Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Part 2: 1994 - 2000
While this is considered by many to be the second most important card on the WWF calender, it may actually be THE most important card. Why? Because even if you go back into the old days of the WWF when they were getting started with SuperCards and Pay Per Views, the set up for WrestleMania in the spring was often The Royal Rumble. In this second installment we look at the Royal Rumble from 1994 until last year's event.
ROYAL RUMBLE 1994 - During his second title reign, then WWF Champion Yokozuna defended his title at the Rumble against The Undertaker in a anything goes Casket Match! I should note that both have something in common in that they both defeated Hulk Hogan to win one of their respective WWF Championships. Anyway, Yokozuna retained his title when manager Mr. Fuji paid off several wrestlers to come out and jump UT. After about a 5 minute or so fight, the wrestlers finally subdued "The Dead Man" enough to get him into the casket. Also at this Rumble, we saw Owen Hart become a heel and go on the best run of his all too short career as he turned against his brother Bret Hart during their WWF World Tag Team Title bout against The Quebecers. I.R.S. (Mike Rotunda) fell to then WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon despite interference from Shawn Michaels on I.R.S.' behalf and in the Rumble match itself, we saw the first and only time that TWO men won the Rumble as Lex Luger and Bret Hart eliminated each other at the same time! This led to a coin toss to determine who would get the first shot at Yoko at WM. Luger won the toss but it was decreed that both men would get a shot at the title at WM. Luger failed in his shot at the 550 lbs. behemoth but Bret succeeded in his try despite losing an opening bout to his brother Owen (one of the best bouts in WrestleMania history by the way).
ROYAL RUMBLE 1995 - In this version of the Rumble, we saw one of the more brutal WWF World Title bouts in history as Bret Hart tried to regain his title from then champion "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel (Kevin Nash). This match went for almost 30 minutes (unheard of these days) with both men having the win if not for unwanted help. Ten to twelve minutes into it, Diesel hit his "Jacknife" powerbomb on Hart only to have Shawn Michaels prevent the pin!! A few minutes later, Hart trapped the massive man in his "Sharpshooter Deathlock" only to have his brother Owen prevent the possible submission. A few minutes after that, several wrestlers including Michaels, Owen, Bob Backlund, The Road Dogg and Jeff Jarrett came out to break up the match, forcing the referee to throw it out! Diesel finally made his way back up to help Bret fend of the interlopers. Both men left in a mutual show of respect for each other and a contempt for their attackers. Other matches saw Razor Ramon lose the WWF I-C title to the future "Chosen One" Jeff Jarrett and The 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac) with Bob Holly (Hardcore Holly) defeated Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow in the finals of a tournament for the WWF Tag Team straps. I should also note that the latter match set up the WrestleMania match between Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor as Bigelow shoved Taylor after his tag team loss. In the Rumble match itself, Michaels prevailed and earned a shot at Diesel for WrestleMania but would not obtain world championship success until the following year.
ROYAL RUMBLE 1996 - By this time, Bret Hart had regain the WWF Championship and Razor Ramon still reigned at I-C Champion. Shawn Michaels had become a beloved face while Diesel was starting a feud with The Undertaker. At this Rumble, we saw Goldust (Dustin Rhodes) defeat Ramon for the WWF I-C title and the first WWF appearance of Terri Runnels (then known as Marlena). We also saw one of the first WWF appearances of Ahmed Johnson as he defeated Jeff Jarrett. Bret Hart lost to The Undertaker by DQ due to interference from Diesel but remained WWF Champion and Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble for the second year in a row, earning another shot at the WWF title at WrestleMania and against old nemesis Bret Hart. This led to the legendary IronMan match in which Michaels won his first WWF World Title.
ROYAL RUMBLE 1997 - In this version, "Psycho" Sid was WWF Champion and was defending the title against the man that he dethroned two months earlier in Shawn Michaels. Triple H (then known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley) was WWF I-C Champion and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (who arrived a year earlier) was beginning to make a big splash in the WWF. Triple H successfully defended his title against former champion Goldust. Ahmed Johnson won a grudge match against Faraooq by DQ and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin won a controversial result in The Royal Rumble by eliminating Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Vader despite the fact that Hart had eliminated Austin moments earlier! Austin, however, would be the first and only WWF wrestler to date to win the Rumble BUT not receive a title shot as then WWF President Gorilla Monsoon allowed Austin to keep the victory but denied him his title shot! In fact, he forced Austin to put his right to face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania in a "Final Four" match at a In Your House PPV the following month against Hart, UT and Vader. I'll get back to this story later.
In the final match, Shawn Michaels regained the WWF title from Sid but later relinquished it due to "injuries." This prompted Monsoon to put the belt up in the Final Four bout where pinfall, submission or throw over the top rope constituted elimination. Bret Hart won the bout and the title but lost it the next night on RAW to "Psycho" Sid thanks to "Stone Cold." This prompted the signing of the famous "I Quit" match between Hart and Austin that took place at WrestleMania and the beginning of the "Stone Cold" legend.
ROYAL RUMBLE 1998 - By this time, Shawn Michaels had regained his WWF Championship in the infamous "Canadian Screwjob" match against Bret Hart. We also saw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the midst of a comeback after suffering acute spinal shock syndrome as a result of a SummerSlam '97 match against Owen Hart. Austin was in his third month of his comeback and proved that he was up to the challenge as he won the Rumble match legitimately this time! Should also note that this featured one of his early confrontations with then WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock! Also, The Undertaker lost a casket match against WWF Champion Shawn Michaels when Kane interfered. The Rock won a controversial DQ win over former UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock and Vader get a destructive win over Goldust! This card set up a rematch with The Rock and Shamrock as well as the Austin/Michaels showdown for the WWF Title which saw Michaels wrestle his last match (though recent stories might change that).
ROYAL RUMBLE 1999 - This one featured one of the weaker Rumble matches but had a solid undercard. The highlight of the card was not the Rumble match itself (though having Vince McMahon win the even was a bit of a shock) but the brutal "I Quit" match for the WWF Title as Mick Foley (in his Mankind guise) lost to The Rock when "The Great One" supposedly made his opponent say "I Quit" when it was actually a recording of Mick's voice. Still, The Rock beat the crap out of Foley and should've won the match anyway! In the Rumble match, Vince McMahon won the event when he eliminated "Stone Cold" Steve Austin with an assist from The Rock! Austin would get his title shot anyway as McMahon gave up his right to face The Rock not knowing that the runner up would receive the title shot!
ROYAL RUMBLE 2000 - By far the most brutal and shocking Rumble ever!! This event saw the WWF debut of TAZZ as he defeated the then undefeated Kurt Angle. The Dudley Boyz lost a spectacular table match against The Hardy Boyz and 70 something Mae Young won The Ms. Royal Rumble swimsuit competition! In THE most brutal WWF title match in history, Triple H defeated Mick Foley (as Cactus Jack) in a street fight bout which saw both men suffer several injuries. The Rock won the Rumble match up when he eliminated The Big Show! It was later learned that The Rock's feet had actually hit the ground first before TBS'! Rock was allowed to keep the win but much like Austin 3 years earlier, he was forced to put up his title shot against The Big Show in a February PPV (in this case "No Way Out"). Rock lost the match much like Austin but still was involved in the WWF title match nonetheless along with TBS, Foley and Triple H.
With the 2001 Rumble coming up in New Orleans, LA, I'd thought I'd take you down memory lane! Hope this year's Rumble provides as many surprises as its predecessors! See ya!!!
Ervin Griffin Jr. is Solie's resident historian and also contributes to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis. Many of his previous articles are available in the Articles section of the website. Check out Ervin's Pro-Wrestling Fan Fiction web site.
Congratulations to all the APW talent who wrestled for WWF this weekend.
APW provides the best training for your dollar bar none. The Boot Camp has proven to be the best pro-wrestling training camp on the West Coast for the past 5 years now, and lot's of folks agree. "We signed a record number of students in the year 2000 and have every intention to break that record in 2001", says APW President Roland Alexander. "For the last 2 years our monthly average for the month of January has been only two, which is understandable because people are short on money after the holidays. Well, after 13 days in January, we just signed up our fourth student today. Therefore, sign up ASAP before your spot is taken".
Don't delay your dream of becoming the next big superstar in this business. Sign up for the APW Boot Camp!
Tag Team Top 5 (as of 1/14/01) APW Tag Team Champions: Westside Playaz 2000
1. Super Destroyer 2000 & Vinny Massaro
2. The Snott Brothers
3. The Ballard Brothers
4. Michael Modest & Christopher Daniels
5. The Kamikaze Kids
Donovan Morgan vs. Christopher Daniels
*Tag Team Titles*
Westside Playaz 2000 vs. Vinny Massaro & Super Destroyer 2000
Jardi Frantz vs. Kid Chrome
Tony Jones vs. Myaki Frantz
...More matches to be announced soon!
For more information on ticket prices be sure to check www.allprowrestling.com
Head Boot Camp Instructor Donovan Morgan is an experienced wrestler, and has been one of the best on the indy scene for the past 4 years. He has had matches in WWF and WCW, and has held numerous titles for APW. Morgan and his Assistant Instructor Vinny Massaro will show you the in's and out's of the mat game, and start you on your way to a career in pro wrestling.
For more information on the APW Boot Camp, the number one training camp in the United States, visit www.allprowrestling.com or call APW Headquarters at (510) 785-8396.
Hey, everybody. How are you all doing this week?
Me? Well, I am getting transferred. I currently work in a large Midwestern metropolitan area as a Code Enforcement Officer (this means Housing Police), and I am being transferred to that city's Department of Technology. I will be in the same office, working with the same people, but with no in-field inspection. I will be doing diagnostic repair, testing, and maintenance of portable computers and other electronic equipment, as well as software development and training.
Sounds great, huh? I am pretty excited.
Earl is probably kind of excited too, as this column is being sent to him the Friday before the Tuesday Morning Report.....I usually would have turned it in by Wednesday. Don't worry, Earl....I haven't forgotten. (Editor's Note: I never had a doubt...)
This week, I want to move away from the WCW-based columns that I have put out for the past 3 weeks and go to the WWF. The WWF is the front-runner in the industry right now, and has been for the majority of the last 20 years. No-one can debate the business genius of Vince McMahon, and his drive to putting the WWF where it is today, and that is on top of all Pro Wrestling. In fact....add all the people watching WCW, ECW, and all the other televised shows together, and you might get a number close to the number that watch Raw or Smackdown. Most e-columnists that write their opinions on the ‘Net are WWF-biased...and that can be expected, as the WWF is hands down the best in the industry.
However (you knew that was coming, didn't you?), the WWF is on the verge of making some serious mistakes.
The storylines are really starting to get old. Austin Vs McMahon, HHH Vs Angle, Undertaker Vs Kane, RTC Vs Billy Gunn, and Edge/Christian Vs the Hardyz (what is it with the z's?). With the possible exception of the HHH and Angle program, these angles are aged and in need of overhaul. Austin and Vince have feuded so much in the past 4 years that even big-time WF marks (Jeff Pharion, this means you, and that is a FACT, not an opinion) say they hope it ends soon. Undertaker and Kane seem destined to fight forever, with neither ever really beating the other. Billy Gunn is pretty over, yes, but it seems he has been in this program with the RTC ever since he returned (and Eddy G. getting injured did not help), and the Extreme Boys X 4 are over a year old.
Yes, there are other feuds these guys are in. Benoit and the Boys are after Lita and her beaus. The Rock is charging toward Angle and Rikishi, and Austin is after Angle and the Gold. However, doesn't this hearken to the time when the WCW was beating the WWF in the ratings, and their storylines got stagnant? The constant run-ins, the nWo endings every week, the failure of the booking committees to finish a storyline and begin anew, at the proper time? Remember the slow, agonizing death of the nWo Black and White?
The only reason the “Band-Aid” approach worked then is the stupendous amount of talent the WCW had at the time, like the WWF has now. Add to that the ability of Vince and the bookers to mix in new people and feuds better than the WCW people did, and you get the 100+ week period of WWF dominance. The only question is, when will the fan's desire for something new pull them to another federation? It happened to the WWF 5 or 6 years ago, and I am of the opinion that it could happen again. Especially now that WCW has been bought by people experienced in TV sports and willing to give Eric Bischoff the reins of authority.
The WWF has shown some ratings vulnerability. The WCW share has actually increased, in comparison to the WWF's. 2.0 to 7.0 is one thing, 2.0 to 5.0 is another. If WCW moves effectively, and does it soon, the real Streak (sorry, Goldberg) will end. Even considering that the WWF will gain more fans by its association with the XFL, they will be hard pressed to hold off a concerted effort by a revitalized WCW. Hmmmm.....an attitude change in one federation leading to a flip-flop in the ratings. Sound familiar? Vince K. better be on his guard.
What could the WWF do? Mix it up. Turn Austin heel. Give the Undertaker a Title run, or a Title victory in his last match. Bring back a real face wrestler, who wrestles for the fans, and not for their ego. Maybe a humble character. Turn Angle face. Maybe they could do something really unexpected, like bring back Hogan (gasp....did I say that?) for a final run.
Well, I don't know about the Hogan part.
All that being said, the WWF has inherent strengths that the other federations don't. They are mainstream, with many of their wrestlers actively involved in other media exposure, like acting and authoring. The WWF has also defined the audience and production levels that the other companies must strive for. They have not shown the tendency of sitting on their backsides and letting other organizations overtake or hurt them, like the WCW, ECW, or even the PTC.
However, for their sake, now is not the time. They need to keep driving forward to keep their edge.
I will save some other thoughts for next week. You can give me some of your thoughts, by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to give Earl some feedback on my column (especially the good feedback...I need this gig), tell him at email@example.com.
Of course, come to www.bodyslam.cc for the latest news, rumors, and results. Our Crossface Report, done every Sunday, is a “no-spin” discussion of the previous week's angles, characters, and shows. Stay here at Soles for the absolute best resource for wrestling info, past and present, and the Tuesday Morning Report, which is the best column of its kind on the ‘Net.
See you next week for another Connection.
The best match on Thunder was easily the contest between Team Canada (in the persons of Lance Storm and Elix Skipper) vs. The Filthy Animals (in the persons of Rey Misterio and Billy Kidman) lots of high flying action from the latter and impressive wrestling from the former. The end spot, where Rey Rey went for his flying Frankensteiner only to have Storm block it in mid-air and turn it into a Maple Leaf was classic.
The big 6 man tag team featuring The Insiders and General Rection against Jindrak/O'Haire and Shane Douglas was better than could have been expected, though I found Hacksaw Duggan's commentary a bit distracting.
The war of words between Commissioner Sanders and ex-Commissioner Miller gets funnier and funnier.
This thing with the "mystery opponent" is getting downright annoying - tonight the man under the mask was Jeff Jarrett, who attacked Sid during his title contest against Scott Steiner, thus spoiling the match for everyone.
On an abbreviated 90 minute SmackDown we learned that HHH is now the #1 contender for the WWF Title due to whatever it was happened on RAW on Monday (which I missed because the hotel I stayed at in Chicago on Monday didn't carry TNN).
What's up with the Undertaker - it seems to me like he just keeps cutting the same promo over and over. Something about the ring being his backyard...or something...
What started out as a pretty fair 6 man tag match was completely destroyed when Steve Austin ran out in a fit of pique and laid waste to everyone (the Dudleys/Jericho vs. Benoit/Edge/Christian) with a chair. He then grabbed a mic and demanded that Vince McMahon show his face. All Austin wanted from McMahon was assurance that he would be competing in the Royal Rumble match on Sunday. Vince confirmed that he was - so that was that.
A Fatal Fourway match was held to determine the #30 entrant into the Royal Rumble from among Kane, the Undertaker, the Rock and Rikishi. This was a real slobberknocker with no wrestling in sight (of course) but plenty of brawling action. Throughout the fight it appeared that any one of them might win at anytime. Eventually, UT and the Rock got too mixed up in fighting each other out on the floor. Leaving Kane and Rikishi inside the ring to determine the outcome. Rikishi squashed Kane (literally, if not figuratively...he sat on him!) to take the win. Afterward, Kane went on a rampage and dropped the field with a chokeslam for each
We had lots of changes at SIN (which I didn't see, but I read the results on the net). The Tag Titles changed hands, with Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire taking the duke over the Insiders. The Cat regained his Commissioner job. Meng is the new Hardcore Champ - having defeated both Terry Funk and Crowbar for the crown. Shane Douglas beat General Rection to become the new WCW US Champ. Goldberg and Sarge lost their tag team match, which means Goldberg is fired! And finally, in a not surprising, but still disappointing turn of events, Road Warrior Animal turned out to be the Mystery Opponent during the World Title Fourway match - Steiner retained his belt after Animal attacked Sid.
On Nitro (live from Ft. Wayne, Indiana) we learned right off the bat that Ric Flair has turned heel - we see him embracing Scott Steiner at the top of the program. The story is that Flair engineered the downfall of Goldberg and Steiner's retention of his title. Then we were shown footage of Sid breaking his leg in the most horrific accident I have ever witnessed in the ring. Compound fractures of the tibia and fibia mean that Sid will be out of action for a year or so. I never cared much for Sid but nobody deserves that kind of injury.
After that we had Buff Bagwell and Lex Luger come out to conduct a funeral over the career of Bill Goldberg, complete with a black wreaths, black suits and a coffin containing (what else?)...a spear and a jack hammer. They invited Jeff Jarrett to come out and pretend to be broken up emotionally then declare that Goldberg never, ever beat him. Animal and Scott Steiner joined the entourage as well. Ric Flair joined the "mourners" after the first break to declare this a "brand new" WCW, with his companions in the ring "in charge or wrestling". Flair made a statement concerning Sid's injury but was bleeped out for most of it, then stated that he and Jarrett would be interviewing the boys backstage to get them on board. At that point, Kevin Nash put in an appearance on the platform and declared his defiance. He was joined by DDP and Rick Steiner! He wanted a match against Scott Steiner for the World Title. Flair disputes Nash's power to book matches...which brings the Cat out to declare the match booked under his authority.
As we returned, Flair and Co. were harassing Crowbar, demanding that he join the team. He would keep this up throughout the evening, winning some over, getting noncommittal responses from others. Moments later, Crowbar got a shot at the Cruiserweight Title and went after it with a vengeance. He didn't win it, but it was a great match.
Mike Awesome demanded a "hair vs. hair" match against Kidman - but somehow he got Konnan instead - although it was Kidman's hair on the line (obviously, since Konnan has none). After another great match, Konnan won it and Mike Awesome got sheared! But only partially, as Team Canada ran out to stop the barbering.
Gen. Rection got a re-match for the title against new US Champ, Shane Douglas, who tried to use his chain again (apparently that was the way he won last night) but failed as the General tossed it away. Unfortunately for him, Chavo Guerrero ran in, grabbed the chain and used it on Rection, thus upsetting his title shot.
In the main event, Kevin Nash pretty much made mincemeat out of Scott Steiner - it really looked like he was going to take the title...but then the bad guys hit the ring and spoiled it.
RAW opened with a match for a change. Team Extreme (Hardey Boyz/Chyna/Lita) vs. RTC. After an action packed contest, Lita pinned Ivory with an assist from Chyna. The program was live from Milwaukee, WS.
A little later, Vince McMahon made an appearance...via satellite on the TitanTron...in XFL football gear. While he was there he made a match for the Tag Champs and Kurt Angle against Austin and the Dudleys. This happened in the midst of one of those infamous, interminable McMahon-Helmsley promo segments that seems to go on forever (as they usually do). During the course of it, HHH and Kurt Angle get into a bit of a verbal set-to regarding this Sunday's PPV match for Angle's title, and then Trish Stratus came out to back her new man. She is ordered to participate in a "Spanking Match" against Jacqueline. Is this boring or what..?
During an interview backstage, the Rock mentioned that he wasn't to pleased to be partnered up with the Undertaker against Kane and Rikishi tonight. So Vince made another appearance and switched the partners around. During the match itself, which was a real barn burner, Maivia was about to get a Rock Bottom on the Undertaker when his own partner, Kane, turned on him and planted him with a chokeslam. Afterward it was unclear what the current situation is between the Scarey Brothers.
Steve Blackman and Hardcore Holly beat the tar out of each other to determine which of them had the right to refer to himself as the "King of Hardcore" in what was supposed to be a regular match, but degenerated into a hardcore style contest when the referee gave up and split. I don't believe they actually settled the question... Meanwhile, backstage, Edge and Christian ambushed the Dudleys, thus leaving Austin on his own for the main event. Over the phone, Vince rules that Austin can get some partners, if anyone will join him, but otherwise he will have to go it alone against his three opponents.
In the "Spanking Match", Jacqueline dominated until Kurt Angle decided to rescue his manager. Jacquie got in several good swats on Trish's bare derriere when the latter accidentally lost her pants for a moment, but that was about it.
I guess K-Kwik is the new Rikishi, he's accompanying, and wrestling with Too Cool these days. Meanwhile, Kaientai are running a heel gimmick with a "dubbed in English" bit...which is funny now, just as it was funny last year when the WCW luchadores were doing it. They wrestled this 6 man match with Tazz as their partner and won it in true heel style.
In his main event match, Steve Austin showed up with the Acolytes as his partners, thus evening the odds and then some. In the end, despite HHH's attempt to distract him, Austin hits a stunner on Angle and takes the 1-2-3.
The WWF managed to upgrade their offerings somewhat this week, but WCW clearly carried Monday night.
At least that's the way I see it...
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