The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy Shit” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy Shit” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy Shit” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy Shit” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy Shit” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1998

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 98 – Live from San Jose, CA – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust v. Vader. This was during Goldust’s incredibly weird mid-life crisis period. (2012 Scott sez:  Did that ever actually end?  Dude wanted to get breast implants in 2001, how stable could he be?) Vader gets a quick start and draws good face heat. Vader pounds on him on the floor, then back in the ring. A low blow turns the tide, but he makes the mistake of kissing Vader and gets clotheslined out of his boots. He goes for the Vaderbomb, but yet another low blow blocks that. Vader runs through the finishing sequence again, and now Luna runs in to help, so Vader carries her on his shoulders and delivers the Vaderbomb with her on his back for the pin at 7:50. Bad match. ½* – Steve Austin arrives, and the Godwinns track him down. – Battallion, Tarantula & El Torrito v. Max Mini, Nova & Mosaic. Tammy the Crack Whore is the special referee. Standard over-choreographed minis match, which as usual holds zero interest for me. Or the crowd, either. I swear to god there are 25 variations on the Mexican armdrag used here. Lawler’s staggering array of short jokes is in fine form here, and JR even gets a zinger in: “Sunny and Max may be an item – I hear she likes short guys!” Max cradles Torrito at 7:47 for the pin. I don’t rate midget matches. – The Nation of Domination seeks out Austin. – Intercontinental title match: The Rock v. Ken Shamrock. I miss the old belt. (2012 Scott sez:  Well now I’ve got it back!  And it only took 14 years!) Shamrock plowed through the Nation to set this up. Long stall session to start. Shamrock goes for a rana and gets dropped on the top rope for two. Slugfest, and Shamrock comes back with a bodypress and fisherman’s suplex for two. Rock hits the floatover DDT for two, however, and into the chinlock. Shamrock reverses another DDT into a Northern lights suplex. He comes back and snaps, but the Nation runs in. Rock uses brass knuckles (what is this, Stampede?) for two, but sneaks them into Shamrock’s tights before covering. Shamrock recovers and hits the belly-to-belly for the pin and the title at 10:55. Crowd goes loopy, but the ref finds the knuckles and reverses the decision. Bad finish. *1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s kind of a brilliant finish, actually, as Rock was cheating but covering his bases at the same time.  Yeah, the reversed decision was cheap and yeah Shamrock never actually got his revenge, but they made way more money off Rocky than they were gonna make of Shamrock.)  – Los Boriquas think they’ve found Austin, but they’ve really found Skull and a big brawl erupts. – World tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Legion of Doom. In the last match, Jim Ross was talking about showcasing young athletes rather than the senior circuit. And now, one match later, we’re showcasing “timeless legends”. I wonder if that stroke was caused by the force of his stance whipping around 180 degrees like that? (2012 Scott sez:  Some legends are timeless, but the LOD was not one of them.  They were very definitely of a time, and that time was 1983-1989.)  The Outlaws have no singalong intro or pop. Brawl to start. LOD beats on Road Dogg for a while, then Billy Gunn. Animal ventures outside and gets sent to the steps. Dogg finds a pair of cuffs and attaches Hawk to the ringpost. Animal still won’t sell, as he fights off the champs. Gunn gets powerslammed coming off the top and Dogg uses a chair to break it up for the DQ at 7:54. What a pile of shit that was. DUD The OLD’s heat was gone by then.  (2012 Scott sez:  Zack haters, remember where the New Age Outlaws started out and where they ended up as far as drawing power goes.  It was basically The Roadie and Rockabilly Gunn thrown together as a team and left to get themselves over, and for the first few months everyone online bitched about how these two goofy jobbers were stinking up the tag titles and they couldn’t work.  By 2000, they were headlining house shows and selling millions in merchandise with DX.  Why?  Because they started beating people (LOD) and just kept beating people (Funk & Cactus) until they were taken seriously as a threat.  You can book anyone you want to look tough in the ring and win all their matches, like Crimson in TNA, but if they’re not over then that part of the package can never be there.  If someone gets THEMSELVES over, then half the work is done for you already!) Royal Rumble: Cactus Jack gets #1, Terry Funk gets #2. Duelling chairs starts us off, and they willingly exchange chairshots on each other. Tom Brandi is #3, and suddenly Mick and Terry unite to toss him. Back to fighting. Rock is #4, and he goes after both. He gets a trash can to the head as a reward. Mosh is #5. He goes for Funk, Jack takes Rock. PIG is #6. These so-called 2-minute periods are closer to 90 seconds. Fast-running clocks have ATTITUDE, I guess. 8-Ball is #7. Cactus charges Funk and goes over the top. Bradshaw is #8 during his Blackjack phase. It’s JTTS hell right now. Owen Hart is #9, but NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett attacks him and lays him out. He never makes it to the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  They went from feuding to tag champions pretty quickly even by Vince Russo standards.)  Steve Blackman (pre-waxing) is #10. D-Lo Brown is #11. Rock and D-Lo come to blows. Kurrgan is #12. Mosh is gone. Marc Mero is #13. Kurrgan tosses Blackman. Shamrock is #14 and everyone gangs up and eliminates Kurrgan. Rock hits a People’s Elbow on Funk to zero reaction. Thrasher is #15. Mankind is #16. He goes after Funk and eliminates him. TAFKA Goldust is #17. Rock & Shamrock continue their brawl. Goldust puts Mankind out. NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett is #18. Owen Hart rushes the ring and joins the match, tossing Jarrett. Honky Tonk Man is #19, taking the injured HHH’s place. Rock tosses Shamrock. HHH hobbles to ringside and breaks a crutch over Owen to eliminate him. Ahmed Johnson is #20. Mark Henry is #21. He goes right after Ahmed, prompting JR’s unintentional Line of the Night: “Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson…” #22 passes with no entrant. The announcers speculate that it’s Austin, but sharp-eyed viewers will remember that Skull got beat up earlier in the show. Ahmed is gone, as is Phineas. The Nation keeps fighting amongst themselves. Kama (the Godfather) is #23. Zzzzzz. Steve Austin is #24, and everyone stops to wait for him. He comes from the crowd, tossing Mero & 8-Ball. HOG is #25. Now Rock & Kama go at it. Savio Vega is #26, as all the Boriquas attack Austin. They leave shortly after. Faarooq is #27. The entire Nation is now in the ring. Faarooq goes after all of them. Rock & Austin go through the ropes and brawl on the floor. Dude Love is #28, making his third appearance. (2012 Scott sez:  Cute idea, but the roster was so depleted they had little choice but to have everyone do double-duty AND have Mick Foley work the match as three different characters.)  He dumps Bradshaw. Rock & Austin return to the ring and continue their private war. Chainz is #29, Vader is #30. Vader kills Goldust and tosses Honky. Austin backdrops Thrasher out, then Kama. He tosses Savio. Goldust clotheslines Vader out. Godwinn charges Dude and he’s gone. Goldust follows. Austin dumps Chainz. Rock tosses Henry and D-Lo, leaving… – The Final Four: Austin, Dude, Faarooq & Rocky. The faces dominate, but Austin turns on Dude and Faarooq eliminates him. Faarooq then goes after Austin, but Rocky sneaks up from behind and dumps Faarooq. That leaves Rock v. Austin, which ends quickly via Stone Cold Stunner at 55:30 to send Austin to Wrestlemania and history. Too many people in the ring for the whole match made this a very subpar Rumble. ** – Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson in the skyboxes, and wouldn’t you know that he’s a big fan of “Cold Stoned” Steve Austin. – WWF title, casket match: Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. Shawn uses speed to avoid UT, but gets caught and manhandled. Shawn takes a nasty bump over the top, hitting his back on the casket, and that ended up being the move that ended his career. Back in and Taker gets the ropewalk and dumps Shawn again. He puts Shawn into the casket, but can’t get the lid shut. Shawn tosses powder in UT’s eyes to come back. They fight out of the ring again. Shawn piledrives him on the steps and HHH antagonizes him further. Shawn rolls him into the casket, but he comes back. Shawn hits the flying forearm and flying elbow, then Sweet Chin Music to KO the Undertaker. He rolls UT into the casket, but stops to showboat and gets hit in the nuts. UT unleashes some righteous whupass, but misses a dive and lands in the casket. Shawn follows him down with an elbow into the casket, and they’re both in. UT bursts out, drags Shawn back in the ring, and hits a MONSTER chokeslam. UT brings him to the apron and tombstones him into the casket, but the NAO & Boriquas attack. Crowd chants “We want Kane” (Kane and UT “reunited” the week previous) and Kane obliges. Crowd is going nuts. Kane clears the ring and DX helps Shawn out of the casket. Kane suddenly attacks Taker, and chokeslams him into the casket for the loss at 20:33. No Hell in a Cell or anything, but still pretty good. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Surprisingly not represented on anyone’s “Best of” set that I know of.)  Kane pushes the casket away from the ring, smashes it, and lights it on fire. UT returned a month or so later, and man was he PISSED… The Bottom Line: This show is generally regarded as the turning point for the WWF as they mounted a comeback against WCW, but the show itself pretty much blows. Probably worth a rental for Rumble fans and the good UT v. Shawn match, but there’s much better Rumbles and much better Shawn matches out there, so don’t knock yourself out looking for it. Mild recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1998

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 98 – Live from San Jose, CA – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust v. Vader. This was during Goldust’s incredibly weird mid-life crisis period. (2012 Scott sez:  Did that ever actually end?  Dude wanted to get breast implants in 2001, how stable could he be?) Vader gets a quick start and draws good face heat. Vader pounds on him on the floor, then back in the ring. A low blow turns the tide, but he makes the mistake of kissing Vader and gets clotheslined out of his boots. He goes for the Vaderbomb, but yet another low blow blocks that. Vader runs through the finishing sequence again, and now Luna runs in to help, so Vader carries her on his shoulders and delivers the Vaderbomb with her on his back for the pin at 7:50. Bad match. ½* – Steve Austin arrives, and the Godwinns track him down. – Battallion, Tarantula & El Torrito v. Max Mini, Nova & Mosaic. Tammy the Crack Whore is the special referee. Standard over-choreographed minis match, which as usual holds zero interest for me. Or the crowd, either. I swear to god there are 25 variations on the Mexican armdrag used here. Lawler’s staggering array of short jokes is in fine form here, and JR even gets a zinger in: “Sunny and Max may be an item – I hear she likes short guys!” Max cradles Torrito at 7:47 for the pin. I don’t rate midget matches. – The Nation of Domination seeks out Austin. – Intercontinental title match: The Rock v. Ken Shamrock. I miss the old belt. (2012 Scott sez:  Well now I’ve got it back!  And it only took 14 years!) Shamrock plowed through the Nation to set this up. Long stall session to start. Shamrock goes for a rana and gets dropped on the top rope for two. Slugfest, and Shamrock comes back with a bodypress and fisherman’s suplex for two. Rock hits the floatover DDT for two, however, and into the chinlock. Shamrock reverses another DDT into a Northern lights suplex. He comes back and snaps, but the Nation runs in. Rock uses brass knuckles (what is this, Stampede?) for two, but sneaks them into Shamrock’s tights before covering. Shamrock recovers and hits the belly-to-belly for the pin and the title at 10:55. Crowd goes loopy, but the ref finds the knuckles and reverses the decision. Bad finish. *1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s kind of a brilliant finish, actually, as Rock was cheating but covering his bases at the same time.  Yeah, the reversed decision was cheap and yeah Shamrock never actually got his revenge, but they made way more money off Rocky than they were gonna make of Shamrock.)  – Los Boriquas think they’ve found Austin, but they’ve really found Skull and a big brawl erupts. – World tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Legion of Doom. In the last match, Jim Ross was talking about showcasing young athletes rather than the senior circuit. And now, one match later, we’re showcasing “timeless legends”. I wonder if that stroke was caused by the force of his stance whipping around 180 degrees like that? (2012 Scott sez:  Some legends are timeless, but the LOD was not one of them.  They were very definitely of a time, and that time was 1983-1989.)  The Outlaws have no singalong intro or pop. Brawl to start. LOD beats on Road Dogg for a while, then Billy Gunn. Animal ventures outside and gets sent to the steps. Dogg finds a pair of cuffs and attaches Hawk to the ringpost. Animal still won’t sell, as he fights off the champs. Gunn gets powerslammed coming off the top and Dogg uses a chair to break it up for the DQ at 7:54. What a pile of shit that was. DUD The OLD’s heat was gone by then.  (2012 Scott sez:  Zack haters, remember where the New Age Outlaws started out and where they ended up as far as drawing power goes.  It was basically The Roadie and Rockabilly Gunn thrown together as a team and left to get themselves over, and for the first few months everyone online bitched about how these two goofy jobbers were stinking up the tag titles and they couldn’t work.  By 2000, they were headlining house shows and selling millions in merchandise with DX.  Why?  Because they started beating people (LOD) and just kept beating people (Funk & Cactus) until they were taken seriously as a threat.  You can book anyone you want to look tough in the ring and win all their matches, like Crimson in TNA, but if they’re not over then that part of the package can never be there.  If someone gets THEMSELVES over, then half the work is done for you already!) Royal Rumble: Cactus Jack gets #1, Terry Funk gets #2. Duelling chairs starts us off, and they willingly exchange chairshots on each other. Tom Brandi is #3, and suddenly Mick and Terry unite to toss him. Back to fighting. Rock is #4, and he goes after both. He gets a trash can to the head as a reward. Mosh is #5. He goes for Funk, Jack takes Rock. PIG is #6. These so-called 2-minute periods are closer to 90 seconds. Fast-running clocks have ATTITUDE, I guess. 8-Ball is #7. Cactus charges Funk and goes over the top. Bradshaw is #8 during his Blackjack phase. It’s JTTS hell right now. Owen Hart is #9, but NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett attacks him and lays him out. He never makes it to the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  They went from feuding to tag champions pretty quickly even by Vince Russo standards.)  Steve Blackman (pre-waxing) is #10. D-Lo Brown is #11. Rock and D-Lo come to blows. Kurrgan is #12. Mosh is gone. Marc Mero is #13. Kurrgan tosses Blackman. Shamrock is #14 and everyone gangs up and eliminates Kurrgan. Rock hits a People’s Elbow on Funk to zero reaction. Thrasher is #15. Mankind is #16. He goes after Funk and eliminates him. TAFKA Goldust is #17. Rock & Shamrock continue their brawl. Goldust puts Mankind out. NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett is #18. Owen Hart rushes the ring and joins the match, tossing Jarrett. Honky Tonk Man is #19, taking the injured HHH’s place. Rock tosses Shamrock. HHH hobbles to ringside and breaks a crutch over Owen to eliminate him. Ahmed Johnson is #20. Mark Henry is #21. He goes right after Ahmed, prompting JR’s unintentional Line of the Night: “Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson…” #22 passes with no entrant. The announcers speculate that it’s Austin, but sharp-eyed viewers will remember that Skull got beat up earlier in the show. Ahmed is gone, as is Phineas. The Nation keeps fighting amongst themselves. Kama (the Godfather) is #23. Zzzzzz. Steve Austin is #24, and everyone stops to wait for him. He comes from the crowd, tossing Mero & 8-Ball. HOG is #25. Now Rock & Kama go at it. Savio Vega is #26, as all the Boriquas attack Austin. They leave shortly after. Faarooq is #27. The entire Nation is now in the ring. Faarooq goes after all of them. Rock & Austin go through the ropes and brawl on the floor. Dude Love is #28, making his third appearance. (2012 Scott sez:  Cute idea, but the roster was so depleted they had little choice but to have everyone do double-duty AND have Mick Foley work the match as three different characters.)  He dumps Bradshaw. Rock & Austin return to the ring and continue their private war. Chainz is #29, Vader is #30. Vader kills Goldust and tosses Honky. Austin backdrops Thrasher out, then Kama. He tosses Savio. Goldust clotheslines Vader out. Godwinn charges Dude and he’s gone. Goldust follows. Austin dumps Chainz. Rock tosses Henry and D-Lo, leaving… – The Final Four: Austin, Dude, Faarooq & Rocky. The faces dominate, but Austin turns on Dude and Faarooq eliminates him. Faarooq then goes after Austin, but Rocky sneaks up from behind and dumps Faarooq. That leaves Rock v. Austin, which ends quickly via Stone Cold Stunner at 55:30 to send Austin to Wrestlemania and history. Too many people in the ring for the whole match made this a very subpar Rumble. ** – Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson in the skyboxes, and wouldn’t you know that he’s a big fan of “Cold Stoned” Steve Austin. – WWF title, casket match: Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. Shawn uses speed to avoid UT, but gets caught and manhandled. Shawn takes a nasty bump over the top, hitting his back on the casket, and that ended up being the move that ended his career. Back in and Taker gets the ropewalk and dumps Shawn again. He puts Shawn into the casket, but can’t get the lid shut. Shawn tosses powder in UT’s eyes to come back. They fight out of the ring again. Shawn piledrives him on the steps and HHH antagonizes him further. Shawn rolls him into the casket, but he comes back. Shawn hits the flying forearm and flying elbow, then Sweet Chin Music to KO the Undertaker. He rolls UT into the casket, but stops to showboat and gets hit in the nuts. UT unleashes some righteous whupass, but misses a dive and lands in the casket. Shawn follows him down with an elbow into the casket, and they’re both in. UT bursts out, drags Shawn back in the ring, and hits a MONSTER chokeslam. UT brings him to the apron and tombstones him into the casket, but the NAO & Boriquas attack. Crowd chants “We want Kane” (Kane and UT “reunited” the week previous) and Kane obliges. Crowd is going nuts. Kane clears the ring and DX helps Shawn out of the casket. Kane suddenly attacks Taker, and chokeslams him into the casket for the loss at 20:33. No Hell in a Cell or anything, but still pretty good. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Surprisingly not represented on anyone’s “Best of” set that I know of.)  Kane pushes the casket away from the ring, smashes it, and lights it on fire. UT returned a month or so later, and man was he PISSED… The Bottom Line: This show is generally regarded as the turning point for the WWF as they mounted a comeback against WCW, but the show itself pretty much blows. Probably worth a rental for Rumble fans and the good UT v. Shawn match, but there’s much better Rumbles and much better Shawn matches out there, so don’t knock yourself out looking for it. Mild recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1998

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 98 – Live from San Jose, CA – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust v. Vader. This was during Goldust’s incredibly weird mid-life crisis period. (2012 Scott sez:  Did that ever actually end?  Dude wanted to get breast implants in 2001, how stable could he be?) Vader gets a quick start and draws good face heat. Vader pounds on him on the floor, then back in the ring. A low blow turns the tide, but he makes the mistake of kissing Vader and gets clotheslined out of his boots. He goes for the Vaderbomb, but yet another low blow blocks that. Vader runs through the finishing sequence again, and now Luna runs in to help, so Vader carries her on his shoulders and delivers the Vaderbomb with her on his back for the pin at 7:50. Bad match. ½* – Steve Austin arrives, and the Godwinns track him down. – Battallion, Tarantula & El Torrito v. Max Mini, Nova & Mosaic. Tammy the Crack Whore is the special referee. Standard over-choreographed minis match, which as usual holds zero interest for me. Or the crowd, either. I swear to god there are 25 variations on the Mexican armdrag used here. Lawler’s staggering array of short jokes is in fine form here, and JR even gets a zinger in: “Sunny and Max may be an item – I hear she likes short guys!” Max cradles Torrito at 7:47 for the pin. I don’t rate midget matches. – The Nation of Domination seeks out Austin. – Intercontinental title match: The Rock v. Ken Shamrock. I miss the old belt. (2012 Scott sez:  Well now I’ve got it back!  And it only took 14 years!) Shamrock plowed through the Nation to set this up. Long stall session to start. Shamrock goes for a rana and gets dropped on the top rope for two. Slugfest, and Shamrock comes back with a bodypress and fisherman’s suplex for two. Rock hits the floatover DDT for two, however, and into the chinlock. Shamrock reverses another DDT into a Northern lights suplex. He comes back and snaps, but the Nation runs in. Rock uses brass knuckles (what is this, Stampede?) for two, but sneaks them into Shamrock’s tights before covering. Shamrock recovers and hits the belly-to-belly for the pin and the title at 10:55. Crowd goes loopy, but the ref finds the knuckles and reverses the decision. Bad finish. *1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s kind of a brilliant finish, actually, as Rock was cheating but covering his bases at the same time.  Yeah, the reversed decision was cheap and yeah Shamrock never actually got his revenge, but they made way more money off Rocky than they were gonna make of Shamrock.)  – Los Boriquas think they’ve found Austin, but they’ve really found Skull and a big brawl erupts. – World tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Legion of Doom. In the last match, Jim Ross was talking about showcasing young athletes rather than the senior circuit. And now, one match later, we’re showcasing “timeless legends”. I wonder if that stroke was caused by the force of his stance whipping around 180 degrees like that? (2012 Scott sez:  Some legends are timeless, but the LOD was not one of them.  They were very definitely of a time, and that time was 1983-1989.)  The Outlaws have no singalong intro or pop. Brawl to start. LOD beats on Road Dogg for a while, then Billy Gunn. Animal ventures outside and gets sent to the steps. Dogg finds a pair of cuffs and attaches Hawk to the ringpost. Animal still won’t sell, as he fights off the champs. Gunn gets powerslammed coming off the top and Dogg uses a chair to break it up for the DQ at 7:54. What a pile of shit that was. DUD The OLD’s heat was gone by then.  (2012 Scott sez:  Zack haters, remember where the New Age Outlaws started out and where they ended up as far as drawing power goes.  It was basically The Roadie and Rockabilly Gunn thrown together as a team and left to get themselves over, and for the first few months everyone online bitched about how these two goofy jobbers were stinking up the tag titles and they couldn’t work.  By 2000, they were headlining house shows and selling millions in merchandise with DX.  Why?  Because they started beating people (LOD) and just kept beating people (Funk & Cactus) until they were taken seriously as a threat.  You can book anyone you want to look tough in the ring and win all their matches, like Crimson in TNA, but if they’re not over then that part of the package can never be there.  If someone gets THEMSELVES over, then half the work is done for you already!) Royal Rumble: Cactus Jack gets #1, Terry Funk gets #2. Duelling chairs starts us off, and they willingly exchange chairshots on each other. Tom Brandi is #3, and suddenly Mick and Terry unite to toss him. Back to fighting. Rock is #4, and he goes after both. He gets a trash can to the head as a reward. Mosh is #5. He goes for Funk, Jack takes Rock. PIG is #6. These so-called 2-minute periods are closer to 90 seconds. Fast-running clocks have ATTITUDE, I guess. 8-Ball is #7. Cactus charges Funk and goes over the top. Bradshaw is #8 during his Blackjack phase. It’s JTTS hell right now. Owen Hart is #9, but NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett attacks him and lays him out. He never makes it to the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  They went from feuding to tag champions pretty quickly even by Vince Russo standards.)  Steve Blackman (pre-waxing) is #10. D-Lo Brown is #11. Rock and D-Lo come to blows. Kurrgan is #12. Mosh is gone. Marc Mero is #13. Kurrgan tosses Blackman. Shamrock is #14 and everyone gangs up and eliminates Kurrgan. Rock hits a People’s Elbow on Funk to zero reaction. Thrasher is #15. Mankind is #16. He goes after Funk and eliminates him. TAFKA Goldust is #17. Rock & Shamrock continue their brawl. Goldust puts Mankind out. NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett is #18. Owen Hart rushes the ring and joins the match, tossing Jarrett. Honky Tonk Man is #19, taking the injured HHH’s place. Rock tosses Shamrock. HHH hobbles to ringside and breaks a crutch over Owen to eliminate him. Ahmed Johnson is #20. Mark Henry is #21. He goes right after Ahmed, prompting JR’s unintentional Line of the Night: “Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson…” #22 passes with no entrant. The announcers speculate that it’s Austin, but sharp-eyed viewers will remember that Skull got beat up earlier in the show. Ahmed is gone, as is Phineas. The Nation keeps fighting amongst themselves. Kama (the Godfather) is #23. Zzzzzz. Steve Austin is #24, and everyone stops to wait for him. He comes from the crowd, tossing Mero & 8-Ball. HOG is #25. Now Rock & Kama go at it. Savio Vega is #26, as all the Boriquas attack Austin. They leave shortly after. Faarooq is #27. The entire Nation is now in the ring. Faarooq goes after all of them. Rock & Austin go through the ropes and brawl on the floor. Dude Love is #28, making his third appearance. (2012 Scott sez:  Cute idea, but the roster was so depleted they had little choice but to have everyone do double-duty AND have Mick Foley work the match as three different characters.)  He dumps Bradshaw. Rock & Austin return to the ring and continue their private war. Chainz is #29, Vader is #30. Vader kills Goldust and tosses Honky. Austin backdrops Thrasher out, then Kama. He tosses Savio. Goldust clotheslines Vader out. Godwinn charges Dude and he’s gone. Goldust follows. Austin dumps Chainz. Rock tosses Henry and D-Lo, leaving… – The Final Four: Austin, Dude, Faarooq & Rocky. The faces dominate, but Austin turns on Dude and Faarooq eliminates him. Faarooq then goes after Austin, but Rocky sneaks up from behind and dumps Faarooq. That leaves Rock v. Austin, which ends quickly via Stone Cold Stunner at 55:30 to send Austin to Wrestlemania and history. Too many people in the ring for the whole match made this a very subpar Rumble. ** – Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson in the skyboxes, and wouldn’t you know that he’s a big fan of “Cold Stoned” Steve Austin. – WWF title, casket match: Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. Shawn uses speed to avoid UT, but gets caught and manhandled. Shawn takes a nasty bump over the top, hitting his back on the casket, and that ended up being the move that ended his career. Back in and Taker gets the ropewalk and dumps Shawn again. He puts Shawn into the casket, but can’t get the lid shut. Shawn tosses powder in UT’s eyes to come back. They fight out of the ring again. Shawn piledrives him on the steps and HHH antagonizes him further. Shawn rolls him into the casket, but he comes back. Shawn hits the flying forearm and flying elbow, then Sweet Chin Music to KO the Undertaker. He rolls UT into the casket, but stops to showboat and gets hit in the nuts. UT unleashes some righteous whupass, but misses a dive and lands in the casket. Shawn follows him down with an elbow into the casket, and they’re both in. UT bursts out, drags Shawn back in the ring, and hits a MONSTER chokeslam. UT brings him to the apron and tombstones him into the casket, but the NAO & Boriquas attack. Crowd chants “We want Kane” (Kane and UT “reunited” the week previous) and Kane obliges. Crowd is going nuts. Kane clears the ring and DX helps Shawn out of the casket. Kane suddenly attacks Taker, and chokeslams him into the casket for the loss at 20:33. No Hell in a Cell or anything, but still pretty good. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Surprisingly not represented on anyone’s “Best of” set that I know of.)  Kane pushes the casket away from the ring, smashes it, and lights it on fire. UT returned a month or so later, and man was he PISSED… The Bottom Line: This show is generally regarded as the turning point for the WWF as they mounted a comeback against WCW, but the show itself pretty much blows. Probably worth a rental for Rumble fans and the good UT v. Shawn match, but there’s much better Rumbles and much better Shawn matches out there, so don’t knock yourself out looking for it. Mild recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1998

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 98 – Live from San Jose, CA – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust v. Vader. This was during Goldust’s incredibly weird mid-life crisis period. (2012 Scott sez:  Did that ever actually end?  Dude wanted to get breast implants in 2001, how stable could he be?) Vader gets a quick start and draws good face heat. Vader pounds on him on the floor, then back in the ring. A low blow turns the tide, but he makes the mistake of kissing Vader and gets clotheslined out of his boots. He goes for the Vaderbomb, but yet another low blow blocks that. Vader runs through the finishing sequence again, and now Luna runs in to help, so Vader carries her on his shoulders and delivers the Vaderbomb with her on his back for the pin at 7:50. Bad match. ½* – Steve Austin arrives, and the Godwinns track him down. – Battallion, Tarantula & El Torrito v. Max Mini, Nova & Mosaic. Tammy the Crack Whore is the special referee. Standard over-choreographed minis match, which as usual holds zero interest for me. Or the crowd, either. I swear to god there are 25 variations on the Mexican armdrag used here. Lawler’s staggering array of short jokes is in fine form here, and JR even gets a zinger in: “Sunny and Max may be an item – I hear she likes short guys!” Max cradles Torrito at 7:47 for the pin. I don’t rate midget matches. – The Nation of Domination seeks out Austin. – Intercontinental title match: The Rock v. Ken Shamrock. I miss the old belt. (2012 Scott sez:  Well now I’ve got it back!  And it only took 14 years!) Shamrock plowed through the Nation to set this up. Long stall session to start. Shamrock goes for a rana and gets dropped on the top rope for two. Slugfest, and Shamrock comes back with a bodypress and fisherman’s suplex for two. Rock hits the floatover DDT for two, however, and into the chinlock. Shamrock reverses another DDT into a Northern lights suplex. He comes back and snaps, but the Nation runs in. Rock uses brass knuckles (what is this, Stampede?) for two, but sneaks them into Shamrock’s tights before covering. Shamrock recovers and hits the belly-to-belly for the pin and the title at 10:55. Crowd goes loopy, but the ref finds the knuckles and reverses the decision. Bad finish. *1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s kind of a brilliant finish, actually, as Rock was cheating but covering his bases at the same time.  Yeah, the reversed decision was cheap and yeah Shamrock never actually got his revenge, but they made way more money off Rocky than they were gonna make of Shamrock.)  – Los Boriquas think they’ve found Austin, but they’ve really found Skull and a big brawl erupts. – World tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Legion of Doom. In the last match, Jim Ross was talking about showcasing young athletes rather than the senior circuit. And now, one match later, we’re showcasing “timeless legends”. I wonder if that stroke was caused by the force of his stance whipping around 180 degrees like that? (2012 Scott sez:  Some legends are timeless, but the LOD was not one of them.  They were very definitely of a time, and that time was 1983-1989.)  The Outlaws have no singalong intro or pop. Brawl to start. LOD beats on Road Dogg for a while, then Billy Gunn. Animal ventures outside and gets sent to the steps. Dogg finds a pair of cuffs and attaches Hawk to the ringpost. Animal still won’t sell, as he fights off the champs. Gunn gets powerslammed coming off the top and Dogg uses a chair to break it up for the DQ at 7:54. What a pile of shit that was. DUD The OLD’s heat was gone by then.  (2012 Scott sez:  Zack haters, remember where the New Age Outlaws started out and where they ended up as far as drawing power goes.  It was basically The Roadie and Rockabilly Gunn thrown together as a team and left to get themselves over, and for the first few months everyone online bitched about how these two goofy jobbers were stinking up the tag titles and they couldn’t work.  By 2000, they were headlining house shows and selling millions in merchandise with DX.  Why?  Because they started beating people (LOD) and just kept beating people (Funk & Cactus) until they were taken seriously as a threat.  You can book anyone you want to look tough in the ring and win all their matches, like Crimson in TNA, but if they’re not over then that part of the package can never be there.  If someone gets THEMSELVES over, then half the work is done for you already!) Royal Rumble: Cactus Jack gets #1, Terry Funk gets #2. Duelling chairs starts us off, and they willingly exchange chairshots on each other. Tom Brandi is #3, and suddenly Mick and Terry unite to toss him. Back to fighting. Rock is #4, and he goes after both. He gets a trash can to the head as a reward. Mosh is #5. He goes for Funk, Jack takes Rock. PIG is #6. These so-called 2-minute periods are closer to 90 seconds. Fast-running clocks have ATTITUDE, I guess. 8-Ball is #7. Cactus charges Funk and goes over the top. Bradshaw is #8 during his Blackjack phase. It’s JTTS hell right now. Owen Hart is #9, but NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett attacks him and lays him out. He never makes it to the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  They went from feuding to tag champions pretty quickly even by Vince Russo standards.)  Steve Blackman (pre-waxing) is #10. D-Lo Brown is #11. Rock and D-Lo come to blows. Kurrgan is #12. Mosh is gone. Marc Mero is #13. Kurrgan tosses Blackman. Shamrock is #14 and everyone gangs up and eliminates Kurrgan. Rock hits a People’s Elbow on Funk to zero reaction. Thrasher is #15. Mankind is #16. He goes after Funk and eliminates him. TAFKA Goldust is #17. Rock & Shamrock continue their brawl. Goldust puts Mankind out. NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett is #18. Owen Hart rushes the ring and joins the match, tossing Jarrett. Honky Tonk Man is #19, taking the injured HHH’s place. Rock tosses Shamrock. HHH hobbles to ringside and breaks a crutch over Owen to eliminate him. Ahmed Johnson is #20. Mark Henry is #21. He goes right after Ahmed, prompting JR’s unintentional Line of the Night: “Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson…” #22 passes with no entrant. The announcers speculate that it’s Austin, but sharp-eyed viewers will remember that Skull got beat up earlier in the show. Ahmed is gone, as is Phineas. The Nation keeps fighting amongst themselves. Kama (the Godfather) is #23. Zzzzzz. Steve Austin is #24, and everyone stops to wait for him. He comes from the crowd, tossing Mero & 8-Ball. HOG is #25. Now Rock & Kama go at it. Savio Vega is #26, as all the Boriquas attack Austin. They leave shortly after. Faarooq is #27. The entire Nation is now in the ring. Faarooq goes after all of them. Rock & Austin go through the ropes and brawl on the floor. Dude Love is #28, making his third appearance. (2012 Scott sez:  Cute idea, but the roster was so depleted they had little choice but to have everyone do double-duty AND have Mick Foley work the match as three different characters.)  He dumps Bradshaw. Rock & Austin return to the ring and continue their private war. Chainz is #29, Vader is #30. Vader kills Goldust and tosses Honky. Austin backdrops Thrasher out, then Kama. He tosses Savio. Goldust clotheslines Vader out. Godwinn charges Dude and he’s gone. Goldust follows. Austin dumps Chainz. Rock tosses Henry and D-Lo, leaving… – The Final Four: Austin, Dude, Faarooq & Rocky. The faces dominate, but Austin turns on Dude and Faarooq eliminates him. Faarooq then goes after Austin, but Rocky sneaks up from behind and dumps Faarooq. That leaves Rock v. Austin, which ends quickly via Stone Cold Stunner at 55:30 to send Austin to Wrestlemania and history. Too many people in the ring for the whole match made this a very subpar Rumble. ** – Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson in the skyboxes, and wouldn’t you know that he’s a big fan of “Cold Stoned” Steve Austin. – WWF title, casket match: Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. Shawn uses speed to avoid UT, but gets caught and manhandled. Shawn takes a nasty bump over the top, hitting his back on the casket, and that ended up being the move that ended his career. Back in and Taker gets the ropewalk and dumps Shawn again. He puts Shawn into the casket, but can’t get the lid shut. Shawn tosses powder in UT’s eyes to come back. They fight out of the ring again. Shawn piledrives him on the steps and HHH antagonizes him further. Shawn rolls him into the casket, but he comes back. Shawn hits the flying forearm and flying elbow, then Sweet Chin Music to KO the Undertaker. He rolls UT into the casket, but stops to showboat and gets hit in the nuts. UT unleashes some righteous whupass, but misses a dive and lands in the casket. Shawn follows him down with an elbow into the casket, and they’re both in. UT bursts out, drags Shawn back in the ring, and hits a MONSTER chokeslam. UT brings him to the apron and tombstones him into the casket, but the NAO & Boriquas attack. Crowd chants “We want Kane” (Kane and UT “reunited” the week previous) and Kane obliges. Crowd is going nuts. Kane clears the ring and DX helps Shawn out of the casket. Kane suddenly attacks Taker, and chokeslams him into the casket for the loss at 20:33. No Hell in a Cell or anything, but still pretty good. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Surprisingly not represented on anyone’s “Best of” set that I know of.)  Kane pushes the casket away from the ring, smashes it, and lights it on fire. UT returned a month or so later, and man was he PISSED… The Bottom Line: This show is generally regarded as the turning point for the WWF as they mounted a comeback against WCW, but the show itself pretty much blows. Probably worth a rental for Rumble fans and the good UT v. Shawn match, but there’s much better Rumbles and much better Shawn matches out there, so don’t knock yourself out looking for it. Mild recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1998

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 98 – Live from San Jose, CA – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust v. Vader. This was during Goldust’s incredibly weird mid-life crisis period. (2012 Scott sez:  Did that ever actually end?  Dude wanted to get breast implants in 2001, how stable could he be?) Vader gets a quick start and draws good face heat. Vader pounds on him on the floor, then back in the ring. A low blow turns the tide, but he makes the mistake of kissing Vader and gets clotheslined out of his boots. He goes for the Vaderbomb, but yet another low blow blocks that. Vader runs through the finishing sequence again, and now Luna runs in to help, so Vader carries her on his shoulders and delivers the Vaderbomb with her on his back for the pin at 7:50. Bad match. ½* – Steve Austin arrives, and the Godwinns track him down. – Battallion, Tarantula & El Torrito v. Max Mini, Nova & Mosaic. Tammy the Crack Whore is the special referee. Standard over-choreographed minis match, which as usual holds zero interest for me. Or the crowd, either. I swear to god there are 25 variations on the Mexican armdrag used here. Lawler’s staggering array of short jokes is in fine form here, and JR even gets a zinger in: “Sunny and Max may be an item – I hear she likes short guys!” Max cradles Torrito at 7:47 for the pin. I don’t rate midget matches. – The Nation of Domination seeks out Austin. – Intercontinental title match: The Rock v. Ken Shamrock. I miss the old belt. (2012 Scott sez:  Well now I’ve got it back!  And it only took 14 years!) Shamrock plowed through the Nation to set this up. Long stall session to start. Shamrock goes for a rana and gets dropped on the top rope for two. Slugfest, and Shamrock comes back with a bodypress and fisherman’s suplex for two. Rock hits the floatover DDT for two, however, and into the chinlock. Shamrock reverses another DDT into a Northern lights suplex. He comes back and snaps, but the Nation runs in. Rock uses brass knuckles (what is this, Stampede?) for two, but sneaks them into Shamrock’s tights before covering. Shamrock recovers and hits the belly-to-belly for the pin and the title at 10:55. Crowd goes loopy, but the ref finds the knuckles and reverses the decision. Bad finish. *1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s kind of a brilliant finish, actually, as Rock was cheating but covering his bases at the same time.  Yeah, the reversed decision was cheap and yeah Shamrock never actually got his revenge, but they made way more money off Rocky than they were gonna make of Shamrock.)  – Los Boriquas think they’ve found Austin, but they’ve really found Skull and a big brawl erupts. – World tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Legion of Doom. In the last match, Jim Ross was talking about showcasing young athletes rather than the senior circuit. And now, one match later, we’re showcasing “timeless legends”. I wonder if that stroke was caused by the force of his stance whipping around 180 degrees like that? (2012 Scott sez:  Some legends are timeless, but the LOD was not one of them.  They were very definitely of a time, and that time was 1983-1989.)  The Outlaws have no singalong intro or pop. Brawl to start. LOD beats on Road Dogg for a while, then Billy Gunn. Animal ventures outside and gets sent to the steps. Dogg finds a pair of cuffs and attaches Hawk to the ringpost. Animal still won’t sell, as he fights off the champs. Gunn gets powerslammed coming off the top and Dogg uses a chair to break it up for the DQ at 7:54. What a pile of shit that was. DUD The OLD’s heat was gone by then.  (2012 Scott sez:  Zack haters, remember where the New Age Outlaws started out and where they ended up as far as drawing power goes.  It was basically The Roadie and Rockabilly Gunn thrown together as a team and left to get themselves over, and for the first few months everyone online bitched about how these two goofy jobbers were stinking up the tag titles and they couldn’t work.  By 2000, they were headlining house shows and selling millions in merchandise with DX.  Why?  Because they started beating people (LOD) and just kept beating people (Funk & Cactus) until they were taken seriously as a threat.  You can book anyone you want to look tough in the ring and win all their matches, like Crimson in TNA, but if they’re not over then that part of the package can never be there.  If someone gets THEMSELVES over, then half the work is done for you already!) Royal Rumble: Cactus Jack gets #1, Terry Funk gets #2. Duelling chairs starts us off, and they willingly exchange chairshots on each other. Tom Brandi is #3, and suddenly Mick and Terry unite to toss him. Back to fighting. Rock is #4, and he goes after both. He gets a trash can to the head as a reward. Mosh is #5. He goes for Funk, Jack takes Rock. PIG is #6. These so-called 2-minute periods are closer to 90 seconds. Fast-running clocks have ATTITUDE, I guess. 8-Ball is #7. Cactus charges Funk and goes over the top. Bradshaw is #8 during his Blackjack phase. It’s JTTS hell right now. Owen Hart is #9, but NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett attacks him and lays him out. He never makes it to the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  They went from feuding to tag champions pretty quickly even by Vince Russo standards.)  Steve Blackman (pre-waxing) is #10. D-Lo Brown is #11. Rock and D-Lo come to blows. Kurrgan is #12. Mosh is gone. Marc Mero is #13. Kurrgan tosses Blackman. Shamrock is #14 and everyone gangs up and eliminates Kurrgan. Rock hits a People’s Elbow on Funk to zero reaction. Thrasher is #15. Mankind is #16. He goes after Funk and eliminates him. TAFKA Goldust is #17. Rock & Shamrock continue their brawl. Goldust puts Mankind out. NWA North American Champion Aztec Warrior Jeff Jarrett is #18. Owen Hart rushes the ring and joins the match, tossing Jarrett. Honky Tonk Man is #19, taking the injured HHH’s place. Rock tosses Shamrock. HHH hobbles to ringside and breaks a crutch over Owen to eliminate him. Ahmed Johnson is #20. Mark Henry is #21. He goes right after Ahmed, prompting JR’s unintentional Line of the Night: “Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson…” #22 passes with no entrant. The announcers speculate that it’s Austin, but sharp-eyed viewers will remember that Skull got beat up earlier in the show. Ahmed is gone, as is Phineas. The Nation keeps fighting amongst themselves. Kama (the Godfather) is #23. Zzzzzz. Steve Austin is #24, and everyone stops to wait for him. He comes from the crowd, tossing Mero & 8-Ball. HOG is #25. Now Rock & Kama go at it. Savio Vega is #26, as all the Boriquas attack Austin. They leave shortly after. Faarooq is #27. The entire Nation is now in the ring. Faarooq goes after all of them. Rock & Austin go through the ropes and brawl on the floor. Dude Love is #28, making his third appearance. (2012 Scott sez:  Cute idea, but the roster was so depleted they had little choice but to have everyone do double-duty AND have Mick Foley work the match as three different characters.)  He dumps Bradshaw. Rock & Austin return to the ring and continue their private war. Chainz is #29, Vader is #30. Vader kills Goldust and tosses Honky. Austin backdrops Thrasher out, then Kama. He tosses Savio. Goldust clotheslines Vader out. Godwinn charges Dude and he’s gone. Goldust follows. Austin dumps Chainz. Rock tosses Henry and D-Lo, leaving… – The Final Four: Austin, Dude, Faarooq & Rocky. The faces dominate, but Austin turns on Dude and Faarooq eliminates him. Faarooq then goes after Austin, but Rocky sneaks up from behind and dumps Faarooq. That leaves Rock v. Austin, which ends quickly via Stone Cold Stunner at 55:30 to send Austin to Wrestlemania and history. Too many people in the ring for the whole match made this a very subpar Rumble. ** – Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson in the skyboxes, and wouldn’t you know that he’s a big fan of “Cold Stoned” Steve Austin. – WWF title, casket match: Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. Shawn uses speed to avoid UT, but gets caught and manhandled. Shawn takes a nasty bump over the top, hitting his back on the casket, and that ended up being the move that ended his career. Back in and Taker gets the ropewalk and dumps Shawn again. He puts Shawn into the casket, but can’t get the lid shut. Shawn tosses powder in UT’s eyes to come back. They fight out of the ring again. Shawn piledrives him on the steps and HHH antagonizes him further. Shawn rolls him into the casket, but he comes back. Shawn hits the flying forearm and flying elbow, then Sweet Chin Music to KO the Undertaker. He rolls UT into the casket, but stops to showboat and gets hit in the nuts. UT unleashes some righteous whupass, but misses a dive and lands in the casket. Shawn follows him down with an elbow into the casket, and they’re both in. UT bursts out, drags Shawn back in the ring, and hits a MONSTER chokeslam. UT brings him to the apron and tombstones him into the casket, but the NAO & Boriquas attack. Crowd chants “We want Kane” (Kane and UT “reunited” the week previous) and Kane obliges. Crowd is going nuts. Kane clears the ring and DX helps Shawn out of the casket. Kane suddenly attacks Taker, and chokeslams him into the casket for the loss at 20:33. No Hell in a Cell or anything, but still pretty good. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Surprisingly not represented on anyone’s “Best of” set that I know of.)  Kane pushes the casket away from the ring, smashes it, and lights it on fire. UT returned a month or so later, and man was he PISSED… The Bottom Line: This show is generally regarded as the turning point for the WWF as they mounted a comeback against WCW, but the show itself pretty much blows. Probably worth a rental for Rumble fans and the good UT v. Shawn match, but there’s much better Rumbles and much better Shawn matches out there, so don’t knock yourself out looking for it. Mild recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1997

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1997 I will refrain from commentating overly on the Vince Russo thing until I can make a proper column on the subject. Suffice it to say, I TOLD YOU SO, and everyone who flamed me for my “That’s [Sports] Entertainment” column back in October where I said that this exact situation would come about can start sending apologetic e-mail to me any day now.  (2012 Scott sez:  So that would place this rant in early 2000, when Russo got canned.  And again, hard to believe that I could have any kind of proper perspective on a show only 3 years old at that point.)  Live from San Antonio, TX Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & Good ol’ JRMinis fight in the Free 4 All match, but I’m not into it. Anyway, Mascarita Sagrata Jr. (who would later become Max Mini) and partner La Parkita (mini version of La Parka) defeat Mini Vader and Mini Mankind with a crucifix pin at 4:28. Opening match, Intercontinental title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. I think we’ve covered the numerous differences between pre-DX Hunter and the current one to the point where it’s pointless to do so anymore, so I won’t. HHH brings Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard, a role that would be usurped by Chyna at the very next PPV, and as a result would give him actual heat for the first time in his life. (2012 Scott sez:  I can vaguely remember Hughes as bodyguard for Chris Jericho, but I totally blank on him getting paired with HHH for some reason.)  Both guys bump around a bit at the start. Goldust drops the ring steps on HHH’s back. HHH sort of controls back in the ring, crowd is gone. Neither guy is over enough to make a difference to the heat in the match. Out of the ring again and they bump around some more. It’s just desperate attempts to get the crowd going, and it’s not working. Goldust tries dropping the stairs on HHH’s knee this time. He slowly works the leg back in the ring, boring the crowd even more. It should be noted that there’s about 60,000 people in the building, give or take (2012 Scott sez:  48000 or so, in fact.  I think 60000 was the worked number.), and a lot of them are papered (2012 Scott sez:  About 20000 of them I believe it was.  It was pretty crazy.  Like how the fuck do you even give out that many tickets?  That’s like an entire arena show given away for free!), which means that something pretty drastic needs to hook them. HHH bails, but gets clipped and dropped on the stairs knee-first. Enough with the damn stairs already! HHH gains control again as I fight to stay awake. Goldust comes back, but misses an elbow from the top and HHH gets the title belt from Hughes. Goldust steals it away and nails him, but Hughes pulls Hunter out at two. More wackiness leads to Hunter nailing Goldust from behind and hitting the Pedigree to retain at 16:45. ¼* JR assures us that this issue is far from settled. Lucky us. Faarooq v. Ahmed Johnson. This is your basic “You injured me so I’m gonna kick your ass” match, although by the time Ahmed returned from his injury the issue was pretty much forgotten. This one really should have happened at Summerslam 96 as was intended. Faarooq gets the crap beat out of him and they brawl out of the ring. Faarooq sacrifices an unnamed (but proud future European champion) Nation member to Ahmed (2012 Scott sez:  That was D-Lo Brown in case you weren’t around when anyone cared about him.) and then jumps him to take control. Chinlock follows. Faarooq goes aerial but gets powerslammed. Ahmed charges and Faarooq hits a spinebuster, then Ahmed comes back with his own and everyone runs in for the lame DQ at 8:45. ½* The feud would drag on for most of the rest of 1997, before Ahmed disappeared for good. Notable spot of the night: Ahmed powerbombs another anonymous Nationeer through the French announce table. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that feud just had no legs.  Maybe they should have just teamed them up as Doom 2.0 or something.)  Vader v. Undertaker. If there was an issue here, damned if I can remember it. Slugfest to start, UT no-sells all of it. Vader was working loose as all hell, which was part of his problem in the WWF. Jericho is discovering the same thing, apparently. (2012 Scott sez:  What a bunch of bullshit that was.  Can you believe people used to slag CHRIS JERICHO for not being able to work?  In 2000?!)  Vader puts him down a few times, but he keeps sitting up. UT hits a fameasser out of nowhere and a slam. Legdrop gets two. Vader counters the ropewalk with leverage, and then hits a lowblow (with great facials from UT), and we head to the resting portion of the match. Second rope splash is converted to a powerslam by Taker, but Vader fights up and powerbombs him for two. UT comes back with the ropewalk and a chokeslam. Paul Bearer waddles out to ringside as Vader’s new manager and gets beaten up. He does manage to waffle UT with the urn, however, and Vader splashes and pins him at 13:17 as a result. Bleh. *1/2 for some nice power stuff. I would be remiss in not mentioning British Bulldog’s cult-favorite Rumble soundbite here, as he emerges from his car and says he’ll win the Rumble because “I’M BIZAAAAAAAAAARRE!” British people, help me out here, is this like one of those charming overseas sayings that doesn’t have any sort of meaning anywhere else in the civilized world or just Davey Boy adlibbing after one too many milk injections?  (2012 Scott sez:  Joke explanation:  Dynamite Kid was on the Wrestling Observer radio show many years back and told a story about meeting young Davey Boy when they were both teenagers, but DK was the more experienced wrestler at that point.  Davey kept bugging him for steroids, so finally Kid relented and taught him how to inject it into his ass cheeks.  So then on the road the next day, Kid kept going “Mooo!” every time they drove past a farm.  Finally Davey snapped at him and asked why he was mooing the whole way, and Kid told him that he had been injecting himself with milk the whole time.) Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera v. Perro Aguayo, Canek & Hector Garza. This was during the WWF’s “We’re so desperate for fresh talent we’ll even work with AAA” period, which ended up being a slight problem because Eric Bischoff already had rights to almost every luchador in Mexico, even if he never planned on using 90% of them. My notes on this entire match read “Crowd is dead silent as they flip and flop around like RVD and make contact maybe 4 times in the whole match”, so suffice it to say it’s boring, sloppy, and 3 of the people in it are very old, and the rest don’t get much of a chance to do anything. There are ways to introduce lucha libre to casual audiences, and this isn’t it. JR gives the Ross Report Blowjob of the Week™ to Hector Garza, which ended up going nowhere. (2012 Scott sez:  And then in 2004, Garza got popped for steroid possession, which means that his US career is going nowhere from now on.)  After an eternity, Aguayo pins Heavy Metal with a double stomp at 10:56. I like some lucha, but this was brutal. ½* Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which is silly because with some judicious booking changes (*cough* LUCHA MATCH *cough*) they could have dumped 20 minutes and done full 2-minute intervals. Anyway, Crush gets #1, Ahmed Johnson gets #2. Ahmed takes some more of his aggression out on Crush. Fake Razor is #3 and gets tossed right away, to the delight of the crowd. Took the WWF a while to take the hint with that little experiment. Faarooq comes out to interfere, so Ahmed hops over the top and chases, thus eliminating himself. Phineas “Fake Mankind, Mideon” Godwinn is #4 and that epic Crush v. PIG battle erupts. Steve Austin is #5, getting a pretty good pop. (2012 Scott sez:  Steve Austin had quite the run in this Rumble, no?) PIG tosses Crush, then turns around and walks into a stunner, see ya. Bart Gunn is #6, and Austin might as well be Butterbean because Bart is gone 30 seconds later here, too. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, I got a lot of mileage out of that Butterbean knockout.)  Jake Roberts is #7, and he actually dominates, but Austin reverses the DDT into a backdrop and his night is over. Bulldog is #8 and goes right after Austin. Pierroth from AAA is #9. He almost immediately grabs a headlock. The Sultan (Rikishi Phatu) is #10. Mil Mascaras (villain of Foley’s book) (2012 Scott sez: And inductee into the Hall of Fame this year, apparently!) is #11. HHH is #12 as I wait for something to happen. Bulldog obliges by tossing Sultan. Owen Hart is #13. He goes after Austin, and is assisted by Bulldog. But when Bulldog & Austin fight on the ropes, Owen pushes Bulldog out (they were tag champs at the time). Goldust is #14. Cybernetico is #15 and he actually makes an impact. Marc Mero is #16 as Cybernetico and Pierroth go adios. Mascaras follows them down with a tope, but that eliminates him, too. Goldust gets revenge for earlier in the night by dumping HHH. Goldust & Mero pair off, as do Owen & Austin. Latin Lover is #17, no one cares, film at 11. Owen escapes elimination and gets Goldust out. Faarooq is #18 and rids us of Latin Lover. Ahmed charges the ring with a 2×4 and eliminates Faarooq. Owen and Mero fight on the ropes, so Austin pushes both out, thus clearing the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  God bless Steve Austin for clearing out deadwood like this.)  Savio Vega is #19 and he hits the floor with a KWANG! about 10 seconds later. Gimme more, Austin says. “Double J” Jesse Jammes is #20, second verse same as the first. Gimme more, Austin says. Bret Hart is #21, and the bug-eyed double-take Austin does is great. (2012 Scott sez:  Not a great Rumble, but god damn Austin used to be the SHIT.  And you know why?  Because he wasn’t some chickenshit heel who ran from a fight.  Here was a guy who you knew was getting PUSHED.  You could get behind him as a fan because you knew that there was no way they were going to bail on someone who would be booked to toss out multiple guys in the Rumble and beg for a fight at #20 after entering at #5.  Some got the rocket push, but Austin had fucking NASA strapped to his ass.) Super-hot slugfest follows, and Bret gets the Sharpshooter (in a battle royale?). Jerry Lawler is #22 and he leaves a thought unfinished, gets clotheslined right back out again, then finishes the thought back at ringside. Cute spot. Bret continues the assault on Austin. HELLFIRE AND TOOTHPASTE! It’s Big Daddy Dentist, Kane UniYankem DDS at #23! In this case, he’s playing Fake Diesel. Terry Funk is #24, playing Token Old-Timer for this year’s show. Funk takes Austin, Hart takes Diesel. Rocky Maivia is #25. He squares off with Diesel and Austin, a match that would draw huge today. (2012 Scott sez:  12 years after this was written, Rock and Austin have both gotten out of the business as rich men, while Kane keeps plodding along year after year.  I know he does fine for himself, but it’s not like Jacobs was THAT young when he started and he’s in his mid-40s now.)  Mankind is #26. He goes right after Funk and they proceed to torment each other for the rest of the match as a wink to smart fans. Flash Funk is #27. Vader is #28. Mick takes a break to rock in the corner. HOG is #29, Undertaker is #30 to finish the field. Vader and Taker collide, so Taker chokeslams everyone. Vader catches Flash and dumps him over the top. UT casually throat-slams HOG out over the top. Same for Austin, but he hangs onto the apron. Mankind mandible-claws Rocky to the floor. The crowd cheers. Mick & Terry kill each other, and Mick suplexes him to the floor. He stops to think about it, so UT calmly sends him down to the floor, too. Mick and Terry fight on the floor, so all the refs flock to break it up. At the same time, Bret tosses Austin cleanly, but no one sees it. So he sneaks back in, dumps Vader & UT (who were fighting on the ropes), followed by Diesel and then Bret himself to win the Royal Rumble at 50:26. Bret whines to the announce table afterwards. Bleh Rumble. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, note that Bret is portrayed as a whiny douche.)  WWF title match: Sid v. Shawn Michaels. Note to WCW: Last time someone put a World title on Sid, it nearly killed the entire promotion. I’m just saying, in case there was any doubt who should get it, that’s all. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that I’m blaming the death of WCW on them putting the World title on Sid in 2000, but I’m not NOT, either.  Of course, we found out later that Benoit didn’t particularly want the title anyway, so maybe it would have been best just to put it on Sid and be done with it.  Evil Scott almost put in a line like “Of course, when someone put a World title on Benoit, he killed…” before the little angel guy on my shoulder told me to delete it.)  Shawn had actually been turning heel leading up to this show, but in the weirdest thing anyone had seen in a while, the face pop he got here was so enormous that the entire heel turn was scrapped and he was turned full babyface again. (2012 Scott sez:  So all WWE needs now for Cena is a giant stadium full of people who will cheer him.  No problem!)  And now, suddenly, the crowd comes to life. Shoving match to start, which doesn’t go well for Shawn. Shawn uses his speed to send Sid to the floor. They brawl and Michaels escapes a press slam with a poke to the eye. Back in and Sid powerslams him for two. Chinlock follows. Shawn escapes and gets tossed to the floor. Sid rams him back-first to the post. It gets two. Surfboard and extended bearhug work the back of Shawn. Legdrop gets two. Shawn comes back with a slam and flying forearm. Flying elbow, and Shawn warms up the band. Sid blocks the superkick and dumps Shawn to the floor, then powerbombs him there. Back in, ref bumped. Chokeslam, no ref. A second ref runs in to count two, so Sid decks him. Shawn grabs the camera from ringside and nails Sid (in retaliation for Survivor Series) and that gets two. Sid’s up, so Shawn warms up the band again and hits Sweet Chin Music for the pin and his second WWF title at 13:52. Sid carried the match, oddly enough. **1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  Shawn was sick as a dog for this show, although given his intake at that point god knows what that meant in reality.  Too many “cold pills”, perhaps.)  The Bottom Line: The WWF was drawing ratings somewhere in between “jack” and “shit” at this point and no one had any clue how to fix things, and it shows here. The only real positive sign for the future out of this show was Austin’s emerging popularity, and the rest was “Been there, done that, scored a 2.0 rating”. Total wasted opportunity here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1997

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1997 I will refrain from commentating overly on the Vince Russo thing until I can make a proper column on the subject. Suffice it to say, I TOLD YOU SO, and everyone who flamed me for my “That’s [Sports] Entertainment” column back in October where I said that this exact situation would come about can start sending apologetic e-mail to me any day now.  (2012 Scott sez:  So that would place this rant in early 2000, when Russo got canned.  And again, hard to believe that I could have any kind of proper perspective on a show only 3 years old at that point.)  Live from San Antonio, TX Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & Good ol’ JRMinis fight in the Free 4 All match, but I’m not into it. Anyway, Mascarita Sagrata Jr. (who would later become Max Mini) and partner La Parkita (mini version of La Parka) defeat Mini Vader and Mini Mankind with a crucifix pin at 4:28. Opening match, Intercontinental title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. I think we’ve covered the numerous differences between pre-DX Hunter and the current one to the point where it’s pointless to do so anymore, so I won’t. HHH brings Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard, a role that would be usurped by Chyna at the very next PPV, and as a result would give him actual heat for the first time in his life. (2012 Scott sez:  I can vaguely remember Hughes as bodyguard for Chris Jericho, but I totally blank on him getting paired with HHH for some reason.)  Both guys bump around a bit at the start. Goldust drops the ring steps on HHH’s back. HHH sort of controls back in the ring, crowd is gone. Neither guy is over enough to make a difference to the heat in the match. Out of the ring again and they bump around some more. It’s just desperate attempts to get the crowd going, and it’s not working. Goldust tries dropping the stairs on HHH’s knee this time. He slowly works the leg back in the ring, boring the crowd even more. It should be noted that there’s about 60,000 people in the building, give or take (2012 Scott sez:  48000 or so, in fact.  I think 60000 was the worked number.), and a lot of them are papered (2012 Scott sez:  About 20000 of them I believe it was.  It was pretty crazy.  Like how the fuck do you even give out that many tickets?  That’s like an entire arena show given away for free!), which means that something pretty drastic needs to hook them. HHH bails, but gets clipped and dropped on the stairs knee-first. Enough with the damn stairs already! HHH gains control again as I fight to stay awake. Goldust comes back, but misses an elbow from the top and HHH gets the title belt from Hughes. Goldust steals it away and nails him, but Hughes pulls Hunter out at two. More wackiness leads to Hunter nailing Goldust from behind and hitting the Pedigree to retain at 16:45. ¼* JR assures us that this issue is far from settled. Lucky us. Faarooq v. Ahmed Johnson. This is your basic “You injured me so I’m gonna kick your ass” match, although by the time Ahmed returned from his injury the issue was pretty much forgotten. This one really should have happened at Summerslam 96 as was intended. Faarooq gets the crap beat out of him and they brawl out of the ring. Faarooq sacrifices an unnamed (but proud future European champion) Nation member to Ahmed (2012 Scott sez:  That was D-Lo Brown in case you weren’t around when anyone cared about him.) and then jumps him to take control. Chinlock follows. Faarooq goes aerial but gets powerslammed. Ahmed charges and Faarooq hits a spinebuster, then Ahmed comes back with his own and everyone runs in for the lame DQ at 8:45. ½* The feud would drag on for most of the rest of 1997, before Ahmed disappeared for good. Notable spot of the night: Ahmed powerbombs another anonymous Nationeer through the French announce table. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that feud just had no legs.  Maybe they should have just teamed them up as Doom 2.0 or something.)  Vader v. Undertaker. If there was an issue here, damned if I can remember it. Slugfest to start, UT no-sells all of it. Vader was working loose as all hell, which was part of his problem in the WWF. Jericho is discovering the same thing, apparently. (2012 Scott sez:  What a bunch of bullshit that was.  Can you believe people used to slag CHRIS JERICHO for not being able to work?  In 2000?!)  Vader puts him down a few times, but he keeps sitting up. UT hits a fameasser out of nowhere and a slam. Legdrop gets two. Vader counters the ropewalk with leverage, and then hits a lowblow (with great facials from UT), and we head to the resting portion of the match. Second rope splash is converted to a powerslam by Taker, but Vader fights up and powerbombs him for two. UT comes back with the ropewalk and a chokeslam. Paul Bearer waddles out to ringside as Vader’s new manager and gets beaten up. He does manage to waffle UT with the urn, however, and Vader splashes and pins him at 13:17 as a result. Bleh. *1/2 for some nice power stuff. I would be remiss in not mentioning British Bulldog’s cult-favorite Rumble soundbite here, as he emerges from his car and says he’ll win the Rumble because “I’M BIZAAAAAAAAAARRE!” British people, help me out here, is this like one of those charming overseas sayings that doesn’t have any sort of meaning anywhere else in the civilized world or just Davey Boy adlibbing after one too many milk injections?  (2012 Scott sez:  Joke explanation:  Dynamite Kid was on the Wrestling Observer radio show many years back and told a story about meeting young Davey Boy when they were both teenagers, but DK was the more experienced wrestler at that point.  Davey kept bugging him for steroids, so finally Kid relented and taught him how to inject it into his ass cheeks.  So then on the road the next day, Kid kept going “Mooo!” every time they drove past a farm.  Finally Davey snapped at him and asked why he was mooing the whole way, and Kid told him that he had been injecting himself with milk the whole time.) Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera v. Perro Aguayo, Canek & Hector Garza. This was during the WWF’s “We’re so desperate for fresh talent we’ll even work with AAA” period, which ended up being a slight problem because Eric Bischoff already had rights to almost every luchador in Mexico, even if he never planned on using 90% of them. My notes on this entire match read “Crowd is dead silent as they flip and flop around like RVD and make contact maybe 4 times in the whole match”, so suffice it to say it’s boring, sloppy, and 3 of the people in it are very old, and the rest don’t get much of a chance to do anything. There are ways to introduce lucha libre to casual audiences, and this isn’t it. JR gives the Ross Report Blowjob of the Week™ to Hector Garza, which ended up going nowhere. (2012 Scott sez:  And then in 2004, Garza got popped for steroid possession, which means that his US career is going nowhere from now on.)  After an eternity, Aguayo pins Heavy Metal with a double stomp at 10:56. I like some lucha, but this was brutal. ½* Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which is silly because with some judicious booking changes (*cough* LUCHA MATCH *cough*) they could have dumped 20 minutes and done full 2-minute intervals. Anyway, Crush gets #1, Ahmed Johnson gets #2. Ahmed takes some more of his aggression out on Crush. Fake Razor is #3 and gets tossed right away, to the delight of the crowd. Took the WWF a while to take the hint with that little experiment. Faarooq comes out to interfere, so Ahmed hops over the top and chases, thus eliminating himself. Phineas “Fake Mankind, Mideon” Godwinn is #4 and that epic Crush v. PIG battle erupts. Steve Austin is #5, getting a pretty good pop. (2012 Scott sez:  Steve Austin had quite the run in this Rumble, no?) PIG tosses Crush, then turns around and walks into a stunner, see ya. Bart Gunn is #6, and Austin might as well be Butterbean because Bart is gone 30 seconds later here, too. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, I got a lot of mileage out of that Butterbean knockout.)  Jake Roberts is #7, and he actually dominates, but Austin reverses the DDT into a backdrop and his night is over. Bulldog is #8 and goes right after Austin. Pierroth from AAA is #9. He almost immediately grabs a headlock. The Sultan (Rikishi Phatu) is #10. Mil Mascaras (villain of Foley’s book) (2012 Scott sez: And inductee into the Hall of Fame this year, apparently!) is #11. HHH is #12 as I wait for something to happen. Bulldog obliges by tossing Sultan. Owen Hart is #13. He goes after Austin, and is assisted by Bulldog. But when Bulldog & Austin fight on the ropes, Owen pushes Bulldog out (they were tag champs at the time). Goldust is #14. Cybernetico is #15 and he actually makes an impact. Marc Mero is #16 as Cybernetico and Pierroth go adios. Mascaras follows them down with a tope, but that eliminates him, too. Goldust gets revenge for earlier in the night by dumping HHH. Goldust & Mero pair off, as do Owen & Austin. Latin Lover is #17, no one cares, film at 11. Owen escapes elimination and gets Goldust out. Faarooq is #18 and rids us of Latin Lover. Ahmed charges the ring with a 2×4 and eliminates Faarooq. Owen and Mero fight on the ropes, so Austin pushes both out, thus clearing the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  God bless Steve Austin for clearing out deadwood like this.)  Savio Vega is #19 and he hits the floor with a KWANG! about 10 seconds later. Gimme more, Austin says. “Double J” Jesse Jammes is #20, second verse same as the first. Gimme more, Austin says. Bret Hart is #21, and the bug-eyed double-take Austin does is great. (2012 Scott sez:  Not a great Rumble, but god damn Austin used to be the SHIT.  And you know why?  Because he wasn’t some chickenshit heel who ran from a fight.  Here was a guy who you knew was getting PUSHED.  You could get behind him as a fan because you knew that there was no way they were going to bail on someone who would be booked to toss out multiple guys in the Rumble and beg for a fight at #20 after entering at #5.  Some got the rocket push, but Austin had fucking NASA strapped to his ass.) Super-hot slugfest follows, and Bret gets the Sharpshooter (in a battle royale?). Jerry Lawler is #22 and he leaves a thought unfinished, gets clotheslined right back out again, then finishes the thought back at ringside. Cute spot. Bret continues the assault on Austin. HELLFIRE AND TOOTHPASTE! It’s Big Daddy Dentist, Kane UniYankem DDS at #23! In this case, he’s playing Fake Diesel. Terry Funk is #24, playing Token Old-Timer for this year’s show. Funk takes Austin, Hart takes Diesel. Rocky Maivia is #25. He squares off with Diesel and Austin, a match that would draw huge today. (2012 Scott sez:  12 years after this was written, Rock and Austin have both gotten out of the business as rich men, while Kane keeps plodding along year after year.  I know he does fine for himself, but it’s not like Jacobs was THAT young when he started and he’s in his mid-40s now.)  Mankind is #26. He goes right after Funk and they proceed to torment each other for the rest of the match as a wink to smart fans. Flash Funk is #27. Vader is #28. Mick takes a break to rock in the corner. HOG is #29, Undertaker is #30 to finish the field. Vader and Taker collide, so Taker chokeslams everyone. Vader catches Flash and dumps him over the top. UT casually throat-slams HOG out over the top. Same for Austin, but he hangs onto the apron. Mankind mandible-claws Rocky to the floor. The crowd cheers. Mick & Terry kill each other, and Mick suplexes him to the floor. He stops to think about it, so UT calmly sends him down to the floor, too. Mick and Terry fight on the floor, so all the refs flock to break it up. At the same time, Bret tosses Austin cleanly, but no one sees it. So he sneaks back in, dumps Vader & UT (who were fighting on the ropes), followed by Diesel and then Bret himself to win the Royal Rumble at 50:26. Bret whines to the announce table afterwards. Bleh Rumble. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, note that Bret is portrayed as a whiny douche.)  WWF title match: Sid v. Shawn Michaels. Note to WCW: Last time someone put a World title on Sid, it nearly killed the entire promotion. I’m just saying, in case there was any doubt who should get it, that’s all. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that I’m blaming the death of WCW on them putting the World title on Sid in 2000, but I’m not NOT, either.  Of course, we found out later that Benoit didn’t particularly want the title anyway, so maybe it would have been best just to put it on Sid and be done with it.  Evil Scott almost put in a line like “Of course, when someone put a World title on Benoit, he killed…” before the little angel guy on my shoulder told me to delete it.)  Shawn had actually been turning heel leading up to this show, but in the weirdest thing anyone had seen in a while, the face pop he got here was so enormous that the entire heel turn was scrapped and he was turned full babyface again. (2012 Scott sez:  So all WWE needs now for Cena is a giant stadium full of people who will cheer him.  No problem!)  And now, suddenly, the crowd comes to life. Shoving match to start, which doesn’t go well for Shawn. Shawn uses his speed to send Sid to the floor. They brawl and Michaels escapes a press slam with a poke to the eye. Back in and Sid powerslams him for two. Chinlock follows. Shawn escapes and gets tossed to the floor. Sid rams him back-first to the post. It gets two. Surfboard and extended bearhug work the back of Shawn. Legdrop gets two. Shawn comes back with a slam and flying forearm. Flying elbow, and Shawn warms up the band. Sid blocks the superkick and dumps Shawn to the floor, then powerbombs him there. Back in, ref bumped. Chokeslam, no ref. A second ref runs in to count two, so Sid decks him. Shawn grabs the camera from ringside and nails Sid (in retaliation for Survivor Series) and that gets two. Sid’s up, so Shawn warms up the band again and hits Sweet Chin Music for the pin and his second WWF title at 13:52. Sid carried the match, oddly enough. **1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  Shawn was sick as a dog for this show, although given his intake at that point god knows what that meant in reality.  Too many “cold pills”, perhaps.)  The Bottom Line: The WWF was drawing ratings somewhere in between “jack” and “shit” at this point and no one had any clue how to fix things, and it shows here. The only real positive sign for the future out of this show was Austin’s emerging popularity, and the rest was “Been there, done that, scored a 2.0 rating”. Total wasted opportunity here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1997

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1997 I will refrain from commentating overly on the Vince Russo thing until I can make a proper column on the subject. Suffice it to say, I TOLD YOU SO, and everyone who flamed me for my “That’s [Sports] Entertainment” column back in October where I said that this exact situation would come about can start sending apologetic e-mail to me any day now.  (2012 Scott sez:  So that would place this rant in early 2000, when Russo got canned.  And again, hard to believe that I could have any kind of proper perspective on a show only 3 years old at that point.)  Live from San Antonio, TX Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & Good ol’ JRMinis fight in the Free 4 All match, but I’m not into it. Anyway, Mascarita Sagrata Jr. (who would later become Max Mini) and partner La Parkita (mini version of La Parka) defeat Mini Vader and Mini Mankind with a crucifix pin at 4:28. Opening match, Intercontinental title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. I think we’ve covered the numerous differences between pre-DX Hunter and the current one to the point where it’s pointless to do so anymore, so I won’t. HHH brings Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard, a role that would be usurped by Chyna at the very next PPV, and as a result would give him actual heat for the first time in his life. (2012 Scott sez:  I can vaguely remember Hughes as bodyguard for Chris Jericho, but I totally blank on him getting paired with HHH for some reason.)  Both guys bump around a bit at the start. Goldust drops the ring steps on HHH’s back. HHH sort of controls back in the ring, crowd is gone. Neither guy is over enough to make a difference to the heat in the match. Out of the ring again and they bump around some more. It’s just desperate attempts to get the crowd going, and it’s not working. Goldust tries dropping the stairs on HHH’s knee this time. He slowly works the leg back in the ring, boring the crowd even more. It should be noted that there’s about 60,000 people in the building, give or take (2012 Scott sez:  48000 or so, in fact.  I think 60000 was the worked number.), and a lot of them are papered (2012 Scott sez:  About 20000 of them I believe it was.  It was pretty crazy.  Like how the fuck do you even give out that many tickets?  That’s like an entire arena show given away for free!), which means that something pretty drastic needs to hook them. HHH bails, but gets clipped and dropped on the stairs knee-first. Enough with the damn stairs already! HHH gains control again as I fight to stay awake. Goldust comes back, but misses an elbow from the top and HHH gets the title belt from Hughes. Goldust steals it away and nails him, but Hughes pulls Hunter out at two. More wackiness leads to Hunter nailing Goldust from behind and hitting the Pedigree to retain at 16:45. ¼* JR assures us that this issue is far from settled. Lucky us. Faarooq v. Ahmed Johnson. This is your basic “You injured me so I’m gonna kick your ass” match, although by the time Ahmed returned from his injury the issue was pretty much forgotten. This one really should have happened at Summerslam 96 as was intended. Faarooq gets the crap beat out of him and they brawl out of the ring. Faarooq sacrifices an unnamed (but proud future European champion) Nation member to Ahmed (2012 Scott sez:  That was D-Lo Brown in case you weren’t around when anyone cared about him.) and then jumps him to take control. Chinlock follows. Faarooq goes aerial but gets powerslammed. Ahmed charges and Faarooq hits a spinebuster, then Ahmed comes back with his own and everyone runs in for the lame DQ at 8:45. ½* The feud would drag on for most of the rest of 1997, before Ahmed disappeared for good. Notable spot of the night: Ahmed powerbombs another anonymous Nationeer through the French announce table. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that feud just had no legs.  Maybe they should have just teamed them up as Doom 2.0 or something.)  Vader v. Undertaker. If there was an issue here, damned if I can remember it. Slugfest to start, UT no-sells all of it. Vader was working loose as all hell, which was part of his problem in the WWF. Jericho is discovering the same thing, apparently. (2012 Scott sez:  What a bunch of bullshit that was.  Can you believe people used to slag CHRIS JERICHO for not being able to work?  In 2000?!)  Vader puts him down a few times, but he keeps sitting up. UT hits a fameasser out of nowhere and a slam. Legdrop gets two. Vader counters the ropewalk with leverage, and then hits a lowblow (with great facials from UT), and we head to the resting portion of the match. Second rope splash is converted to a powerslam by Taker, but Vader fights up and powerbombs him for two. UT comes back with the ropewalk and a chokeslam. Paul Bearer waddles out to ringside as Vader’s new manager and gets beaten up. He does manage to waffle UT with the urn, however, and Vader splashes and pins him at 13:17 as a result. Bleh. *1/2 for some nice power stuff. I would be remiss in not mentioning British Bulldog’s cult-favorite Rumble soundbite here, as he emerges from his car and says he’ll win the Rumble because “I’M BIZAAAAAAAAAARRE!” British people, help me out here, is this like one of those charming overseas sayings that doesn’t have any sort of meaning anywhere else in the civilized world or just Davey Boy adlibbing after one too many milk injections?  (2012 Scott sez:  Joke explanation:  Dynamite Kid was on the Wrestling Observer radio show many years back and told a story about meeting young Davey Boy when they were both teenagers, but DK was the more experienced wrestler at that point.  Davey kept bugging him for steroids, so finally Kid relented and taught him how to inject it into his ass cheeks.  So then on the road the next day, Kid kept going “Mooo!” every time they drove past a farm.  Finally Davey snapped at him and asked why he was mooing the whole way, and Kid told him that he had been injecting himself with milk the whole time.) Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera v. Perro Aguayo, Canek & Hector Garza. This was during the WWF’s “We’re so desperate for fresh talent we’ll even work with AAA” period, which ended up being a slight problem because Eric Bischoff already had rights to almost every luchador in Mexico, even if he never planned on using 90% of them. My notes on this entire match read “Crowd is dead silent as they flip and flop around like RVD and make contact maybe 4 times in the whole match”, so suffice it to say it’s boring, sloppy, and 3 of the people in it are very old, and the rest don’t get much of a chance to do anything. There are ways to introduce lucha libre to casual audiences, and this isn’t it. JR gives the Ross Report Blowjob of the Week™ to Hector Garza, which ended up going nowhere. (2012 Scott sez:  And then in 2004, Garza got popped for steroid possession, which means that his US career is going nowhere from now on.)  After an eternity, Aguayo pins Heavy Metal with a double stomp at 10:56. I like some lucha, but this was brutal. ½* Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which is silly because with some judicious booking changes (*cough* LUCHA MATCH *cough*) they could have dumped 20 minutes and done full 2-minute intervals. Anyway, Crush gets #1, Ahmed Johnson gets #2. Ahmed takes some more of his aggression out on Crush. Fake Razor is #3 and gets tossed right away, to the delight of the crowd. Took the WWF a while to take the hint with that little experiment. Faarooq comes out to interfere, so Ahmed hops over the top and chases, thus eliminating himself. Phineas “Fake Mankind, Mideon” Godwinn is #4 and that epic Crush v. PIG battle erupts. Steve Austin is #5, getting a pretty good pop. (2012 Scott sez:  Steve Austin had quite the run in this Rumble, no?) PIG tosses Crush, then turns around and walks into a stunner, see ya. Bart Gunn is #6, and Austin might as well be Butterbean because Bart is gone 30 seconds later here, too. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, I got a lot of mileage out of that Butterbean knockout.)  Jake Roberts is #7, and he actually dominates, but Austin reverses the DDT into a backdrop and his night is over. Bulldog is #8 and goes right after Austin. Pierroth from AAA is #9. He almost immediately grabs a headlock. The Sultan (Rikishi Phatu) is #10. Mil Mascaras (villain of Foley’s book) (2012 Scott sez: And inductee into the Hall of Fame this year, apparently!) is #11. HHH is #12 as I wait for something to happen. Bulldog obliges by tossing Sultan. Owen Hart is #13. He goes after Austin, and is assisted by Bulldog. But when Bulldog & Austin fight on the ropes, Owen pushes Bulldog out (they were tag champs at the time). Goldust is #14. Cybernetico is #15 and he actually makes an impact. Marc Mero is #16 as Cybernetico and Pierroth go adios. Mascaras follows them down with a tope, but that eliminates him, too. Goldust gets revenge for earlier in the night by dumping HHH. Goldust & Mero pair off, as do Owen & Austin. Latin Lover is #17, no one cares, film at 11. Owen escapes elimination and gets Goldust out. Faarooq is #18 and rids us of Latin Lover. Ahmed charges the ring with a 2×4 and eliminates Faarooq. Owen and Mero fight on the ropes, so Austin pushes both out, thus clearing the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  God bless Steve Austin for clearing out deadwood like this.)  Savio Vega is #19 and he hits the floor with a KWANG! about 10 seconds later. Gimme more, Austin says. “Double J” Jesse Jammes is #20, second verse same as the first. Gimme more, Austin says. Bret Hart is #21, and the bug-eyed double-take Austin does is great. (2012 Scott sez:  Not a great Rumble, but god damn Austin used to be the SHIT.  And you know why?  Because he wasn’t some chickenshit heel who ran from a fight.  Here was a guy who you knew was getting PUSHED.  You could get behind him as a fan because you knew that there was no way they were going to bail on someone who would be booked to toss out multiple guys in the Rumble and beg for a fight at #20 after entering at #5.  Some got the rocket push, but Austin had fucking NASA strapped to his ass.) Super-hot slugfest follows, and Bret gets the Sharpshooter (in a battle royale?). Jerry Lawler is #22 and he leaves a thought unfinished, gets clotheslined right back out again, then finishes the thought back at ringside. Cute spot. Bret continues the assault on Austin. HELLFIRE AND TOOTHPASTE! It’s Big Daddy Dentist, Kane UniYankem DDS at #23! In this case, he’s playing Fake Diesel. Terry Funk is #24, playing Token Old-Timer for this year’s show. Funk takes Austin, Hart takes Diesel. Rocky Maivia is #25. He squares off with Diesel and Austin, a match that would draw huge today. (2012 Scott sez:  12 years after this was written, Rock and Austin have both gotten out of the business as rich men, while Kane keeps plodding along year after year.  I know he does fine for himself, but it’s not like Jacobs was THAT young when he started and he’s in his mid-40s now.)  Mankind is #26. He goes right after Funk and they proceed to torment each other for the rest of the match as a wink to smart fans. Flash Funk is #27. Vader is #28. Mick takes a break to rock in the corner. HOG is #29, Undertaker is #30 to finish the field. Vader and Taker collide, so Taker chokeslams everyone. Vader catches Flash and dumps him over the top. UT casually throat-slams HOG out over the top. Same for Austin, but he hangs onto the apron. Mankind mandible-claws Rocky to the floor. The crowd cheers. Mick & Terry kill each other, and Mick suplexes him to the floor. He stops to think about it, so UT calmly sends him down to the floor, too. Mick and Terry fight on the floor, so all the refs flock to break it up. At the same time, Bret tosses Austin cleanly, but no one sees it. So he sneaks back in, dumps Vader & UT (who were fighting on the ropes), followed by Diesel and then Bret himself to win the Royal Rumble at 50:26. Bret whines to the announce table afterwards. Bleh Rumble. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, note that Bret is portrayed as a whiny douche.)  WWF title match: Sid v. Shawn Michaels. Note to WCW: Last time someone put a World title on Sid, it nearly killed the entire promotion. I’m just saying, in case there was any doubt who should get it, that’s all. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that I’m blaming the death of WCW on them putting the World title on Sid in 2000, but I’m not NOT, either.  Of course, we found out later that Benoit didn’t particularly want the title anyway, so maybe it would have been best just to put it on Sid and be done with it.  Evil Scott almost put in a line like “Of course, when someone put a World title on Benoit, he killed…” before the little angel guy on my shoulder told me to delete it.)  Shawn had actually been turning heel leading up to this show, but in the weirdest thing anyone had seen in a while, the face pop he got here was so enormous that the entire heel turn was scrapped and he was turned full babyface again. (2012 Scott sez:  So all WWE needs now for Cena is a giant stadium full of people who will cheer him.  No problem!)  And now, suddenly, the crowd comes to life. Shoving match to start, which doesn’t go well for Shawn. Shawn uses his speed to send Sid to the floor. They brawl and Michaels escapes a press slam with a poke to the eye. Back in and Sid powerslams him for two. Chinlock follows. Shawn escapes and gets tossed to the floor. Sid rams him back-first to the post. It gets two. Surfboard and extended bearhug work the back of Shawn. Legdrop gets two. Shawn comes back with a slam and flying forearm. Flying elbow, and Shawn warms up the band. Sid blocks the superkick and dumps Shawn to the floor, then powerbombs him there. Back in, ref bumped. Chokeslam, no ref. A second ref runs in to count two, so Sid decks him. Shawn grabs the camera from ringside and nails Sid (in retaliation for Survivor Series) and that gets two. Sid’s up, so Shawn warms up the band again and hits Sweet Chin Music for the pin and his second WWF title at 13:52. Sid carried the match, oddly enough. **1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  Shawn was sick as a dog for this show, although given his intake at that point god knows what that meant in reality.  Too many “cold pills”, perhaps.)  The Bottom Line: The WWF was drawing ratings somewhere in between “jack” and “shit” at this point and no one had any clue how to fix things, and it shows here. The only real positive sign for the future out of this show was Austin’s emerging popularity, and the rest was “Been there, done that, scored a 2.0 rating”. Total wasted opportunity here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1997

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1997 I will refrain from commentating overly on the Vince Russo thing until I can make a proper column on the subject. Suffice it to say, I TOLD YOU SO, and everyone who flamed me for my “That’s [Sports] Entertainment” column back in October where I said that this exact situation would come about can start sending apologetic e-mail to me any day now.  (2012 Scott sez:  So that would place this rant in early 2000, when Russo got canned.  And again, hard to believe that I could have any kind of proper perspective on a show only 3 years old at that point.)  Live from San Antonio, TX Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & Good ol’ JRMinis fight in the Free 4 All match, but I’m not into it. Anyway, Mascarita Sagrata Jr. (who would later become Max Mini) and partner La Parkita (mini version of La Parka) defeat Mini Vader and Mini Mankind with a crucifix pin at 4:28. Opening match, Intercontinental title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. I think we’ve covered the numerous differences between pre-DX Hunter and the current one to the point where it’s pointless to do so anymore, so I won’t. HHH brings Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard, a role that would be usurped by Chyna at the very next PPV, and as a result would give him actual heat for the first time in his life. (2012 Scott sez:  I can vaguely remember Hughes as bodyguard for Chris Jericho, but I totally blank on him getting paired with HHH for some reason.)  Both guys bump around a bit at the start. Goldust drops the ring steps on HHH’s back. HHH sort of controls back in the ring, crowd is gone. Neither guy is over enough to make a difference to the heat in the match. Out of the ring again and they bump around some more. It’s just desperate attempts to get the crowd going, and it’s not working. Goldust tries dropping the stairs on HHH’s knee this time. He slowly works the leg back in the ring, boring the crowd even more. It should be noted that there’s about 60,000 people in the building, give or take (2012 Scott sez:  48000 or so, in fact.  I think 60000 was the worked number.), and a lot of them are papered (2012 Scott sez:  About 20000 of them I believe it was.  It was pretty crazy.  Like how the fuck do you even give out that many tickets?  That’s like an entire arena show given away for free!), which means that something pretty drastic needs to hook them. HHH bails, but gets clipped and dropped on the stairs knee-first. Enough with the damn stairs already! HHH gains control again as I fight to stay awake. Goldust comes back, but misses an elbow from the top and HHH gets the title belt from Hughes. Goldust steals it away and nails him, but Hughes pulls Hunter out at two. More wackiness leads to Hunter nailing Goldust from behind and hitting the Pedigree to retain at 16:45. ¼* JR assures us that this issue is far from settled. Lucky us. Faarooq v. Ahmed Johnson. This is your basic “You injured me so I’m gonna kick your ass” match, although by the time Ahmed returned from his injury the issue was pretty much forgotten. This one really should have happened at Summerslam 96 as was intended. Faarooq gets the crap beat out of him and they brawl out of the ring. Faarooq sacrifices an unnamed (but proud future European champion) Nation member to Ahmed (2012 Scott sez:  That was D-Lo Brown in case you weren’t around when anyone cared about him.) and then jumps him to take control. Chinlock follows. Faarooq goes aerial but gets powerslammed. Ahmed charges and Faarooq hits a spinebuster, then Ahmed comes back with his own and everyone runs in for the lame DQ at 8:45. ½* The feud would drag on for most of the rest of 1997, before Ahmed disappeared for good. Notable spot of the night: Ahmed powerbombs another anonymous Nationeer through the French announce table. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that feud just had no legs.  Maybe they should have just teamed them up as Doom 2.0 or something.)  Vader v. Undertaker. If there was an issue here, damned if I can remember it. Slugfest to start, UT no-sells all of it. Vader was working loose as all hell, which was part of his problem in the WWF. Jericho is discovering the same thing, apparently. (2012 Scott sez:  What a bunch of bullshit that was.  Can you believe people used to slag CHRIS JERICHO for not being able to work?  In 2000?!)  Vader puts him down a few times, but he keeps sitting up. UT hits a fameasser out of nowhere and a slam. Legdrop gets two. Vader counters the ropewalk with leverage, and then hits a lowblow (with great facials from UT), and we head to the resting portion of the match. Second rope splash is converted to a powerslam by Taker, but Vader fights up and powerbombs him for two. UT comes back with the ropewalk and a chokeslam. Paul Bearer waddles out to ringside as Vader’s new manager and gets beaten up. He does manage to waffle UT with the urn, however, and Vader splashes and pins him at 13:17 as a result. Bleh. *1/2 for some nice power stuff. I would be remiss in not mentioning British Bulldog’s cult-favorite Rumble soundbite here, as he emerges from his car and says he’ll win the Rumble because “I’M BIZAAAAAAAAAARRE!” British people, help me out here, is this like one of those charming overseas sayings that doesn’t have any sort of meaning anywhere else in the civilized world or just Davey Boy adlibbing after one too many milk injections?  (2012 Scott sez:  Joke explanation:  Dynamite Kid was on the Wrestling Observer radio show many years back and told a story about meeting young Davey Boy when they were both teenagers, but DK was the more experienced wrestler at that point.  Davey kept bugging him for steroids, so finally Kid relented and taught him how to inject it into his ass cheeks.  So then on the road the next day, Kid kept going “Mooo!” every time they drove past a farm.  Finally Davey snapped at him and asked why he was mooing the whole way, and Kid told him that he had been injecting himself with milk the whole time.) Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera v. Perro Aguayo, Canek & Hector Garza. This was during the WWF’s “We’re so desperate for fresh talent we’ll even work with AAA” period, which ended up being a slight problem because Eric Bischoff already had rights to almost every luchador in Mexico, even if he never planned on using 90% of them. My notes on this entire match read “Crowd is dead silent as they flip and flop around like RVD and make contact maybe 4 times in the whole match”, so suffice it to say it’s boring, sloppy, and 3 of the people in it are very old, and the rest don’t get much of a chance to do anything. There are ways to introduce lucha libre to casual audiences, and this isn’t it. JR gives the Ross Report Blowjob of the Week™ to Hector Garza, which ended up going nowhere. (2012 Scott sez:  And then in 2004, Garza got popped for steroid possession, which means that his US career is going nowhere from now on.)  After an eternity, Aguayo pins Heavy Metal with a double stomp at 10:56. I like some lucha, but this was brutal. ½* Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which is silly because with some judicious booking changes (*cough* LUCHA MATCH *cough*) they could have dumped 20 minutes and done full 2-minute intervals. Anyway, Crush gets #1, Ahmed Johnson gets #2. Ahmed takes some more of his aggression out on Crush. Fake Razor is #3 and gets tossed right away, to the delight of the crowd. Took the WWF a while to take the hint with that little experiment. Faarooq comes out to interfere, so Ahmed hops over the top and chases, thus eliminating himself. Phineas “Fake Mankind, Mideon” Godwinn is #4 and that epic Crush v. PIG battle erupts. Steve Austin is #5, getting a pretty good pop. (2012 Scott sez:  Steve Austin had quite the run in this Rumble, no?) PIG tosses Crush, then turns around and walks into a stunner, see ya. Bart Gunn is #6, and Austin might as well be Butterbean because Bart is gone 30 seconds later here, too. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, I got a lot of mileage out of that Butterbean knockout.)  Jake Roberts is #7, and he actually dominates, but Austin reverses the DDT into a backdrop and his night is over. Bulldog is #8 and goes right after Austin. Pierroth from AAA is #9. He almost immediately grabs a headlock. The Sultan (Rikishi Phatu) is #10. Mil Mascaras (villain of Foley’s book) (2012 Scott sez: And inductee into the Hall of Fame this year, apparently!) is #11. HHH is #12 as I wait for something to happen. Bulldog obliges by tossing Sultan. Owen Hart is #13. He goes after Austin, and is assisted by Bulldog. But when Bulldog & Austin fight on the ropes, Owen pushes Bulldog out (they were tag champs at the time). Goldust is #14. Cybernetico is #15 and he actually makes an impact. Marc Mero is #16 as Cybernetico and Pierroth go adios. Mascaras follows them down with a tope, but that eliminates him, too. Goldust gets revenge for earlier in the night by dumping HHH. Goldust & Mero pair off, as do Owen & Austin. Latin Lover is #17, no one cares, film at 11. Owen escapes elimination and gets Goldust out. Faarooq is #18 and rids us of Latin Lover. Ahmed charges the ring with a 2×4 and eliminates Faarooq. Owen and Mero fight on the ropes, so Austin pushes both out, thus clearing the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  God bless Steve Austin for clearing out deadwood like this.)  Savio Vega is #19 and he hits the floor with a KWANG! about 10 seconds later. Gimme more, Austin says. “Double J” Jesse Jammes is #20, second verse same as the first. Gimme more, Austin says. Bret Hart is #21, and the bug-eyed double-take Austin does is great. (2012 Scott sez:  Not a great Rumble, but god damn Austin used to be the SHIT.  And you know why?  Because he wasn’t some chickenshit heel who ran from a fight.  Here was a guy who you knew was getting PUSHED.  You could get behind him as a fan because you knew that there was no way they were going to bail on someone who would be booked to toss out multiple guys in the Rumble and beg for a fight at #20 after entering at #5.  Some got the rocket push, but Austin had fucking NASA strapped to his ass.) Super-hot slugfest follows, and Bret gets the Sharpshooter (in a battle royale?). Jerry Lawler is #22 and he leaves a thought unfinished, gets clotheslined right back out again, then finishes the thought back at ringside. Cute spot. Bret continues the assault on Austin. HELLFIRE AND TOOTHPASTE! It’s Big Daddy Dentist, Kane UniYankem DDS at #23! In this case, he’s playing Fake Diesel. Terry Funk is #24, playing Token Old-Timer for this year’s show. Funk takes Austin, Hart takes Diesel. Rocky Maivia is #25. He squares off with Diesel and Austin, a match that would draw huge today. (2012 Scott sez:  12 years after this was written, Rock and Austin have both gotten out of the business as rich men, while Kane keeps plodding along year after year.  I know he does fine for himself, but it’s not like Jacobs was THAT young when he started and he’s in his mid-40s now.)  Mankind is #26. He goes right after Funk and they proceed to torment each other for the rest of the match as a wink to smart fans. Flash Funk is #27. Vader is #28. Mick takes a break to rock in the corner. HOG is #29, Undertaker is #30 to finish the field. Vader and Taker collide, so Taker chokeslams everyone. Vader catches Flash and dumps him over the top. UT casually throat-slams HOG out over the top. Same for Austin, but he hangs onto the apron. Mankind mandible-claws Rocky to the floor. The crowd cheers. Mick & Terry kill each other, and Mick suplexes him to the floor. He stops to think about it, so UT calmly sends him down to the floor, too. Mick and Terry fight on the floor, so all the refs flock to break it up. At the same time, Bret tosses Austin cleanly, but no one sees it. So he sneaks back in, dumps Vader & UT (who were fighting on the ropes), followed by Diesel and then Bret himself to win the Royal Rumble at 50:26. Bret whines to the announce table afterwards. Bleh Rumble. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, note that Bret is portrayed as a whiny douche.)  WWF title match: Sid v. Shawn Michaels. Note to WCW: Last time someone put a World title on Sid, it nearly killed the entire promotion. I’m just saying, in case there was any doubt who should get it, that’s all. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that I’m blaming the death of WCW on them putting the World title on Sid in 2000, but I’m not NOT, either.  Of course, we found out later that Benoit didn’t particularly want the title anyway, so maybe it would have been best just to put it on Sid and be done with it.  Evil Scott almost put in a line like “Of course, when someone put a World title on Benoit, he killed…” before the little angel guy on my shoulder told me to delete it.)  Shawn had actually been turning heel leading up to this show, but in the weirdest thing anyone had seen in a while, the face pop he got here was so enormous that the entire heel turn was scrapped and he was turned full babyface again. (2012 Scott sez:  So all WWE needs now for Cena is a giant stadium full of people who will cheer him.  No problem!)  And now, suddenly, the crowd comes to life. Shoving match to start, which doesn’t go well for Shawn. Shawn uses his speed to send Sid to the floor. They brawl and Michaels escapes a press slam with a poke to the eye. Back in and Sid powerslams him for two. Chinlock follows. Shawn escapes and gets tossed to the floor. Sid rams him back-first to the post. It gets two. Surfboard and extended bearhug work the back of Shawn. Legdrop gets two. Shawn comes back with a slam and flying forearm. Flying elbow, and Shawn warms up the band. Sid blocks the superkick and dumps Shawn to the floor, then powerbombs him there. Back in, ref bumped. Chokeslam, no ref. A second ref runs in to count two, so Sid decks him. Shawn grabs the camera from ringside and nails Sid (in retaliation for Survivor Series) and that gets two. Sid’s up, so Shawn warms up the band again and hits Sweet Chin Music for the pin and his second WWF title at 13:52. Sid carried the match, oddly enough. **1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  Shawn was sick as a dog for this show, although given his intake at that point god knows what that meant in reality.  Too many “cold pills”, perhaps.)  The Bottom Line: The WWF was drawing ratings somewhere in between “jack” and “shit” at this point and no one had any clue how to fix things, and it shows here. The only real positive sign for the future out of this show was Austin’s emerging popularity, and the rest was “Been there, done that, scored a 2.0 rating”. Total wasted opportunity here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1997

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1997 I will refrain from commentating overly on the Vince Russo thing until I can make a proper column on the subject. Suffice it to say, I TOLD YOU SO, and everyone who flamed me for my “That’s [Sports] Entertainment” column back in October where I said that this exact situation would come about can start sending apologetic e-mail to me any day now.  (2012 Scott sez:  So that would place this rant in early 2000, when Russo got canned.  And again, hard to believe that I could have any kind of proper perspective on a show only 3 years old at that point.)  Live from San Antonio, TX Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & Good ol’ JRMinis fight in the Free 4 All match, but I’m not into it. Anyway, Mascarita Sagrata Jr. (who would later become Max Mini) and partner La Parkita (mini version of La Parka) defeat Mini Vader and Mini Mankind with a crucifix pin at 4:28. Opening match, Intercontinental title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. I think we’ve covered the numerous differences between pre-DX Hunter and the current one to the point where it’s pointless to do so anymore, so I won’t. HHH brings Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard, a role that would be usurped by Chyna at the very next PPV, and as a result would give him actual heat for the first time in his life. (2012 Scott sez:  I can vaguely remember Hughes as bodyguard for Chris Jericho, but I totally blank on him getting paired with HHH for some reason.)  Both guys bump around a bit at the start. Goldust drops the ring steps on HHH’s back. HHH sort of controls back in the ring, crowd is gone. Neither guy is over enough to make a difference to the heat in the match. Out of the ring again and they bump around some more. It’s just desperate attempts to get the crowd going, and it’s not working. Goldust tries dropping the stairs on HHH’s knee this time. He slowly works the leg back in the ring, boring the crowd even more. It should be noted that there’s about 60,000 people in the building, give or take (2012 Scott sez:  48000 or so, in fact.  I think 60000 was the worked number.), and a lot of them are papered (2012 Scott sez:  About 20000 of them I believe it was.  It was pretty crazy.  Like how the fuck do you even give out that many tickets?  That’s like an entire arena show given away for free!), which means that something pretty drastic needs to hook them. HHH bails, but gets clipped and dropped on the stairs knee-first. Enough with the damn stairs already! HHH gains control again as I fight to stay awake. Goldust comes back, but misses an elbow from the top and HHH gets the title belt from Hughes. Goldust steals it away and nails him, but Hughes pulls Hunter out at two. More wackiness leads to Hunter nailing Goldust from behind and hitting the Pedigree to retain at 16:45. ¼* JR assures us that this issue is far from settled. Lucky us. Faarooq v. Ahmed Johnson. This is your basic “You injured me so I’m gonna kick your ass” match, although by the time Ahmed returned from his injury the issue was pretty much forgotten. This one really should have happened at Summerslam 96 as was intended. Faarooq gets the crap beat out of him and they brawl out of the ring. Faarooq sacrifices an unnamed (but proud future European champion) Nation member to Ahmed (2012 Scott sez:  That was D-Lo Brown in case you weren’t around when anyone cared about him.) and then jumps him to take control. Chinlock follows. Faarooq goes aerial but gets powerslammed. Ahmed charges and Faarooq hits a spinebuster, then Ahmed comes back with his own and everyone runs in for the lame DQ at 8:45. ½* The feud would drag on for most of the rest of 1997, before Ahmed disappeared for good. Notable spot of the night: Ahmed powerbombs another anonymous Nationeer through the French announce table. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that feud just had no legs.  Maybe they should have just teamed them up as Doom 2.0 or something.)  Vader v. Undertaker. If there was an issue here, damned if I can remember it. Slugfest to start, UT no-sells all of it. Vader was working loose as all hell, which was part of his problem in the WWF. Jericho is discovering the same thing, apparently. (2012 Scott sez:  What a bunch of bullshit that was.  Can you believe people used to slag CHRIS JERICHO for not being able to work?  In 2000?!)  Vader puts him down a few times, but he keeps sitting up. UT hits a fameasser out of nowhere and a slam. Legdrop gets two. Vader counters the ropewalk with leverage, and then hits a lowblow (with great facials from UT), and we head to the resting portion of the match. Second rope splash is converted to a powerslam by Taker, but Vader fights up and powerbombs him for two. UT comes back with the ropewalk and a chokeslam. Paul Bearer waddles out to ringside as Vader’s new manager and gets beaten up. He does manage to waffle UT with the urn, however, and Vader splashes and pins him at 13:17 as a result. Bleh. *1/2 for some nice power stuff. I would be remiss in not mentioning British Bulldog’s cult-favorite Rumble soundbite here, as he emerges from his car and says he’ll win the Rumble because “I’M BIZAAAAAAAAAARRE!” British people, help me out here, is this like one of those charming overseas sayings that doesn’t have any sort of meaning anywhere else in the civilized world or just Davey Boy adlibbing after one too many milk injections?  (2012 Scott sez:  Joke explanation:  Dynamite Kid was on the Wrestling Observer radio show many years back and told a story about meeting young Davey Boy when they were both teenagers, but DK was the more experienced wrestler at that point.  Davey kept bugging him for steroids, so finally Kid relented and taught him how to inject it into his ass cheeks.  So then on the road the next day, Kid kept going “Mooo!” every time they drove past a farm.  Finally Davey snapped at him and asked why he was mooing the whole way, and Kid told him that he had been injecting himself with milk the whole time.) Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera v. Perro Aguayo, Canek & Hector Garza. This was during the WWF’s “We’re so desperate for fresh talent we’ll even work with AAA” period, which ended up being a slight problem because Eric Bischoff already had rights to almost every luchador in Mexico, even if he never planned on using 90% of them. My notes on this entire match read “Crowd is dead silent as they flip and flop around like RVD and make contact maybe 4 times in the whole match”, so suffice it to say it’s boring, sloppy, and 3 of the people in it are very old, and the rest don’t get much of a chance to do anything. There are ways to introduce lucha libre to casual audiences, and this isn’t it. JR gives the Ross Report Blowjob of the Week™ to Hector Garza, which ended up going nowhere. (2012 Scott sez:  And then in 2004, Garza got popped for steroid possession, which means that his US career is going nowhere from now on.)  After an eternity, Aguayo pins Heavy Metal with a double stomp at 10:56. I like some lucha, but this was brutal. ½* Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which is silly because with some judicious booking changes (*cough* LUCHA MATCH *cough*) they could have dumped 20 minutes and done full 2-minute intervals. Anyway, Crush gets #1, Ahmed Johnson gets #2. Ahmed takes some more of his aggression out on Crush. Fake Razor is #3 and gets tossed right away, to the delight of the crowd. Took the WWF a while to take the hint with that little experiment. Faarooq comes out to interfere, so Ahmed hops over the top and chases, thus eliminating himself. Phineas “Fake Mankind, Mideon” Godwinn is #4 and that epic Crush v. PIG battle erupts. Steve Austin is #5, getting a pretty good pop. (2012 Scott sez:  Steve Austin had quite the run in this Rumble, no?) PIG tosses Crush, then turns around and walks into a stunner, see ya. Bart Gunn is #6, and Austin might as well be Butterbean because Bart is gone 30 seconds later here, too. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, I got a lot of mileage out of that Butterbean knockout.)  Jake Roberts is #7, and he actually dominates, but Austin reverses the DDT into a backdrop and his night is over. Bulldog is #8 and goes right after Austin. Pierroth from AAA is #9. He almost immediately grabs a headlock. The Sultan (Rikishi Phatu) is #10. Mil Mascaras (villain of Foley’s book) (2012 Scott sez: And inductee into the Hall of Fame this year, apparently!) is #11. HHH is #12 as I wait for something to happen. Bulldog obliges by tossing Sultan. Owen Hart is #13. He goes after Austin, and is assisted by Bulldog. But when Bulldog & Austin fight on the ropes, Owen pushes Bulldog out (they were tag champs at the time). Goldust is #14. Cybernetico is #15 and he actually makes an impact. Marc Mero is #16 as Cybernetico and Pierroth go adios. Mascaras follows them down with a tope, but that eliminates him, too. Goldust gets revenge for earlier in the night by dumping HHH. Goldust & Mero pair off, as do Owen & Austin. Latin Lover is #17, no one cares, film at 11. Owen escapes elimination and gets Goldust out. Faarooq is #18 and rids us of Latin Lover. Ahmed charges the ring with a 2×4 and eliminates Faarooq. Owen and Mero fight on the ropes, so Austin pushes both out, thus clearing the ring. (2012 Scott sez:  God bless Steve Austin for clearing out deadwood like this.)  Savio Vega is #19 and he hits the floor with a KWANG! about 10 seconds later. Gimme more, Austin says. “Double J” Jesse Jammes is #20, second verse same as the first. Gimme more, Austin says. Bret Hart is #21, and the bug-eyed double-take Austin does is great. (2012 Scott sez:  Not a great Rumble, but god damn Austin used to be the SHIT.  And you know why?  Because he wasn’t some chickenshit heel who ran from a fight.  Here was a guy who you knew was getting PUSHED.  You could get behind him as a fan because you knew that there was no way they were going to bail on someone who would be booked to toss out multiple guys in the Rumble and beg for a fight at #20 after entering at #5.  Some got the rocket push, but Austin had fucking NASA strapped to his ass.) Super-hot slugfest follows, and Bret gets the Sharpshooter (in a battle royale?). Jerry Lawler is #22 and he leaves a thought unfinished, gets clotheslined right back out again, then finishes the thought back at ringside. Cute spot. Bret continues the assault on Austin. HELLFIRE AND TOOTHPASTE! It’s Big Daddy Dentist, Kane UniYankem DDS at #23! In this case, he’s playing Fake Diesel. Terry Funk is #24, playing Token Old-Timer for this year’s show. Funk takes Austin, Hart takes Diesel. Rocky Maivia is #25. He squares off with Diesel and Austin, a match that would draw huge today. (2012 Scott sez:  12 years after this was written, Rock and Austin have both gotten out of the business as rich men, while Kane keeps plodding along year after year.  I know he does fine for himself, but it’s not like Jacobs was THAT young when he started and he’s in his mid-40s now.)  Mankind is #26. He goes right after Funk and they proceed to torment each other for the rest of the match as a wink to smart fans. Flash Funk is #27. Vader is #28. Mick takes a break to rock in the corner. HOG is #29, Undertaker is #30 to finish the field. Vader and Taker collide, so Taker chokeslams everyone. Vader catches Flash and dumps him over the top. UT casually throat-slams HOG out over the top. Same for Austin, but he hangs onto the apron. Mankind mandible-claws Rocky to the floor. The crowd cheers. Mick & Terry kill each other, and Mick suplexes him to the floor. He stops to think about it, so UT calmly sends him down to the floor, too. Mick and Terry fight on the floor, so all the refs flock to break it up. At the same time, Bret tosses Austin cleanly, but no one sees it. So he sneaks back in, dumps Vader & UT (who were fighting on the ropes), followed by Diesel and then Bret himself to win the Royal Rumble at 50:26. Bret whines to the announce table afterwards. Bleh Rumble. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, note that Bret is portrayed as a whiny douche.)  WWF title match: Sid v. Shawn Michaels. Note to WCW: Last time someone put a World title on Sid, it nearly killed the entire promotion. I’m just saying, in case there was any doubt who should get it, that’s all. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that I’m blaming the death of WCW on them putting the World title on Sid in 2000, but I’m not NOT, either.  Of course, we found out later that Benoit didn’t particularly want the title anyway, so maybe it would have been best just to put it on Sid and be done with it.  Evil Scott almost put in a line like “Of course, when someone put a World title on Benoit, he killed…” before the little angel guy on my shoulder told me to delete it.)  Shawn had actually been turning heel leading up to this show, but in the weirdest thing anyone had seen in a while, the face pop he got here was so enormous that the entire heel turn was scrapped and he was turned full babyface again. (2012 Scott sez:  So all WWE needs now for Cena is a giant stadium full of people who will cheer him.  No problem!)  And now, suddenly, the crowd comes to life. Shoving match to start, which doesn’t go well for Shawn. Shawn uses his speed to send Sid to the floor. They brawl and Michaels escapes a press slam with a poke to the eye. Back in and Sid powerslams him for two. Chinlock follows. Shawn escapes and gets tossed to the floor. Sid rams him back-first to the post. It gets two. Surfboard and extended bearhug work the back of Shawn. Legdrop gets two. Shawn comes back with a slam and flying forearm. Flying elbow, and Shawn warms up the band. Sid blocks the superkick and dumps Shawn to the floor, then powerbombs him there. Back in, ref bumped. Chokeslam, no ref. A second ref runs in to count two, so Sid decks him. Shawn grabs the camera from ringside and nails Sid (in retaliation for Survivor Series) and that gets two. Sid’s up, so Shawn warms up the band again and hits Sweet Chin Music for the pin and his second WWF title at 13:52. Sid carried the match, oddly enough. **1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  Shawn was sick as a dog for this show, although given his intake at that point god knows what that meant in reality.  Too many “cold pills”, perhaps.)  The Bottom Line: The WWF was drawing ratings somewhere in between “jack” and “shit” at this point and no one had any clue how to fix things, and it shows here. The only real positive sign for the future out of this show was Austin’s emerging popularity, and the rest was “Been there, done that, scored a 2.0 rating”. Total wasted opportunity here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1996. – Live from Fresno, CA – Your hosts are Vince and Perfect. Free 4 All match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Duke Droese. Winner gets to enter #30, loser gets #1. Duke looks decent enough to start and HHH sells a lot, which is a good thing. (2012 Scott sez:  This would obviously be mid-99 judging by my boredom with HHH at the time.) This was the debut of the Free 4 All, btw. HHH mixes a single-arm DDT into his usual 4 moves, although he does it twice which lessens the moment somehow. HHH works on the arm and draws (you guessed it) no heat. I’m still amazed that he didn’t get fired six months into his tenure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Kevin Nash said that nearly did happen, in that interview on RAW, so you know it must be truthful.)  Big ol’ armbar. The upper reaches of the arena look really empty. HHH continues working on the arm, and goes to the top but of course blows it. Duke with the superman comeback (and he shows three times as many moves as Helmsley) but HHH reverses the Trash Compactor, then gets suplexed for his troubles. Ref gets bumped from the corner and HHH waffles him with an international object and gets the pin. Relatively long FFA match at 9 minutes. BUT WAIT! Gorilla Monsoon waddles down to ringside and reverses the decision, which of course doesn’t have any actual precedence in wrestling but whatever. Not a terrible match. *1/2 – Opening match: Jeff Jarrett v. Ahmed Johnson. This was JJ’s first aborted attempt at a WWF comeback before jumping to WCW and somehow ending up worse off. There was some sort of angle behind this, but let’s face it, no one cares. This was in fact one of the feuds JJ was bitching about in his quasi-shoot interview on RAW a couple of years back. (2012 Scott sez:  Funny how stuff like those “fourth wall breaking” shoot interviews in 1998 would now just be considered sucking up to the internet today.)  Ahmed chases JJ around a bunch and then doesn’t sell much. I’m tellin’ ya, Ahmed = Goldberg. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, they both had a short career, injured some guys, and then got out of the business.)  JJ is having no luck here at all. Ahmed screams a *lot*. Ahmed nails a beauty flying clothesline but misses try #2 and gets caught in the ropes. JJ of course takes control. Doesn’t last long, as Ahmed hulks up soon after and catches JJ with a bearhug. Spinebuster, but JJ rolls out of the ring, and gets caught with a decent no-hands tope. Ahmed misses a somersault splash off the top rope (!) and JJ gets the figure-four. Wow, someone’s got their working boots on. Ahmed breaks out twice so JJ gets desperate and smashes the guitar over his head for the hell of it. Bad, bad ending for a PPV match. ** (2012 Scott sez:  And then Jarrett would take that philosophy and book TNA PPVs with it.)  – WWF merchandise shill. – Big Daddy Cool interview. This was the official kickoff of the Diesel farewell tour and the Undertaker feud. – WWF tag team championship: The Smokin’ Gunns v. The Bodydonnas. I don’t even wanna scratch the surface of this one. Everyone in this thing is 100% different from 1996. Billy has some respect as a foul-mouthed rebel tag wrestler (2012 Scott sez:  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), Bart had respect as a legit tough-guy boxer until Butterbean kicked his ass, Zip (Tom Pritchard) has respect as a WWF trainer and head office guy (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much anymore.), and Skip has respect as an ECW mainstay and prospect for the Big Two again. (2012 Scott sez:  Frowny face.)  Sunny is a crack whore, of course, but you can’t win ‘em all. (2012 Scott sez:  At least she made it out alive.  Wasn’t seeming like a sure thing for a while there.)  Some funky double-team stuff to start, and there’s some teases of the eventual heel turn for Billy. Chris Candido looks like a midget next to these guys. He also looks pudgy. Bart beats on Zip, and it should be noted that Bart nails Zip with a left hand, but he doesn’t get the knockout. I think this may prove wrestling is fake. Sunny jumps on the apron and gets knocked off by Billy accidentally, which prompts him to roll out and offer assistance. The ‘Donnas jump him and of course Sunny is fine. Vince slips up and names Zip as Flip, which is kind of an inside joke because that was his original name – Flip Bodydonna. Billy is face in peril. Some kind of goofy triple collision spot allows the hot tag to Lefty, who nails them with FOUR left hands, but they keep getting up! Wow, they’re tough! More double-teaming from the Gunns, and they nail the Sidewinder, but the ref is distracted with Sunny. Midnight Express switcheroo from the Donnas, but it only gets two. The Donnas go for a double suplex but Billy spears one of them and Bart rolls up the other (the exact finish that the Rock n Rolls and Midnights did years before) for the pin. **1/2 – A compilation of Billionaire Ted skits. – A review of that, uh, fascinating Razor Ramon – Goldust feud which featured Goldust putting the moves on Ramon in order to do a psych job on Ramon. – Intercontinental title match: Razor Ramon v. Goldust. This marks the first appearance in the WWF of Marlena, simply called “the director” here. It also marks the debut of the letterboxed entrance. Long-ass intros here. Goldie draws mega-heat with his little act. Watching Dustin touch himself is pretty disturbing even today. Mondo stalling to start. Goldust feels up Ramon on a go-behind and the crowd goes nuts. More stalling. The arena really looks empty in the upper decks. More stalling. The match gets going and Razor clotheslines him out of the ring, and it’s more stalling. Finally Goldust jumps Ramon from behind and we get going. Slingshot belly-to-back suplex from Goldust. Then more stalling and resting. Long chinlock by Goldust. Ramon escapes with a kick to the nads and they lay around. Ramon up and does his usual. Vince of course calls none of it. Ramon with a belly-to-back superplex but the ref is distracted with Marlena, which allows 1-2-3-Pac to run into the ring and take out Ramon enough for Goldust to get the pin and the title. Atrociously bad match. DUD – Wrestlemania XII promo. – Assorted soundbites from the Rumble participants. – Royal Rumble: Well, we know Hunter is #1. Henry Godwinn is #2. HOG dominates HHH because they have an issue and all. Bob Backlund is #3 and I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. Jerry Lawler is #4. Yay. Crowd finally gets into the match with a Burger King chant. Lawler goes for the slop bucket but it doesn’t go anywhere. Lawler of course gets slopped. Bob Holly is #5 and still nothing happening. Backlund is spazzing out on everyone here. Mabel is #6. I can barely contain my excitement. More of nothing going on. Mostly just guys lying on the ropes pretending to be trying to put other guys out. Jake Roberts is #7 and gets a good pop. He clears the ring with a huge snake and of course poor Lawler gets to be the victim. Dory Funk (BOOOOOOOOO!!!!) is #8 and of course goes right after Backlund. Lawler is seen hiding under the ring. Jimmy Hart already did that gig 10 years before, Jerry. Yokozuna is #9. He tosses Backlund, who has the honor of being the first one out. The Kid is #10 and Razor chases him into the ring to further their storyline. Razor gets a bigger reaction than anyone in the ring. An AJPW wrestler named Ohmari (sp?) (2012 Scott sez:  Takao Omori, and to this day I have no idea why they had him in there of all people.)  is #11 and of course gets the Orient Express music. It should be noted that the intervals are actually getting longer than two minutes at this point, according to my VCR. Dory and the Kid have some interesting stuff going but the camera is never on them. Savio Vega is #12 and goes after Mabel to avenge that King of the Ring loss. Yoko dumps Mabel soon after, thank god. Ohmari also gets dumped a few seconds later. Vader is #13 as he makes his WWF debut. Savio dumps Dory (YAAAAAAY!!). Vader pummels Savio. Doug Gilbert is #14 and gets no reaction. (2012 Scott sez:  Doug Gilbert?!)  Vader dumps Jake on a weak clothesline. Vader destroys Gilbert and the Kid is actually holding his own with Yoko. Headhunter #1 is #15 and isn’t that effective. Vader with a nasty chokeslam on Gilbert, his designated whipping boy tonight. Vader puts him out of his misery shortly after. The Headhunter is gone via Vader. Yoko and Vader go at it but Cornette begs them to stop. Headhunter #2 is #16, and both Hunters come into the ring and go after Vader. Vader knocks one out and Yoko takes out the other for good measure. HHH is at 30 minutes here. Owen Hart is #17 and is in a bad mood. Yoko and Vader manhandle Savio. I mean, they just SPLATTER him. Shawn is #18. Vader dumps Savio. Shawn, HHH and the Kid fight in the corner, which of course is interesting on several levels. Vader and Yoko are resting on the ropes and Shawn dives and knocks both of them out! Whoa. Kid goes flying out. Hakushi is #19 as Vader snaps and takes out Yoko, then comes back into the ring and puts the hurt on Shawn. He tosses him out! Ah, but Vader isn’t legal so it doesn’t count. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that rule comes and goes as needed, doesn’t it?)  Cheap heat. Vader is surrounded by a gaggle of the Usual Idiots as they try to get rid of him. Good heel heat for Vader. Tatanka is #20 and no one cares. (2012 Scott sez:  Holy shit, I forgot he was still kicking around at that point.  Technically he main evented KOTR 95 and then just fell off the face of the earth.)  Okay, now we’ve got some good workers in there so it picks up a bit. Owen tosses Hakushi. Aldo Montoya is #21 and even less care. Shawn is detained outside the ring, so while he’s there he drags Jerry Lawler out (remember, he was hiding there) back in the ring. Aldo and Lawler are both tossed. Diesel is #22. 40 minutes for HHH. Tatanka is gone. Diesel and Shawn go at it to a huge pop. Kama is #23 and goes after Big D. Hey, who’s that guy with the crew cut at #24? He looks familiar. The Ringmaster, I think his name is. He knocks Bob Holly out, at any rate. Why, that guy must have a heart as COLD as STONE. Okay, it’s Steve Austin. (2012 Fuad sez:  HO HO, IS FUNNY BECAUSE STEVE AUSTIN IS BIGGER STAR NOW THAN HE WAS THEN!) Barry Horowitz is #25 and surprisingly doesn’t get tossed 10 seconds in. Austin looks weird with a little hair and no beard. Diesel tosses HHH at 48:00, making this his longest match ever. (2012 Scott sez:  Obviously written before the Iron Man match against Rock, Three Stages of Hell against Austin, and Hell in a Cell match with Shawn) Fatu is #26. Austin and Diesel go at it in what would be a dream match just two years later. HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE! Oh, wait, it’s just Isaac Yankem at #27. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, 1999 Scott is ON FIRE with these references!) Barry gets tossed. Diesels #1 and 2 go at it in the corner. Diesel bounces Owen Hart. Austin decks Michaels and then mocks him. Marty Jannetty is #28 and mocks Shawn just by existing. Shawn and Marty do a short sequence for old times’ sake. The Bulldog is #29 and goes right after Shawn. (2012 Scott sez:  Nice callback to the Rumble of the year before there that 1999 Scott totally whiffed on pointing out.)  He dumps Marty as a consolation prize a bit later. Fatu clotheslines Austin out of the match. Oh, well, he gets to the win the next two years in a row. Big Daddy Dentist dumps Fatu. Duke Droese is of course #30. That leaves Bulldog, Shawn, Yankem, Diesel, Droese and Kama as the last six guys. Shawn dropkicks Yankem out and Droese gets dumped by Kama. Shawn puts Bulldog out, Diesel puts Kama out and then Shawn quickly superkicks Diesel at 58:50 to win the Royal Rumble. The entire sequence from Droese’s entrance to the ending took all of a minute and a half. Diesel is not happy with the decision. **1/2 Bad Royal Rumble. – WWF title match: Bret Hart v. The Undertaker. Diesel and UT have a little scrap in the aisle during the introduction of UT. Taker is wearing that goofy mask at this point. UT beats on Hart to start and moves….very….slowly. Undertaker uses a move where he basically puts his hand on Hitman’s face and gets several two counts from it as the crowd snoozes. Back to the smother-hold. Boorrrrrrrrrrr-ing. Borrrrrrrrrrrr-ing. (2012 Scott sez:  And now Kane is going to be using it as his finisher, apparently.  WWE, ladies and gentlemen!) Bret comes back with a pair of clotheslines and a pescado, none of which are sold by UT to any notable degree. UT rams Bret to the ringpost. I can go to 7-11 and get Slurpees in the spaces between moves. (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, we lived basically next door to a 7-11, so this is actually a feasible threat based on my living situation in 1999.  Now it would take me a good 15 minutes to walk to one.)  More punishment to Bret, but he puts UT to the STEEL stairs and starts working on the knee. And working on the knee. Figure-four from Bret, crowd is gone. We’re about twenty minutes in and noting of note has happened yet. More working on the knee. Bret tries to rip off UT’s “facial appliance” (Vince calls it that about 14 times). Back to the knee. This match is just as exciting to sit through as it is for you to read, believe me. Outside the ring and UT is choking Bret with some cable. UT nails him with a chair for good measure, but there’s no announce tables to put him through. Pity. Back in the ring and back to the knee. Bret is drawing mixed heat. Bret wraps UT’s leg around the ringpost and is drawing some good heel heat now. Still more working on the knee. Btw, lest you think I’m glossing over stuff, I’m not. This is an almost exact move-by-move description of this match. UT up with headbutts and a legdrop. Tombstone, but Bret escapes and snaps UT’s throat on the top rope. DDT from Bret, which is a new thing for him. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! But UT does the zombie situp after each one. Sharpshooter to a huge mixed reaction, but UT blocks with a choke and does another zombie situp. Double-knockout situation, Bret up first, and he unties a top turnbuckle. Bret finally gets the face mask off. And it was never seen again. (2012 Scott sez:  Unless Kane’s wearing it now, who knows.)  Bret rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, twice, and the crowd doesn’t like it. Bret off the ropes, but gets caught with a tombstone out of nowhere! But Diesel comes out of nowhere and pulls Hebner out of the ring, preventing a count and causing a DQ against Bret. Bad match with a screwjob ending. Bret phoned it in. *1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  I think it might have been slightly better than that, actually.  Only like **1/2 better, but not quite the terrible match I’ve outlined here.  The time was 28:00, by the way, dunno why I left that out here.)  – Wrap up interviews from everyone as Gorilla sets the main event for the next IYH as Bret v. Diesel in a cage. Diesel riffs on Flair in his interview and delivers the semi-famous “The WWF runs on Diesel Power” interview that turned him heel. The Bottom Line: An underwhelming show to say the least. 1996 was a pretty bad year for the WWF and it showed in most of their shows. Everyone knew Shawn was winning the Rumble so that was nothing special, and since Ramon was to the point where he’d only work with clique members that match was nothing special, and the rest was filler. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1996. – Live from Fresno, CA – Your hosts are Vince and Perfect. Free 4 All match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Duke Droese. Winner gets to enter #30, loser gets #1. Duke looks decent enough to start and HHH sells a lot, which is a good thing. (2012 Scott sez:  This would obviously be mid-99 judging by my boredom with HHH at the time.) This was the debut of the Free 4 All, btw. HHH mixes a single-arm DDT into his usual 4 moves, although he does it twice which lessens the moment somehow. HHH works on the arm and draws (you guessed it) no heat. I’m still amazed that he didn’t get fired six months into his tenure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Kevin Nash said that nearly did happen, in that interview on RAW, so you know it must be truthful.)  Big ol’ armbar. The upper reaches of the arena look really empty. HHH continues working on the arm, and goes to the top but of course blows it. Duke with the superman comeback (and he shows three times as many moves as Helmsley) but HHH reverses the Trash Compactor, then gets suplexed for his troubles. Ref gets bumped from the corner and HHH waffles him with an international object and gets the pin. Relatively long FFA match at 9 minutes. BUT WAIT! Gorilla Monsoon waddles down to ringside and reverses the decision, which of course doesn’t have any actual precedence in wrestling but whatever. Not a terrible match. *1/2 – Opening match: Jeff Jarrett v. Ahmed Johnson. This was JJ’s first aborted attempt at a WWF comeback before jumping to WCW and somehow ending up worse off. There was some sort of angle behind this, but let’s face it, no one cares. This was in fact one of the feuds JJ was bitching about in his quasi-shoot interview on RAW a couple of years back. (2012 Scott sez:  Funny how stuff like those “fourth wall breaking” shoot interviews in 1998 would now just be considered sucking up to the internet today.)  Ahmed chases JJ around a bunch and then doesn’t sell much. I’m tellin’ ya, Ahmed = Goldberg. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, they both had a short career, injured some guys, and then got out of the business.)  JJ is having no luck here at all. Ahmed screams a *lot*. Ahmed nails a beauty flying clothesline but misses try #2 and gets caught in the ropes. JJ of course takes control. Doesn’t last long, as Ahmed hulks up soon after and catches JJ with a bearhug. Spinebuster, but JJ rolls out of the ring, and gets caught with a decent no-hands tope. Ahmed misses a somersault splash off the top rope (!) and JJ gets the figure-four. Wow, someone’s got their working boots on. Ahmed breaks out twice so JJ gets desperate and smashes the guitar over his head for the hell of it. Bad, bad ending for a PPV match. ** (2012 Scott sez:  And then Jarrett would take that philosophy and book TNA PPVs with it.)  – WWF merchandise shill. – Big Daddy Cool interview. This was the official kickoff of the Diesel farewell tour and the Undertaker feud. – WWF tag team championship: The Smokin’ Gunns v. The Bodydonnas. I don’t even wanna scratch the surface of this one. Everyone in this thing is 100% different from 1996. Billy has some respect as a foul-mouthed rebel tag wrestler (2012 Scott sez:  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), Bart had respect as a legit tough-guy boxer until Butterbean kicked his ass, Zip (Tom Pritchard) has respect as a WWF trainer and head office guy (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much anymore.), and Skip has respect as an ECW mainstay and prospect for the Big Two again. (2012 Scott sez:  Frowny face.)  Sunny is a crack whore, of course, but you can’t win ‘em all. (2012 Scott sez:  At least she made it out alive.  Wasn’t seeming like a sure thing for a while there.)  Some funky double-team stuff to start, and there’s some teases of the eventual heel turn for Billy. Chris Candido looks like a midget next to these guys. He also looks pudgy. Bart beats on Zip, and it should be noted that Bart nails Zip with a left hand, but he doesn’t get the knockout. I think this may prove wrestling is fake. Sunny jumps on the apron and gets knocked off by Billy accidentally, which prompts him to roll out and offer assistance. The ‘Donnas jump him and of course Sunny is fine. Vince slips up and names Zip as Flip, which is kind of an inside joke because that was his original name – Flip Bodydonna. Billy is face in peril. Some kind of goofy triple collision spot allows the hot tag to Lefty, who nails them with FOUR left hands, but they keep getting up! Wow, they’re tough! More double-teaming from the Gunns, and they nail the Sidewinder, but the ref is distracted with Sunny. Midnight Express switcheroo from the Donnas, but it only gets two. The Donnas go for a double suplex but Billy spears one of them and Bart rolls up the other (the exact finish that the Rock n Rolls and Midnights did years before) for the pin. **1/2 – A compilation of Billionaire Ted skits. – A review of that, uh, fascinating Razor Ramon – Goldust feud which featured Goldust putting the moves on Ramon in order to do a psych job on Ramon. – Intercontinental title match: Razor Ramon v. Goldust. This marks the first appearance in the WWF of Marlena, simply called “the director” here. It also marks the debut of the letterboxed entrance. Long-ass intros here. Goldie draws mega-heat with his little act. Watching Dustin touch himself is pretty disturbing even today. Mondo stalling to start. Goldust feels up Ramon on a go-behind and the crowd goes nuts. More stalling. The arena really looks empty in the upper decks. More stalling. The match gets going and Razor clotheslines him out of the ring, and it’s more stalling. Finally Goldust jumps Ramon from behind and we get going. Slingshot belly-to-back suplex from Goldust. Then more stalling and resting. Long chinlock by Goldust. Ramon escapes with a kick to the nads and they lay around. Ramon up and does his usual. Vince of course calls none of it. Ramon with a belly-to-back superplex but the ref is distracted with Marlena, which allows 1-2-3-Pac to run into the ring and take out Ramon enough for Goldust to get the pin and the title. Atrociously bad match. DUD – Wrestlemania XII promo. – Assorted soundbites from the Rumble participants. – Royal Rumble: Well, we know Hunter is #1. Henry Godwinn is #2. HOG dominates HHH because they have an issue and all. Bob Backlund is #3 and I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. Jerry Lawler is #4. Yay. Crowd finally gets into the match with a Burger King chant. Lawler goes for the slop bucket but it doesn’t go anywhere. Lawler of course gets slopped. Bob Holly is #5 and still nothing happening. Backlund is spazzing out on everyone here. Mabel is #6. I can barely contain my excitement. More of nothing going on. Mostly just guys lying on the ropes pretending to be trying to put other guys out. Jake Roberts is #7 and gets a good pop. He clears the ring with a huge snake and of course poor Lawler gets to be the victim. Dory Funk (BOOOOOOOOO!!!!) is #8 and of course goes right after Backlund. Lawler is seen hiding under the ring. Jimmy Hart already did that gig 10 years before, Jerry. Yokozuna is #9. He tosses Backlund, who has the honor of being the first one out. The Kid is #10 and Razor chases him into the ring to further their storyline. Razor gets a bigger reaction than anyone in the ring. An AJPW wrestler named Ohmari (sp?) (2012 Scott sez:  Takao Omori, and to this day I have no idea why they had him in there of all people.)  is #11 and of course gets the Orient Express music. It should be noted that the intervals are actually getting longer than two minutes at this point, according to my VCR. Dory and the Kid have some interesting stuff going but the camera is never on them. Savio Vega is #12 and goes after Mabel to avenge that King of the Ring loss. Yoko dumps Mabel soon after, thank god. Ohmari also gets dumped a few seconds later. Vader is #13 as he makes his WWF debut. Savio dumps Dory (YAAAAAAY!!). Vader pummels Savio. Doug Gilbert is #14 and gets no reaction. (2012 Scott sez:  Doug Gilbert?!)  Vader dumps Jake on a weak clothesline. Vader destroys Gilbert and the Kid is actually holding his own with Yoko. Headhunter #1 is #15 and isn’t that effective. Vader with a nasty chokeslam on Gilbert, his designated whipping boy tonight. Vader puts him out of his misery shortly after. The Headhunter is gone via Vader. Yoko and Vader go at it but Cornette begs them to stop. Headhunter #2 is #16, and both Hunters come into the ring and go after Vader. Vader knocks one out and Yoko takes out the other for good measure. HHH is at 30 minutes here. Owen Hart is #17 and is in a bad mood. Yoko and Vader manhandle Savio. I mean, they just SPLATTER him. Shawn is #18. Vader dumps Savio. Shawn, HHH and the Kid fight in the corner, which of course is interesting on several levels. Vader and Yoko are resting on the ropes and Shawn dives and knocks both of them out! Whoa. Kid goes flying out. Hakushi is #19 as Vader snaps and takes out Yoko, then comes back into the ring and puts the hurt on Shawn. He tosses him out! Ah, but Vader isn’t legal so it doesn’t count. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that rule comes and goes as needed, doesn’t it?)  Cheap heat. Vader is surrounded by a gaggle of the Usual Idiots as they try to get rid of him. Good heel heat for Vader. Tatanka is #20 and no one cares. (2012 Scott sez:  Holy shit, I forgot he was still kicking around at that point.  Technically he main evented KOTR 95 and then just fell off the face of the earth.)  Okay, now we’ve got some good workers in there so it picks up a bit. Owen tosses Hakushi. Aldo Montoya is #21 and even less care. Shawn is detained outside the ring, so while he’s there he drags Jerry Lawler out (remember, he was hiding there) back in the ring. Aldo and Lawler are both tossed. Diesel is #22. 40 minutes for HHH. Tatanka is gone. Diesel and Shawn go at it to a huge pop. Kama is #23 and goes after Big D. Hey, who’s that guy with the crew cut at #24? He looks familiar. The Ringmaster, I think his name is. He knocks Bob Holly out, at any rate. Why, that guy must have a heart as COLD as STONE. Okay, it’s Steve Austin. (2012 Fuad sez:  HO HO, IS FUNNY BECAUSE STEVE AUSTIN IS BIGGER STAR NOW THAN HE WAS THEN!) Barry Horowitz is #25 and surprisingly doesn’t get tossed 10 seconds in. Austin looks weird with a little hair and no beard. Diesel tosses HHH at 48:00, making this his longest match ever. (2012 Scott sez:  Obviously written before the Iron Man match against Rock, Three Stages of Hell against Austin, and Hell in a Cell match with Shawn) Fatu is #26. Austin and Diesel go at it in what would be a dream match just two years later. HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE! Oh, wait, it’s just Isaac Yankem at #27. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, 1999 Scott is ON FIRE with these references!) Barry gets tossed. Diesels #1 and 2 go at it in the corner. Diesel bounces Owen Hart. Austin decks Michaels and then mocks him. Marty Jannetty is #28 and mocks Shawn just by existing. Shawn and Marty do a short sequence for old times’ sake. The Bulldog is #29 and goes right after Shawn. (2012 Scott sez:  Nice callback to the Rumble of the year before there that 1999 Scott totally whiffed on pointing out.)  He dumps Marty as a consolation prize a bit later. Fatu clotheslines Austin out of the match. Oh, well, he gets to the win the next two years in a row. Big Daddy Dentist dumps Fatu. Duke Droese is of course #30. That leaves Bulldog, Shawn, Yankem, Diesel, Droese and Kama as the last six guys. Shawn dropkicks Yankem out and Droese gets dumped by Kama. Shawn puts Bulldog out, Diesel puts Kama out and then Shawn quickly superkicks Diesel at 58:50 to win the Royal Rumble. The entire sequence from Droese’s entrance to the ending took all of a minute and a half. Diesel is not happy with the decision. **1/2 Bad Royal Rumble. – WWF title match: Bret Hart v. The Undertaker. Diesel and UT have a little scrap in the aisle during the introduction of UT. Taker is wearing that goofy mask at this point. UT beats on Hart to start and moves….very….slowly. Undertaker uses a move where he basically puts his hand on Hitman’s face and gets several two counts from it as the crowd snoozes. Back to the smother-hold. Boorrrrrrrrrrr-ing. Borrrrrrrrrrrr-ing. (2012 Scott sez:  And now Kane is going to be using it as his finisher, apparently.  WWE, ladies and gentlemen!) Bret comes back with a pair of clotheslines and a pescado, none of which are sold by UT to any notable degree. UT rams Bret to the ringpost. I can go to 7-11 and get Slurpees in the spaces between moves. (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, we lived basically next door to a 7-11, so this is actually a feasible threat based on my living situation in 1999.  Now it would take me a good 15 minutes to walk to one.)  More punishment to Bret, but he puts UT to the STEEL stairs and starts working on the knee. And working on the knee. Figure-four from Bret, crowd is gone. We’re about twenty minutes in and noting of note has happened yet. More working on the knee. Bret tries to rip off UT’s “facial appliance” (Vince calls it that about 14 times). Back to the knee. This match is just as exciting to sit through as it is for you to read, believe me. Outside the ring and UT is choking Bret with some cable. UT nails him with a chair for good measure, but there’s no announce tables to put him through. Pity. Back in the ring and back to the knee. Bret is drawing mixed heat. Bret wraps UT’s leg around the ringpost and is drawing some good heel heat now. Still more working on the knee. Btw, lest you think I’m glossing over stuff, I’m not. This is an almost exact move-by-move description of this match. UT up with headbutts and a legdrop. Tombstone, but Bret escapes and snaps UT’s throat on the top rope. DDT from Bret, which is a new thing for him. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! But UT does the zombie situp after each one. Sharpshooter to a huge mixed reaction, but UT blocks with a choke and does another zombie situp. Double-knockout situation, Bret up first, and he unties a top turnbuckle. Bret finally gets the face mask off. And it was never seen again. (2012 Scott sez:  Unless Kane’s wearing it now, who knows.)  Bret rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, twice, and the crowd doesn’t like it. Bret off the ropes, but gets caught with a tombstone out of nowhere! But Diesel comes out of nowhere and pulls Hebner out of the ring, preventing a count and causing a DQ against Bret. Bad match with a screwjob ending. Bret phoned it in. *1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  I think it might have been slightly better than that, actually.  Only like **1/2 better, but not quite the terrible match I’ve outlined here.  The time was 28:00, by the way, dunno why I left that out here.)  – Wrap up interviews from everyone as Gorilla sets the main event for the next IYH as Bret v. Diesel in a cage. Diesel riffs on Flair in his interview and delivers the semi-famous “The WWF runs on Diesel Power” interview that turned him heel. The Bottom Line: An underwhelming show to say the least. 1996 was a pretty bad year for the WWF and it showed in most of their shows. Everyone knew Shawn was winning the Rumble so that was nothing special, and since Ramon was to the point where he’d only work with clique members that match was nothing special, and the rest was filler. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1996. – Live from Fresno, CA – Your hosts are Vince and Perfect. Free 4 All match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Duke Droese. Winner gets to enter #30, loser gets #1. Duke looks decent enough to start and HHH sells a lot, which is a good thing. (2012 Scott sez:  This would obviously be mid-99 judging by my boredom with HHH at the time.) This was the debut of the Free 4 All, btw. HHH mixes a single-arm DDT into his usual 4 moves, although he does it twice which lessens the moment somehow. HHH works on the arm and draws (you guessed it) no heat. I’m still amazed that he didn’t get fired six months into his tenure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Kevin Nash said that nearly did happen, in that interview on RAW, so you know it must be truthful.)  Big ol’ armbar. The upper reaches of the arena look really empty. HHH continues working on the arm, and goes to the top but of course blows it. Duke with the superman comeback (and he shows three times as many moves as Helmsley) but HHH reverses the Trash Compactor, then gets suplexed for his troubles. Ref gets bumped from the corner and HHH waffles him with an international object and gets the pin. Relatively long FFA match at 9 minutes. BUT WAIT! Gorilla Monsoon waddles down to ringside and reverses the decision, which of course doesn’t have any actual precedence in wrestling but whatever. Not a terrible match. *1/2 – Opening match: Jeff Jarrett v. Ahmed Johnson. This was JJ’s first aborted attempt at a WWF comeback before jumping to WCW and somehow ending up worse off. There was some sort of angle behind this, but let’s face it, no one cares. This was in fact one of the feuds JJ was bitching about in his quasi-shoot interview on RAW a couple of years back. (2012 Scott sez:  Funny how stuff like those “fourth wall breaking” shoot interviews in 1998 would now just be considered sucking up to the internet today.)  Ahmed chases JJ around a bunch and then doesn’t sell much. I’m tellin’ ya, Ahmed = Goldberg. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, they both had a short career, injured some guys, and then got out of the business.)  JJ is having no luck here at all. Ahmed screams a *lot*. Ahmed nails a beauty flying clothesline but misses try #2 and gets caught in the ropes. JJ of course takes control. Doesn’t last long, as Ahmed hulks up soon after and catches JJ with a bearhug. Spinebuster, but JJ rolls out of the ring, and gets caught with a decent no-hands tope. Ahmed misses a somersault splash off the top rope (!) and JJ gets the figure-four. Wow, someone’s got their working boots on. Ahmed breaks out twice so JJ gets desperate and smashes the guitar over his head for the hell of it. Bad, bad ending for a PPV match. ** (2012 Scott sez:  And then Jarrett would take that philosophy and book TNA PPVs with it.)  – WWF merchandise shill. – Big Daddy Cool interview. This was the official kickoff of the Diesel farewell tour and the Undertaker feud. – WWF tag team championship: The Smokin’ Gunns v. The Bodydonnas. I don’t even wanna scratch the surface of this one. Everyone in this thing is 100% different from 1996. Billy has some respect as a foul-mouthed rebel tag wrestler (2012 Scott sez:  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), Bart had respect as a legit tough-guy boxer until Butterbean kicked his ass, Zip (Tom Pritchard) has respect as a WWF trainer and head office guy (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much anymore.), and Skip has respect as an ECW mainstay and prospect for the Big Two again. (2012 Scott sez:  Frowny face.)  Sunny is a crack whore, of course, but you can’t win ‘em all. (2012 Scott sez:  At least she made it out alive.  Wasn’t seeming like a sure thing for a while there.)  Some funky double-team stuff to start, and there’s some teases of the eventual heel turn for Billy. Chris Candido looks like a midget next to these guys. He also looks pudgy. Bart beats on Zip, and it should be noted that Bart nails Zip with a left hand, but he doesn’t get the knockout. I think this may prove wrestling is fake. Sunny jumps on the apron and gets knocked off by Billy accidentally, which prompts him to roll out and offer assistance. The ‘Donnas jump him and of course Sunny is fine. Vince slips up and names Zip as Flip, which is kind of an inside joke because that was his original name – Flip Bodydonna. Billy is face in peril. Some kind of goofy triple collision spot allows the hot tag to Lefty, who nails them with FOUR left hands, but they keep getting up! Wow, they’re tough! More double-teaming from the Gunns, and they nail the Sidewinder, but the ref is distracted with Sunny. Midnight Express switcheroo from the Donnas, but it only gets two. The Donnas go for a double suplex but Billy spears one of them and Bart rolls up the other (the exact finish that the Rock n Rolls and Midnights did years before) for the pin. **1/2 – A compilation of Billionaire Ted skits. – A review of that, uh, fascinating Razor Ramon – Goldust feud which featured Goldust putting the moves on Ramon in order to do a psych job on Ramon. – Intercontinental title match: Razor Ramon v. Goldust. This marks the first appearance in the WWF of Marlena, simply called “the director” here. It also marks the debut of the letterboxed entrance. Long-ass intros here. Goldie draws mega-heat with his little act. Watching Dustin touch himself is pretty disturbing even today. Mondo stalling to start. Goldust feels up Ramon on a go-behind and the crowd goes nuts. More stalling. The arena really looks empty in the upper decks. More stalling. The match gets going and Razor clotheslines him out of the ring, and it’s more stalling. Finally Goldust jumps Ramon from behind and we get going. Slingshot belly-to-back suplex from Goldust. Then more stalling and resting. Long chinlock by Goldust. Ramon escapes with a kick to the nads and they lay around. Ramon up and does his usual. Vince of course calls none of it. Ramon with a belly-to-back superplex but the ref is distracted with Marlena, which allows 1-2-3-Pac to run into the ring and take out Ramon enough for Goldust to get the pin and the title. Atrociously bad match. DUD – Wrestlemania XII promo. – Assorted soundbites from the Rumble participants. – Royal Rumble: Well, we know Hunter is #1. Henry Godwinn is #2. HOG dominates HHH because they have an issue and all. Bob Backlund is #3 and I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. Jerry Lawler is #4. Yay. Crowd finally gets into the match with a Burger King chant. Lawler goes for the slop bucket but it doesn’t go anywhere. Lawler of course gets slopped. Bob Holly is #5 and still nothing happening. Backlund is spazzing out on everyone here. Mabel is #6. I can barely contain my excitement. More of nothing going on. Mostly just guys lying on the ropes pretending to be trying to put other guys out. Jake Roberts is #7 and gets a good pop. He clears the ring with a huge snake and of course poor Lawler gets to be the victim. Dory Funk (BOOOOOOOOO!!!!) is #8 and of course goes right after Backlund. Lawler is seen hiding under the ring. Jimmy Hart already did that gig 10 years before, Jerry. Yokozuna is #9. He tosses Backlund, who has the honor of being the first one out. The Kid is #10 and Razor chases him into the ring to further their storyline. Razor gets a bigger reaction than anyone in the ring. An AJPW wrestler named Ohmari (sp?) (2012 Scott sez:  Takao Omori, and to this day I have no idea why they had him in there of all people.)  is #11 and of course gets the Orient Express music. It should be noted that the intervals are actually getting longer than two minutes at this point, according to my VCR. Dory and the Kid have some interesting stuff going but the camera is never on them. Savio Vega is #12 and goes after Mabel to avenge that King of the Ring loss. Yoko dumps Mabel soon after, thank god. Ohmari also gets dumped a few seconds later. Vader is #13 as he makes his WWF debut. Savio dumps Dory (YAAAAAAY!!). Vader pummels Savio. Doug Gilbert is #14 and gets no reaction. (2012 Scott sez:  Doug Gilbert?!)  Vader dumps Jake on a weak clothesline. Vader destroys Gilbert and the Kid is actually holding his own with Yoko. Headhunter #1 is #15 and isn’t that effective. Vader with a nasty chokeslam on Gilbert, his designated whipping boy tonight. Vader puts him out of his misery shortly after. The Headhunter is gone via Vader. Yoko and Vader go at it but Cornette begs them to stop. Headhunter #2 is #16, and both Hunters come into the ring and go after Vader. Vader knocks one out and Yoko takes out the other for good measure. HHH is at 30 minutes here. Owen Hart is #17 and is in a bad mood. Yoko and Vader manhandle Savio. I mean, they just SPLATTER him. Shawn is #18. Vader dumps Savio. Shawn, HHH and the Kid fight in the corner, which of course is interesting on several levels. Vader and Yoko are resting on the ropes and Shawn dives and knocks both of them out! Whoa. Kid goes flying out. Hakushi is #19 as Vader snaps and takes out Yoko, then comes back into the ring and puts the hurt on Shawn. He tosses him out! Ah, but Vader isn’t legal so it doesn’t count. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that rule comes and goes as needed, doesn’t it?)  Cheap heat. Vader is surrounded by a gaggle of the Usual Idiots as they try to get rid of him. Good heel heat for Vader. Tatanka is #20 and no one cares. (2012 Scott sez:  Holy shit, I forgot he was still kicking around at that point.  Technically he main evented KOTR 95 and then just fell off the face of the earth.)  Okay, now we’ve got some good workers in there so it picks up a bit. Owen tosses Hakushi. Aldo Montoya is #21 and even less care. Shawn is detained outside the ring, so while he’s there he drags Jerry Lawler out (remember, he was hiding there) back in the ring. Aldo and Lawler are both tossed. Diesel is #22. 40 minutes for HHH. Tatanka is gone. Diesel and Shawn go at it to a huge pop. Kama is #23 and goes after Big D. Hey, who’s that guy with the crew cut at #24? He looks familiar. The Ringmaster, I think his name is. He knocks Bob Holly out, at any rate. Why, that guy must have a heart as COLD as STONE. Okay, it’s Steve Austin. (2012 Fuad sez:  HO HO, IS FUNNY BECAUSE STEVE AUSTIN IS BIGGER STAR NOW THAN HE WAS THEN!) Barry Horowitz is #25 and surprisingly doesn’t get tossed 10 seconds in. Austin looks weird with a little hair and no beard. Diesel tosses HHH at 48:00, making this his longest match ever. (2012 Scott sez:  Obviously written before the Iron Man match against Rock, Three Stages of Hell against Austin, and Hell in a Cell match with Shawn) Fatu is #26. Austin and Diesel go at it in what would be a dream match just two years later. HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE! Oh, wait, it’s just Isaac Yankem at #27. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, 1999 Scott is ON FIRE with these references!) Barry gets tossed. Diesels #1 and 2 go at it in the corner. Diesel bounces Owen Hart. Austin decks Michaels and then mocks him. Marty Jannetty is #28 and mocks Shawn just by existing. Shawn and Marty do a short sequence for old times’ sake. The Bulldog is #29 and goes right after Shawn. (2012 Scott sez:  Nice callback to the Rumble of the year before there that 1999 Scott totally whiffed on pointing out.)  He dumps Marty as a consolation prize a bit later. Fatu clotheslines Austin out of the match. Oh, well, he gets to the win the next two years in a row. Big Daddy Dentist dumps Fatu. Duke Droese is of course #30. That leaves Bulldog, Shawn, Yankem, Diesel, Droese and Kama as the last six guys. Shawn dropkicks Yankem out and Droese gets dumped by Kama. Shawn puts Bulldog out, Diesel puts Kama out and then Shawn quickly superkicks Diesel at 58:50 to win the Royal Rumble. The entire sequence from Droese’s entrance to the ending took all of a minute and a half. Diesel is not happy with the decision. **1/2 Bad Royal Rumble. – WWF title match: Bret Hart v. The Undertaker. Diesel and UT have a little scrap in the aisle during the introduction of UT. Taker is wearing that goofy mask at this point. UT beats on Hart to start and moves….very….slowly. Undertaker uses a move where he basically puts his hand on Hitman’s face and gets several two counts from it as the crowd snoozes. Back to the smother-hold. Boorrrrrrrrrrr-ing. Borrrrrrrrrrrr-ing. (2012 Scott sez:  And now Kane is going to be using it as his finisher, apparently.  WWE, ladies and gentlemen!) Bret comes back with a pair of clotheslines and a pescado, none of which are sold by UT to any notable degree. UT rams Bret to the ringpost. I can go to 7-11 and get Slurpees in the spaces between moves. (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, we lived basically next door to a 7-11, so this is actually a feasible threat based on my living situation in 1999.  Now it would take me a good 15 minutes to walk to one.)  More punishment to Bret, but he puts UT to the STEEL stairs and starts working on the knee. And working on the knee. Figure-four from Bret, crowd is gone. We’re about twenty minutes in and noting of note has happened yet. More working on the knee. Bret tries to rip off UT’s “facial appliance” (Vince calls it that about 14 times). Back to the knee. This match is just as exciting to sit through as it is for you to read, believe me. Outside the ring and UT is choking Bret with some cable. UT nails him with a chair for good measure, but there’s no announce tables to put him through. Pity. Back in the ring and back to the knee. Bret is drawing mixed heat. Bret wraps UT’s leg around the ringpost and is drawing some good heel heat now. Still more working on the knee. Btw, lest you think I’m glossing over stuff, I’m not. This is an almost exact move-by-move description of this match. UT up with headbutts and a legdrop. Tombstone, but Bret escapes and snaps UT’s throat on the top rope. DDT from Bret, which is a new thing for him. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! But UT does the zombie situp after each one. Sharpshooter to a huge mixed reaction, but UT blocks with a choke and does another zombie situp. Double-knockout situation, Bret up first, and he unties a top turnbuckle. Bret finally gets the face mask off. And it was never seen again. (2012 Scott sez:  Unless Kane’s wearing it now, who knows.)  Bret rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, twice, and the crowd doesn’t like it. Bret off the ropes, but gets caught with a tombstone out of nowhere! But Diesel comes out of nowhere and pulls Hebner out of the ring, preventing a count and causing a DQ against Bret. Bad match with a screwjob ending. Bret phoned it in. *1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  I think it might have been slightly better than that, actually.  Only like **1/2 better, but not quite the terrible match I’ve outlined here.  The time was 28:00, by the way, dunno why I left that out here.)  – Wrap up interviews from everyone as Gorilla sets the main event for the next IYH as Bret v. Diesel in a cage. Diesel riffs on Flair in his interview and delivers the semi-famous “The WWF runs on Diesel Power” interview that turned him heel. The Bottom Line: An underwhelming show to say the least. 1996 was a pretty bad year for the WWF and it showed in most of their shows. Everyone knew Shawn was winning the Rumble so that was nothing special, and since Ramon was to the point where he’d only work with clique members that match was nothing special, and the rest was filler. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1996. – Live from Fresno, CA – Your hosts are Vince and Perfect. Free 4 All match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Duke Droese. Winner gets to enter #30, loser gets #1. Duke looks decent enough to start and HHH sells a lot, which is a good thing. (2012 Scott sez:  This would obviously be mid-99 judging by my boredom with HHH at the time.) This was the debut of the Free 4 All, btw. HHH mixes a single-arm DDT into his usual 4 moves, although he does it twice which lessens the moment somehow. HHH works on the arm and draws (you guessed it) no heat. I’m still amazed that he didn’t get fired six months into his tenure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Kevin Nash said that nearly did happen, in that interview on RAW, so you know it must be truthful.)  Big ol’ armbar. The upper reaches of the arena look really empty. HHH continues working on the arm, and goes to the top but of course blows it. Duke with the superman comeback (and he shows three times as many moves as Helmsley) but HHH reverses the Trash Compactor, then gets suplexed for his troubles. Ref gets bumped from the corner and HHH waffles him with an international object and gets the pin. Relatively long FFA match at 9 minutes. BUT WAIT! Gorilla Monsoon waddles down to ringside and reverses the decision, which of course doesn’t have any actual precedence in wrestling but whatever. Not a terrible match. *1/2 – Opening match: Jeff Jarrett v. Ahmed Johnson. This was JJ’s first aborted attempt at a WWF comeback before jumping to WCW and somehow ending up worse off. There was some sort of angle behind this, but let’s face it, no one cares. This was in fact one of the feuds JJ was bitching about in his quasi-shoot interview on RAW a couple of years back. (2012 Scott sez:  Funny how stuff like those “fourth wall breaking” shoot interviews in 1998 would now just be considered sucking up to the internet today.)  Ahmed chases JJ around a bunch and then doesn’t sell much. I’m tellin’ ya, Ahmed = Goldberg. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, they both had a short career, injured some guys, and then got out of the business.)  JJ is having no luck here at all. Ahmed screams a *lot*. Ahmed nails a beauty flying clothesline but misses try #2 and gets caught in the ropes. JJ of course takes control. Doesn’t last long, as Ahmed hulks up soon after and catches JJ with a bearhug. Spinebuster, but JJ rolls out of the ring, and gets caught with a decent no-hands tope. Ahmed misses a somersault splash off the top rope (!) and JJ gets the figure-four. Wow, someone’s got their working boots on. Ahmed breaks out twice so JJ gets desperate and smashes the guitar over his head for the hell of it. Bad, bad ending for a PPV match. ** (2012 Scott sez:  And then Jarrett would take that philosophy and book TNA PPVs with it.)  – WWF merchandise shill. – Big Daddy Cool interview. This was the official kickoff of the Diesel farewell tour and the Undertaker feud. – WWF tag team championship: The Smokin’ Gunns v. The Bodydonnas. I don’t even wanna scratch the surface of this one. Everyone in this thing is 100% different from 1996. Billy has some respect as a foul-mouthed rebel tag wrestler (2012 Scott sez:  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), Bart had respect as a legit tough-guy boxer until Butterbean kicked his ass, Zip (Tom Pritchard) has respect as a WWF trainer and head office guy (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much anymore.), and Skip has respect as an ECW mainstay and prospect for the Big Two again. (2012 Scott sez:  Frowny face.)  Sunny is a crack whore, of course, but you can’t win ‘em all. (2012 Scott sez:  At least she made it out alive.  Wasn’t seeming like a sure thing for a while there.)  Some funky double-team stuff to start, and there’s some teases of the eventual heel turn for Billy. Chris Candido looks like a midget next to these guys. He also looks pudgy. Bart beats on Zip, and it should be noted that Bart nails Zip with a left hand, but he doesn’t get the knockout. I think this may prove wrestling is fake. Sunny jumps on the apron and gets knocked off by Billy accidentally, which prompts him to roll out and offer assistance. The ‘Donnas jump him and of course Sunny is fine. Vince slips up and names Zip as Flip, which is kind of an inside joke because that was his original name – Flip Bodydonna. Billy is face in peril. Some kind of goofy triple collision spot allows the hot tag to Lefty, who nails them with FOUR left hands, but they keep getting up! Wow, they’re tough! More double-teaming from the Gunns, and they nail the Sidewinder, but the ref is distracted with Sunny. Midnight Express switcheroo from the Donnas, but it only gets two. The Donnas go for a double suplex but Billy spears one of them and Bart rolls up the other (the exact finish that the Rock n Rolls and Midnights did years before) for the pin. **1/2 – A compilation of Billionaire Ted skits. – A review of that, uh, fascinating Razor Ramon – Goldust feud which featured Goldust putting the moves on Ramon in order to do a psych job on Ramon. – Intercontinental title match: Razor Ramon v. Goldust. This marks the first appearance in the WWF of Marlena, simply called “the director” here. It also marks the debut of the letterboxed entrance. Long-ass intros here. Goldie draws mega-heat with his little act. Watching Dustin touch himself is pretty disturbing even today. Mondo stalling to start. Goldust feels up Ramon on a go-behind and the crowd goes nuts. More stalling. The arena really looks empty in the upper decks. More stalling. The match gets going and Razor clotheslines him out of the ring, and it’s more stalling. Finally Goldust jumps Ramon from behind and we get going. Slingshot belly-to-back suplex from Goldust. Then more stalling and resting. Long chinlock by Goldust. Ramon escapes with a kick to the nads and they lay around. Ramon up and does his usual. Vince of course calls none of it. Ramon with a belly-to-back superplex but the ref is distracted with Marlena, which allows 1-2-3-Pac to run into the ring and take out Ramon enough for Goldust to get the pin and the title. Atrociously bad match. DUD – Wrestlemania XII promo. – Assorted soundbites from the Rumble participants. – Royal Rumble: Well, we know Hunter is #1. Henry Godwinn is #2. HOG dominates HHH because they have an issue and all. Bob Backlund is #3 and I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. Jerry Lawler is #4. Yay. Crowd finally gets into the match with a Burger King chant. Lawler goes for the slop bucket but it doesn’t go anywhere. Lawler of course gets slopped. Bob Holly is #5 and still nothing happening. Backlund is spazzing out on everyone here. Mabel is #6. I can barely contain my excitement. More of nothing going on. Mostly just guys lying on the ropes pretending to be trying to put other guys out. Jake Roberts is #7 and gets a good pop. He clears the ring with a huge snake and of course poor Lawler gets to be the victim. Dory Funk (BOOOOOOOOO!!!!) is #8 and of course goes right after Backlund. Lawler is seen hiding under the ring. Jimmy Hart already did that gig 10 years before, Jerry. Yokozuna is #9. He tosses Backlund, who has the honor of being the first one out. The Kid is #10 and Razor chases him into the ring to further their storyline. Razor gets a bigger reaction than anyone in the ring. An AJPW wrestler named Ohmari (sp?) (2012 Scott sez:  Takao Omori, and to this day I have no idea why they had him in there of all people.)  is #11 and of course gets the Orient Express music. It should be noted that the intervals are actually getting longer than two minutes at this point, according to my VCR. Dory and the Kid have some interesting stuff going but the camera is never on them. Savio Vega is #12 and goes after Mabel to avenge that King of the Ring loss. Yoko dumps Mabel soon after, thank god. Ohmari also gets dumped a few seconds later. Vader is #13 as he makes his WWF debut. Savio dumps Dory (YAAAAAAY!!). Vader pummels Savio. Doug Gilbert is #14 and gets no reaction. (2012 Scott sez:  Doug Gilbert?!)  Vader dumps Jake on a weak clothesline. Vader destroys Gilbert and the Kid is actually holding his own with Yoko. Headhunter #1 is #15 and isn’t that effective. Vader with a nasty chokeslam on Gilbert, his designated whipping boy tonight. Vader puts him out of his misery shortly after. The Headhunter is gone via Vader. Yoko and Vader go at it but Cornette begs them to stop. Headhunter #2 is #16, and both Hunters come into the ring and go after Vader. Vader knocks one out and Yoko takes out the other for good measure. HHH is at 30 minutes here. Owen Hart is #17 and is in a bad mood. Yoko and Vader manhandle Savio. I mean, they just SPLATTER him. Shawn is #18. Vader dumps Savio. Shawn, HHH and the Kid fight in the corner, which of course is interesting on several levels. Vader and Yoko are resting on the ropes and Shawn dives and knocks both of them out! Whoa. Kid goes flying out. Hakushi is #19 as Vader snaps and takes out Yoko, then comes back into the ring and puts the hurt on Shawn. He tosses him out! Ah, but Vader isn’t legal so it doesn’t count. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, that rule comes and goes as needed, doesn’t it?)  Cheap heat. Vader is surrounded by a gaggle of the Usual Idiots as they try to get rid of him. Good heel heat for Vader. Tatanka is #20 and no one cares. (2012 Scott sez:  Holy shit, I forgot he was still kicking around at that point.  Technically he main evented KOTR 95 and then just fell off the face of the earth.)  Okay, now we’ve got some good workers in there so it picks up a bit. Owen tosses Hakushi. Aldo Montoya is #21 and even less care. Shawn is detained outside the ring, so while he’s there he drags Jerry Lawler out (remember, he was hiding there) back in the ring. Aldo and Lawler are both tossed. Diesel is #22. 40 minutes for HHH. Tatanka is gone. Diesel and Shawn go at it to a huge pop. Kama is #23 and goes after Big D. Hey, who’s that guy with the crew cut at #24? He looks familiar. The Ringmaster, I think his name is. He knocks Bob Holly out, at any rate. Why, that guy must have a heart as COLD as STONE. Okay, it’s Steve Austin. (2012 Fuad sez:  HO HO, IS FUNNY BECAUSE STEVE AUSTIN IS BIGGER STAR NOW THAN HE WAS THEN!) Barry Horowitz is #25 and surprisingly doesn’t get tossed 10 seconds in. Austin looks weird with a little hair and no beard. Diesel tosses HHH at 48:00, making this his longest match ever. (2012 Scott sez:  Obviously written before the Iron Man match against Rock, Three Stages of Hell against Austin, and Hell in a Cell match with Shawn) Fatu is #26. Austin and Diesel go at it in what would be a dream match just two years later. HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE! Oh, wait, it’s just Isaac Yankem at #27. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, 1999 Scott is ON FIRE with these references!) Barry gets tossed. Diesels #1 and 2 go at it in the corner. Diesel bounces Owen Hart. Austin decks Michaels and then mocks him. Marty Jannetty is #28 and mocks Shawn just by existing. Shawn and Marty do a short sequence for old times’ sake. The Bulldog is #29 and goes right after Shawn. (2012 Scott sez:  Nice callback to the Rumble of the year before there that 1999 Scott totally whiffed on pointing out.)  He dumps Marty as a consolation prize a bit later. Fatu clotheslines Austin out of the match. Oh, well, he gets to the win the next two years in a row. Big Daddy Dentist dumps Fatu. Duke Droese is of course #30. That leaves Bulldog, Shawn, Yankem, Diesel, Droese and Kama as the last six guys. Shawn dropkicks Yankem out and Droese gets dumped by Kama. Shawn puts Bulldog out, Diesel puts Kama out and then Shawn quickly superkicks Diesel at 58:50 to win the Royal Rumble. The entire sequence from Droese’s entrance to the ending took all of a minute and a half. Diesel is not happy with the decision. **1/2 Bad Royal Rumble. – WWF title match: Bret Hart v. The Undertaker. Diesel and UT have a little scrap in the aisle during the introduction of UT. Taker is wearing that goofy mask at this point. UT beats on Hart to start and moves….very….slowly. Undertaker uses a move where he basically puts his hand on Hitman’s face and gets several two counts from it as the crowd snoozes. Back to the smother-hold. Boorrrrrrrrrrr-ing. Borrrrrrrrrrrr-ing. (2012 Scott sez:  And now Kane is going to be using it as his finisher, apparently.  WWE, ladies and gentlemen!) Bret comes back with a pair of clotheslines and a pescado, none of which are sold by UT to any notable degree. UT rams Bret to the ringpost. I can go to 7-11 and get Slurpees in the spaces between moves. (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, we lived basically next door to a 7-11, so this is actually a feasible threat based on my living situation in 1999.  Now it would take me a good 15 minutes to walk to one.)  More punishment to Bret, but he puts UT to the STEEL stairs and starts working on the knee. And working on the knee. Figure-four from Bret, crowd is gone. We’re about twenty minutes in and noting of note has happened yet. More working on the knee. Bret tries to rip off UT’s “facial appliance” (Vince calls it that about 14 times). Back to the knee. This match is just as exciting to sit through as it is for you to read, believe me. Outside the ring and UT is choking Bret with some cable. UT nails him with a chair for good measure, but there’s no announce tables to put him through. Pity. Back in the ring and back to the knee. Bret is drawing mixed heat. Bret wraps UT’s leg around the ringpost and is drawing some good heel heat now. Still more working on the knee. Btw, lest you think I’m glossing over stuff, I’m not. This is an almost exact move-by-move description of this match. UT up with headbutts and a legdrop. Tombstone, but Bret escapes and snaps UT’s throat on the top rope. DDT from Bret, which is a new thing for him. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! But UT does the zombie situp after each one. Sharpshooter to a huge mixed reaction, but UT blocks with a choke and does another zombie situp. Double-knockout situation, Bret up first, and he unties a top turnbuckle. Bret finally gets the face mask off. And it was never seen again. (2012 Scott sez:  Unless Kane’s wearing it now, who knows.)  Bret rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, twice, and the crowd doesn’t like it. Bret off the ropes, but gets caught with a tombstone out of nowhere! But Diesel comes out of nowhere and pulls Hebner out of the ring, preventing a count and causing a DQ against Bret. Bad match with a screwjob ending. Bret phoned it in. *1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  I think it might have been slightly better than that, actually.  Only like **1/2 better, but not quite the terrible match I’ve outlined here.  The time was 28:00, by the way, dunno why I left that out here.)  – Wrap up interviews from everyone as Gorilla sets the main event for the next IYH as Bret v. Diesel in a cage. Diesel riffs on Flair in his interview and delivers the semi-famous “The WWF runs on Diesel Power” interview that turned him heel. The Bottom Line: An underwhelming show to say the least. 1996 was a pretty bad year for the WWF and it showed in most of their shows. Everyone knew Shawn was winning the Rumble so that was nothing special, and since Ramon was to the point where he’d only work with clique members that match was nothing special, and the rest was filler. Recommendation to avoid.