Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 94
– Live from Providence, Rhode Island. Is that the state or Dusty while he’s swimming?
– Your hosts are Ted Dibiase (the Million Dollar Man) and Vince McMahon (The Billion Dollar Man). Triviata: Ted Dibiase is the only color man to have done a PPV with both Vince McMahon AND Eric Bischoff (this show and Souled Out 97 respectively), although I don’t know if the same applies to TV broadcasts. If you add TV broadcasts, you can add Bobby Heenan to that list.
– Opening match: Tatanka v. Bam Bam Bigelow.
This was supposed to be Tatanka v. Ludvig Borga, but ol’ Tony had an ankle injury that ended up changing the course of the WWF. Ludvig was supposed to win this match, using it as a stepping stone to the World title a couple of weeks after, then losing it to Lex Luger at Wrestlemania X. Of course, things turned out much differently. (2012 Scott sez: This is of course a very dubious proposition spread mostly by Tony Halme himself.) Tatanka is painted like Peter Criss tonight. You know what’s sad? I made that joke in 1994 and no one got it. Now suddenly KISS makes a comeback and the reference isn’t half as witty as it was. I wonder if Dennis Miller has these kinds of problems. (2012 Scott sez: I’m totally into old KISS these days. I actually got into them in the 80s listening to their non-makeup hair metal era, but now all I listen to is the 70s stuff from the debut album through to the “Music From The Elder” atrocity.) Slugfest to start, and Tatanka blows a bunch of stuff. Well, really he just blows, but I figured I might as well finish the sentence. (2012 Scott sez: Hey now, I don’t mind Tatanka these days.) The announcers talk about both men competing in the Rumble later on, which marked the first year that depletion of the roster due to the you-know-what trials forced multiple appearances for the talent on the Rumble card. Now it’s standard practice. (2012 Scott sez: Now we’ve swung the other way in the post-WCW world, with so many people on the roster that they’ve talked about doing separate RAW and Smackdown Rumbles at times.) It was a pretty big thing at the time, however. Bearhuggery abounds here. Tatanka tries the Pissed Off Racial Stereotype Comeback, but takes an enzuigiri. Bigelow mocks him, but misses his goofy moonsault, and Tatanka finishes with a flying bodypress at 8:10. This was there. *
– WWF tag team title match: The Quebecers v. Bret & Owen Hart.
I really need a high quality MP3 of that theme song. RSPW was creaming themselves once the 123 X-Pac and Marty Jannetty won the tag titles on RAW, because we thought we’d get a ***** match out of the deal. Sadly, the match was never changed to that combo (it would have been a standard Harts-Quebecers tag match) and besides which, the Quebecers regained the belts in MSG a week later. Oh, by the way, the WWF Sledgehammer of Plot Committee would just like to remind everyone that EVERYTHING IS ABSOLUTELY FINE between the Harts, thank you very much. Harts double-team the champs to start. Odd moment: Vince McMahon accuses Dibiase of being a limelight hog for most of his career. I won’t even start on that one, because I’ll go on for 5 paragraphs. Champs stall for a bit after Bret gets about 10 two-counts to frustrate Jacques. Pierre cheapshots Bret and a brawl erupts. Cool spot: We do the “double whip, dosey-do” bit that sends Owen & Bret crashing into each other, but Bret immediately whips Owen into Pierre, which allows Owen to switch to a spear move in mid-air, then upon impact roll up Pierre for a two count. That is seriously damn cool. Note to Edge & Christian: Start doing shit like that more often. Leg lariat gets two for Owen. Side suplex gets two. Bret comes in but gets powerslammed into face-in-peril mode to begin the first heat segment of the match. Owen eventually gets a hot tag and suplexes everything in sight. Sharpshooter on Jacques, but another cheapshot breaks it, and we get heat segment #2, this time on Owen. Bret comes back in quickly, hitting the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM on Pierre. Johnny Polo (Raven) pulls down the ropes and Bret falls to the floor, hurting his knee. This begins heats segment #3, as the Quebecers work his knee and generally cheat like rabid weasels. (2012 Scott sez: “rabid weasels”?!?) We work the countout tease for a bit, then Owen tosses Bret back in. The champs hurt the knee for a while and go for the cannonball finisher, but Bret moves…and won’t tag Owen. Instead, he tries the Sharpshooter on Pierre, but his own knee gives way, and the ref stops the match at 16:44. What a jerk. If I was Owen, I’d turn on him, too. Owen is rightfully pissed, and verbally abuses his poor brother while he rolls around on the mat clutching his knee. Bret fights his way to his feet (to applause), so Owen KICKS HIS LEG OUT OF HIS LEG! Don’t worry, I’ll explain the reference next paragraph. Big heel heat for Owen there. Great match, great angle that makes Bret an even bigger babyface and Owen a huge heel with one kick. ****
– Toad Pedophile finds Owen in the locker room, allowing Owen to deliver his semi-famous “YOU’RE TOO DAMN SELFISH” interview, where he berates Bret for only thinking of himself, then stumbles over his big line: He was supposed to say “…and that’s why I kicked your leg out from under you!” but instead he ended up saying “…and that’s why I kicked your leg out of your…uh…leg.”, which sounded much lamer. For comparison, compare the tone of voice in Austin Powers when he says “Allow myself to…uh…introduce myself”. Same thing.
– Intercontinental title match: Razor Ramon v. IRS.
Jim Ross & Gorilla Monsoon take over for this match. Typical Mad-libbed “you stole my [item of value], so I’m gonna [violent verb] you” angle here, although the one the fans were really digging was the Shawn v. Razor one over the I-C title claim. It should be noted that Ramon is wearing his very macho powder blue tights tonight. Razor takes his trademark over-the-top bump to give control to IRS. Weird spot as IRS comes off the top and Ramon sticks his foot in the air, but IRS changes direction in mid-air and avoids it. Miscue there, I think. Ramon comes back with the usual. Ref is bumped, and heeeeeeeeeere’s Shawn. Lovetap with the bogus I-C title puts Ramon out, and IRS covers for the pin and the title at 10:44. And whereas that would be enough for a semi-clean win in most circumstances, Dave Hebner must have realized how lame IRS as a singles champion of any kind would be, because he rushes out to inform Joey Marella of the chicanery perpetrated by Shawn Michaels, and the match is restarted. Ramon gets the Edge and the pin (the real one) at 11:44. This was whatever, but on the upside it led to the ladder match at Wrestlemania X. ¾*
– WWF title casket match: Yokozuna v. The Undertaker.
And yes, this is THAT match. And if you’re reading this and wondering “What does he mean by ‘THAT match’?”, well, obviously you’ve led a very sheltered life and have never heard of this match before, and are thus much more mentally stable than the rest of us poor bastards who had to watch it in 1994. I’d just like to point out, for the record, that all the free tapes from WCW, exposure from Wrestleline, money from Sean Shannon, and ass-kissing from fans STILL isn’t enough to justify the mental anguish that this match has caused millions of people and the suffering I have to go through in order to review it for you, the reader. But I guess a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. So please, before we begin, bear in mind that I am making NONE of this up, and everything I am about to describe actually happened, live on a PPV. This is not, just to clarify, an LSD hallucination gone wrong, or a dream sequence that ended with Pat Patterson waking up in the shower in the next morning. And please, for the love of god, put the kids to bed before you read this match review, or skip to the Royal Rumble match. I wouldn’t want any of them to read it and later become a booker with these kinds of ideas lodged in their heads. God knows there’s enough bad influences on TV these days without the added mental problems caused by watching Undertaker matches from 1994. (2012 Scott sez: There actually are people working for WWE now who would have grown up watching this match and probably taken ideas from it. THINK ABOUT THAT.) Presenting the all-time champion of overbooking and general stupidity…Undertaker v. Yokozuna, part one. Onto the match..
– Undertaker gets a quick start, chasing Yoko to the floor. The brawl a bit. Then a bit more. Yoko gains the upper hand with the CEREMONIAL SALT OF DOOM and some weak chairshots. First casketing attempt goes to Yoko, but UT blocks and comes back. Belly-to-bellies ends that, but Taker does the zombie situp. Chokeslam follows, and a HUGE swinging DDT. Undertaker tries to finish, and you might want to skip ahead now, because it REALLY starts to suck. Crush blocks UT’s win attempt, and Taker fights him off. Now the Great Kabuki (as an agent of Mr. Fuji) tries his luck, along with Genichiro Tenryu. Taker fights them all off. Now Bam Bam comes down and it’s 4-on-1. Yoko awakes from his nap in the casket, so now it’s 5-on-1. Is the point hammered home yet? Of course not, so here’s Adam Bomb to make it 6-on-1. Throw in Jeff Jarrett for 7-on-1, then the Headshrinkers make it NINE-on-1, which is getting excessive even by ECW standards. Diesel joins us last (lazy bastard) for an even 10-on-1, and they STILL, ten guys mind you, can’t get him into the damn coffin. So what would YOU do? Steal the urn of course, and dump the ashes out. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get sillier, it does: Green smoke pours out of the urn and everyone acts all shocked. LET’S KICK IT UP A NOTCH (2012 Scott sez: Emeril Lagasse reference there, kids. I miss him in this age of Guy Fieri having 17 shows and imitators on the Food Network.) – Vince deadpans, as the entire match (and indeed his promotion) falls apart in the ring: “It appears that the power of the urn is escaping, and with it the Undertaker’s powers”. I swear to god he actually said that without a trace of irony. That’s why I couldn’t be a wrestling announcer – I’d get fired for ripping stuff apart as soon as I saw how dumb an idea it was. Finally, after all that, they put the Undertaker down for good and shut the lid to give Yokozuna the win at 14:19, although the actual 1-on-1 match lasted all of 5 minutes. The crowd is left completely numbed and in shock by the ending. –**** (2012 Scott sez: I only gave this negative four stars? What would it have needed to be to earn five?)
– Suck it in, because we’re not done yet. The heels then lock the casket and wheel it to the dressing room, but it starts to smoke on the way down the aisle. A video of UT appears on the video wall (which the announcers naturally assume is a live feed of Undertaker inside his casket, thus indicating that Ocham’s Razor is a foreign concept to Vince McMahon, Jr. (2012 Scott sez: Hell of a name for a finisher, though.) ). Undertaker, who is now “dying”, stops his decomposition long enough to give a speech. I was so touched that I transcribed it, because you all deserve to share my pain. I was gonna split it into individual haikus to really be a smart-ass, but it’s late, so here’s the Undertaker’s last words:
– “ Be not proud, because the spirit of the Undertaker live within the souls of mankind, the eternal flame of life which cannot be extinguished, the origin of which cannot be explained. The answer lies in the everlasting spirit. Soon all mankind will witness the rebirth of the Undertaker. I will not rest in peace.”
– Is that fucking deep or what? I feel like humming “Personal Jesus” right now. I wonder if Sid was watching this show and took interviewing notes or something? By the way, Mark Callaway wanted time off to spend with his wife, so Vince thought up this whole wonderful “sports entertainment” moment to explain his absence. Whatever happened to “he hurt his leg” or “he’s in jail” like in the good old days? (2012 Scott sez: Or now, he got suspended for a Wellness violation.)
– Oh, wait, sorry, I bet you thought this segment couldn’t get anymore stupid and offensive…FOOLISH MORTAL! I’ll break your spirit yet! The video wall image of the Undertaker goes to a reverse-color scheme, then starts to “rise” out of the video wall, to be replaced by Marty Jannetty dressed in an Undertaker costume, “levitating” to the ceiling (with wires clearly visible) while Vince earnestly sells the whole experience as a deep and meaningful spiritual experience.
– Dear Federal Investigators:
Obviously whoever conducted the investigation of Mr. Vincent K. McMahon on suspicion of drug distribution in 1994 and failed to get a conviction was either retarded or coked out of their mind, because if the above 30 minutes doesn’t conclusively prove that the entire booking team was on mind-altering substances of some form then the American legal system might as well pack it in now, because justice is not only blind, it’s stupid.
P.S. If you do indeed fire your lead investigator, consider forwarding his resume to WCW, because even retarded and on mind-altering substances, he’s still one up on Russo & Ferrera at this point.
– Royal Rumble:
For those of you who haven’t sworn off wrestling entirely after the above, welcome back. Scott Steiner gets #1, Samu #2. Scott has his hair permed like my ex-girlfriend Karen, which is kind of creepy. Due to time constraints we’re going with 90 seconds instead of 2 minutes here. Rick Steiner gets #3, and the Steiners get rid of Samu quickly. Kwang (what’s the sound of 300 pounds of crap hitting the fan? KWANG!) is #4 and he sprays green mist at the Steiners and does some lethal martial arts. To put it in perspective, Kwang is of course that renowned martial artist Savio Vega. Owen Hart (and his big heel pop) are #5. The heels dominate. Owen does an innocuous tussle with Rick in the corner, and ends up fighting hard enough to knock Steiner out. Bart Gunn is #6. He peppers Owen with left hands, but Owen does his Butterbean impersonation and ignores them. (2012 Scott sez: Poor Bart, punchline for all time.) Diesel is #7, triggering a pretty famous sequence. Bart! Steiner! Owen! Kwang! Everyone takes a seat on the floor, and the crowd eats it up. Bob Backlund is #8, and there he goes out the other side. Fans chant “Diesel” as he waits for the next victim. It’s Billy Gunn at #9, and he’s out on his ass, man, about that many seconds later. (2012 Scott sez: I’m kinda ON here.)
Virgil is #10, but not for long. The “Diesel” chants grow louder, and would keep growing louder until he got the WWF title in November of that year. Here’s your weird thought for the day: Kevin Nash was on the verge of being fired at that point, since he was getting no reaction and couldn’t work, and if the Rumble run hadn’t worked, he likely would have gone back to WCW and ended his career around 1995 doing the Vinnie Vegas gimmick for $500 a night, then retired. But it DID work, and he went on to three World titles, numerous tag titles, and a position as head booker of WCW. So if you were one of the fans who were chanting for him that night…GO TO HELL! It’s all YOUR fault that Kevin Nash booked all that crap last year. (2012 Scott sez: Also, the people at the 2011 Rumble who gave him a big pop for his return, also go to hell. That match at TLC is your fault, too.) Randy Savage is #11, thus ending Diesel’s stream of jobbers. He holds his own until Jarrett comes in at #12. Vince’s summary of Jarrett’s motivation nearly makes me tear my hair out: “He wants to use the WWF as a stepping stone to stardom in Nashville”. How the hell is that supposed to draw heel heat for him? An evil COUNTRY SINGER? No wonder the WWF lost so much money. Crush is #13, and he’s on Savage like attractive women on anyone but Mark Madden. Crush and Savage brawl while Diesel rests. Lazy bastard. Heels double-team Savage. Doink is #14. That’d be Steve Lombardi here, I think. Crush presses Savage out of the match. Crush and Diesel fight for a minute, then realize Doink is an easier target. Bigleow is #15, so the heels kindly step out of the way and Bigelow javelins the clown out of the ring halfway down the aisle. That’s pretty decisive right there. Sick bump, too.
Mabel is #16. Nothing like a big fat black man to liven up the match. Diesel gets flattened. “Sparky” Thurman Plugg makes his inauspicious WWF debut at #17, beginning an amazing 5 years of non-stop jobbing and humiliation, which would drive most sane people to quitting or suicide, but ol’ Sparky actually hung on and ended up becoming internet darling Hardcore Holly in 1999. (2012 Scott sez: Boy THAT fortune sure reversed for him in a big way a couple of years later.) So maybe there’s hope for Prince Iaukea yet. (2012 Scott sez: Nope, he’s long retired from the business as an active wrestler.) HBK is #18. Diesel goes after him, just because he can. Shawn ducks out of the way, and the rest of the pack attacks and dumps Diesel. He gets a standing ovation on the way out. Mo is #19. Greg Valentine is #20, subbing for someone. Talent pool is getting pretty weak here. Tatanka is #21, with freshly repainted face. More stuff going on than I can follow easily. This match needs an enema. The Great Kabuki is #22 and casts fear into everyone’s heart. Everyone gangs up on Mabel and dumps him. Lex Luger is #23 and I’m hoping for a big babyface run to clear the deadwood, but Kabuki is his only victim. (2012 Scott sez: If you don’t even get the big babyface deadwood clearing spot, then you know they don’t have faith in you.)
Tenryu is #24. Out-of-context quote du jour from Dibiase: “He’s there to do a job, he’s not there to win”. Shawn does a bunch of teases on the ropes. Bastion Booger is #25, but doesn’t show up. Rick Martel is #26. More stuff going on. Bret Hart is #27, STILL selling that knee injury. Crowd pops HUGE for him. Fatu (Rikishi) is #28. About half the total population of the match is still in this thing, and that’s way too many. Crush is dumped by three guys. Marty Jannetty is #29, and he and Shawn go flying at each other like Artemis Gordon and James West with those collars on, and the crowd goes nuts because of it. Last man at #30: Adam Bomb. So our field looks like…wait a sec, there goes Sparky. So our field looks like Bomb, Michaels, Jannetty, Luger, Hart, Tenryu, Tatanka, Valentine, Martel, Mo, Fatu & Bigelow. Lots of aimless wandering for a few minutes, then I guess someone signals to go home, because we go fast and furious. Martel wrestles with Valentine in the corner, and Valentine accidentally slips off the ropes and is out. Martel gets backdropped out by Tatanka right after. Everyone dogpiles Adam Bomb and he’s gone. Bigelow tosses Tatanka. Bigelow charges the corner and Flair Flips down to the floor. Jannetty meets him down there. Luger sends Tenryu back to Japan, and we’re left with…the Final Four.
– Final Four: Luger, Hart, Michaels, Fatu. Gee, I wonder who goes first? Bret and Shawn do a cool sequence and almost knock each other out. Fatu & Shawn get Luger to the apron, but he fights back in and kills everyone. Double-whip allows Luger and Bret to simultaneously eliminate both heels. Luger and Bret fight to the ropes and over, where both hit the floor at 55:25 to end the match. After a lengthy discussion and a little experimentation on the crowd by WWF bookers (announcing one guy as winner, then the other, to gauge reaction), both men are announced as “co-winners”. Later footage on WWF TV, and testimony from people in the front rows, would clearly reveal Luger to have hit the floor first. C’est la vie, it was still a decent Rumble. ***1/2
The Bottom Line: Steroid trials do funny things to a man, and causing him to book shows like this one is one such thing. The Undertaker angle led to the wonderful “fake Undertaker” saga later that year, while the Hart Family dispute led to a ***** match at WM10 and a renewal of Bret Hart’s career, one of many to come. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide which was more worth it in the long run.
I’m torn on the recommendation – there’s a couple of great matches, but the Undertaker thing is like a cancer on the rest of the tape. And since the whole Owen-Bret thing was recapped numerous times before Wrestlemania that year, I’ll have to go recommendation to avoid on this show.
(2012 Scott sez: Onto the redone version from a couple of years ago, which I have nothing really to add to.)
The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 1994
– I’m stuck with the Anthology DVD version, which at least has much better video quality than my original VHS dub, so blame that for any inconsistencies with the original review. At least that means the full PPV version and not the Coliseum edit.
– Live from Providence, Rhode Island.
– Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Ted Dibiase. This actually now makes more sense to me given the rotating color commentators on RAW after the departure of Bobby Heenan. Back in the day, it was totally random to me because I only got to watch Superstars.
Tatanka v. Bam Bam Bigelow
Originally scheduled to be Ludvig Borga here, but what turned out to be a career-ending injury removed him from the show. Slugfest to start and Bigelow dropkicks Tatanka into the corner, but misses a charge and gets powered down. Tatanka with a crossbody for two and he works the arm, then catches Bigelow with his head down for a DDT. To the top, but he whiffs on a cross body and Bammer takes over. Avalanche in the corner, but another try hits boot and Tatanka goes up again with a sunset flip off the top, blocked by Bam Bam’s ass. Tatanka tries to slug him down, but Bam Bam gets a jumping kick for two. Bigelow with the bearhug, but Tatanka is GOING NATIVE! Bigelow puts him down again with a shoulderblock, but another try results in a Tatanka powerslam for two. They both go for a crossbody and collide for the double KO, but it’s comeback time…until Bam Bam pulls out the enzuigiri, which again draws a big pop from the heel fans in the crowd. The Lunasault misses, however, and Tatanka goes up again with a crossbody for the pin at 8:12. Kind of an anticlimactic finish, but it was a fun match put together on short notice. ***1/2
WWF World tag team titles: The Quebecers v. The Hart Brothers
The Quebecers were fresh off regaining the tag titles at MSG and the Harts were fresh off a ***** match against the Steiners for Coliseum video, so it was a good week for both. Pierre gets a quick slam on Bret, but runs into a knee. Owen comes in and hiptosses Pierre into a slam for two. A sign at ringside declares “Yokozuna RIP” which unfortunately proved clairvoyant. Jacques comes in to slow things down, but Owen suplexes him and dropkicks him back to his own corner again. Another try, and this time Owen gets the enzuigiri for two. The Harts get a Demolition elbow for two. Bret with a small package for two. Sunset flip gets two. Rollup gets two, but Pierre nails Bret and it’s BONZO GONZO. The Quebecers try to whip the babyfaces into each other, but Owen catapults himself into a rollup on Jacques for two instead. Very nice. The champs bail for some advice from Johnny Polo (“Always insist on cash from Paul Heyman.”), and back in Owen gets a leg lariat on Pierre for two. Overhead suplex gets two. Legdrop gets two. It’s awesome seeing the Harts able to cut loose for once, as Jacques was able to keep up with whatever crazy stuff they could come up with. Bret comes in and walks into a Pierre powerslam for two, and Jacques allows some choking in the corner. Quebecers double-team Bret with an elbow and Pierre pounds on him in the corner, and it’s more quality cheating while hotheaded Owen tries to come in. Pierre comes off the middle rope and lands on Bret’s foot, and it’s hot tag Owen. Backdrop for Jacques, belly to belly suplex for Pierre, and he goes to finish Jacques with the Sharpshooter, but Pierre bulldogs him behind the ref’s back to break. And so Owen is your face-in-peril. They drop him on the top rope for two, but Owen quickly tags Bret back in and he fights off both Quebecers alone. Backbreaker and legsweep for Jacques and noggins are knocked, then he gets rid of Pierre and looks to finish…but Johnny Polo pulls down the top rope and Bret blows out his knee on the way down. The Quebecers swarm in and work over the knee outside until Owen chases them off. Back in, Jacques beats the hell out of the knee and goes to a Boston crab, while the announcers implore Bret to go over and make the tag. The Quebecers switch off on the knee and Vince declares that it’s not skill, it’s HOOLIGANISM. They should have marketed a Vince McMahon Word Of The Day Calendar. Bret tries a Sharpshooter on Pierre, but can’t complete the move, and the ref stops the match at 16:48. Who is he, Steve Mazzagatti? Terrible finish, but a great match up until the storyline took over. **** Speaking of storylines, Owen berates his brother for not tagging, and then KICKS THE LEG FROM UNDER HIS LEG. You know, it’s funny, because years later that would be the least horrific thing that members of that family would do to each other. At least Bret didn’t sue for that or write a tell-all book about it.
Meanwhile, Owen cuts a promo from backstage, telling Bret that he’s TOO SELFISH and coins the “kicked the leg from under your leg” phrase that people mocked him about for years afterwards. Owen and a live mic used to be a risky proposition.
WWF Intercontinental title: Razor Ramon v. IRS
IRS has stolen the gold from around Ramon’s neck to give this some minimal backstory, and Razor slugs him down and chases him out of the ring to start. Back in for an atomic drop, but they head out and Irwin sends him into the stairs. Back in for a quick chinlock and IRS legdrops him low, then drops an elbow for two. Back to the chinlock, but Razor fights out and slugs him down, then gets the blockbuster slam for two. And tragically, the ref is bumped, allowing IRS to grab the briefcase. Razor gets it away and puts IRS down for the pin, but of course there’s no ref. So Ramon puts him on the top rope for a backdrop superplex and sets up for the Razor’s Edge, but Shawn Michaels runs in and clobbers him with the belt, which gives IRS the pin and the title at 9:43?! Luckily, Earl Hebner runs out and demands the match be restarted, because if there’s one thing he won’t stand for, it’s injustice in a title match when Shawn Michaels is involved! Ramon hits the Edge in all the confusion and pins IRS to retain. Whew. Just kind of a junky RAW match. ** But hey, if this is the worst match tonight, it’ll still be an easy thumbs up, right?
WWF World title, casket match: Yokozuna v. Undertaker
Hang on, I need two Red Bulls and a bag of mushrooms to properly deal with this first.
Well, all I had was canned mushrooms, so that’ll have to do.
You know, thinking about Undertaker during this period, he really got stuck with the shittiest series of feuds that you could possibly think up. He had two PPVs against Giant Gonzalez with a house show feud against Mr. Hughes sandwiched in the middle, then got to face Yokozuna in this legendarily horrible match, then had to face himself at Summerslam. No wonder he had no incentive to get better. Anyway, Taker gets a flying clothesline and they fight to the floor, and Taker quickly no-sells everything and heads back in for the ropewalk. Back to the floor, UT beats on him with a chair, and Ted Dibiase notes that it’s going to get a lot more brutal. Indeed. Yoko comes back with a handful of salt and they head back in, where Yoko gets a clothesline and tries to roll him into the casket. Taker awakens and comes back for the slugfest, but Yoko puts him down with a belly to belly suplex. Taker no-sells it and gets a pretty decent chokeslam and follows with a DDT, and at this point it’s a pretty decent match.
BUT IT GETS WORSE.
So into the casket goes Yokozuna, but Crush runs out and attacks, preventing the finish. Taker gets rid of him, but now the Great Kabuki of all people comes in, followed by Tenryu. Yes, they have fucking GENICHIRO TENRYU booked for the show and this is what they use him for. And now Bam Bam Bigelow, as far more troubling is Yokozuna still unconscious in the casket after a single DDT two minutes previously. But now it REALLY gets silly, as Paul Bearer uses the power of the urn to inspire Undertaker to fight off four guys at once, so Jeff Jarrett and Adam Bomb now join the shitstorm. Oh, and the Headshrinkers. At least it makes sense for THEM to assist Yokozuna. Luckily, Yoko has now recovered from that devastating DDT and is walking around again. And the last man in is Diesel, and with 11 guys helping they STILL can’t close the damn casket lid.
BUT IT GETS WORSE.
The horde takes out Paul Bearer and steals the urn, which causes (and I’m very embarrassed as a wrestling fan to type this) green smoke to flood out of it, presumably the spirits of Undertaker’s dead parents. So that, finally, is enough to get him in the casket and close the lid at 14:18. And you’re thinking OK, that was a horrible finish and an embarrassment to anyone who’s not Vince Russo or Ed Ferrera, but they can’t possibly sink lower, can they?
BUT IT GETS WORSE.
So while the heels celebrate the presumably dead body of Undertaker, the lights go out and we somehow get a camera shot from inside the casket, where Undertaker CUTS A PROMO FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. And you thought HHH was bad. Do any of the heels open up the casket and punch him in the mouth at this point? Of course not, they all stare blankly at the video wall while Undertaker delivers a dramatic soliloquy and then rises to the ceiling. Not a dream, not an imaginary story. I paid MONEY to watch this PPV in 1994 and then continued as a wrestling fan afterwards. If ever a match deserved the full negative monty, this is undoubtedly it. -***** Worst of all, none of this went anywhere until November, as you’d think it would set up Undertaker’s Kill Billrampage of revenge, but instead he just took months off.
AND THIS WASN’T EVEN THE STUPIDEST FINISH ON THIS SHOW!
On the bright side, it was still better than the January 4 Impact.
Scott Steiner is #1 and Samu is #2. Steiner tosses Samu around and gets a butterfly bomb, but can’t muscle him over the top. Samu comes back with a clothesline and we’re doing 90 second intervals this year, as Rick Steiner is #3. The Steiners double-team Samu, as you’d expect, and suplex the crap out of him, but make no serious effort to get rid of him. Samu misses a charge and hangs himself in the ropes anyway, and he’s gone at 3:22. KWANG is #4 and he uses his MARTIAL ARTS on Scott and blows mist in Rick’s face, but Scott suplexes him anyway. Owen Hart is #5 to a big heel reaction and he immediately goes after the blinded Rick Steiner and puts him out at 5:50. Good for you, Owen! Bart Gunn is #6 and he goes after Owen, with no luck. Diesel is #7 and he hits everyone indiscriminately. Diesel dumps Bart at 8:57, then Scott at 9:00, then Owen at 9:09. Kwang tries to stop him and gets tossed at 9:25. DIESEL POWER begins here. Mr. Bob Backlund is #8 and nearly gets Big Kev out with a double leg, but leverage isn’t on his side. Diesel gets him out at 10:20 to clear the ring. No wonder he got over.
Billy Gunn is #9 and he quickly runs into a boot and he’s gone at 11:25. And now the crowd is firmly behind Diesel. But wait! This gives us a chance to watch footage of the Japanese contingent attacking Lex Luger in the locker room. That’s a shame. Virgil is #10 and I’m not giving him much of a shot. Diesel misses a charge and Virgil uses his fisticuffs, but Diesel gets rid of him at 13:19. Dibiase takes particular delight in that, a nice touch. And now Macho Man is #11 and that’s gonna be it for the big run. Savage pounds away on Kev and throws elbows in the corner, and Jeff Jarrett is #12. He clotheslines Savage out, but Macho skins the cat to hang on and then sends Jarrett back to the dressing room at 17:14. Crush is #13 and that’s trouble for Savage. Savage elbows him down and goes up with the double axehandle, then goes after Diesel as well and loses the battle. The heels double-team him and Doink is #14. Savage is out at 19:10 during Doink’s entrance, leaving the heels to pound on each other while Doink laughs at them. That gets him a beatdown, and Bam Bam Bigelow is #15. Crush & Diesel give Bam Bam free reign to assault Doink, so he sends him into the aisle at 21:14 with a Spike Dudley toss. Nice. The heels all turn on each other, and Mabel is #16. He hits Diesel with an Avalanche, then Bigelow, and SPARKY PLUGG is #17. Now we’re getting into the SERIOUS contenders.
People do the “lay on the ropes and pretend to get each other out” thing to burn some time, until Shawn Michaels at #18. Interesting to think that he would go on to win the next two in the row. Everyone decides to go after Diesel, and he’s gone at 25:59. He’d have better days ahead of him. So with the crowd favorite gone, Mo is #19. There’s way too many people with purple tights in there. Bless the 90s. Shawn teases some eliminations and Greg Valentine is #20. Forgot about that one. He goes after Bigelow as deadwood is starting to accumulate. Tatanka is #21 and he beats on Shawn, but Mabel actually holds Tatanka so that Shawn can get some shots in. Shawn turns on him anyway. Kabuki is #22, but don’t union rules say we can only have one mist-spewing Asian per match? Everyone decides to gang up on Mabel and dumps him at 32:32. Probably wise.
Lex Luger is #23 and hopefully he’ll clear the ring for AMERICA. Kabuki goes back to Japania at 33:40! And that’s his whole babyface rampage, as Crush attacks him to stop the madness. Tenryu is #24 and he chops Luger right away, and they’re pretty awesome chops. He’s earned his money. #25 no-shows, and Vince is sure it was Bret Hart’s spot, although I believe later it was revealed to be Bastion Booger’s spot. So we continue on and Rick Martel is #26. Luger and Tatanka slug it out in an interesting bit of foreshadowing, and otherwise nothing is going on until Bret Hart is #27, still selling the leg injury from earlier. And the crowd goes nuts for him, especially with the limp. Crush immediately goes for the knee, aided by Tenryu. Fatu is #28 and there’s way too many guys, as the last elimination was more than 10 minutes ago. And Crush gets pounded out by Luger at 42:38. Marty Jannetty is #29, and it’s gung ho against Shawn Michaels to a big pop, as they trade like Frye and Takayama, but gayer. They exchange superkicks, but Marty can’t suplex Shawn out. And finally, Adam Bomb is #30.
Bret dumps Plugg at 45:21 to end the dream of Bob Holly in a Wrestlemania main event, and Tenryu is still chopping the shit out of everyone. Doesn’t he know that the object of a battle royale is to lay around on the ropes and crack jokes? Someone teach this guy how to work. Things slow right down with everyone in, and no one can still get Shawn out. Martel finally gets Valentine out at 49:19, and Tatanka dumps Martel at 49:39. Bomb charges Lex and hits the floor at 49:50. Finally, someone gave the “go home” signal. Tatanka goes out at 50:18 off-screen. Shawn and Marty continue their private war, and Bam Bam bumps out at 51:05 following a Luger forearm. Shawn gets rid of Marty at 51:14 for the moral victory, and holy cow Tenryu is still there. Cute spot as he runs Shawn and Fatu’s heads together, but only Shawn sells it. Tenryu just chops the shit out of Luger again, but Bret and Lex team up and dump Tenryu at 52:29.
Final Four: Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Fatu, and Shawn Michaels. Bret and Shawn battle on the ropes as Fatu superkicks Lex off my favorite headbutt no-sell spot. The heels put Luger on the apron, but he fights them off and makes the superhero comeback. And the faces backdrop the heels out at 54:49 simultaneously, giving us Bret v. Lex. And they fight to the ropes, and both are out at 55:08 for the most retarded Royal Rumble finish until 1999. Replays clearly show that Luger hit the floor first, but Bret got the last laugh anyway. I should also note that the crowd reaction to Bret’s fake win is MASSIVE compared to Luger’s. A very entertaining Rumble for about the first 40 minutes, then it got clogged up and died off bigtime, leading to the worst Rumble finish ever up until that point. ***1/2
It’s kinda sorta good if you can ignore the glaring spot in the middle surrounding the casket match, but it’s not an all-time classic or anything. Mild recommendation to avoid overall.