WWE Royal Rumble 1995 Review
This was not the best year for the WWF. In fact, it was probably the worst year they ever had in the WrestleMania era in terms of losing money. This Royal Rumble wasn’t even sold out in Tampa and business was down across the board.
It was also the year where the WWF began running monthly PPV events because they were in direct competition with WCW, so they felt like they need to crank up the PPV events.
The WWF Champion was Kevin Nash aka Diesel, who a year earlier was the most dominant guy in the Rumble match. He wrestled Bret Hart in the undercard of this show with both guys as babyface wrestlers.
This would be a historic Rumble due to the fact that there would only be 60 seconds between entries. I’m not sure why they did that although maybe Vince realized his roster sucked so much that he didn’t want all these bad wrestlers in there for nearly an hour? I’ll go with that reason.
Also, if you think the PPV poster above is bad, WWE agrees because they included in the 10 Worst Wrestling Posters list they compiled right here. It’s not that bad. It’s just lazy.
This was written several years ago. My additional thoughts are in blue font as well because there’s always more to say.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 22, 1995
USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida
A limo was shown pulling up to the arena. Pamela Anderson was shown leaving the limo and a bunch of wrestlers were there to greet her. She smiled at them and walked into her dressing room.
The announce team of Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomed us to the show. The Spanish announce team was beside them. Lawler was a tremendous heel announcer in this era while Vince was an excitable play-by-play guy.
Jeff Jarrett, who was doing the J-E-Double-F J-A-Double R-E-Double T gimmick, made his entrance along with the Roadie. That’s the same Roadie that would have more success in his career as the Road Dogg a few years after this. Razor Ramon got a nice ovation as the babyface Intercontinental Champion.
Intercontinental Championship: Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/The Roadie)
Pre-match notes: Razor was the babyface champion while Jarrett was the heel challenger. This was about five months into Razor’s second reign as the IC Champion. Jarrett had not held the IC Title prior to this match.
Razor with a fallaway slam followed by a Chokeslam-like move led to Jarrett bailing to the floor. Jarrett with an armdrag takedown as Vince said that Jarrett wanted to use the WWF as a stepping stone for his music career. Jarrett with another takedown leading to a strut celebration. Jarrett tripped up Razor followed by some gentle head slapping for some taunting. Razor got some momentum going again with a punch followed by a clothesline over the top to the floor. Jarrett came back with three dropkicks in a row followed by a jumping splash to the back and a clothesline for two. Razor ducked a head kick, but then missed an elbow drop and Jarrett took control with a chinlock. Razor came back with a backslide pin for two, which led to a Jarrett clothesline for two. Each guy got two counts after that as Jarrett hit another dropkick for two. After a brief sleeper hold by Jarrett, Razor broke free and Jarrett hit a swinging neckbreaker with his feet on the ropes for a two count. Ramon tripped up Jarrett by the ring post and pulled back on the legs leading to Jarrett getting crotched against the ring post. That drew a big pop. Razor to the middle ropes leading to a jumping bulldog attack for a two count. Jarrett tossed Razor over the top to the floor, which led to Razor selling a left knee injury. That led to Roadie hit him with a shoulder tackle to the left leg to knock down Razor in the aisle. The referee Tim White counted Razor, but Razor was out of it and was counted out. This part of the match went 11:43.
Winner by countout: Jeff Jarrett
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Jarrett complained about the win because it meant he didn’t win the title. You can only win the title by pinfall or submission. Jarrett said he came here to take the Intercontinental Title from Razor Ramon’s waist. Jarrett called Razor a coward for walking away and said if you don’t finish this match then you are a big coward. Razor limped back to the ring and referee Tim White rang the bell to restart the match.
Razor was heavily favoring the left leg, he sent Jarrett into the turnbuckle and got a rollup. Razor got an inside cradle for two, then Jarrett kicked the leg and gave him a kneebreaker. Jarrett drove the left knee into the ring two times to continue to work over the leg. Jarrett jumped onto the left leg of Razor two times, but then Razor managed to kick him out of the ring. Jarrett whipped the leg against the ring apron. Jarrett slapped on the Figure Four Leglock in the middle of the ring with Razor screaming in pain while the fans were cheering in support of Razor. The hold was applied on Razor’s legs for about two minutes when Razor punched Jarrett to break free. Razor set up Jarrett on the top rope and hit a belly to back suplex, but Jarrett landed on top and then Razor went on top for two. Razor with a clothesline and Razor went back to selling the knee. Razor set up for the Razor’s Edge, but then his knee collapsed and Jarrett capitalized with an inside cradle for the pinfall win at about 6:30 after the restart. The whole match went about 18:03.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Jarrett
Analysis: **3/4 A good match between two guys that wrestled eachother a lot in this era. The title change was booked in a creative way where the heel Jarrett goaded the face Razor into continuing to wrestle even though Razor was hurting. I like how it was done with Jarrett continuing to work over the knee and that played a major factor in the finish of the match. There was a lot of stalling in the first part of the match, which made it feel like it dragged on too much. If they cut out five minutes, it would have been a better match.
(It was long and took a while for the finish to come, but by the end of it, I think it was booked well. I just don’t know if they needed that countout false finish as part of the match. Razor sold the knee really well and Jarrett was crafty as the heel.)
They went backstage to interviewer Stephanie Wiand, who was not very good at her job and she said she was going to talk to Jeff Jarrett, but he wasn’t there yet.
Pamela Anderson was shown in her locker room where she was interviewed by Todd Pettengill. There were gifts from wrestlers including merchandise items and she didn’t seem impressed by Todd trying to hit on her.
Jeff Jarrett and Roadie were interviewed by Stephanie Wiand. Jarrett said there was no time for an interview because they need to have a celebration.
Irwin R. Schyster made his entrance with manager “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. They used to be tag team champions, but Dibiase was retired by this point. Irwin said that nobody will rest in peace until you pay your taxes.
The Undertaker got a huge ovation as he made his entrance with manager Paul Bearer by his side.
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Irwin R. Schyster (w/Ted Dibiase)
Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the babyface and Irwin was the heel. This was the purple gloves era of Undertaker. Twenty years later at WrestleMania 31, The Undertaker faced Irwin’s son Bray Wyatt. That’s an interesting bit of trivia, I think.
The Undertaker was looking outside the ring, so Irwin hit a dropkick to the back and then Undertaker scared him out of the ring. When Irwin got into the ring, Taker scared him out of the ring again, which led to Irwin threatening Paul Bearer and his giant urn at ringside. Back in the ring, Taker with a boot to the face. Undertaker sent Irwin into the turnbuckle two times to knock him down. Undertaker grabbed the tie of Irwin and tossed him across the ring with Lawler saying that’s not fair. Undertaker did his rope walking routine leading to a forearm to the back of Irwin. Dibiase on the apron, Taker grabbed him and tossed Irwin over the top to the floor. Irwin got mad at Dibiase for failing at doing the distraction, so Dibiase called for help from backstage. That led to two druids going down to ringside to support Dibiase and Irwin. Back in the ring, Irwin charged and Taker hit him with a back elbow. When Undertaker went up top, one of the druids shook the top rope while Dibiase distracted the referee, so Irwin slammed Undertaker down. When Undertaker got back up, Irwin hit a clothesline to send Taker out of the ring and Taker attacked the two druids. Irwin hit Taker in the back with a forearm. The druids stomped on Undertaker while Irwin distracted the referee and then they tossed Taker back in the ring. Irwin slapped on an abdominal stretch with some rope holding followed by a hiptoss and body slam by Taker. An elbow dropped missed for Taker. Irwin with an elbow smash followed by a running clothesline that he sometimes used as a finisher. Irwin missed a splash, Taker got back up they ran the ropes leading to a collision spot that knocked both guys down. The referee was distracted, so a druid put Irwin on Taker for a two count, but then Taker sat up at two. Taker sent Irwin into the druid on the apron, Taker picked up Irwin for a Tombstone, he kicked both druids off the apron and Irwin went down. Irwin with a running left clothesline. Taker sat up again, he ducked a clothesline and Taker hit a Chokeslam into a pinfall win at 12:01.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: *1/4 Bad match by two guys that should have been able to have a better match. It was weird to see Undertaker win with a Chokeslam instead of a Tombstone. If a guy was bigger than Irwin then I understand it, but I figured it would have been a Tombstone finish here.
After the match was over, the two druids went into the ring to attack Undertaker. That didn’t last long as Undertaker kicked them, hit a Chokeslam on one of the druids and knocked the other guy out of the ring. King Kong Bundy went into the ring to confront Undertaker with Vince putting over his 400 pounds as the biggest member of Dibiase’s stable. Irwin hit Bearer in the back with a forearm and he stole the urn. Bundy whipped Taker into the corner followed by a corner splash. Bundy hit an elbow drop, knee drop and weak looking splash on Undertaker. Bearer was sad about having the urn stolen from him.
Analysis: This was just an angle to build some heat for WrestleMania, which led to Undertaker beating Bundy. That was match was terrible too.
(When I think back to years like 1994 and 1995, they were not good for Undertaker in terms of his feuds. This match sucked. The Bundy match at WrestleMania wasn’t good either. Things would be better for Undertaker later in the 1990s, though.)
There was a clip from earlier in the day when Diesel was shown getting ready for his WWF Title match against Bret Hart. Todd Pettengill was asking questions, but Diesel said he didn’t want to talk about it now.
Bret Hart was shown in the locker room getting ready earlier in the day. Bret said he lost the title at Survivor Series and he didn’t care if people liked Diesel – even he likes Diesel, but this is about the WWF Title. When asked how he’ll deal with the Jackknife Powerbomb, Bret said he’ll deal with it when he has to and Bret ended it.
Bret “Hitman” Hart entered first to a big pop. He went into this match as a former two-time WWF Champion while Vince put over Bret in a big way and Lawler praised Bret too, but didn’t want to give him too much credit.
Diesel entered with the WWF Title for the first major title defense in his run as the champion. Diesel had “Big Daddy Cool” on his singlet because that was his nickname. Diesel greeted NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor at ringside. More from LT later in the show.
WWF Championship: Diesel vs. Bret Hart
Pre-match notes: Diesel was the babyface WWF Champion while Hart was also a babyface. Diesel won the WWF Title from Bob Backlund (who beat Bret Hart in controversial fashion at Survivor Series 1994) in 8 seconds on November 26, 1994. Backlund’s title reign lasted only three days.
They got into a slugfest, Diesel with a body slam and he missed an elbow drop. Diesel with an elbow to the face followed by a clothesline over the top to the floor. They battled on the apron with Diesel decking Hart with a forearm to the floor, but then Hart grabbed Diesel’s leg and rammed it into the ring post. Hart continued to work over the left knee of Diesel by stretching it, kicking at the leg and jumping on it. Hart slapped on the Figure Four Leglock to wear down Diesel some more. After about one minute, Diesel got to the ropes and Hart held on until the five count to let go. When they got back up, Hart slapped on the Figure Four Leglock again, which meant Diesel was in the hold for about one minute again until Diesel got to the ropes. Hart held onto the hold for longer than five seconds, then Earl Hebner forcefully broke the hold and Diesel went to the floor. Hart hit a suicide dive on Diesel to take him out on the floor. Diesel came back by whipping Hart back first into the steel steps. Diesel used his size advantage to overpower Hart with elbows to the face followed by a sidewalk slam. Diesel hit a running splash to the back of Bret leading to one of Vince’s phrases: “Forget about it!” Diesel with a backbreaker followed by a back stretch across the knee. Diesel worked over Hart with punches followed by a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Diesel held Hart on his back in a torture rack submission, then he hit a big boot and elbow drop. Hart got a boot up followed by a clothesline. Hart went up top, Diesel grabbed him and Hart landed on top for a two count as Diesel did a power out kickout that sent Hart to the floor. Hart tripped up Diesel, Hart used his wrist tape and tied the legs of Diesel together. Diesel was trapped against the ring post, so Hart stomped on hi mand referee Hebner took the tape off the legs. That was a unique spot. Hart with a bulldog and a Russian legsweep with each move getting two counts. Hart with two more of his regular moves with a backbreaker followed by a diving forearm attack. Hart hit a running clothesline that sent Diesel to the floor, but when Bret tried a diving attack, Diesel drove Hart back first into the ring post.
They went back in the ring with Diesel hitting the Jackknife Powerbomb, but that’s when Shawn Michaels went into the ring to attack his former friend Diesel. Michaels stomped on the leg of Diesel to weaken him. The referee Earl Hebner did not call for an immediate disqualification as Lawler wondered what was going on. Michaels left to the back. Referee Hebner told Howard Finkel to make an announcement and The Fink said that this match must continue. Diesel was limping, so Hart kicked at the left leg of Diesel to chop him down again. Hart jumped onto the left leg of Diesel again. Hart slapped on the Figure Four Leglock for the third time, Diesel punched his way out of that and Hart was favoring his ribs. Hart kicked the knee of Diesel while his leg was against the ropes, but then Bret missed a corner charge to cause more pain to his ribs. Diesel with a gutwrench suplex. Diesel missed a corner attack with his leg and his left leg hit the ropes. Hart whipped the left knee of Diesel into the ring post. Hart used a chair to hit the left leg of Diesel. You could hear Bret hit the ring post with the chair and didn’t even connect on the leg. Some fans were booing that by Bret. That was followed by Hart slapping on the Sharpshooter, which led to cheers by the fans, but then Owen Hart showed up to attack Bret with punches. Earl Hebner did nothing about that attack. Owen took the turnbuckle cover off and whipped Bret sternum first into the turnbuckle. Owen left saying he was the only king of the family. The referee went over to Howard Finkel again, who announced that this match “must continue” again.
Diesel was limping around the ring while Hart was down in the ring followed by the bump into the exposed turnbuckle and Diesel covered with one arm on the chest for a two count because Bret got his left shoulder up at the last moment. Hart kicked at Diesel’s legs and then sent him into the exposed steel turnbuckle. Hart worked over Diesel with a series of punches, Diesel was staggering around the ring and Hart knocked him down. Diesel came back with punches and Hart was tied up against the ropes. Diesel grabbed a folding chair, but then he dropped it when Hart was in the ring. Hart was up, looked back at Diesel and then collapsed by grabbing his knee. Hart was playing possum, which the announcers were keen to point out. Diesel went over to Hart, who got an inside cradle for two. Great nearfall. That was the finish of their match at Survivor Series 1995 later that year. They did a spot where Hart was behind Diesel, he tried to push him into the ropes and Diesel was pushed into referee Earl Hebner, who took a bump. That meant Diesel, Hart and the referee were down. That led to Shawn Michaels attacking Diesel while Owen Hart and Bob Backlund attacked Bret. Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie also attacked Diesel. There were referees that went down to ringside as well as the bell rang to end the match at 27:19.
Match Result: Draw
Analysis: **** This was a great match even with the cheap finish as well as the match continuing even after some interference that should have led to a disqualification. They got a lot of time, told a good story with Bret being a bit more aggressive during the match and it was booked in an even way. It wasn’t heelish by Hart. It was needed to tell a more interesting story for the match. Diesel did a good job of selling the knee while Hart sold the ribs. You’ll rarely see a Bret match that didn’t have psychology like that. The ending pissed people off because it was a great match with a cheap ending, but it furthered the storylines for both wrestlers. Clearly, they didn’t want Hart doing a clean job where while they were going with Diesel as the long term champion, so that’s why they opted to have the heel wrestlers attack to prevent a clean finish. Looking back on it now, it’s understandable why they did it this way. You can’t book clean finishes all the time. That’s just pro wrestling.
(I remember reviewing this within the last few years and being surprised at how great it is. I always had fond memories of the Survivor Series 1995 match that is more of a classic, but this one is a bit of a hidden gem too. The finish wasn’t great, but that’s what WWE does when they don’t want either guy to lose. Diesel and Bret worked well together.)
After the match was over, the heels continued to attack Diesel and Bret while referees and producers like Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson and Dave Hebner were thee to break things up. Michaels got in a cheap shot punch on Diesel. The official announcement from The Fink is that the official has declared this match a draw. That led to Backlund putting the Crossface Chickenwing submission on Bret Hart while the other heels attacked Diesel. That led to Diesel fighting back with forearms. Diesel also kicked Backlund out of the ring, so Diesel saved Bret.
Analysis: They went with Diesel vs. Michaels and Bret vs. Backlund as two of the biggest matches at WrestleMania 11, so these attacks made sense in terms of the long term build of those matches.
Diesel stood over a fallen Bret Hart in the ring as the officials sent the heels to the backstage area. Diesel picked up Bret, the fans cheered them for having a great match and they shook hands followed by a hug. The fans cheered, including Lawrence Taylor at ringside and Diesel’s music played to end it.
Analysis: It was a nice moment to end it after a great championship match. If you’re looking for an even better Bret match with Diesel, I recommend Survivor Series 1995 when Bret beat Diesel to end Diesel’s one year WWF Title reign. Read my review of that here. I rated that 4.5* out of five. The two best opponents that Diesel had were Bret and Shawn Michaels. They brought out the best in him.
It was back to Todd Pettengill in Pamela Anderson’s dressing room. Pamela was dressing behind some screen in the room, then she asked Todd to bring her some bag and she continued to change.
The babyface team of Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid were interviewed backstage by Stephanie Wiand. Holly had a line about how the San Diego Chargers had a shot in the Super Bowl just like them. (The Chargers got absolutely destroyed by the San Francisco 49ers one week after this, so it was a bad line.) They did a very generic promo about getting a title shot.
The next match was the finals of a tournament for the vacant Tag Team Titles. Ted Dibiase led his team of Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka to the ring. The team of Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid were the face team that entered as the opponents.
(This was a weak time for the tag team division. It took a few years for it really pick up in the late 1990s.)
For the Vacant WWF Tag Team Championships: Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly and 1-2-3 Kid vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka (w/Ted Dibiase)
Pre-match notes: Holly and Kid were the faces while Bigelow and Tatanka were the heels. This was the end of an eight-team tournament for the vacant tag team titles.
Tatanka worked over Holly with punches as Vince pointed out that as good as Tatanka and Bam Bam have been, they had not won titles in the WWF before. Tatanka with a sidewalk slam. Holly with a headscissors, body slam and two impressive dropkicks by Holly. Bigelow tagged in, Holly with a drop toe hold, Kid tagged in and Bigelow ran over both guys with a running double clothesline. Bigelow launched Kid across the ring followed by a headbutt. Bigelow launched Kid into the air, leading to a hurricanrana and then Bigelow hit an enziguri kick to the head. That was impressive by both guys. Tatanka tagged in with a hard whip that sent Kid into the turnbuckle two times in a row. Bigelow tagged in, Kid with a dropkick and Bigelow quickly took back control with a suplex. Bigelow with a shoulder tackle, Kid with a back body drop over the top and Tatanka hit Kid in the back. Kid dropkick to Tatanka into Bigelow, Holly got the tag, both faces jumped off the top, the heels caught them and the faces shoved the heels into eachother leading to Holly getting a rollup on Tatanka for two. Holly with another impressive dropkick followed by two clotheslines. Holly ran the ropes, Bigelow lowered the top rope and Holly bumped to the floor. Holly was the face in peril as Tatanka hit a body slam followed by an elbow drop and a clothesline. Tatanka with two body slams on Holly and a powerslam for two. Kid tried to save his partner, but Tatanka moved and Kid hit an elbow drop on Holly by accident. Bigelow in, he held Holly and Tatanka jumped off the top with a chop, but Holly moved, so Tatanka hit Bigelow by accident. Kid was arguing with Holly, so he couldn’t make a tag and Bigelow hit a running splash on Holly against the ropes. Bigelow launched Holly over the top to the floor. Bigelow sat on Holly to counter a sunset flip leading to Vince’s “forget about it” again as Bigelow hit a jumping kick for two. Holly was selling like he was so out of it that he tagged Tatanka thinking it was his partner. Kid was frustrated, so he tried to help his partner and the heels double-teamed Holly with punches. Tatanka with a gutwrench slam as Vince tried putting over Holly as a “two-sport star” due to his race car driver gimmick. Tatanka dropped Holly with a clothesline. Tatanka with a rake to the face and a hard chop to stop Holly trying to come back. Tatanka was talking in Holly’s ear, which led to each guy running the ropes and a double cross body block spot knocked both guys down.
Kid got the hot tag against Bigelow with a jumping spin kick. Kid up top with a missile dropkick, then a dropkick for Tatanka on the apron and Kid with a flipping dive over the top on Tatanka. Vince called it a moonsault even though it was not a moonsault. Kid up top with a cross body block on Bigelow. Holly dropkicked Tatanka out of the ring. Bigelow held up Kid over his head and gave him a Gorilla Press Slam over the top to the floor. Bigelow with a body slam, then he went up top and Tatanka didn’t realize Bigelow was on the top, so he went into the ropes, which knocked Bigelow down back first because Bigelow was in position for a moonsault. Holly hit Tatanka in the back with a forearm to knock him out of the ring. Kid and Bigelow were both down, Kid slowly rolled over and Kid covered with one arm across the chest of Bigelow for the one…two…and three. Dibiase tried to get Tatanka back into the ring, but they were too slow. Kid and Holly win at 15:32.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly and 1-2-3 Kid
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very good tag team match with the babyfaces getting the win in what could be considered an upset. The crowd wasn’t into the whole match, but they got into it by the end. Having Kid beat Bigelow was treated like a big deal due to the obvious size difference. There were some slow spots until Kid got the hot tag and they had an exciting finish to the match.
(I liked this match a lot. Kid was an incredible worker in his early 20s and the fans loved the guy. Creative finish here too.)
Kid and Holly left with the WWF Tag Team Titles as the fans cheered them.
Analysis: The title reign was short-lived because Holly and Kid lost the titles the next night on Raw to the Smoking Gunns tag team.
Ted Dibiase and Tatanka left Bigelow alone in the ring because they were mad at Bigelow for losing. Bigelow’s mouth was busted open.
Bigelow walked around the ringside area with fans mocking him for losing to somebody as small as the 1-2-3 Kid. Bigelow was telling the fans that it wasn’t funny. Bigelow walked over to where Lawrence Taylor was sitting and Taylor was laughing at him. Bigelow trash-talked Taylor saying it wasn’t funny. Taylor stood up, he tried to shake Bigelow’s hand, but Bigelow shoved Taylor onto Taylor’s manager. Vince had a great reaction: “Wait a minute! Wait just a minute!” Taylor was held back as Bigelow walked away. That drew a big reaction from the crowd. The fans chanted “LT” for Taylor.
Analysis: That set up the WrestleMania 11 main event with Taylor beating Bigelow. If you would have told me after this show that Bam Bam Bigelow, who just lost a tag team match where he got pinned by the 1-2-3 Kid, would headline WrestleMania I would have thought no way. It was actually a good angle that set up Bigelow/Taylor at WrestleMania 11, which was a pretty solid match considering it was Taylor’s only wrestling match. They worked well together.
(I loved the angle. I had no idea LT was going to wrestle at WrestleMania and I’m a huge NFL fan, so I thought it was such a cool thing. Bigelow was fantastic here.)
There was a replay of last year’s Royal Rumble where they showed Diesel’s dominant performance in the Rumble match and Shawn Michaels played a part in Diesel getting eliminated.
Shawn Michaels did a promo saying this was the year of the Heartbreak Kid and he’s going to win the Royal Rumble.
There was another replay of last year’s Royal Rumble that showed the tie finish with Bret Hart and Lex Luger.
Lex Luger did a promo about how he was going to win the Royal Rumble.
The announce team of Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler were on camera. Vince: “We apologize and we regret for that incident we saw earlier. We apologize to Lawrence Taylor for that incident.”
Analysis: Good job by Vince selling the angle.
Pamela Anderson made her entrance looking amazing as usual. She was escorted out to the ring by Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. Pamela was introduced as the hostess of the Royal Rumble and would accompany the Royal Rumble winner at WrestleMania. Pamela sat at ringside to watch the match.
Analysis: This was in the middle of her Baywatch run. She is Canada’s greatest export. That was a very tight dress. You’re welcome, world.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
There are only 60 seconds between entrants in the Rumble match. Previous Royal Rumble matches had either 120 seconds (two minutes) or 90 seconds between entrants.
The #1 entrant is Shawn Michaels, who is a heel here. Michaels flashed his glove with the initials “TK” on it for his girlfriend, Themis Klarides. She was sometimes a model for the WWF. The British Bulldog is #2 and he’s a babyface rocking the dreadlocks. He takes control over Michaels early. Shawn does a flip bump in the corner. Vince calls it the fastest Rumble ever. It’s Eli Blue at #3. The crowd doesn’t react at all. Not a lot happens and we’re onto #4 Duke “The Dumpster” Droese. Vince marks out for him, making garbage references. Yep, he loves this gimmick too. He slams Michaels and gives him a bearhug because trying to eliminate the guy would be intelligent. Vince is overselling everything. It’s Jimmy Del Ray of the Heavenly Bodies at #5, who is a heel. Michaels sells a punch by going to the top, but he hangs on.
This really is a fast Rumble as #6 comes out, Sionne. It’s the guy that used to be The Barbarian. I barely remember him as Sionne. It was not a long lasting gimmick as part of the Headshrinkers for him. The Bulldog eliminates Jimmy Del Ray. We’re already onto #7, Tom Prichard of the Heavenly Bodies. The crowd freaks out as Michaels nearly gets eliminated again. It’s about the only time the crowd wakes up. It’s Doink…with Dink…The Clown at #8. He gets a big babyface pop. I’m not joking. They love him. Time for #9, Kwang. I’m shocked that he made it into two Rumbles since it was such a terrible gimmick. Like I wrote in 1994, we’d later know Kwang as Savio Vega. We’ve got 8 people in there as The Model Rick Martel enters at #10. Vince points out that this is Martel’s 7th Rumble, the most all time. There are 9 guys in the ring and nobody’s really doing anything in terms of action. It’s fast paced, but there’s nothing happening.
We’ve got Owen Hart at #11, who was a top heel. As he’s walking down to the ring, Bret Hart attacks him in the aisle due to Owen’s actions earlier in the night that cost Bret the WWF title. Officials break it up. Bret walks away as the clock runs down for our #12 entrant Timothy Well from that awful tag team Well Dunn. Owen got tossed out by Bulldog although we never saw it. Then there are a bunch of fast eliminations as Well, Droese, Martel and Prichard all get eliminated in succession. We’re down to 6 guys in the ring. It’s now 5 as Doink gets kicked out of there. Eli Blue and Sionne take eachother out. They emptied the ring right there. Bushwacker Luke comes out at #13 and Michaels threw him out quickly. We’re down to Michaels & Bulldog again. Then we get Jacob Blue at #14, he charges Michaels like a dumbass, Shawn ducks and there goes Jacob. We’re back to two guys again. That rapid elimination was good for getting rid of the some of the marginal talent. Bulldog gets close to eliminating Michaels, but of course, Shawn hangs on. Here’s a threat to win at #15…King Kong Bundy. Now they show a clip of Bulldog backdropping Owen out earlier in the match.
The #16 competitor is Mo of Men on a Mission. He’s eliminated in 3 seconds by King Kong Bundy. Bulldog tries to slam Bundy. He can’t do it, though. Back when I was a 14 year old watching this I wondered can we get a shot of Pamela Anderson? More MOM time as Mabel enters at #17. He does a big man confrontation with Bundy. Vince loves it, of course. Bundy avoids elimination from Mabel. Eventually he falls. It’s Butch of the Bushwhackers at #18. Michaels throws out Butch. Luke lasted 12 seconds and Butch lasted 19 seconds. Bulldog and Mabel double team Michaels while Lawler says if Michaels gets tossed out then Mabel is his pick to win. Lex Luger comes out as Captain America at #19. He throws Mabel out. Now Lawler picks Luger. It’s a running joke with Lawler. Wow, we’ve got one of the worst gimmicks ever Mantaur at #20. He’s a fat dude weighing 400 pounds. Does Vince love him? Of course.
It’s time for another terrible gimmick at #21…Aldo Montoya! You might know him as Justin Credible. It’s amazing how you can have two of the worst gimmicks ever back to back like that. Vince says we’ve got a favorite at #22 Henry Godwinn. You think I’m the one that makes threat to win jokes? It’s because of the ridiculous claims by the announcers every year. There we go, a shot of Pamela Anderson! I googled it and she was 28 years old here. She’s ridiculously hot. It’s Billy Gunn at #23, part of the Smoking Gunns. They’re babyfaces. There’s Bart Gunn in the #24 spot. We’ve got two bad mustaches in there now. It’s Mr. Bob Backlund at #25. This time he’s a heel, doing the gimmick where he snaps. There’s Bret Hart in the ring to attack Backlund. This would set up a WrestleMania match with them.
We’re onto the final 5 competitors with #26 Steven Dunn of that awful Well Dunn tag team I mentioned. Backlund gets into the ring and Luger clotheslines him out rather easily. Lawler complains about Bret taking out Owen & Backlund. With Backlund out of the match, Bret goes after him again. There’s Dick Murdoch at #27, who was a veteran heel here. Mantaur’s still in there! So is Aldo! Wow. They are my picks to win. It’s Adam Bomb at #28, who gets a decent babyface pop. There’s Fatu (Rikishi) at #29. He goes after Billy Gunn, but he hangs on. Luger tosses out Mantaur. There goes Mantaur’s boyhood dream. The #30 entrant is Crush, who is Lawler’s new pick. He dumps out Billy and Bart Gunn. There’s a nice shot of Pamela Anderson’s legs. I’m observant like that. They paid her a lot to be there, so might as well show her more often! Aldo eliminates Steven Dunn before that. I was distracted.
There are 9 guys left as Lawler picks Michaels, Crush & Luger. Vince says last year was the only time two men won the Rumble and he would suggest that’s the only time it would happen. It’s like he can script this thing or something! And if it happens again he’ll tear his quad in the ring after it happens. I added that part in. I can see into the future. Michaels nearly gets tossed out again. There’s a headbutting contest with Murdoch and Fatu, which Fatu wins. Samoans don’t feel headbutts. Crush eliminates Adam Bomb. They’d form the team Kronik in WCW (and even in the WWF during the Invasion angle) years later. Michaels throws out Montoya. Murdoch goes to eliminate Michaels. Crush eliminates Fatu leaving us with six. Michaels is so great that he walked into Murdoch giving Godwinn the airplane spin and took a bump by running into Godwinn’s feet. Murdoch gets eliminated by Godwinn as they spill into the ropes. We’re down to five men. Luger sure loves throwing clotheslines doesn’t he? Godwinn charges at him, Luger ducks and eliminates Godwinn with a backdrop.
Final Four: Luger, Michaels, Bulldog and Crush. At least you’ve got three borderline main eventers plus Crush, who was an upper midcarder during this era despite having consistently awful matches. Crush and Michaels work on Luger. Lex fights them off and starts punching Crush in the corner. Luger gets on the middle ropes and punches Crush, so Michaels sneaks up behind and hits him in the back to eliminate Luger. Michaels tells Crush they should work together to rid of Bulldog. They attack Bulldog with a double clothesline. Crush’s hairstyle is awful. He turns on Michaels, press slamming him. Michaels escapes that, Bulldog charges in and eliminates Crush with a clothesline.
The match is down to the final two being the same two guys that started: Michaels and Bulldog. There goes Michaels with some near eliminations. Press slam and HBK gets crotched. Bulldog hits a clothesline, you can see Michaels right hand already between the top and middle rope. Michaels uses it to hang on and he puts his left hand on the middle rope. Michaels does the dangling routine that was so famous as he found a way to hang on from being eliminated. Vince declares Bulldog the winner and Bulldog’s music starts playing. He climbs the ropes, the camera focuses on Bulldog posing and Michaels comes back in and hits a double axe to the back, knocking Bulldog out. The ref raises Michaels hand as the announcers are shocked.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
The match ended at 38:41.
The Fink gets on the microphone to announce that only one of Michaels’ feet hit the floor. They showed a replay of it. It was a clever finish and they had the cameras in place for it. The replay showed that Shawn’s right foot touched the ground, but never both feet at the same time. Referees Earl Hebner and Tim White were there to see it.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS on the Royal Rumble match
– This one wins the award for worst star power ever. It’s brutal to see how many bad gimmicks are in there.
– I truly enjoyed the finish. They did an awesome job of making it appear as though Bulldog won, even playing his music and Vince overselling it. I’m sure Michaels practiced that spot where he hangs on because he really did a masterful job of it.
– Michaels was head and shoulders above everybody else in this match. The only one in this match close to him was Owen Hart, but he didn’t have a major role in it. Bulldog was solid, but too inconsistent for me.
– The match needed Owen’s talents to help carry it because he was one of the better workers in the company. I do understand why they had the Bret interference, though. It fits with the story. It’s just that Owen would have made it better.
– The unintentional comedy of Vince saying there will never be another tie winner for the Rumble was great. You know he regretted that finish from the 1994 Rumble.
FACTS & OPINIONS about the Royal Rumble match
Person that lasted the longest: Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog at 38:41.
Most Eliminations: Shawn Michaels with 8.
Best Performers (3): Shawn Michaels – The obvious best performer. Not even close.
British Bulldog – He did well in the match and had some good power spots.
Lex Luger – He sure loves the clothesline.
Best Elimination: Michaels eliminating Bulldog was a great finish.
Match Rating: *** It was a decent Rumble with some fun moments in there. Michaels and Bulldog had their working boots on to try to make it a respectable Rumble. The lack of star power may have been worse than ever in this match, so that was clearly an issue. It’s hard to get excited watching the likes of Kwang, Well Dunn and Aldo Montoya in the match. I did like the story of Michaels and Bulldog lasting all the way to the end after being the first two guys in the match.
(I liked this Rumble quite a bit in terms of booking. It’s weak when it comes to star power. No doubt about that. I just think the finish was brilliant while Michaels and Bulldog were excellent the whole way through.)
After the match was over, Pamela Anderson went into the ring with Michaels. I don’t think she enjoyed it too much as she was trying to keep herself from laughing while Michaels did his dancing routine. Anderson left the ring. Michaels celebrated while fireworks went off. That was the end of the show.
This event had a runtime of 2:42:26 on WWE Network.
Show rating (out of 10): 6.5
This was a better show than I remember because the matches were pretty good for most of the night. There wasn’t anything on the show that I would consider terrible although Undertaker/IRS is pretty bad. The Rumble match was lacking in star power, but I thought Michaels and Bulldog did a great job of making it interesting. I also liked the angle they did with Bigelow/Taylor to set up their WrestleMania match. That was shocking at the time because most of us had no idea Lawrence Taylor would be wrestling at WrestleMania 11 a few months later. The best match was clearly Diesel/Hart even with the controversial finish. The year 1995 wasn’t great for the WWF, but this show ended up okay to me.
Best Match: Diesel vs. Bret Hart (**** out of 5)
Worst Match: The Undertaker vs. Irwin R. Schyster (*1/4)
Five Stars Of The Show
- Shawn Michaels
- Bret Hart
- The British Bulldog
- Bam Bam Bigelow
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.