WrestleMania XII Retrospective

Ok, well here I am with my WrestleMania XII recap, for those who haven’t seen this show. BTW, I also did a WrestleMania X recap just the other day, so if you missed that, it’s right here. Well, on to the WrestleMania XII recap. Also, in case you’re curious, I’m doing this cuz I feel WrestleMania Sunday is as much a holiday as Superbowl Sunday. So on that note….on with the PPV.

This one’s live, on tape from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California on March 31, 1996. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry “The King” Lawler.

On to the first match, the curtain jerkers this year are involved in a 6-man tag between the teams of Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson & Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Vader, Owen Hart & The British Bulldog. Jake looks drunk in this match…big surprise there, eh? Anyway, this one gets started, and apparently there’s a stipulation that if Yokozuna’s team wins this match, he gets 5 minutes alone with Jim Cornette in the ring. I don’t wanna know what that’s about. So this one’s going on, lots of tags, everyone gets their high spots off and out of nowhere, Yokozuna Rockbottoms Vader. A little bit of resting from the two big men, then Ahmed is tagged in & he cleans house. Camp Cornette pulls it together & starts beating down on the faces. Vince: “They’re pouncing like a pack of wolves on a pack of buffalo.” Whatever, anyway…it’s really amazing that Yoko is totally over as a face. Also, Mr. Fuji is waving an AMERICAN flag…what? He’s not Japanese anymore? Owen blocks Jake’s DDT & the serpent left. Jake kicks out of the Bulldog’s running powerslam and also kicks out of the splash from Vader which followed it. This guy must be drunk, he forgot how the match ends! I’m just waiting for him to motion that he’s gonna remove his pants. Jake starts coming to, reaches the ropes & we get some great shots of Jakes gut. Yay! Yokozuna in, Yokomania runs rampid as he cleans house & samoan drops the Bulldog. More brawling and Jake is lying in the corner & takes the Vaderbomb. This time he doesn’t kick out & the heels emerge victorious.

Next match, we’ve got the Hollywood Back Lot Brawl between Goldust (Dustin Runnels or Rhodes, however you know him) and the rowdy one, Rowdy Roddy Piper. This match really sux & that’s all I’m gonna say, but Runnels rocks & really works the gay gimmick beautifully. For some reason, someone must have thrown away a lot of shredded paper, cuz the garbage cans are full of the shit. And we’re in Hollywood, ya see cuz there are stage lights in the alley! They needed to have that stuff there or else I wouldn’t have believed they were actually in Hollywood! How about we move on, k?

On to the greatest feud in Stone Cold Steve Austin’s history….remember the feud with Savio Vega? Who’s Savio Vega, you might ask? Well, he was Razor Ramon (Scott Hall)’s little buddy from Puerto Rico or Cuba or somewhere down there. (Down where?) I’m not sure I can say that here…anyway…on with the match. At this time, Austin was managed by “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and was the Million Dollar Champion. And as we are reminded by King & McMahon, this match is not for the (unsanctioned by the WWF — according to Vince) Million Dollar Championship. Also, we’re seeing Savio before he formed the faction of Los Boriquas. If you don’t know about this, don’t ask…it was really a bad way to take the WWF and not something I’m proud to say I sat through and watched it all. Also, let it be known that Austin was much smaller in this match than he is now & also didn’t need the knee braces.

Oh, but what’s this? Piper is calling in from his cell phone while he chases Goldust towards the arena in his white Ford Bronco.

Back to the match and Austin hits the Lou Thesz Press! Lou Thesz Press! Lou Thesz Press! Oh, wait…they didn’t note that one, ok…and Good Ol’ JR wasn’t commentating. Now we’re getting some video tape from OJ Simpson driving around in his white Ford Bronco…and guess what? It’s not OJ, it’s Rowdy Roddy Piper. Thanks for the reminder…I forgot that Piper JUST CALLED IN ON HIS CELL! Back to the match. Vince: “Fierce competitors, Stone Cold Steve Austin & Savio Vega!” Sure Vince, whatever you say. Spinning heel kick (Savio’s finisher) misses Austin as he ducks & hits referee Tim White. White’s knocked out & Austin takes advantage & starts whacking Savio with the Million Dollar Belt. Dibiasi wakes up White in time to catch Austin with the Million Dollar Dream (Austin’s finisher before the Stunner) on Savio. Match over, Savio never woke up from the belt shots.

Backstage, Mr. Perfect interviews Diesel (“Big Sexy” Kevin Nash) about Undertaker & his mind games…guess who was the cerebral assassin then?

Ok, more OJ Simpson footage, and we’re ready for the next match. Oh, and this one’s gonna go down in WWF history. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. The Ultimate Warrior (making his big WWF return). And HHH is really small here and clean shaven. And who’s this on his arm? Could it be….Rena Mero? Damn, without that name Sable, she’s nothing! King then says something about Vince’s “Lee Press-On Hair”. Helmsley with the early offense, kick to the gut, pedigree & this one’s over, right? Nope…Warrior no sells & takes off his coat. Clothesline, clothesline, clothesline, diving shoulder block, gorilla press drop, splash on HHH’s back & it’s over 1 minute 39 seconds later.

Todd Pettengill interviews “Wildman” Marc Marrow (yes, he pronounced it Marrow!?!) They hype how he’s finally here, but the truth in it all is that the WWF fans have no clue who the hell this guy is. Oh, but he’s got something to say….”Look in these eyes, look in these eyes….the fire that burns in these eyes-” and he’s cut off with HHH walking into the interview asking what the hell he’s doing there. Brawl ensues & here’s HHH’s next feud. Wonderful!

And now we’re treated to more OJ footage.

Next match, The 7 foot monster, “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel to face off with The Undertaker (and he’s not rollin’!) On his way into the ring, the cameraman gets close enough to hear exactly what Big D has to say: “I’m the shit, I’m tellin ya!”….typical Nash. GONG!! The lights go out & it’s the coolest entrance ever, complete with Paul Bearer & the urn! Match starts, both men get a little offense, Taker clothes-lined over the top to the outside & the phenom lands on his feet. Diesel (one of the few men the Undertaker actually has to look up to) actually sells some moves. Undertaker walks the top rope & hits old school. Diesel to the outside. He stalks Paul Bearer while Paul makes some funny faces at the camera. Oh, and the Ultimate Warrior is on the Superstar Line, kids get your parents’ permission before calling! Vince: “Diesel is dominating the Undertaker unlike anyone before!” Rest In Peace chant breaks out in the crowd to help the Undertaker build up some offense. Diesel hits the sidewalk slam and the snake eyes, then calls for the Jacknife. Undertaker mounts an offense finally, double clotheslines, double big boots & both men are down. Then Vince starts calling for a double count out while Paul Bearer talks about the power of the urn. King: “Nostradamus couldn’t predict this!” Undertaker up, top rope lariat, then Diesel hits the Jacknife powerbomb out of nowhere. Diesel then decides to rest & smile. UNDERTAKER SITS UP!! Another Jacknife & Diesel takes a breather & taunts. Cover attempt & Taker grabs D by the throat. Diesel beats the Undertaker back down, Undertaker chokes, Diesel beats down, Taker chokes & gets up this time. Undertaker then no-sells everything, big flying clothesline followed by a chokeslam. Taker up & he calls for the Tombstone. Hits the Tombstone piledriver — Jordan fades back, SWOOSH, AND THAT’S THE GAME! Diesel is pinned in the middle of the ring & the creatures of the night rejoice!

Todd Pettengill is now back in security watching the monitors & the Hollywood Back Lot Brawl is now in Anaheim! So it took what? About an hour and a half or so for them to drive roughly 40 miles? Amazing. Piper chases Goldust to the ring & now it’s not really a Back Lot Brawl anymore. They must be playing by WCW’s hardcore match rules, where the match starts in the back & has to make it’s way out to the ring…only they made it 40 MILES to the ring. Piper, showing how he’s not gay, grabs Goldust by the balls after Goldust kisses him. He then procedes to strip Goldust down to a nice little lingerie number. Piper wins with a knee to the groin & Goldust retreats to the back with Marlena (Terri Runnels).

And now it’s time for the main event….the 60-minute Iron Man Match between Bret “The Hitman” Hart & “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (with Jose Lethario & the kliq). Stu (Hart — Bret’s father) sits at ringside with “Classy” Freddie Blassie. King: “I heard Hellen (Hart — Bret’s mother) went shopping in an antique store & they kept her!” Rest holds to start for about 90 seconds, then more rest holds. Vince says Shawn’s gonna be using “High-flying mexican maneuvers” while King says they don’t hurt ya, they just piss you off. Michaels gets clothes-lined over the top & skins the cat. Match spills to the outside & the time keeper takes the Sweet Chin Music Superkick. Back in & there’s some real nice mat wrestling with some beautiful reversals. Bret, in true Ric Flair style, goes to the top twice & gets thrown off both times. Michaels, proving he’s not perfect goes for the Perfect Plex & gets a two count. Michaels is starting to look like he did at the rumble….really out of gas. Bret dominates for most of the 2nd half hour just as Michaels did the first. Beautiful germain suplex from Bret with 11 minutes left. And at 10 and a half minutes left, I finally get to see the scoreboard for the amount of wins each wrestler has. See, on the actual PPV, they had the scoreboard up all match long….on the tape, they decided to leave it off of the screen until the 10 minutes 30 second mark. Also, when they put that up, they also messed up the WWF logo in the bottom left, now it’s got a square black background instead of the standard, transparent background. By this point, it’s pretty obvious that most of the crowd is pulling for Shawn. Bret with the superplex from the top, but Shawn won’t allow Bret to lock in the sharpshooter. Figure four, blocked, half crab & Bret won’t let go when Shawn gets to the ropes. Backbreaker and the elbow drop from the 2nd rope is blocked. Michaels gets the flying forearm, kips up. Whips Bret into the ropes & gets him with a back elbow. Scoop slam, turn around double axe handle from the top, followed up with a suplex. Michaels to the top & he hits the flying elbow drop & gets another near fall. Michaels with the gutwrench sit out powerbomb & a moonsault. Irish whip reversal from Bret, blocked in the corner by Michaels, followed up with a hurricanrana from Michaels. Michaels going back to the top rope with 50 seconds left, missle dropkick attept caught by Hart into the Sharpshooter with 35 seconds remaining. Shawn holds on for the remaining 35 seconds & after the 60 minutes, there are no falls awarded to either competitor!

Monsoon into the ring to talk to Earl Hebner while Bret starts walking off with his title belt. Sudden death is announced & Bret is pissed (not as much as he will be a couple of years later at Survivor Series, though!) Michaels starts recuperating, but Bret’s pissed & starts taking it out on Shawn. Backbreaker, irish whip, Michaels blocks & Bret goes into the corner, half-assed Sweet Chin Music follows & both men are down. Some rest time, Bret starts selling a hurt knee as he gets up slowly. Michaels hits the real Sweet Chin Music Superkick. 1-2-3, New Champ!

The boyhood dream is fulfilled, Michaels celebrates in the ring with the WWF Title, we get fireworks & that’s the show!

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