USF Sun Dome – Tampa, FL – Sunday, January 22, 1995
Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Intercontinental Championship Match – Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett
Ramon has been the champion since 8.29.94, and this is his fifth major defense. He easily controls his challenger in the early going, even busting out a chokeslam. Jarrett powders and comes back in with a little bit of offense and can’t help but gloat. Ramon soon regains control and Jarrett powders again. His stalling is almost at Zbyszko level. He finally gets back in the ring and they go back and forth, with the Florida crowd fully in support of the champion. Jarrett takes control and wears Ramon down, eventually going to the sleeper. Ramon escapes it but Jarrett gets a neckbreaker and tries using the ropes for leverage on the pin cover, but Ramon kicks out anyway. Jarrett stays one step ahead of Ramon and dumps him to the floor. Ramon appears to have injured his knee, and the Roadie makes it worse when he clips it from behind. Ramon can’t make it back to the ring and gets counted out at 11:45.
Jarrett appears upset about the countout since that means he doesn’t win the title, but then why didn’t he even try to get Ramon back into the ring? He challenges Ramon to come back to the ring and re-defend the title. He calls him yellow, so Ramon comes back to the ring and we restart the match at 14:34. Jarrett wisely goes right to work on the leg. He eventually puts on the figure-four, but Ramon punches his way out of it. Ramon valiantly fights back with right hands. He goes for the super back suplex and Jarrett falls back on him, but Ramon reverses his reversal and gets a two-count. He motions for the Razor’s Edge, but his leg gives out and Jarrett capitalizes with a small package to get the pin and win the title for the first time at 20:54. The match was bland most of the way through, and the stop and restart didn’t really catch on with the live crowd.
MATCH #2: Irwin R. Schyster vs. Undertaker
IRS has Ted DiBiase in his corner, while the Undertaker has Paul Bearer. They stall forever at the bell. When the finally make contact Undertaker levels IRS with a boot to the face. Undertaker absolutely dominates the early minutes and IRS takes a frustrated powder. DiBiase brings out some Druids, who interfere to try and give IRS the control, but they are not able to do so. Eventually the numbers game does take over and the Druids help IRS take his first advantage of the match. The Druids continue to interfere, but Undertaker fights them all off. That gives IRS the chance to hit the Write-Off and both men are down. Undertaker simply sits up and delivers the Chokeslam to get the pin at 12:21. That was dreadfully boring and felt like it went on forever.
After the bell the Druids continue to attack, but Undertaker fights them off with ease. King Kong Bundy makes his way out to join in the attack, allowing IRS to steal the urn. That gives Bundy a huge advantage and he beats Undertaker down, leaving him laid out. Undertaker staggers to the back, looking worse for wear.
MATCH #3: WWF Championship Match – Bret “Hit Man” Hart vs. Diesel
Diesel has been the Champion since 11.26.94, and this is his second major defense. The Champion immediately uses his power advantage to show the Hit Man who’s boss. Diesel clotheslines Bret to the floor. Bret wisely pulls Diesel’s legs out from under him and rams them into the ring post. That gives Bret the opening to attack the legs with vigor. Bret uses the Figure-Four Leglock to weaken Diesel and keep him on the canvas. Diesel is so tall though that he can reach the ropes. He tries to seek refuge on the floor, but Bret wipes him out with a suicide dive. Bret tries to whip Diesel into the stairs, but Diesel reverses it and Bret crashes into the steps. Back in the ring Diesel has the momentum on his side now. Diesel works on the back, even using a Canadian Backbreaker on the Canadian Hero. Take that, Canada! Bret counters with a Sleeper but Diesel quickly throws him down to the mat. Diesel lands a Big Boot to really take control back. He charges into the corner and Bret gets hits boots up. Bret goes to the second rope and hits a clothesline. He goes back to the floor and trips Diesel up again, and this time he takes off some wrist tape and ties Diesel around the ring post! Bret unloads on Diesel as the referee unties him. That little trick has given Bret a huge advantage, and he hits some of the Moves of Doom but can’t put Diesel away yet. Bret clotheslines Diesel to the floor and tries another suicide dive, but this time Diesel catches him and rams his back into the ring post! Back in the ring Diesel hits the Jackknife and Shawn Michaels runs out to break up the cover! The crowd LOVES Michaels, by the way. I didn’t hear a bell ring, it should be noted. The referee decides that since this match is so important, he won’t let Shawn’s interference ruin it, and the match will continue!
After the distraction, Bret has recovered enough to go right back to Diesel’s legs, using the Figure-Four Leglock again. Diesel tries going after Bret’s injured ribs and back, but the Hit Man is tenacious. Bret wraps Diesel’s legs around the ring post and smashes his knee with a steel chair! For some reason the referee does not call for the bell. McMahon surmises that Bret may have missed. Either way the fans boo, but quickly turn to cheers when Bret puts on the Sharpshooter. Owen Hart comes out to break it up! He removes a turnbuckle pad and throws Bret sternum first into the exposed steel! Once again, the referee elects to let the match continue. Diesel crawls over to make the cover but only gets two. He tries to ram Bret into the unprotected turnbuckle but ret reverses it and sends Diesel to the buckle instead. They start trading heavy strikes and Diesel wins that battle. Bret feigns a knee injury and Diesel buys it, almost getting pinned with a small package. The referee gets bumped when Bret tries an O’Connor Roll. The ring fills up as Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Bob Backlund, Jeff Jarrett, and The Roadie all come out to attack both men. Finally, the referee calls for the bell at 27:19. Eventually, Bret and Diesel clear the ring and they show each other respect. This was a tremendous match between two fan favorites both doing everything in their power to win the title. Bret’s aggression added a needed element that made the match more intriguing. The finish even made sense given the time period and both men’s status as fan favorites, as well as their current feuds and the lead up to WrestleMania XI.
MATCH #4: World Tag Team Championship Match – Tatanka & Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Bob Holly & 1-2-3 Kid
The titles have been vacant since 11.23.94, when Champions Shawn Michaels & Diesel decided they could no longer function as a team. Bigelow & Tatanka beat Men on a Mission on the 12.17.94 episode of Superstars and then beat the Headshrinkers on the 1.14.95 episode of Superstars to get to the finals. Holly & Kid beat Well Dunn on the 1.7.95 episode of Superstars, and then beat the Heavenly Bodies on the 1.14.95 episode. The winners of this match get to face The Smokin’ Gunns tomorrow night on RAW.
Tatanka and Holly start the match, and that doesn’t go well for the Spark Plugg. Holly catches Tatanka with a flurry of offense, including a few of his vaunted dropkicks. Bigelow tags in and he bulldozes his way through both of his much smaller opponents. Every time Kid and Holly try to mount some offense, Tatanka and Bigelow cut them off and keep them down. Even with their pronounced size and strength advantage, Bigelow and Tatanka use some cheap tactics to ensure they stay in control and win the titles. Holly gets trapped in the ring for quite a long time and gets beaten down without mercy for several minutes. Finally, Holly is able to catch Tatanka with a cross body block at the same time as getting hit with one himself, and that’s enough to make the hot tag. Kid is a house afire on Bigelow, flying all over in and out of the ring. Bigelow comes back and press slams Kid to the floor. Back in the ring Bigelow goes for the Moonsault but Tatanka bounces off the ropes and knocks Bigelow down. Holly takes Tatanka out, and Kid eventually crawls over and pins Bigelow for the huge upset at 15:47! This ran a little bit long for the story they were telling, but for the most part this was a very solid David versus Goliath tag team match. The finish would have been more effective had Kid made a quicker cover.
Tatanka and DiBiase leave Bigelow on his own, and he is getting taunted by the fans at ringside. Bigelow crosses paths with NFL great Lawrence Taylor at ringside, and he thinks Taylor is mocking him. Taylor extends his hand, but Bigelow shoves him! This of course would lead to Bigelow versus Taylor in the main event of WrestleMania XI.
MATCH #5: Royal Rumble Match
Before the match can begin, The Fink introduces Pamela Anderson, who struts out looking hot and sits at ringside to continue looking hot. The #1 entrant is Shawn Michaels! He certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him, as does the #2 entrant, the British Bulldog. Michaels wastes no time going to work. The intervals are only a minute this year, so entrants will be coming out very quickly. Eli Blu is #3, making his first major appearance in WWE. Next up is Duke “The Dumpster” Droese at #4. Bulldog and Blu do battle while Michaels and Droese take it to each other. “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray of the Heavenly Bodies is #5. Next up at #6 is Headshrinker Sione. Seconds later Bulldog scores the first elimination by dumping Del Ray to the floor. Bummer for Del Ray, because his fellow Heavenly Body Tom Prichard is #7. So far almost everyone has teased eliminating Shawn Michaels. Doink the Clown is #8, as the ring is filing up a bit. Kwang makes his way out at #9. Rumble veteran Rick Martel is #10, so we’re a third of the way through the entrants. Next up at #11 is Owen Hart, and before he can even get to the ring, he is attacked by his brother Bret! By the time Owen makes it to the ring Bulldog quickly clotheslines him right back out! Timothy Well is #12, and I don’t think McMahon or Lawler even know who he is. Michaels eliminates Droese. Bulldog gets rid of Well, Sione eliminates Martel, and Michaels eliminates Prichard. That clears out a little bit of space. More space is cleared as Kwang eliminates Doink, Sione eliminates Kwang, and then Sione and Eli eliminate each other. Bushwhacker Luke is #13 and Michaels quickly dumps him to the floor. We’re left with just Michaels and Bulldog, the two men that started the match. Jacob Blu is #14 and Michaels quickly sends him back to the locker room as well. We reach the halfway point with King Kong Bundy at #15. Mo from Men on a Mission is #16 and Bundy eliminates him in a matter of seconds. Mabel is #17 and he goes face to face with fellow behemoth Bundy. They slug it out as Bushwhacker Butch comes at #18. Mabel throws Bundy to the floor all by himself. Michaels tosses Butch out. Lex Luger is #19 and he immediately gets rid of Mabel. Bulldog and Luger work together on Michaels now. Mantaur brings us two-thirds of the way through at #20.
Aldo Montoya is #21, looking as ridiculous as ever. Henry Godwinn is the #22 entrant. Not much happens and Billy Gunn comes out at #23. Bart Gunn is next at #24. The brawling continues, and then former two-time WWF Champion Bob Backlund makes his way out at #25, and Bret Hart attacks him just like he did his brother Owen Steven Dunn is #26 and the commentators barely know who he is either. When Backlund finally does get in the ring he is dumped out by Luger! Bret and Backlund then brawl to the back. Next up is veteran and former World Tag Team Champion (with Adrian Adonis in 1984) Dick Murdoch at #27. When this show first happened, I admit I had no idea who Murdoch was. Adam Bomb comes out at #28, the second straight year he drew a really good number. Headshrinker Fatu, one of last year’s Final Four, is #29. Luger gets rid of Mantaur. The final entrant is Crush at #30. He and Murdoch work together to eliminate both Billy and Bart, who were fighting each other. Montoya eliminates Dunn. Murdoch foolishly tries to headbutt Fatu and hurts his own head in the process. Crush sends Bomb over the top rope. Michaels dumps Montoya out. Crush ends Fatu’s night. Godwinn eliminates Murdoch while almost getting eliminated himself. We’re down to just five now. Luger dumps Godwinn out, so the final four is Luger, Crush, Bulldog, and Michaels. This is the first time any of the first two entrants have lasted to the end. Luger delivers mounted punches in the corner to Crush, and Michaels comes from behind and helps Crush dump him out. I totally thought Luger was winning this when it happened so this bummed me out. Michaels and Crush team up on Bulldog, and then Crush tries to press slam Michaels to the floor. That doesn’t work, and Bulldog is able to clothesline Crush out. We’re down to the last two, who are also the first two. Bulldog is a house afire and is throwing Michaels all over the ring. He press-slams him crotch first on the top rope, and then clotheslines him (he thinks) to the floor. Bulldog’s music even plays but Michaels had held on and only one foot touched the floor. Michaels sneaks back in and dumps Bulldog to the floor to win the Rumble at 38:42! That’s still the shortest Rumble ever, but it was quite a bit of fun. I love the story of Michaels and Bulldog lasting the entire time, and the finish was awesome. I really liked the angle of Bret attacking both Owen and Backlund, causing their eliminations. The only thing dragging this one down is the preponderance of jobbers and deadweight, but I think this Rumble is a little overlooked.
I enjoy the Rumble match, and the Bret v Diesel match is rad even without a finish. They also set up the top three WrestleMania matches, and the Intercontinental Title changed hands (leading to another Mania match), so there was some important stuff happening here.
Tags: Bret Hart, Diesel, royal rumble, Shawn Michaels, WWE