All Japan Pro Wrestling held a card at Korakuen Hall, which was highlighted by Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada and Kenta Kobashi facing Jumbo Tsuruta, Masa Fuchi and Akira Taue in a ****1/4 match. In a departure from tradition, Misawa played defense for most of the match, with Jumbo’s team working over his knee. Taue pinned Kobashi to bring the match home for his team.
All Japan Pro Wrestling held a card in Shizuoka highlighted by Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi facing Jun Akiyama and Yoshinari Ogawa in a ****1/4 match. Kikuchi scored the pinfall over Akiyama, who was only four months into his career, but the booking point was more focused on his performance, which increased his stature even in losing.
The WWF held the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Sacramento, CA, in front of 16,000 fans. Yokozuna won the Rumble, last eliminating Randy Savage, who dumbly forgot that pinfalls did not count in the match when he attempted one after dropping the big elbow and the momentum from Yoko’s kickout propelled him over the top rope. The match also featured the debut of Giant Gonzales, who attacked the Undertaker in a horrible beatdown. Also on the card, WWF World Champion defeated Razor Ramon while Shawn Michaels successfully defended the Intercontinental Title against Marty Jannetty. The Steiner Brothers had their WWF pay-per-view debut, beating The Beverly Brothers, while Bobby Heenan announced The Narcissist as Lex Luger, who spent several minutes posing in front of a mirror while Heenan hilariously ooh-ed and ahh-ed. The show did 300,000 buys, and you can watch it on the WWE Network.
All Japan Women held a card at Tokyo’s Ota Ward Gymnasium in front of a sellout 4,350 fans that included three stellar matches. First, Bull Nakano faced Kyoko Inoue in a fantastic ****1/2 mentor-protege match, a series that had been running since 1991 with Kyoko still chasing the elusive win. Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada faced Etsuko Mita and Mima Shimoda in a ***3/4 match for the WWWA World Tag Team Titles, and in the main event, Aja Kong defended the WWWA World Title against Yumiko Hotta in a ****1/4 match where Kong destroyed Hotta’s hand.
All Japan Pro Wrestling held its second 60-minute draw in five days when Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi faced Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue in a ***3/4 match. The show took place in Yamagata in front of a sellout 4,200 fans.
A vignette aired on ECW television where Public Enemy hung out at Sea World and talked rubbish while clips of their matches aired to a “Funky Cold Medina” knockoff. Suddenly, it was dark outside and they were paying for limos and women with Paul Heyman’s credit card in a vignette I can only assumed was designed to have stoner appeal. Also on the show, Tully Blanchard responded to an open challenge from Shane Douglas until Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko came to the rescue and the three laid Tully out, which made me feel bad since Tully would never participate in such a situation against someone else.
Stan Hansen and Gary Albright defeated Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue to win the AJPW Double Tag Team Titles at a show in Matsumoto.
WCW held Souled Out on pay-per-view from Dayton, OH, in front of a sellout 5,486 fans. The show was primarily built around Bret Hart’s first match in WCW, where he would take on Ric Flair. The match was a ***1/2 affair and was not placed in the headlining position for political reasons, as that honor went to the less appealing Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match. The show-stealer, however, was a Chris Benoit vs Raven match that hit ***3/4 and featured a great combination of wrestling and brawling. Also on the show, Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo and Lizmark Jr. faced Chavo Guerrero Jr., Psicosis and Silver King in a hot opener; Chris Jericho defeated Rey Misterio Jr. to win the WCW Cruiserweight Title; Dusty Rhodes turned on Larry Zbyszko during his match with Scott Hall and joined the NWO; and Kevin Nash defeated The Giant after botching a powerbomb which briefly sidelined Giant. The show did a shocking 370,000 buys, which was incredibly high for a pay-per-view without a Hulk Hogan match. You can watch this show on the WWE Network.
The WWF held the Royal Rumble pay-per-view live from Anaheim, CA, in front of a sellout 14,816 fans. In what had to be worst Rumble match ever, Vince McMahon won, last eliminating Steve Austin. Austin and McMahon drew the number one and number two spots, but brawled out of sight for the majority of the match before returning in time to do the finish. Also on the show, The Rock regained the WWF World Title by defeating Mankind in a *** “I Quit” match. The match was horrifying for Foley taking fifteen unprotected chairshots to the head. His wife and children were at ringside and reacted hysterically, which was later captured in the Beyond The Mat documentary. The show did 650,000 buys, the second highest for a Royal Rumble in pay-per-view history. You can watch this show on the WWE Network.
In The “To Watch” Queue:
Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs Aja Kong & Bull Nakano (AJW 01/24/93)
Akira Hokuto, Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs Eagle Sawai, Harley Saito & Miki Handa (AJW 01/24/93)
Kyoko Inoue vs Takako Inoue (AJW 01/24/93) (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)
Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs Terry Gordy & Johnny Smith (AJPW 01/24/93)
Kenta Kobashi vs Akira Taue (AJPW 01/24/93)
MS-1, El Satanico & Pirata Morgan vs Pierroth Jr., Masakre & Jacque Mate (CMLL 01/24/93)
Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Jun Akiyama & Giant Baba (AJPW 01/24/96)
Mitsuya Nagai vs Tony Halme (RINGS 01/24/96)
Akira Maeda vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto (RINGS 01/24/96)