Center
lastevent=Royal Rumble 1995
In Your House 1
WrestleMania XI was the eleventh annual
WrestleManiapay-per-view event held by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticuton April 2, 1995. The event featured seven matches, which resulted from scripted storylines and had results predetermined by the WWF.
The main event featured a match between NFL linebacker
Lawrence Taylor, who faced Bam Bam Bigelowas the result of an argument that took place between the two at Royal Rumble 1995. Taylor won the match, which led to Bigelow being kicked out of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. Shawn Michaelsfaced WWF Champion Diesel in a title match but was unable to win the championship. Jeff Jarrettretained his WWF Intercontinental Championship against Razor Ramon. Owen Hartand his mystery partner, Yokozuna challenged The Smoking Gunnsfor the WWF Tag Team Championship and won the title belts.
The match between Taylor and Bigelow brought the WWF much mainstream press coverage. The reactions to the match were mixed; some people thought that Taylor performed surprisingly well for a non-wrestler. Others thought that the WWF pushing a football player to defeat a wrestler made professional wrestling look bad. Reviews of the event as a whole have also been mixed, and the event has been called both the worst WrestleMania of all time and the event that saved the WWF.
Special Olympian Kathy Huey sang a rendition of "
America the Beautiful" during the event. Prior to Lawrence Taylor's match against Bam Bam Bigelow, Salt-n-Pepasang " Whatta Man". Several other also celebrities also had roles at WrestleMania. Nicholas Turturro, one of the stars of " NYPD Blue", conducted interviews and served as a guest ring announcer. Jonathan Taylor Thomasof television's "Home Improvement" was a guest timekeeper for the match between Taylor and Bigelow. [cite web|title=WrestleMania XI Celebrities|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/history/wm11/celebrities/|accessdate=2008-09-27]
During the event, commentator
Jerry Lawleraccidentally unplugged some microphone cords. As a result, he and Vince McMahonhad to re-record the English commentary for the event at a later date. The event was later broadcast as a one-hour special on the FOX Network in the late 1995. It featured the Diesel vs. Shawn Michaelsmatch, and the Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match.cite web|url=http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/columns/70569|accessdate=2008-09-27|work=411mania|title=411’s Countdown to WrestleMania 24: Ranking The WrestleManias|last=James|first=Dustin|date=2008-03-14] In addition to the pay-per-view event, the WrestleMania weekend also featured the WWF's Fan Fest, a promotional event that featured wrestlers interacting with fans and signing autographs.
The WWF released the event on
VHSin North America in 1995. The VHS verson was then re-released on March 2, 1999. [cite web|title=WWE WrestleMania XI (1995)|work=Amazon.com|url=http://www.amazon.com/WWE-WrestleMania-XI-Bam-Bigelow/dp/6305277001/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=video&qid=1222581532&sr=1-1|accessdate=2008-09-27] The event was also released on DVDin North America as part of the WrestleMania Complete Anthology boxed set on November 1, 2005. [cite web|title=WWE WrestleMania - The Complete Anthology 1985-2005 (1990)|url=http://www.amazon.com/WWE-WrestleMania-Complete-Anthology-1985-2005/dp/B000BH2WF8/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1222581955&sr=8-10|accessdate=2008-09-27|work=Amazon.com] In the United Kingdom, the event was released on VHS on July 10, 1995. [cite web|title=WWF - Wrestlemania 11 (1995)|work=Amazon.co.uk|url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/WWF-Wrestlemania-11-Shawn-Michaels/dp/B00004CQLM|accessdate=2008-09-27] Packaged together with WrestleMania XII, it was then released on DVD in the United Kingdom as part of the WWE Tagged Classicsline on August 7, 2006. [cite web|url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wwe-Wrestlemania-XI-XII/dp/B000GFLHH4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1222582481&sr=1-2|accessdate=2008-09-27|work=Amazon.co.uk|title=WWE - Wrestlemania XI and XII]
The most heavily promoted feud going into the event was between
Bam Bam Bigelowand Lawrence Taylor. At Royal Rumble 1995, Bigelow teamed with Tatanka in the final round of a tournament for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Bigelow was pinned at the end of the match, which led to the crowd heckling him. He responded by pushing NFL player Lawrence Taylor, who was sitting at ringside. Bigelow refused to apologize and instead challenged Taylor to a wrestling match.cite web|title=Taylor-made|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/listthis/ruggedroadstomania/roadstomania5|first=Mike|last=McAvennie|date=2007-03-26|accessdate=2008-09-27] Taylor agreed and trained with WWF Champion Diesel to prepare for the match.cite journal|last=Rosenbaum|first=Dave|title=WrestleMania XI: A Taylor-Made Success|journal=Pro Wrestling Illustrated|issn=1043-7576|pages=44-50|publisher=London Publishing Co.|date=September 1995] The storyline between Bigelow and Taylor brought the WWF much mainstream exposure, as the match was discussed by several news outlets.
The other main event at WrestleMania was a match for the WWF Championship between Diesel and
Shawn Michaels. Diesel had originally entered the WWF as Michaels's bodyguard but later began wrestling and forming a tag teamwith Michaels. The pair held the WWF Tag Team Championship together in 1994. At Survivor Series 1994, however, Michaels accidentally kicked Diesel in the face. This led to an argument during which Diesel dissolved the tag team and vacated the championship.cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/worldtagteam/304454132125|title=History of the World Tag Team Championship: Diesel and Shawn Michaels's first reign|work=WWE|accessdate=2008-09-27] Three days later, Diesel defeated Bob Backlundto become the new WWF Champion. [cite web|title=History of the WWE Championship: Diesel's first reign|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/wwechampionship/304454123|accessdate=2008-09-27] At Royal Rumble 1995, Michaels won the battle royal main event, which earned him a match against Diesel for the title belt at WrestleMania. [cite web|title=Shawn Michaels: Overcoming the Odds|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/superstars/raw/shawnmichaels/overcomingtheodds/|accessdate=2008-09-27]
The WWF Intercontinental Championship was also defended at WrestleMania.
Jeff Jarrett, the champion, had been feuding with Razor Ramon, the challenger, for several months. At Royal Rumble 1995, Jarrett was accompanied by The Roadie, who interfered on Jarrett's behalf and helped Jarrett win the championship. [cite journal|last=Gianfriddo|first=Lou|title=Double J Takes Razor's Gold|journal=World Wrestling Federation Magazine|volume=14|issue=4|pages=38-39|publisher=TitanSports, Inc.|date=April 1995] To even the sides in the rematch at WrestleMania, Ramon was accompanied by his friend, the 1-2-3 Kid.cite web|title=WrestleMania XI Results|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/history/wm11/results/|accessdate=2008-09-27]
In a match for the WWF Tag Team Championship,
The Smoking Gunnsdefended their title. Their opponents were Owen Hartand a mystery partner. Hart refused to tell anyone the name of his partner, which left the Gunns uncertain of who they would be facing and led to much speculation about the identity. [cite journal|last=Gianfriddo|first=Lou|title=WrestleMania XI: The Dawning of a New Decade|journal=World Wrestling Federation Magazine|volume=14|issue=4|pages=46-49|publisher=TitanSports, Inc.|date=April 1995] Bret Hartfaced Bob Backlund in an "I Quit" matchat WrestleMania. The feud began the previous summer, when Hart defended the WWF Championship against Backlund. Backlund mistakenly thought he won the match and began celebrating, but Hart pinned him to retain the title. After the match, Backlund turned heel by attacking Hart. [cite book|title=Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s|publisher=Simon & Schuster|first=Brian|last=Shields|isbn=1416532579|date=2006|pages=108] This led to a title match at Survivor Series 1994, in which Backlund won the title from Hart.cite web|title=History of the WWE Championship: Bob Backlund's second reign|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/wwechampionship/304454125|accessdate=2008-09-27] Although Backlund soon lost the belt, the feud continued and Backlund attacked Hart during Hart's match at Royal Rumble 1995. [cite journal|last=Gianfriddo|first=Lou|title=Diesel vs. Bret "Hit Man" Hart|journal=World Wrestling Federation Magazine|volume=14|issue=4|pages=36-37|publisher=TitanSports, Inc.|date=April 1995]
Also at Royal Rumble 1995,
The Undertakerfaced Irwin R. Schysteras part of The Undertaker's feud with Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. During the match, King Kong Bundy, another Corporation member, interfered and enabled the Corporation to steal The Undertaker's urn, which was said to be the source of his power.cite journal|last=Gianfriddo|first=Lou|title=The Undertaker vs. IRS|journal=World Wrestling Federation Magazine|volume=14|issue=4|pages=41|publisher=TitanSports, Inc.|date=April 1995]
In the opening match, The Allied Powers (
Davey Boy Smithand Lex Luger) faced the Blu Brothers (Eli and Jacob). Smith started out on the offensive, but Jacob gained control with a running bulldog throw. The Blus capitalized on the fact that they are identical twins by switching places while the referee was not looking. Luger came into the match near the end and performed a running forearm smash on Eli. Jacob tried to throw Luger with a powerbomb, but Luger tagged in Smith, who performed a sunset flip to pin Jacob and win the match.cite web|title=WWF WrestleMania 11 Re-Revued|work=Online Onslaught|accessdate=2008-09-26|date=2005-03-30|url=http://www.oowrestling.com/columns/ooldtyme/20050330.shtml|last=Gutschmidt|first=Adam] cite journal|last=Rosenbaum|first=Dave|title=WrestleMania XI: Match-By-Match Coverage!|journal=Pro Wrestling Illustrated|issn=1043-7576|pages=55-63|publisher=London Publishing Co.|date=September 1995]
The second match featured Razor Ramon, with the 1-2-3 Kid in his corner, facing WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett, who had The Roadie in his corner. Ramon took control at the beginning of the match by using power moves against Jarrett. Jarrett tried to leave the match, but the 1-2-3 Kid forced him back into the ring. Jarrett took advantage of one of Ramon's mistakes to gain the advantage. He applied a sleeper hold on Ramon, who used his strength advantage to escape the move. After Ramon threw Jarrett, the Kid attempted to interfere but was kicked by Jarrett. Ramon jumped off the ropes to attack Jarrett, but Jarrett avoided the move and applied a figure four leglock on Ramon. Ramon reversed the move to place the pressure on Jarrett's legs. He then threw Jarrett to the mat with a suplex from the second rope and prepared to execute the Razor's Edge, his finishing move. The Roadie entered the ring and attacked Ramon, prompting the referee to disqualify Jarrett; because titles cannot change hands on a disqualification, Jarrett retained his championship.
In the next match, The Undertaker faced King Kong Bundy. Ted DiBiase was at ringside holding the urn that his wrestlers had stolen from The Undertaker. Larry Young, a
Major League Baseballumpire was the referee for the match. It was explained that he was out of work because of the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, which had extended to the 1995 baseball season.cite web|title=WrestleMania XI Celebrities|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/history/wm11/celebrities/|accessdate=2008-09-26] The Undertaker took control at the beginning of the match by jumping off the top rope and hitting Bundy. He then performed several clothesline attacks on Bundy. Bundy responded with a clothesline that knocked The Undertaker out of the ring. Seeing DiBiase close, The Undertaker took back his urn. After The Undertaker returned to the ring, DiBiase called Kama, another Corporation member, to the ring. Kama stole the urn, and Bundy attacked The Undertaker in order to let Kama escape backstage. Bundy picked The Undertaker up and powerslammed him to the mat. He then performed an Avalanche splash to squish The Undertaker against the corner of the ring. The Undertaker was unharmed, however, and performed a powerslam and a clothesline on Bundy before pinning him to win the match.
The Smoking Gunns defended their WWF Tag Team Championship in the next match against Owen Hart and his mystery partner, who was revealed to be Yokozuna. The Gunns worked together to control the match at the beginning, but Yokozuna gained control by performing a
leg dropon Billy Gunn. Hart attempted to perform a dropkick from the top rope but accidentally hit Yokozuna. The Gunns briefly took control until Yokozuna performed a belly to belly suplex and landed on Billy. He then performed a Banzai Drop, jumping from the second rope and sitting on Billy's chest. Hart tagged in and considered performing the Sharpshooter submission hold; instead, he pinned Billy Gunn to win the title belts for his team.
The next match, an "I Quit" match, took place between Bret Hart and Bob Backlund, with
Roddy Piperas the guest referee. It was expained that, in order to win the match, a wrestler must force his opponent to say "I quit" into a microphone held by Piper. Hart attempted to perform the Sharpshooter early in the match; when Backlund blocked it, Hart executed a figure four leglock instead. Backlund escaped the hold and began trying to injure Hart's arm with an armbar hold. Hart then tried to attack Backlund in the corner of the ring, but Backlund moved and Hart hit his shoulder against the ring post. Backlund tried to perform the crossface chickenwing, his signature submission hold. Hart blocked him and performed the same hold on Backlund instead. Backlund made an unintelligible sound into the microphone, and Piper determined that he had submitted. As a result, the win was awarded to Bret Hart.
In the next match, which was for the WWF Championship, challenger Shawn Michaels was accompanied to the ring by
Jenny McCarthyand Diesel, the champion, was escorted by Pamela Anderson. Michaels relied on his quickness in the opening stages, while Diesel used his strength advantage against Michaels. Diesel threw Michaels out of the ring and onto the arena floor, but Michaels later performed a clothesline that knocked Diesel out of the ring. Michaels capitalized on his advantage by performing several aerial moves, including a flying crossbody, flying bulldog throw, and a diving elbow drop. He was unable to pin Diesel, however, so he performed a sleeper hold to wear Diesel down. They brawled outside the ring, after which Michaels performed a superkick, his finishing move, but Sid, Michaels's bodyguard, had the referee distracted and unable to count the pinfall. Diesel recovered and controlled the remainder of the match with power moves before throwing Michaels to the mat with a Jackknife powerbomb and getting the pinfall victory.
The final bout of the event was the main event match between Bam Bam Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor. Bigelow was accompanied by the members of DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation: King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, Irwin R. Schyster, Kama, and
Nikolai Volkoff. To prevent the Corporation members from interfering, Taylor brought several football players: Ken Norton Jr., Chris Spielman, Rickey Jackson, Carl Banks, and Steve McMichael. Taylor gained the advantage early and performed a clothesline that knocked Bigelow out of the ring. Once he returned to the ring, Bigelow took control of the match by kicking Taylor repeatedly and performing a Boston crabsubmission hold to hurt Taylor's back. Taylor got out of the hold and threw Bigelow with a suplex. Bigelow recovered and performed several headbutts on Taylor before executing a moonsaultflip to knock Taylor down to the mat. Taylor began to take control of the match again, but Bigelow kicked him in the back of the head and then performed a headbutt from the top rope. Bigelow was unable to pin Taylor, however. Taylor climbed to the second rope, jumped off, and used his forearm to hit Bigelow. He then covered Bigelow to win the match. [cite web|title=Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/history/wm11/mainevent/|accessdate=2008-09-26]
Shortly after WrestleMania, Diesel offered Shawn Michaels a rematch. Michaels blamed Sid for the loss and informed him that he would not be needed during the match. Sid got angry and attacked Michaels until Diesel saved him. [cite book|title=Kevin Nash|first=Ross|last=Davies|pages=48-49|publisher=Rosen Publishing Group|date=2002|isbn=0823934926] Diesel and Michaels became allies once again, and they teamed up to win the WWF Tag Team Championship later that year. [cite web|title=History of the World Tag Team Championship: Diesel and Michaels's second reign|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/worldtagteam/3044541321224|accessdate=2008-09-28] Diesel feuded with Sid and defeated him at the
In Your House 1and pay-per-view events.cite web|title=In Your House|work=Pro Wrestling History|url=http://www.prowrestlinghistory.com/supercards/usa/wwf/iyh.html|accessdate=2008-09-25] The animosity lingered between Michaels and Sid, but they did not face each other to settle the feud until the September 11, 1995 episode of "Monday Night Raw". [cite episode|title=Monday Night Raw|episodelink=WWE Raw|network= USA Network|city= Canton, Ohio|airdate=1995-09-11]
Bam Bam Bigelow was embarrassed after losing to Lawrence Taylor. To redeem himself, he challenged Diesel to a match for the WWF Championship. During the match, Tatanka turned on Bigelow and caused him to get pinned. Bigelow was kicked out of the Million Dollar Corporation and attacked by DiBiase's wrestlers. Diesel saved Bigelow from the attack, which led to a friendship being formed between the two. [cite journal|last=Greenberg|first=Keith Elliot|title=The Challenge: Only One will Wear the Crown|journal=World Wrestling Federation Magazine|volume=14|issue=7|pages=42-43|publisher=TitanSports, Inc.|date=July 1995] Bigelow defeated Tatanka in a dark match at In Your House 2. At King of the Ring 1995, Sid, DiBiase's latest addition to the Corporation, teamed with Tatanka in a loss to the team of Diesel and Bigelow. [cite web|title=The Up and Down Life of Bam Bam Bigelow|work=SLAM! Wrestling|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2007/01/21/3419873.html|date=2007-01-21|accessdate=2008-09-25|last=Mackinder|first=Matt]
Razor Ramon and the 1-2-3 Kid were scheduled to face Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie at In Your House 1 the month after WrestleMania. The Kid sustained a legitimate injury, however, and was unable to compete. As a result, Ramon wrestled a two-on-one handicap match against Jarrett and The Roadie instead. [cite web|title=In Your House #1 Re-Revued|work=Online Onslaught|last=Gutschmidt|first=Adam|url=http://www.oowrestling.com/columns/ooldtyme/20040901.shtml|date=2004-09-01|accessdate=2008-09-29] Ramon won the bout, but the feud continued. At In Your House 2, The Roadie faced the 1-2-3 Kid and defeated him. Ramon and Jarrett wrestled several times, and Ramon regained the Intercontinental Championship on May 19, 1995. [cite web|title=History of the Intercontinental Championship: Razor Ramon's third reign|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/intercontinental/322492|accessdate=2008-09-27] He held the belt for three days before dropping it back to Jarrett. [cite web|title=History of the Intercontinental Championship: Jeff Jarrett's third reign|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/intercontinental/322496|accessdate=2008-09-27]
After WrestleMania, Kama melted down The Undertaker's urn and made it into a necklace. [cite journal|last=Ethier|first=Bryan|publisher=London Publishing Co.|journal=Inside Wrestling|date=December 2005|pages=38-41|title=White with Fright, Green with Envy: Why the Undertaker Had to Bury Kama|issn=10479562] The Undertaker defeated Kama in dark matches at both In Your House 1 and In Your House 2. He then won a casket match against Kama at SummerSlam 1995 to end the feud. [cite web|title=SummerSlam 1995 Results|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/summerslam/history/1995/results/|accessdate=2008-09-25]
The Smoking Gunns were given a rematch for the WWF Tag Team Championship at In Your House 1. Hart pinned Bart Gunn to retain the championship for his team. Hart and Yokozuna then moved on to face other competition, and the Gunns did not become serious contenders for the title again until late in 1995. [cite web|title=History of the World Tag Team Championship: The Smoking Gunns' second reign|work=WWE|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/worldtagteam/30445413212213|accessdate=2008-09-28]
The event was attended by 15,000 fans, who paid a total of $750,000 in admission fees. This was down from the previous year's attendance of 18,065, but the decline could be attributed to the smaller size of the venue for WrestleMania XI. [cite web|title=XL Center: Veterans Memorial Coliseum|work=XL Center|url=http://xlcenter.com/coliseum.cfm|accessdate=2008-09-27] [cite web|title=Guest Relations/FAQ|work=The Garden.com|url=http://www.thegarden.com/faq/index.html|accessdate=2008-09-27] The attendance figure was also lower than the following year's figure of 18,852 fans at
WrestleMania XII. The pay-per-view buyrate for WrestleMania XI was 1.3, which was lower than the 1.68 buyrate for WrestleMania X but higher than the 1.2 buyrate for WrestleMania XII.cite web|title=WrestleMania|work=Pro Wrestling History|url=http://www.prowrestlinghistory.com/supercards/usa/wwf/mania.html|accessdate=2008-09-27]
Writing for "411mania", columnist Dustin James rated the event as the seventeenth best of the first twenty-three WrestleManias. He stated that the event did not have any truly amazing matches but that Lawrence Taylor put on a solid performance. John Powell of "SLAM! Wrestling" rated the event as the worst WrestleMania of all time. The specific concerns he mentioned in his review are Diesel's championship reign and WWF allowing a football player to defeat a wrestler in what he describes as a "sham of a match". [cite web|title=No worse WrestleMania than 11|work=SLAM! Wrestling|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Wrestlemania20/WrestleMania11.html|accessdate=2008-09-28|last=Powell|first=John] In contrast, "
Pro Wrestling Illustrated" columnist Dave Rosenbaum stated that WrestleMania "saved" the WWF in its feud with rival World Championship Wrestling. He argued that Bigelow "looked like a pro" and contributed to an "incredible" match. He also observed that the tag team matches helped rejuvenate an area of wrestling that had been suffering in the WWF and that the match between Michaels and Diesel was a candidate for match of the year.
* [http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/history/wm11/ Official WrestleMania XI website]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.