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By Luke Dorsch @Luke_Dorsch
Wrestlemania 12, March 31st 1996
My personal memories of this particular WrestleMania are fairly strong, I was fifteen years old and I was absolutely mad over pro wrestling….l still am. This was an interesting Mania, as I believe it was the first of the infamous “Monday Night Wars” where the WWE (WWF) at the time, was in a ratings and talent war with the rival WCW Monday Nitro.
WWE was not quite ready for the “Attitude Era” yet, that wouldn’t happen for another 18 months, but the talent raid had begun. WrestleMania 12 was the Mania debut of arguably the biggest star in the history of wrestling, and former WCW star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, they also had another former WCW star make his debut that night, albeit not quite on the level of a Steve Austin, “Wildman” Marc Mero, or Johnny 8. Badd as he was known down there in WCW. This also featured the first WrestleMania Match since 1992’s WrestleMania 8, of my all-time favorite superstars, the late great Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in the infamous “Hollywood Backlot Brawl” where he went up against Goldust. The Backlot Brawl was filmed a few weeks prior to WrestleMania, and it consisted of a mock OJ Simpson car chase, Roddy Piper getting hit by Goldust’s gold Cadillac, and finally both superstars ended up in the arena, and we saw that boss lingerie Golddust wore under his costume.
This WrestleMania was also the Mania debut of one of the most powerful and influential men in wrestling today, some guy named HHH, or Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the aristocratic blue blood version, not The Game as he is known today. HHH was in a straight up squash match against another returning future Hall of Famer, the late Ultimate Warrior, who completely no-sold the Pedigree, hit few clotheslines, a shoulder tackle and got the pin in 1:39!!!! The Warrior would leave the promotion in just a few months after Mania, and HHH would of course go on to….well, we all know what he’s done.
This would also be the last WrestleMania appearance for Diesel (Kevin Nash), he faced The Undertaker. Diesel’s friend Razor Ramon was originally scheduled to appear at the PPV, but if memory serves me correct, there was an alleged failed drug test, and he was suspended during WrestleMania. Nash and Hall would return to WrestleMania several years later after WCW was purchased by WWE.
The main event of the show was the infamous “60 Minute Iron Match” between then champion Bret “The Hitman” Heart and Shawn Michaels. I knew it was Shawn’s time for the torch to be passed, everyone could see the writing on the wall, and they put on one of the best Mania matches of all time. For a company who normally had silly superhero, or good vs evil main events, pitting a Hero against a Villain; it was a major step in the right direction, to have the main event be a technical wrestling showcase between the two best wrestlers the company had.
I remember being totally disappointed with the previous year’s Mania, and when WrestleMania 12 came around. In 1996 it really felt like WWE was moving in a different direction, and still after twenty one years to me at least, it still holds up.
WrestleMania XII – March 31st 1996 – Full Results
Arrowhead Pond (Anaheim, CA)
Owen Hart, British Bulldog & Vader w/ Jim Cornette def. Yokozuna, Jake “The Snake” Roberts & Ahmed Johnson
Hollywood Backlot Brawl
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper def. Goldust w/ Marlena
The Ringmaster w/ “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase def. Savio Vega
Ultimate Warrior def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Sable
Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer def. Diesel
WWE Iron Man Match for WWE Championship
Shawn Michaels def. Bret “Hit Man” Hart in overtime