I’m back, bay-beee! Like sands through the hourglass, so we dumpeth another calendar. It’s January, and in the past, this month has delivered some memorable moments and matches. WCW used to bring us Souled Out, until they gave us Sin before they crumbled. WWE has always entertained us with Royal Rumble, and then they tried to give us two shows in January when they temporarily added New Year’s Revolution. That is just to name a few historical references, not to mention the weekly TV shows.
As usual, we go to the WWE Network so that I may provide you with some awesome visual aids to assist you in this trip through the ghosts of Januarys past. Heads up, however. Due to the inclusion of Chris Benoit, I’m going to be providing links to Network milestone markers that may or may not include more rap-offs between John Cena and Rikishi.
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 19, 1992
Wooooooooo! The greatest Royal Rumble match of all time kicks things off. Ric Flair drew #3 and Bobby Heenan almost had a stroke. In fact, when you watch this match, Heenan’s commentary sells this whole thing. Flair withstood some old bitter rivalries from the likes of Roddy Piper, Kerry Von Erich and Greg Valentine. He faced the power of guys like The Undertaker and Sid Justice. If it wasn’t for the poor sportsmanship of Hulk Hogan, in attempting to pull Sid out, who knows how this would have ended. Then the after-match promo hits. With a tear in your eye, you have never seen a greater performance.
DEAN MALENKO VS. ULTIMO DRAGON – CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS XXXIV – JANUARY 21, 1997
Dean Malenko and Ultimo Dragon followed up their excellent Starrcade ’96 match with this bout at the penultimate Clash of the Champions one month later. This match is just as good. Personally, I have trouble picking one over the other. This is for the WCW Cruiserwight title held by Dragon. WCW was so stacked with great stars at the midcard and opener level, and these two were probably at their technical peak here. This would be a good place to start if you’re new to the wrestling game.
CHRIS BENOIT VS. RAVEN – SOULED OUT – JANUARY 24, 1998
This match was fought under “Raven’s Rules” as Raven always found himself at an advantage under these conditions. On this night, however, he had to contend with Chris Benoit. This match may only be around ten minutes long, but these two went at it with everything they had. In the end, the smile on Raven’s face as he tries to fight the effects of the Crippler Crossface conveys just how much he enjoyed what he endured in this hard-hitting affair. What the…? How did that the ending of that lucha eight-man get in that link?
CACTUS JACK VS. TRIPLE H – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 23, 2000
The McMahon-Helmsley regime had taken over and had created insurmountable odds for our heroes such as The Rock and Mankind. In fact, Mankind had lost a pink slip on a pole match against The Rock, set up by the evil duo. The Rock led the locker room in a protest over the firing, leading to Mankind being rehired and getting a title shot against Triple H. However, Mankind felt that he couldn’t beat Triple H, but knew someone that could. That someone was Cactus Jack. And then they tore the house down.
CHRIS JERICHO VS. CHRIS BENOIT – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 21, 2001
In 2000, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had a war over the Intercontinental Championship that saw them trade it back and forth several times. That cooled off for a while as Jericho and Benoit went in separate directions; Jericho feuding with Kane over spilled coffee and Benoit hanging with main eventers like The Rock and Triple H. However, they rekindled their feud over the IC title in this epic ladder match at Royal Rumble 2001, which was a hell of a card. What the…? How did the end of The Dudley Boyz/Edge & Christian match get in this link?
CHRIS BENOIT VS. KURT ANGLE – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 19, 2003
“Gee, there sure is a lot of Chris Benoit in this piece.” This is history, folks. There is a ton of stuff to work with here. Including this match, which is one of the greatest WWE title matches in Royal Rumble history. Benoit had beaten The Big Show on an episode of Smackdown! to become the #1 contender. Angle was in the midst of screwing Brock Lesnar out of a title shot at every turn and had even taken on Paul Heyman as his manager. This was Benoit’s biggest match to date in WWE. What the…? Why is Triple H hitting Scott Steiner with a sledghammer in this link?
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 25, 2004
Only one man had drawn #1 in the Royal Rumble match and gone on to victory. Until this particular Rumble match happened. It is still a rare feat going into the 2016 version. This was during the separate brands era, so there were 15 RAW superstars and 15 Smackdown superstars. This is the second greatest Rumble match of all of the times. What the….? Why are Shawn Michaels and Triple H struggling to beat the ten count in this link?
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 31, 2010
The 2010 Royal Rumble match. CM Punk’s finest hour on a mic before anyone ever heard the term “pipe bomb”. Shawn Michaels and his desperate attempt to seek a WrestleMania rematch with The Undertaker. A surprise return for one WWE superstar who had been on the shelf for several months. This Rumble had plenty of angles and stories around it, and that makes it one of the more memorable Rumbles. What the…? Why does this link actually match up?
JOHN CENA VS. BROCK LESNAR VS. SETH ROLLINS – ROYAL RUMBLE – JANUARY 25, 2015
Brock Lesnar came into this match as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The man he defeated for it was John Cena. Seth Rollins had gotten added as a reward for being responsible for The Authority returning to power after a brief ouster. This match was my personal Best Match of 2015, and it is an all out war. Not many matches have you jumping out of your seat these days, but this one does.
So many matches to choose from. January has been very good to us. Enjoy the links, enjoy the action, feel free to seek me out and debate me.