*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
Royal Rumble 1995: The Era of Diesel Power Begins
January 22, 1995
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
Buy Rate: 1.0
1) Buck Quartermaine defeated the Brooklyn Brawler
Pay Per View
1) Jeff Jarrett defeats Razor Ramon to win WWF Intercontinental Title with a small package at 20:55
Fun Fact: The Roadie is Brian Armstrong, youngest son of “Bullet” Bob Armstrong. Brian began his wrestling career in late 1986 in NWA Southeast Championship Wrestling, but he put his wrestling career on hold in 1987 to enlist in the US Marine Corp, where he served three tours of duty and served in Desert Storm. After his service, he restarted his wrestling career in Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he donned a mask and debuted as “The Dark Secret”. Armstrong also wrestling in the USWA and WCW under his real name. He debuted as “The Roadie” on the 12/5/94 edition of Raw, costing the British Bulldog a match against his charge, Jeff Jarrett. Armstrong’s primary role during his first run in the WWF was accompanying Jarrett to the ring and interfering in his matches.
Fun Fact II: The feud between Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon had been simmering since the fall of 1994. The two were on opposing teams in the ‘94 Survivor Series and their rivalry continued into the holiday season, with Jarrett periodically interfering in Ramon matches. On the Christmas Eve Superstars episode, it was announced that Jarrett and Ramon would battle for the IC title at the Royal Rumble. On the January 21 episode of Superstars (taped on 12/14/94), Jarrett came to ringside during following a Ramon match. Ramon grabbed the mic to respond to Jarrett, but the Roadie, located in the control room, cut Ramon’s mic.
Scott: We open the first PPV of 1995 with a new feud brewing for the “Bad Guy”. Razor Ramon started last year also as IC Champion, then made history at WrestleMania against Shawn Michaels to confirm his status as champion. He lost the title to Diesel, then won it back at SummerSlam and starts this year as the titleholder. Jeff Jarrett had an ambiguous 1994, being in the King of the Ring tournament against the 1-2-3 Kid, then pretty much floated around with the rest of the heels protecting Owen Hart and Yokozuna. Now he gets his first high profile title shot since Razor’s 1994 opponents have moved on to bigger things. Jarrett now has his “Roadie” as the gimmick has refocused on him being in the WWF as nothing more than a stepping stone to a music career. The match is fun and standard, with Jarrett working Razor’s legs over to hit the figure four, while Razor does his usual power moves. Jarrett does borrow some of his old Memphis tactics by stalling and drinking water in between moves. The crowd is a little flat and the announcing has no real juice to it. It almost seems like Vince and Lawler are too subdued, and need some more energy. At one point Roadie clips Razor’s knee while the referee isn’t looking after he falls out of the ring. Razor can’t get back in and the match ends in a countout. I thought that was kind of a flat finish, but we aren’t finished. As Razor limps back to the locker room, Jarrett starts baiting Razor with typical heel tactics of calling Razor a coward and taking the easy way out. Well the Bad Guy won’t be called a coward so he gets back in the ring and the match is restarted. Jarrett goes all into the knee and even leaves the figure four on for a few minutes, mimicking Bob Backlund’s five minute chicken wing on Bret Hart back at Survivor Series. Razor fights out of it and continues to battle as hard as he can but the knee just can’t handle it and we have a new IC Champion. This is good for both guys, as Jarrett is due for a run as a champion, and sometimes Razor is better chasing than being the chased. The match was fun and the win was a shock. These two stay connected for the next six months. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Another new year and another edition of the Royal Rumble. A lot has changed since November, and we will cover off on that as we move along through the show. With the show emanating from Tampa and involving megastar Pam Anderson, there was a fun beach party feel surrounding it all. Also, the King is back in the booth alongside Vince McMahon for this one, bringing some balance back to commentary. Our opener features Razor Ramon defending his Intercontinental Title against the new top contender, Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett had been chasing the gold since the fall, and with the addition of his Roadie, was primed to finally be elevated up the card. Just adding that second to his corner made him feel a bit bigger overall, based on the usual roadie/star relationship. And Brian James was really good in the role, doing all the stuff a roadie would do, pouring every ounce of energy into protecting his man. 1994 was a big year for the Bad Guy as well. It was the year that he really transitioned from very good mid carder to a guy that felt like a main eventer. He was super over and, while he always carried himself like a top star, he was really presented as one by this point. Ramon came firing out of the gate with right hands and sent Jarrett flying to the floor after a fallaway slam and chokeslam. The Roadie did all the little things so well immediately, always tending to Double J at the slightest bit of trouble. When he returned to the ring, Jarrett regained some confidence, landing a few moves and starting to strut a bit. That was short lived as Razor violently clotheslined Jarrett back to the floor to a big pop. After the reset, Razor kept pouring on the heat, really landing his offense with crispness, rattling the challenger with each blow. Jarrett came back with a flurry of dropkicks and started to work the upper back a bit, fighting through Ramon comebacks and working a chinlock in to slow the champ down. Razor would land a shot here and there, but Jarrett stayed aggressive, which I liked. He never slowed down or sat back, really showing urgency in knowing this may be his one shot at the title.
In another great touch, Jarrett also kept going for pin covers, trying whenever he could to put he match away. Ramon held strong and eventually tripped Jarrett up and crotched him before drilling him with a flying clothesline. As he looked to put away the challenger, Jarrett dodged a charged and sent Ramon flying over the top and to the floor. As Ramon go tot his feet, it was clear he hurt his knee and while he hobbled to shake it off, Roadie flew in and clipped him from behind. As Ramon writhed in the aisle, the referee hit ten and called for the bell to give Jarrett the countout win. However, like a good heel, Jarrett wasn’t done. Instead of accepting his fate, he goaded Ramon back into the ring, preying on his machismo. Razor went against better judgment and allowed the referee to restart the match. Again, Jarrett’s aggression paid off. Ramon valiantly tried to hang in, but Jarrett began to really pick apart the knee, taking his time and making each shot count before hooking in the figure four. The crowd rallied hard behind the Bad Guy and after a lengthy stay in the hold, Razor finally broke free with a pair of right hands. Vince was really good here too, wondering if and when the referee may decide to step in and call the match. Ramon kept slugging away, limping the whole time. He would hoist Jarrett to the top rope and spike him to the mat with a back suplex. The champ would hoist Jarrett up for the Razor’s Edge, but before he could drop him, his knee buckled and he collapsed. Jarrett pounced, tucked Ramon into a small package and won the title. That was a great finish to a really good match. I loved the psychology here throughout, with Jarrett staying aggressive and using his advantage in the Roadie to land a lethal blow. Then he stay on point, baited Ramon back into the match and used the injured knee as a path to victory. Really fun stuff and a strong to start to Jarrett’s reign. Grade: ***
2) Undertaker defeats IRS with a chokeslam at 12:19
Fun Fact I: The Druids here are portrayed by Jimmy Del Ray and one of the Blu Twins.
Fun Fact II: This would be IRS’ final PPV match. He would stick around through July, with a Qualifying Match on the King of the Ring pre-show in which he lost to Savio Vega, as well as an appearance as a lumberjack in the WWF title match at In Your House 2. He returned to WCW in September, reprising his role of Michael Wallstreet and appearing on the first Monday Nitro. He would also go under the names of V.K. Wallstreet and Mister Wallstreet. He would join the NWO in late 1996, but was kicked out by JJ Dillon for having an invalid NWO contract. In 1999, he reformed the Varsity Club with Kevin Sullivan, but due to nagging injuries to Rotunda, it would be short-lived and would not reach the success that the group had in the early 1990s. Rotunda would return to the WWE in 2006 as a road agent, and would reprise his role as IRS for several segments over the years, the most memorable being the winner of the 15 legend battle royal at RAW’s 15th anniversary show, only to be paid off by Ted DiBiase to eliminate himself and give DiBiase the win, and the September 7, 2009 RAW where he appeared as a contestant on The Price is Right, hosted by Bob Barker, the guest host of RAW that night. His final PPV record is 5-11, going 0-4 at the Rumble, 1-1 at WrestleMania, 1-2 at KOTR, 3-1 at SummerSlam, and 0-3 at Survivor Series.
Fun Fact III: At the Survivor Series 94 match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna, IRS attacked The Undertaker, starting the feud between the two. To taunt the Undertaker, IRS appeared in a series of vignettes where he repossessed tombstones and burial plots from people that had not paid their taxes before dying. Leading up to the Royal Rumble, hooded druids would escort IRS to the ring and would interfere in the matches.
Scott: We now begin easily the worst year creatively for the Undertaker. Starting at the Survivor Series when he vanquished Yokozuna in the casket match, the Deadman is almost hitting his own glass ceiling. With the main event and IC feuds covered, the Deadman has to tackle Ted DiBiase’s Corporation. The problem overall is that the faction is full of mediocre characters and has-beens. IRS has been an all-time great worker but after five years with the company he’s a little stale. Now in a bubble this can be a great match with two really good workers. Taker still worked that very stiff, methodic style so it’s slow at times and once the entrance is finished the crowd is pretty quiet. Lawler does have some nice barbs to Vince which breaks up what seems like monotonous commentary. Vince had a great 1994 as PBP guy, but so far tonight he’s back to his boring vanilla style. It’s cool to see Money Inc. back together of sorts but so far neither announcer has acknowledged them as former tag team champions. About halfway through the match DiBiase brings out his own set of druids in an attempt to rattle the Deadman. The match is almost going too slowly at this point to focus too much on the outside stuff. I don’t know who the ring crew was that night, but the ring seems very loose, like something is unscrewed under the ring. Taker eventually vanquishes IRS with a Tombstone but then the druids and then King Kong Bundy comes out to help beat Taker down and continue the feud. The Deadman can’t shake this muck off for a while, but he does take one member out here. Grade: **
Justin: On paper, this is a weird one. Mainly because it seems like such a mismatch. IRS attacked Undertaker at Survivor Series as Ted DiBiase continues to look to eradicate the Deadman. Taker wants to put IRS down and move on from this battle with the Corporation. There was a nice thread woven in here with the “Death and Taxes” stuff, I will give them that. Taker’s entrance was eery as usual, and the crowd ate it all up. IRS ducked and dodged early, using his speed advantage to avoid the Deadman’s heavy blows. As IRS regrouped on the floor, Lawler wondered why he didn’t have the druids out there backing him up. IRS tried to land a couple of punches, but Taker shrugged him off and landed a big boot and took over from there. He even used Irwin’s tie to whip him across the ring, something we didn’t see nearly enough. After avoiding a near collision, IRS has his back to Taker and got clotheslined hard to the floor as a result. As he regrouped, DiBiase brought out the druids for assistance, greatly pleasing Irwin. The move would pay dividends immediately, as one of them shook the ropes, causing Taker to fall to the mat from the perch he ascended to. Taker would go out and attack them, but that gave Irwin the opening to catch him from behind with an axehandle. He went to work from there, exhausting his basic catalogue of offense. That would end after a mid ring collision, leading to Taker coming back fighting off the druids and IRS, but after a failed Tombstone attempt, IRS hit his flying clothesline. Taker came back again, hitting a chokeslam for the win. As Taker celebrated in the ring, the druids pounced on him and landed some shots. As Taker fought them off, King Kong Bundy arrived and went toe to toe with the Deadman. As Bundy laid a stiff beating down, IRS knocked down Paul Bearer and stole the urn before taking off to the back. There wasn’t much here at all, but they worked hard and tossed enough shenanigans out there to keep it energetic and interesting. It wasn’t nearly as bland as you may fear given who was involved. IRS may have bene put down, but it is clear that Taker’s feud with DiBiase is far from over. Grade: *1/2
3) Bret Hart and Diesel wrestle to a no-contest at 27:18; Diesel retains WWF World Title
Fun Fact: Three days after winning the world title, Bob Backlund was scheduled to face Bret Hart in a rematch at the November 26, 1994 house show at Madison Square Garden. At the event, Howard Finkel announced to the crowd that Bret Hart was not there and that Diesel would be facing Backlund in a non-title match. An official came to ringside and corrected Finkel that the match would be for the title, causing Backlund to protest the match. Later in the evening, Big Daddy Cool defeated Backlund in a nine second match to win the World Title in a shocking turn of events.
Fun Fact II: Diesel becomes the first wrestler to win all three major WWF Titles within a calendar year.
Scott: The Hitman has cashed in his rematch from losing to Bob Backlund at Survivor Series, but he’s not facing Backlund. Just four days after winning the title, Backlund lays down for Big Daddy Cool at Madison Square Garden. So the guy who a year earlier was about to be fired, is now at the top of the WWF mountain. His first title defense is right here against the former champion. Back in June they had a pretty solid match at King of the Ring, and Diesel has now become a babyface so the dynamic of the match is very different, which makes it very intriguing. Both men go at it with big time intensity so at first it seemed like Diesel was going to wrestle the same kind of match, and not soften up because he’s a babyface. Bret did the right thing and started working the big guy’s legs and keeping him grounded on the mat while Diesel focused on power moves and strikes. Both guys worked to their strengths and for the first several minutes really put on a great World Title match…until the run-ins happen. First Shawn Michaels comes out and beats down his former bodyguard, as that feud has really heated up since their official breakup at Survivor Series. It would have been a terrible ending but the referee decides to keep the match going. So they go at it again and the crowd really starts to get going, and they even start booing Bret when he continues to work Diesel’s knee over. All of a sudden out comes Owen Hart to beat down on Bret. Officially we thought this feud was over when Bret beat Owen in a title match in September on TV. Then Owen helped Backlund win at Survivor Series, but after that it seemed the feud cooled. But he comes in to beat Bret down and then he leaves the ring. That would have been another terrible ending, but for the second time the referee keeps the match going. They battle for a few more minutes and then the floodgates opened and for the second year in a row a gaggle of heels come in to ruin a World Title match. Last year it was Undertaker being shoved in a casket. This time Michaels, Owen, Jeff Jarrett (why?) and Bob Backlund come in to continue the beatdowns. Finally the referee had enough and called the match a draw. THAT is as awful an ending as the previous two would have been. They didn’t want either guy to lay down to the other, so the only way to book itself out of it is have a car crash ending where nobody wins or loses. It stinks but I guess there’s no other way to do it. The match was trying to be really good and at times it was but otherwise the run-ins ruined the flow and the ending is crap. Diesel stays champion and really still looks credible while Bret won’t sniff a title shot for a while and like Undertaker will have to pick scraps when he can. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Well, I told you a lot had changed. After Bob Backlund’s fantastic title win at Survivor Series, I thought we were in a for a fun heel title reign. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Looking for his next company ace, Vince McMahon decided to pull the trigger on the red hot Diesel and give him the gold in an MSG shocker. It was an interesting decision that came with high risk and the potential for high reward. Was Diesel ready? We will see. If he was, there is a good chance for a big time payoff. Diesel had a great vibe about him here still. He had a cool swagger that you couldn’t teach and the crowds were still hot for him for sure. Here, his first PPV title defense is against the former champion, the man that was hosed back in San Antonio, Bret Hart. This was a real test for Diesel and of course is a rematch from their fun King of the Ring tussle. There was definitely a feeling heading in here that Hart could quickly regain the gold from Diesel, just because he was such an unknown to so many, but just based on the way he squashed Backlund, it should have been obvious that they envisioned a long reign for him. Before the match, Diesel sauntered over to football great Lawrence Taylor to give a quick handshake and hug. I like that touch, makes Diesel seem like a big deal and a well known star. Even the champ’s handshakes were cool, as him and Hart dap fists before the bell. Hart was real feisty early on, refusing to break in the ropes and even shoving Diesel a bit, maybe trying to show that the size wouldn’t matter and that he was there for a fight. The champ would send Hart to floor twice, but Bret stayed out there the second time, tripped up Diesel and wrapped his knee around the ring post. As Bret went to town on the knee, Vince talked about how Bret had amped up his aggression, leading some to wonder if he had changed since his title loss. Bret would hook a figure four, using it as a weardown hold, which is a unique touch. Diesel would break it, but Bret went right back to it, sticking to his strategy. The champ again forced a break with the ropes, but Bret pushed the envelope before releasing. He would angrily stomp Diesel’s knee, driving him to the floor and following with a dive. Angry, aggressive Bret is a lot of fun.
That aggression backfired, though, as Diesel reversed a whip and sent the Hitman careening into the steps. Diesel’s power took over from there, as he levied big elbows to the face, followed by a rattling sidewalk slam for a near fall. He started to work the back, prepping Hart for the Jackknife, but also attempting covers along the way. Hart peppered blows in where he could, but Diesel eventually hoisted him up into an old school hanging backbreaker. Hart wriggled free but ate a big boot on a charge. He would get flung to the floor, but as Hart regrouped, he unwrapped his wrist tape. As he baited Diesel over his way, he reached in and tripped up the champ, tying his legs together around the post with the tape. Hart would viciously lay some blows in until the referee freed Diesel. A Hart kept up the aggression, Lawler made a good point, stating if Hart could win the gold, then the Hitman would feel like his change in attitude was worth it. He would run through his usual offense, but definitely hit each move with extra juice behind it. Momentum sung again when Diesel got sent outside, but caught a leaping Hitman and ran him into the post. Back inside, Diesel hit the Jackknife, but just before the referee counted to three, Shawn Michaels slid into the ring and broke up the pin. He would viciously stomp his old bodyguard’s knee before being forced out by officials. Instead of calling for a DQ, Earl Hebner decided the match deserved to continue, to the delight of the fans. Hart would recover first and went back at the knee that Michaels had further damaged for him, eventually going back to the figure four. Diesel would battle back by attacking the lower back again, even busting out a gutwrench suplex. I am really digging the focus and psychology here, with both men going at the injured body part to swing the tide whenever they get deep into trouble. And that is what Hart did when he again rattled Diesel’s leg against the post before bashing it with a chair. The crowd turned on the Hitman a bit for that one. But it didn’t matter, as back inside he locked the Sharpshooter in and seemed set to regain his gold. However, before Diesel could tap, Owen Hart showed up and broke the hold. He removed the turnbuckle pad and sent Bret crashing into it chest first. Again, Hebner kept the match alive. After they both got to their feet, the two would trade offense against the other’s weakened appendage. Diesel finally stepped up to match Bret’s anger as he laid in some really stiff forearm shivers to the face before grabbing a chair and stalking the Hitman, who was able to avoid the attack. Back inside, Hart played possum, faking a knee injury long enough to roll the champ up for a near fall. After a ref bump, all hell broke loose as Michaels, Owen, Bob Backlund, Jeff Jarrett and Roadie all showed up jumped the competitors. Hebner finally had enough and called for the bell, leaving us with a draw. And it is hard to blame the booking here as Diesel needed to keep the gold and Hart couldn’t take another big match loss.
I really enjoyed this match. The psychology was on point by both men and I loved Hart’s change in attitude and aggressive offense style, not wasting any movement at all. It also helped ensure the crowd would stick behind Diesel as well. And speaking of Diesel, his reign is off to a very good start, with a great match and showing here. He feels like a star and is being presented as such and now he hung with the Hitman for the second time in eight months. This definitely came off as a war between two equals, neither of whom could gain that ultimate advantage. Great stuff here, despite the shaky finish. Grade: ****
4) Bob Holly & 1-2-3 Kid defeat Tatanka & Bam Bam Bigelow to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Kid pins Bigelow after Tatanka collided with him at 15:43
Fun Fact I: Here are the Tag Title Tournament results: Firstst Round: Bigelow & Tatanka over Men on a Mission, Headshrinkers over Jim Neidhart & Owen Hart, Heavenly Bodies over Bushwhackers, Kid & Holly over Well Dunn; Second Round: Bigelow & Tatanka over Headshrinkers, Kid & Holly over the Bodies. Kid and Holly were replacing the injured Smoking Gunns.
Fun Fact II: 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly would lose the titles the next night on Monday Night Raw to the Smoking Gunns, who missed the tournament due to injury to Bart.
Fun Fact III: This was the second January in a row that the Kid won a Tag Title in an upset and lost it right back. In January 1994, he and Marty Jannetty won the straps from the Quebecers, but lost them right back the next week. Also, this was Holly’s first title and first PPV appearance since the 1994 Royal Rumble, where he debuted.
Fun Fact IV: This tournament occurred because Shawn Michaels tossed his half of the Tag Titles in the trash and officially vacated them at Survivor Series.
Fun Fact V: Thurman “Sparky” Plugg has been rechristened Bob “Spark Plug” Holly since we last saw him on PPV.
Scott: Our final undercard match pits more of Ted DiBiase’s Corporation against a couple of upstarts in the tag division. If the company wanted to legitimize the Corporation as a force on TV, then Bigelow and Tatanka should have won this match. It makes perfect sense, because since Survivor Series nothing has really happened of consequence. Earlier tonight IRS was a sacrificial lamb of the Undertaker, so you figure that they need a little boost and start getting hot as a heel faction leading into WrestleMania. The match was pretty standard with the heels dictating the tempo. I chuckle whenever Vince says that Holly needs to stay healthy because racing season starts soon. Another reason I wanted the heels to win was because Tatanka was due for a title just like Jarrett was earlier in the show. I would have thought Razor and Tatanka would have had a great feud and that Tatanka could have been one of the faces of the faction if he had been a champion in some way. The ending is terrible, as Tatanka accidentally shook the corner and Bigelow fell to the mat. He and Kid were not moving for what seemed like an hour, until Kid rolled over SOOO SLOWWWWLY and got the three count. I was pretty stunned at that one when I first watched it, and again the Corporation looked like chumps. Now to continue the storyline, DiBiase and Tatanka leave Bigelow in the ring (even though it was Tatanka’s fault, good heel work). Bigelow leaves the ring disgusted and at ringside is retired NFL legend Lawrence Taylor. He’s heckling Bigelow for losing to the underdogs. Bigelow then shoves LT to the ground and walks away. That was pretty shocking. LT is not happy, but this story is just beginning. The match is blah, but the post-match story is more important. Grade: **
Justin: When Shawn Michaels tossed his half of the tag team strap in a San Antonio trash can, the championships were forfeited and rendered vacant. They remained that way until this match, which is the finals of a tournament to crown new champs. The Smoking Gunns were pegged as the early favorites but due to an injury to Bart, they were kept out of the tournament. However, they were healed up by this point and were slated to take on the new titleholders the next night on Raw. But, let’s start with this bout. On one side of the ring are Ted DiBiase’s charges, Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow. They were easily the heavy favorites over the upstart Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid, who were actually subbed in when the Gunns went down. It was a unique team and reminiscent of Kid’s team with Marty Jannetty a year ago. In a nice touch in the prematch promo, Kid and Holly compare themselves to the San Diego Chargers, who had upset the Pittsburgh Steelers and were headed to Super Bowl a week after this show. Of course, they ended up getting massacred by the 49ers, but it was a cool comparison nonetheless. Tatanka took control of Holly right off the bell, using the size advantage that had been so talked about leading into this one. Holly and Kid would double team a bit, with Kid even popping up to block a Bigelow powerbomb and taking the big man over with a Frankensteiner. Bigelow quickly recovered and lair the Kid out, swinging momentum back to the favorites. Tatanka kept the pressure on and for the first time I felt like Tatanka really had some nice heel swagger going. I would assume teaming with Bigelow and being positioned as power favorites would trigger that, but it was nice to see. Bigelow would tag back in but make a mistake by missing a charge and was sent careening to the floor. Some more double teaming would put Holly on offense against the Native American. That was short lived, though, as Bigelow hooked the top rope as Holly was whipped in, causing Sparky to tumble hard to the floor.
The heat segment built, with Bigelow and Tatanka leaning heavily on Holly, not giving him much room to breathe. But, miscommunication bit them as Tatanka came off the top and cracked Bigelow with a chop when Holly dove away. They lucked out though as Kid was down the apron yelling instead of being in his corner, preventing Holly from tagging out. Lawler was on point, calling out how inexperience burnt them on that occasion. Holly was basically out on his feet as he crawled and stumbled around the ring, eating right hands from both opponents. He tried to fire back and came close once, but Tatanka cut him short and pasted him with a chop across the chest. Kid would finally get the hot tag and took the air to rattle both Bigelow and Tatanka, picking up a near fall on Bammer with a high cross body. Bigelow bounded up and sent Kid crashing outside with a military press slam and at this point it definitely seemed like the end of the road for the underdogs. And them, a miracle happened. Bigelow climbed the top tope for the moonsault, but Tatanka didn’t see him and ht the ropes. However, when he bounced off, Bigelow lost his balance and crashed to the mat and was knocked unconscious. Holly knocked Tatanka to the floor and Kid crawled over to steal the upset win. DiBiase couldn’t believe it and flipped out at ringside as the underdog champs celebrated to the cheers of the crowd. That was a really cool moment and a well booked story and match. Holly and Kid had a jobber type comeback that was smartly orchestrated to make it seem like the match was done, right before disaster struck for the Corporation. That was a great payoff to the tournament as a whole and set up a cool match for the next night on Raw. The Corporation comes up short and we have unlikely tag team champions. Grade: ***1/2
*** After the bout, a wobbly Bam Bam Bigelow recovers and then heads to the floor where he gets into it with some rowdy fans at ringside. As he stalks around the ring, he notices Lawrence Taylor laughing in his seat. Bigelow starts jawing at him and when LT gets up to offer a handshake, Bigelow shoves him hard to the floor in anger. LT popped up and wanted to brawl, but his crew and officials held him back. The crowd chanted “LT” as Bigelow stormed off and order was restored. Vince McMahon would later apologize to viewers and LT for what occurred. ***
5) Shawn Michaels wins the Royal Rumble
Order of Entry, and who eliminated them
1) Shawn Michaels: Winner
2) British Bulldog: Shawn Michaels
3) Eli Blu: Sionne
4) Duke Droese: Shawn Michaels
5) Jimmy Del Ray: Shawn Michaels
6) Sionne: Jacob Blu
7) Tom Pritchard: Shawn Michaels
8) Doink: Kwang
9) Kwang: Sionne
10) Rick Martel: Sionne
11) Owen Hart: British Bulldog
12) Timothy Well: British Bulldog
13) Luke: Shawn Michaels
14) Jacob Blu: Shawn Michaels
15) King Kong Bundy: Mabel
16) Mo: King Kong Bundy
17) Mabel: Lex Luger
18) Butch: Shawn Michaels
19) Lex Luger: Shawn Michaels & Crush
20) Mantaur: Shawn Michaels
21) Aldo Montoya: Shawn Michaels
22) Henry Godwinn: Lex Luger
23) Billy Gunn: Dick Murdoch & Crush
24) Bart Gunn: Dick Murdoch & Crush
25) Bob Backlund: Lex Luger
26) Steven Dunn: Aldo Montoya
27) Dick Murdoch: Henry Godwinn
28) Adam Bomb: Crush
29) Fatu: Crush
30) Crush: British Bulldog
Longest Competitor: Shawn Michaels & British Bulldog: 38:51
Shortest Competitor: Mo :03
Most Thrown Out: Shawn Michaels: 9
Fun Fact I: Shawn Michaels was the first wrestler to go from number one to win the match. Michaels also set the record up to that point for most wrestlers thrown out with nine. It is a rare time that the first two wrestlers in were the last two left at the end.
Fun Fact II: A few debuts to note in the Rumble. First we have Mike Droese, otherwise known as Duke “the Dumpster.” He broke into the business in Florida while attending the University of Miami. He was mildly famous for being ranked 500 in the PWI 500 when he wrestled as the Garbage Man on the Indy circuit. The Blu Brothers are better known as the Harris Brothers, who started in the Portland area and moved on to both Smoky Mountain and WCW before coming to the WWF at the start of the year. The tag team of Well Dunn, comprised of Timothy Well and Stephen Dunn, started in the WWC before coming to Stamford. They were also known as Rex King and Steve Doll. Mantaur is Mike Hallick and after his brief run here, he would head to ECW. Even though we all know who the all time great Dick Murdoch is, this is actually his WWF PPV debut. He last appeared in the WWF in 1984, when he was half of the Tag Team Champions with the late Adrian Adonis. He also was one half of a great heel team in the AWA in the early 70s known as the Outlaws. His tag team partner was a very young Dusty Rhodes. We also see the debut of Aldo Montoya, dubbed the “Portuguese Man of War.” Montoya was perennial jobber P.J. Walker repackaged as a…well we aren’t sure, but he wore yellow and had a jock strap on his head. Walker was best known for upsetting IRS on an episode of Raw in the fall of 1993. Finally, we have the first appearance of the pissed off hog farmer Henry O. Godwinn. Godwinn was formerly Shanghai Pierce in WCW, where he formed a team with Tex Slazenger.
Fun Fact III: Sadly, this is Doink’s final PPV appearance. His record is 2-5. He was 0-2 in Royal Rumbles, 1-1 at Wrestlemania, 0-1 at SummerSlam and 1-1 at Survivor Series.
Fun Fact IV: This is also Rick Martel’s final PPV appearance. His final WWF appearance was exactly eleven days later at a house show in Montreal when he clotheslined Shawn Michaels out of the ring following an altercation. He would wrestle on the Indy circuit and formed a team with Don Callis, calling themselves “The Super Models.” The two were in talks with the WWF about a possible run, but it never panned out. Martel would resurface in WCW in 1998 and had a mildly successful run, even winning the TV title from Booker T on an episode of Nitro in February, only to lose it back to Booker six days later at SuperBrawl VIII. Martel would then suffer a back injury, and would be sidelined for five months. When he returned to the ring, he suffered a neck injury, and ended up retiring from wrestling. Martel is now involved in real estate in Canada. He made an appearance at the Night of Champions PPV in 2007, being showcased with Tony Garea as former Tag Team Champions, and got physically involved by saving Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy Snuka from an altercation with Deuce and Domino. His all-time PPV record is 5-15-1. He went 0-7 at the Royal Rumble (appearing in every one from 1989-1995!), 2-4 at WrestleMania, 1-0-1 at SummerSlam, and 2-4 at the Survivor Series.
Fun Fact V: This is also the final PPV appearance for Headshrinker Sionne, aka The Barbarian. His final WWF appearance came on an European tour in June shortly before the King of the Ring. He would return to WCW before the end of the year, reuniting with former POP partner The Warlord under masks as the short-lived tag team, “The Super Assassins.” He would then reunite with Meng as the Faces of Fear, teaming together frequently for the remainder of the decade. Barbarian would be released in late 1999 as a cost cutting measure, but would be rehired in mid-2000. Barbarian is also credited for being the final WCW Hardcore Champion when the title was given to him by Meng on the final episode of WCW Thunder. Barbarian held the title until WCW was purchased by the WWF. Barbarian still wrestles in the indy circuit to this day. His final PPV record is 5-8.
Fun Fact VI: This is Crush’s final WWF PPV appearance until late 1996. Shortly after this show, he was arrested in Hawaii for possession of an illegal hand gun and the purchase of steroids. He was fired and jailed.
Fun Fact VII: For this match, Baywatch star Pamela Anderson was seated at ringside. It was announced that she would accompany the winner of the Royal Rumble to the ring at WrestleMania XI.
Fun Fact VIII: This is the first Royal Rumble where the rule that “both feet must touch the floor” comes into play. It is also the only Rumble in history to feature one minute intervals between entrants.
Scott: So who will face Diesel at WrestleMania in Hartford? When you look at the roster of guys for this match, there aren’t many legitimate options. Two of those options start the match with the first two slots. I think it was evident that Shawn Michaels was going to win this thing, considering Diesel was the Champion at the moment and their feud was just getting going. Bulldog could be a legitimate option as well, but maybe not a face/face match for the title at WrestleMania. This year they shortened the time between guys to 60 seconds, which means this is going to be a very quick match. After the first two we get some real dogs in here like Eli Blu (one of many incarnations for the Harris Brothers), Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, and both Heavenly Bodies. It’s becoming clear early on that Shawn is the favorite as his “almost” eliminations are highlighted by the cameras and the announcers. When Kwang comes in Vince has this serious “Oh it’s Kwang” voice, which makes me laugh out loud. Rick Martel, who we haven’t seen on PPV in ages, comes into the match, presumably to eat up time as he was the Federation Era’s stalwart in Rumble matches, based on length of time. We get what I think is an awesome moment, as Owen Hart is coming to the ring for the Rumble he’s attacked from behind by his brother Bret, retribution for what happened during the WWF Title match earlier in the evening. It’s not like Bret to be that way but it was pretty cool. Bushwhacker Luke is in, as I forgot they were still with the company.
Eventually it’s back to just Bulldog and Michaels for a few moments, until the other Harr-I mean Blu brother Jacob comes in. It’s pretty evident as this Rumble is going on that the roster is pretty thin. Tag team guys and laughable mid-card characters dominate the slots so far. King Kong Bundy comes in, trying to get his second World Title shot in nine years. Bulldog eliminates Owen, who may have been a legitimate option here. Mabel comes in and we get a poor attempt at remaking Warrior/Hogan in 1990 when Mabel and Bundy are in the ring together. Lex Luger comes in but that rose has literally no bloom left. I don’t think anyone thought Luger/Diesel could be a viable WrestleMania main event. Although if Luger turned heel? Perhaps, but he realistically had as much chance as the next guy that came in: Mantaur. This roster is clearly terrible but hey what did Vince have to work with? The main cog of this match is Pamela Anderson at ringside. She will be escorting the winner of this match to the ring at WrestleMania. Bob Backlund (another possible favorite) comes to the ring but again out comes Bret Hart to attack him. I liked this Bret because it was unlike him to interfere and get in anybody’s way, even heels. The stunned Backlund is eliminated by Luger’s forearm. Bret attacks Backlund again after the elimination, clearly leading to what both will be doing April 2 in Hartford. Dick Murdoch? I’ll leave it at that. Vince did acknowledge that Murdoch and Adrian Adonis were former WWF Tag Team Champions. Adam Bomb got a decent pop when heading to the ring but he was not a guy you’d see main eventing WrestleMania. That’s what made this Rumble so weak: Probably 22 or 23 guys were easily not going to win this, whereas most years it’s maybe 16 or 17. And there’s usually some tweeners that could go either way. This year it’s either definitely or definitely not. Pamela Anderson would point to the ring every time the camera would be on her. It was cold in the Sun Dome, just look at Pamela. Crush wraps up the 30 guys in this Rumble, and now that I think about it if the WWF’s idea was NOT having the World Title match last then perhaps there were more options since it didn’t really need to carry the show. Having said that there were probably four legit options when all guys had entered: Michaels, Bulldog, Luger and Crush. Depending if the bookers wanted to have a face/face WWF Title match that wasn’t going to carry WrestleMania, then maybe a Luger/Diesel match would be possible. But honestly as I keep talking about other options it was probably going to be Shawn Michaels winning this. Alas the four guys I mentioned were the last four in the match. Luger is eliminated, and then it looks like maybe Bulldog could win as Shawn and Crush double team him. Then Crush turned on Shawn and almost eliminated him and the crowd was actually going crazy. Shawn avoids it, then ducks a Bulldog clothesline and he eliminates Crush. So we are back to square one. Bulldog works over Michaels and then eliminates him. Bulldog’s music plays and the crowd goes nuts. Then…Shawn Michaels comes back into the ring and throws Bulldog over the top rope. So what happened? Well apparently Bulldog did clothesline Michaels over the top rope but Shawn’s second foot NEVER hit the floor. So Shawn Michaels goes wire to wire, the first time in WWF history, and will face former bodyguard Diesel at Wrestlemania. Pamela Anderson gets in the ring as Michaels celebrates. Overall it was a fast-paced but ho-hum Rumble with so many guys that clearly weren’t going to win. Grade: *1/2
Justin: So, as of now, we know Diesel is headed to Hartford with the WWF Title around his waist. And it is time to determine who his opponent will be. There were a couple of potential favorites in the field, but as we will see, it is’t the strongest crowd in Rumble history. To help compensate for the soft roster, the periods between entrants were whittled down to just one minute, and the concept of this being the fastest Rumble in history was pushed heavily. To this fan, it was a bit of a disappointment and I knew it would mess up the record books a bit as well. Before the bout kicked off, Pamela Anderson sauntered down to the ring, poured into a skin tight dress and welcomed by catcalls from the horny Tampa fans. Once she settled in, Shawn Michaels strutted out to the ring, having drawn #1. Across the ring at #2 was one of the other heavier favorites in the field, Davey Boy Smith. Smith is making his first Rumble appearance since 1992, where he was the first entrant to the ring. Neither man gained much of an advantage and before we knew it, Eli Blu showed up to silence at #3. The Blu Brothers had a pretty good look and solid enough gimmick to make you think they had a shot to be successful here. Bulldog and Michaels teamed up and worked over Eli as Duke Droese entered at #4. Droese had debuted early in 1994 but this is first PPV outing. He was most infamous for having been #500 in the PWI 500 a couple of years earlier. He went to work on Michaels, hooking in a bear hug, as Eli stomped on Davey Boy. Heavenly Body Jimmy Del Ray charged to the ring at #5 and Headshrinker Sionne was #6. As everyone paired off, Michaels tossed out Del Ray to pick up the first elimination. And as Del Ray left, his partner Dr. Tom Prichard ran out at #7. Sionne would hoist Michaels up but Shawn went to the eyes and saved himself from being press slammed out. The quick intervals do indeed keep this thing humming along. Doink and Dink danced to the ring at #8 as the clown duo are making their final PPV appearance. It has been quite the run for the Doinkster since his debut in late 1992. He has had some great times and some really frustrating times, and there is an obvious, clear delineation of the two. Either way, I guess he will be missed. Not Dink, though. The bodies continued to fill up at a crisp pace as Kwang jobbed out at #9. And man, is this a soft field and there is really nothing of note going on just yet, with everyone pairing off and battling near the ropes. And the first third ends with Rick Martel showing up at #10. Vince notes that this is Martel’s seventh Rumble, which is a neat fact. He also has some new tights on as they are a rose color, offset by purple kneepads.
And our first big name since Bulldog enters at #11 when Owen Hart arrogantly struts out. However, before he can even get to the ring, his brother Bret jumped him in the aisle and beat the snot out of him as revenge for earlier. Owen would eventually make it to the ring but was immediately eliminated by Bulldog. That is sad. This match needs as much star power as it can get. I know they wanted to work the story with Bret, but he could have just come out later and cost him. Owen was needed here more than anything else. As he was chucked, newcomer Timothy Well entered at #12. And as Well showed up, the Dumpster was chucked out by Michaels. Well is one half of Well Dunn, a new team under the tutelage of Harvey Wippleman. And with that bodies started flying as Well, Martel and Prichard all went out in immediate succession. Doink followed right after, courtesy a Kwang kick to the face. That was much needed as the ring was really filling up. Bushwhacker Luke marched out at #13 as Sionne and Eli tumbled to the floor. Michaels made quick work of Luke, leaving he and Bulldog as the only two remaining. Luke at least lasted a nit longer here than he did back in 1991, but not by much. Shawn worked Bulldog over, but ate a vertical suplex as Jacob Blue ran out at #14. Jacob would mow Michaels down with a clothesline but missed a charge when Shawn ducked and dumped him out. Bulldog hoisted Michaels up and had him teetering when King Kong Bundy waddled out to bring us halfway home at #15. Mo came out at #16 but was immediately tossed by Bundy, apparently setting a new elimination record at right around one second. Lawler loved that one. Mo had returned from injury in December, bringing Mabel’s solo run to a close for now. And speaking of Mabel, he powerwalked to the ring at #17 and immediately had a big shoving match with Bundy that got the crowd all fired up. Mabel was able to shove Bundy out as Bushwhacker Butch entered at #18. And that was a bit surprising as Bundy was seemingly set for some big things judging by his appearance earlier. Another odd decision. Michaels chucked Butch as Lex Luger bolted to the ring at #19 and showed off his power by dumping Mabel. At this point our three biggest favorites were left alone as based on the remaining entrants, you had to assume one of these three were most likely to win. The crowd was pretty into Luger here, which was good to see. Newcomer Mantaur showed up at #20 and he had a rather interesting look. Half man, half moose. All fun.
Another new face, Aldo Montoya, came out at #21. Aldo was former jobber PJ Walker with an interesting getup on. At least they were churning the roster a bit? I don’t know. And that churn continued to show itself as #22 was Henry Godwinn, a pissed off hog farmer. This Rumble may feature the highest number of debuts since the early editions. Godwinn was once known as Shanghai Pierce in WCW and was a solid enough pickup for the mid card. Billy Gunn entered at #23 and Bart followed at #24, showing that they were now healthy and ready for their big tag title match the next night. The ring was starting to fill back up for the final push as we started to reach the home stretch. At #25, former WWF Champion Bob Backlund confidently headed out, however just like earlier, Bret Hart showed up and beat the snot out of his rival as receipt for the attack earlier. And Baclund met the same fate as Owen, getting immediately clotheslined to the floor as soon as he entered. And as that happened, Steven Dunn showed up at #26 just like his buddy Well entered as Owen was chucked before. That is some…well done symmetry. And it was also pretty stupid yet again, as this match was starved for star power. The legendary Dick Murdoch got a token slot at #27 and Vince praises him for his legacy, reminding us he was once WWF Tag Team Champion alongside the late Adrian Adonis. Adam Bomb entered at #28, late again like last year. We will see if his run is equally as disappointing as that was. Godwinn almost was able to pitch out Michaels as Fatu ran in at #29. Mantaur was dumped out, ending a decent enough run. And we say farewell to the big moose as this is his only PPV appearance. Crush entered at #30, popping back up after some time off to close out 1994.
Crush and Murdoch would shove both Gunns out to the floor as the field trimmed down for the final stretch. Dunn would follow. We haven’t noted it in a while, but both Bulldog and Michaels are still going strong after being the first two in. Murdoch had Michaels teetering but Luger made the save for some unknown reason. Lawler even questioned that one. And with disappointment in his voice, McMahon called the elimination of “one of the favorites” Adam Bomb. Another sad showing for the big man. Montoya got flung out by Michaels, who again got saved by Luger after Murdoch nearly shoved him out. After a nice showing by Dick, Godwinn was able to push him to the floor, narrowly avoiding elimination himself and leading us to the final five. Michaels would charge at Bulldog and Luger, nearly getting himself eliminated in the same fashion as a year ago when he did the same thing at the end. Luger would dump Godwin, leaving himself, Bulldog, Michaels and Crush as the final four. Michaels and Crush would team up to toss Luger, ending his chance at rehabbing his image a bit and still now maintaining the choker label. The two worked over Bulldog, until Crush turned on Shawn and tried to slam him out. Shawn held on until Bulldog charged and clotheslined the big man out, leaving us with our first two entrants as the last for the first time ever. Bulldog ran right through Michaels, beating him around the ring before clotheslining him out to the floor…to win the match? Michaels hung on to the ropes but Bulldog’s music played and Vince proclaimed him the winner. However, as he celebrated, Michaels came in and knocked him to the floor to officially win the bout. Video replay would show that Shawn hung on to the top rope and only had one foot touch the floor, meaning he was never eliminated. That was a cool finish that didn’t linger too long. I am glad it wrapped quickly and lasted just long enough to make you wonder what was going on. So, the big time push for Shawn Michaels is finally here after three years of build and promise. This Rumble was clearly his to win and he got the job done, setting himself up to clash with his former buddy Diesel at WrestleMania. As Michaels celebrated, Pam Anderson made weird faces and rolled her eyes before running out of the ring quickly. She will be back. As will Shawn. This was a fun Rumble that was only hampered by its supremely weak field. The pacing, action and crowd were all pretty good and if there had been a few more legit contenders in there, it could have rated pretty highly overall. Grade: ***
Scott: History dictates that this is going to be a very rough year in PPV history. On the other hand this is also what you call a “cherry picking” year. There may not be one show that you sit back and go “Wow that show was awesome” but more like “That show was mostly crap, but there was a gem or two.” This show had a gem or two but not much else. The opener was fun and told a good story of how being a tough guy cost Razor Ramon his IC Title. It’s a big win for Jeff Jarrett and one that was definitely needed. The WWF Title match had the potential to be something really good but all the outside booking in the last few minutes ruined it. The Rumble itself was a showcase for Shawn Michaels, nothing more. Does Bigelow shoving Lawrence Taylor mean anything? Stay tuned to find out. Overall it’s a pretty 50/50 show that might be closer to the down side of the middle. Final Grade: C-
Justin: This really is a surprisingly good PPV. I know this year has a stigma as does this show, mainly thanks to the weak Rumble field and shortened intervals, but there was a lot here to enjoy. The undercard was very good, with three really good title matches. Taker/IRS was shaky, but not bad enough to drag down the rest of the show. I really liked the Ramon/Jarrett bout and the title switch was well done. Bret Hart and Diesel delivered another really strong WWF Title match, kicking off Diesel’s reign in a positive way. The tag match was a lot of fun too, capped by the big showdown between Bigelow and LT. The Rumble is littered with low level jobbers that had no chance, but it at least moved at a really quick and crisp pace with really no wasted time. There were some booking mixups, specifically around Owen and Backlund, but they went by the book and had Michaels win, which was absolutely the right choice. No shenanigans, no swerves, just smart, logical booking. And it went a long way towards making this a strong PPV outing to open up the year. Everyone worked hard, everything made sense, and we got progression towards WrestleMania. Can’t ask for much more as we head towards Hartford. Final Grade: B