The Royal Rumble in 1994 was the 1st PPV I had ever seen so it still holds a special place with me. I remember going to a Friend's House to watch with a bunch of others and I remember being upset that Taker did not win the WWF Title. The Rumble Match is a good one and was surprised at Bret & Luger being the Co-Winners that year. I had always thought Luger hit the ground first because I wanted Bret to win it but made sense in the long run going into Wrestlemania that year. The IC & Tag Title Matches I enjoyed plus Owen turning on Bret was the topper that night which kicked off their Awesome Feud.
Royal Rumble 1995
Date: January 22, 1995
Location: USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler
Well, another year has passed and other than some different jobbers in the midcard, the only big change is Diesel has replaced Luger atop the company. Yoko is now a non factor, Bret is of course in the title hunt, and Luger is in the midcard doing jack shit. Other than that there are just not a lot of differences. Of course we have the Rumble, but other than that and a Diesel vs. Bret title match, we’ve got nothing of note.
This was a very weird period for the company as they were pretty much booking as they went instead of having long term plans. At the same time in WCW, everything was more or less thrown together. Also, there’s still no Nitro at this point as it was about seven and a half months away. There’s just not a ton going on at this point in wrestling and it’s clear that a change was needed. However, that wouldn’t come for over a year and a half, and as you’ll see, that was WAY too far off. Let’s get to this.
Your big deal here is that Pamela Anderson is here and will escort the winner of the Rumble to Mania. This would turn out to be one of the worst celebrity things that I can remember as she just looked like she absolutely HATED being there. If you’re getting paid to be there, at least try to not look like you’re just wanting to go get smashed. The intro is as generic of a beach thing as you can possibly imagine. Why does Vince have to be such a freaking mic hog? It’s really annoying.
Intercontinental Title: Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon
These two feuded for what seemed like forever. Razor is of course the champion here as that’s all he ever did. Razor’s intro has reached Orton levels. Jerry gets in a funny line about how Jarrett, a country singer here, is going to star in a Broadway play: Phantom of the Grand Ole Opry. That’s just great. As we have a long feeling out period, we keep seeing the Roadie, who is more commonly known as the Road Dogg.
These two had some awesome chemistry to say the least. The gimmick that Jarrett had hurt him a lot I think. He was hard to take seriously, which is unfair because he looked good, he sounded good, he wrestled well, and he just overall worked as a big time guy. However, due to his gimmick and eventually the guitar he just failed. I’ve never gotten that. Take this match for example: everything is working fine and it’s a pretty solid match.
I don’t have anything to really make fun of in it. Granted that could be because Razor was incredibly underrated here so that might have something to do with it. Razor does all his usual stuff, although instead of the bulldog from the middle rope we get a clothesline. These two are having a very solid match out there if I do say so myself. We go to the floor though and Roadie clips Razor’s knee to send him down.
That causes the count out but Jarrett is intelligent for a change and says that he doesn’t want it that way so we need to keep going. They went for almost fifteen minutes to get to this point if that tells you anything. It was a lot of feeling out stuff but at the end of it we more or less had a stalemate. Razor gets back in and we’re ready to go again. I’ve never gotten the term restart the match. Why don’t they get new entrances?
That’s what started the match and if you’re going to redo them you might as well redo those too. With Razor’s knee destroyed, Jeff of course gets the Figure Four on a bit later. Lawler channels his inner Monsoon and says stick a fork in him, he’s done.
However, since Razor is a face and therefore comes equipped with healing powers, he escapes and makes his comeback. If Vince says he’s got him! No wait he doesn’t, one more time I’m going to scream. He gets Jarrett up in the Edge but his knee gives out and a small package gives Jarrett the title. That was good.
Rating: B+. That was a solid opener. Razor was a big deal at the time and him jobbing to Jarrett should have been the start of a big push for him but for some reason that wasn’t the case. These two were both solid workers that were likely told to just go out there and have a good match and that’s just what they did. This was a great opener.
Some annoying looking woman can’t find Jarrett. Hint: HE’S IN THE RING!
Todd is with Pamela Anderson who has gotten lots of gifts from wrestlers because apparently wooing her will make them win the Rumble. I really hate this.
The annoying woman has found Jarrett but calls him Razor. He looks good with the belt.
IRS vs. Undertaker
This was during the epically long Taker vs. DiBiase’s Million Dollar Team feud. This was actually billed as Death vs. Taxes. I give up. Apparently Taker was at a monster truck rally the night before, in character. That’s just amusing to no end. They say he was there watching his favorite monster truck: Grave Digger. There’s just something hilarious in that. As expected, there’s not a ton here.
Look at the guys in there and tell me you were expecting a solid match with a straight face. IRS simply isn’t a legit opponent here, plain and simple. This is a lot of IRS trying to fight Taker and naturally failing while Lawler says the Druids, who worked for DiBiase, should be at ringside. I’m quite bored during this match as it’s just not interesting at all. Taker apparently was at the NFL 75th Anniversary Black Tie Dinner. WOW that’s an image.
After more beating on IRS, DiBiase brings in the Druids because this wasn’t uninteresting enough. The Druids mess up Old School as the ring sounds weird. This just needs to end like NOW. It’s completely boring and feels like a bad joke or something. Lawler thinks the urn has something to do with Taker’s power. That’s so stupid I don’t even know where to begin. It’s the SMOKE inside the urn, not the urn itself.
IRS gets out of a tombstone because of the Druids and hits his finisher: a clothesline called the Write Off. Yep, his finisher is a clothesline. After sitting up for like the 4th time, a bad chokeslam ends this FINALLY. Oh wait here are the druids for even more wasting of time. King Kong Bundy comes out and allows IRS to steal the urn. I really couldn’t be any less interested. Oh and apparently the cheering of the fans works as well as the urn. I give up.
Rating: D. Oh man this was bad. It ran about 12 minutes but it felt like 45. I mean really, Death vs. Taxes? Who thought that was going to be a good match? This should have been about half as long as it was and a glorified squash. No one bought Taker as being in any kind of danger here and it’s clear that this was just not going to be competitive. It was also really boring with the Druids and DiBiase taking too much time. Just a horrible waste of time.
We get interviews from earlier in the day where Todd pesters the hell out of Bret and Diesel who don’t want to talk to him.
WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. Diesel
Diesel is champion and Bret wants to be champion, end of backstory. They point out that Bret has won two triple crowns while Diesel has won it faster than anyone else (Punk broke that record.) Diesel goes over to talk to Lawrence Taylor and it starts. I really don’t get what they thought that was going to accomplish. Actually I do as it got them a ton of mainstream press, but the fans got fucked over in about 3 months.
WE ARE LIVE! Vince, I hate your marketing obsession. They’ve bought the show. You don’t have to sell it to them again. This actually starts with a slugfest, which naturally doesn’t work for Bret. There’s a bit of a story going on here as Bret is trying to get at Diesel’s legs using all kinds of little tricks and quick moves while Diesel is just straight ahead power. I like that. Bret gets the leg and hammers it early which is odd.
We’re 5 minutes in and we’re on our seconds figure four. Vince says it’s perfect. Vince is wrong. Lawler uses that line I hate about how they’re the same size on the mat. No, Diesel is indeed still taller than Bret. Bret is acting a bit heelish here which the announcers point out. I love that suicide dive that Bret uses. It just looks awesome. Granted any version of that looks great.
Apparently one elbow from Diesel is like 10 average punches. So he has the strength of ten men. That’s amusing indeed. In a funny moment, Diesel gets Bret up in an Argentinean Back Breaker which starts like a powerbomb but Diesel stops to put the hold on. Bret gives a look to the referee and then realizes what’s going on. It looked funnier than it sounded.
In a weird spot, Bret wraps Diesel’s legs around the post and ties them with his tape to beat on him. This lasts about 5 seconds as the referee frees him. That was kind of stupid. We go to the floor…again and Bret hits a pescado but is caught and posted. Diesel goes for him again but then remembers to sell the knee injury. Thanks for that one big guy.
Diesel hits the jackknife but Shawn runs in for the save. He beats on Diesel and works on his leg, yet that’s not enough for a DQ. Well thanks guys. I guess we’re building up some screwjob credits for two and a half years from now. Bret hooks his third figure four of the match as the fans are so bored with it I’m amazed. Lawler channels his inner Heenan and keeps changing his pick. Damn it Nash sell the freaking knee!
Ok, this whole Bret can’t get disqualified thing is freaking stupid. He cracks Diesel in the knee with a chair and that’s not enough for a DQ. The referee has no issue with checking on a submission after that. Owen runs out for the save as this has just gotten stupid. Hey we’ve used chairs, posts, tape and run ins. Why not an exposed buckle? How can no one get that Bret is likely playing possum as he’s done it about once a match for years. Oh sure. Let’s knock out the referee now.
Owen, Shawn and Backlund and Jarrett and the Roadie run in and FINALLY we get the fucking DQ. So let me get this straight: it was always going to be a double DQ, yet we had to sit through all of those run ins, weapon shots and just absurdity to get there? Why did the heels have to wait for the referee to go down? No one else got disqualified earlier for it.
The announcement of the draw, so apparently they still didn’t get disqualified, gets booed out of the building. Bret gets put in the chicken wing but Diesel breaks it up as his knee is just fine all of a sudden. I hate that. The faces shake hands which I’m ok with. Oh NOW the knee hurts again. Thanks for that one Nash.
Rating: B-. I know I blasted the ending and a lot of this match, but that likely wasn’t fair. This really was a solid match for about 80% of it, but damn they did too much with this. If you want to have the ending the way you had it that’s fine, but why have the run ins earlier in the match like that? I just don’t get that part. I get not wanting to have either guy be made to look weak, but this was just too much overkill for my taste.
That being said, when it was just Bret vs. Diesel, there was a of great stuff in there. The psychology was there, but Diesel, I can’t emphasize this enough: SELL THE KNEE NEXT TIME! I mean Bret worked the hell out of that thing and Diesel barely limped half the time. Anyway, this was solid enough, but the booking didn’t make a ton of sense in my eyes.
Holly and 1-2-3 Kid are in the back and say they believe in themselves.
King draws a picture of himself kissing Anderson using a telestrator. He’s talented but that was pointless.
Tag Titles: Bam Bam Bigelow/Tatanka vs. Bob Holly/1-2-3 Kid
This is the final of a tournament after Shawn and Diesel split and dropped the titles. Holly and the Kid are doing the whole underdog that won’t die thing that no one likes but Vince insists we’re always enthralled with. The heels are completely dominating for about the first 8 minutes or so. I know that’s kind of a blanket statement, but damn this just isn’t even close.
Why should we buy either of these guys as having a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Bigelow or Tatanka. They mention Lou Albano which is still kind of sad. We get it: Holly drives cars. As if we don’t have enough dominance here, Kid accidently hits Holly. Vince points out that the faces haven’t been around for long and were thrown together. Way to bury the teams they’ve beaten Vince.
Oh apparently they were supposed to be the Smoking Gunns but there was a rodeo accident. I don’t want to know. Holly actually tries to tag in Tatanka. This is just stupid at this point. The faces make a brief comeback which given the way they booked it is something close to believable. Kid is launched to the floor and Bigelow goes up for the moonsault. Tatanka picks that moment to hit the ropes though, and Bigelow crashes to the mat back first.
Holly hits a running forearm to knock the stereotype to the floor and the referee starts a double count. He gets to EIGHT and Kid puts an arm over Bigelow for the pin, SEVENTEEN SECONDS after he hit the mat. So let me get this straight. Falling about 12 feet to concrete keeps you down for about 5 seconds in the Kid’s case, but falling about 6 keeps you down at least 20 seconds? Yeah I hate this match.
As if that’s not enough, the Gunns would win the belts the next night on Raw, which makes me want to know something: WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST WIN THE FUCKING TOURNAMENT??? If you want to put the titles on the Cowboys, that’s fine. However, why not just have them go over Bigelow and Tatanka here?
Oh that’s right: to further Bigelow’s mindless face turn that happened because he kept losing to guys like Kid and Lawrence fucking Taylor of all people. Where did that turn wind up? Oh yeah: Japan and ECW. Thanks for taking care of your audience Vince.
Rating: D+. I HATE matches where one team completely dominates and then a mistake at the end gives the other guy/team the win. That’s just lazy booking and it makes the winners look completely weak. Bigelow and Tatanka shouldn’t have won, but the faces should have been the freaking Guns. How hard is it to just think for a minute and not overbook the hell out of a match? This is Vince’s biggest flaw as a booker: he over complicates everything.
Post match, Taylor is laughing at Bigelow so the big bald man shoves him and we have our Mania main event. Damn I hate 1995 wrestling. This takes 10 minutes somehow.
We get a ton of interviews about the Rumble that I don’t feel like recapping. Everyone says they’ll win and say stuff about Pamela Anderson because she’s more important than Wrestlemania.
Oh wait we have to let Pam look bored as hell and pretend to be into this for awhile first. I hate celebrities being in wrestling. Anyway, Shawn is first and Bulldog as second. Oh and this year it’s one minute because we just HAD to have all those other matches and we don’t have time for actual intervals. Good night Shawn calls spots loudly at times.
Bulldog has Shawn in a gorilla press but of course slams him instead of throwing him over. Shawn is getting the hell beaten out of him as Eli Blu (Skull of the DOA) comes out as 3. We’re 10% of the way through already which is just stupid. Oh come on we’re at the countdown already? Duke Drose is 4th. What kind of a name is the Dumpster? It’s just stupid.
His gimmick was a wrestling garbage man. That’s beyond any and all logic whatsoever. Let the countdown begin! It’s Jimmy Del Ray who means nothing at all for the most part. We get some heel vs. heel mullet action with him fighting Shawn. Sixth is Sione (Barbarian) as I already hate this match. Del Ray is the first guy out as Shawn keeps surviving in impressive ways.
In at seven is Tom Pritchard, Del Ray’s partner because we have to keep a high level of suckage in there. Vince is in full blown over the top mode here as he asks Lawler if every guy that he likes is going to win the Rumble. Also notice that Vince always says Royal Rumble instead of just Rumble. He has to make sure it’s said correctly. Doink is eighth as this match is rapidly catching 93 as worst Rumble of all time.
Everything is all over the place and the time intervals are just killing it. Granted the whole and complete lack of interesting talent is killing it too. Kwang is in at 9 as I’m thinking about throwing on some Family Ties which I’m not a fan of but it would be more interesting than this.
We’re at double digits with Rick Martel who never changes at all. Del Ray is the only elimination at the moment so the ring is full. That’s another issue with this: You can’t get rid of people without making them look weak, but at the same time you can’t let the ring get this full because it’s too cluttered. That clock is really starting to piss me off. Owen is number 11.
Bret runs out to jump him though on his way to the ring in the most interesting thing in the whole match so far. Now everything starts going insane. Timothy Well (of Well Dunn) is number 12 to a big pop? No actually Bulldog threw Owen out about a second after he got in. At the same time I think Martel went out and Droese was thrown over and landed on Earl Hebner in an unplanned spot. Well is gone also.
Oh Martel just got thrown out. Pritchard is out and we have Doink, Barbarian, Shawn, Bulldog, Eli and Kwang. Doink is out as Luke of the Bushwackers comes out. In an elimination that you can only see on the screen and isn’t acknowledged by Vince or Jerry, Barbarian throws out Kwang and then he and Eli eliminate each other. That leaves us with Shawn, Bulldog and Luke. This is making my head hurt.
He’s in there about 10 seconds as Shawn throws him out. He still had a job at this point? Why? Jerry is timing people with his Mickey Mouse watch. That sounds like a simple comedy one liner right? This confuses the HELL out of Vince. You can tell he’s just thrown completely off by it which granted could have been him fighting back laughter. Now I want a Mickey watch. Jacob Blu (8-Ball of the DOA) is number 14 as we’re nearly halfway done and 15 minutes hasn’t passed yet.
Shawn dumps him in about 15 seconds and we’re back to the first two all over again. Former Wrestlemania main event level talent King Kong Bundy is our halfway man. We get a replay of Owen being eliminated, which was a mere five minutes ago. This show should be shown to ROH fans as a torture method. Mo is in next and Bundy becomes my hero by putting him out in three seconds. Naturally Mabel is next as we continue the dumb tag partners in a row tradition.
Of course he goes right after Bundy and we have a bad battle of the big men which can indeed get old. Eighteen (seriously?) is Butch. Bundy is gone and Butch follows soon thereafter. Both guys (Mabel and Bulldog) try to put out Shawn as Luger the midcard guy is 19th. Damn he fell very far very fast. He puts out Mabel with ease.
Mantaur is number 20 as my eyes roll. He’s supposed to be half man and half bull I think but it was never really explained. This is easily his crowning achievement though so take that for what it’s worth. 21st is Aldo Montoya who is more commonly known as Justin Credible and more commonly known as the guy wearing a jockstrap on his face. Henry Godwin is 22nd and the sixth guy in along with Luger, Mantaur, Bulldog, Shawn and Montoya.
He’s a heel here for no apparent reason. We see Pamela who looks like she’s being told she is about to drink yak urine. Our Jordan entrant is Billy Gunn. WAIT A FUCKING SECOND! He was too injured to fight in the tournament but he can fight here. I hate Vince. Oh apparently they were injured to keep them out of the tournament but they get a title shot tomorrow instead? I’d just fake injuries to get title shot after title shot.
Bart is of course 24th because tag partners always get the same numbers. In case you can’t tell I hate this match to a great extent. Bob Backlund is next as we have 5 left. Oh look it’s Bret playing policeman again. They would fight at Mania in an ok at best rematch from Survivor Series. Next is Steven Dunn since we have to further lower our intelligence. In case you can’t tell, the final two will be Shawn and Bulldog.
Backlund is out after being in about 15 seconds. Bret stays in the spotlight by jumping him again. As that happens, Dick freaking Murdoch is in at 27. He’s 48 here and would be dead in about a year and a half. He’s also in the KKK but that’s not likely to be mentioned. No one has a clue who he is by the way. It amazes me that he can get an entry here. Were they that hard up for talent that he’s the best they can get?
What’s even worse is he’s more energetic than most people in there. Adam Bomb who should have been pushed damn it is 28th. There’s like 10 guys in there and I’m not even bothering to recap them as it’s obvious what’s going to happen in case you can’t tell. Fatu is the penultimate guy. Luger gets Mantaur on the ropes and shakes him up and down to get him out which just looked stupid as hell. He’s out though.
Crush who also should have been pushed is number thirty. Like I said I’m not wasting my time on listing them. The Gunns go out at the same time because of Murdoch and Crush. Murdoch looks pretty damn good out there actually. We go back to Anderson who points back at the ring as in get off me so I can be miserable and then get my check. I think there’s 9 people in there. Let’s up the stupidity a bit as Vince says that never again will two guys go out at the same time and hit at the same time.
Of course, this ended the show last year and JUST HAPPENED. Luger saves Michaels for no apparent reason. Bomb goes out. I nearly spit out my drink as Vince says he was a favorite. That’s just amusing. He’s young and over and decent. There’s no way he could do anything of note. Montoya is out and AGAIN Luger saves Michaels. Is he that scared of the power of Dick? The final six are Luger, Murdoch, Godwin, Bulldog, Shawn and Crush.
Murdoch is by far the most interesting guy in here as he hooks an airplane spin but falls out when trying to dump Godwin. Shawn sprints at Luger which is awesome. This just needs to end as it’s not interesting at all. Godwin is out and we’re at the final four. Crush puts out Luger and I think some nachos sound good here. The heels beat on Bulldog for a bit as we’re just wasting time. Crush tries to jump Shawn but Bulldog sneaks up and drops Crush to get us down to the starters.
We get the famous ending as Bulldog clotheslines Shawn up and over and the music hits for the celebration. But wait. What’s this? Shawn jumps back in and nails Smith to put him over the top and he’s declared the winner. For the only time this will ever be said, Vince is awesome on the mic here. Fink announces that only one foot hit and Vince is stunned. We go to the replay and in one of the coolest and most impressive things I’ve ever seen in wrestling, Shawn’s foot does not touch.
That’s amazing and damn risky as if he slips one inch, and who could blame him if he did, the next few months have to be completely altered. Anyway, Shawn wins and he and Pam “celebrate” as it looks like she wants to scream. She even leaves halfway through it as Shawn poses to end the show.
Rating: D+. This has been called the Jobber Rumble and it fits perfectly. I mean look at the list of people. The only ones that were ever going to have a chance were Shawn and Luger, both of whom were midcard guys at best here. The whole thing was just messed up with no monsters to save anything and no one that was a big star to be a big surprise. That’s just stupid.
The one minute intervals are just flat out stupid as hell too. There’s zero time to get going at all and it was just stupid. This did however get two things right: the ending was downright inspired. That’s one o the best ways I can think of to end the thing and the key to it for me is Shawn won completely legally. He earned the win and that’s the most important thing as it ties into the other thing they got right: a midcard guy got elevated.
Shawn goes from IC Title dude to world title shot at Mania in less than 40 minutes. That’s what the Rumble could be for yet never is. They got the end right, but the road getting there was just awful. This could be worse than 93 but I don’t think it quite is.
Overall Rating: C-. This show is just not great at all. It’s the epitome of just being there. It’s not good or bad although it’s leaning towards that latter of the two. The matches are just uninteresting and this feels like it could be on any show at all. Yes we have three title matches, but while they’re good, they could easily have happened on Raws or any run of the mill PPV.
It’s a show where the matches don’t add up to the whole show, as this just feels completely empty despite having some decent stuff on it. I’d say check this out only in extreme cases of boredom or for hardcore fans only. The casual viewer will just be bored to tears, which the ratings around this time reflect. This show was bad, but the individual stuff was ok I guess.
Royal Rumble 1994
I like this event a lot. In my opinion this is the perfect format for the rumble. We had the usual four matches before the rumble, but this is the first time all three titles were defended. That’s the way it should have been all along. The only problem was the shortened length of the rumble match. I mentioned in the Survivor Series 1993 review that I liked how that event set up the next one. Well this was the next one and I liked how this one set up WrestleMania X.
The opening match was good, but I was disappointed. I’m probably the only one, but I was kind of a mark for Ludvig Borga. I was disappointed that not only an injury put him out of the rumble, but that he would never return. Bigelow was a suitable replacement. He had feuded with Tatanka in 1993 and I thought they should have had a singles match at SummerSlam. This was a good match to start the show.
I love everything about the tag title match. Bret and Owen are two of my all time favorites and I really liked the Quebecers too. The match is overshadowed by the angle, but this is a great match too. This was the turning point in Owen’s career. He was always talented but never had any direction. Finally he got that here. Bret vs. Owen at WrestleMania X is the greatest non gimmick match ever in my opinion, and it all started here.
Razor vs. IRS was ok, but it was Razor vs. Michaels that everyone was looking forward to. IRS was a good opponent for the rumble as Michaels was rightfully being saved for mania.
I really don’t know what to say about the title match. I thought the hype going into it was very good. I was looking forward to it. This was just bizarre. I thought it was kind of cool but at the same time thought it was way too unbelievable, even for wrestling. This was unique and memorable if nothing else.
I’m always in favor of the two minute intervals, but the rumble match flowed pretty smoothly. This was Diesel’s coming out party. He was just a big sidekick for the past six months but here he got a chance to shine. Somewhat surprising for 1994, the fans were really getting behind him despite him being heel. I guess you could say this is notable for being the debut of Bob Holly. How did he last 15 years? You want some stupid wrestling logic? Tenryu and Kabuki’s sole purpose is to make sure Luger doesn’t win. Why is Tenryu working on random people on one side of the ring while Luger is on the other? The ending was certainly different. I’ve heard that Vince wanted to have separate announcements declaring both Bret and Lex the winner. He wanted to hear who got the better reaction and that’s the person who would win the title at mania. I suppose that makes sense but I don’t know if I believe that. I thought the finish went pretty well. I don’t think it’s clear that Luger hit the floor first. It’s pretty hard to tell. If this was football there wouldn’t be enough evidence to overturn the original call.
Overall I really like this event. As I’ve said every time now I judge a rumble partial on how it set up mania. This did a good job setting up Bret vs. Owen, furthering Razor vs. Michaels and Savage vs. Crush, and creating intrigue about what would happen with the main event. Good show.
Royal Rumble 1995
Even though the WWF stuck with the format that I like, this may have been the worst rumble ever. The overall event was ok, but I though the rumble match was terrible.
I love the opening match. Toward the end of 1994 I really started to like Jeff Jarrett. I was happy to see him getting a push and getting an IC title shot on ppv. I just knew he was going to win the title. The match was pretty good and I thought Jarrett was going to be the next great heel IC champion in the mold of Mr. Perfect and Shawn Michaels.
Like most I didn’t think much of Undertaker vs. IRS. This was obviously a filler feud the occupy Taker until WrestleMania. Looking back we know King Kong Bundy’s comeback was a failure, but at the time I was remembering the guy who gave Hogan everything he could handle and main event WrestleMania 2. I thought Bundy was a perfectly suitable opponent for Taker at mania. Even though that didn’t work out very well I left the rumble satisfied with the new feud and the mania setup.
I was a little surprised that Bret Hart got the title shot against Diesel. I assumed it would be Shawn Michaels and Bret would win the rumble and get Diesel at mania. Turns out it worked ok the way things went down; at least for Shawn. I thought the match was very good. I didn’t like it quite as much as the King of the Ring match but still liked it very much. All the interference and the finish were pretty annoying. Even though I didn’t care for how it went down I can understand why it did. I guess the idea was this was such a big match that the ref didn’t want it to end in a dq. He wanted a clear finish. Finally after so much interference he had no choice but to call for the double dq. I don’t care for it, but I get it.
I pretty much only remember the tag title match for the post match actions. I know a lot of people hated the angle with Lawrence Taylor in 1995, but the setup of the angle was awesome. Even though I was old enough to know better this looked like it could have been real. Like him or not, LT sold that beautifully. Bigelow shoved him down and LT looked pissed. Vince went off commentary to sell it even more. We knew he was the owner of the WWF but it had never been acknowledged on tv. For him to go off commentary all of a sudden made you feel like he could be legit pissed about what happened. Whether you like the mania match or not the start of the angle was well done.
I hated the rumble match. It was definitely the worst up to that point and probably the worst of all time. I’ll take 1993 over this any day. This rumble didn’t have nearly enough star power. Two of the biggest stars that were in this, Owen Hart and Bob Backlund were eliminated instantly. Bundy could have done better too. This would have been better if those three had more of an impact. The thing that really kills this is the one minute intervals. This moved way too fast. Guys were coming in and going out so fast you could hardly keep track. It’s still talked about how Shawn Michaels entered at #1 and won the whole thing. Big deal. The match lasted like 40 minutes. Dibiase drew #1 in 1990 and lasted that long and he was eliminated with like eight or nine guys still to come. Despite going the distance there are several guys over the years that have longer times. I will say the finish was very good. That clip is shown every year around rumble time and is one of the most famous moments in rumble history.
Overall this may not have been the worst rumble, but I think it’s the worst rumble match. If I was grading this the undercard would get a passing grade, but the rumble match gets an F.
Royal Rumble 1996
Date: January 21, 1996
Location: Selland Arena, Fresno, California
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect
Well it’s a year later and the roster is more or less the same. There are a few changes though. The biggest is Shawn has finally given up and turned face thank goodness and Taker is back in the title hunt. Bret has the title again and is facing him in the main event. Other than that, there’s a few new guys but a lot of this is the same. Nitro has debuted so the war has almost started.
The rest of the card looks similar to what we had last year with all three titles on the line plus the Rumble and one other match, but this just looks miles more interesting for some reason. The Rumble roster still looks weak but far better than it did before. This flat out can’t be less interesting than last year so let’s go.
I almost forgot: Shawn has been out with a ton of injuries including the concussion kick from Owen and tonight is his big return, so that’s easily your biggest story of the night here.
Oh yeah and a guy named Hunter Hearst Helmsley debuted. A bald guy from Texas is here too. They’ll never mean a damn thing.
There was a preshow match with HHH vs. Duke Droese. The winner got 30 and the loser got #1. Amazingly, HHH lost so there we are.
Sunny is in a bathtub and says that tonight’s show is viewer discretion advised. My goodness she was perfect. Anyway, Bret vs. Taker is previewed, along with a few other matches. There’s a picture of Razor hitting a belly to back suplex off the middle rope on someone. That someone: Jeff Hardy. Oh yeah and there’s that Rumble thing too. Finally, there’s talk of some monster showing up tonight. Some guy called Vader I think.
Jeff Jarrett vs. Ahmed Johnson
Ahmed is a relative rookie here, having been around for just a few months here. In other words, this should be a slaughter. This is fallout from Jarrett breaking a gold record over Ahmed’s head at the previous In Your House. I love how I now have seen that match and reviewed it as it ties things together a bit. In case you’ve never seen him, Ahmed is a freaking tank.
He’s more cut up than Ezekiel Jackson and even scarier looking. The only problem was he wasn’t as talented either. He’s killing Jarrett though so there we are. He was supposed to become world champion actually but he couldn’t stay healthy. There have been a ton of clotheslines in this match to say the least. I don’t mean a bunch in a row, but a bunch over a fairly spread out period of time.
Why is it that when something happens it’s unbelievable to Vince? He saw it happen so apparently it’s not too farfetched. Johnson is hulking up. That can’t be a good sign. Jarrett continues to imitate Ric Flair without the success by getting Ahmed in the figure four. You know considering how awesome Ahmed was, this is just really boring.
After powering out of that, Jarrett goes to the top with the guitar and El Kabong is enough for the DQ. Ahmed just stood there and waited to get hit in the head. Jarrett leaves and of course Ahmed is up in about 18 seconds and not even shaking it off. That was odd.
Rating: D+. Uh yeah. I’m not sure what to say about this one as it just wasn’t that good at all. Ahmed wasn’t really sloppy, but he certainly was limited. I’m not entirely sure why they had Jarrett not get pinned here. He really had nothing to lose here as he would be gone less than ten months later. Ahmed was supposed to look great here but he just didn’t, plain and simple. This is more of a headscratcher than anything else.
Buy WWF stuff, t-shirts in this case.
Billy and Bart, looking like male porn stars from some cross breed of the 70s and 80s say they’re going to keep their titles. My goodness they were so painfully bland it’s painful.
Diesel says heelish things despite still being a face officially I guess. He mentions not having a problem with Taker, and we have a feud on the rise.
Tag Titles: Smoking Guns vs. Body Donnas
Sunny was hotter than anything on the planet, period. The Body Donnas are Tom Pritchard and Chris Candido, more commonly known as Chris Candido. Sunny starts off in the ring by saying ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages. Holy stolen ring intro in a few years. Sunny of course gets the biggest pop of everyone. She’s 23 here and was screwing Bret Hart at the time, so there we are.
We get an upskirt shot of Sunny which leaves Perfect speechless. In case you can’t tell, no one cares about the match but only Sunny. She really was excellent at getting all of the attention on her which is very good to be able to do. The Guns are giants compared to the heels. After the Donnas desperately try (and fail) to take over, Sunny is knocked to the floor. The only good thing is a nice ass shot but whatever.
Perfect: she could have been hurt! Vince: she may be hurt! Thanks for being original McMahon. Naturally she was faking (don’t you hate when women do that?) and the Donnas get the advantage. Vince calls Zip Flip so there we are: we have found a gimmick so bad that even Vince McMahon can’t remember their stupid names. In a cool spot, Zip hooks his partner in a gutwrench release powerbomb (think Jack Swagger’s move but he just lets the guy go) onto Billy.
That was different as Perfect says. Since this match has been the most intelligent of all time, we have another odd spot as Skip runs into Zip and Zip is knocked into Billy so everyone is down. It leads to the cold tag to Bart who cleans house. Vince says he hits Skip or Zip or whatever his name is. Since it’s 1996, we can’t have a regular ending, so instead the Guns hit the Sidewinder (backbreaker/leg drop from the top) but Sunny distracts the referee.
In a bad looking spot, Billy sees Skip on the top rope clearly, but goes after Sunny instead. It was one of those moments that wasn’t supposed to look bad but accidently did. The Donnas go for a double suplex but Billy spears one of them so that Bart lands on the other guy for the pin. Yep, that was stupid.
Rating: D. This show really isn’t starting out well at all. This was somehow worse than the previous match. Literally, looking at Sunny is all that this is good for. The match itself is just bad, the booking is weird and the ending leaves something to be desired. The Guns would forfeit the belts in about a month due to injury and the Donnas would get them in a tournament just before Mania, as in about 20 minutes before.
We see a big thing of the Billionaire Ted skits. These were funny at the time, but allegedly they ticked off Ted Turner so much that he revamped WCW, so in essence they nearly killed Vince’s company. There we go then.
Recap of Razor vs. Goldust. In essence, Goldust wants Razor, as in the way I want Ellen Page, so that apparently made Razor put the title on the line. Yeah that makes perfect sense.
Intercontinental Title: Goldust vs. Razor Ramon
Goldust debuted the night before Ahmed so there we are. Hey did you know that Goldust is bizarre? We need to make sure you know that he’s bizarre. Vince says don’t adjust your televisions. I’ve never gotten that expression. How many people actually get up and adjust televisions? What was going to go wrong with it in the last 10 seconds or so since the last segment ended?
Are we supposed to believe that it wasn’t right before? Also, if you have a really fuzzy picture and you had really bad eyesight, would it eventually look normal? Apparently the noise at the beginning of Razor’s music is from screeching tires. What vehicle is making that noise? This is Marlena’s debut as well. She looked really good back at this point.
In a funny moment, Vince goes over the rules to how you win a title and Perfect almost yells about how he’s won the title twice so why does he need to have it explained to him? That’s a really funny point when you think about it very little. Goldy grabs Razor’s chest a few minutes in so there we go. When asked about what he would do against Goldust, Perfect replies with kick him in the face.
I love Mr. Perfect, if nothing else for the rampant sex jokes and innuendos he’s dropping here. At one point when they’re fighting on the floor someone shouts out that Marlena has a nice rack, which is very true. This match seems like it keeps starting and stopping. They’ll do a bit and then Goldust will go all freaky. That’s fine for character development, but it makes for some bad matches which is what’s happening here.
We do however get a cool spot as Goldust hits a slingshot belly to back suplex that I’ve never seen before. Other than that though, there’s just not a lot to talk about here. Finally Goldust takes over, but still there’s no flow to this match. It’s hard to put into words, but you would know what I meant if you say it. Something just doesn’t feel right about it as it just looks choppy for lack of a better word.
On top of that he keeps groping and molesting Razor. That’s just annoying. Can you imagine in wrestling related anything someone that was constantly making gay references and puns and actions? It would drive me crazy. Anyway, it’s a sleeper and a standard comeback by the face.
Oh the fans are mostly dead for this. No Monty Python jokes here by the way. After some Terri interference, the 1-2-3 Kid comes in and heads to the top for a spin kick that clearly misses but I guess the air from it knocks out Razor for Goldust to get the pin.
Rating: D. Uh yeah, this sucked too. I don’t get it. For the most part there’s been talented guys in every match but nothing at all has worked so far. Granted that could be because we’ve had three matches and zero clean endings. Is it that hard to let one guy cleanly beat the other one?
Anyway, like I said earlier this match just feels choppy and it really hurts things. There’s zero flow here and it felt like watching a video game being played where the guy controlling it was just hitting all of the moves he programmed in if that makes sense.
A bunch of people say they’ll win that don’t interest me. Shawn’s doctor says he’s ready to come back.
After the explanation of the rules from Vince (none given to the live crowd), we’re ready to go.
HHH is in first and second it Henry Godwin, now rocking the best music in wrestling history: Don’t Go Messin With a Country Boy. These two had a pseudo-rivalry around this time so this works pretty well. We’re back to two minute intervals which almost guarantees a better match. They imply that winning two in a row is almost impossible as Hogan is continually buried.
Backlund is third, completely in his crazy man Presidential candidate (don’t ask) gimmick. Also, how bad of a string of draws does this guy get? The more I see of this guy the more I like him. He’s just amazing considering his age. Backlund still has the Iron Man record at this point. Fourth is Jerry Lawler as I’m already loving these two minute intervals better.
There’s far more time to let people get settled in and it helps a lot. The heat on Lawler is nuts with the Burger King chants. Godwin breaks up a triple team and gets the slop bucket. Everyone gets it at once as they’re on the floor and now we’re back in the ring with a Gallagher reference. Fifth is Bob Holly to fill the jobber quota a bit more. Backlund is on the floor or something I think as he hasn’t been seen in awhile.
He’s not out but he’s not in the ring either. Oh there he is. HHH has jumped twice in this match, which is more than in this decade combined I believe. Mabel, who is still King, is in at 6. He’s gained even more weight here and it even less interesting of a character if that’s possible. HHH is compared to Shawn. Oh dear.
Jake Roberts, on the nostalgia trips to end all nostalgia trips (notice the word choice I used for Jake) is seventh to a solid as hell pop. He lets loose the snake and throws it over Lawler who is of course terrified of snakes. How much of a creep was Roberts? The only people he ever fought were terrified of snakes. That’s just pathetic. Anyway, Lawler hides under the ring as Dory freaking Funk Jr. is #8.
No one knows who he is, which is likely because he’s 56 years old at this point. With the NWA dead at this point, Vince mentions their name on camera. No one has been eliminated yet so we have eight people in and you can recap it yourselves you lazy pests. Jake almost gets a DDT on HHH to a pop but it doesn’t work.
Terry Funk is apparently friends with Bruce Willis. Well ok then. Funk fights Backlund in one of the only encounters you’ll ever see where Bob is ten years younger than the guy he’s fighting. Yokozuna is 9th as we’re way too full here. Those are words I don’t think Yoko ever used. As Backlund has the chicken wing on Funk, Yoko dumps Bob easily to a big pop.
I think he’s just about to or just has turned face. The Kid is tenth as we hit double figures. This hasn’t been bad as it’s pretty clear they’re saving the big guns for the end, but damn those guys are staying in there a long time. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but I’m not sure if I’m sold on it or not.
Razor chases him to the ring as Godwin is eliminated to absolutely zero recognition. I had to rewind it to see where he went out at. Razor chases Kid around for a bit which means nothing in the end. Mo is very annoying to say the least. I think Shane was there as an official to get Razor to the back. Some Japanese wrestler named Omori is number 11. He comes out to the Orient Express’ music, and I don’t have a clue who he is.
Thanks to Wiki, he apparently has a pretty good resume. That’s fine and good, but again we have the same old problem: ALMOST NO ONE KNOWS THAT VINCE. These foreign guys are fine to bring in, but damn it tell us why we should care. Don’t just say he’s a wild man from Japan. We need more than that. Tell us a big name he’s beaten, tell us some titles he’s won, tell us SOMETHING.
I don’t want to have to do a ton of research to figure out who one guy from Japan is in one match. He’s from All Japan Pro, that’s all we get. Even Vince says he doesn’t know a ton about him. Well thanks Vince. Savio Vega is 12th as nothing of note is going on. Dory is out there doing stuff that belongs in the 40s or something which is pretty cool looking.
The saddest part: I doubt half the roster today would be as smooth as he is out there in this match. Yoko puts out Mable and the smarks shed a tear as the completely unimportant Omori is put out by Roberts. To recap, we have HHH, Lawler (hiding under the ring), Holly, Roberts, Funk, Yoko, Kid and Vega in there at the moment. Perfect says he’s tapped into the Superstar line and knows who the next guy is.
Ok wait a minute. So first of all, you can find out the SECRET drawing on the Superstar line? I know they did that last year but I just don’t get what the point is. Why ruin the mystique of one of the biggest matches of the year? Second, you can tap into it? How many science geeks that were watching this (of the 4 or so that were) immediately tried to figure out how to do that? Third, Perfect is on the phone while calling a match? Dude I want that job!
Anyway, 13th is the debuting Vader. At the time, he was a complete monster and rapidly becoming one of the biggest heels in the company. He beats up Holly so he’s a good guy to me. Savio puts out Funk from the apron. Vader of course pulls him back in so there we go. Vader punches Savio, making him dance. Yeah I hate him too. Fourteenth is Doug Gilbert of the USWA, which is Lawler’s company.
Jake sets Vega for the DDT, arguably the most devastating and popular move in company history at that point, so right as he goes for it we cut to Holly trying to dump the Kid. We can see it hit between Holly’s legs and the pop is huge, but of course two career nothings are more important so there we are. In a VERY stupid looking spot, Jake hooks Gilbert for the DDT and then just stares at Vader for at least four seconds and then gets clotheslined over the top. That looked so stupid.
Ok so 15 and 16 are twins called the Squat Team. Yes that’s the best name they could come up with for them. They’re twin 450lb guys from Puerto Rico where they’re called the Headhunters. Ok, so we can’t just call them that generic yet far better name? They last less than two minutes combined as Vader just goes insane on the first one with two punches to knock them both out. That was AWESOME.
As the first one leaves his partner is coming out and they both go to the ring. Vader beats them both up at once until Yoko (still heel apparently) grabs one and is like “Bitch get your fat ass out of here and make me a sweater” while Vader beats up the other one and is like “Bitch go marinate bake me a ham and set the table” and both guys are knocked out.
That was both stupid and pointless which is a nice combination. Oh and just after the first guy came in Doug Gilbert got hit with a freaking AWESOME chokeslam from Vader and thrown out. It looked awesome.
To recap, we have HHH, Lawler (under the ring), Holly, Kid, Vader, Yoko and Vega. Owen is 17th and a major heel at this point due to being the guy that hurt Shawn in the famous enziguri (how in the hell is that spelled anyway?) that made Shawn black out. Yoko and Vader just beat the living tar out of Vega and Shawn is 18th as the roof isn’t blown off in the slightest.
There’s a reaction but damn there was nothing impressive about that in the slightest. Vader puts out Savio as Shawn hits HHH. What would the children think??? The crowd is awake but not much beyond that. Vader and Yoko fight at the ropes and Shawn runs up and dumps BOTH of them at once. Ok that was cool looking. The fans are very much insane now. Shawn gorilla presses Kid out in another cool spot.
Vader and Yoko keep fighting as Hakushi is now in to make it him, Shawn, Owen, Holly and HHH as we see the major problem already: it is so completely obvious that Shawn is going to win. Vader comes back in and throws him out to completely silence the crowd. All of a sudden this year that doesn’t count like it used to so Shawn is still in. Gorilla the Commissioner comes down to run off Vader.
Vader would kick his ass soon which was quite sad. The heel heat on Vader is nuts. Maybe 45 seconds after Hakushi comes in we bring in Tatanka for a one night return for no apparent reason. I’ve always liked that hook of the steel bar that Shawn did. It’s an intelligent counter that works quite well. Owen throws out Hakushi as the Shawn Michaels plus the midcard Rumble continues.
Aldo Montoya is 21st to some of the weirdest music I can ever remember. It’s like techo and tribal mixed and it’s just failing. Shawn finds Lawler under the ring and throws him back in. Sometimes simple heel tactics like that are just made of win. Montoya and Lawler go out almost at the same time as Diesel tries to give Shawn a challenge at 22. I know looking at it now he looks weak but at the time he was a major player still so this was a big deal. He puts Tatanka out with ease.
He and Shawn go at it to a solid pop. Owen goes after Diesel to finally live up to the poster for this event. I have no idea why those two were on the poster. I also have no idea why they didn’t fight at Summerslam 95 instead of Mabel but whatever. I mean really, what match sounds more interesting: Diesel vs. Mable or Diesel vs. Owen? It would have at least been interesting to an extent instead of Diesel and Owen which was completely awful.
Kama is in next to no reaction at all. Yeah Shawn should have come out about 10 spots later than he did. Holly is more or less dead at this point as Shawn hits the ten corner punches on him. The crowd counts with him and I keep thinking it’s another person coming in. Apparently Ahmed has a concussion and is going to the hospital. So wait, it took AN HOUR AND A HALF to figure that out? Dude how bad is your medical staff???
The Ringmaster is in at 24. For those of you that don’t know, he would soon become known as Stone Cold Steve Austin. His manager, Ted DiBiase heading to WCW might have saved the company. He’s wearing white boots here which just doesn’t look right. Aww his boots have little stars on them! That’s so cute! He FINALLY puts out Holly though so he’s awesome already.
Austin is a much more technical based guy here with some very good athleticism. Barry Horowitz is 25th, coming out to his completely sweet rock version of Hava Nagila. How awesome is that? Perfect says that if Horowitz wins this he’ll get back in the ring. That made me chuckle for no reason at all. In a cool looking spot, Owen is leaning on the ropes to choke Shawn so Shawn nips up to kick Owen over, but Owen skins the cat to get back in. That was awesome looking.
The fans are DEAD here. Diesel puts out HHH with complete ease. That looked cool if nothing else. 26th is Fatu. WHY IN THE HELL DOES HE GET THESE AWESOME DRAWS EVERY YEAR??? This is the making a difference Fatu. My goodness this was awful. It makes Rikishi look brilliant. Hey let’s plug the Superstar Line again! Apparently only the guy on there knows who is next. So is he running around telling people what order to go in?
Perfect changes his stance to he’ll quit if Horowitz wins. So wait, does that mean he’ll quit being retired? If that’s so does that mean he’ll wrestle again? Maybe he didn’t change his stance at all. Owen almost puts Shawn out but just won’t do it because it would probably get him fired. Isaac Yankem (Kane) is in next. Horowitz is gone. Owen hits the enziguri on Shawn again but this time doesn’t kill him.
Austin does the Shawn pose as I laugh. Austin vs. Diesel is a match that I don’t think ever happened. Owen is out due to Diesel and Shawn. 28th is Marty Jannetty as this match just needs to be put out of its misery. Apparently he’s been doing well in the singles division. Did I completely miss some time in the company history? The Rockers go at it in a fight that would have been good maybe 3 years ago.
British Bulldog is 29th again to ZERO reaction. 30th is going to be Duke Droese so there we are. Smith is heel here so he beats on Shawn. He dumps Marty quickly so if nothing else there’s a future for him in vermin control. Fatu puts out Austin. How many people would believe that in three and a half years he would run him over in a car and put him out for a year?
That’s just completely amazing and shows you that all kinds of things can happen in wrestling and you never know what’s coming. Kane knocks out Rikishi with ease as the announcers admit they have no idea how Austin went out due to there being a lot of action going on. No not really but I can’t argue with Vince right? Ok so there’s Duke and the final groups is, and I’m not kidding you here, Duke Droese, Kama, Diesel, Shawn, Bulldog and Yankem. WOW.
If you couldn’t tell who was going to win this and who he was going to eliminate last, you’re an idiot. Droese and Kane go out really fast so your final four are Bulldog, Diesel, Kama and Shawn. And before I’m done typing that Shawn kicks Diesel out to win it. Literally, the final four started and ended inside of 30 seconds. Shawn wins, shocking no one at all. Diesel comes back and they do the Too Sweet sign. Yep, that’s all they do and good night I’m bored here.
Rating: D. How can this show not seem that bad? I mean seriously, Ahmed freaking Johnson at this point has the match of the night, and that’s after guys like Chris Candido, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall and Dustin Rhodes have performed. Once Shawn came in, the match was over, period. No one thought for a second that anyone other than HBK was going to win, period. I mean look at this lineup.
The alternatives are the debuting Vader, Diesel, who had talked about Taker nonstop recently so his feud is set up, and……and……oh come on there has to be a third guy. Owen Hart wins it by default I guess: a career midcard guy with a cup of coffee in the main event a year ago that is clearly the first Shawn target. WOW. How in the world did this Rumble get a chance to do anything? There is no way this was ever, and I mean ever, was going to work.
The only thing CLOSE to making this work would have been Yoko, Diesel, Owen and Vader against Shawn at the end. I mean really, who else was going to win? This wasn’t interesting at all and other than for a few seconds, the crowd might as well have been asleep, and I can’t blame them a bit. This was just boring as hell.
Bret says he’ll win in a generic interview, which is somehow the most interesting thing I’ve seen other than Vader and Yoko being put out in over an hour.
WWF Title: Undertaker vs. Bret Hart
This is happening because Bret is champion and Taker would have been far too big of a threat to Shawn’s popularity. Taker is wearing the skull mask at this point after Mabel and Yokozuna destroyed his face. For no apparent reason, Diesel is still at ringside. He gets in Taker’s face and there they go. Taker was just all kinds of awesome at this point, as he was reaching that mythical level that few get to.
He’s officially that kind of guy that’s awesome just because he’s who he is. Like today for example, it’s about two weeks after Kofi destroyed Orton’s car. That was AWESOME. Kofi got over in that one segment and granted I have no idea if it’ll still or not as you guys won’t read this for about two months, but the point is he might just fall off the map. A guy like Taker simply isn’t going to fall off the level he’s on barring anything completely insane happening.
He was just hitting that level around this time. He’s like Shawn is now: you can throw together a bullshit storyline to put him in the title match and everyone will buy it because he’s just awesome enough to be in it. Bret’s pop is solid here, but this crowd just kind of sucks. Ok we’ve been in this match 3 minutes now and I think I already know what’s coming. I had a bad vibe about this match earlier on and it’s coming true now: they’re doing a formula match.
Yep, Bret’s going for the knee early. That means a long drawn out match where Bret works on the leg with a submission, Taker fights back, Bret hits the knee and uses a submission, Taker fights back, Bret hits the knee and uses a submission, Taker fights back, Bret hits the knee or a suplex move and sets for the Sharpshooter and somewhere in there we brawl on the floor with a weapon other than the belt or a chair being used. And what do you know I’m right.
Yes, for about 25 minutes, that’s all we get. During that Bret gets the stupid looking skull mask off of Taker that was just really annoying. PLEASE END THIS! Taker hits the Tombstone finally, and here’s Diesel for the cheap DQ to set up Diesel vs. Bret to set up Diesel vs. Taker. Ok, I know I have the benefit of hindsight here, but this was as predictable as humanly possible.
The signs were all there for Diesel vs. Taker, especially the fight before the match started. I mean seriously, who in their right mind thought Taker had a chance in hell here? Actually he won, so who thought he had a chance of getting the title here? Whatever, I just want this show to end.
Rating: C-. While it was formula stuff, it was somehow by far and away the best match of the night, and that’s just pitiful. They went out there and did half an hour of stuff you could write a textbook with. Now I know that usually means greatness, but in this case I mean a book called Cookie Cutter Title Matches in 30 Elongated Minutes.
It might have been that I was just wanting this show to end, but DAMN this was boring as hell to me. I’m going with the C- because it gives it the best grade of the night just so Jeff Jarrett can’t have it. WWF>TNA, forever, even when you have to lie to get there.
Overall Rating: D-. Somehow, this passes. I have zero idea how, but somehow it passes. The matches all completely sucked, but it was like I kept wanting to like the show. That’s either really good or really bad and I’m not sure which.
This whole show feels like the forms you have to fill out to get something you know you’re getting: it’s pointless, you don’t like it, but you have to do it anyway to get to the end result. This show is just boring as hell. I don’t know if it’s particularly bad, but it’s just so boring that it becomes bad. Don’t watch this unless you’re an insomniac.
Royal Rumble 1996
You know KB sometimes we see things differently, partially because of our age difference, but for the most part we see eye to eye and agree on a lot of these events. This is not one of those times. I admit this event doesn’t really stand the test of time. If a 15 year old fan were to watch this today he would probably share your opinion. Despite the action being not so great I love this event. I just remember loving the WWF, or at least the potential, going into 1996. Bret Hart was well established as the top guy. Shawn Michaels was on his way to challenge for that spot. The Undertaker was becoming a legendary figure. Diesel was playing a unique tweener role. Razor Ramon looked like he could finally reach a main event level. We had some proven mid card veterans like Owen, Bulldog, and Jarrett. Hunter Hearst Helmsley seemed like he would fit well into that category. Ahmed Johnson looked like he was going to make a big impact. Goldust was getting all kinds of attention with a very controversial gimmick. Mankind just starting debuting with some interesting promos and looked like he would have something different to offer. I always liked Steve Austin in WCW and was happy to see him in the WWF. And most importantly Vader had finally arrived. I had been looking forward to that for years. While this event may not have been great I associate it with a time of excitement and promise. Now things didn’t exactly turn out like I thought. Bret would take a hiatus after mania. Razor and Diesel would be gone by May. Jarrett even sooner. Ahmed turned out to suck. And while he was ok for a short period they really dropped the ball with Vader. Either way I was loving the WWF at the start of 1996 and I was pumped for the rumble. It was all about Vader. If he debuted only a few weeks earlier I wouldn’t look back at this event as fondly. I couldn’t wait to see Vader debut and whenever I think of this event I remember that feeling of excitement.
Royal Rumble 1997
Date: January 19, 1997
Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross
A lot has changed here for once. We’re about as close to the Attitude Era as you can get without actually being in it. The roster is now far closer to being set to what would become the Attitude Era. Bret vs. Austin is in full swing as they had their forgotten classic at Survivor Series. Also we now have guys like Mero and Farrooq, but more importantly, people like Mankind and Rock are here now, so the core is here now.
As you might have noticed, we’re in Shawn’s hometown in front of a massive audience. Shawn recently lost the title, so I wonder how tonight is going to end. This is around the time that WCW is just flat out kicking ass in the ratings. Raw is averaging I think a 2.0 at this point, and they’re happy with it. It was just flat out bad all around, and you could tell the WWF was in a free fall. This show is actually kind of co-promoted with AAA, the Mexican organization.
The problem with this is simple: WCW had a deal with every bit of good Luchador talent in the world, so Vince got the bottom of the barrel here for the most part. Anyway, this is an oddly remembered show, so let’s get to it.
The preshow had three matches with Luchadors, including minis, which included Mini Vader and Mini Mankind. I give up.
The intro is of course about Shawn, who clearly can’t be blamed for the ratings tanking. I’m being partially serious there, as there was no one that was going to be able to take on Hogan and the NWO at that point. They say that tonight isn’t about accolades, just that WWF Title thingamajig. That twangy music is going to make me punch someone before this show is over. We have French announcers here for some reason.
Intercontinental Title: HHH vs. Goldust
Goldust is freshly face here, which granted no one gets including the announcers but whatever. HHH has been climbing the ladder recently, as his push is back on after the Curtain Call aborted it. In short, allegedly the Austin push was supposed to go to HHH, but there was the incident at Madison Square Garden. What happened was it was Nash and Hall’s last night with the company, so after Shawn beat Nash in a cage match, the four of them broke kayfabe and hugged.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the footage. Nash and Hall were leaving, Shawn was the company at that point, so there was just HHH left to take the fall. Instead of becoming the big deal in June, he had to wait about 6 months before it happened. I’m not sure I buy that, as Austin’s popularity would have been there anyway. Granted it was the KOTR match against Roberts that gave him Austin 3:16, and without that there’s no Austin super boom, so maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
See what a single promo can do for you? Anyway, HHH had been having different women on his arm every time he came to the ring and he went after Marlena. This set off Goldust and actually got Lawler to ask him on live television if he was a queer (Lawler’s word). This set him off and as HHH tried to steal Marlena, Goldust snapped and we have a title match. HHH has Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard.
Chyna would debut the next month to shoot him to the stars. Even with two great in ring workers like these, we go straight into a brawl with the steps being used. Security has thrown out two fans that were sitting there for weeks apparently. I’m guessing this is a stupid angle or something and I really could care less. Can we please stay in the ring longer than 45 seconds? Ross and Vince both point this out.
Both of these guys will be in the Rumble tonight apparently. They’re now doing a bunch of leg work which is an upgrade I guess. It’s still not interesting but it’s better I guess. Hughes has done absolutely nothing at this point. Goldust calls him a piece of shit which even today would be a bit much. This is more or less all Goldust working on HHH’s knee at this point, which at least is a story but it’s odd seeing the face dominate here. HHH gets a one knee curtsey. He was in his blueblood/classical music phase here, which I’ve always thought was an incredibly underrated heel character.
In the middle of this match, let’s throw it to Todd and some country singer that I’ve never heard of before. He sings a bit on a split screen. You have to be amazed by what Vince will do for a celebrity draw. This has improved a bit but it’s still nothing special. Hughes, who I had forgotten about, throws the IC belt to HHH who kisses Marlena. Goldie pops HHH with the belt but Hughes makes the save. After more Hughes distractions, Goldust walks into the Pedigree and we’re done.
Rating: C-. This started off bad and then worked its way up to being ok. I don’t like the steps etc. but overall, this was ok. It needed to be about 5 minutes shorter though. HHH was far from what he is today and while he was a rising star, he just wasn’t ready for this long of a match yet. It was coming, but he wasn’t there yet.
We get comments from one of the WEIRDEST pairings you’ll ever see: Bret Hart and Mankind. They both say tonight will be a long night. Damn that’s just weird thinking about them in the same company, let alone doing anything together.
Farrooq vs. Ahmed Johnson
I love the Nation’s entrance. PG-13 were great at what they did, which granted wasn’t much but it worked. This was supposed to be the blowoff match between these two but they were both injured at one point or another so the match never actually happened when it was supposed to, making this way after it meant anything. The Nation was freaking massive at this point, even having actors hired to make it look even bigger.
That’s saying a lot when you think about it. Johnson tried to get a catchphrase of You’re Going Down out of this but it didn’t work at all. Basically they’re fighting over Ahmed not being black enough or something like that. He was supposed to get the world title so there you go. This was actually a decent little feud, but it needed to happen 4-5 months earlier than this. Since it’s 1997, this starts on the floor in a big brawl. I love Vince Russo. Ok not really.
We go to another big wide shot which I can’t stand as Ahmed whips Farrooq with a belt or something like that. The problem with this match becomes apparent quickly: Ahmed isn’t that good. He never was. He was a huge muscle guy that could be a cool looking powerbomb, period. He was WAY over though at least for awhile, so there’s little complaints that can be made here. Naturally this is mostly brawling but that’s neither here nor there.
Simmons goes after Ahmed’s kidney of course because only one part of anyone’s body can ever be injured at once. We’ve got a Cowboys jersey on the non camera side so I’m happy. Ahmed hooks a powerslam from the top to take over. The spinebuster from Farrooq ends that pretty quickly though.
After Ahmed no sells that, the Nation runs in for the cheap DQ. Naturally since they all suck, Ahmed destroys them with relative ease. After Farrooq runs, one of the Nation members who doesn’t have a name goes hand first into the steps and then gets a release butterfly powerbomb through the French announce table.
Rating: D+. This was pretty bad, but it was supposed to be a street brawl or something so it did that fairly well I suppose. There’s very little here to go on and it wasn’t what it was supposed to be as a blowoff match. They would go at it a few more times without Johnson getting a clean win that I can remember. Not a bad fight, but this just didn’t have a ton of interest in it.
Terry Funk says he was born for this and is Texas bred.
Todd is with the Nation who says it’s not over. You can see an almost afro wearing D’lo brown in the background.
Vader vs. Undertaker
If you’re looking for a story here, you’re wasting your time. I mean literally, this was thrown on the card without a story. Vader had been attacking Taker a bit in huge groups but never on his own. I guess it was just kind of a big match thing to it, so there we are. Taker beat up Cornette a few weeks ago but it wasn’t directly referenced as a reason for the feud. Taker’s entrance is just made of awesome.
I mean if there was a thong of awesome, it would be made of Taker’s entrance. Ross says that Taker hasn’t done well at the Rumble since his debut here in 1993. Ok let’s see. In 1991 it took both members of the Legion of Doom to eliminate him. In 1992 it took Hulk Hogan to eliminate him. In 1993 a guy interfered and eliminated him. In 1994 it took 10 men to beat him in a world title match. In 1995 he beat IRS clean.
In 1996 he beat Bret Hart, who was then WWF Champion. In other words, he’s been in three world title matches and in a way has gone 1-1-1 in them, lost in the Rumble twice which I consider to be ties, and won another match, giving him a record of 2-1-3, with the one loss being in a cheating fashion and the other by a guy that wasn’t in the match. Yep, he completely sucks here Ross.
Why can’t they ever get the years right either? For years I remember them saying he debuted at the 91 Survivor Series, which obviously isn’t true either. Naturally, Vader’s offense isn’t working that well against Taker as he keeps sitting up. Taker hits a Fameasser of all things. Who would have seen that one coming? Taker gets a slam and makes it look easy. His strength was completely overlooked a lot of the time.
We get a verbal jab from Ross at Hogan, saying that no one in company history has dropped a leg like Taker. Old School is countered and we’re both down. After a low blow from Vader, we throw it to Todd in the crowd with some girl that apparently follows Shawn Michaels around the country. I’m not saying a word on this one. We now return you to the PPV at hand.
Jerry points out slyly how completely freaking stupid that was to do in the middle of a match, showing that he’s the second coming of Bobby Heenan. He throws in a Kentucky reference to make it even better. This is more Taker than Vader here. His power is just freaking scary to say the least. He throws Vader around more than once, including a very solid looking chokeslam.
Just as Taker signals for the Tombstone, the ONLY former Wrestlezone admin allowed to work for WWF, Paul Bearer hits the arena as pale as ever. Taker puts Vader on the floor and goes after Paul. Vader saves Uncle Paul but gets knocked to the floor by Taker again. Vader gets control again on the floor with Bearer apparently aligning himself with Vader.
BEARER GOES AIRBORNE!!! He jumps at Taker with the urn and actually takes him down! That was freaking AWESOME!!! This allows for the Vader Bomb to end it as Taker actually is pinned in something close to being clean. That hardly ever happens. He beats up the referee afterwards.
Rating: C+. Taker looked great here. Vader was dominant to an extent, but he never once came close to doing anything special after Shawn beat him at Summerslam 96. After that he began a decline into eventually being a jobber which is never fun.
Taker’s power was insanely impressive here as he hit all kinds of big moves that you just don’t see done on Vader like ever. This was impressive to me. Vader getting the win was good as Taker certainly didn’t need it and Vader might have gotten the biggest win of his WWF tenure.
Austin says he has nothing to say about the Rumble, which takes longer than it takes Bulldog to say he’s going to win because he has success in Rumbles and he’s bizarre. I have no idea what he means there and can only guess he botched a line or something like that. It was bizarre indeed.
Jerry Estrada/Heavy Metal/Fuerza Guerrera vs. Perro Aguayo/El Canek/Héctor Garza
I’ve only heard of three of these guys so naturally I just don’t know anything about REAL wrestling. I think this was an attempt to cash in on what WCW was doing at the time with the luchadors, but at the same time, of the five with known ages, two of them are under 38 years old at this point. See, it’s hard to compete with guys like Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and Ultimo Dragon with you have guys that literally could be their fathers wrestling.
We start with Garza and Metal as Vince can’t remember who is who. I think the referee is from AAA as well. Ok, so I’m done with the match at this point, and instead of a recap, I’m going to go with just what I noticed as a whole since I know nothing about these guys or why they would be fighting etc. First of all, old guys do not make for very exciting matches. Aguayo was a flat out embarrassment out there. He could barely move and blew a ton of spots including the end (his team won).
Second, Canek is strong as hell, but he used at least 5 gorilla press slams in this. One or two are fine, but when you’re getting up into that many, it shows your offense is limited at best. Monty Brown had this problem. Third, this was just boring as hell. See, this was one of the first matches of this style ever in the WWF.
When WCW busted this stuff out, they had Rey Mysterio, the undisputed king of that style here in America. When he debuted in WCW, he tore the house down. Here, the people were asleep. I mean this was the most dead I have ever seen a crowd. This didn’t work at all.
Rating: F. I already explained this. It was just a waste of time as well as bad.
With literally no transition, we’re at this.
We’re back to 90 seconds again this year, because having that lucha match was FAR more important than the match the show is named for of course. Crush of the Nation is first and Ahmed is second. I just can’t believe that at all! Apparently Crush has longer odds of winning than Ahmed. Why would that be the case? They start at the same time. If nothing else Ahmed is at a disadvantage because he doesn’t get a short break while the other guy is walking to the ring.
There’s a sign in the crowd saying WWF: Wild Wacky Fun. Well ok then. Crush jumps him, even though he had no advantage at all according to Ross. Vince calls Ahmed the wrong name. The crowd isn’t hot here but they’re certainly awake and paying attention unlike the previous match. Granted it’s just the first two. Also the clock isn’t working at first, so we don’t have a countdown or anything like that.
3 is the fake Razor, who has no music because of the clock but it doesn’t matter as Ahmed ends him after about 15 seconds. Lawler points out Ahmed’s tights that would never die. Those things always rode up and it was annoying as hell. Farrooq is in the entry way so Ahmed jumps over the top rope, eliminating himself to go after him. That made me shake my head. Phineas Godwin (Mideon) is next.
Sweet damn I love Hillbilly Jim’s music. Austin is #4. Now remember, here he’s still just a midcard/semi main event heel that runs his mouth a lot. He hasn’t actually won anything yet and we haven’t had the I Quit match that catapulted him into superstardom. Think of the Miz when he went after Cena. He was loud and great on the mic, but no one bought him because he hadn’t done anything yet.
As of this writing (2 weeks before Survivor Series) he’s the US Champion and looking far better than he ever has before. He’s believable with the belt, which is all he needed to be. Austin gets very little reaction here mainly due to the clock which keeps people from knowing when someone is coming, and the reasons I just listed. Anyway, he and Crush team up but that doesn’t work and Phineas takes out Crush.
He turns around into a Stunner though and after some trash talking, he’s gone. Bart Gunn, still looking like a porn star (why are they all stars? Can’t they just be porn actors/actresses?) is fifth. He lasts about 30 seconds, although he hits what would become known as the Fameasser. Austin even does the Steiner pushups as he’s just cocky as hell.
You can see all the classic mannerisms and awesomeness inside of him just dying to break through. Jake Roberts is sixth, and remember he’s the guy Austin beat for the King of the Ring and the reason for the 3:16 speech. Ross says Jake wants one more shot at glory. When did he ever have glory in the first place? He was a career midcard guy that is remembered for having the best finisher ever.
Bulldog is seventh and while he’s on his way Jake is thrown out. Apparently Bulldog hates Austin, which I don’t entirely remember. He hits a modified powerslam that’s completely ignored by the announcers. The best wrestler ever from England his what is undeniably his signature move and no one says a word about it. He was supposed to have been made a big main event level guy and even get the title at one point, but Vince was in so much financial trouble that he changed him mind.
That’s why you had Sid as champion. It was originally going to be Smith, which I think would have certainly been more interesting. Smith got the first ever European Title as a compromise, so in other words he got the very short end of the stick. He certainly would have been better than Sid as Sid just wasn’t very good in the ring while Smith could work a great match if he was in there with the right guy. He and Owen are tag champions here also.
Pierroth, another luchador, is next to no reaction again. He’s 39 here. Vince, GET YOUNG GUYS IF YOU INSIST ON DOING THIS! We get our first bit of information about one of the new guys: Pierroth is a rule breaker. See, that helps a lot. Not being sarcastic there. We’re told that by people who are supposed to have insight on the subject, so therefore we trust it. The Sultan (Rikishi) is 10th as we’re going fast here but it’s kind of working.
Considering Pierroth is a heel, he’s only going after other heels. Actually, all four of them are heels so never mind. 11th is Mil Mascaras. Now he’s old, but he’s a flat out legend. He would be like Ric Flair here in America, with Blue Demon as Austin and Santo as Hogan. Also, he gets a pop and a half, easily the biggest of the match so far. I’ll adjust what I said earlier to Vince: get old guys that are well known in America, like this one.
Mascaras is also known for no selling stuff, even for big names like Foley who criticized him to no end in his book, as did Jericho. There it is already as Sultan hits a belly to belly and Mascaras pops up almost immediately. HHH is twelfth as this thing has been flying by. To recap, we have Smith, Sultan, Austin, Mascaras, HHH and Pierroth at the moment. Bulldog puts Sultan out to clear us out a bit but 5-7 is fine to have in there.
Austin and HHH go at it which just feels right. Owen is in at 13. He and Austin go at it as we’re not getting a ton of reactions here. The crowd is ok, but not great at all. Scratch that, as Austin is nearly out and the crowd waked up. Bulldog almost puts him out but Owen dumps Smith to piss him the fuck off. These counts definitely aren’t 90 seconds. Goldust is 14th. For some reason we don’t cut to him when he enters. That’s very different.
Mascaras’ tights are covering his belly button. That just looks odd indeed. Cibernetico gets us to the halfway point. He’s 20 years old so if nothing else he should be able to fly pretty well. He’s really well known for having a unique style that a lot of indy guys use. Marc Mero starts the second half as Cibernetico is thrown out. Pierroth gets thrown out by Mascaras, who jumps out after him, which based off everything I can see was a legit mistake.
The fans are booing the hell out of it too. Goldust puts out HHH. We have Mero, Owen, Austin and Goldust here. Seventeenth is Latin Lover, who has what looks like the Playboy bunny on his tights. He’s considered a rip off of Shawn, as the names are similar and both use the superkick. It’s allegedly just a coincidence but whatever. Apparently Mero and Sable aren’t fighting anymore. Thanks for the update.
Owen throws out Goldust and Farrooq ia 18th. He puts Latin Lover out. Austin and Farrooq go at it which could have been a sweet as hell feud. Ahmed runs out with about an 8 foot long 2x4 and beats on Farrooq a bit, as he eliminates himself. Austin puts out Owen and Mero and we’re down to just Stone Cold. He’s quickly joined by Savio Vega who had a bad feud for awhile. Austin puts him out with about his 5th clothesline of the night in less than 30 seconds.
That’s his 6th put out of the night. Road Dogg (called Jesse James here) is 20th. He lasts a bit longer but still less than a minute. The Outlaws were coming soon though, saving his career. And there it is: in the moment of the match, Austin is looking down as the buzzer goes off, and it’s Bret Hart.
The look on Austin’s face absolutely makes this match. It is so perfect as he’s like OH SHIT as Bret not quite power walks down to the ring. Austin says bring it on, Bret does just that. The fans are, in a word, insane for this. The scary thing is, despite having a classic at Survivor Series and a classic moment here, their next match would blow this out of the water.
In a very funny spot, Lawler is 22nd. He leaves by saying “It takes a king…” and then gets in the ring. Bret punches him out in 4 seconds, and his first thing back on the mic is “to know a king.” That was awesome. Fake Diesel (Kane) is 23rd. Now he actually could have worked, simply because he looks a lot like Diesel if you avoid close-ups of his face. He beats both guys down as we’re way too close to the end already.
Terry Funk is 24th as X is happy. He almost had gotten fired for cursing like Terry Funk would on Shotgun the previous night. Shotgun was a GREAT idea for what it was: an “adult” show that was broadcast from a different place in New York every week. It was way ahead of its time but in the next year or so it would be average which is what killed it. Rocky Maivia is next. He’s a rookie here, but DAMN look at the talent in there.
All world champions, all eventual hall of fame members (yes, Kane belongs in there). We add to the talent with my all time favorite wrestler: Mankind. In an interesting note, other than Hart, Foley has been tag champions with everyone in the ring. That’s impressive to me. It’s very rarely seen, but Austin has a tattoo of Texas on his left calf. I’ve never seen that before. Flash Funk (2 Cold Scorpio), a pimp without being called one, is 27th.
It’s a shame he was old here, as he was one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen. We up the ante a bit more with Vader here at 28. Lawler is back to his hatred of Bret Hart which never gets old. Austin goes for Vader and is promptly killed. A funny bit to this match is Lawler “forgetting” he was in this match. To bring the awesome run of talent to a screeching halt, Henry Godwin is 29th.
I know I haven’t recapped much here, but there haven’t been a ton of people in the ring at once until the end here so there wasn’t really a need for it that I saw. The clock runs down, and the lights go out. A gong sounds, and the fans ERUPT. Taker is apparently a hero here, as they tease him turning heel. That wouldn’t happen for almost two years so it doesn’t matter.
At the moment, we have Austin, Hart, Fake Diesel, Funk, Rock, Mankind, Flash Funk, Vader, Henry Godwin and Taker. Which of those just doesn’t belong? Notice a big key here: a clear winner doesn’t exist.
Bret would be the most likely candidate, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be him. Taker winning wasn’t out of the question, Vader got a big win earlier and had beaten Bret on Raw recently, Austin was always a wildcard, Mankind had been more or less unstoppable recently, and Rock was the golden rookie. See what I mean? There are legit options in there other than Bret, which instantly makes this more interesting than last year’s ending.
Austin takes a chokeslam in a rivalry that will flat out never die. Taker punching the man that would become Kane just feels right. Damn that would happen in less than a year. Vader puts out Flash as Rock punches Taker. There are just a ton of awesome matches in there. Other than Godwin and arguably Flash (if he was given his original gimmick: a bad ass fighter that could fly like a cruiserweight, he could have been a big deal in the company.
Think AJ Styles, but 4 inches taller, a bit heavier and black and you have Scorpio. He’s 32 here, so it’s not like he was some old guy at the time. He’s younger than Austin. Godwin calls a spot to Taker. Austin has done a ton of those tonight, but the beauty of his character is you can very plausibly say he’s just talking trash to the guy he’s beating on. Rock and Bret Hart go at it and DAMN that was weird to type.
It’s a total dream match but that might be the most they’ve ever gone at it. In a spot that I really liked, Godwin hits Taker in the back and Taker rises up, grabs him by the throat and gives him a look that says, “Boy are you CRAZY???” and throws him over with EASE. Taker was scary strong.
Ok, so to recap, we have eight people left. Of these 8, counting WCW/NWA/WWF reigns, you have the following: 37 world titles, 17 midcard (US/IC) titles, and 40 tag titles. That’s not counting anything from ECW (either incarnation) or Foley’s TNA stuff, the Streak, the 13 Wrestlemanias they’ve main evented, or the 6 combined Rumble wins of these guys.
Think of it like this: on average, these guys all have about four and a half world title reigns, 2 midcard titles and 5 tag titles, just from WWF/WCW. That’s INSANE. Anyway, Foley puts out Rock as Vader beats on Kane which is an interesting match. Ross says that Foley and Funk are great athletes. There’s something amusing about that. They’re both gone but they brawl to the back anyway just because it’s fun for them.
Also, because it allows for a very interesting ending. The referees are trying to get them to stop fighting, and while they do it, Bret throws Austin out clean. Key to it though: the referees DO NOT see it and Austin slides back in. He throws out Taker and Vader on his own (damn), just as Bret throws out Diesel.
Austin dumps Bret, and wins the Rumble. The people are PISSED, but not as badly as Bret. He goes insane and with complete justification. He says he’s tired of getting screwed, and the heel turn can be seen inside of him. Bad opening, awesome ending.
Rating: C+. Like I said, the beginning of this isn’t that great. They saved the best for last though as the last third of this field is insanely amazing. You could see Austin with the superstar inside of him just dying to break out and save the company, but it would take the buildup here and the career making performance in two months to get him and the company to the promised land in 15 months. They were really taking a chance here, and I think it paid off.
We get a short recap of Shawn vs. Sid, which is about having a bad attitude. I think you know where that’s going. Make that long. They recap the Survivor Series match and some other random fights which were pretty weak. Shawn says there will be 71,000 here. It’s more like 60,000 but whatever. The crowd looks awesome if nothing else.
Shawn, who apparently has the flu, says that he’ll step up when it matters and Sid is a coward or something like that. Again he says there are 71,000 there and that’s just flat out not right. We see Shawn and Jose coming to the ring. Shawn is wearing sleeves without a shirt, but the sleeves are made of tiny mirrors, as are his chaps. Nope, he’s not self obsessed at all. You can hear the pop already.
WWF Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Sid
Sid took the title from Shawn after working for him for a little while. He hit him with a camera at Survivor Series and took the belt after beating up Shawn’s old manager, Jose. He became the only person to beat Hart and Michaels in this era which completely boggles the mind. In a REALLY cool shot, we follow Shawn and Jose through the back and then through the curtain so we almost see it from his perspective. It looked awesome.
The pop is all there too as Shawn is the complete hometown hero. Some fan has a REALLY loud whistle right next to the mics and it’s annoying as hell. For once in his miserable announcing career, Vince doesn’t talk over a cool intro which is nice. Sid starts coming through the back and the heat is there already. Based on the crowd reaction, this should be at least very good. I love Sid’s music. The ticked off fist pump he did was cool also.
For some reason whenever there’s a neon light it makes his hair look green. The pyro was cool too as it was his name on fire above the ring. If only he could have a decent match to save his life he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. They have the stare down and the crowd pops. Jerry and Ross show their chemistry until Vince decides that such bullshit cannot occur so he interjects himself into it, which can be translated into JR and King can get a line in here and there if they’re lucky.
For the sake of preventing a riot, Shawn takes control early. It’s a brawl to start us off, which is fine I guess. Shawn is playing Superman here. Shawn in the red and blue wouldn’t work though. Not sure why, but it just wouldn’t at all. Ok, we’re two minutes into the match and Sid is using a camel clutch. Oh this is going to be a long match isn’t it?
Psycho Sid might be the most indy name I’ve ever heard in my life. Apparently this is the last time Jose will come to the ring with Shawn. That’s good to know I guess. We’re still in the camel clutch by the way. I’m getting tired of these bad timing things that I keep doing. Sid is of course working on the back, apparently to set up for the power bomb.
It’s not like the bomb works exclusively on the back. It works on everything at once. You just get dropped through the air and stop really fast. How much back work needs to have been done?
We go to another rest hold since Sid has a higher quota of them than Orton does for chinlocks. Sid taunts the crowd and beats on Shawn some more. We’re in a bearhug now just to make sure that the crowd is as dead as possible to set up the massive pop for the comeback. To be fair though, the crowd never really slows down at all. Vince suggests that Shawn is the underdog.
You mean the CHAMPION that beat the CHALLENGER might be favored? Get this man a Pulitzer. Actually just name it the Vince. That’s never going to be topped, ever. Sid hits a leg drop that I don’t think he used until he had his bad feud with Hogan in 92. Despite having had his back worked on all match, Shawn hits a relatively easy slam. Ross points out how odd this is as Shawn starts his standard ending sequence.
Sid avoids the kick and we’re on the floor now. He hits the power bomb on the floor and the announcers declare Shawn dead. Sid grabs Jose and Jose’s son, so Shawn pops up. Naturally, I mean he was just dropped about 9 feet onto near concrete so why not be up in 9 seconds? Back in the ring the referee is out as Sid hits his chokeslam (called a goozle or something like that by Vince). Shawn gets out of the count from referee numero dos.
He gets popped by Sid so thanks for coming. To cap off the mini feud, Shawn pops Sid in the back like Sid did to Shawn at Survivor Series. Sid doesn’t go down, so Shawn waits for him to turn around and….taps him in the chest with it…to get the cover and a two count. Chin music ends it and the massive celebration is on. We keep cutting back to Jose’s son for no apparent reason other than to be annoying I guess. He’s just a pest for some reason. He looks like a slacker.
Ross says that there’s a lot of class in Shawn. The I Lost My Smile speech would be in less than a month so take that for what it’s worth. Shawn hugs a guy in a Calgary Hitmen shirt. I love that. We plug the next PPV (without a name, it would be called Final Four which was a good show) and we’re out to more Shawn worship.
Rating: C+. It could have been worse. That’s the answer I’m going with here: it could have been worse. This was really just a way to hand Shawn the title back in a big match. It had me thinking of Cena vs. Jericho at Survivor Series 2008, where it was really just a token title match to get the belt back on Shawn. There’s nothing wrong with that and this was fine for what it was.
If you were expecting Sid to keep the belt here, I’d recommend a head operation. I have no idea what kind but just a general one would do. Like I said, Shawn would forfeit about a month later and the #1 contenders match scheduled for Final Four would become for the title.
That night was supposed to be Sid vs. Shawn 3 with Shawn winning and dropping the belt back to Bret at Mania 13, allegedly with a Sharpshooter where Shawn’s leg would be “broken” complete with sound effects, leading up to Shawn winning the series 2-1 at Summerslam and getting the title back to drop to Austin. Granted that’s all according to Bret so take it with a bottle of salt.
The feud got thrown out when Shawn made a reference to Bret having Sunny Days ahead or something on TV, which more or less outed Bret as sleeping with Sunny to his wife and the company, so Bret challenged Shawn to a fight I think and Shawn conveniently hurt his knee up and lost his smile between the two matches. Anyway, the match was ok but not great so there we are.
Overall Rating: C+. There’s an aspect I’ve touched on but not directly talked about here that makes this a weird show and that’s the crowd. As you all know, a crowd can make or break a show. This crowd did neither and it kind of parallels what I thought of it. The crowd here was silent a lot, but when they got into something they got into it hardcore. That fits really well here, as all night long this show either really worked or completely bombed.
The opening stuff is just ok, Vader/Taker was just a good old fashioned fight, the six man was just completely horrid, I liked the Rumble, and the main event was what it was. I think this is one of those shows where what it sets up is far more important than the show itself, but that part was still pretty good. If you’re a fan of this era, check out the Rumble and the main event and maybe Taker vs. Vader (definitely if you’re a Taker fan as he looked great in it) but pass on the rest as it’s just bland as hell.
Royal Rumble 1998
Date: January 18, 1998
Location: San Jose Arena, San Jose, California
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
We have seen our savior and he is called Austin. So it’s official: Steve Austin ranks somewhere just below boobs in terms of popularity at this point and is the undisputed king of the company. There’s just one thing: he’s not the world champion yet. It’s about as clear as you can make it that Austin is going to win the title at Mania, so this is another formality. However, a few things have happened in the last two months or so.
Number one: Montreal. We have no Bret Hart and Shawn and Vince are now pure evil, especially the latter. The other thing is Starrcade 97, where Hogan’s ego has managed to almost single handedly kill the massive lead that WCW was enjoying. Therefore, even though the results are clear, they have to do this right because if they do, the WWF could actually catch up to WCW (which they did).
Your other main event tonight is Shawn vs. Taker in a casket match, and you know what happens there. I’ve always felt the main event should have been someone else but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, Kane is now apparently face and will be here to help Taker, and you know he wouldn’t ever do anything like turn on him 6 days after joining him or anything like that.
As for the rest of the show, the roster has filled out a lot more now with a lot of the familiar Attitude Era people there now, such as Shamrock, Rock in his more famous form, face Mankind and the Outlaws. Actually a lot of the wrestlers are the same but now they’re in their best forms, which is often the most important part. I have decent memories of this show and it’s certainly important as far as history goes so let’s get it started.
The opening video is about being champion, which is what the show is mainly about so at least it makes sense. The set for the Rumble isn’t elaborate yet as it’s still the circular one that was used for years. Why were there always blimps in the arenas for these things? I’ve never gotten the point of that. Oh yeah Mike Tyson is here tonight too in what turned out to be a big deal for the company as far as going mainstream went. DAMN he is getting booed out of the arena.
Vader vs. Goldust
This is actually the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust but I didn’t want to type that out more than once so he’s just Goldust in this. Let’s see: green hair and what we’ll call yellow and blue striped tights. More or less he’s just insane at this point where he’s expressing himself or something like that. It never made a ton of sense but it was different if nothing else.
Vader has just fallen through the floor as far as meaning anything went by this point for no reason that I’ve ever been able to come up with. Well I’ll give him this: he’s still energetic as hell and the fans are WAY into him. Of course that means he’s not worthy of being anything but a jobber in Vince’s company, so there we go. Lawler actually says that he’s glad Goldust is back in men’s clothing for this match.
I think that sums up the Attitude Era pretty well. Vader is just beating the hell out of Goldust at this point. He throws Goldie into the stairs in the worst, weakest looking shot I’ve ever seen. Goldust stopped about 6 inches before he hit them and then tapped them. It looks horrible. We have a hot crowd if nothing else. After a decent comeback, Goldust kisses Vader, and you know what’s coming next.
Apparently Austin isn’t here yet. Why is it that he never got to the arena on time? After putting him down, Vader sets for the Vader Bomb. This takes literally thirty seconds. He deserved the low blow he got from that. There is little more entertaining to me than a big guy just dropping the ass on someone else.
In a cool looking visual, Luna jumps on Vader’s back as he’s setting for the Bomb again. He’s like fuck it who cares and does the move with her on his back. The sight of Luna flying through the air and just stopping dead when Vader lands is great for some reason. Naturally this ends it.
Rating: B-. For an opener, this was a very good choice. The fans were into Vader and he looked quite solid out there. It was a standard beatdown and the ending spot looked cool. It wasn’t epic and it wasn’t supposed to be, so this was exactly right and I’m perfectly fine with it. For the life of me I don’t get the complete lack of push for Vader.
Austin is here and the Godwins follow him. Apparently all 29 other guys want to kill him.
Max Mini/Mosaic/Nova vs. Battalion/El Torito/Tarantula
Yep it’s a mini match. Sunny is referee here to give anyone a reason to care. The three faces combine to weigh less than 260lbs. That’s just amusing. They kept having these matches for no apparent reason other than an attempt at capitalizing on the Luchador craze, which I guess was a better idea than trying to use bad luchadors like they would do in a few months. Max weighs 87lbs and is fast as hell if nothing else.
Everyone has very generic gimmicks with Batallion being an army guy or something. We’re about two minutes into this and we just saw our 8th arm drag. It’s Trios rules here as in if one of the guys goes to the floor, that’s the same as a tag. We go split screen to look at Tyson who looks like he’s hamming it up for the camera, and to his credit he looks genuine at least. Like I’ve said a dozen times: if you don’t want to be there, at least try to look interested, and Tyson is certainly doing that.
The crowd doesn’t care about anyone in there other than Max. For no apparent reason, Sunny helps Max throwing dropkicks at the other guys. It made no sense but it got a pop so there we go. We hit the floor and there they go. It’s your standard everyone runs to the ropes and hits a big move and it works really well here.
I’ll say this for these guys: they’re not boring. They’re not particularly interesting but they’re not boring either. Max goes to the top (which to be fair is like from the top of a cage for a normal size guy) and hits a rana which leads to a cradle for the pin. This was so far ahead of last year’s Lucha stuff that I can’t even see it back there.
Rating: B-. Again, it wasn’t great, but it was exciting if nothing else. It kept you paying something close to attention so that’s better than nothing at all. Max was more over than all 5 other guys combined so it was smart to have him be the focus of the match.
Granted that might be because he was by far the most talented. Compared to last year’s old guys doing nothing for 11 minutes, this was a good deal shorter at about 8 minutes which helped it out a lot. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but three minutes can mean a big difference in a match. Think about how many matches you’ve seen that are about three minutes long. A lot of TV matches are, so there’s time to do a good amount of stuff in there. By keeping this one shorter it was FAR better.
The Nation is looking for Austin but all they find is a foam finger.
Vince and Shane are with Tyson. Shane looks so much more comfortable talking to him than Vince does.
We get a recap of Shamrock vs. the Nation, including Henry turning on him to join the Nation. This was when Rock was taking the leadership of the group over from Farrooq and is also IC Champion at the time, having been handed the title after Austin forfeited the belt to go after the World Title. Cole is with the Rock as we cut to a clip from the Free For All of the Nation arguing over who would win the Rumble.
Cole says that apparently there are problems in the Nation. Rock says apparently you’re an idiot. I love Rock ripping on Cole. It was always priceless. Rock offers advice to Clinton, continuing his gimmick of offering his input on social matters of the time as only he could. It helped play up the People’s Champion thing, and more importantly led to an interview with Gennifer Flowers at Mania where he debuted a rather famous line because of it, if you smell what I’m cooking.
Intercontinental Title: Rock vs. Ken Shamrock
Rock comes out alone here. The crowd is way behind Shamrock here as Rocky was flat out hated. We start with a fairly long feeling out period and then we all of a sudden get going. Shamrock is pretty good at the moves he could do, but the problem is he didn’t have a ton of things that he could do well. Since we’re in the Attitude Era, there’s a lot of brawling going on here which makes sense for Shamrock at least.
What doesn’t make sense though is Rock being able to go toe to toe with Shamrock in that area. If he’s supposed to be the best fighter of all time like JR keeps telling us, Rock is amazing as hell then. In an amusing bit, Rock goes for a chinlock but does the arm motion that he would do for the People’s Elbow by swinging his arm around really slowly to hook the chinlock on. I love that.
JR says this isn’t the seniors’ tour which is a clear jab at WCW and how much they fucked up the previous month’s show. As Shamrock goes insane, here’s Kama to allow Rock to get some knucks to knock out Shamrock. Now in a brilliant move Rock puts them in Shamrock’s tights. Ken kicks out and hits a belly to belly for the pin and the title. Rock gets up a bit later and says to check his tights. You can see the ending coming from here and the decision is reversed.
In a great moment, the referee is checking his tights and points to the crotch and asks what is that? It’s as humorous as it sounds. Yep, the referee gets the ankle lock too. They would do a similar screw job ending at Mania where Shamrock was named the winner again but didn’t get the title again. Rock would finally lose the belt at Summerslam in an epic ladder match with HHH. On a replay we see Rocky hitting him with the knucks.
We also see the problem with it as the knucks are on the back of Rock’s hand, but the way Rock throws punches, the part where the brass is sticking out wouldn’t have touched Ken’s head, but why should we care about that?
Rating: C+. This was what it was. It wasn’t meant to be anything great and they didn’t try to make it something it wasn’t which is the smart thing to do. The ending was at least somewhat creative so they get points for that. I don’t get why they did the same kind of ending at Mania, but whatever. This was fine. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible given what they had to work with here.
We see exclusive footage of Rock in his locker room taking off his boots when Shamrock jumps him. For some reason Shamrock has had time to take a shower and put on jeans while Rock doesn’t even have his boots off yet, despite Rock having left first.
Los Boricuas are looking for Austin. They find the DOA instead and of course they fight like they did for months. I think a combined 5 people cared in all those fights.
We recap the LOD vs. the Outlaws which more or less consists of old school vs. new and it’s not that interesting but it’s ok I guess. Basically the LOD are old and cool and the Outlaws are pricks. Nothing is different I guess. Oh and they beat up the LOD and shaved Hawk’s head while wearing Cartman shirts. Seeing South Park being considered cutting edge and underground stuff is just ridiculous to think of.
Tag Titles: New Age Outlaws vs. Legion of Doom
They’re wearing Favre jerseys for no apparent reason. Oh apparently Favre just beat the 49ers and we’re in the Bay Area. Hawk and Animal look at clips of them being beaten up and say that this is about pride or something. Animal is completely insane in this promo. Why are the LOD referred to as American Originals? I’ve never gotten the point to that reference. I’m sorry to shock those of you with heart conditions, but this starts out as a brawl. I know I can’t believe it either.
The heels try to run and naturally that doesn’t work at all. JR actually mentions the Horsemen on a WWF program. He follows that up by saying this might be a matter of time, more or less giving away the ending. There’s zero flow to this match at all. It’s just random insanity and I don’t recall any tagging here at all. That’s fine in spurts but it needs some sort of structure to be legitimate at all.
To further the insanity here, Hawk gets handcuffed to the turnbuckle while the injured Animal is beaten on. We shift over to a one on two match here with Animal fighting for all he’s worth. He hits a powerslam and has it won when a chair from Road Dogg breaks it up for the DQ as we STILL can’t have a clean ending in a match that means anything. They start the beatdown, but Hawk and the power of the 80s breaks the handcuff and after a bunch of chair shots, the LOD reign supreme.
Rating: D+. This match can almost sum up everything about the Attitude Era as a whole. You have a classic team like the LOD that got world title shots back in the 80s and then you have these two guys that aren’t great workers to begin with but get heat based off of shock tactics. There was little tagging and most of this match was brawling. There’s the Attitude Era in a few lines.
Some chick in Tennessee wins Austin’s truck.
We get a recap about how Austin is a marked man or whatever. In other words we get a package to futher drill into our heads that Austin will indeed win the Rumble tonight.
Fink claims that it’s every 2 minutes for intervals. It’s really closer to 90 seconds if you pay attention and considering the whole thing lasts 56 minutes, 2 minute intervals are impossible unless the last guy is thrown out before he gets to the ring. Cactus Jack is first and apparently Jack, Dude Love and Mankind got into a fight over who would be in the Rumble and Jack won.
Second is Chainsaw Charlie, who is more commonly known as Terry Funk in some weird crazy man gimmick. When I say crazy I mean crazier than usual. He brings a fake chainsaw with him, so Foley throws chairs at both him and it, which produce no sparks. There’s about 5 chairs and a saw in the ring and we’re underway. Aww the referee gets the saw out of the ring. Anyway, Funk says for Foley to blast him with a chair so he does.
Foley hands it to Funk so Funk can have a free shot. This is either cool or mind blowingly stupid. Tom Brandi is 3. Think Santino but less talented and stupider and that’s what you have. In a move that shocks no one, he’s thrown out in about 10 seconds. This is a weird hardcore kind of thing here as Funk has his customary convulsions. Number four is Rock to some weak heat. Ah ok there it is. Foley hits him with a trash can to show off their future hardcore epics.
The hardcore guys beat him up as Lawler is panicking. Mosh is fifth as I’m starting to hate the Attitude Era. He gets the biggest pop of all five guys so far. Naturally Funk goes for the moonsault and it misses. I don’t get the point in having such an insane start to the match. Phineas is 6th. He and Hank are heels here and it just failed on so many levels. More or less they switched to creepier music and wear the rebel flag so now they’re heels.
Yeah it bombed big time, so naturally they were pushed for about another year or so until the company woke up and let Hank go and changed Phineas to Mideon. Funk throws some chops and the wooing begins. Number seven is 8-Ball to continue the greatness of this Rumble. Seriously, considering there’s three world champion out there, this is just boring as hell so far. Funk puts out Cactus as the crowd couldn’t care less.
Allegedly someone has attacked Austin but King won’t say who. Bradshaw replaces Cactus at number 8 to really enhance the greatness in there. Owen Hart is number nine, but Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette who were representing the NWA of all things jump him as Ross declares Cornette a stain on the underwear of life. For the love of all things good left in the world, someone lobotomize JR before he hurts himself. For some reason Owen gets huge cheers from Tyson. That’s just odd.
Owen can’t get in the ring and is just laying on the floor. Steve Blackman is tenth. He’s a complete WWF rookie at this point despite having a ton of experience in other companies before this. We mull around even more as the ring is way too full. All of the guys I’ve listed are in other than Jack and Brandi. Owen is still down as number 11 is D’lo Brown. There are 5 members of the Nation in the Rumble tonight which is kind of impressive.
Shamrock may have been the guy that got to Austin. Rock goes the hell off on Blackman with some insanely fast kicks. At this point we’re just waiting on some monster to come out and get rid of some of these guys. No one cares as there is zero chance Austin is going to lose.
Number 12 is Kurrgan. Now this was an interesting character to say the least. He was completely dominant so of course they made him a comedy character by the fall. He gets rid of Mosh so if nothing else he’s done his job. How weird is it to think that Bradshaw of all people would wind up having a 9 month world title reign out of all these guys in there? Mero and Sable come out at 13. Good grief Mero was a depthless character.
Blackman is gone via Kurrgan. Bradshaw beats on him a bit which at least looks kind of cool. Shamrock comes out to a BIG pop. He goes straight for Kurrgan and knocks him down with relative ease to allow a big group of people to dump him out. In 20 seconds, Shamrock has managed to get the crowd to actually give a damn about the match which the other 12 hadn’t been able to do in almost half an hour. Thrasher comes out at 15.
The ring is WAY too full at this point. There’s a very loud Sable chant. Lawler keeps talking about how he wants to fight Tyson which is just perfectly good cheap heel heat. 16 is Mankind as we hit one of my all time favorite Rumble bits. Yes, all three of Foley’s personas are in the Rumble. He puts out Funk with relative ease. In a very unintentionally funny moment, Shamrock is trying to get Rock out in the corner.
The tape freezes just for a second and Shamrock’s arms are under Rock and his head is laid on his stomach and the look on his face looks like he’s lovingly smiling. It’s just great. Anyway Goldust is 17th and this time he’s rocking a silver body suit with painted on women’s lingerie including g-string. The ring is WAY too full here. I would list them all off for you, but it would be Austin Fodder #1, 2, 3, 4 etc. There’s about 10 guys in there and no one cares about most of them.
Goldust puts out Mankind who wasn’t a big deal just yet. Jarrett is 18th and Owen finally gets in and beats the living hell out of him. After skinning the cat, Owen dumps Jarrett. There’s a big rant coming on Owen later so stick around for that. And from out of nowhere Honky Tonk Man is 19th. Rock puts out Shamrock as HHH and Chyna come out. HHH is hurt and not in the match. Owen tries to get rid of Goldust, allowing HHH and Chyna to use a pair of crutches to eliminate him.
Ok screw waiting for later. At the end of the previous In Your House, Owen had jumped Shawn to end the show, making his first appearance since Montreal. He beat Shawn up and then ran off into the crowd. Every single sign in the world said that Owen vs. Shawn would be the title match at the Rumble. Think about it: Owen comes back to avenge his brother’s honor so the drama and story are already there.
Owen can actually hang with Shawn in the ring so it’s not like the match would be boring or something. Owen was getting insane reactions from the crowds at this point so it’s not like they wouldn’t buy it. So given how obvious this was, Shawn vetoed it. Owen made the epic return and was promptly fed to HHH.
Yes, instead of going with the money match at the Rumble of Owen vs. Shawn, I’m assuming Shawn was afraid that Owen would either upstage him or shoot on him, so he somehow convinced everyone that the best choice was for Owen to just go back down into the midcard and job to HHH and Jarrett and stay far away from the title picture, and showing the power of the Clique, it worked.
Owen was made to look like a joke over the next three months, having a tiny feud with Jarrett that went nowhere and then jobbing to HHH to make him look good. At least Shawn got what was coming to him all those years later in the casket match, which he lobbied for. I hate to say it, but he got what he deserved.
Ahmed Johnson is number 20 and no one cares. He was just completely wasted by this point and it failed miserably. The crowd is pretty much dead here. Lawler lets it slip that Honky is his cousin. We accidently hear someone say that someone isn’t cleared to wrestle which we’ll get to in just a few moments. Mark Henry is 21st. In a great stat, Henry is one of 17 people in this Rumble that have never been in one before.
Ross says Henry is handling the big Johnson. I’m not going near that one. There is no number 22 and everyone thinks it was supposed to be Austin. It turns out that it was supposed to be Skull, but he was hurt earlier in the attack by the Boricuas and was who the accidental voice was talking about. Phineas and Ahmed are gone with Phineas landing on a referee in an amusing spot. The crowd really couldn’t care less here.
Kama is number 23, and here’s the best recap I can give you: Rock, 8-Ball, Bradshaw, D’Lo, Mero, Thrasher, Goldust, Honky, Henry and Kama. Holy jobber fest Batman. Austin it 24th to an EPIC pop. I mean the fans went insane for that glass shattering. Literally everyone in the ring turns to the entrance to jump him, but he comes through the crowd and knocks out Mero and 8-Ball with relative ease.
Why in the world did they insist on constantly making Brown a big deal or at least trying to? Never mind he’s been upstaged by the failure that is heel Henry Godwin. We start the final five with Savio, who leads the completely worthless Boricuas who all go after Austin despite not being in the match. Naturally they’re easily dispatched. There are WAY too many people in there. I’m counting 11 I think.
Farrooq is 27th as all 5 members of the Nation are in there now. Naturally he beats on all of the other 4 members. I’ve always thought they missed the boat with Farrooq. He was clearly a great athlete with a solid character yet they never pulled the trigger on him. Rock and Austin go to the floor through the ropes. Dude Love is 28th which gets a nice pop. Foley was such a brilliant character when you think about it.
Kane was Isaac Yankem and Fake Diesel etc. Kama was Papa Shango, Godfather etc. The thing is, those other characters are never mentioned. They’re simply repackaged to give them a fresh start and that’s fine. Foley took it completely the other way. They made him all three characters at once with no attempt at hiding it. That’s very unique and I don’t think it’s been done otherwise. Anyway he puts out Bradshaw in about a second.
Rock does the overrated elbow on Brown and gets beaten up by Austin for it. At least Austin recognizes overrated moves. Chainz, another guy I thought could have been more than he was, is 29th making Vader number 30. There goes Brown to lighten us up a bit.
Ok, so with all 30 in, here are your possible winners: Rock, Thrasher, Goldust, Honky, Henry, Kama, Godwin, Vega, Farrooq, Dude Love, Chainz, Vader and Austin. I wonder who the win…never mind that joke is just stupid. Who thought it was a good idea to have 13 people in at the end? Vader puts out Honky. The crowd still doesn’t care at all. There goes Thrasher to a tiny pop.
Kama is gone as we’re starting to clear the ring out. Ross thinks Brown is still in for some reason. There goes Vega as Austin has dropped three in a row now. Goldust puts out Vader because Vader can’t do anything since he’s an over character. Instead we have to have a freak character be put over again. Henry and Goldust go out. Farrooq just shows off by throwing out Henry.
Chainz was put out by Austin over the corner and slammed into the steps which just looked SICK. The final four are Farrooq, Rock, Dude Love and Austin. I’ve always loved Dude’s Sweet Shin Music. Farrooq eliminates Dude. Say that out loud and see how ridiculous it sounds. Ross is ticked off for some reason at Rock resting while Farrooq fights Austin.
Farrooq was in for about 10 minutes while Rock had already wrestled earlier and had been in over 50 minutes at this point. I guess according to JR that’s nothing. Anyway the final two are Rock and Austin. They slug it out and the fans are buying every bit of it. After a Stunner Austin shocks no one as he’s going to Wrestlemania.
Tyson is happy too. We get a quick interview with Tyson, who despite calling Austin Cold Stone, which to be fair sounded far more like a slip of the tongue rather than him just not knowing what he was saying, says he’s very happy and looking forward to the main event. If nothing else, he’s very enthusiastic and sounds like a legit fan.
Rating: D+. This was a bad Rumble in every sense of the word. The big problem here is clear so I’ll ignore that. The problem is there’s no one out there that was even a potential challenger. There was almost no flow to this either. The closest thing to a story was the Nation but it got no play at all.
That’s the problem here: there’s no story or drama at all and it just crippled the thing. We knew Austin would win, but the question was how. The problem was there was no way to disguise the fact that he was going to win and it really hurt the match. There really was no way to make this great, but they at least could have made it ok.
We recap Taker vs. Shawn. More or less they were trying to just pick up their rivalry from the fall like nothing ever happened. Good night Shawn took a beating in the Cell. Kane has broken away from Paul Bearer and apparently has joined Taker to help him fight off DX. For some reason Taker accepted his brother that hated him with no issue at all. I’ll give you two guesses as to how that’s going to work out.
Casket Match: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Fink looks REALLY weird for some reason here. It looks like he’s being forced to announce at gunpoint or something. We get a weird comment from JR about Shawn: He may not be in a class of his own but it doesn’t take long to call the role. Wait, what? If he’s the world champion and the best big match guy ever, why wouldn’t he be in a class of his own? Also, Ross tries to say HBK has a better record in big matches than anyone including Hogan. That’s just laughable.
Shawn’s overselling of Taker putting the lights back on is great. Shawn of course has to run here and punch where he can, but we get my favorite spot that Taker keeps using as he just grabs Shawn by the throat and throws him into the corner. I’ve always loved that. In a very cool spot, Shawn goes for a crossbody from the middle rope and Taker catches him in a two handed choke. That looked great. And there it is.
Shawn is backdropped over the top rope and slams him back on the casket, more or less shattering it and putting him on the shelf for four and a half years after Wrestlemania. You can tell something just isn’t right with him at this point, and oddly enough a fan shouts out BREAK HIS BACK while Taker is beating Shawn up. As usual, Taker is just beating the living hell out of Shawn.
That’s your formula for the majority of this match: Taker beats up Shawn, Shawn hits a little something, Taker beats up Shawn some more. Eventually Shawn hits a kick out of nowhere, but Taker doesn’t really do much about it. We go near the casket a few times which is always good, but the best part is Shawn in the casket and trying to get out while Taker pulls him back in.
It’s a very cool shot that’s been done many times since but never as well as there. Eventually the tombstone hits and Shawn is dead, but Los Boricuas (which is incorrect grammar but whatever) and the Outlaws run out.. Cue Kane, but of course he turns on Taker to throw him in the casket to keep the title on Shawn. That’s not the end though, as Kane nails Taker into the casket and starts walking it back up the stage.
In one of the most famous scenes of his career, he covers it in “gasoline” and lights it on fire. JR is FREAKING as we go off the air. Of course Taker magically disappeared from the casket, setting up his return just in time for a Mania match with Kane.
Rating: B. This one is hard to mess up. These two worked very well together and this was no exception. They’re just perfectly suited to one another and they showed why here. Granted they more or less did the exact same thing as they did in the Cell, but it still worked.
Obviously the bigger story here is Shawn’s back, but that’s been covered more elsewhere because no one knew how bad he was hurt at this point. The match was fine, but it was clearly more about the angle than the match, which is ok here.
Overall Rating: C-. This is a show where the individual matches don’t add up to the final grade. This is a lot more like a transition show than anything else, with most of what you see here just setting up stuff for later on. It set up Shawn vs. Austin which had to happen for the company to survive as well as Taker vs. Kane, but other than that there’s just not much here.
I really didn’t like this show all that much, but it was ok I suppose. There have been worse Rumbles, but not that many. Watch it if you haven’t seen it before I guess, but you likely won’t want to again.
Royal Rumble 1997
1997 was an interesting time in the WWF. They were getting killed by WCW in the ratings. Things just seemed very unorganized and inconsistent. Despite that you could see there was talent there and they had the potential to turn things around if they could get some direction.
Triple H vs. Goldust was a decent feud. It was strange seeing Goldust as the face. Just last year at the rumble he was probably the most hated guy in the WWF. I don’t really remember Goldust turning face. I guess it just gradually happened. This match was ok but they could have done better. In fact they did better at WrestleMania.
Ahmed vs. Faarooq was a long time coming. It felt a little old school as the feud carried on for months before a big one on one showdown. The only problem was it wasn’t planned that way. Various injuries kept putting this off killing the momentum of the feud. When the feud started I still believed Ahmed Johnson could be a star. By the time we got to the rumble I had given up on him.
Vader vs. Undertaker was a weird match for me. I’ve said many times in these forums how much I wanted Vader to come over from WCW. I was thrilled when he debut at the 1996 Royal Rumble. For years I wanted to see a big feud between Vader and the Undertaker. You would think I would be happy about this. You would be wrong. I was looking forward to a match between the two, but I was more looking forward to an epic feud. That did not happen. This was thrown together with no story. I thought this could have been a big time WrestleMania feud, but instead it was just a match without a feud. The match was fine, but the lack of story was very disappointing.
What was the point of the six man tag? Nobody cared and this was a complete waste of time.
At the time I didn’t really care for the rumble match. I thought the intervals were too short and the match was going too fast. It wasn’t as bad as 1995, but still too short. I also didn’t like a lot of the participants here. After reading the review I realize I was wrong and there was some decent star power here. I guess I automatically think of the negative. I think of the lucha libre stars that nobody cared about. I think of The Smoking Gunns and Jesse James who seem completely out of place in 1997; at least with those gimmicks. There’s a hand full of crap in every rumble and when you get past it here it’s actually a pretty good group of stars.
I didn’t really care for the Shawn vs. Sid feud. Actually it was the Sid title reign I didn’t care for. It seems like the only reason Sid won the title at the Survivor Series was so he could loose it right back to Shawn at the Rumble. I don’t like stuff like that. I’m ok with a transitional champion, but that’s when the title is going to someone new. The match was ok, but I couldn’t really get into it.
Overall this event isn’t bad, but there’s something about it I just don’t like. It must be because this was during a time where I didn’t have much access to wrestling and I felt a little lost watching it. This was a time of change for the WWF. The family friendly days were coming to an end and attitude was just starting. I think the WWF was just going through some growing pains here.
Royal Rumble 1998
Some may argue that the attitude era began when Steve Austin won the WWF title at WrestleMania XIV. I think it’s pretty clear that we were well into the attitude era already. I am not a big fan of that era, but I do think it was fun at the beginning. Going in a different direction was enough of a distraction for me to deal with the loss of the best there is the best there was and the best there ever will be. This show was ok, but it was clearly just filling the gap until mania.
Vader vs. Goldust was a nice little feud. I never liked the idea of Vader going face, but he clearly wasn’t being used the way he should have been so what’s the difference at this point? He was an awesome monster heel, but was never used properly. He had an unlikely face turn and the fans got way into him. As a result he was used even more poorly. At least he had a decent feud and went over here.
Every once in a while the WWF decides it’s a good idea to bring in a midget division. It’s never been a good idea. Did anyone care about these guys? Did we even know who was who? It’s not like these guys had any kind of future with the company so why bother bringing them in at all?
Ken Shamrock was a good rival for the Rock at the time. The attitude era fans seemed to like him a lot and the Rock drew some nice heat by screwing Kenny out of the title and causing him to snap. This was a creative finish to make the Rock even more hated.
I like the LOD vs. New Age Outlaws feud. LOD was an older team, but were still popular with the newer fans. The Outlaws represented the new guard that spit in the face of tradition. Even though the Outlaws came to represent a new generation they hadn’t become popular yet. You just wanted to see LOD kick their disrespectful cowardly asses. Even though I liked the idea of this feud the matches left something to be desired. The story was good but the action not so much. This was not the match I was expecting at this show. Before Chainsaw Charlie came around I thought it was going to be The Outlaws against Cactus Jack and Mankind. I don’t know how that would have worked, but can’t you just see WWF trying something like that?
This rumble match had to easily be the most predictable in rumble history. That’s saying a lot because I think a lot have been very predictable. Who could have won this besides Austin? I’d be curious to know if there was anyone who had another prediction.
I’m not sure what the point of Jarrett attacking Owen was. I don’t remember anything coming of that.
I like the look of the final four here. None except Austin were major stars yet, but I thought they all looked good together at the end. We had a glimpse at the future when it came down to Austin and Rock as the final two. I really think it should have been Rock vs. Faarooq at mania. It looked like they were going in that direction and I was disappointed that it didn’t happen. I didn’t think the rumble was too bad but it wasn’t too good either.
I agree 100% that it should have been Michaels vs. Owen for the title. This seems so obvious. I don’t need to go into an explanation about the storyline. We all know about that. Not only was this the big story, but it would have been an awesome match. These are two of the best in ring competitors of all time. They had a ppv match two years earlier that was good but not great. This time it would have been the main event and gotten more time. I’m sure they could have delivered a five star classic. I thought for sure this was going to happen and remember being very disappointed when it didn’t. Not only would this have made a great main event, but it would have allowed Taker to go into the rumble. Kane could have been in there too. This rumble needed something else and Taker and Kane would have been perfect. Kane had been dominating lower mid card guys for months. He could have entered the rumble around number ten and cleaned house. Eventually Taker would come in and we would get the first physical confrontation between the two. It wouldn’t last long. Just enough to wet our appetites for mania. This feud was big enough that they didn’t need to do the burning casket thing. Considering everything else that went down a short confrontation in the rumble would have been enough.
As for the actual match that took place, it was pretty good. These two always work well together. This is more remembered for the backdrop that injured Shawn. It’s a blessing in disguise that things went down the way they did. It’s well documented what Shawn was like during this time. I loved watching him in the ring, but he needed to go away for his own good. The time off is just what Shawn needed to turn his life around. The Shawn Michaels of the 90’s is a completely different person than the Shawn Michaels of today. I hate to say it but if Shawn wasn’t forced to walk away I’m not sure he would be alive today. I know that sounds overly dramatic but I think it’s a real possibility. Even though I wanted Shawn vs. Owen and at the time there’s no way I wanted Shawn to leave things worked out for the best. I truly believe this match saved Shawn’s life.
Overall this whole show was pretty much filler to get to mania. It’s significant for what happened to Shawn, but the rumble match is horribly predictable. This comes off as a good show because WrestleMania XIV was one of my most anticipated manias and we were now on the road.
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