When it comes to WWF’s WrestleMania’s, April 2nd is a significant date for the WWE’s premiere show. Five times WrestleMania has fallen on this date, more than any other date since the first “Showcase of the Immortals” took place in 1985. The April 2nd WrestleMania’s are V, XI, 2000, 22 and 33. Today being April 2 means it’s time to look at a match from each show and there are some gems. First up is an Intercontinental Championship match from V with a shocking ending and an “I Quit Match” from XI. This the latest installment in our WrestleMania REIMAGINED series for V and XI.
Intercontinental Championship Match
The Ultimate Warrior (C) vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
SummerSlam 1988, the Ultimate Warrior ended the Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental Championship reign in 31 seconds. It was a dubious ending to the longest Intercontinental Championship reign and was the first major accomplishment in Warrior’s rise up the ranks in the WWF. Fast forward to the 1989 Royal Rumble and the Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude were scheduled to face off in a “Super Pose Down”. WrestleMania V took place before XI.
Once the crowd erupted in support of Warrior, Rude attacked the champion, assaulting him with a steel bar. The attack and Rude’s drive to become Intercontinental Champion are what led to their WrestleMania showdown.
Rude enters first with the nefarious Bobby “The Brain” Heenan by his side. He addresses the live audience with his patented pre-match greeting.
“What I’d like to have right now, is for all you high rolling, Atlantic city sweat hogs, keep the noise down while I take my robe off and give the ladies a good look at the sexiest man alive.”
Heenan removes his robe revealing the Intercontinental Championship printed on the front of his tights and Warrior’s face on the back. Warrior’s music hits and the crowd erupts as he makes his frantic run to the ring. Rude tries to get the jump on him with a knee to the gut.
But he receives the brunt of the damage not realizing Warrior still had the championship around his waist. From there Warrior shows off his strength tossing Rude across the ring. The challenger sells the power of the Warrior like no other.
A massive bear hug in the middle of the ring allows Warrior to wear down his opponent. It’s not until Rude jabs two fingers in Warrior’s eye that the hold is broken. Attempting to keep the momentum, Rude connects on a beautiful missile dropkick from the top turnbuckle. However, Warrior emphatically kicks out before a one count is made. Retaking control, Warrior gives Rude a pair of body slams before applying another bear hug.
Warrior looks to win the match with a big back body drop followed by an attempted body splash. Rude, ever the strategist, raises his knees stopping Warrior’s momentum in its tracks.
Keeping the momentum on his side, Rude performs a vicious spike piledriver before attempting to submit Warrior with a crucifix stretch.
The champ will not go down though, powering out of the hold before tossing Rude from pillar to post. The momentum swings back in Rude’s favor after he dodges Warriors splash in the corner. However, he is unable to perform his dangerous Rude Awakening neck breaker when Warrior powers out of the maneuver.
After a clothesline sends Rude to the outside of the ring, Warrior attempts a standing suplex. Seeing his client’s chances dwindling, Heenan, ever the opportunist, grabs Warriors leg causing Rude to fall on top of him. Unable to kick out, Warrior’s shoulders are counted to the mat 1-2-3 for the first time in his WWE career.
The moment is summed up perfectly by the announcing duo of Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon. “Not even Warrior in a weakened state could kick out Monsoon,” Ventura said.
Which is quickly met by Monsoon simply saying this was a travesty. After the match Warrior military presses Heenan while Rude makes a swift exit with the Intercontinental Championship.
These two faced off again for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1989, before feuding for the WWF Championship in 1990. Each match further proving just how good the chemistry was between them.
“I Quit Match”
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs Bob Backlund
After losing the WWF Championship to Backlund under controversial terms at Survivor Series 1994, Bret Hart found himself on a quest to regain the championship. WrestleMania XI brought about the same succes as V did. That quest brought him to the 1995 Royal Rumble and a match with Diesel, who took the championship from Backlund in mere seconds a month prior. Backlund, who slowly started losing his mind after losing the championship interfered, costing Bret the championship setting up their I Quit Match at WrestleMania XI six year’s after V.
This is no high-octane thrill ride of a match and is one Bret has declared is his worst pay-per-view match. But, even with Bret’s negative feelings towards the match, it’s a well-told story of two submission specialists trying to apply their signature submission holds. Special guest referee “Rowdy” Roddy Piper makes his way out first to a tremendous ovation.
Next out is Backlund, with a crazed, wide-eyed look, he enters the arena without music. Hart is the third entrant and he is greeted to a hero’s welcome, his popularity with the fans very apparent. A slugfest breaks out in the early portion of the match with Bret holding the advantage. His first attempt at the sharpshooter is avoided as Backlund rolls away.
Bret begins working over the legs of Backlund, hoping to soften the former WWE Champion up for the sharpshooter.
But, his second attempt at the sharpshooter is thwarted as Backlund once again rolls out of the attempt. A figure four applied by Bret provides even more damage to Backlund’s legs before its reversed applying pressure to Bret.
Piper, always in the heat of the moment, continuously puts the microphone in both wrestlers’ faces asking “What do you say?”. Something that Bret later described in his book as a detriment to the match.
“Roddy Piper was the guest referee and kept sticking a live mic in our faces, asking “What do you say?” which only sounded comical and made the crowd laugh. I cringed, thinking nobody laughs during my matches unless I want them to”.
Backlund eventually gets the upper hand as he begins working over Bret’s shoulders to set up his cross-face chicken wing. The two go back and forth trading arm and leg holds hoping to cause enough damage that their submission move can earn them the victory. Backlund even avoids the sharpshooter for a third time by escaping to the ropes.
After Bret is sent shoulder first into the turnbuckle post, Backlund looks to seize the moment. With a crazed look in his eye, Backlund closes in on his opponent. Hart, the excellence of execution, fights off the attempt before reversing the hold into his own cross-face chicken wing. Despite his best efforts to avoid being locked in his own hold, Backlund ends up submitting, giving Bret a measure of revenge for Survivor Series 1994. The loss continued Backlund’s descent into madness as Bret began his pursuit back to the WWF Championship.