1) The Godwinns v. The Headbangers v. Doug Furnas/ Phil LaFon v. New Blackjacks (Elimination Match)- 3
2) Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan (IC Title)- 4
3) HHH v. Goldust- 5
4) Owen Hart/ Davey Boy Smith v. Mankind/ Vader (Tag Team Titles)- 5
5) Bret Hart v. Steve Austin (Submission Match)- 10
6) Nation of Domination v. Ahmed Johnson/ LOD (Chicago Street Fight)- 4
7) Sid v. Undertaker (WWF Title)- 3
So, the Blackjacks Ride Again! Hope those ridiculous moustaches help their backside from all that riding. Windham is one of my top fave 5 workers of all time, but he had ballooned at this point, even though he still threw a tasty lariat here. La Fon has won the "Easiest Paycheck" award tonight, as he does little but tag in once for a few brief seconds before the disaster that was a double countout spot occurred with the BJ's (doesn't sound right as a nickname, does it?) and the former All Japan Tag champs took place. Loved the Hurricanrana on Windham too, looked awesome. Headbanger and Godwinns wind this stinker up with a spitting/ punching exchange, couple stiff clotheslines and a tame finish. Thought Rock looked good here, all except his flimsy dropkick, doesn't have a finish to it and looks terrible when it connects with the opponent. Crowd a little indifferent here, but they are trying. Rock hits a crazy wrap around DDT that scores big. Side kick lands during the heat section at the end and a quick rollup made perfect sense. Aftermatch with Rocky Johnson was fine for nostalgia.
Next 2 matches surprised me; Goldust is throwing some really hard strikes which ring Helmsley's bell more than once. Also uses a vile punt, a precursor to Orton's many years later. Their chemistry is evident, they string together some really nice spots, like a facebreaker that leads into a Powerslam near fall from Goldust. There's 2 long wear down sections that give this some mileage and I'm not buying the Butt-butt reversal no matter how you package it. The finish came together nicely and heat was intact for all invovled. Man, this makes me want to see a Vader/ Owen singles match for some reason. When all 4 guys get in, just a messy tangle of humanity and it doesn't work. Vader's as rough as ever, just eating Davey Boy alive. The match is all high impact, no body part working here, don't need it. Oh Shnap- they pulled off the Demolition fin on Owen on the outside of the ring. Didn't expect to see that. Imainge Demolition v. Mankind/ Vader? hmmm, Vader would murder them but Foley wouldn't have any big spots with their offense, since it's only downward forearms. Bet it would kick ass though. Back to the match, Foley botches Owen's borrowed sternum bump as Davey breezes through spots and I'm getting pissed off. This match gives everyone their heat back at the end as well, which is becoming a trend for this show.
Two major factors that really put this over the top for me: 1) i'm a finish man, give me a great finish to a match and I'll never forget it. 2) This is one of those "once in a lifetime" matches. I was discussing this with Brian the other day about Bret-Benoit (the Owen Hart tribute) and he was saying how, it was that arena, those two guys, the work they put out that day that could never be replicated with such great results. After giving this match a thorough examination, I feel the same way. There's a lot going on here, let me try and cover it. Really intense brawl starts this out; Austin was phenomenal (tough luck, AJ) at this time, just scouring the WWF landscape in search of destroying Bret Hart. They go to the crowd, fun but couldn't see a lot, incl. a backdrop Austin took on the crete. Bret works over the leg back in the ring and Austin hits his selling peak here, just writhing in pain all over the mat, screaming and cussing while he's doing it. Bret gets HUGE FACE REACTIONS for all his violent leg stuff (ex. figure- 4 on the pole, nasty chair shots to the knee braces). Austin's submissions are also spot on for a guy not known for having spot on submissions. Cameraman dives righti n for the blade shot, bone head move there. Bret's sternum bump never looked better. You have to love the intensity, the big fight atmosphere this has, funny moment when JR on commentary says "this probably isn't the match Bret Hart wanted, but he's making the most of it." The bell shot at the ends was weak but it's the Sharpshooter that seals the deal on this one. Everyone knows the now, almost iconic image of gory faced Austin, screaming with blood pouring down his face, but that's not what makes this so epic; it's when he pushes Bret out of the Sharpshooter, breaks the hold, only for a moment and the struggle he sells while doing it, right before Bret re-applies the move for the win. Fans were still cheering for Bret after the match; only when he tried to fuck with Shamrock did they turn on him. This match is a career maker for Austin, but Bret more than held his end up too. Loved after the match, Ross states plainly "That will be a hard act to follow." This was Bret's final WM match and it solidifies him as one of the greatest Mania performers of all time, along with Macho Man Randy Savage up to this point in the series. I had the exact oppposite situation happen with this match as I did the Iron Man, where I was extremely familiar with that one, this match, I never had the tape of this Mania growing up, so have only seen it a couple times, well aware of the popular opinion it held, but not really expecting to see a match of this magnitude and quality. I'm proud to have reviewed it and to include it in the prestigious "10" club of NHO.
Okay, onto the rest of this: Let's talk about this Street fight, get out your checklists: Ahmed doing silly planchas over guard rails: Check! Botched table spots galore: Check! Faarooq getting his ass straight whipped: Check! Lame ass hanging spots (that have very serious racial overtones): Check! Sloppy, chaotic brawl that doesn't quite live up to the hype: Check! This main event is seriously screwd up- first Michaels gets a 6 minute entrance then does commentary. Bret has to come out right as the match starts and try and get heat on Sid, this is Mania, not Raw! Sid's movements are so stiff, I'd swear Taker's wrestling a cardboard cutout. The Psycho One's 1st offensive move of the match: a Bearhug- that lasts for a good 5 minutes! Another lame table spot, looked terrible to boot. Hate the way Sid hits turnbuckles, he's obviously too tall for them, so he just falls into them. The poor excuse for a brawl they have outside pales in comparison to the last 2 matches before it. More long restholds as Michaels gives Taker a verbal blowjob on commentary; only because he asked Shawn to see the scar for his surgery because he told Bret "That fucker's faking!" Bret comes out and royally screws Sid out of the belt, interfering over and over again, making Taker look really weak. Hated the way this was booked. Came off terrible, one of the worst Mania mains of all time.