Wrestlemania XV – Be Fair To Foley

In the early 1990’s when Ric Flair came to the WWF after a long career wrestling for the NWA, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was his financial adviser at the time. However, Heenan was also the color commentator alongside Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan had a great way in getting Flair over. He would say that since Flair was an outsider to WWF, people were trying to hold him down. Hence the phrase, “Be fair to Flair”. What does Ric Flair and Bobby Heenan circa 1992 have to do with Wrestlemania XV? Well, there’s a man named Mick Foley who had a dream of main eventing Wrestlemania and that man named Mick had a great 4 months in late 1998 and early 1999. He helped The Rock get over big time as a heel and also won the WWF Championship belt for the first time. He and the Rock had some very good matches, but for some reason (probably because they saw Rock vs. Austin as a better money making match), Mick Foley was left out in the cold come Wrestlemania time. Soon before Mania, Foley dropped the belt back to The Rock and was then put in a feud with the Big Show. At the time, the Big Show was actually looked upon as a main eventer, so it wasn’t that large of a step down. However, after working with the Rock and Austin for much of 1998, match-wise it was a major step down. Their Wrestlemania match was awful, (maybe one of the worst matches of Foley’s career) and the feud didn’t really do anything for either guy. Why the long segue from Ric Flair to Mick Foley? Because at the time, I was reminded of Heenan’s phrase while Foley was getting passed over. So I simply added Foley’s name and created my own. Be Fair to Foley. For some reason, the WWF didn’t listen to me.

Wrestlemania was a large disappointment in my eyes mostly because of the short term booking. The top guys were stretched way too thin and the matches seemed to be put together at the last minute. (Hey, sounds familiar to this year’s booking.) The two saving graces were the match pitting Shane McMahon and X-Pac, and the main event between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
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Wrestlemania XI – Whaddya Say?

For only the second time in Wrestlemania history, the WWF/WWE champion was not in the main event in Wrestlemania XI. You had a former champion in Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Shawn Michaels, the future champion, and neither guy was in the main event. Well just who was in the main event for this Wrestlemania? The first guy was Bam Bam Bigelow. And the second? Old LT himself, Lawrence Taylor. This program was initially supposed to help Bigelow’s career. Even by losing to an NFL superstar, Bigelow was supposed to actually gain from the rub and become a regular main eventer.

It was one of the least inspired Wrestlemania cards at least as far as ring work was concerned. Usually there is one “showstopper” match that carries the rest of the card. Sometimes, there’s more than one. But this year, there wasn’t one quality wrestling match. The one expected to at least be half decent was the Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund “I Quit/Submission” grudge match. Roddy Piper was announced as the surprise guest referee. Here’s where this match went wrong. Originally announced as a submission match where the only way you can win is to submit your opponent, Piper, on the fly, turned the match into an “I Quit” match. Hart wouldn’t even have Backlund in a submission hold and Piper would yell, “Whaddya say?” and you’d hear a pissed off Backlund yell, “no!” as if to say, “If you understood the rules, you wouldn’t be asking me this question.” It was a garbled mess and one of the few matches in his career where it seemed Bret Hart didn’t really have control. There’s another more famous match where he didn’t have control, but we won’t go there. The match ended with Hart finally submitting Backlund in his own chicken wing submission finisher, but to the audience, you couldn’t really tell if Backlund submitted or not. It was just an awful match.
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