Bret's Wrestlemania matches - part 2 of 2
Wrestlemania X. March 20, 1994. Madison Square Garden. It was unquestionably one of the biggest nights of my career. It was arguably the greatest opening match ever held at the greatest wrestling hall of them all!
In the first of two co-main event matches on a huge show celebrating the tenth anniversary of Wrestlemania my feud with my brother Owen was at it’s red hot peak and we blended his high flying skills and my solid technical style to build a match that would finally earn Owen the respect that he had for so long deserved.
It seems ironic now that the only way that both Owen and I could get to the top of the WWF when each of us first got there was to become nasty, vicious, ruthless, villains.
What a lot of people don’t know about is how Owen and I figured out, not one, but two completely different ways to reverse the sharpshooter! In what was then considered to be one of the biggest upsets of all time, Owen pinned me when I went for a victory roll! It might seem strange but nobody was more proud of his victory over me than I was!
I opened the show and I closed the show.
In the other main event I squared off with five hundred pound Yokozuna and regained the world heavyweight title!
The wrestlers piled out of the dressing room and hoisted me up on their shoulders in what was a very genuine and spontaneous showing of respect that I’ll never forget!
Wrestlemania XI was at the Hartford Civic Center on April 2, 1995 where I took on two time world champion Bob Backlund in a classic match up of the old generation versus the new. Unfortunately it was a submission match centered around one of us having to say ‘I quit’. When I finally hooked old Bob in his own hold, the cross face chicken wing, he soon found out just how painful it really was. It hurt so much that when guest referee, Roddy Piper, stuck the microphone in his face and asked him if he’d had enough he couldn’t remember to say ‘I quit’ so he blurted out, “yes!” With no disrespect to Bob, this was probably my least memorable Wrestlemania match, but only because it was a poor concept to start with.
I redeemed myself the following year at Wrestlemania XII in the infamous iron man match with Shawn Michaels. I’ve always felt that this was the toughest match I ever had. That year Shawn took the winter off to train solely for our one hour marathon match while I was being jackknifed and pancaked all winter in short but physical matches with the biggest behemoths in the WWF at that time -Diesel, Undertaker, Psycho Sid and Yoko! This, along with a grueling tour of India only weeks before Wrestlemania XII, made it extremely difficult for me to build my stamina for a one hour pay per view main event match! Luckily for me, I could see that I was being set up, with the full intention being that Shawn would scrape me off the mat so that Vince and Jim Ross could describe in their commentary how Shawn, who was a few years younger than me, had just taken over for the new generation. Instead, I trained like an absolute lunatic every day, on my own time, and I think if you watch that match back you’ll come to find that, more often than not, it was The Hitman scraping The Heartbreak Kid up off the mat! To both our credit, I think the iron man match at Wrestlemania XII still sets the standard for hour long matches, which is no doubt why the WWE wrestlers themselves just voted it the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time!
The following year I fully expected to have my planned rematch with the still reigning champion, Shawn Michaels, but rather than lose to me he came up with another of many phony injuries and forfeited the title so that he could, as Shawn tearfully put it during an in ring interview, go home to find his smile. So, plans were changed and I was hastily matched up with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who was just beginning to make a name for himself. I’ve always felt this match opened the door for Stone Cold, who told me, just a few months ago, that it was his all time favorite match! It’s no surprise that in two weighty polls conducted by the most respected news chronicle of the pro wrestling business, The Wrestling Observer, one for fans and the other for wrestlers, promoters and others in the business, the Wrestlemania XIII match between The Hitman and Stone Cold was voted the number one Wrestlemania match of all time! I’m flattered and I’m happy to agree that, in my opinion, that knock down drag was not only my best Wrestlemania match but also the single greatest Wrestlemania match ever!
And ... as for the massive rumor that I’ll be appearing at Wrestlemania XX .... I want to wish Chris Benoit all the luck in the world ... and to all the boys, have the time of your lives!
I’ll be watching ... but I won’t be there. Let’s just leave it at that ... for now.