The Best and Worst Moment of WrestleMania 12
WrestleMania 12 saw WWE firmly step away from the era of giants, instead casting Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in main event roles and going so far as to give them over a third of the show to work with in the longest WrestleMania match to date. The undercard also featured a fast-paced collision between Savio Vega and a new Superstar by the name of Steve Austin.
WWE also still had one foot back, with Diesel and The Undertaker squaring off in a spectacle of a big man showdown, not to mention the return of The Ultimate Warrior. This article takes a look back at the best and worst of WrestleMania 12.
Best Moment: Shawn Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music in overtime
The Iron Man Match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels doesn’t necessarily hold up to repeated viewings. For as great as the pacing and technical work was, and how impressive the conditioning of both men was, the knowledge that there wouldn’t be a single fall in the first hour of the match limits the drama once the viewer knows that’s what’s happening.
Nonetheless, whether it’s the first watch through, or a fan has seen it a dozen time, it’s hard not to pop on the final minutes of this match. First, there’s the well-sold drama of Hart locking in the Sharpshooter at the end of regulation, only for Michaels to weather the storm. Then there’s overtime, with HBK nailing Sweet Chin Music and collapsing into a pin. The finish protected Hart for not dropping a fall in the original hour and his character not knowing they would go into sudden death. More importantly, the conclusion came across as a truly epic victory for HBK that completed his journey to become the unlikely face of WWE.
Worst Moment: Roddy Piper strips Goldust
The rivalry between Roddy Piper and Goldust in 1996 was fun and made sense enough for WWE to book, casting a bona fide legend against a top rising heel. Both men could go in the ring, and while some of the more homophobic elements of Goldust generating heat haven’t exactly aged well, he nonetheless comes across as ahead of his time for how edgy the gimmick was.
Piper and Goldust battling in an alley behind the arena was a little silly, but forgivable for a time when WWE was just dipping its toes into hardcore waters. The car chase to follow was more over the top, and the idea of this match resuming in the arena after the two had hit the highway crossed a line from outlandish to pretty nonsensical.
All of this might be forgiven, particularly for the new ground the men were breaking, had there been a solid finish. However, rather than a pin, submission, or even KO, the bout ended with Piper stripping Goldust down to women’s lingerie, after which the latter star ran away backstage. To be fair, the rules were never clear for the match. Nonetheless, the conclusion undermined what might have been a more serious Street Fight style match.