The Way We Was: Wrestlemania XII


Jamie Lithgow

Unless you have been living under a rock, you cannot have failed to notice that Wrestlemania was this past weekend. While most people will be talking about Wrestlemania XXXII, Jamie – as regular readers will know – has a tendency to live in the past. This past weekend marked 20 years since Wrestlemania XII, i.e. the one with the Ironman Match. So – and for the second week in a row – we present to you a special bonus Thursday edition of The Way We Was, as Jamie runs down significant happenings from Wrestlemania XII…

We’re at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California, hence the Hollywood references. Well, the 21th Century Fox inspired logo and Goldust’s match at least. There’s a Wrestlemania logo on the ring canvas – which I can’t remember WWE doing before or since – and the show opens with the early 90’s Wrestlemania theme and classic Vince McMahon hyperbole. Those were the days…

Free for all: The Bodydonnas (w/ Sunny) defeated The Godwinns (w/ Hillbilly Jim) to win the vacant WWF Tag Team Titles

I didn’t watch this match. Firstly because the ‘Free For All’ shows are not on the WWE Network – and I’m too lazy to search for it on Dailymotion. Secondly, I’ve not actually followed any of the Tag Title Tournament because it has been played out on Superstars and not Raw. As The Godwinns were involved I can safely assume it was rubbish.

Vader, Owen Hart and British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette) defeated Yokozuna, Jake Roberts and Ahmed Johnson (w/ Mr. Fuji)

Standing tall... well, not quite

Standing tall… well, almost

This feud I have followed, but I still can’t explain why Ahmed and Jake were inserted into it – other than to give them something to do. Coming out of The Royal Rumble a one-on-one match between Yokozuna and Vader looked nailed on. Ah well, a six man it was and it was probably better than any singles match between Vader and Yoko would have been. We even got a payoff of sorts from the angles between the two when the former WWF Champion almost punched The Mastodon’s mask off. Heading in the outcome of this match seemed obvious based on the stipulation; if Camp Cornette lost then Jim Cornette would be forced to spend five minutes in the ring alone with his former charge Yokozuna. There was no stipulation regarding a babyface loss so surely the heels lost, right? Nope. Camp Cornette won with Vader going over. In hindsight, five minutes of Yokozuna sitting on Jim Cornette would probably have felt like five hours…

Roddy Piper vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena) ended in a no contest in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl

The promo package for this match was narrated by Michael Cole. I found this odd because Cole didn’t start working for WWE until 1997. Anyway…

This match started backstage, with the live crowd largely silent as a result of the action being removed from the main arena. Thankfully the small crowd that gathered in the loading bay – or should I say ‘backlot’ – were lively, as were Goldust and Piper. This was actually a really good brawl, a bit like an Attitude Era Hardcore Match, only better. Piper got the best of it, using a high pressure hose, baseball bat and catering table to draw blood for Goldust – why was there a catering table in what appeared to be the loading bay? The match seemed to end when Goldust made a complete hash of escaping in his gold car – I hope he meant to reverse into Piper’s white Ford Bronco. Despite the prospect of several insurance claims Godust did manage to escape. Piper was quick to jump into his Bronco and give chase though…

Stone Cold Steve Austin (w/ Ted DiBiase) defeated Savio Vega

Come on Steve, give us a smile...

Come on Steve, give us a smile…

Stone Cold was looking more like Stone Cold here. He’s now bald with a goatee and black trunks. Still some work to do though, as the presence of Ted DiBiase and the Million Dollar Championship Belt will attest. So, why were these guys fighting? Because they were reluctant partners in the Tag Title Tournament I didn’t watch. I love that the ref – Timmy White – tried to count a pin after Austin’s famous Thesz Press. Anyway, after White bumped and was KO’d for ages, Austin and DiBiase conspired to choke Savio out for the win. During the match footage of a very familiar looking car chase involving a white Ford Bronco was spliced in…

The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Sable)

The ultimate return or the ultimate squash? Warrior’s entrance lasted longer than the match. This was a proper late 80’s Ultimate Warrior squash, only his opponent wasn’t a jobber. It’s weird watching this match in hindsight, but even at the time Triple H was regarded highly enough to be booked in a singles match at Wrestlemania. Any offence Triple H produced – including a Pedigree – was no-sold and Warrior won with his Gorilla Press and Splash combo. I should point out that Hunter’s young lady friend was named Sable. Around this time Trips was in the habit of having random young ladies accompany him to the ring. Vince and Jerry were particularly taken by Sable…

Backstage Todd Pettengill tried to interview WWE’s newest superstar; “Wild Man Marc Marrow”. I think he meant to say ‘Mero’. Thankfully this was quickly forgotten when Mero jumped head-first into his first feud when he had a scrap with an upset Triple H.

The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) defeated Diesel

This match was nothing special, but by standards of Undertaker matches to this point in his career it was one of his better efforts. Based on this – and his match against Bret Hart at The Royal Rumble – there is a clear change in direction with The Undertaker’s wrestling style. Taker won with The Tombstone Piledriver and left Diesel laying on the canvas for an iconic Wrestlemania image…

Goldust and Piper returned to the arena and headed to the ring to finish their fight. Piper, who had dominated much of the brawl, appeared to win when he stripped Goldy to his lingerie. The weird thing wasn’t Goldust wearing lingerie – even in 1996 that was to be expected, if not appreciated – it was that his upper body was painted gold as well as his face. I think the official decision was a no-contest, assuming this was even a match to start with.

Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) defeated Bret Hart (c) to win the WWF Championship in a one hour Ironman Match

Okay, the one hour Ironman Match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart; you either love it or hate it. This was only the second time I’ve seen this match. First time I saw it I was 16 or 17 and I hated it; I thought it was so boring. That’s saying something too because I was a huge Hitman fan and always liked HBK too. On second viewing – and many years later – I thought it was alright. I didn’t love it, but I certainly didn’t hate it. I loved Jose Lothario being introduced as “The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels” and entering to ‘Sexy Boy’. This was made possible by a 90° turn in the aisle obstructing Howard Finkel’s view of the entrance and him likely unable to see HBK making his infamous zip-line entrance from the top of the arena. Speaking of which, this is just as impressive when viewed today. I also liked the boxing/MMA start with the ref going over the rules. While Earl Hebner explained how falls would be counted Bret Hart was looking relaxed and acknowledged his family at ringside, meanwhile HBK stared straight at the WWF Title belt on The Hitman’s shoulder. As thorough as Hebner was there was no clarification on what would happen in the event of a draw.


As for the match itself, I recently heard it described as a three star match for the first 40 minutes and a five star match for the last 20. I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description of what I watched. While I did like the score remaining at 0-0 for a while, by the half hour mark it becomes obvious to the crowd that there will only be one fall in the match. Hence, the middle third does drag a little but the last 20 minutes are superbly dramatic. Slightly less for me obviously, but the crowd really dug it.

The time ran out with HBK refusing to submit in a Sharpshooter, after his back was targeted throughout by Hart. So it ended as a draw thus logic would dictate that the Champ, Hart, should retain. Well, not on this occasion. Acting WWF President Roddy Piper, who made the match, had stated that their “must be a winner”. This seemingly throwaway remark from a month ago was agreed upon by both champion and challenger though. Thus, returning WWF President Gorilla Monsoon ordered the match to continue under sudden death rules. Shortly after the restart HBK landed two Superkicks for the win and the WWF Championship. “The boyhood dream has come true…”


So that was Wrestlemania XII, and it was a lot better than I had remembered. This is largely due to my softening on the Ironman Match. Yes, it could have used a couple more falls, but you can’t argue with the action and psychology displayed. It’s also worth remembering that at this point there was no blueprint to follow for a match even closely resembling this in WWE. Silly as it was I also enjoyed the Goldust/Roddy Piper brawl. Thinking about it – and unlike most Wrestlemanias – there was nothing truly crap on this show. The booking of Triple H was awful, but it certainly wasn’t boring. I’d hold this up with Wrestlemania VIII and X as a contender for best ‘Mania of the 90’s.

You can read all previous ‘The Way We Was’ pieces here.


5 thoughts on “The Way We Was: Wrestlemania XII

  1. It was OK as the Hart/Michaels match is an undisputed classic. The rest was just… eh to OK. I would rather watch that all over again that actually sit through a minute of this year’s WrestleMania which will be the last one I will ever read about. WWE can go fuck itself from now on.


  2. Another thing that happened on the Free for All was the Geriatric Match between The Huckster and The Nacho Man, as refereed by Billionaire Ted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Way We Was: 1996 Week 14 | Ring the Damn Bell

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