It was the first WrestleMania of the Monday Night Wars, and Vince McMahon's empire had to share the spotlight with a surging WCW. Not only had Eric Bischoff reinvented Ted Turner's wrestling division with former McMahon mainstays Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage atop the show, but he had set Monday nights ablaze with Raw's new mortal enemy, Nitro.
Bischoff's answer to Raw was to load up one hour of television with unpredictable twists, shocking debuts and returns, world-class junior heavyweight action, and recognizable (albeit aging) main event stars. In short, the red-hot, usually-live Nitro made the taped tedium of Raw look more sterile by comparison.
With Turner's checkbook in hand, Bischoff was able to lure away any McMahon employee looking for a substantial raise, as well as a lighter schedule. Weeks before WrestleMania 12 would take place, two participants in championship bouts from the previous WrestleMania, Razor Ramon and Diesel, gave their notice to McMahon. They were going where the money was.
Aside from The Undertaker, the only two true headline talents left in McMahon's fold were champion Bret Hart and soon-to-be-champion Shawn Michaels.
Relying on purer wrestling as opposed to the pomp and pageantry of an era gone by, the two would clash in a sixty-minute Iron Man match for the gold. McMahon was banking on them to enthrall for one full hour.
10. McMahon Wanted No Celebrity Involvement At The Show
Despite pushing Lawrence Taylor and Pamela Anderson to the front lines of the WrestleMania 11 marketing blitz, the show only did 340,000 buys, down 19% from the previous year. Perhaps the buyrate would have been even worse without the celebrity skylighting, but McMahon had made a resolute decision concerning WrestleMania 12: they would do without the Hollywood glitz and gaga. This order was in spite of the event taking place in Anaheim, part of the Los Angeles metropolitan era.
Basil DeVito Jr., a long time WWE executive and McMahon adviser, explained, "If (the celebrities) served no other purpose than window dressing, it almost detracted from the event - at least during this period."
Rather than waste good money on stars that might not aid the bottom line, McMahon chose to focus on his performers who would still be there the next day.