HomeWrestlingLast Week in Wrestling Special: WrestleMania | March 15 - March 21

Last Week in Wrestling Special: WrestleMania | March 15 – March 21

Its a phrase WWE like to brandish a lot during this time, but it is true, we are in WrestleMania season. In the three weeks between March 15 and April 4, 28 WrestleMania’s took place historically over the years, helping brandish this as the busiest period of the yearly wrestling calendar.

And when it comes to WrestleMania, no other wrestler was more synonymous and prominent at the event during the 80s and 90s than Hulk Hogan. Hogan has been in the main event at seven of the first nine WrestleMania’s, but still somehow ended up hogging the spotlight in the two he wasn’t advertised to be in.

So you could imagine the excitement when in 2002, Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF after a nine-year absence, one month before WrestleMania- just enough time to build to an epic match with The Rock

WrestleMania X8 on March 17 2002

In 2002 The Rock was not only the most charismatic and one of the most popular superstars in wrestling, he was on his way to Hollywood super-stardom too so the clash between Rock and Hogan was monumental, and generations in the making.

As Jerry Lawlor put it “The young lion versus the old lion”, it was the 80s vs the 90s, Hulkamania Era vs The Attitude Era, Icon vs Icon, it was the passing of the torch, wrestling biggest ever star facing the brightest of bright sparks, one of only two who have ever made it close to Hogan levels of popularity… and the match clearly should have been main eventing… but it didn’t.

Instead, Hogan and Rock went on three matches from last. The match order killed the crowd for the last two matches, but they didn’t care, their main event was in front of their eyes: Hulk Hogan vs The Rock in the same building where The Ultimate Warrior had defeated Hogan at Mania’ 6 twelve years prior.

If you watch the match with the sound on, and then again with it off, you could be excused for watching two different matches. Hogan wasn’t the same wrestler who WWF fans saw in the late 80s or early 90s, this was Hogan a decade on and multiple back and knee surgeries too. But the fans made this match special.

The nWo heel Hogan quickly became the face as the adult Toronto crowd started to cheer for their childhood hero. Babyface Rock soon became the arrogant Rock pre-Mania 14 as he soon clicked to what was going on and switched over to play off of the huge swell of support Hogan was receiving.

Rock did pick up the win and did receive a nice face ovation for winning but the crowd stole the show here and made this match a WrestleMania favourite for so many. WWF cashed in on the Hogan popularity and officially turned him face the next night on Raw as he teamed with The Rock to take on nWo members Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Other main matches on this star-studded Mania’ line up featured Ric Flair vs The Undertaker, Steve Austin vs Scott Hall, and Triple H vs Chris Jericho. But none of them came close to the noise, electricity and magic of The Rock vs Hulk Hogan.

Between discussing two major WrestleMania’s, I wanted to also add that historically this week we saw Cactus Jack have his ear ripped off his head in a match with Vader at a WCW house show in Munich Germany in 1992, and also the final WCW pay per view aired as they presented Greed in 2001.

WrestleMania X on March 20 1994

WWE WrestleMania 10 Results – March 20, 1994 – Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart – TPWW

Back in 1994, WrestleMania week wasn’t really a thing. WrestleMania was the only show in town, the Hall of Fame was in June, and the Raw after ‘Mania was just another Raw (and was headlined by future Hall of Famers(!) Jeff Jarrett vs Koko B Ware…)

But enough of the classic Jarrett-Ware thriller, the night before on March 20 1994 was WrestleMania X, a ten-year celebration of WrestleMania hailing from the same venue as the original WrestleMania, the historic Madison Square Garden. With the added hype of the special anniversary combined with the historical venue (and given that WrestleMania 9 the year prior was more memorable for all the wrong reasons), WrestleMania X had to deliver.

The build to the main event featured four main players: dominant WWF champion: Yokozuna, firm fan favourite: Bret Hart, Vince’s choice as the next Hulk Hogan: Lex Luger, and the jealous younger brother with a chip on his shoulder: Owen Hart.

Tired of always being in Bret’s shadow, the youngest Hart brother Owen finally flipped at Survivor Series 1993 and turned his back on Bret and the family. As all brothers do, they soon made up and made a challenge for the WWF tag titles at Royal Rumble 94, but after some miscommunication, during the match, the brothers ended up on the losing end, and Owen flipped again- this time famously kicking Bret’s leg out of his leg…

But later that night, while carrying a knee injury, Bret heroically made it to the final two in the Royal Rumble match alongside fellow babyface Lex Luger. Both Hart and Luger ended up tumbling over the top rope and touching the floor at the same time, and for the first time in Royal Rumble history, it was a draw. Then WWF President Jack Tunney declared that both co-winners would receive a WWF title shot at WrestleMania, and determined who would face the champion Yokozuna first by tossing a coin. Luger won the toss, so would face Yoko’ first. Leaving Bret to face the winner but also be able to pull double duty as he could also face his brother in a grudge match.

This would be Luger’s second shot at the title against Yokozuna, as a fresh off of the Lex Express challenger faced Yoko’ at SummerSlam 1993, winning the match (by count out) but not taking home the belt. That lacklustre pay-off to their SummerSlam main event really took the wind out of Luger’s sails after his huge country-wide Lex Express push, and despite the companies best efforts his popularity would never peak again like in the summer of 1993.

Out of the three promised matches, only one delivered. Bret and Owen opened the show with not only the best match of the night, it was one of the best WrestleMania matches ever. Even today it would still stand up as being an excellent technical wrestling match. And to set up future title matches between the brothers, Owen picked up the shock win when he countered a victory roll. Bret would go onto win the title against Yokozuna (after Yoko had retained against Luger earlier in the night), but the night belonged to Bret, Owen and the two others who put on a WrestleMania classic: Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon.

WrestleMania X: The New Generation On Its Own | The Chairshot

Would didn’t think I would be talking about WrestleMania X and not mention the ladder match, did you?

In 1994 a ladder match was not something many wrestling fans would have seen. They had maybe seen a Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart ladder match from a few years prior, but as that match was nothing much to write home about- you wouldn’t blame anyone for forgetting it actually took place. So when Michaels and Razor’s match was advertised as a ladder match, excitement built at this “new” concept. The WWF needed something special as it was the 10 year anniversary of WrestleMania, and a ladder match seemed to fit the bill.

Now, remember, this was the mid-90s. This was before TLC matches, before table matches, this was before hardcore wrestling was anywhere near mainstream. To put it into context, earlier in the night Randy Savage and Crush had a Falls Count Anywhere match where you had to pin your opponent anywhere in the building and be able to make it back to the ring by a ten count. I’ve probably made that sound quite interesting, but believe me, it wasn’t.

So when Shawn and Razor started using the ladder as a weapon by strategically placing it into their standard move set: Razor would slingshot HBK into it, whip him into it in the turnbuckle, or when Shawn would drop it on Razor’s injured back or stamp on it while Razor’s leg was between it, this was all new to the audience and the first major “weapons” match they were seeing. Think of Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 98, or the first TLC match. Yeah, there had been earlier Hell in a Cells, and earlier tag team ladder and table matches, but like the Undertaker, Mankind, Edge & Christian, Dudleyz and the Hardy Boys, Shawn Michaels and Razor were going the extra mile.

The climactic match built and built. They went way over their scheduled time for the match (something that got them some heat backstage and made an advertised 10 man tag be pulled from the show), the one ladder they had used to batter each other with broke- something they actually hadn’t planned for. But luckily, someone had just thought to maybe put an extra ladder under the ring and luckily the match was saved.

Shawn ended up taking a crazy bump off the ladder onto the ropes and got himself tangled in them as Razor slowly climbed the ladder and grabbed the two IC titles hanging above the ring and declared himself the undisputed Intercontinental champion. WrestleMania X was a historic show, but only for those two historic matches. The rest can be skipped.

Recommended Matches:

  • The Rock vs Hulk Hogan: WrestleMania 18
  • Bret Hart vs Owen Hart: WrestleMania 10
  • Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon: WrestleMania 10.

Next week we journey deeper into WrestleMania season and re-visit Mania 4, 7, 13, 15 and 26 in our Last Week in Wrestling WrestleMania specials.

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