WWF Royal Rumble - January 22, 1994
by Scrooge McSuck
- I could've sworn up and down I've done a recap of this show. After extensive searching, I came across a review I did of WWF feature matches from January and February '94, and sandwiched in-between was a short-form version of my opinions of the card. I'm guessing I couldn't find a good quality version online at the time, otherwise I don't understand myself doing that, other than to comment on it without doing a full-grown recap.
Anyway, with almost all but a handful of the Royal Rumble PPV's recapped for Da' Site, welcome to another edition of Filling In The Holes™. The 1994 Royal Rumble will always hold a special place in my heart, much like a lot of PPV's from this era. My inner mark was on fire for the WWF and watching television religiously at least three times a week for Raw, Superstars, and Challenge had me excited. For instance, I would've put money on Lex Luger winning the Rumble. Of course, I also picked the Undertaker to win the WWF Title, so sometimes being Pro-Face isn't the greatest thing.
- Originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View, on January 22nd, 1994, from the Providence Civic Center in Providence, RI. Vince McMahon and the returning "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase are on hand to call all the action. I remember Vince being a bit of a commentary whore on this card, constantly cutting Dibiase off and occasionally ignoring whatever he tries to chime in.
Opening Match: Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon):
This is kind of a belated blowoff to their Summer of '93 program, purely for reasons of "Card Subject to Change". This was originally meant to be Part III in the Tatanka vs. Borga feud, but Borga broke his ankle at MSG earlier in the week, and was never seen in the WWF, again. I should note how weird Bam Bam looks, ALMOST clean shaved. He's got a five o'clock shadow going here, for whatever reasons. Maybe shaving day came and he forgot he was going to be on television before it could grow in.
Tatanka avoids a sneak attack, and goes to work with chops. Bigelow responds with rights and a dropkick. Charge to the corner meets a clothesline. Tatanka comes off the ropes with shoulder tackles and a dropkick, followed by a body press for a two count. Arm drag into an armbar. Whip to the ropes, Tatanka plants Bigelow with a DDT. He goes to the top, but misses a body press. Bigelow sends him to the corner and follows in with an avalanche. A second attempt meets a boot, but Tatanka's sunset flip attempt is countered with a butt drop. Tatanka makes a comeback attempt, but Bigelow interrupts with a dropkick, then slaps on a bearhug. Tatanka fights free, only to run into a shoulder tackle. He catches Bigelow off the ropes with a powerslam for two. Both men go for a body press, with Bigelow coming out on top of that exchange. Tatanka does his War Dance Revival™, but Bigelow connects with an enziguri to interrupt him. Good pop for that. Bigelow misses a moonsault from the top rope, and Tatanka comes off with the body press for three at 8:12. Short, but solid opener with a very lively crowd.
- We recap the saga leading up to the Tag Title Match. At the 1993 Survivor Series, Bret and Owen had a bit of a misunderstanding, leading to Owen's elimination. A few weeks later, Owen said he's been living in the shadow of Bret and challenged him to a match. Bret responds by refusing the challenge. Later, things appear to be alright, as they make up over the holidays. They want a Tag Title Match, too, but oh my, the Quebecers were upset by the make-shift team of Marty Jannetty and the 1-2-3 Kid on the 1st anniversary episode of Raw. Lucky for them, a rematch was granted at MSG, and the Quebecers regained the belts, thus making the upcoming match for the belts, once again. You got all that?
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Looking back, anyone who didn't see the finish coming (not so the match result, but what happened after it) had to be a brain dead hick. I guess you can say we're getting a make-up for 1992 here, with Jacques (formerly the Mountie) and Bret being on opposite sides over a Championship. I just realized Jacques Rougeau competed at FIVE Royal Rumble PPV's, and never once in the Rumble Match. This has been another Pointless Trivia Tidbit. Bret and Pierre start. Lockup, Pierre with the obvious strength advantage. He catches Bret off the ropes with a slam, then walks into a knee lift. Owen from the top with an axehandle, then goes to work on the arm. Pierre snapmares free and plows through Owen with a shoulder. Criss-cross, and Owen takes him over with a hip toss for two. Jacques tags in, acting like an arrogant jerk. Owen catches him with his head down and takes him over with a suplex, followed by a dropkick. He feeds the boot and connects with an enziguri for two. The Hart's with a form of the Demolition Decapitator for two. Small package for two. Whip and a sunset flip for two. Roll up for two. Pierre comes in to help out, but the Hart's clear the ring, again.
The Quebecers © (w/ Johnny Polo) vs. Bret & Owen Hart:
Back inside, Bret with an inverted atomic drop on Jacques, then brings Pierre in with a slingshot. Owen with a diving clothesline for two. Gutwrench suplex and leg drop for two. Bret comes in and gets to play face-in-peril. He gets worked over in the corner while the referee talks to Owen about the Edmonton Oilers. Jacques puts Bret down with an elbow, but Pierre's jump from the second rope meets boot. Owen tags in and connects with dropkicks. Back drop on Jacques and a belly-to-belly to Pierre. Spinning heel kick connects, and here comes the Sharpshooter, but Pierre breaks it up. Whip to the ropes, and Owen gets dropped across the top rope. He ducks under a double clothesline and hits both Quebecers with dropkicks. Bret tags in and works over both Quebecers until Polo pulls the ropes down on him. The Quebecers spend the next couple of minutes beating the shit out of his knee. FINALLY, we get back in the ring, and Jacques slaps on a single-leg crab. Pierre off the second rope with a leg drop. They go for the Tower of Quebec on the leg, but Bret rolls away. Instead of going for a tag, he tries to slap on the Sharpshooter, but the leg gives out, and referee Tim White calls for the bell at 16:45, awarding the match to the Quebecers. Owen throws a Grade-A hissy-fit while Bret pulls himself back to his feet, only to kick him back down and then walking away. Great tag team match with a memorable ending, kicking off one of the few notable programs of the time and pushing Owen from opening card fodder to main event threat.
- Todd Pettengill meets up with Owen backstage while Bret is being brought back to the locker room on a stretcher, giving the memorable promo about Bret being selfish, coming out of the shadow, and of course, the "I kicked your leg from under your... leg" quote that everyone seemed to make fun of for years.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
I think I.R.S. stole Razor Ramon's gold to set this up... yeah, not exactly the greatest example of coming up with creative and compeling storylines. Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon take over commentary for this match, courtesy of WWF Radio, whatever the fuck that was supposed to be. Unfortunately for Ross, his first case of Bells Palsy acted up immediately after this show, and was let go from the company. Classy, Vince. Classy.
Razor Ramon © vs. Irwin R. Schyster:
I.R.S. starts with a bitch slap, then takes a hike. Back inside, he sends Razor to the buckle and pounds away. Whip to the ropes, and Razor responds with the same, sending I.R.S. to the floor for a breather. Ramon grabs a headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder. Atomic drop and clothesline gets two. Criss-cross ends with Irwin tossing Ramon to the floor. He follows, sending Ramon to the steps, and laying him out with a clothesline. Back inside, I.R.S. with a slam, then avoids a boot coming off the top and still drops an elbow. He slaps on a chinlock, but Ramon quickly fights free with elbows to the midsection. I.R.S. He catches Razor off the ropes with an elbow, then drops a leg across the midsection. Snapmare and leg drop for two, then back to the chinlock. Yes, he does use the ropes for leverage. He would make the Varsity Club proud. Razor eventually fights free and takes Irwin over with a fallaway slam for two. Whip to the corner and referee Joey Marella gets taken out. I.R.S. tries using the briefcase, but Razor uses it instead. Razor's Edge time, but Shawn runs down and KO's him with the fake IC Title Belt, allowing I.R.S. to cover for three at 10:46... BUT WAIT! Another referee calls foul, and Razor finishes I.R.S. off with the Razor's Edge for the real three count at 11:45. Slow at times with the restholds, but Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. It amazes me to realize they milked over four years out of the I.R.S. gimmick.
WWF Championship, Casket Match:
Oh My... if you've never heard of this match, then you're in for a Tour de Force. Basic summary of what lead up to this: Yokozuna is afraid of the Undertaker, and REALLY afraid of Caskets. Only the SECOND time they did the "big fat heel afraid of the casket" gimmick. They go nose-to-chin, which always seemed funny between these two. Yoko' tries a sneak attack, but 'Taker avoids it and comes off the ropes with clotheslines. Yoko to the floor, and he throws himself into the post. 'Taker no-sells being rammed to the steps and returns the favor. Undertaker grabs the arm and climbs the ropes for his signature clothesline across the back of the head. Another diving clothesline misses, and the action is back on the floor. Yoko' grabs a chair, but 'Taker blocks and uses it instead. Yoko' with a handful of salt, and that turns the tide in his favor. He bashes 'Taker with the chair before taking it back in the ring. Yokozuna with a clothesline, but he can't get him in the Casket. Slugfest until Yoko takes him over with a belly-to-belly suplex. 'Taker no-sells it, grabs him by the throat, and "chokeslam's" him. Whip to the ropes, and Undertaker with a DDT. Undertaker rolls him into the casket...
Yokozuna © (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer):
And now the nonsense begins, with Crush interrupting, which makes some sense because he's also managed by Mr. Fuji. Undertaker fights him off. Then the Great Kabuki and Genichiro Tenryu run down, Fuji's hired guns for the Royal Rumble, and they too have trouble handing the Undertaker. Here comes Bam Bam Bigelow, and it's 4-on-1. Outside the ring, Fuji and Cornette steal the urn, but Paul Bearer reclaims it (complete with over-sell from Cornette), and suddenly Undertaker fights off all four men and the revived Yokozuna. Adam Bomb comes in, and Undertaker fights everyone off with the salt bucket. Jeff Jarrett comes in and is even less help for Yokozuna. It's 7-on-1, and Undertaker is STILL fighting them off. The Headshrinkers make it 9-on-1, and for no apparent reason, Diesel makes it 10-on-1. TEN ON ONE. And the one is STILL fending them all off. The tide is finally turned when Yokozuna steals the urn (two interceptions in one match!?), undoes the lid, and GREEN SMOG floods out, and now there's no comeback for the Undertaker, as he takes big move after big move until being rolled into the casket, and giving the victory to Yokozuna at 14:24. Well, that was a bit excessive, but the point is across: The Undertaker is a dominant force that even ten men had trouble dealing with. Fine and all, so let's get on to the next match.
You would think the fun was over, but nope, you would be wrong. As the Heel Locker Room rolls the casket back up the aisle, the lights go out, and the Undertaker, from INSIDE THE CASKET, shows up on the early 90's version of the TitanTron. He awakens from his beating and gives a long winded speech about how he will not rest in peace. The lights flicker, the screen flashes a few times, and the image "explodes", with "The Undertaker", complete in jacket and hat, "floating" up from behind the video wall, into the lights, with wires clearly visible for the effect. All this to explain Undertaker's absence from WWF television? I swear to God, everything you've have read for the last couple of paragraphs really did happen, on a Pay-Per-View, in front of a live audience. And they mostly responded well to it all! Go figure. This falls under the "it's so stupid, it's very entertaining" file.
30 Man Royal Rumble Match:
Thanks to the amount of time devoted to the undercard, intervals have been changed mid-show from 2-minutes to 90-seconds, something that, at the time, really annoyed me. Silly marks. Winner gets to face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania X. #1 is Scott Steiner, and #2 is Samu of the Headshrinkers. They slug it out. Steiner with a double-underhook suplex. Whip to the ropes, Samu lays him out with a clothesline. #3 is Rick Steiner, and the Steiners clearly double team Samu. They take their time to toss him out at 3:17, instead of wrestling each other as planned. You can hear the annoyance in Vince's voice the whole time. #4 is Kwang (with Harvey Wippleman), making his WWF Debut, subbing for Ludvig Borga. He spits mist on Rick's face and gets worked over by Scott. #5 is Owen Hart, getting instant heel heat from earlier in the night, and easily tossing the wounded Rick Steiner at 5:50. What a rat! #6 is Bart Gunn, just to take up space. #7 is Diesel, here to make space. There goes Gunn at 8:56, Scott Steiner at 9:02, Owen Hart to a solid babyface reaction at 9:10, and Kwang at 9:23. #8 is Bob Backlund. He spent over an hour in the ring in 1993, but barely 30-seconds here, getting tossed out with ease at 10:20. #9 is Billy Gunn, and his time in the ring isn't much better, getting thrown out at 11:27. We show footage from earlier on where Tenryu and Kabuki beat the Red White and Blue out of Luger's butt. #10 is Virgil, subbing for Kamala (zuh?!), and Dibiase stays in character, enjoying any beatings he gets before being thrown out at 13:15. Stop cheering for him, Rhode Island!
#11 is Randy Savage, to a big pop and to end Diesel's run of throwing people out. Savage cleans Diesel's clock for the majority of the 90-seconds. #12 is Jeff Jarrett, and he goes after Savage instead of helping eliminate Diesel. Savage makes him pay for his lack of vision and throws him about 5 rows deep at 17:13. #13 is Crush, and that spells bad news for Savage. He attacks Crush upon entrance and comes off the top with an axehandle. Savage with a slam, followed by another axehandle smash. Diesel gets involved again, allowing Crush to attack from behind. Crush with a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker and Diesel drops an elbow. Crush with a crescent kick, then casually tosses Savage at 19:09. Meanwhile, #14 is Doink (w/ Dink). He clowns around a bit before the two big men work him over. #15 is Bam Bam Bigelow, the man who happens to hate Doink more than anyone, and launches him up the aisle for the elimination at 21:10. #16 is Mabel, and he has good luck on the three heels. #17 is Sparky Plugg, making his WWF Debut and subbing for the injured 1-2-3 Kid. He looks out of place with the height and massive bodies in the ring. #18 is Shawn Michaels, and he "helps" eliminate Diesel at 25:58, despite offering little help, if any. The fans give him a mild ovation on the way back and chant "Diesel". BOO! #19 is Mo, but the power of Men on a Mission won't be winning it tonight. Lots of hugging and punching going on. #20 is Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, because why the hell not. I guess working as the Blue Knight at Survivor Series warranted a spot here? Decent pop, too.
#21 is Tatanka, and there's not much happening right now. Seems like going after Michaels is the popular move. #22 is the Great Kabuki, who most casual fans probably have no clue who he is. Everyone gangs up on Mabel (and Shawn lays out Mo in the meantime to a mild pop) to throw the big bastard out at 32:34. #23 is Lex Luger, back from the injuries at the hands of Fuji's Assassins. He throws Kabuki out at 33:38. So much for cleaning house... #24 is Tenryu, and unfortunately he couldn't come in to save Kabuki. At least he seems more active this year than in 1993. #25 is nobody, assumed to be Bret Hart missing his spot. Too many bodies piling up, leading to huggy-punchy from everyone. #26 is The Model, Rick Martel. I'm sure he's not cleaning house, either. Luger and Tatanka exchange blows, just to change things up. #27 is Bret Hart, who milks it by selling the injury the entire time it takes to get to the ring. Crowd loves it, though. The missing entrant was Bastion Booger, by the way. Funny moment from Mania: His original number was 28, but he announced it to the world and was forced to re-draw. #28 is Headshrinker Fatu. Luger leads a group in throwing Crush out at 42:36. #29 is Marty Jannetty, and instantly goes after Michaels to a big pop. Tenryu interrupts things, but they ignore him and Jannetty connects with a crescent kick. He tries to suplex Michaels over, but it's blocked and countered. #30 is Adam Bomb, to round out the field.
Bret Hart tosses out Sparky Plugg at 46:20. Valentine, Martel, and Bomb pair-up for an odd threesome. The clearing of the dead-weight never seems to take place, does it? Martel fireman lifts Valentine to the apron, and he falls of at 49:15. Tatanka throws Martel out at 49:31. Adam Bomb misses a charge and goes flying out at 49:48. Mo over-sells a kick from Fatu and goes out at 49:54, without even being mentioned by name. Bam Bam tosses Tatanka at 50:14. Revenge for the opener! Bigelow does the Flair Flip onto the apron and Luger knocks him out at 51:04. Michaels and Jannetty pair up again, this time ending with Jannetty getting thrown out at 51:10. Tenryu rams Michaels and Fatu together, but only one sells, but enough for the both of them. Tenryu goes after Luger, but Bret helps out to throw Tenryu out at 52:28, leaving a final four of Lex Luger, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Fatu. I wonder who's NOT winning. Shawn and Fatu control, until a criss-cross whip to the corners has Luger and Bret back drop both out simultaniously at 54:41. Bret and Luger slug it out for a moment until stumbling to the ropes and going over the top rope, to the floor at the same time at 55:06. One referee declares Luger the winner, and a second referee says Bret won it (with Bret's declaration recieving a bigger pop). The decision... CO-Winners, and in weeks following, the "two title matches and a compensation match" stipulation was made for WrestleMania X. Match started off well, but the last third really died a horrible death. Not the worst Rumble of the time, but far from the best.
Final Thoughts: A great Tag Team Championship Match with memorable results, a solid opener, solid if unspectacular Rumble Match, and even a decent bout over the IC Title is enough to make up for the black-hole of awful booking that was the Casket Match, and even that's enjoyable for the trainwreck aspect of things. It's definitely not a must-see show or anything, but from start to finish, it's entertaining, for one reason or another. I dare anyone to watch that Casket Match and NOT laugh about how stupid it was.
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