WWF Royal Rumble - January 22, 1995
by Scrooge McSuck
- Looking back, it seems like I've covered all the "old school" Rumble shows through 1996, excluding this one (1994's version is a short form in one of the compilation reviews), so I figure why not suck it up and take one for the team. Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View, on January 22nd, 1995, from the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, FL. I remember this show being hyped like never before, thanks to an appearance by the one, the only... Pamela Anderson. Wait, what? Yes, the entire hype wasn't about the Royal Rumble, it was "Pamela Anderson will be there, and will escort the winner to WrestleMania XI." Everyone was, in kayfabe, more excited about her presence than the actual reward of a title shot... and people wonder why 1995 was so deep in the toilet from 1995 through 1997?
- Vince McMahon and Jerry "the King" Lawler are calling all the action. Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wiand are hanging around for interviews.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
After spending most of 1994 in filler, midcard programs that went nowhere, Double J was finally given a fresh push to close 1994, and was given a heat device, I mean "ringside assistant" in the form of the Roadie, played by Brian Armstrong, probably best known as the Road Dogg. Ramon pounds away to start things off. Whip to the corner, Jarrett avoids a charge, and offers a bitch slap. He makes a futile cross body attempt, gets slammed for it, and chased from the ring following a chokeslam. Back inside, Jarrett takes Ramon down with an arm drag, then celebrates. McMahon continues to push the concept of Double J using the WWF to make a name for himself in Country music... I'm sorry, it still sounds idiotic. Ramon works the arm, but Jarrett escapes with a drop toe hold, then slaps him around. Ramon manages to turn the tables on Jarrett, and knock him to the floor following a clothesline. Back in the ring, Ramon wins a knuckle lock, and pounds away at the arm. Oh, Lawrence Taylor is at ringside, a guest of Diesel, don'cha know. Jarrett escapes, connects with a series of dropkicks, and struts some more. He hits a weak diving clothesline and covers for two. Ramon ducks an enziguri, but misses an elbow, and Jarrett gets two, again. He settles into a chinlock, as I think how 7 years later, these two were the most recognizable "stars" in NWA-TNA, and were both considered washed up. People sure give wrestlers a short life span. We get a series of near falls fighting over a sunset flip. Jarrett with a dropkick for another two count. Whip to the ropes, and it's Sleeper time! Ramon sells it by looking bored. Whip to the ropes, and Jarrett comes back with a swinging neckbreaker for a pair of two counts. Whip to the corner, Ramon slides out, trips Jarrett up, and crotches him on the post. Ramon to the second rope with a clothesline for a two count. Ramon winds up, misses a charge, and goes flying over the top rope. Roadie sneaks up from behind to clip the knee, and Jarrett wins by Count-Out at 11:46... but Double J wants the match to continue! Jarrett actually pulled that stunt with Tatanka on an earlier episode of Raw, as well as a Coliseum Exclusive with Ramon, losing each time.
Razor Ramon © vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett (w/ The Roadie):
Razor, summoning from Marty McFly Disease (taking offense to being called Chicken), bum-knee-rushes the ring, and school boys Jarrett for a two count. Jarrett quickly kicks away at the injured knee, but Ramon cradles him for two, again. Jarrett goes back to the leg and connects with the atomic drop, then rams the knee into the canvas. It's like watching a duller version of a Ric Flair match. Jarrett punishes the knee some more, desite Ramon's efforts of fighting him off. Jarrett pulls Ramon to the center of the ring, and it's Figure-Four time! Ramon see-saw's back and forth, before finally escaping with some short rights. Ramon gets back to his feet and pounds away. He ducks a clothesline and sets Jarrett up on the top turnbuckle, but Jarrett turns it and lands on top, but then Ramon counters that for a two count. Ramon lays him out with a clothesline, but is slow to his feet. He signals for the Razor's Edge, but the knee buckles, and Jarrett with a cradle for the (clean) three count at 6:20. Well, Ramon has no one but himself to blame for that. I remember being quite surprised Jarrett won the belt here, but I'm sure for smarter, older fans, it seemed like the obvious outcome. Pretty good match, but a bit slow at times during the first half.
- Todd Pettengill bothers Pamela Anderson, who is flanked by presents from the WWF Superstars, including a shrunken head, a can of sardines, a piggy-bank, a bulldog doll, a Lex Luger t-shirt, and framed photo of Shawn Michaels. Pamela (with all the motivation of a bored Lex Luger) insists Todd's gift is a pathetic, wilting rose, so Todd randomly grabs chocolate from the table behind him to salvage things... nice of Todd to try and save the segment.
The Undertaker vs. Irwin R. Schyster (w/ Ted Dibiase):
Oh sweet Jesus. Two things to set this up... I.R.S. was the only wrestler successful in getting past the ultimate defenses of Chuck Norris to interfere with the Casket Match, then spent the following weeks having headstones reposessed for owed taxes... wouldn't that make it more of a suitable program for the Repo Man? Anyway, this is Mike Rotundo's WWF swan song in terms of meaning anything, spending the remainder of his time as a bottom card JTTS before jumping to WCW in the Fall as V.K. (Vincent Kennedy, get it?) Wallstreet. Stalling to start, of course. I.R.S. sneaks up with a dropkick, but it's no-sold, and we get more stalling. I.R.S. pounds away, to no effect. Whip to the ropes, and Undertaker connects with a big boot. Whip across the ring, and Irwin Kind-of over-sells. He grabs the tie, and uses it to launch the Tax-Man. Undertaker walks the ropes and comes down with a clothesline. Dibiase hops on the apron in a failed attempt to outsmart the Dead Man. We get heel miscommuncation, but the formerly known team of Money In. make up as Dibiase calls for the Druids. I.R.S. fails another sneak attack, but manages to counter the rope walk with the assistance of a Druid. Undertaker takes a clothesline to the floor, where he greets the Druids with choking. I.R.S. with an axehandle from the apron, and sends 'Taker into the steps. The Druids work over 'Taker, as my sources suggest one is Jimmy Delray (which explains the height) and another is one of the Bruise/Blu/Grimm/DOA Brother/Guys. I.R.S. with the abdominal stretch, and yada yada, he uses the ropes. 'Taker escapes, slams Irwin, then misses an elbow. Whip to the ropes, and Irwin nails a diving clothesline. He drops a series of elbows and a leg drop, but a splash misses. Whip to the ropes, and a crappy colission puts them both down. A Druid comes in to put I.R.S. on top, but that only gets two. We get more heel miscommunication, but Undertaker can't put Irwin away. 'Taker plants him with a chokeslam, and that gets three at 12:22. Me thinks they blew the Tombstone spot, and went home with that, instead of repeating the spot. Afterwards, the Druids attack unsuccessfully (and a robe malfunction does reveal a Blu Brother), then King Kong Bundy lays Undertaker out to set up ANOTHER terrible feud, and Irwin steals the urn on behalf of the Corporation in the process. Awful match.
WWF Championship Match:
No real backstory to this one. Diesel surprised the world, defeating Bob Backlund (as a substitute for Bret) at Madison Square Garden, and Bret's been gone "nursing an injury" (well deserved time off, and to film Lonsome Dove episodes). They've been cutting good guy promos for a few weeks, but nothings come of it. Hey, Lawrence Taylor is at ringside, by the way, as a guest of Diesel (sure he is). They do the boxing "knuckle slap" before the match, for whatever reason. Lockup, and Diesel easily over-powers the Hitman. Bret with a go-behind, and a single-leg trip ends in the ropes. They quickly go into a slugfest, won with ease by Diesel. Whip to the ropes, and Bret's cross-body is countered with a slam. Diesel hits the ropes and misses an elbow. Bret with a clothesline, and Diesel responds with his own, sending the challenger to the floor. They slug it out again, knocking Bret off the apron. Bret sweeps the leg, and quickly wraps it around the post to level the playing field. Back inside, Bret goes to work in the leg, hooking a grapevine. Bret sweeps the leg again, jerking on the knee and clamping on the Figure-Four! It's only 5-minutes in, but it's definitely a good wear-down move. KLIQ Fears Figure-Fours at the '95 Rumble. Diesel hooks the rope, so Bret drags him back to the center of the ring, and slaps the hold on again. If something works, keep going with it. Bret stomps Diesel out of the ropes, follows him out with a suicide dive, and continues to pound away. Diesel reverses a whip, sending Bret into the ring steps. Back inside, Diesel hobbles around and sends Hart to the buckle. Diesel with elbows to the side of the face, followed by a side suplex, but it only gets two. Diesel chokes Bret across the ropes, and gingerly runs the ropes, dropping his weight across the back. Diesel with a back breaker hold until Bret forces himself out of the preasure. Whip to the corner, and Bret takes another hard bump. Diesel hoists Bret over his shoulders for a body vice submission. Bret breaks the hold and slaps on a sleeper, but Diesel quickly throws him off. Whip to the ropes, and Diesel lays him out with a boot. Diesel hits the ropes and drops an elbow for a two count.
Diesel © vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart:
Whip to the corner, Bret greets Diesel with a boot, and comes off the ropes with a clothesline. Bret to the top, and he turns a potential counter into a body press for a two count. Bret wraps Diesel around the post again, and this time uses cables at ringside to tie his legs together!!! Bret mercilessly stomps away on him while the referee undoes the knot. Bret takes him down with a bulldog for two. Fist to the midsection and Russian leg sweep for two. Back breaker and second rope elbow for two. Bret charges with a clothesline, sending Diesel to the floor. He goes for a plancha, but Diesel catches it, and rams him into the post. Back inside, Diesel signals for the end (or is gesturing flatulence). The Jacknife connects, but suddenly Shawn Michaels runs in to break the count and pound away on Diesel... but the match MUST CONTINUE. Bret stomps away at the knee again, followed by elbows and knee drops. He applies a Figure-Four for the third time of the match, but it can't finish the Champion off. Diesel punches his way free, but Bret relentlessly attacks the leg in the corner. Bret charges, and eats buckle at 100 mph. Diesel with knees to the ribs, followed by a gutwrench suplex for a two count. Diesel misses a charge in the corner, hanging his leg up across the top rope in the process. Bret with a chair, and he goes Ken Griffey Jr. on his leg... but the referee won't DQ him! Sharpshooter time, and now Owen Hart runs in to prevent the victory, and again, the match MUST CONTINUE! Diesel crawls over to Hart's laid out body, but only gets two. Bret blocks being sent to the exposed buckle and rams Diesel into it, instead. Bret pounds away with rights, and Diesel responds with forearms. Bret gets hung up in the ropes, so it's payback time... but Bret frees himself before the chair could come into play. Bret plays possum (allegedly) and cradles Diesel for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and we get a ref' bump on a roll-up attempt. Then Shawn, Double J, Owen, Backlund, and the Roadie run in for the mega-clusterfuck finish at 27:25, making this a No Contest. Other than the ass-retarded finish, an outstanding match, and one of Diesel's all-time best.
- Backstage, Todd tries sneaking a peak, like a pervert, and we're all jealous of him and his Mid-90's Mullet for it, too.
WWF Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals:
I was actually considering doing a spin-off review of the entire Tournament, but then my better judgment kicked in and decided against it. Bam Bam and Tatanka defeated Men on a Mission and the NEW Headshrinkers, while Kid and Sparky got through the ever-difficult challenges of Well Dunn and the Heavenly Bodies (one of them had to beat the Bushwhackers in the Quarter-Finals). Tatanka beat the Kid on Action Zone earlier in the day, and last week, Bam Bam took care of Bob Holly. Holly and Tatanka start, and who would guess both would be exactively working on the WWE Roster over a decade later? Tatanka pounds away with rights and chops. Whip to the ropes, and Holly gets caught with a side suplex. Whip to the ropes, and this time Holly counters with a head scissors. Holly with a slam and dropkicks, and now it's Bam Bam's turn, walking right into a drop toe hold. Whip to the ropes, and he runs through a double shoulder, plowing over both instead. He then takes the Kid and tosses him across the ring like a plastic fuck doll. Bigelow tosses him in the air again, but the Kid counters with a hurricanrana. Bam Bam no-sells a heel kick, and lays him out with an enziguri for a two count. Tatanka tags in and works Kid over with his usual crap offense. Whip to the buckle, and the Kid takes a hard bump. Kid tries fighting off Bigelow, but he's too strong. Bam Bam rams him face-first into the canvas, then takes him over with a suplex. Bigelow gets sent to the floor with a back drop, and heel miscommunication allows Holly to get the tag. Top rope dropkicks are countered, but the heels get rammed together, and Holly rolls Tatanka up for two. Whip to the ropes, and the Brunzell dropkick gets two. Holly with charging clotheslines, but a third sees him spill to the floor, courtesy of Bam Bam.
The 1-2-3 Kid & Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka (w/ Ted Dibiase):
Back inside, Tatanka drops an elbow. Whip to the ropes, and he levels Holly with a forearm. My God, does Tatanka absolutely suck as a heel. Tatanka with more slams, then a cheap shot to the Kid, bringing my opinion of him back up just a bit. Whip to the ropes and a powerslam for two. The Kid MISSES the pinfall break-up elbow, the first time I've ever seen that. Then the heels have miscommunication to even the series. The Kid falls for Tatanka's bait, leaving his corner, and allowing Bam Bam to punish Holly some more. Bam Bam tosses Holly over the top rope, and it's a darn shame this isn't Rumble Rules. Holly tries to surprise Bigelow with a sunset flip, and gets crushed for it. Bigelow with an awkward dropkick for a series of two counts. Tatanka gets the tag from Holly... and I must admit, that's a cute spot almost never used. Bigelow and Tatanka continue the punishment, turning Holly into a bowl of Jell-o. Tatanka with a lazy gutwrench suplex. Whip to the corner, and he connects with a clothesline. Holly keeps making blind tags to corners that don't include his partner, and throwing desperate blows in a comeback attempt. Whip to the ropes, and a double cross body has both Holly and Tatanka down. The Kid FINALLY gets the hot tag and nails Bigelow with a spinning heel kick. Kid to the top, and a missile dropkick connects, followed by a dropkick to Tatanka. The Kid follows out with a somersault plancha, then comes off the top with a body press on Bigelow for two. Holly runs in to clear Tatanka from the ring, but it's pointless, as Bam Bam tosses the Kid over the top rope, press slam style. Bigelow with a slam, and he climnbs the ropes, but Tatanka comes back in and hits the ropes, accidentally knocking Bigelow on his head. Holly knocks Tatanka to the floor again, and the Kid makes the cover for the three count and Tag Titles at 15:48. Despite the fact the faces were made to look completely inferior, and their title loss the next night making this match utterly pointless, it was pretty entertaining, with no resting, and a surprise finish.
Post-match, Bam Bam finally comes to, because that one fall managed to knock him out for a good 5-minutes. He takes a walk around the ring area, before stopping to have a chatter with SPECIAL GUEST LAWRENCE TAYLOR, who seems to be enjoying Bigelow's short-comings. Bigelow ignores a handshake, and instead shoves Taylor as hard as you can shove a celebrity/Hall of Fame athlete without being sued, thus kicking off the program for the MAIN EVENT of WrestleMania XI.
- We recap clips from last year's Royal Rumble, where Diesel was a one-man wrecking crew (until a phantom assistance from Shawn Michaels helped eliminate him), and Bret Hart and Lex Luger were declared co-winners in the lamest finish to date in Rumble History. In between, we get promos from all the important participants: Shawn Michaels and Lex Luger. Um... wow, remember the days when EVERYONE got to talk?
30 Man Royal Rumble Match:
Due to the undercard eating up roughly 2 hours of Pay-Per-View time, this years version of the Rumble will include 60-second intervals, promising to be the most fast-paced Rumble ever! I was 9 at the time, and knew this was a stupid move, and openly complained about it up until the night of the show. People blame the roster for the move, but a minor tweak could've easily salvaged things. More on that later. In a not-so-surprising move, Shawn Michaels draws #1 (as I predicted in 1995), and the British Bulldog is #2. This marks Bulldog's second time starting off the Rumble (he drew #1 in 1992, I believe). Shawn attacks before the bell, but Bulldog quickly sends him to the buckle. Press slam... and he doesn't try to eliminate him. Moron. Bulldog with a clothesline, complete with the JANNETTY over-sell. #3 is Eli Blu (allegedly). The WWF never gave pictures of them in the Reports, so I had NO clue who this was, and neither does anyone in the crowd, judging from the silence. #4 is Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, and he eats a boot from the Blu Twin on his way in. He pairs up with Shawn, and that's as high profile he's ever going to be in the WWF. #5 is the Gigolo, Jimmy Delray, and he goes after Droese. #6 is Sionne, a.k.a The Barbarian. Bulldog clotheslines DelRay out at 4:32. Shawn sends Sionne to the buckle, but it's no sold. #7 is Tom Prichard, too bad his partner was eliminated. the crowd is really not into this so far. #8 is Doink (the Clown) with Dink (the Clown), and the crowd actually pops for him. Ugh. He goes after Sionne, before being attacked by Eli. #9 is Kwang (the Ninja), and the ring continues filling up with the JTTS Crew. #10 is the Model Rick Martel, making a one shot return, subbing for the recently released Jim Neidhart. This is his 7th Rumble appearance, years before Kane's 14th or whatever number became a serious amount of appearances. Still no more eliminations.
#11 is Owen Hart, and he's attacked in the aisle by his brother, Bret, and that eats up the entire 60-seconds. #12 is Timothy Well, and the crowd pops huge... because in the ring (off camera), Owen is eliminated by Bulldog at 10:09, lasting about 2-seconds in the process. Then EVERYONE is gone: Duke Droese by Michaels at 10:19 (and taking out Hebner, in the process), Timothy Well blows his one spot and gets tossed by Davey Boy at 10:32, Rick Martel is sent packing by Sionne at 10:36, Tom Prichard gets tossed by Michaels at 10:40, Doink gets kicked off the apron by Kwang (the Ninja) at 11:01, Kwang is clotheslined out by Sionne at 11:06, and Sionne and Eli Blu take each other out at 11:12, leaving Bulldog and Michaels. #13 is Bushwhacker Luke, and Shawn tosses him at 11:27. Well, that was quick. Longer than his 4-seconds in 1991, according to Lawler. #14 is Jacob Blu, and I thought it was the same guy. He cleans Shawn's clock with a clothesline, then misses a charge, and is gone at 12:24. #15 is King Kong Bundy, and he's the first road-block of the match. The New Generation: Having trouble with King Kong Bundy since September 1994. Incase you missed it, we show Owen's elimination, again. #16 is Mo of Men on a Mission, and he's in and out in 2-seconds courtesy of Bundy at 14:11. Lawler's reaction was classic to me as it happened, but now seems a bit weak. #17 is Mabel, and it's an official Battle of the Bulkô. #18 is Bushwhacker Butch, and Bundy is gone at 16:19. Butch is tossed shortly after, same exact style as Luke, by Michaels, at 16:34. #19 is Lex Luger, and he throws Mabel out like a fucking feather at 17:18. #20 is Mantaur (MOO!!!), and no one responds to him, either. I never even saw Mantaur before this show, a trend that seems to have developed for this match. He goes after Davey Boy in a battle of Bull vs. Dog... HAR HAR HAR!
#21 is Aldo Montoya, and even less people care about him than they did Mantaur. So many PPV debuts on this card. Shows how thin the roster was. #22 is Henry O. Godwinn, no reaction, PPV Debut. Classic line: "his teeth are so dirty, he can drink water and spit Yoohoo." I ripped that line off not long ago and got big laughs for it, no lie. #23 is Billy Gunn and #24 is Bart Gunn. They argued on the Action Zone because Bart refused to show Billy his, after Billy showed his to Bart. Absolutely nothing of interest is going on. Lex and Bulldog are often helping each other, setting up their team of "Allied Powers." #25 is Bob Backlund, and guess what, repeated booking: Bret attacks him before he can enter. #26 is Steven Dunn (PPV Debut, no reaction)... wait... Owen enters, gets attacked, followed by a Well Dunn member. Backlund enters, gets attacked, followed by a Well Dunn member... Wow, that's lazy. Backlund is out as quick as he enters, this time courtesy of Luger, at 24:27. Nice of Dunn to get in the way of the spot... so each Well Dunn member has blown a spot around the same time as the elimination of a Bret nemesis. #27 is Dick Murdoch, the old timer of the match. Sadly, he passed away soon after, but him being a pure racist, I don't have too much sympathy. #28 is Adam Bomb, who makes the most comical bellowing in history on his way to the ring. He goes right after Dunn. #29 is Headshrinker Fatu (he's not quite makin' a difference, yet). He has a slugfest with Billy Gunn. Luger tosses Mantaur at 27:43. #30 is Crush, making his return for one-night only (damn legal troubles), and he quickly tosses both Gunns at 28:28. That's what you get when siblings scuffle. Dunn is out thanks to MONTOYA at 28:39. Now THAT's being a Jobber. Bomb and Crush battle, years before KroniK. We discuss last years controversial finish (Vince: I don't think'll ever happen, again) as Luger lets MONTOYA stomp his ass. Fatu and Murdoch trade headbutts, and Crush dumps Bomb at 31:51. Shawn tosses Montoya out at 32:27. Luger saves Shawn (again) from Murdoch. Crush levels Fatu with a clothesline, and tosses him at 32:54. Dick Murdoch accidentally eliminates himself doing an Airplane Spin, at 33:31.
We're down to Luger and Bulldog against Godwinn, Crush, and Michaels. Luger takes a beating, but manages to toss Godwinn at 34:48. Luger gets careless, mounting Crush in the corner, and Michaels pushes him out at 36:01. And yet, another chapter in the saga of Luger choking the big one... that sounded much dirtier than I intended. Crush and Michaels double team Bulldog until we get heel miscommuncation, and if anyone doesn't think Crush is gone next, you're mental. Bulldog clotheslines him out at 37:18, leaving the two men who started as the final two men in the ring. Kind of cool, except for the fact it's 20-minutes shorter than any other Rumble (sans 1988) in history. Bulldog cleans Shawn's clock and finally clotheslines him out... BUT HOLD THE MUSIC! Shawn comes back in, and knocks Bulldog over the top rope, to the floor, and HE is declared the winner, at 38:32. Apparently the instant replay shows only ONE of Shawn's feet touched the floor, and yep, we get extensive replays of this. No wonder they hyped the rules as "BOTH FEET" for the first time. Shocking at the time, considering we never had that rule come into play before. Pamela Anderson looks bored to tears as Shawn celebrates his victory. The sped-up time for each entrant and lack of any interesting spots makes this a 40-minute battle royale. Might as well have put everyone in the ring at once. I know the roster was thin, but there's no excuse for poor execution, and other than "Shawn and Bulldog start and finish", this had absolutely nothing. It wasn't the worst Rumble ever, but it's in the bottom third of the list, without a doubt.
Final Thoughts: On paper, this looks like a great show. All three title matches were at least good quality performances, and even though the Rumble was pretty bland, it still was watchable for the sake of being hard to totally screw up the Rumble match (they finally figured that out in 1999). However, if you look deeper, the WWF Title Match was a horrible excuse of a non-finish for paying customers, the tag titles were given to a team that was completely squashed, only to have them lose the next night, and hey, that Rumble did kind of blow, in comparison to almost all other Rumbles. I don't like playing fantasy booker, but they could've shored up the Rumble Match with better names by holding off the Tag Title Tournament Finals for Monday Night, and sub those four in instead of the Bushwhackers and Well Dunn, who could've done a filler match between the important undercard stuff. I would've been more excited for the Rumble with names like Bigelow, the Kid, and Tatanka in it, instead of Butch, Like, Well, and Dunn. Hell, take out two more bottom feeders, stick Undertaker and I.R.S. in the Rumble, and have the Corporation gang up on Undertaker there to eliminate him and steal the urn. ANYTHING to add depth. Anyway, this show's got a watchable undercard, but skip the Rumble. You really aren't missing anything.
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