The BoyHood Dream Comes True
The twelfth Showcase of the Immortals took place at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California on the 31st of March, 1996. I’ve written about this WrestleMania before, but I only covered the Main Event between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. This piece will be more encompassing, going into every match on the card that night in Anaheim. It’s one I’m very familiar with. As a huge HBK fan, I wore out my VHS copy of this WrestleMania in days. I’ve seen it a ton of times. If I had to choose, I would say that this is my personal favorite out of all thirty (so far).
It began with Camp Cornette (Owen Hart, Vader, and The British Bulldog) versus Ahmed Johnson, Jake The Snake Roberts, and Yokozuna. Here’s the thing with this match: it’s got way too many people in it. Six guys were given a little less than fifteen minutes. There was no way for them to do anything with this. Think about it. Everyone needs their time to shine, which means at least six tags. The transitioning between tags eats up a lot of time. There was just too much going on for this. However, taking it back to what I wrote in the beginning, the nostalgic kid in me would love anything those six guys did.
Well…five. I’ll leave it to you to try and figure out which one of them I’m not particularly fond of.
After the big tag match, it came time for Roddy Piper vs. Goldust in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl. This is one of the most ridiculous moments in WrestleMania history, and I f—ing love it. The fight started in a literal Hollywood backlot, but after not too long, Goldust fled. So Piper got into his White Bronco and chased him. For the rest of the show, they randomly cut to stock footage of OJ Simpson fleeing the police and Vince McMahon covers it like he’s covering a car chase between Piper and Goldust. Later in the show, they end up back in the ring, where they finish the match out. By finish the match out, I mean Roddy Piper, somehow, ends up stripping Goldust down to the lingerie he’s wearing underneath.
I read a story once about Goldust. They were showing Monday Night Raw to a focus group of teenagers, and the episode had featured the Bizarre One. So at the end of the episode, they polled the kids, and they asked them which characters they didn’t like. One kid replied, “Goldust.”
The man in charge asked why, and the kid replied, “Cause he’s a queer.”
Another kid then spoke up, “No, he’s not, he’s got a girl with him.”
Which then prompted a final kid to cement the fact these kids in this focus group were pretty sh–ty…
“She’s a lesbian,” he declared.
Anyway, I didn’t provide a link to that story because it’s irrelevant. It’s the Internet. That is essentially an urban myth, at this point. My point is, however, that if it did happen, it was awfully ballsy to have Goldust cross-dress at WrestleMania.
Next was The Ring Master Steve Austin versus Savio Vega. This is my earliest memory of Steve Austin. Little did I know he had a full career before this even happened. He was in both ECW and WCW before he ended up as the Ring Master. He really did fit the gimmick, though. Austin had a finely tuned in-ring technique and his execution of the Million Dollar Dream was top notch. He picked up an easy win over Vega.
Up after Austin was the return of…The Ultimate Warrior. This had a great story behind it. The match itself is less than two minutes. I know what you’re thinking, “He must be facing some jabroni.”
Nope. He faced Hunter Hearst Helmsley at WrestleMania 12, and the Warrior demanded that he squash Triple H in a little over a minute. It caused all kinds of in fighting from men seeking to make Triple H look better through a match with Warrior, not like some schmuck the painted nutjob could just run right through like a freight train. Nobody wanted it, but they took it to Triple H anyway, and he said…
“Just give it to him.”
He talked about it on the Stone Cold podcast, Triple H knew how great an opportunity it was to even get in the ring with a legend like Ultimate Warrior.
After the ultimate squash match, it came time for The Undertaker vs. Diesel. This had one of my favorite buildups for any match, ever. How great did that Diesel dummy look in that casket? I still talk about that with my sisters from time to time. The match itself was great, too. It’s two of the best big men in the history of the business, and they crush it. It was the perfect lead in to the Main Event.
Finally, we make our way back to HBK vs. The Hitman. Since I’ve already covered the in-ring material, I thought I’d share one of a few stories I remember from my childhood. I was watching this match, but I always loved the way HBK entered (shown in the featured image). I thought it was so cool. So I’d rewind it and watch it over and over again. I got so into it that I forgot my mom’s boyfriend was trying to sleep on the couch behind me. I put it louder and just kept rewinding, until finally, I heard…
“Are you gonna watch the f–king thing, or just keep rewinding it?”