Brett Mix’s- WWF Wrestlemania 12 Review:
“The Boyhood dream, has come true…for Shawn Michaels!” -Vince McMahon
-WWF Wrestlemania 12 took place at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California in front of 18,853 fans on Sunday, March 31st 1996.
-This was the 12th Annual WWF Wrestlemania event.
-The main attraction of this WrestleMania was the novelty of the WWF championship match that was guaranteed to last at least one hour. On-screen WWF president “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at the time had announced on an edition of Monday Night Raw that reigning champion Bret Hart must defend the title against Shawn Michaels in the first ever “WWF Iron Man Match”; whereby the winner would be the man with the most decisions over a sixty minute time limit. Michaels had earned the opportunity to face Hart by winning the 1996 Royal Rumble, and had also defeated Owen Hart at In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage for the right to keep the WrestleMania title shot.
-Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler did commentary once again at Wrestlemania.
-The WrestleMania XII logo is a parody of the 20th Century Fox logo.
-Portions of the Hollywood Backlot Brawl used stock footage of the LAPD freeway chase involving O.J. Simpson.
-This was the Wrestlemania debut of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H. Marc Mero also made his WWF debut backstage this night and Sable made her debut as well the same night as the valet of Triple H.
-This Wrestlemania features the least amount of matches in history at a Mania.
-Before the pay-per-view aired, On the Free-for-All before the event, the Bodydonnas defeated the Godwinns in a tournament final to win the vacant World Tag Team Championship at 5:21.
-Mankind would made his World Wrestling Entertainment debut the day after WrestleMania XII.
-Although Owen Hart and Yokozuna teamed up to win the World Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania XI, they were on opposite teams at WrestleMania XII.
-During the Free For All prior to WrestleMania, “The Huckster” fought the “Nacho Man,” with “Billionaire Ted” as the special guest referee.
-Now onto the PPV……………
1) Opening Contest- Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog) (with Jim Cornette) vs Yokozuna, Jake “The Snake“ Roberts and Ahmed Johnson (with Mr. Fuji) in a 6 Man Tag
Some six-man action to begin Mania! Actually the Nacho Man took on the Huckster in the Free-For-All but unfortunately we didn’t get thatsss viewing pleasure.
Yokozuna and Vader start off in a square-off between the two big men. Right hands galore as a slugfest breaks out in mid-ring. All six then go at it in the ring, back down to one on one Yokozuna ducks a clothesline then sends Vader to the floor. Yokozuna helps elevated Ahmed down onto Vader outside the ring. The Snake beats on Owen out there as well.
The giants tie up once more and Vader then lands right hands. Owen tags in and he goes at his tag team partner from the year previous. Owen sent into the buckle and Davey Boy from the apron moves him out of the way as Yokozuna crashes into the buckle. Vader comes back in a roughs up Yokozuna again. Vader with hard forearms to Yoko mixed in with his big jabs send Yokozuna to the canvas floor. Cornette looks on pleased. Vader now takes his time and Yokozuna battles back landing what looks like a Rock Bottom.
Bulldog tags in and then Ahmed does as well. Ahmed Johnson drops all three members of Camp Cornette. Ahmed with a powerslam to Davey Boy as he comes running at him off the ropes. Vader clobs Ahmed from behind once he tags in. Ahmed tries a sunset flip, Vader stops and goes to drop his weight on Ahmed but he moved and Ahmed met the mat, Johnson then kicked at Vader. Bulldog tags in and he delivers hard right’s to Ahmed until he returned the favor onto Davey Boy with a powerslam. Owen dropkicked Ahmed off Bulldog when he was about to hit a Pearl River Plunge.
owen coming in the match drops an elbow on Ahmed Johnson. Owen Hart then connects with an Inziguri. Owen isolating Ahmed tags in the man they call Vader who drops on Ahmed down on the mat with a nice splash. Vader sends Ahmed to the ropes and meets him mid-ring with a temporary hug type-power move sending Ahmed back down. Owen comes in and rakes the face of Johnson, hits him with a clothesline and then again tries but Ahmed connects with Owen at the same time and both men fall to the mat. In now, Jake the Snake Roberts. Jake and Owen go at it, Jake lands jabs and off the ropes another right sending Owen down. Jake sends Owen into his own clothesline then signals for the DDT, the move he originated. Owen blocks it having had scouted it. Owen sent into the buckle and as Roberts charged in Owen got the knees up.
Owen and the Bulldog triple teamed the Snake in there own corner along with Vader on the outside apron. Bulldog back in wearing down Jake the Snake with a front facelock, meanwhile preventing him from making a tag himself with this hold, continuing to isolate. Roberts gets out and slaps on an arm-ringer, Davey Boy was able to get to his side and tag in Vader. Vader with rights and lefts to Roberts followed by a clothesline. Vader now irishwhipped Jake to the corner and lands his entire body weight across his chest with a big splash. Vader clotheslines the Snake down to the mat before hitting a powerslam. Owen tags in and leaps off the top hitting Roberts with an elbow drop and scores a nearfall. Owen slaps on a unique submission hold on Roberts placing his leg in a standing position over the shoulders of Roberts torking the elbows back behind him. Bulldog comes in and stomps on Roberts before going for a Powerslam. Bulldog hits it and gets just a two though.
There’s still life left in the Snake and Davey Boy doesen’t want to believe it. Vader comes back in and lands a splash on Roberts, Vader gets a two and Lawler questions how he could do it? Davey Boy in again goes for an elbow drop off the ropes to Roberts but he moves just in time which buys him a moment. Roberts and Smith on the canvas and Jake goes for the hot tag to either Ahmed or Yokozuna. Jake up now and tags in big Yokozuna. Yoko with rights to Vader who comes in the ring, right in the corner. Yokozuna drops Vader in the corner after vicious righthands and Anaheim loves it. Yokozuna meets Vader with a splash in the corner and he then cleans house as Owen and the Bulldog run in. The Bulldog hit with a Samoan Drop from Yokozuna. Jake back in signals for the DDT and slaps it on Owen until Bulldog hits him. Owen drops shots on the Snake, the other four battle outside the ring. Roberts hits the DDT on Owen Hart and the place explodes.
Cornette comes in and Jake the Snake levels him. Jake goes for a DDT on Jim Cornette but Vader comes in and he takes Jake down. Everyone else on the floor and Vader drops the Snake with a Vader Bomb.
So in the end Vader hit The Snake with a Vader Bomb at 12:51 for the win.
This match as an opener worked fine, it gave everyone a chance to shine.
2) Stone Cold Steve Austin (with Ted DiBiase) vs Savio Vega
Austin comes out to dead heat which is incredible given how fast one can rise by the following year…
Savio Vega’s mic skills are horrendous.
Steve Austin and Savio Vega had a pretty good feud by this point and would continue with it in the next few months after this match in 1996.
Austin gets in the ring to pose with the Million Dollar belt.
Stone Cold Steve Austin attacks Savio vega upon entering the ring with a bunch of righthands and hard forearm shots to the spine, an all-out attack by Austin to begin. He didn’t look very impressed when Vega’s music hit to begin with.
Stone Cold Steve Austin continued to clobber Vega but he ran off the ropes with a succession of rights. Vega drops Austin and irishwhips him for the ride before landing a sidewalk slam on the Rattlesnake. Vega unleashed rights and Austin turned him back over and did more of the same, they roll around and continue the fight on the floor rolling under the bottom rope.
Savio Vega with vicious chops taking down Austin right in front of the Million Dollar Man himself. Vega throws Austin back in the ring and he continued to beat on Austin some more. Steve kicks Vega off the ropes and then delivered a kick to the mid-section. Steve Austin sent Vega crashing into the corner and Austin takes his head off. Lawler corrects McMahon on commentary and Austin drops another elbow on Vega and he gets a two count. Steve drops more pressure down onto Savio and then slaps on an armbar. Austin with an arm-ringer and he stomps on the mat for additional tork. Austin into a hammerlock and vega lands elbows and he leaps behind Austin showing his agility landing on his feet.
Savio drops Austin with a heel kick no pun intended.
Unfortunately they go to Piper on the phone which takes away from the match as Austin is now supplying a great display of offense sending Vega into the post once more. Steve choked him out in the corner before snapmaring him to the mat. A reverse chinlock by Steve but Vega rolls him over in vicios fashion. Stone Cold targets the injured shoulder/arm of Vega.
Austin is referred to as a “Mastered Technician.” I never get tired of hearing that since newer fans seem to think he was anything but. Austin puts Vega back into an armbar as he layed back first to the mat and this was the same arm he has focused on all match, good follow up by the Rattlesnake. Austin has Vega in a hammerlock and he proceeds to drop him on his injured shoulder hard to the mat. Stone Cold climbs to the top turnbuckle and he drops his elbow directly into the head of Savio Vega and he gets a two count. Austin kicks at Savio Vega in the corner now and Steve then sends Vega to the ropes and he ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody on Austin getting a two count.
Stone Cold reversed into the ropes and Steve drops Savio with a Thesz press.
What follows is a lovely exchange of reversals into roll-up pin attempts by both men. A backslide by Austin is blocked and then he drives Savio into the mat once more.
Now they show footage of the car chase and use some O.J. Simpson footage from the Main Stream Media, how clever…
Vega snapmared Austin down and went up top and went for a splash from the top but Steve lifts his knees up and Vega crashed and burned. Steve caught in a small package as Vega got up slow and Austin kicked out. Stone Cold went back to the offense dropping on Vega then slamming him to the mat hard. Stone Cold walks to the corner and stared at the crowd as they booed him, some good heat for the first time in the match. Austin hesitated before coming down on Vega and when he did Savio lifted the boot up catching Austin in the chin. Stone Cold down and Savio Vega had bought himself some time.
McMahon notes Savio wasn’t moving.
Savio Vega and Stone Cold Steve Austin back up at the same time. Austin dropped by Vega who lands some hard shots mid-ring. Austin chopped down to the mat by Vega off the ropes. Savio then hits a back bodydrop to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Vega with momentum kicks at Austin and then Savio drops the official with a spinning heel kick when Stone Cold Steve Austin ducks. DiBiase grabs the Belt.
Ted throws the belt to Austin as the official was down.
From behind Austin signalled for the Million Dollar Dream but Savio turns around in time and drops him. Austin grabs the belt while DiBiase distracts him outside the ring and Austin drops Vega in the head with the Million Dollar Belt.
Stone Cold drops the title once more on Vega’s head on the outside apron for good measure.
Austin slaps on a sleeper in mid-ring to weardown the quicker Savio Vega.
The Million Dollar Man wakes up referee Tim White with a cold beverage to the face.
In the end Austin put Vega away with the Million Dollar Dream at ten minutes exactly when Vega failed to lift his arm for the third consecutive time. Austin held it on him for another couple minutes after the match for more heat and to show he was indeed ruthless.
This match is pretty underrated as far as Mania matches go.
It had a tremendous blend of brawling, mat wrestling, and chain wrestling.
Unfortunately, the camera work and dead crowd doesen’t let those positive features shine through as they should.
3) The Ultimate Warrior vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Sable)
Here it is, the match Jean-Paul would like you to forget even more then the Raw match where he “lost” the wwf title to Chris Jericho.
Helmsley punches Warrior a few times before hitting him with the Pedigree.
The Ultimate Warrior gets up and drops him with a righthand, Lawler can’t believe it. McMahon puts over his power on commentary like it was going out of style. The Ultimate Warrior drops Helmsley with a clothesline or two and a shoulder block. Warrior reaches for the heavens now. Warrior in his final Mania appearance scooped up Helmsley and dropped him and then came splashing into him knee first to the ribs.
In the end The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley at 1:36 after he “Warrior’d Up”.
This match was basically over in no time obviosuly, a squash.
A point for Comedy and another for Irony…
4) The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel
Here is a great BIG MAN`s match.
Diesel had been getting a ton of MINDGAMES as of late and was tired of it.
The Undertaker and Diesel begin with an exchange of righthands. Diesel sends Taker into the corner hard and he lands a charging clothesline. Diesel with an elbow shot to the head of the Deadman. Diesel then threw Taker to the other buckle but this time he lifts a boot stopping the Diesel charge. The Undertaker clotheslined Diesel down and Taker drops an elbow. Diesel back up clotheslined Taker over the top rope to the floor. Undertaker takes it to Diesel on the floor but Big Daddy Cool returned the favor. Diesel drags Taker towards the steps but it was The Undertaker who slams Diesel’s head into the blue steps.
The Undertaker back in the ring caught by Diesel who sends him for the ride but The Undertaker stops and meets Diesel with an uppercut. The Undertaker showing great power picked up Diesel but ha lands behind him on his feet. The Undertaker off the ropes with a crossbody.
The Undertaker showing more quickness then usual during this match. (To this point in his career)
The Undertaker with an arm-ringer to Diesel and he goes for Old School as he walks the top rope. The Undertaker drops down on Diesel with great agility shown by the big man. A boot to Diesel and he missed a crossbody attempt falling to the mat as Diesel bought himself a moment. Nash grabs the Deadman by the hair but Taker grabbed him and dropped him throat first across the top rope as The Undertaker fell to the floor on his feet and Diesel swung back inside the ring being clotheslined by the top rope. The Deadman drops Diesel over the top this time with a clothesline and he lands on his feet. A lot of landing during the match.
The Undertaker continued to take it to Diesel outside the ring with more shots and he then MISSED a chairshot as it hit the post once Diesel ducked. Diesel with a knee to the gut and he swung the Deadman into the steel security railing.
Diesel breaks the count by rolling in the ring and goes right back towards the Deadman. Big Daddy Cool sent Taker into the ringpost, he scooped up Taker again and drives his Spine into the post. Diesel now began to walk after Paul Bearer!
Diesel breaks the count once more and gets in the ring posing in front of the fans who show him nothing but a negative reaction. Taker kneed by Diesel when he attempts to come back inside the squared circle.
Diesel with a big boot crashing into the temple of the Deadman coming at him off the ropes. A Jackknife was all of the sudden teased. Diesel taunting Taker and as he gets back up is on the recieving end of more punishment as Nash lands another right. Diesel up high on Taker while the fans begin a “Rest in Peace” chant. Diesel drops The Undertaker to the mat with another shot. Diesel smiles at the crowd and drops the Deadman with a sidewalk slam which gets Big Daddy Cool a two count. Diesel scoops up Taker and drops him head first into the corner of the ring. Diesel then charging at Taker off the side ropes drops his entire bodyweight on the spine of the Deadman who was resting against the middle ropes on the other side.
Diesel smiles some more as he lifts his arm in the air which gets a chorus of boo’s by the crowd. Diesel with a hard forearm and knee to the abdomen of The Undertaker in the corner of the ring. Diesel with another hard blow to the Deadman. Diesel sends Taker into the buckle but he met Diesel with a reverse elbow shot. The crowd come alive as the Deadman gains some momentum but only a bit, still a back and forth slugfest, now all of the sudden these two big men put up a big boot at the exact same time.
Both men drop to the canvas as Lawler mentions he has never seen that happen, ever…
Both men are down and McMahon speculates we could see a double countout. Taker sits up after eight to a loud roar. The Undertaker up at the same time as Diesel at the last second and Diesel drops the double axehandle to the bruised spine. Diesel continued the backwork as he sent the Deadman hard Spine first into the buckle and now slaps on a bearhug in mid-ring. This move adds additional stress to the back region of the Deadman who now rakes the face of Diesel in an attempt to get out of the devistating submission hold.
The Undertaker still caught in a bearhug has the grip tightened by Big Daddy Cool.
Diesel with a standing side headlock then gets backslammed by Taker who attempted to pick-up Diesel and both men land on there back. The Undertaker is the first one up which gets a good response and he drops the elbow, not quite enough to put Diesel away though. The Undertaker in a ton of pain still from the beating of Diesel. The Undertaker from the top rope drops Diesel with a flying clothesline. The Undertaker drives his knee into the gut of Diesel for some payback. Diesel off the ropes meets Taker with a knee and now he lands the Kackknife Powebomb on The Undertaker which gets a ton of heat. Diesel now points at Taker as he is his cockyself not going for the pin which could prove to be costly. Given Taker’s record at Mania it is a safe bet, although no one considered that record back during these times.
The Undertaker sat up and Diesel dropped him back with some more vicious righthands. Diesel signalled for a second Jackknife and with The Undertaker up he drives him hard to the mat. A second time by Nash should surely put the man from the Darkside away. Diesel then taunts Bearer and the crowd, and then Taker himself as he says he should go for a third perhaps?
Diesel went to finally cover The Undertaker but he was caught by the throat with The Undertaker’s purple glove. Diesel fought off the choke but found himself in the same predicament by Taker. Diesel kept hammering The Undertaker off of him but then all of the sudden was caught in the same scenario for a third time. The Undertaker sat up with Diesel by the throat and Taker’s face meant strictly business. Diesel was able to get out of harms way as he dropped the Deadman with a sidewalk slam. Diesel now rises up but The Undertaker sits up from behind him. Taker is up and Diesel turns around shocked. Diesel went for a running knee but The Undertaker’s shots were more devistating. Taker off the ropes ducks a clothesline and lands a flying one off the ropes to Nash which takes him down and swings the momentum back in the favor of the Deadman.
The Undertaker with a grab of Diesel’s throat chokeslams the big man hard to the canvas floor.
The Undertaker now only has one more step to go to making this match his own.
The Undertaker signals for the end and drops Big Daddy Cool Diesel square on his head in the middle of the ring with a Tombstone.
In the end at 16:46 Taker goes 5-0 at Mania after putting Diesel away with his Tombstone.
This match was pretty great given the style’s of both guys and how well they were able to work this basic match type.
Very solid despite the slow middle portion where Nash is in control.
5) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs Goldust (with Marlena) in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl
A portion of this brawl took place after the opening match but was filmed before.
What took place there, was this:
Piper came swinging at a Golden Car carrying Goldust.
Piper beat on him with the bat, and threw Goldust into a wooden table full of food while fans outside looked on. Piper dropped a trashcan on him.
The Hot Rod sprayed his hose on Goldust as this was just one vicious, one-sided beating. Goldust thrown onto the hood of the car before Piper scooped him up and slammed him on the hood. Goldust fought back a little and sent Piper crashing head first into the Dumpster.
Goldust then bought himself enough time to drive off. Piper chased him and thus the chase began, this of course after Piper was HIT by a car.
This lasted over an hour and now we have time for Part 2 of this unique showdown.
Goldust walks to the ring while the fans are chanting for Piper. Piper meets him in the entrance aisle and the crowd chant “ROWDY”.
Piper means business.
Piper by the ring drops Goldust with a bunch of rights, Goldust fights back once inside the ring. Goldust kicks at Piper and drops him. Goldust on top of Piper meets him with a bunch of kicks in the corner. Piper had wrist-tape dragging from his palms and Goldust drops his leg in the groin of Piper which gets a loud response from the audience who continued to chant for Piper.
Roddy Piper down and Goldust in control. Goldust picks up Roddy and takes his time as he puts his hands on his backside which of course got a reaction. The Hot Rod had enough of this but Goldust eventually got back in control.
Goldust started to strip Piper. (Uh Oh)
Goldust choked out Piper with his own T-Shirt. Goldust dragged Piper by his jeans which were beyond dirty from the “War” the two had been in. Goldust slammed Piper’s leg into the ring post. Piper though started to get wild and ROWDY as he fought back but then dropped to his back due to a bad leg.
Goldust got on top of Piper and started to play some games in the sick character type he was back then. The crowd look very uncomfortable during this segment. Goldust up on the top rope gets dropped groin first on the top buckle as Piper shook the ropes making the Golden One lose his balance. Piper back up meets Goldust with a headbutt and then Goldust kisses him.
Goldust on top of Piper feeling him out a little bit, as disturbing as it sounds.
Goldust back down slaps Piper and now he really means business after the kiss. Goldust lands a shot but it has no effect on Piper all of the sudden as he has nothing but disgust and rage. Piper unleashes rights and grabs Goldust by the jewels as the place goes nuts… (no pun intended)
Piper drops Goldust and McMahon says its going to get ugly. (I think the whole segment was Vince)
Piper then starts to strip Goldust because it wasn’t quite ugly enough. Piper strips Goldust and it reveals a beyond strange outfit that makes one cringe. It makes his 1998 Royal Rumble outfit look like something you’d like to wear everyday in comparison.
In the end Piper defeated Goldust (Or so it seems) at an unannounced time as it was all over the place. Goldust walked away and Piper’s music hit.
This match was fun in the beginning, then turned rather dreadful in the end and you kind of just wanted it to end.
It still was a sight to see though, pretty violent for its time in the Federation.
Piper would head to WCW after this and then he would not appear at Mania or the WWE until Wrestlemania X9 during the Hogan-McMahon match.
As much as you’d like to think this was about the fans getting behind the Hot Rod, one can’t help but speculate if this was just to get the character of Goldust even more over then he already was.
Either way its not very enjoyable.
6) Main Event- “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (with Jose Lothario) vs Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) in a “60 Minute IronMan Match” for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
The two best workers from this era (no questions asked) and two of the very best in history competing in a 60 minute title match in the Main Event of Wrestlemania was a dream match for many.
Oh yeah and it gets better. These two don’t like each other at all.
Watching the build-up to this match gets me pumped up to go back and re-live it. Obviously its a controversial match at the end of the day as one could question the booking and structure of this match. A lot feel it could be quicker, more falls, while some appreciate its patience and love how everything played off.
Still its a Classic in its own right.
Bret says he just wanted to wake up the following morning with his title. We also get the story of Shawn’s dream.
Fink introduced who he could now say was the President of the WWF, Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon.
Shawn’s music hits and he looks older then usual. Oh, it’s Jose Lothario. Jose points to the rafters and Shawn dances from the roof and comes flying into the ring with style. A great Wrestlemania moment to look back on.
The Hitman comes in as the defending Champion in a less impressive fashion… (Infact Bret wasn’t satisfied how he was made to look the whole feud and build-up in this match as he mentions in his book)
Earl explained the rules while both men were more then ready for the match of there career`s, Bret gives us a wink.
Unfortunately, this w asn’t the last Hart-Michaels match Earl Hebner officated…
The anticipation has been built and now it was time to get it on.
The Main Event of Wrestlemania was truely back after a long stretch of time (Wrestlemania 8-11) where it was arguable it was even there at all.
Bret and Shawn tied up and this one was on!
These two will go at it for an hour and the person with the most decisions will be the winner and ultimately the World Wrestling Federation Champion. A decision can be earned by a Pinfall, Submission, Count-Out or DQ.
The bell rings, here we go…I’ve always had problems making it through this match in one sitting so this is going to be a true test for me disecting every portion of this match in form of a Review. I’m sure I’ll end up appreciating it much more that way, I always do with most matches that are lengthy.
Shawn Michaels locks up with the Hitman. Bret cornered and then Shawn is as Bret turns the tide and is instructed to back off by referee Hebner. Bret goes in and Shawn hits a belly to back suplex on the Hitman, Bret escapes this predicament with a waistlock go-behind on Shawn. Michals gets out of this escaping to the ropes. Michaels now asked for a test of strength by Bret and he doesen’t go for it. Bret with a side headlock on Shawn and Michaels takes down the Hitman shoving him off of him. Hart shrugs it off. Another tie-up and a side headlock takeover by Michaels.
McMahon suggests Shawn Michaels was giving the Hitman a wrestling lesson. I don’t know if I’d go that far but he was one step ahead thus far. Michaels with an arm-ringer and he stomps the mat wrenching down on his left arm. Michaels twisting the arm but Bret reverses it with a standing side headlock, Bret almost rolled to his back by Michaesl on the mat but Bret slaps a side headlock on Shawn down on the mat. Back to his vertical base Shawn gets grounded as he is stuck in a side headlock by the defending Champion, the Hitman Bret Hart. Bret keeps this locked on for a good minute until he drops Shawn with a side headlock takedown. Bret applied this move so crisp, immediately I think about his classics with Curt Hennig whenever I see a nice side headlock takedown by the Hitman.
The scoreclock is shown. and we are almost four minutes through when The Hitman expertly applied another side headlock takedown. Shawn rolled Bret to his back and got a two. Bret still with the side headlock wearing down a quicker Shawn which was by all means logical, just not the most exciting thing to watch as the start of the match.
Here we see a quicker exchange between the two men. Bret shoved to the ropes and Michaesl hits a hiplock, Bret kicks him from the canvas and drops Shawn with a side headlock takedown, Michaels counters with a headscissors onto Bret out of the sleeper, both men kick up and another takedown by Bret and back into the side headlock. This sequence is met with a bunch of applause from the audience. Shawn rolls Bret onto his back out of the sleeper for a two and now Bret regains control back into the sleeper.
Five minutes down, fifty five to go.
Bret at his vertical base grounds Shawn down some more and he attempts an overhead wristlock as a counterhold to Bret, as Michaels struggles to slap it on Bret tries to overpower him. Shawn drops Bret for a moment but then Hart immediately re-gains control with a front facelock. Hart standing up with Shawn Michaels in a front facelock. Hart with his favourite move so far in the match a side headlock takedown. Bret Hart back up gets a few shots by Michaels, Bret runs off the ropes jumping over Michaels twice, Shawn hits an armdrag takedown, and now he slaps an armbar on the Hitman which gets a positive response. Michaels drops his knee into the shoulder area of the Hitman and goes back into an armbar on Bret. Shawn Michaels drops his leg on Shawn’s arm and he slaps on a wristlock on Bret and then goes back into an armbar. Shawn Michaels gets a hiplock on Bret taking him down to the mat before re-applying an armbar. The Hitman trying to gain a counter on Shawn Michaels’s weardown hold. This was Shawn Michaels’s version of Bret’s side headlock from earlier. Shawn turns this into an overhead wristlock as Bret tried to get out at every chance he got. Bret shoves Shawn to the ropes and Michaels hit a shoulder block. Bret catches Shawn Michaels offgaurd and he drops him with a droptoe hold. Michaels then gets out of a Side headlock and goes into a hammerlock. Nice chain-wrestling sequence here. Michaels drives the knee into the bad shoulder-arm region of the Hitman which he had been earlier working on and goes back into an armbar. Shawn Michaels in control for the moment once again as he holds a hammerlock on the Hitman. Shawn Michaels pushed to the corner as the Hitman gets back to his feet.
This match starts slow for the same reason you walk before run on a treadmill.
Bret Hart with shots with his good shoulder into the chest of Shawn Michaels. Michaels turns Bret around and the intensity builds as Shawn unleashed shots to the Hitman. Shawn Michaels then drops Bret to the outside with a modified headscissors takeover. McMahon calls it a high flying Mexican Maneuver. We will leave it at that I guess.
Bret goes for a walk and then decideds to join Shawn Michaels again inside the ring. Shawn Michaels with a fire-man’s carry back into an arm-bar. Michaels with additional pressure to the injured shoulder of the Hitman. Shawn pushed off the ropes and Bret catches Shawn elevating him to the floor but he holds onto the ropes skinning the cat. This quickness of the Showstopper surprises the Hitman catching him off gaurd and right back into the armbar he goes. Off the ropes goes Shawn and he catches a knee shot to the abdomen. A headbutt by Bret now to the lower abdomen of Michaels, followed by a leg-drop. The Hitman with a couple of offensive moves before slapping a sleeper on Shawn.
Bret then forced a reverse chinlock on Shawn Michaels.
Bret Hart held this until Shawn hit a jawbreaker. Michaels with a legdrop to Bret. Michaels with a nice armbar into a bridge trying to hyper-extend the elbow of the Hitman, all this on the same arm Shawn had been working on all match. McMahon points out that its surprising how Shawn has been Wrestling thus far as it’d been “Bret Like…” in so many words.
The Hitman down on the mat in a bad way as Michaels holds the armbar until The Hitman turned every which way attempting to get out. Bret kicks up and twists the armo of Shawn into a headlock, Bret sent to the ropes and he leapfrogs Shawn before catching him in mid-air dropping him with an inverted atomic drop. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Shawn grabs the ropes. The Hitman dropkicks Shawn to the floor. Bret with a forearm shot outside the ring. Shawn then shoved Bret to the ring post. Bret lands on the timekeeper. Shawn Michaels goes for a running sweetchin music but he nailed the timekeeper as Bret moves at the last second.
A little drama all of the sudden. Shawn throws a fit (In the 90’s? No Way…) and Bret dishes out more forearm shots before throwing the Heartbreak Kid back into the ring and slapping on another reverse chinlock. Bret Hart back on the neck of Michaels following up where HE last left off. Both guys have stayed true to there gameplan throughout the first fifteen minutes of this clinic. Bret re-applies this headlock on Shawn with additional leverage as Michaels tried to gain some form of leverage out of the hold by the Hitman. Bret to his vertical base and Shawn attempted to elbow out but Bret goes back to the mat and slaps it on even harder. They roll the timekeeper out on a stretcher right in front of Stu Hart who is sitting in the front row.
All of the sudden Shawn hits a desperation arm-drag takedown as his move to get out of the dreaded minute long Sleeper from the Hitman which I’m sure sent more then one or two people into a Coma. Michaels follows this move up with a running clothesline and still meanwhile remembers to sell the neck that has been worked on all match by Bret as he attempts to crack his neck. Nice.
Shawn Michaels eighteen minutes into the match sends Bret to the ropes or attempts to but Bret reverses the irishwhip and regains the momentum clotheslining Shawn Michaels back down to the mat and re-applying the sleeperhold. Bret Hart back to his vertical base recieves some elbows and fists by Shawn. Off the ropes Michaels leaps behind Bret, until Bret hooks the rope, Shawn lands a dropkick and then Bret got up straight away and Michaels slaps the armbar back on Bret taking him down and favoring that same weakened left shoulder of Bret. Shawn Michaels knees Bret directly back into the shoulder he has focused on although McMahon tells us its the rib area when logic and the tape says it isn’t. Michaels torks the arm back as he is in a unique sit-down armbar formation. Bret gets up and attempts to put all his weight on Shawn’s injured upper-region but Michaels regains momentum sending Bret back down to the mat back first. Michaels extending Bret’s arm but Bret teases a get-out but Shawn grounds Bret some more showing some nice amateur-mat work. Shawn grounding the Hitman on the canvas with the armbar locked in the deepest way. Shawn Michaels has Bret in a world of pain and the Hitman slowly rises up but Shawn has it locked in well. Shawn Michaels slapped by Bret and he attempted a jawbreaker but did not have the momentum to pull it off. Hart backs Michaels into the corner and knocks Shawn off with two elbow shots. A stiff uppercut by Hart three times into Shawn in the corner, then a fourth. Hart irishwhipped Shawn Michaels but Shawn stops in mid-flight then twists Bret’s injured shoulder with an arm-ringer, Shawn throws Bret shoulder first into the ringpost. Shawn drops Bret’s arm over the top rope and then cusses out the camera man.
Gotta love 90’s Michaels, McMahon even points out his temper.
Shawn Michaels drops a leg onto Bret’s bad arm and he sells it getting up. Michaels from the corner drops the double axehandle to Bret on the same shoulder. Shawn locks the bad arm behind him and throws Bret to the mat with a hammerlock slam. Shawn Michaels throws Bret with his arm held in front of him directly into the turnbuckle, not once but twice. Shawn Michaels drops the double axehandle to the bruised shoulder region of Hart Twenty Five minutes exactly into the Iron-Man Match. Shawn twists the arm, Bret reverses it out of desperation, Shawn re-reverses that but Bret lands some righthands. Bret off the ropes had some momentum built up but Shawn off the ropes lands a hammerlock drop again on the Hitman with focus on his bad arm. More damage to the shoulder region as he hyper-extends the elbow of Bret and drops more kneeshots on top of him. Back into his laydown armbar is Michaels. Shawn now has the leverage he needs to tork the arm of the Hitman but Bret rolls out. Hart grabs ahold of anything he can and he gets out for the moment. Shawn cornered Bret and hits him with a high elbow shot to the head. Shawn with a snapmare takeover on Bret back into the same armbar. Michaels stretching Hart with this same hold he has been slapping on the last ten minutes of the match, inbetween sequences of this hold Michaels drops his bodyweight onto the spine of Bret for additional punishment. Hart in desperation lands rights and somehow drops Shawn Michaels with an inverted atomic drop off the ropes goes Shawn swinging back.
Bret signals for perhaps a Sharpshooter but instead slingshots Michaels with a catapolt from mid-ring directly into the corner. Since most of the work in the match had been on Bret it was only logical for him to continue selling the shoulder and this prevented him from pinning Shawn. Smart stuff.
Michaels sends Bret to the buckle hard, bad-shoulder first. Michaels opening the match up a bit flies towards Bret in the corner and he landed up top. Bret booted Shawn from beneath the top rope and he flew around like only Shawn can. An inverted atomic drop followed by a clothesline from Bret scores him a two, the first nearfall in awhile. Bret with a running bulldog. Hart unlike himself goes up high but Shawn Michaels catches him, Bret fights back. Shawn trying to reach up is caught by Bret and he drives the knee into the back of the head of Shawn, they collide into the official. This was logical although unchracteristic from Bret because whenever Hart had been on the offense during the match, he targetted the upper region of Michaels which he did again here. Shawn though lands a powerslam on Bret getting him a two count. Half-way through the match. Bret off the ropes nails Shawn Michaels with a piledriver after reversing a back bodydrop attempt from Michaels. The Hitman was to fatigued to hook the leg of Michaels and gain additional leverage thus he only scores a two count. Hart again unlike himself goes up to the top but it backfired as Shawn pulls him off hitting a hiplock from the top and Bret lands on his bad shoulder. Michaels with a hurricanrauna followed by additional righthands to Bret. Shawn sends Bret to the ropes and he hangs on hooking the ropes, scouting Shawn and he lands righthands before dropping Bret with a backbreaker, a kickout by Bret. Bret catches an elbow from Shawn. Shawn goes for a Superkick and Bret grabs ahold of the bottom rope and rolls to the outside. Bret goes for a walk which gets boo’s, Michaels caught him from upstairs onto the floor!
Shawn Michaels with a flying crossbody from the top rope to the floor. In Vince’s own words, “Unbeeeeelieeeeevable!”
McMahon speculated Shawn would get the first decision as Hart was down and seemingly out, outside the ring. Shawn elects to not get a decision and broke the count throwing Hart back in. Michaels from the top hit another crossbody but on the mat, Bret uses his bodyweight to roll on top of Shawn getting a two count. Shawn goes for a hiplock and can’t do it, Shawn goes for a backslide, then Bret, Shawn rolls out of this into a small package getting a two. Faster action now. Shawn Michaels irishwhipped Bret to the ropes and lands a forearm shot to the abdomen. Shawn with a Perfect Plex to Bret and a two. Shawn Michaels sent Bret to the ropes and slapped on a Sleeper. Bret backs him off to the corner and Shawn goes right back into the Sleeper. Shawn Michaels giving the Hitman a taste of his own medicine given what Bret had done earlier to Shawn all match. Hebner testing Bret’s awareness and Bret lifts before the three. Hart back up yanks on the long hair of Shawn. Michaels though pushed Bret to the corner and goes directly back into the sleeper. Bret reverses it and Shawn flips out behind him hitting him with an elbow, Shawn lifts himself up using the corner and hits Bret with a dropkick. Bret sent backfirst to the buckle and Shawn moving in on Bret gets backdropped out to the floor over the top rope.
The Hitman has bought himself some time, thirty seven minutes exactly into the match with a back bodydrop to Shawn Michaels who lands violently onto the floor!
The Hitman continues his violent onslaught of attack as he finds himself in desperate times which of course called for desperate acts, Bret picks up Shawn on the mat and drives him into the security railing. Hart forced Michaels back inside the ring now as he had not only boughten himself some time, but was now arguably in control after that big spot went in his favor, Bret needed this badly as Shawn had been dictating the pace for the better part of the last twenty minutes.
Bret Hart with the advantage elects to drop a hard forearm shot to the lower back of Michaels. This apart of his gameplan to disect the entire body of Shawn, with the top-half in the beginning half, and now the lower-end. Smart methodical pacing by Bret and you’d expect nothing less. Hart drives Shawn Michaels into the corner focusing on the lower back. Bret drives his elbow from the top onto Shawn’s lowerback which he now begins to sell. Bret with Shawn irishwhips him to the ropes, Shawn blocks what looks as if was going to be a bodyslam and Bret adapts to his environment hitting Michaels with an equally vicious weardown move in Shawn’s condition, the backbreaker. Bret drives his knee into the lower back of Shawn relentlessly in the corner of the ring now. Hart then drops his entire bodyweight on top of Michaels and his bad lowerback in the corner of the ring near the turnbuckle. The Hitman Bret Hart sends Michaels hard with momentum into the corner and he swings upside down. Hart then superplexes Shawn from the top landing on his lowerback. Surely this would score a fall for Bret but Michaels kicks out! Hart goes into the Camel Clutch which was quite the brilliant move for a guy in Bret’s shoes considering it focuses on the neck and the lower back, the two regions Bret had methodically been disecting Shawn Michaels with during the entire duration of this match. Forty two minutes in and Shawn kicks away at the mat still locked in tightly with Bret’s camelclutch. Shawn grabs ahold for anything at all and then drives a forearm into the abodmen of Bret, Shawn with a sunset flip off the ropes and Bret squeezed his legs together knocking the head down of Shawn. Bret then not letting Shawn go for an instant drives more pressure into the lower back. Michaels set up on top of the ropes yet again by the Hitman. Shawn drops a hard righthand, he flies off from the corner and Bret jabs him with a shot to the gut falling down. Hart lands Michaels with a Side Russian Legsweep which McMahon points out is a signature move in Bret’s offense. Bret slams Shawn’s head into the buckle, Bret irishwhipped Shawn into the corner of the ring and he swings upside down bumping like only Michaels can. Shawn falls down to the floor knocking out Jose Lothario in the process. Shawn then thrown into the steel steps by Bret and this nails down Jose again.
An ultimate victory for Bret knocking Lothario out twice with Shawn in the process outside the ring. Hart tosses a down and out Michaels back inside the ring. Bret Hart now in total control forty five minutes into the IronMan match. Lawler keeps bringing up why Bret hasn’t slapped on the Sharpshooter which could be a mistake. Hart lands a belly to belly suplex on Michaels still working on the lowerback. Lawler points out that once the Sharpshooter is slapped on the pain is centered on the lowerback which is why he should go for it. The fans get more into it as a slugfest breaks out but Bret gets the better of that as he was the one in control and Shawn’s lowerback gives out. Bret with a hard forearm uppercut into the corner of the ring on Michaels, nice impact from Bret landing his mark. Hart with a front facelock in mid-ring into a vertical suplex attempt, Michaels lands on his feet with great agility shown and then a roll-up by Shawn scores a two. Bret elevated Shawn to the outside with some power. Bret on one knee caching his breath then runs off the side ropes and charges towards Shawn outside the ring flying through the middle ropes. The heads of both men colliding in the process, a nice spot in the match.
The pace picks up from this point on, forty seven and a half minutes into the match.
Bret broke the count himself (Something both men have done a few times each for some reason) and Shawn is allowed a breather to build up suspense for the climax of this clinic, in the Main Event of Wrestlemania! Shawn Michaels coming back in hooked up by Bret from inside, Michaels lands on his feet and grabs ahold of Bret, Hart with a standing switch applied a back suplex to Shawn hooking the legs into a bridge and a two count. Shawn with a forearm to the mid-section on Bret but he overpowers Shawn down on his knees due to Hart being the aggressor. Hart lands a kick to the face on the Challenger. Shawn Michaels asking for some more grabs ahold of the tights of Bret but he is on the recieving end of another hard shot from the Hitman.
Hart goes into a reverse chinlock.
Fifty minutes in.
The Hitman wearing down Michaels some more as his legs kick to the mat trying to re-gain anything at all which could count as leverage to get out of this hold and try and re-gain some momentum back to his own side. Michaels trying to make a move on Bret Hart but he has been in the hold for over a minute and a half now, Michaels began to pull Bret’s hands down just to get oxygen back to his head.
Eight and a half minutes remain in the time limit, the score still tied at zero. Bret Hart with the pressure still applied but at least Michaels’s lowerback had gotten a break. Michaels grabs Bret with anything possible and re-gained his vertical base. Finally Shawn Michaels elbows out, ducks a clothesline then collides with Bret as they take each other out with a double clothesline.
Lawler hilariously says Shawn doesen’t look like the 12 year old kid with a dream right now.
Bret Hart kicked at but he slaps on a front facelock hooking Shawn up top. All the way up on the top rope Bret Hart drops Shawn Michaels with a Superplex off the very top rope.
This takes it out of both men and Bret couldn’t hook the leg in time, but Bret goes for his trusty Sharpshooter for the first real time, Michaels kicks at Bret not allowing it.
Hart then attempts a figure-four leglock, Shawn blocks it, Bret does slap on a leglock and its the Boston Crab! Shawn Michaels reaching for the ropes, eventually gets there. Bret lets go at four as Hebner gets in his face. Bret Hart coming close to a DQ then drives Shawn’s lowerback into his knee with a nicely applied backbreaker. Hart climbs to the top turnbuckle and goes for an elbow drop but Michaels gets the boot up kicking Hart directly in the face. Shawn Michaels with an oppurtunity now fifty five minutes and a half into the IronMan match!
Shawn Michaels lands a high dropkick sending Bret crashing into the corner. Bret holding himself up in the corner gets met with a forearm as Shawn charged into him. Michaels sends Bret Hart crashing sternum first into the turnbuckle pad, I always felt Bret bumps sternum first into the padding better then any other wrestler has ever done. Shawn Michaels lands a flying forearm off the ropes, and does he have enough to kick up, he does and it gets a roar from the crowd. Michaels drops a boot on Bret. Shawn Michaels irishwhips Hart and flies into him with a flying reverse elbow drop. Shawn Michaels scoops Bret up and slams him down to the canvas. A lot of action now. Shawn Michaels with another high-risk move and drops the double-axe handle to the Hitman Bret Hart who kicks out at two. Shawn Michaels slaps on a front facelock into a vertical suplex and now the Challenger is full of desperation offense going for it all. Michaels drops an elbow drop onto Hart from the top rope and this gains him another two count. Shawn Michaels with more offense as he sends Bret to the ropes and hits him with a boot to the mid-section, and a gutwrench suplex with exactly two minutes left. Shawn Michaels drops onto Bret with a moonsault landing on the Hitman getting a two. Bret back up with a reversal and from the corner Shawn lands a boot to the jaw of Bret. Off the top Shawn rolls an inside cradle on Bret and gets a two.
Exciting times here.
Shawn Michaels scoops Bret back up and slams him down to the mat with one minute and change remaining. Shawn Michaels has Bret where he wants him and now begins to climb the corner turnbuckle, but Bret begins to get up. Shawn Michaels from the top comes flying off and Bret catches him in mid-air and Hart goes for the Sharpshooter and has it finally slapped on.
Bret held Shawn in the Sharpshooter as everyone in the building stands up.
The time-limit expires and a hush of silence is heard. Bret gets his title as a lot of the Pond boo. Monsoon and Hebner have some words. Where was Monsoon when we needed him at the Survivor Series, I would of liked him to have a word with Hebner during that one.
The ring announcer Howard Finkel says that the 60 minute time limit has expired, however this match has been ordered to continue under Sudden Death Rules. Bret Hart gets in the ring and Bret argues with Gorilla Monsoon who is on the outside of the ring.
The match continues and Bret isn’t very pleased with this, and the match continued under “Sudden Death” Rules, we are noted that there must be a winner. We’re in overtime screams Lawler.
Shawn Michaels is down and Bret comes in and argues a bit with Monsoon questioning this call, this obviously gives Michaels a moment to re-group in the corner of the ring knowing he has a second chance here to realize his dream.
The bell rings and Hart goes back on top of Shawn, Bret grabs ahold of the tights and drops a forearm to the injured lower back. Hart viciously drives his knee into the lowerback of Michaels and then hits him with a nice back bodydrop off the ropes. Bret grabs Shawn and drops him with a backbreaker which of course puts more stress to the lowerback of Michaels which had been worked on for an hour.
Out of now where Michaels caught Bret in the corner and landed a superkick. Shawn Michaels totally fatigued was not able to cover him. Hart down and now Shawn had a chance after the Superkick to regain some momentum and get back to his feet.
Michaels awaits Bret to get up again and gets all of a second Superkick.
In the end Shawn Michaels gives Bret Hart two super kicks and then pins him to win the WWE Championship for the first time at 61:52.
The Hitman was pinned after a tremendous duration of taking it to the limit endurance wise by his foe, Shawn Michaels.
The crowd seem satisfied.
Shawn Michaels has now won the big one.
Now not taking away anything from Shawn`s big moment, I`m certainly not a fan of Shawn telling Bret to leave so he could have his moment. I wasn’t there so obviously I don’t know what he said exactly but I’m pretty sure he told Bret to “Get the F out of his ring” or something along those lines.
Oh well, it is what it is. If THEY can get over it by now in 2010, so can I.
This match could of been booked better, I don`t think there`s any denying that, however it still stands as a technical clinic and one of the defining moments of the 1990`s, the good in this match simply can`t be ignored.
When factoring in all that matters its an All-Time Classic.
Final Rating for WWF Wrestlemania 12 = 7/10
This Mania was without a doubt an improvement on the Mania from the year before, which probably when thinking about it might even be a major understatement.
The action here was solid throughout the night with a unique backlot brawl, an underrated gem in Austin versus Vega, a solid six man opener and a great big man match. Who could also forget the Classic Iron-Man and laughable Hunter squash to boot.
A memorable Mania for certain and a pretty enjoyable one at that. Not a must own but its definitely a solid show.