What the World Was Watching: Royal Rumble 1994

Royal Rumble

-Vince McMahon and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase are in the booth and they are live from Providence, Rhode Island.

-Opening Contest: Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/Luna Vachon):

This was supposed to be Tatanka vs. Ludvig Borga, but Borga was injured two weeks before the show at the hands of Rick Steiner so Bigelow was penciled in as a replacement. Tatanka is wearing war paint because he means business tonight. Bigelow attacks Tatanka before the bell, but a blind charge eats a clothesline. Tatanka fires away and gets a body press off the ropes for two. Tatanka goes to work on the arm and gives Bigelow a DDT when Bigelow puts his head down too early. A flying body press off the top rope eats canvas, though, and Bigelow pounds away. A blind charge eats boot, but Bigelow blocks a top rope sunset flip and an odd looking enziguri gets two. Bigelow applies a sloppy bearhug, but Tatanka gets out and catches Bigelow with a powerslam for two. Both men try a body press at the same time and we have a quick double KO. Bigelow makes the mistake of taking Tatanka to the buckle and that causes Tatanka to go on the war path…UNTIL Bigelow just cuts it off with an enziguri. Awesome. Bigelow misses a moonsault off the top rope and we have double KO #2. Tatanka catches Bigelow with a flying body press off the top rope and that gets the pin at 7:31. The bearhug in the middle really slowed it down, but everything outside of that was solid. Grade: C

-WrestleMania X is coming! I like how they have Jim Ross dub over the WrestleMania IV footage as if he commentated the event.

-A video recaps the Hart Brothers-Quebecers feud, although it centers more on the issues between Bret and Owen since the 1993 Survivor Series.

-Todd Pettengill interviews the Hart Brothers. Bret says that after he and Owen win the tag titles they are going to give title shots to everyone. Owen says he can’t wait for his big opportunity and that he’s going to make Bret proud.

-WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Quebecers (Champions w/Johnny Polo) vs. The Hart Brothers:

DiBiase makes a funny lapse during introductions as he refers to the Hart Brothers as the “Bret Brothers.” The Hart Brothers get the best of Pierre in the early going and Owen gets a hiptoss for two. Jacques gets the tag and asks Owen to tag in Bret so they can have the match they never had at the 1992 Royal Rumble. Owen refuses and gives Jacques a suplex, which causes some stalling. They work in a nice enziguri spot and Bret gets the tag and a two count from a small package. A sunset flip gets two. A rollup gets two and all hell breaks loose until the Hart Brothers clear the ring. Back in, Bret unloads on the Quebecers and tags Owen, who nails Pierre with a clothesline two. A gutwrench suplex gets two. A leg drop gets two. Bret gets tagged in, but eats a powerslam for two. The Quebecers work over Bret in their corner legally and illegally and Jacques gets two off of a kick. Pierre dives off of the second rope, but eats a boot to the face and Owen gets the momentum swinging tag. Owen takes out the champions and traps Jacques in the Sharpshooter, but the referee is tied up with Bret and Pierre breaks it up. The Quebecers give Owen a double hot shot for two. Owen comes back by dropkicking both Quebecers and Bret gets momentum swinging tag #2. It’s Bret’s turn to take out the champions, but when he runs the ropes Polo pulls them down and Bret falls to the floor, hurting his knee. Bret does a great job selling it, as the Quebecers smell blood and take it to him on the floor. Jacques even uses Polo’s putter to inflict damage. Owen tosses Bret into the ring to avoid the count out and the Quebecers continue their assault on the injured knee. The Quebecers try to finish with the Quebecer crash, but it misses. Instead of trying to tag Owen, Bret goes for the Sharpshooter on Pierre, but his knee gives out when he turns it over and referee Tim White calls for the bell and ends the match at 15:22. This was really well booked, especially in terms of the Bret-Owen storyline. I really liked how it made the Quebecers look smart and opportunistic by going after Bret’s injury since it was their only chance to win. Grade: B

-After the match, Owen berates Bret and when Bret gets on his feet Owen kicks his leg out from under him to kick off a four year heel rampage in the WWF. Ray Rougeau comes into the ring like Geraldo Rivera and tries to interview Bret as he’s on the canvas in pain, but Pat Patterson cuts him off and tells him to get out of the ring.

-Owen tells Pettengill that he “kicked his leg out from his leg” because Bret was selfish and refused to tag out when the opportunity presented itself. It’s really hard to disagree with Owen’s logic here.

-Intercontinental Championship Match: “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon (Champion) vs. Irwin R. Schyster:

IRS berates the crowd for their tax cheating ways on his way to the ring. Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon are on commentary for this match because they are doing the “Radio WWF” broadcast for the show. Ramon immediately goes to work on IRS after taking a slap and IRS quickly bails. They do it all over again and the crowd gets on IRS’s case. Back in, Ramon hits an atomic drop and a clothesline for two, but IRS tosses him over the top rope and destroys him on the floor. Back in, IRS goes to the top rope and he avoids the foot Ramon puts up on a dive and drops an elbow for two. Well that was different. Chinlock time and Ramon eats a knee when he fights out. IRS drops a leg for two and goes back to the chinlock, making sure to use the ropes this time for leverage. After a while, Ramon fights out and makes the comeback, getting two from a fallaway slam. IRS whips Ramon into the referee, but gets blasted with his briefcase. Unfortunately for Ramon, the referee isn’t there to register the pinfall so he gives IRS the side suplex off the second rope. Ramon goes for the Razor’s Edge, but Shawn Michaels runs down and hits Ramon in the back of the head with his version of the Intercontinental title. Ross’s commentary is really great here as he describes the carnage left in the ring since all three participants are incapacitated. IRS eventually comes to and crawls over to pin Ramon for the title at 9:51.

As an IRS fan I’m jumping for joy, but Earl Hebner runs out and crashes the party by telling Joey Marella what happened and showing him that there are two Intercontinental title belts in the ring. In the midst of the chaos, Ramon gives IRS a Razor’s Edge and retains the title at 9:54. This really didn’t go anywhere until the finish. Grade: D+

-A video package recaps the Undertaker-Yokozuna feud.

-Casket Match for the WWF Championship: Yokozuna (Champion w/Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji) vs. The Undertaker:

This was the Undertaker’s first shot at the WWF championship in nearly two years. I always wondered why the Undertaker got to build the casket they used for the match. You’d think that the dimensions of the casket would have to be agreed on by both parties. McMahon says that Yokozuna is going to turn into a “mountain of jellyfish” because of his fear of the Undertaker, which is a visual I can’t quite comprehend. The Undertaker floors Yoko with a flying clothesline and Yoko tumbles to the floor and runs into the ring post. I always loved that spot. Back in, the Undertaker does his ropewalk spot, but misses a flying clothesline when Yoko ducks. The action goes back to the floor, where the Undertaker wails away on Yoko with a chair. The crowd goes nuts because chairs weren’t used as weapons that often in this era. Yoko gets some salt from Fuji, throws it in the Undertaker’s eyes, and uses the steps and the chair to his advantage. Back in, Yoko hits the Undertaker with a clothesline, but the Undertaker blocks being dumped into the casket. Yoko stops a slugfest with a belly-to-belly suplex, but the Undertaker doesn’t sell it and CHOKESLAMS Yoko. Screw a bodyslam, I want to see more of that. A DDT creates a double KO and the Undertaker dumps Yoko into the casket. The Undertaker goes to close the lid, but Crush stops him. The Undertaker takes care of him and the Great Kabuki and Tenryu, but when the Undertaker tries to close the lid again Bam Bam Bigelow runs out. Chaos reigns supreme as Adam Bomb, Jeff Jarrett, Diesel, and the Headshrinkers join the fun. The Undertaker fights them off, but Yoko finally realizes that he needs to get the urn away from Bearer so he destroys him and as the urn leaks green smoke the Undertaker’s power diminishes. After a prolonged heel beat down, Yoko pushes the Undertaker into the casket and retains the title at 13:13. The crowd is absolutely demoralized by the finish, but the post-match antics, which see the Undertaker give a farewell speech on the big screen and his resurrection makes them happy again. Some people hate on this, but it’s not THAT bad. I mean how else do you expect a heel to beat the Undertaker in a casket match? The storytelling during the match made sense and both guys put on a fun brawl before the run-ins. Grade: D+

-Randy Savage, Jeff Jarrett, Tatanka, Diesel, Doink, Shawn Michaels, and Lex Luger cut Royal Rumble promos.

-Royal Rumble Match:

Scott Steiner is #1 and Samu is #2. McMahon announces that because of time constraints, participants will enter every 90 seconds instead of every two minutes. #3 is Rick Steiner and despite the fact that Scott is on the verge of elimination he isn’t in any hurry to get to the ring. The Steiners destroy Samu and Samu ends up hanging himself between the second and top ropes. When Samu frees himself, Scott pushes him off the apron and eliminates him. Kwang is #4 and he sprays mist in Rick’s eyes, allowing him to focus on Scott. That’s a smart plan. Owen Hart is #5 and the crowd quickly voices their displeasure as his arrival. The ultimate opportunist, he goes after Rick and easily eliminates him. You’ll notice that the Steiners didn’t face each other during the entire match and that’s one of the reasons they did squat in the WWF in 1994. It’s never a good idea to make the booking team mad.

#6 is Bart Gunn and he goes after Owen. Nothing happens so DiBiase starts telling the story of how he lasted fifty minutes in the 1990 Royal Rumble to alleviate some of the boredom. It doesn’t work. #7 is Diesel and he beats on everyone. Diesel clears the ring in quick succession and the crowd pops huge, but I think a lot of that has to do with Owen’s elimination. #8 is Bob Backlund and although he comes close to dumping Diesel, he suffers the same fate as those who preceded him. #9 is Billy Gunn, but he eats a big boot and is sent to the showers. Since nothing is going on in the ring, we cut to the locker room where Tenryu and the Great Kabuki are beating on Lex Luger in the locker room. #10 is Virgil and DiBiase laughs as Virgil is quickly dumped.

#11 is Randy Savage and he takes his time getting into the ring. Savage nearly dumps Diesel until Jeff Jarrett, the #12 competitor, runs in and attacks him. Jarrett tries to toss Savage out, but Savage barely avoids having his feet touch and the floor and he gets back into the ring and throws Jarrett out. Lucky #13 is Crush and Savage wastes little time going after him. #14 is Doink and as he makes his way to the ring, Crush tosses Savage out. Doink laughs in the corner as Crush and Diesel wail away on each other. Crush and Diesel finally come to their senses, but Doink spits water in both of their faces. That only keeps them at bay for a while, though, and in a cool spot, Diesel and Crush hold the ropes open for #15, Bam Bam Bigelow, who comes in and tosses Doink out of the ring gorilla press style to continue their feud.

#16 is Mabel and he avalanches Diesel against the corner a couple of times. Crush and Bigelow suffer the same fate, but Diesel gets some revenge before Thurman “Sparky” Plugg makes his entrance as #17. #18 is Shawn Michaels and he teases a showdown with Diesel until both men decide to reconcile. Everyone gangs up on Diesel as Michaels does nothing and Diesel is eliminated. The crowd chants his name as he heads to the locker room. #19 is Mo and he goes after Crush. Michaels teases some eliminations for fun as the pointless brawling continues. #20 is Greg Valentine and he’s the odd man out in the ring since he doesn’t have a defined face/heel orientation.

#21 is Tatanka and as comes into the ring Crush makes sure to work in his dumb “let me get you above my head in a gorilla press position and not throw you out of the ring” spot with Michaels. #22 is the Great Kabuki and he goes after Mabel. Michaels takes out Mo and everyone gangs up on Mabel and dumps him, which is how tag team elimination spots need to happen in the Royal Rumble. #23 is Lex Luger and that wakes up the crowd. Luger fires away on Kabuki and easily tosses him out. Crush is the next one to feel Luger’s wrath and Mo of all people stops the beat down. #24 is Tenyru and he fulfills his mercenary role by going right after Luger. #25 is no one and McMahon speculates that it might be Bret Hart and that Bret must be devastated because it was his dream to compete in the Rumble. Geez, it’s not like Bret hasn’t competed in one of these before.

#26 is Rick Martel and he goes to work on Mo. Martel and Michaels quickly get into a brawl in the corner and unlike their 1992 SummerSlam match, this time they can punch each other in the face and take full advantage of the opportunity to do so. #27 is Bret Hart, which gets a huge pop from the crowd. Bret limps his way into the ring and Crush is there to greet him. #28 is Fatu. The ring is getting really crowded at this point. There’s twelve guys in there and it’s very hard to see what’s going on. Luger, Bret, Plugg, and Bigelow dump Crush as Jannetty comes out as #29 to brawl with Michaels. Just let it go Marty. The camera cuts away from the action, because I guess a Rockers blowoff isn’t that exciting, to show Randy Savage and Crush brawling backstage. Ray Rougeau begs someone to get security, which kind of ruins the intensity of the moment. Lucky #30 is Adam Bomb.

So we’re left with Bomb, Tatanka, Plugg, Bret, Luger, Mo, Fatu, Valentine, Bigelow, Martel, Michaels, Tenryu, and Jannetty. Bret dumps Plugg when he’s tied up with Michaels in the ropes. Absolutely nothing notable happens for several minutes and then Martel wins the 1991 Royal Rumble Ironman showdown with Valentine and dumps him. Martel is subsequently backdropped out by Tatanka. Luger ducks a dive from Bomb and Bomb is eliminated. Fatu eliminates Plugg and Bigelow gets some of his heat back from earlier in the night by tossing Tatanka to the floor. Bigelow’s blind charge at Luger in the corner eats buckle and Bigelow does a Flair flip and is eliminated. Jannetty is eliminated off screen and Bret and Luger eliminate Tenryu. The final four take a quick breather and I wonder why Fatu is still in the match. This is like when Brian Knobbs was still around in 1991. Fatu and Michaels form a very effective tag team and nearly suplex Luger out of the ring. However, Luger makes the comeback and when Fatu and Michaels charge Luger and Bret in their respective corners they get backdropped out. Luger and Bret have a quick faceoff and when Luger picks up Bret, Bret gets out of his grasp and both men fall out of the ring at the same time at 50:51.

Joey Marella and Early Hebner argue over a match result for the second time that night and Howard Finkel announces Luger as the winner. Finkel then corrects himself and says that Bret is the winner. Bret gets the bigger reaction of the two. After they make everyone confused over who is the winner, WWF President Jack Tunney comes out and says that both men are co-winners. Some replays of the final elimination play us out, but none of them conclusively show who’s feet hit the floor first. This wasn’t a good Rumble. There was tons of dead space between eliminations and the only memorable moments of the match were Diesel’s Superman push and the co-winners finish. Grade: C-

The Final Report Card: The show got off to a good start, but really drags in the second half. The Rumble isn’t one of the good ones and it gets more love than it deserves because of the co-winners finish. To its credit, though, it is still a better Rumble than most of the ones the WWF would put out in the late ‘90s.

Attendance: 14,500 ($160,000 gate)

Buyrate: 0.9

Show Grade: D+

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