WWF 1994 Royal Rumble

January 22, 1994

From the Providence Civic Center in Providence, RI

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Ted DiBiase

 

The hosts run down the show with DiBiase referencing the huge contract John Madden signed with Fox and how he is more or less the WWF’s version of Madden. But wealthier.

 

Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Luna Vachon

It was first announced on the live episode of “Mania” that aired this same day that Bigelow was replacing an injured Ludvig Borga. And we also notice Tatanka not having the red streak in his hair as that was the result of the hair dye causing actual hair loss. These two slug it out to start. Tatanka takes control and hits a DDT but whiffs on a flying body press as both men are down. Bigelow backs Tatanka into the corner and follows with an avalanche as Vince reminds us that both men will also take part in the Rumble match. Tatanka fights back and heads back up top for a sunset flip but Bigelow breaks that up with a sit-down splash after a struggle. Bigelow cuts off a comeback with a dropkick that barely gets a two count then catches Tatanka in a bearhug. Vince plugs the Royal Rumble hotline as the crowd rallies behind Tatanka……….a little bit but gets run over by Bigelow. Tatanka comes back with a powerslam that gets two then both men collide attempting crossbodies and are down. Bigelow is up first and sends Tatanka into the corner but Tatanka pumps up and runs wild until Bigelow drops him with an enziguiri. Bigelow mocks Tatanka’s dance to cheers. Bigelow heads up top but misses a moonsault then Tatanka gets up and goes up top and this time it works as he uses a flying body press for the win (8:12) **1/4.

Thoughts: Fine for an opening match and certainly serviceable considering the short notice but nothing you would call “good.” These two generally had good chemistry together but there was not much of a flow to the match itself with a lot starting and stopping taking place. It was notable though how the crowd seemed to be into Bigelow more than Tatanka and just how dead in the water Tatanka was going to be as a face going forward. After the streak ending and jobbing to Yokozuna on the house show circuit there was nothing else left to do but go down the card as a face act.

 

An ad for WrestleMania X airs. After that, we are given a special number we can call to order tickets.

 

We now get a video package on everything leading to the Tag Team Title match.

 

Now, Todd Pettengill is backstage with the Hart Brothers. Bret says after tonight, when they win the belts, they will give everyone a shot at the belts. Owen says he has waited all of his life for this moment and The Quebecers winning the belts back sealed their fate and he promises to make his family proud.

 

WWF Tag Team Title Match: The Quebecers (c) w/ Johnny Polo vs. Hart Brothers

Polo smirks into the camera as Vince also mentions the Hart Brothers taking part in the Royal Rumble match. Bret and Pierre start things off with Bret taking control. Owen tags and works the arm until Pierre boots him in the gut. Owen then uses a hip toss for two then goes back to an armbar. Pierre tags out after yanking Owen down by the hair but Owen catches Jacques with a suplex then a dropkick. Jacques retreats to his corner then takes advice from Polo. Owen takes Jacques down with an enziguiri for a two count then tags out as Bret uses a flying elbow for a two count. Bret gets a few other nearfalls but Pierre runs in to clothesline Bret then the match breaks down. The Quebecers bail after Owen almost won with a rollup and huddle with Polo. Bret slingshots Pierre inside after working over Jacques and tags out as Owen uses a flying clothesline for two. The Hart Brothers stay in control until Pierre catches Bret in a powerslam as DiBiase calls out Bret for acting cocky as we see Owen look a bit irritated on the apron. Jacques runs interference so Pierre can choke out Bret then boots him in the gut for two. The crowd cheers for Bret as The Quebecers cut the ring in half. Pierre comes off of the top rope but Bret got his foot up as both men are down. Both men tag out as Owen runs wild and looks great in the process. Owen turns Jacques over for the Sharpshooter as Bret comes in but as Bret is ordered back onto the apron, Pierre breaks it up as Vince says no one escapes the Sharpshooter when its applied. The Quebecers neutralize Owen in their corner and hit a double stun gun for a nearfall. Owen comes back with a double dropkick then tags out as Bret beats on both of The Quebecers. Owen holds up Jacques from the apron after it seems he is upset over Bret not tagging him in and waves Bret over but Polo low-bridges Bret, who falls to the floor and clutches his knee. Pierre roughs up Bret on the outside then The Quebecers use a chair on Bret’s knee then Owen makes the save. Pierre and Owen brawl on the floor as the ref counts now that Jacques is inside then Owen rolls Bret inside to beat the ten count. The Quebecers continue to work over Bret’s knee but Bret is able to roll away from the assisted senton. The crowd cheers for Bret to tag out but Bret puts Pierre in the Sharpshooter until he collapses as his knee gave out then the bell rings as we learn the ref decided to end the match because of Bret’s knee as The Quebecers retain with Owen becoming irate (16:48) ***1/2. Owen now yells at Bret for not tagging out as Bret is still rolling around and grabbing his knee. Bret pulls himself up by the ropes as Owen keeps yelling as Vince points out that Owen has not helped him at all. Bret then tries to walk but Owen kicks out his leg with DiBiase laughing and stating its the smartest thing Owen has done in his career. The crowd boos Owen as Vince wants to know what the Hart Family is thinking back in Calgary. We hear Owen as he heads backstage while looking into the camera saying that Bret was too damn selfish to tag out. We now go back to the ring as Raymond Rougeau tries to get a word with one of the several officials as to Bret’s condition but Pat Patterson blows him off and tells him to leave.

Thoughts: Terrible ending aside this was a very good match. I get that you wanted to keep Bret strong and not get pinned cleanly and Owen getting pinned would kill off any heat for a feud against Bret but come up with something better than the ref calling for DQ after Bret fell trying to apply his finisher. And even though it was obvious, the turn came off well and Owen had heat for the rest of the show.

 

Pettengill is now in the locker room with Owen and asks why he attacked his brother. Owen yells that Bret is nothing but a selfish person and has a huge ego while we see him on the video wall with Bret being helped to the back. Owen said all Bret had to do was tag and knew his leg was bad but again, Bret is too “shellfish” and kicked his “leg out of his leg.” Owen then says Bret doesn’t care about him before saying the Royal Rumble is his opportunity and says he can count on himself to win the Rumble. The promo itself was not good. I liked how they showed Bret being helped to the back while having to listen to his brother rag on him and Bret sold the knee to near perfection though. In the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter,” Dave Meltzer stated that Owen would need to have a good heel manager to get over against anyone besides Bret and based on this promo I’d agree.

 

We cut to the announcers as DiBisae is applauding the actions of Owen.

 

Stan Lane is at the Royal Rumble Hotline Headquarters and will give us updates all night long. He said the early word is that Bret will not be able to participate in the Rumble match.

 

WWF Intercontinental Title Match: IRS vs. Razor Ramon (c)

IRS tells the crowd to start paying their taxes then we hear Jim Ross & Gorilla Monsoon from Radio WWF calling the match. Razor fires away as IRS rolls outside for a breather. IRS heads back in but Razor continues to fire away and IRS heads outside once again. Razor now works a side headlock but after that IRS uses Razor’s momentum to toss him outside. IRS slams Razor then heads up top then avoids the foot of Razor and drops an elbow for two. IRS applies a chin lock as the crowd chants for Razor. IRS continues to ground Razor as the announcers talk about Razor costing IRS a match against PJ Walker. Razor escapes and fires away then follows with a fallaway slam that gets two. IRS begs for mercy in the corner but Razor fires away then IRS reverses an Irish whip and sends Razor into the referee. IRS grabs the briefcase and tries to attack Razor but that fails and Razor ends up whacking IRS. Razor covers and yells at the ref to get up then has to break and try to wake him up. Razor then places IRS up top for the super belly-to-back suplex but the ref is still out cold. Razor then signals for the Razor’s Edge but Shawn Michaels runs out and whacks Razor from behind with his Intercontinental Title belt. Shawn leaves as everyone is out on the mat. IRS crawls over to Razor and covers as the ref counts and gets the three count. IRS celebrates with the belt but the bell did not go off. Referee Earl Hebner runs out to tell the ref what happened and how there are two belts in the ring. Razor then gets up and hits IRS for the Razor’s Edge and that gets the win (11:47) *1/2.

Thoughts: Maybe a little more action-packed than most IRS bouts but again we had another dumb finish but despite that it did segue right into Razor/Shawn for the IC Title as IRS is free to do something else so the main goal was at least achieved.

 

We see a video package on the Undertaker/Yokozuna feud.

 

WWF World Championship Casket Match: Yokozuna (c) w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer

Undertaker avoids an attack and drops Yokozuna after a few clotheslines. He then knocks Yokozuna through the ropes before hitting his ropewalk attack. Yokozuna avoids a clothesline as both men are now outside and fighting over a chair. Vince tells us there is no disqualifications as Undertaker whacks Yokozuna with a chair over the head twice. Yokozuna is able to grab a handful of salt and tosses it into Undertaker’s face then rams him into the steps. Yokozuna now whacks Undertaker with the chair then takes the action back inside as the crowd chants “USA.” Yokozuna rolls Undertaker near the casket and sticks him inside but Undertaker is on his feet and the referees cannot close the door. Undertaker fights back with several throat thrusts but Yokozuna takes him down with a belly-to-belly suplex. However, Undertaker sits up to grab Yokozuna by the throat for a chokeslam then follows with a jumping DDT. Undertaker rolls Yokozuna inside of the casket and is about to shut the door and win but Crush runs out for the save. Crush rolls Undertaker inside and fires away but Undertaker comes back with a clothesline before dumping him outside. The Great Kabuki runs out to hammer away and is soon joined by Tenryu but they both get hit with a double clothesline. Bigelow is in now as Crush is back up with Yokozuna still in the casket but the door not shut. Its 4 vs. 1 against Undertaker then we see Bearer whack Cornette with the urn. Yokozuna gets out of the casket as everyone tries to put Undertaker inside but Bearer raises the urn and Undertaker fights back. Adam Bomb is out now as Bigelow accidentally whacks Crush with the salt bucket as Jeff Jarrett comes out to attack Undertaker, who is still fighting everyone off. Undertaker is unable to be contained in the casket but Yokozuna steals the urn after decking Bearer off of the apron. Yokozuna now opens up the urn and green smoke pours out as we see Crush suplex Undertaker. Vince believes this means the Undertaker’s power has escaped as the Headshrinkers & Diesel are also seen out in the ring. Undertaker takes big moves from a few guys then is dragged over near the casket and put in with everyone holding it down as its locked and Yokozuna now declared the winner (14:20) *.

Thoughts: The first few minutes had good action and after that it settled down fine. And I didn’t think the run-ins were terrible (and it fit in with the story of Fuji trying to get people to take out Luger in the Rumble match that he’d do the same to protect his client) although that went on for too long and it was ridiculous for Yokozuna to sit in the casket for so long and why did the ref’s close the door when Undertaker was inside and not Yokozuna? Shorten that up and it would have came off better because the crowd was still hot for Taker but died off when it felt never-ending. And no explanation as to why no one was coming out to help Undertaker was also dumb. Its not a good match by any means but I’ve seen much worse. Here is an interesting tidbit: “Pro Wrestling Torch’s” Wade Keller had reported that as up until just a day or so before the PPV that word among the participants was that Undertaker was going to win the title. However, Keller reported the following week that Undertaker had planned time off months ago to take care of back injuries and to spend time with his newborn son.

 

The heels roll the casket up the aisle but the lights go on and the gong plays. We see the green smoke from the casket then see Undertaker inside of the casket shown on the video wall. He says his life cannot be extinguished and then talks about the everlsating spirit and that we will all witness the rebirth of the Undertaker. He then says he will not rest in peace. We hear lightning sound effects and then on the video wall we see the Undertaker now florescent then levitated into the rafters. The heels leave then we see Bearer with the urn on top of the casket as Bearer cries while wheeling the casket up the ramp. Well holy shit was this different. I will say that looking back on this it pales in comparison to the ridiculousness that would follow. Sure, it was campy, corny, and came off like some really terrible dinner theater production but it also involved a character that was unlike any other in wrestling. By no means was this good but at the time it was reported by some as the worst thing they’d ever seen. And yes, business would get even worse the next couple of years but that was going to happen regardless of this angle. And on his “Something to Wrestle With” podcast, Bruce Prichard said he was the one who produced this segment and the person playing the Undertaker being raised from the video wall as a local enhancement talent that had a similar build to the Undertaker.

 

We then hear from some of the Rumble participants.

 

Back to the announcers as DiBiase says its a rip off that Lex Luger was allowed to compete with Vince saying that Fuji having Tenryu & Kabuki along with Crush to take Luger out makes it tough.

 

Lane is at the Hotline Headquarters and plugs it once again how you can find out the entrants before they are announced.

 

30 Man Royal Rumble Match

#1 is Scott Steiner while #2 is Samu. We also learn that entrants will come in every 90 seconds instead of two minutes. Samu beats on Scott but gets caught with a clothesline. Scott then suplexes Samu and tries to throw him out. Samu comes back with a clothesline after a reversal sequence then #3 is announced and its Rick Steiner, who takes his time entering the ring. Rick saves his brother from elimination then beats on Samu then Scott joins in and they take turns. #4 is Kwang, who is accompanied by Harvey Whippleman but before he gets into the ring Samu gets eliminated. According to Kwang in his RF Video shoot interview, he was called to fill all of Borga’s dates when the latter broke his ankle. Kwang blows green mist into Rick’s face then beats on Scott for a bit. Kwang does some dopey martial arts pose but Scott catches him with a belly-to-belly suplex then tries to wipe the mist off of his brother’s face. #5 is Owen Hart and he gets a good amount of crowd heat. He goes after Rick and eventually eliminates him then after that beats on Scott. #6 is Bart Gunn who saves Scott from elimination then beats on Owen. Vince then alerts us that something has happened backstage and they are trying to get cameras to capture the action. #7 is Diesel as DiBiase brings up how he spent over 50 minutes in the Rumble before. Diesel attacks everyone then eliminates Bart and right after its Scott. Diesel then dumps Owen over the top rope as that gets a lot of cheers then he clotheslines Kwang over the top rope and that gets a lot of cheers too. #8 is Bob Backlund and he almost dumps Diesel but ends up getting beat down and tossed out as this has been an awesome sequence for him. #9 is Billy Gunn who runs in but eats a boot and gets tossed in about 15 seconds as Diesel is over. We now cut backstage to what happened earlier with Tenryu & Kabuki attacking Luger backstage. #10 is Virgil, who is a substitute for Kamala according to Vince. Virgil lands a few punches but soon after that is eliminated as Diesel now has seven eliminations.

#11 is Randy Savage as the crowd cheers. He fires away on Diesel while getting ragged on by DiBiase. #12 is Jeff Jarrett and he decides to save Diesel by attacking Savage for some reason. Because why try to get rid of the most dominant guy in the match? Jarrett struts around then heads up top with an attack then struts around after thinking he eliminated Savage but after that Savage sends Jarrett into Diesel with a knee smash then eliminates him. #13 is Crush, who is immediately attacked by Savage. The announcers talk about their history then Savage goes after Diesel. Crush then attacks Savage from behind as #14 Doink the Clown comes out accompanied by Dink. We see Crush eliminate Savage then Diesel tries to dump Crush and they end up slugging it out while Doink laughs. They see Doink and get their feet stomped as Vince once again plugs the Hotline so we can find out who is coming out next. #15 is Bam Bam Bigelow, accompanied by Luna, and he goes after Doink. Crush & Diesel then try to get rid of Bigelow but that fails as all three men go at each other. #16 is Mabel and we get a “whooop, there it is” chant. Mabel avalanches all three guys as the action is really slowing down. #17 is Sparky Plugg as Vince says he is replacing the injured 1-2-3 Kid. The crowd does not react to him and he goes after Diesel. Everyone gangs up and tries to get rid of Bigelow but that also fails as Vince wonders whether or not Luger can fend off Tenryu & Kabuki and if Bret will be able to compete. #18 is Shawn Michaels and he gets backed into a corner by Diesel. However, Mabel and Bigelow attack Diesel from behind and Crush joins in to help as Diesel is eliminated. Vince says that Shawn also helped but you could not really see. Diesel is getting an ovation and chant on his way backstage. #19 is Mo and he blends in with everyone. Plugg nearly eliminates Shawn and we get more basic brawling. #20 is Greg Valentine and he gets some cheers as Vince mentions how he lasted almost 50 minutes in the 1991 Rumble.

#21 is Tatanka and he slugs it out with Shawn as the ring is really starting to fill up. Shawn lands on the apron after Valentine tried to dump him. #22 The Great Kabuki chops a few people then joins everyone but Mo, who was down on the mat, in eliminating Mabel. #23 is Lex Luger and he gets a good reaction. Luger goes after Kabuki and soon afterwards eliminates him from the match. So much for a feared mercenary although Kabuki looked old and non-threatening. Mo now attacks Luger and gets dropped. #24 is Tenryu as he appears to be holding back laughter while walking to the ring. Tenryu chops Luger a few times but Luger fights back. Tenryu chops Luger hard in the corner a few times. #25 does not come out as Vince says it must have been Bret and how its unfortunate while DiBiase laughs. Vince says it was Bret’s dream to be in the Rumble. The ring remains clogged and the action slow. #26 is Rick Martel and he beats on Mo with Vince saying that he could win the Rumble by being fresh this late in the match. Luger and Tatanka slug it out until Shawn attacks them both. #27 is Bret Hart, who limps slowly down the aisle as the crowd cheers. DiBiase calls Bret stupid for risking his career just by proving to people that he has guts. Crush beats on Bret as the announcers note that Plugg has been in for over 18 minutes. #28 is Fatu as we now have 12 people in the ring, which goes down to 11 with Luger eliminating Crush. #29 is Marty Jannetty and of course he goes right after Shawn as they slug it out while the fans cheer. #30 is Adam Bomb as Vince proclaims he will win due to being a monster that drew the last number. Bret eliminates Plugg then Vince tells us that #25 was supposed to be Bastion Booger but he got sick as DiBiase joked he probably ate too much. The ring remains too clogged and Tenryu continues to aimlessly wander around. Vince tells us that Tenryu and Kabuki have taken a lot out of Luger and that is ridiculous seeing that Kabuki lasted about a minute and did next to nothing. Bret and Tatanka try to dump Shawn but Bomb makes the save. Martel dumps Valentine, who also gets applause from the crowd, then Tatanka eliminates Martel. Luger ducks an attack from Bomb and Bomb flies over the top rope to get eliminated. Bomb slugs Luger in the face before leaving then we see Fatu eliminate Mo with a thrust kick. Bigelow then eliminates Tatanka as we are getting eliminations at a rapid rate. However, Bigelow misses an attack in the corner and gets eliminated by Luger. Shawn eliminates Marty then Tenryu fights off Shawn & Fatu briefly before chopping Luger in the corner. Luger & Bret then team up to dump Tenryu.

The final four are Shawn, Luger, Bret and Fatu. Shawn hits Bret with a corner splash then they work a nice sequence with some near eliminations. Fatu goes up top to hit Luger with a flying headbutt then Shawn joins him in trying to get rid of Luger but it fails. Luger fights back and turns Fatu inside-out with a clothesline. Bret and Luger are in the corner and try to Irish whip Shawn and Fatu into each other. They avoid and charge but both get backdropped to the floor as we are down to Luger and Bret. They slug it out with the fans cheering then Luger picks Bret up. Bret gets down and drives Luger back and they both spill outside. We only saw from the back and could not see feet touch the floor as the announcers speculate as to who won the match. The referees now huddle as Vince wants to hear the official word. Luger is announced the winner but the music is cut off then we hear Bret announced as the winner, which gets a louder reaction. However, the music stops again as the confusion remains. The refs continue to argue then WWF President Jack Tunney heads into the ring. We see the replay but yet again the angle is from the back and you cannot see the feet touch the floor, which was done on purpose. We then see a side angle that conveniently gets blocked by the turnbuckle when the feet hit the floor. Finkel then is about to announce the winner but stops as he is also confused. Finkel as the mic again and is about to announce the winner then proclaims that both men won (55:08) **1/2. The show then goes off the air with the WrestleMania X theme playing.

Thoughts: The finish was certainly interesting and this match had its moments but the ring was clogged for far too long and it killed the crowd heat. Guys like Mo, Valentine, Plugg etc. spent far too much time in the ring. And the mercenary storyline with Fuji and Luger was a major flop seeing that Kabuki did not do a thing and Tenryu wandered around like he was lost then would occasionally chop Luger. The confusion after the ending was a bit much and made everyone involved look like dopes. However, they were smart to quickly end the show after the decision and to only have Luger and Bret in the ring at the end of the match for a short amount of time because Bret was clearly the most popular of the two.

The beginning of the match was good and it got Diesel over huge. He came off looking awesome and according to Prichard in his podcast, it was designed to see if he could handle being a singles wrestler and not to test him out as a babyface. As far as individual performances, Shawn Michaels was the MVP of the night. Also, the Steiners did not fight each other and according to Rick Steiner in his shoot interview with RF Video, they refused to do it and Vince was pissed off and they got eliminated in quick fashion. Given how they were on their way out of the company I can see why they would not want to fight each other. And speaking of the finish, Prichard said on his podcast that director Kerwin Silfies shot it the way he did on purpose as to create more confusion as to whose feet hit the floor first and that there was someone with a camera in the crowd who also took a shot of the finish. It should also be noted that both Luger and Bret put each other over for how the finish came off.

 

Final Thoughts: With business down they tried some new stuff and while it was not a boring show it did come off as desperate. The cliffhanger ending of both guys winning wasn’t a bad idea but the execution was not the strongest. It at least creates interest for RAW on Monday. The other big news was of course The Undertaker in an angle that just about everyone either loved or hated. And of course Owen turning on Bret. Another major problem was the lack of star power in the company which was evident by who filled out the Rumble match. The tag match was the best on the show and that was worth checking out and the Rumble finish was historic for the time but I would not call this a good show. And speaking of desperate ideas, it was reported a week or so prior in “Wrestling Locker Room News” that Adrian Street was offered a job as a manager. In his shoot interview with RF Video, Street said he turned down the job because he was asked to manage a British Skinhead team (apparently consisting of British Wrestler Johnny South and someone else) and wanted no part of looking like a Neo Nazi. So the company I guess was looking to do any sort of act to drum up interest.

Another thing too, according to Keller, was the company morale was reportedly at its lowest in recent memory. A few weeks prior it was reported that the wrestlers would no longer be able to use the frequent flyer miles (WWF paid for the plane tickets and have given them to the wrestlers) and this was going to lead to the wrestlers speaking up at the next TV taping but that never happened. So, times were bad all around for talent and the company and it would not improve by the end of the year. This PPV also got heavy criticism for its use of  the 1-900 to advance storylines and the plugs for that on the show also came off as desperate.