*** Scott & Justin’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 1993: The Calm Before the Storm
January 24, 1993
Buy Rate: 1.25
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan
1) Doink beat Jim Powers in 5:57
Fun Fact: This would be the first PPV since the landscape of TV wrestling had changed. Two weeks earlier on Monday, January 11, 1993, the WWF would replace Prime Time Wrestling with a new program, Monday Night Raw. The program broke new ground in wrestling as it was shot and aired in front of a live audience allowing angles to unfold as they happened. In the past, shows had been shot in a studio or at large arena shows with studio voiceovers. Raw was the first of its kind wrestling program where top of the card wrestlers competed against each other on TV. Initially, Raw aired live from the Manhattan Center in New York City each week with Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett, a comedian with no prior wrestling background, serving as the announcers. Producing live episodes every week proved to be a financial drain over time. Later in the spring of 1993, the WWF would move to taping several weeks of matches in advance after a live episode had aired.
Pay Per View
1) The Steiner Brothers defeat the Beverly Brothers when Scott Steiner pins Blake Beverly with a Frankensteiner at 10:43
Fun Fact I: A big debut here as the much-heralded brothers from Michigan make their debuts. Scott Steiner and his brother Rick started in WCW in 1989 and quickly moved up the tag team ranks, winning their first of three WCW Tag Team titles in November of that year over the Freebirds. Even though both men were talented grapplers, promoters seemed to think Scott had what it took to be a solo star, but he was hesitant to leave his brother behind, something that would happen more than once during his career. Scott won the WCW Television Title in late-1992, but vacated it when both he and Rick left for the WWF.
Fun Fact II: This will be the last PPV appearance for the Beverly Brothers as Beau would leave in the spring while Blake would remain with the Federation until the end of the year in a jobber role. Their final PPV record as a tag team was 2-3, including 1-1 at Royal Rumble, 0-1 at SummerSlam, and 1-1 at Survivor Series. They did have one pre-show match at WrestleMania VIII which they lost to the Bushwackers.
Scott: We open a new era in the WWF with a big debut by an established southern tag team. Rick and Scott set themselves apart in the NWA/WCW, first when Rick was the TV Champion and then when they started the team itself and were multiple time champions. Then money came calling and they headed north. This was a fine opening opportunity for them by facing a solid heel team. After consecutive shows with Vince in the big seat we have the more familiar combo of Gorilla and Bobby back in the chairs. The Sacramento crowd is a little flat to start but when the match picks up they start to make some noise. I was never the biggest fan of the Steiners anyway, so their debut didn’t totally blow me away, but it was nice that the company was trying to freshen up the tag division and add new popular babyfaces for the fans. It seems off the bat that Gorilla and Bobby didn’t have that usual swagger that they did in late 91-early 92. It was still incredibly entertaining and Gorilla was better than Vince at this point, but it just seemed to not have the same sizzle it had before. Scott Steiner finishes the team off with his patented Frankensteiner, but clearly this isn’t 1989 and with Scott’s added bulk he can’t flip as high as he used to and he almost piledrives Beau instead of flipping him over. The Steiners win their PPV debut, but as for Scott’s finisher? Well it gets worse. Grade: **
Justin: We enter another new year, which means it is time for another Royal Rumble to launch on the Road to WrestleMania. WWF hits the west coast this time around, with a PPV outing in Sacramento for the first time ever. Gorilla Monsoon is back in the booth alongside Bobby Heenan and our opener features the debut of a brand new tag team, longtime WCW stalwarts, the Steiner Brothers. Rick and Scott had defected north back in December and immediately started destroying ever jobber in their path. Their first true challenge came here with the quickly fading Beverly Brothers. The Bevs had a very nice 1992 but as the new year dawned, it was clear their star was dulling as the division was turning over once again. Grabbing the Steiners was a pretty big coup at the time as they looked and felt like big time stars and immediately felt above the division in some ways. The fans were definitely into them here and they got a hot start that the Bevs quickly countered. In a nice trade-off of spots, both Blake and Rick hit belly-to-belly suplexes with Rick’s doing more damage and putting the Steiners back in control. Scott would follow with one of his own, but a double team attack by Beau put this on his back. Good showing by the Bevs here, not backing down and bringing the fight right to the more powerful Steiners. From there, the Bevs worked the heel formula to perfection, quickly tagging in and out, using the tag rope to choke Scott, double teaming where they could, etc. The fans got into it as well, really fighting to rally Scott as Blake turned him into a Boston Crab. Beau would make a mistake by putting his head down, allowing Scott to spike him down with a butterfly suplex and make the hot tag. Rick destroyed both Beverlys upon hitting the ring, chucking them around with suplexes and hammering them with clotheslines. This is some stiff stuff, and one of my favorite spots is Scott just violently shoving Beau into the corner and slugging him in the chest. The Bevs would whiff on a Doomsday Device attempt, allowing Scott to nearly kill Blake with the Frankensteiner for the win. Wow, what a fight that was. And that finish was tough to watch as Blake landed rough on the top of his head. This is definitely an overlooked match when it comes to the Steiners’ WWF canon, but I really dug it as they all let loose and just pasted each other with strikes and suplexes in front of a heated up crowd. Grade: **1/2
2) Shawn Michaels defeats Marty Jannetty with a Superkick at 14:20 to retain WWF Intercontinental Title
Fun Fact: Marty Jannetty made his big surprise return on the October 31, 1992 edition of Superstars when he jumped out of the crowd, grabbed Shawn Michaels’ mirror from Sherri and lined up to whack Shawn with it. However, when Michaels turned around, he pulled Sherri in front as Marty swung the mirror, and Jannetty ended up crushing Sherri in the face and knocking her out cold. Sherri would be off TV for a month and a half, and her return was teased for the Rumble, with the question of whose side she would be on. Jannetty would leave again right after the match due to personal issues, not returning until later in the year.
Scott: The match we’ve been waiting for since over one year ago. It was December 1991 in the Barber Shop where one of the most infamous heel turns ever happened. Now after establishing himself as a solid heel worker and now IC Champion, the damaged tag team partner returns to extract revenge. This begins a four-PPV stretch where Michaels defends the IC Title against different styles of opponents with mixed results. The crowd is still a little flat for a Rumble crowd, but fortunately the match doesn’t reflect that. It’s a solid title match with both men working their butts off and when you include the drama over Sensational Sherri, the total package is pretty good. Michaels dictates the action but Jannetty keeps making comebacks and gets some close calls. Once Sherri reveals her new disdain for Michaels after throwing her in front of a wielding mirror shot a few weeks earlier, the match reaches its climax when Sherri hits Marty by accident and Shawn finishes the match with a thrust kick. Backstage Sherri and Michaels are yelling at each other when Jannetty attacks Michaels and they have to be broken up. The entire package was very entertaining and Michaels is 1 for 1 on PPV IC Title matches. Grade: ***
Justin: After years of debating which of the Rockers was better, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were finally set to tussle on a major PPV stage. Their split occurred over a year ago, and after taking time to really establish Michaels as a high level heel, we are set up for the explosion. Thanks to that patience and build, this match feels much bigger than it would have a year earlier. Plus, we also get the IC title on the line this way. Also adding to the hype was the fact that Sensational Sherri would be at ringside and it was unknown whose side she would be on. She had been off TV since she ate the mirror on Superstars back in October. The hype heading into this was pretty high and many fans and critics were expecting an instant classic. I still don’t know what Jannetty was attempting with these shredded coconut tights. Marty was all over Shawn off the bell, sending him crashing into the corner and then flying over the top rope with a big running kneelift. As Gorilla and Bobby debated Sherri’s allegiance, Jannetty flew threw the ropes and smashed into Michaels with a dive. Marty kept pouring it on, not allowing Shawn to recover and make it back in he ring. That strategy eventually backfired as he tried to leap off the top rope with a strike, but Michaels decked him in the face on the way down. And then the match turned for Marty when Michaels hoisted him up and rammed him into the post shoulder-first. From that point on, Michaels targeted the shoulder with laser focus. The action stayed on the floor a bit longer as Shawn made trips to the outside to levy damage before rolling in to catch a breather and regroup. Back inside, Shawn wrenched the shoulder hard, not giving Marty any shot at an opening or break. However, Shawn did start to get a little brash and took too long to attempt a leap off the top rope, which allowed Jannetty to rock him with a boot to the grill. Shawn would compound that by missing a change and slamming his shoulder into the post, drawing the injured appendages even. Shawn recovered to dump Marty to the floor, but Marty came back and suplexed Shawn over the top and to the floor. It was then that Sherri finally tipped her allegiance by smacking Shawn across the face. Marty would take Shawn back in with a back suplex but could only get a near fall. Back outside, Marty smashed Shawn into the steps and then rocked him with a powerslam back in the ring. He followed with a DDT but again Shawn kicked out. After being a little quiet for most of the match, the crowd was really rocking now. Marty would duck a superkick but hit one of his own for another close near fall. As Shawn tried to punch his way back in, he accidentally caught the referee, wiping him out. That drew Sherri into the ring, but due to some miscommunication she bashed Marty with her shoe by accident. A moment later, he cracked Marty with his superkick and picked up the win. That finish totally shocked me at the time as I thought for sure Marty was winning. Bobby calling Sherri a “harlot” also shocked me. Sherri sprinted to the back in tears as Shawn celebrated, their association finally shattered. I thought they were going to swerve things a bit at the end with Sherri’s shoe hit on Marty having been planned, but they played the split straight to get Shawn on his own. Backstage, Gene tried to calm Sherri down, but Shawn burst in and told Sherri that he “brought her from the gutter”. Marty followed and the two brawled until Shawn escaped. So, the match definitely didn’t live up to expectations but it was still pretty good. For years I thought it was just decent but probably because of the hype and assumption they could coast over **** at the time. The Sherri pathos didn’t even get in the way until the very end, so you can’t lay much blame there. The match was unique in that there was a lot of action on the outside of the ring, as it had to be more than half the match with them out there fighting. The shoulder work was good and the crowd got hot for a very strong sequence of near falls at the end. The finish was a necessary evil and in retrospect keeping the strap on Shawn was the right move, especially since Marty would be shitcanned right after the show for personal issues. For now, the Rocker issue is put to bed. Grade: ***
3) Bam Bam Bigelow defeats Big Boss Man with a Flying Headbutt at 9:09
Fun Fact: This was a real transition match, as Bam Bam Bigelow makes his first PPV appearance since WrestleMania IV and Boss Man makes his last for almost six years. In his time off, he competed in the NWA as well as Japan. In an odd note, these two man passed in the night a couple of times from 1988 on. Bigelow left WWF in the summer of 1988, right when Boss Man made his debut. Bigelow then returned to the WWF in 1993 right as the Boss Man was leaving for WCW. It would happen again later in the decade. This is Boss Man’s last PPV, as he would be gone just weeks after this match. His final match was on Superstars against Doink in late February. The match happened because back in December, Doink had set up a trip wire in the aisle sending Boss Man flying into the aisle. Needless to say, Boss Man was pissed and he remembered the incident when the match was made. Doink would lose by DQ when he sprayed ink in the Boss Man’s eyes, causing him to be blinded and sidelined. He would hang around on the house show circuit into March. On TV, after a few weeks, the health updates stopped coming, Doink started feuding with Crush and Boss Man would eventually show up in Atlanta by the end of 1993 after a short stay in AJPW.
Scott: We have a returning superstar taking on one who we are bidding farewell. We last saw Bigelow on PPV back at WrestleMania IV when he lost by countout to One Man Gang. Gorilla is of course acting as if we’ve never seen him before, but in this instance many fans may have been too young to remember Bigelow in 1987-88. Since leaving he went south to Crockett and had some success but again untapped potential there led him to leave. As for his opponent, this will end up being the final PPV match for this incarnation of the Big Boss Man. He will take time off and head to WCW in 1994 with the rest of the “exodus”. More on that in a couple shows. Boss Man came in as a hated heel corrections officer with Slick in 1988 and then would spend 1989 as one half of the awesome heel team the Twin Towers. The crowd seemed to slowly be clamoring for a Boss Man face turn and we’d get that in early 1990. For the next couple of years he would be one of the top three babyfaces in the company. However the time has come for the roster to get a little younger and with perhaps greener pastures down south (as well as a change in philosophy with their roster) Boss Man says farewell here. Honestly the match is pretty bad, as its painfully slow and the crowd is again dead. Bigelow works Boss Man’s back over for most of the match and then finishes it off with his patented flying headbutt. Bigelow makes his return, Boss Man will be gone from the WWF for the next five-plus years but the match is not good. Grade: *1/2
Justin: In an attempt to continue to bolster the heel side of the ledger, a familiar face has returned to the company in a new role. We last saw Bam Bam Bigelow close out a disappointing stint back at WrestleMania IV. Since then, he has spent time in the NWA and Japan and gained some maturity along the way. He returned as a heel in late 1992 and it was quite clear they had big plans for him based on commentary and booking in his early months. On the flip side, Big Boss Man is clearly a man on his last legs. After exhausting the Nailz feud the previous year, he was starting to feel a bit dated. They could have attempted to switch his gimmick a bit, but he was so ingrained in that look and name that would have been difficult to do. Also, the fans still really loved him, so a heel turn may have been tricky. After having been around for over four and a half years, it was probably time for him to take off for a while. That said, on paper this seemed like another really good match. Both guys were about the same size and both were agile for big men, so it wasn’t hard to imagine them dealing a sneaky good tilt. Bigelow jumped Boss Man as the bell rang, manhandling him in the corner and then smashing him with a running charge across the ring. Bigelow kept the heat on until Boss Man caught him with a clothesline and then hammered him with some right hands. Boss Man tried to hook a side headlock, but Bigelow used his raw power to take him over with a back suplex. A missed Bigelow headbutt gave Boss Man the momentum back, and he capitalized by spiking Bigelow into the mat face first. A bad decision cost Boss Man seconds later when he wildly charged, allowing Bigelow to dump him hard over the top and to the floor, with Boss Man wrenching his back on the apron on the way over. Boss Man would eventually make it back inside, but Bigelow pounced and went to work on the back, hooking in a reverse bear hug, which allowed him to jam his giant head into the small of the back. Boss Man broke free and again tried to charge, but Bigelow caught him and dropped him across the top with a stun gun. That allowed Bigelow to go back to the bear hug, slowing the match down. Boss Man fought to his feet and took Bigelow over with a suplex, but he couldn’t get enough mustard on it, which let Bigelow go right back into working the back. Boss Man would get a quick flurry in but Bigelow cut it off and finished the match with a top rope headbutt. That was a decent power match but a bit more sluggish than I hoped for. Boss Man gave it a go, but Bigelow ate most of the match, as he should, and the bear hug segments just ground things down from a decent start. It was a nice passing of the torch moment from one big man to the other and Bigelow is set for big days ahead. Boss Man has been fun to watch as we move through these shows, taking part in very memorable matches and feuds and I will miss his energy for sure. He will be back though. They always come back. Grade: *1/2
4) Bret Hart defeats Razor Ramon with the Sharpshooter at 17:56 to retain WWF World Title
Fun Fact I: In late 1992, Razor Ramon had formed an alliance with Ric Flair. On the December 12, 1992 episode of WWF Superstars the match between Bret Hart and Ramon was announced. During an interview segment on that same show, Flair and Ramon attacked Hart.
Fun Fact II: As part of the build to this title bout, Razor Ramon ambushed Owen Hart on one of the first episodes of WWF Mania. The footage of Razor clotheslining Owen out of his chair was replayed numerous times heading into the match, and was even put into the opening credits of Mania.
Scott: Back in October, Bret Hart shocked the world when he made Ric Flair submit to become WWF Champion. Then he wins a successful, hard fought title defense at Survivor Series against Shawn Michaels. Now as the new year dawns, the Hitman is clearly becoming the face of the WWF. It’s a position he has long earned and probably all the WWF braintrust and not just Vince thought he was ready for. You can even hear the extra pep in Gorilla’s voice when he talks about Bret as World Champion. His role is different from Hulk Hogan’s runs as champion. Hogan mostly fought on PPV and rarely defended the title (or even had non-title matches) on free TV. However, the landscape changed with the debut of Monday Night Raw two weeks earlier, so the champion needed to be more visible with there being more weekly TV. Bret was on Raw, weekend TV, all over the place. Razor Ramon moved up the ladder very quickly. He also was featured prominently at Survivor Series, being in the tag team co-main event. Now he gets the Rumble title shot, then adds some juice to the match when he attacked Bret’s brother Owen in a TV interview. The match was typical Bret Hart: He gets his licks in early, particularly to the legs to set up the Sharpshooter later in the match. Then Bret takes a good lengthy beating from Razor, including a decent length abdominal stretch. Bret makes his usual comebacks, then Razor almost hits the Razor’s Edge but Bret slithers out and almost wins with a backslide. The battle continues but Bret survives with his Sharpshooter to retain his championship. The match was really good and the crowd, who I thought was pretty dead, finally woke up and got excited when the fighting champion won. This is a snapshot of the WWF for the next few years of main events. Who will Bret defend the title against in Las Vegas? We shall see. Grade: ***1/2
Justin: After having just debuted about seven months ago, Razor Ramon takes a big leap forward into a premier PPV title match. With a dearth of high level heels, Ramon was linked to Ric Flair and Bobby Heenan out of the gate and played a role in helping Flair win his second WWF Title back in September and then was in the co-main event at Survivor Series. Even with those credentials and momentum, it was still a bit surprising when Ramon was granted the title match here. There wasn’t too much build up, just promo work, but Razor did land a big strike when he blindsided and crushed Owen Hart with a clothesline on Mania two weeks before the show. He also cut a fun promo from a Sacramento Kings game the night before that we see before the match. Bret Hart is still being built as a fighting Champion, taking on all comers, and really that was the impetus for this bout, just a great Champion battling a top contender with the gold on the line. Hart also vowed to get revenge for his family. I love the way they portrayed Hart as the beloved fighting Champion of the fans, starting with Gene’s interview before the match, continuing with showing him prep behind the curtain, waiting for his cue and then capped with him bursting through the entrance way as the crowd goes nuts. For the first time since SummerSlam 1991, we also see his parents Stu and Helen at ringside, rooting their son on. The match opened with a big slugfest between the two, a fight that Razor won thanks to his size and power. Bret used his speed to bounce back and frantically went to work on Razor’s leg to break him down to the mat. He even busted out a figure four just moments into the bout. As Bret kept beating on the leg, Heenan stated that Hart would never lock in the Sharpshooter thanks to the length of Ramon. Razor put an end to that when he found a way to send Bret flying across the ring, under the bottom buckle and ribs first across the ring post. Ramon took advantage, sliding outside and running Hart into the post and then dropping elbow on the sore midsection back in the ring as well. He would continue to punish the ribs and back, utilizing strikes, a fallaway slam, a vicious Irish whip to the corner and then hooking in an abdominal stretch. We even got a shot of Helen Hart cringing as Ramon laid the wood to her son. Razor was especially vicious in his actions, spiking Hart to the mat and laying in some tough kicks. Bret got a quick flurry and a pair of near falls, but Razor would stomp the back and ribs any time he had the chance, ensuring Hart wouldn’t be able to gain any momentum. Razor would lock in a bear hug but Bret wriggled free and shoved him to the floor. Bret knew he needed a big strike so he took to the air and launched himself into Razor with a suicide dive. Back inside, Bret hammered away on Ramon and Razor broke out his great staggered, weak legged selling, It was really effective because while he looked wobbled, it also made him look like he was seconds away from regrouping and landing a shot thanks to his size and power. Hart went into his usual offense, rattling Ramon and grabbing some close two counts. Hart would go for the Sharpshooter but Ramon shrewdly tripped up the ref which broke up the hold. Ramon would go for a kill strike with a top rope back suplex, but Bret elbowed him off, floated over the top and hit a textbook back suplex of his own. However, instead of covering, Hart tried to come off the top rope but came up empty. Ramon took advantage and went for the Razor’s Edge, but Hart slithered free and got a backslide for two. Again, Ramon landed a kick to the ribs to slow Hart’s momentum. In a great move, Bret turned a test of strength into a bow-and-arrow and flipped Ramon into a sunset flip for a near fall. Ramon pushed out, but with both men prone, Hart quickly grapevined their legs and twisted the Bad Guy into the Sharpshooter for the submission win. What a great finish to a rock solid title bout. I really enjoyed this one. Both men have top notch selling and the offense from Ramon was really targeted and effective in his assault. I always love how Bret takes a beating off and on towards the end of his matches because it leads to some neat, logical finishes that show up out of nowhere. This was a very solid showing from the Bad Guy and a nice title defense for the Hitman, who is now headed towards Las Vegas with the gold around his waist. Grade: ***1/2
*** Bobby Heenan leaves the broadcast area to unveil his debuting “Narcissus” that he had been raving about for weeks. When the curtain raised up, former WCW World Champion Lex Luger was standing beneath it. After Heenan removed Luger’s cape, some funky music fired up and he narrated as Luger went through a full posedown routine in front of a trifold mirror. After he finished, Luger issued a warning to the rest of the locker room that he was the greatest physical specimen in the WWF and also issued a challenge to Mr. Perfect, Heenan’s arch nemesis. Heenan even works in a reference to the Elvis Presley stamp as the curtain comes back down on them. Luger had left WCW in early 1992 and hooked up with Vince McMahon’s WBF shortly after. He never competed for the ill fated bodybuilding promotion thanks to a motorcycle accident that left him injured. He took his time rehabbing and prepping himself to step into a WWF ring as 1993 dawned. ***
5) Yokozuna wins the Royal Rumble at 66:35
ORDER OF ENTRY (Followed by Elimination)
1) Ric Flair: Mr. Perfect
2) Bob Backlund: Yokozuna
3) Papa Shango: Ric Flair
4) Ted DiBiase: Undertaker
5) Brian Knobbs: Ted DiBiase
6) Virgil: Berzerker
7) Jerry Lawler: Mr. Perfect
8) Max Moon: Jerry Lawler
9) Tenryu: Undertaker
10) Mr. Perfect: Ted DiBiase, Koko B. Ware & Jerry Lawler
11) Skinner: Mr. Perfect
12) Koko B. Ware: Ted DiBiase
13) Samu: Undertaker
14) Berzerker: Undertaker
15) Undertaker: Giant Gonzalez
16) Terry Taylor: Ted DiBiase
17) Damien Demento: Carlos Colon
18) IRS: Earthquake
19) Tatanka: Yokozuna
20) Jerry Sags: Owen Hart
21) Typhoon: Earthquake
22) Fatu: Bob Backlund
23) Earthquake: Yokozuna
24) Carlos Colon: Yokozuna
25) Tito Santana: Yokozuna
26) Rick Martel: Bob Backlund
27) Yokozuna: Winner
28) Owen Hart: Yokozuna
29) Repo Man: Randy Savage
30) Randy Savage: Yokozuna
Longest Time: Bob Backlund (61:10)
Shortest Time: Terry Taylor (:24)
Most Eliminated: Yokozuna (8)
Fun Fact: This is the first Royal Rumble where the winner got a World Title shot at WrestleMania, adding some excitement and meaning to the match that had been lacking from 1988-1991.
Fun Fact II: Yokozuna tied the record for latest entry in the Rumble to win (#27). He tied Big John Studd, who entered #27 and won the 1989 Rumble.
Fun Fact III: It took just one year for Ric Flair’s longevity record of 59:26 to be broken. Bob Backlund outlasted Flair, starting at number 2 and lasting 61:10. The record has since been broken twice (Chris Benoit in 2004 and Rey Mysterio in 2006).
Fun Fact IV: This show marks the first WWF PPV match for Jerry Lawler, otherwise known as “The King.” Lawler cut his wrestling teeth in Memphis in the early 1970s, training with the great Jackie Fargo. By the late 70s Lawler was the man in Memphis, winning its top title numerous times. He also wrestled Ric Flair for the NWA World Title, and won the AWA World Title from Curt Hennig in 1987. He was involved in a convoluted merger of titles involving the USWA, World Class and the AWA in 1988, which included Lawler holding all three of those world titles at once. His most high-profile feud was with comedian Andy Kaufman in 1982, which also included a memorable profanity-laced episode of “Late Night with David Letterman.” It was revealed in Kaufman’s bio-pic “Man on the Moon” that Lawler and Kaufman had pre-planned the entire feud. Lawler debuted on Prime Time Wrestling as Bobby Heenan’s replacement anchor for Mr. Perfect. Lawler would take up commentary duties on Superstars and also dabble in the ring from time to time. He also continued to book and wrestle in the Memphis-based USWA, which he owned.
Fun Fact V: Let’s just take a moment to mention some other new faces in this match. Max Moon debuted on Superstars in October of 1992 and was basically supposed to be some sort of spaceman. Originally dubbed the Comet Kid, he had a funky blue suit and wore a jet pack on his back. He would compete on the first episode of Monday Night Raw, as he battled Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Title. The role was originally supposed to be played by Konnan, who was part of the Mexican AAA promotion, but he bailed on the gimmick before he ever wore the costume. Instead, perennial jobber Paul Diamond donned the costume and played Max Moon until he disappeared back to outer space in late March. Also back on the scene is Terry Taylor, who we last saw clucking his way into the 1990 Royal Rumble as the Red Rooster. This time he is back under his real name, with the “Terrific” moniker. He wouldn’t make much progress as an active competitor, and would be relegated to interviewing duties by the summer while still popping up on house shows through August. One more debut is Carlos Colon, the Puerto Rican legend who was brought in as a one time shot to participate in the Rumble. He was a big deal in his home land, but doesn’t get to much of a pop here, and is actually called “youngster” by Gorilla Monsoon. A final debut is the insane Damien Demento, who makes his one and only PPV appearance here. He, like Max Moon, also wrestled on the first Monday Night Raw, as he battled the Undertaker in the Main Event of that show. Demento was best known as Mondo Kleen in Memphis, and would stick around as a jobber to the stars until September.
Fun Fact VI: In addition to some new faces, we had one face who was returning to the WWF after an eight year absence. In July 1992, Bob Backlund returned to the WWF, wrestling only in house shows before making his TV return late in the year. Backlund originally joined the WWWF in 1977 when Vincent J. McMahon was still in charge of the promotion. Backlund had a clean cut look and had a very technical style of wrestling. Prior to joining the WWWF, he had started his career in the AWA before working through several NWA territories. Once in the WWWF, Backlund was paired with “The Golden Boy” Arnold Skaaland as his manager. Backlund was elevated to the top of the card quickly and within four months of starting with the promotion he was in the main event picture, wrestling “Superstar” Billy Graham for the title. But it wasn’t until February, 1978 when Backlund finally defeated Graham via pinfall to win the championship despite Graham’s leg being on the rope. This was the beginning of a long title reign for the squeaky clean face that would last until 1983 when The Iron Sheik defeated Backlund when Skaaland threw in the towel when Backlund was in the Sheik’s Camel Clutch. Backlund remained with the WWF after Vincent K. McMahon took over and he hung on until August 1984. He would wrestle for a couple of smaller promotions before going into a semi-retirement where he coached amateur wrestling at a high school in Connecticut. In the fall of 1992, vignettes began running promoting the return of Backlund, who stated his goal was to become WWF champion again.
Fun Fact VII: Well, we had some debuts, but we also have some farewells. This would be the last time we see Ric Flair on a WWF PPV for the next nine years, as he would lose a Loser Leaves Town to Mr. Perfect match the next night on Raw. He would return home to WCW and stay there until they closed up shop in 2001. This also marks the end of Papa Shango’s run. He had been around for a year or so, but this is the first, and only, time he officially appears on PPV. Don’t fret, however, for he would be back soon under a whole new persona. This is also the end of the road for Skinner who put on some solid performances over the past year. Also making a quiet exit into the night is Koko B. Ware. Koko debuted in 1987 and has been a PPV mainstay throughout his career. We mentioned his record in our last review, but I thought he warranted a mention here. Another mid-carder who debuted in late 1991 will make his final appearance in this Rumble as well, and that is the Berzerker. Best known for his brief feud with the Undertaker, where he tried to impale him with a sword, the Berzerker would disappear back to the Indies and wouldn’t be seen until the late 1990s, when he popped back up in WCW as a jobber under his real name, John Nord. Also, on a more high profile level, this the final PPV appearance of Knobbs and Sags, the Nasty Boys. The Nasties debuted in late 1990 and had a pretty damn good run with the WWF, picking up a Tag Title reign along the way. Their final record was 3-5 with wins coming at WrestleMania VII, Survivor Series 1991 and 1992. They would debut in WCW later in the year, where they remained until they hung up the boots. Finally, also making his final PPV appearance is the Repo Man, otherwise known as Barry Darsow or Smash of Demolition. Repo would hang on a little bit longer and actually have a brief feud with Randy Savage, culminating with a match on the 1/25 Raw. His final appearance was on March 28 and he would also be in WCW by the end of the year, where he would spend the rest of career under a variety of gimmicks.
Scott: So who will face Bret Hart April 4 at Caesars Palace? Thirty men will battle for that spot right now. One year earlier we had one of the most star-studded Rumble matches of all time. In that instance the WWF Championship was on the line. This time (and from here on out) the winner of the Battle Royal will get a title shot at WrestleMania. So at least with a prize that important, we won’t have a complete collection of slugs and also-rans that really have no chance to win at all. Well, not entirely. As the years progress there will be a huge amount of bums, but this year there are some viable candidates to the prize. Our first competitor is the man who came in at #3 last year and won the whole thing. Ric Flair comes in but Bobby, although upset, is not as exasperated as he was the year before when his guy won the World Title, and our #2 guy is a returning star. We haven’t seen Bob Backlund since early-1984 when he ushered Hulk Hogan in to help against an attack by the Wild Samoans. Nine years later he has returned. I’m a little perplexed at that, since Vince is trying to inject youth into the roster. 15 years ago a match between these two would have sold out any arena in the country. Papa Shango comes in at #3 to give Flair a hand pummeling Backlund. Flair then eliminates Shango. Every man for himself. Gorilla does point out that Backlund is a former WWF Champion who has great feats of strength ability. Gorilla and Bobby’s repartee has gotten a little nasty, as instead of having him tossed out Gorilla says he’s going to flat out punch Bobby, while Heenan keeps calling him a monkey. Ted DiBiase, half of the tag team champions, is next. DiBiase is starting to look his age and is not as toned as he normally is. Next is Brian Knobbs and then Virgil, both filler. Virgil is now known for the daunting predictions of Yokozuna at Survivor Series. Our next possible contender is up next, as Jerry Lawler makes his long awaited WWF PPV debut here in Sacramento. A bastion of Memphis wrestling throughout the 1980s, he finally looks to cash in, and with WWF having a relationship with Jerry Jarrett now in place, the timing was finally right. I don’t know if Lawler is a legit contender here, or if he’s just a body but maybe a few years earlier he could be a contender for the title. Next is the mysterious Max Moon. I never thought much of him, but I guess he was another fun gimmick for the kids. Eventually Mr. Perfect came in and I and some others I knew thought he was the ideal favorite because of his history with Bret and the knowledge that they would put on a stellar match in Las Vegas. My money at that point was on him. I honestly didn’t pay attention to any of the other filler, although when the Berzerker, came in the chaos factor actually got ramped up. Berzerker attacked Backlund outside and even pulled the padding off the floor. Terry Taylor comes in, and I realized that almost half of the guys in this match so far are wearing red tights. Meanwhile, Undertaker (another favorite) comes in and lays waste to everyone. Then all of a sudden, some weird looking guy comes into the ring in a bizarre, furry man-suit. Almost seven feet tall, he attacks Taker and in essence eliminates him. Wrestling fans know that its El Gigante from WCW. Furry suit? Maybe the first sign it was time to leave the “Rock n Wrestling” era and move on to something a little more grounded. The match continues until we get guys like Randy Savage and the now favorite, Yokozuna. I really didn’t think Yoko was going to win, honestly. He had just debuted so I didn’t think he was ready. He was that kind of Federation Era heel, yet now with Perfect gone I was think a Macho Man/Hitman title match would be completely awesome. Yoko came in with his alternate white/black combo and laid waste to everyone around him. So even though my thought was he was a newcomer, he made himself look like a contender immediately. Oh and on a side note, why they added “newcomer” Carlos Colon to this match made no sense whatsoever. Yokozuna lasts to the end and after Savage foolishly goes for a pin. Why he did that, I have no idea. The Rumble match actually aged better than when I last watched it, but it’s not 1992 by any stretch. So Mr. Fuji’s big heel gets the shot in Las Vegas against the Hitman. Will that sell tickets? Depends on the undercard. Grade: **1/2
Justin: As we set up for the Rumble, Julius Caeser and Cleopatra came out to read a special proclamation, really playing up the impending Roman Empire theme for WrestleMania. The tie in there is because for the first time since the Rumble was born, the winner would earn a World Title match at Mania, a much needed touch to increase the stakes of the bout. In the first sign that some of the excitement of 1992’s edition would not be replicated, when Ric Flair enters at #1, Bobby Heenan seems at peace with the poor luck of the draw. In fact, he almost seems confident, crowing about how Flair did it last year and could do it again. The returning Bob Backlund enters second and this pairing was a nice nod to historians and fans from the early 80s. I liked the Backlund signing as he really filled the role of “gutty veteran giving it one last shot” quite well. He stated his goal of becoming Champion again and it made perfect sense given his age and pedigree. Papa Shango would show up at #3 for his final WWF PPV appearance. He would be gone as quickly as he appeared and I just felt bad that he spent so much time painting his face for such a short amount of screen time. Flair and Backlund took turns decking each other as we awaited the next entrant. Ted DiBiase was #4, continuing his poor Rumble luck that all started in 1990, so I consider it karma for buying #30 in 1989. Having him, Flair and Backlund was a really nice reminder of territory days of yore for sure. Brian Knobbs charged out at #5 to a nice pop and immediately went at DiBiase to carry on their tag title feud. Of course, Knobbs and Sags were still pissed at Money, Inc.’s manager Jimmy Hart for his double cross of them back in late 92. Another DiBiase nemesis showed up at #6, Virgil, as they reignited their dormant feud. Virgil laid some licks in, getting a modicum of revenge on his former boss since DiBiase had gotten the last laugh in that one. History is made at #7 as the legendary King of Memphis, Jerry Lawler, makes his WWF PPV debut. Lawler had debuted in late 1992 and taken over commentary duties from Mr. Perfect but was also set to compete part time in the ring. It is pretty overlooked how stacked the early part of this Rumble match was with legends of the 80s. The mysterious Max Moon was in at #8 and laid in some dropkicks. That ring gear is so fucking weird. The legends tour continued at #9 with Japanese star Tenryu. We last saw him in a WWF ring back at WrestleMania VII and he returned for a one off appearance here. The action was fairly basic and the top stars prevailed as Moon was dumped in fairly short order. At #10, the crowd went nuts as Mr. Perfect charged to the ring and made a beeline for Flair, hammering him in the corner with reckless abandon. This may be the strongest third of a Rumble field to date when you factor in non-WWF legacies. I feel like if this show was in an area steeped in a richer territorial tradition, some of these guys would have gotten a much better reaction.
As Perfect continued to batter Flair, we were reminded that these two men were set to battle in a Loser Leaves the WWF match the next night on Monday Night Raw. And for the first time on the night, Heenan started to become exasperated and worried about Flair’s future in this match. Skinner came in at #11 and right as he entered, Perfect shockingly clotheslined Flair out of the ring, ensuring we would have a new Rumble winner and that the Nature Boy would not repeat. As Flair flipped out and stormed off, Lawler took advantage and started working over Perfect. At #12 was Koko B. Ware, who high stepped to the ring while jacking up his absurd baggy pants. Between him and Skinner, we get an even further taste of Memphis. It was a brief flash as Perfect sent Skinner packing, closing his WWF PPV career out as well. Headshrinker Samu was #13 as the match and crowd both settled down from the Flair stuff. Lawler had a nice showing here as he really became one of the focal points of the bout, laying in a decent amount of offense, including a DDT on Perfect and getting quite a bit of face time overall. At #14 was the wild Berzerker, another man making his final WWF PPV appearance. Backlund was also having a really strong showing, surprisingly closing in on 30 minutes here. The crowd woke up again as Perfect sent Lawler flying. However, he got caught from behind and dumped to the apron. As he tried to fight his way back in, DiBiase and Koko hammered on him as Lawler pulled him from the outside. He finally had nothing left and was eliminated. I was shocked and pissed when that happened at the time, as I thought for sure he was a strong candidate to win. I also question them eliminating him when they did as it was a pretty big hit to the star power. Although, you could argue that was offset at #15 when the Undertaker slowly marched to the ring. The crowd was fired up for that. I always love how Lawler was ambling to the back, flips off some dude in the crowd and then staggers backwards when Taker passes by him. Taker came in hot, tossing Samu and Tenryu immediately. Berzerker and Backlund ended up on the floor, having gone through the middle rope, and Berzerker wiped the old man out, leaving him for dead. Back inside, Taker continued his rampage as Terry Taylor popped in at #16. This is Taylor’s first PPV appearance since the 1990 Rumble match. He had returned to WCW and had a decent run there before returning to the WWF in the fall of 92. His showing was not impressive by any means as DiBiase chucked him and Koko together right after he entered. Taker would strike again, dumping DiBiase, ending a pretty strong run for him, his best showing since his 1990 run. As Taker and Berzerker battled, a mysterious giant ambled down the aisle, led by a cleaned up Harvey Wippleman and decked out in an odd hairy bodysuit. In the weeks leading to this show, Harvey had promised a big surprise to exact revenge on Undertaker for ruining Kamala’s psyche. The big man led out is former WCW competitor El Gigante. As the big climbed in the ring, Taker dumped Berzerker to clear the ring. The crowd alternated between stunned silence and a confused buzz as he stomped towards Taker. Just before they came to blows, Damien Demento entered at #17. They really made sure to play up Gigante’s size by having him stand next to and tower over Taker. He leveled Taker with one blow and knocked him over the top rope, eliminating him from the match to the despair of the crowd. It was kind of tough that they took out another heavy fan favorite at this point in the match. The manhandling continued, including a chokeslam, and Taker was left laying, completely devastated like we had never really seen before. He finally left as IRS emerged at #18. Well, that was quite the debut. IRS, Demento and Backlund all got back in the ring as Taker struggled to sit up and finally hobble off once Paul Bearer came out with the urn to assist. If anything, that was a nice breather for Bob. The buzzer sounded again and Tatanka charged to the ring at #19. With Taker and Perfect gone, the field had lost some heavy hitters and all of a sudden things felt a bit flat. Sags came in at #20 and I will say the Nasty Boys were pretty damn over if this crowd was anything to measure by.
The lower end of the card continued to fill the ring as Typhoon entered at #21. Heenan fucked up and called him Tugboat but covered nicely. Other than that, there wasn’t much else going on at this point. As Backlund passed the 42 minute mark, Fatu showed up at #22. This match has really ground to halt, with some aimless brawling and a lo less crowd excitement. Two minutes later, Earthquake came in at #23 and while you would think the Natural Disasters would immediately become favorites to team up and dominate, Quake attacks Typhoon for some confusing reason. The two behemoths would trade shots until Quake dumped his buddy to the floor. That was a neat battle but still really confusing. Another territorial legend Carlos Colon popped up at #24 and Gorilla called him a “youngster” in a classic commentary moment. Colon made his mark, tossing out Demento. At #25, Tito Santana entered, making his seventh and final Rumble appearance. It has been a hell of a run for El Matador for sure. He has been on almost all of these PPVs since we started this project so it will definitely be weird not seeing him anymore. Fatu got chucked out but again, this was just normal battle royal stuff. Tito almost eliminated Backlund but IRS made the save. And at #26, Santana’s long time enemy Rick Martel strutted out and the two reigned their old Strike Force feud immediately. I love it. I love that that feud just never died and lasted for eternity. The crowd popped for that and popped again when Quake sent IRS flying to the floor. With such a weak field remaining, once Yokozuna entered at #27, the big man winning seemed inevitable. Yoko got right to business, eliminating Tatanka and Colon before having a fun showdown with Quake that got the crowd riled up. The two big men slammed into each other in the center of the ring with Quake landing a few shots but unable to knock Yoko off his feet. After shaking those blows off, Yoko would impressively toss Quake out with a belly-to-belly over the top. While that was going on, Owen Hart entered at #28, followed by Repo Man at #29. Yoko continued to be a force in there as nobody even came close to tossing him. The crowd woke up again as everyone in the ring teamed up and tried their best to push Yoko out, but he just picked hem all off one at a time and fought his way back into the middle of the ring. Randy Savage entered to a huge pop at #30 to close out the field and it was painfully clear either he or Yoko would be the winner. Santana, Sags, Owen and Repo would all get tossed in succession, with Owen’s elimination as the nastiest as it looked like he blew his knee out. Nice touch here having former longevity record holder Martel in the final four, trying to end Backlund’s night. Backlund would fight him off and eliminate Martel right as he eclipsed Flair’s record to become the new all time Rumble Iron Man. By this point, the crowd was really behind Bob, something that didn’t seem possible an hour ago. Backlund didn’t lay back and went right at Yoko. That was a mistake, as Yoko shrugged him off and ended his record setting night in the blink of an eye. The crowd came to their feet to rally Savage, but things looked bleak for Macho as Yoko unleashed his power offense. Savage would hang on though, land a few shots and eventually dodged an avalanche charge leading to Yoko hitting the mat for the first time in his WWF career. The seemingly delirious Savage pounced onto Yoko with his big elbow and went for a pin cover, which allowed Yoko to easily press slam him up and over the top rope. I get what they were going for, but it made a crafty veteran in Savage look kind of stupid there. Either way, Yoko grabs the win and celebrates with Mr. Fuji as Heenan sang his praises.
This was definitely a tale of two halves. The first half of the Rumble was really fun, loaded with legends and top level competitors. We had some hot moments with Flair, Perfect, Lawler and Taker but once Taker got wiped out, the match fell off a cliff until the finish. The back end was filled with mid carders that you knew had no chance, basically leaving us with only two true options to win. Similar to 1989, I think the Rumble could have finished a bit strong if they left Perfect and Flair in there until the end and then had them go out in a flurry right into the finish. Instead, it was just Yoko chucking fodder through the finish with Savage. Yoko winning was probably the right choice, but the booking to lead to it definitely could have been stronger. For now, our WrestleMania main event is set up with Yokozuna set to challenge Bret Hart for the World Title. I won’t go much lower than *** for a Rumble match and while this had its moments, it is certainly one of the weaker editions of the match. Grade: ***
Scott: The first PPV of 1993 was a solid, fun show. The undercard had some unique matchups and it was fun watching a fresh crop on the roster showing off to the WWF crowd. Sure the heavy hand of the Federation Era is still there, with gimmicks like Doink and this furry man-suit guy attacking Undertaker. But with your two top singles champions (Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels) being expert workers in the ring there are signs of a turn in creative direction. So Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna is our main event for Wrestlemania IX. Will that be enough to sell tickets? Of course we don’t really have an undercard yet, but between now and April 4 a lot of creative discussions would continue on and eventually Vince would panic. What level of panic? Wait till April 4. Watch this show again and it will be better than you remember. Final Grade: B-
Justin: Another Royal Rumble is in the books and for the first time since its creation, we have an officially clear view of what our WrestleMania main event is going to be as the show closed. This was an interesting show roster wise and we had a strong mix of new faces, old friends returning and a lot of farewells to some longtime stalwarts and successful competitors. The housecleaning has continued from late 1992 and it has helped add some fresh air to the promotion, especially with its strong, workrate and psychology driven World Champion on top of the card. On paper, this was a strong undercard, one of the strongest in Rumble history really, and while they all met expectations, nothing really popped and exceeded its potential. The Rumble match itself was uneven, with a really strong first half giving way to a tepid home stretch. Yokozuna is a strong winner but the match would have been more exciting if the big guns were out there closer to the finish, especially Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair. There was just way too much fodder out there down the stretch and it hurt the anticipation of who could win the bout. As a whole, the show was an entertaining watch, the crowd was pretty good despite some lulls and the roster is rounding into shape as we hit WrestleMania. The only question lingering is whether or not all of the talent will be properly used come Caeser’s Palace. Final Grade: B-