The WWF held a television taping in Miami, FL, but the highlight of the show was a match taped for the Coliseum Video Wrestlefest ’90 release, when Randy Savage faced Roddy Piper. While a handheld exits for a match the two had in December of 1986, this was the only singles match between the two that the WWF ever released commercially, and they never had a singles match on television.
AAA held a card in Mexico City, highlighted by El Hijo del Santo teaming with Eddy Guerrero to face Jerry Estrada and Espanto Jr. in a ***3/4 match.
The brilliance of SMW was on full display during this hour of television. First, we saw a recap of a great angle the previous week where Robert Gibson passed a letter to Bob Caudle to tell him Paul Morton, Ricky’s father, was in the building and they were going to surprise Ricky later in the show, as Ricky was unable to see his dad during the holidays. Of course, during the Rock & Roll Express match, Jim Cornette and the Heavenly Bodies snuck into their dressing room and attacked Paul. This week, Jimmy Del Ray impersonated Paul by walking with a cane and sunglasses while pretending he was blind. The Rock & Rolls quickly interrupted this and ran off the heels before vowing revenge. The attention to detail was great in all of this, as Robert Gibson, who was not a great talker, simply handed a letter to Bob Caudle who was able to explain everything to the audience in a clear way.
WCW Saturday Night was headlined by a *** six-man tag, as Ric Flair, Sting and The Boss teamed against Steve Austin, Rick Rude and Ron Simmons. The show did a 2.4 rating and was taped on January 10 in Atlanta’s Center Stage Theatre.
The WWF held the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Providence, RI, in front of a sellout 14,500 fans. In a first, Lex Luger and Bret Hart “co-won” the Rumble when their feet hit the ground at exactly the same time. Fans overwhelmingly sided with Bret over Luger during the post-match announcement. The show is also remembered for a bizarre casket match between WWF World Champion Yokozuna and Undertaker, where ten heels came out to attack Undertaker and assist Yokozuna in winning the match and retaining the title. During the melee, green smoke began coming out of Undertaker’s urn and he was treated as figuratively dead before resurrecting above the Titantron in a bizarre moment. Also on the show, Owen Hart turned on brother Bret to set up the big feud of 1994 after Bret was unable to tag him in during a match against WWF World Tag Team Champions The Quebecers. The show did 200,000 buys, which was the lowest number for a Royal Rumble pay-per-view since 1989. You can watch this show on the WWE Network.
The WWF held the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Tampa, FL, in front of 10,000 fans. Shawn Michaels won the Rumble match, drawing number one and last eliminating Davey Boy Smith, who drew number two. However, the match was much shorter than usual Rumble matches, as wrestlers were entering at one-minute intervals instead of the usual two-minute intervals. Also on the show, Diesel had his first high-profile WWF World Title defense against Bret Hart in a **** match. The match was designed to ensure Diesel would not be booed, which meant that Bret stayed on offense for the majority of the match and was far more aggressive than usual, even using a chair and tying Diesel to the ringpost. The match had some unfortunate booking, as most of the top heels ran in a few times to attack both men until the referee had no choice but to stop the match. Also on the card, Jeff Jarrett defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon to win the title in a ***1/4 match, and the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly defeated Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka in a *** tournament final to crown new WWF World Tag Team Champions. After the match, Bam Bam Bigelow had a confrontation with Lawrence Taylor to set up the main event of WrestleMania XI. The show was built around an appearance from Hollywood starlet Pamela Anderson and did 225,000 buys. You can watch it on the WWE Network.
AJW held a card at the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo in front of a sellout 4,500 fans. The card was highlighted by Manami Toyota successfully defending the WWWA World Title against Yumiko Hotta in a ***1/2 match.
WWF Monday Night RAW aired live from Stockton, CA, in front of a sellout 2,904 fans. The most memorable moment of the night was the debut of Vader on RAW. After defeating Savio Vega in a hot match, Gorilla Monsoon suspended Vader for continuing to attack Vega after the match was over and assaulting two referees who tried to restrain him. Gorilla even got physical with Vader, chopping him a few times before Vader reciprocated with his own attack and laid him out. While Gorilla had been an institution on WWF television since their national expansion, this was the first time most fans saw him physically involved in an angle, which gave this some much appreciated shock value. Also on the show, Jim Cornette goaded Shawn Michaels into putting his WrestleMania XII title shot on the line against Owen Hart at the upcoming In Your House pay-per-view while another Billionaire Ted skit aired, this time with Scheme Gene submitting an idea not stolen from the WWF, but telling everyone in the boardroom they would have to call his hotline to find out what it was. The show did a 2.9 rating, and you can watch it on the WWE Network.
WCW Monday Nitro aired live from Las Vegas, NV, in front of a sellout 3,100 fans. The show was quite loaded, with Randy Savage defeating Ric Flair to win the WCW World Championship. This was the first time during the Monday Night Wars that either company’s top title changed hands on the major show, which made it a pivotal moment. The match was also notable as Woman’s return to WCW, this time as Randy Savage’s second. That was not the only title change of the evening, as Sting and Lex Luger also defeated Harlem Heat to win the WCW World Tag Team Titles. Even with the big title changes, this Nitro did a 2.7 rating and was narrowly edged out by RAW. You can watch it on the WWE Network.
RINGS held a card at Budokan Hall. In the finals of the Mega Battle Tournament, Volk Han defeated Kiyoshi Tamura in an incredible ****1/2 match in front of a hot crowd.
WCW Thunder aired live from Huntsville, AL. The show was headlined by The Giant vs Scott Hall, which is memorable for Giant collapsing the ring by pulling out one of the posts in lieu of seeking retribution on Kevin Nash, who he was not allowed to touch before the Souled Out pay-per-view. The show did a 3.6 rating.
At a card in Osaka, Toshiaki Kawada defeated Mitsuharu Misawa to win the AJPW Triple Crown for the third time in a ****1/2 match. The match was especially notable for Kawada wrestling with a broken arm, which led to Kawada botching a powerbomb attempt on Misawa. Misawa landed squarely on his head and the move was aptly named the Ganso Bomb. Legend has it that Giant Baba called this the best match he had ever seen.
In The “To Watch” Queue:
Mayumi Ozaki & Hikari Fukuoka vs Dynamite Kansai & Hiromi Yagi (JWP 01/22/95)
Bull Nakano vs Sakie Hasegawa (AJW 01/22/96)
Akira Hokuto & Mima Shimoda vs Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue (AJW 01/22/96)
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka vs Mikhail Ilioukhine (RINGS 01/22/97)