The Hogan era was pretty much finished by the time 1993 came around. Of course he found a way into the World Title at WrestleMania IX, but he wasn’t a full timer anymore. The company was moving on without him and the new face of the company, at least in January, was Bret Hart. He was the WWF Champion heading into this show.
For the first time (and for every Rumble since), the winner of this match got to face Bret for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. It’s the stipulation that made the Rumble that much more special. Who went on to win? Let’s find out.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 24, 1993
The announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who as I stated last time were the best pairing of announcers from this era. It was their last Rumble together, however, so I’m going to try to enjoy it.
The #1 slot is Ric Flair. He won the WWF Title a year earlier from the #3 spot, so Heenan theorizes he can do it again. It’s Bob Backlund at #2. He’s a very plain and often times boring wrestler who was in a babyface role. He also looks very young. They’re both former World Champions and they’re both wearing red trunks. There’s not much action with these two as Flair chops him a bunch and Backlund hits him with an atomic drop. It’s Papa Shango at #3. That’s Charles Wright aka Kama, The Godfather, The Goodfather and probably some other gimmicks I can’t remember. He goes to eliminate Backlund, but Flair dumps him in just 28 seconds. Gorilla loves to talk about Backlund’s “intestinal fortitude.” The #4 spot is Ted Dibiase, who always got booked early in these matches because he’s a good worker. That’s how you use the quality guys. Most of the two minutes is spent double teaming Backlund. Brian Knobbs of the Nasty Boys are #5. They’re a babyface team and the Nastys were feuding with Dibiase & IRS (Money Inc.) at this point. He goes to eliminate Flair, but Ric holds on as Heenan freaks out again. They pair off with Backlund going after Flair while Knobbs goes after Dibiase. He gives the Pit Stop to Dibiase, which is when he sticks his armpit in the guy’s face.
The #6 entrant is Virgil, who of course worked for Dibiase in the past. He knocks him down with a clothesline. Knobbs charges in at Dibiase, but Ted ducks and Knobbs is eliminated from the match. I’m not sad about that. Let’s just say I don’t think there will ever be a Best of Brian Knobbs DVD anytime soon. Flair continues to beat on Backlund while Dibiase works over Virgil. In at #7 is Jerry “The King” Lawler, who wasn’t a full time announcer at this point. Flair goes after him and then bails to the floor. He gets back in and tries to dump Virgil, but Lawler ends up saving him. Not a lot going on as #8 Max Moon enters. He’s a threat to win! Not really. The Max Moon gimmick was awful and predictably didn’t last too long. Moon charges Lawler, Jerry ducks and there goes Moon. We’ll miss you. It’s #9 Genichiro Tenryu, who was a famous wrestler in Japan that didn’t have a great WWF career. Their roster was really thin at this point. There are 6 guys out there as #10 buzzes in and it’s Mr. Perfect, fresh off a babyface turn. He goes right after Ric Flair as Heenan freaks out because they used to be allies. Flair bumps like crazy for everything. He even does his signature top rope bump. Heenan’s freaking out, asking for water. Flair comes back with chops. They would have a “career ending match” on Raw the next night that was already taped with Flair losing.
We’ve got another Rumble threat at #11…Skinner. Okay, so he’s not a threat. He’s just a really bad gimmick. Flair whips Perfect in, Flair ducks and Perfect knocks him out after nearly 20 minutes. Heenan goes nuts saying “That’s not fair to Flair” like he did the year before. The crowd loves it. And that’s the last PPV appearance we’d see of Flair in the WWF for 8 years. Now that there aren’t any personal issues in the ring there’s not much excitement in there. It’s Koko B. Ware at #12. He’s a Hall of Famer for some reason. He was one half of the High Energy team with Owen Hart. Perfect dropkicks Skinner out of there. One half of the Headshrinkers, Samu, is #13. He gets thrown in there by his manager Afa, who is also his father. YES! My guy, the HUSS man The Bezerker is #14. A huge threat to win! I love how much Monsoon and Heenan argue with eachother. That’s what I loved about them. Lawler charged in at Perfect and Mr. Perfect backdrops him out of there. Dibiase goes to dump Perfect out. He hangs on for a while, but Koko helps and Lawler pulls him out while he’s standing on the floor. Hey, one of those refs is ECW’s Bill Alfonso! Awesome. At least it looks like him. The Berzerker is the tallest man in the match, which makes him an immediate threat. It’s The Undertaker at #15, who is in his first run as a babyface. “By the time he gets to the ring it’ll be time for WrestleMania,” says Heenan. Great line. Berzerker beats on Backlund on the floor with a chair. Undertaker eliminates Samu. Berzerker slams Backlund on the cement floor. He’s so damn berserk. Undertaker eliminates Tenryu. Berzerker almost gets thrown out by Koko, but he holds on. He so crazy!
It’s Terry Taylor at #16. He’s no longer the Red Rooster here. Dibiase dumps Koko and Taylor at the same time. Undertaker goes after Dibiase, who is the one that brought him into the WWF. He gives him a chokeslam and then clotheslines him out of the ring, so Dibiase is gone.
“WHAT IS THAT?!” Suddenly this giant man walks down the aisle. He’s not in the match, but here he is anyway. It’s Giant Gonzalez. Undertaker eliminates The Berzerker with a backdrop. Gonzalez was tall, but he was thin, so he was wearing a full bodysuit to hide that fact. Heenan says he’s the biggest man he’s ever seen. It’s Damien Demento, another terrible gimmick, at #17. They don’t even show him. The big man chops Undertaker and he goes over the top to the floor. Undertaker’s out of the match. He fights him on the floor. Undertaker gets whipped into the steps. They go back in the ring and he gives Undertaker a chokeslam. The announcers have never seen anybody do this to Undertaker. IRS is #18, but he is in no rush. Gonzalez works over Undertaker’s knee, ramming it against the ring post. All the refs come out to break it up. He finally leaves. Undertaker tries to sit up, but he can’t do it. They would go on to have one of the worst feuds and matches ever at WrestleMania. It’s Tatanka at #19, who is a babyface. Bearer comes out with the urn to get The Undertaker up. He stumbles down. Then using the power of Real Talk he gets out of there limping. Gorilla says the guy that attacked Undertaker was 8 feet tall and that Brain’s assertion that he was 20 feet tall wasn’t realistic. Yeah because 8 feet tall is realistic. Undertaker’s about 6’10” and he was about 7’4″ or so. Not exactly 8 feet. It’s the other half of the babyface Nasty Boys, Jerry Saggs at #20.
Here’s another threat to win, Typhoon at #21. Heenan calls him Tugboat, which was his old name. He’s a very fat man, needless to say. It’s Fatu at #22, who we would later know as Rikishi. His sons, The Usos, are in WWE today. It’s Earthquake at #22, who was a part of the Natural Disasters team with Typhoon. And he goes after Typhoon right away for some reason. They smash bellies in the corner. I don’t know how else to say it. He charges into Earthquake, the Quake moves and there goes Typhoon all the way to the floor. “Every man for yourself, don’t be a sissy!” Good advice, Heenan. It’s Carlos Colon, the Caribbean Champion, at #23. His sons are Carlito and Primo. Monsoon calls him a youngster even though he was 45 years old at this point in his career. Colon eliminates Demento via backdrop. Go back to the Outer Reaches of Your Mind, Damien. Monsoon mentions that Backlund’s been in there for over 46 minutes. It’s El Matador Tito Santana in the #24 spot. He can win it all, says Heenan. Backlund dumps Fatu. Tito tries to get rid of Backlund, but the untanned one hangs on. Wow, that was a very sloppy clothesline by Backlund on IRS. He was really tired, I think. Rick Martel is in at #25. He goes right after Santana. They were tag partners years earlier. IRS charges in at Earthquake. He ducks and IRS is eliminated. The crowd cheered wildly for Backlund hanging on from the near elimination.
We have a legit threat coming in at #26…Yokozuna. He weighed well over 500 pounds according to Monsoon. That is one giant diaper. He no sells everything from Tatanka and throws him out of there. Colon goes after him and he gets knocked down with a punch. Earthquake points at him as we have a battle of the fat men. Rest in Peace for both of them. The crowd enjoys this showdown. They do a couple of shoulderblocks, but nobody really moves. The Rocket Owen Hart is #27. He was in the tag team High Energy with Koko B. Ware. Quake works on Yoko in the corner. He misses a charge, so Yoko flips him over with a belly to belly to eliminate Earthquake. Heenan says he’s going to win the Rumble and the title at WrestleMania. YES! Repo Man at #26. I mark out for Berzerker and Repo Man. I can’t help it. They are legends to me. Don’t question it. Embrace it. “Backlund is still out there,” says Monsoon. He says it many times throughout the match. Everybody gangs up on Yoko. Crowd loves that, but they’re unable to get rid of him. It was 6 on 1. Yoko fought them off. Finally some star power with a babyface Randy Savage at #30. This would be his second last Rumble. Owen dropkicks Saggs out of there. Owen charges in and Yokozuna whips him out with a rough hip toss. Wow, Owen took a hard bump there. That had to have hurt. They were future tag team partners too. Macho Man eliminates Repo Man.
The final four are Backlund, Martel, Savage and Yokozuna. Backlund fights off Martel and puts him on the top rope. He eliminates him with a forearm, sending Martel to the floor. Backlund hits Yoko in the back and then ha this “oh shit what did I do?” type of look on his face. He hits him with a couple of dropkicks. Then he charges in like a dumbass, so Yoko side steps him and hiptosses him out. You were in there for an hour. Don’t you know that charging in at people gets you eliminated? Come on Bob! It’s Savage with Yoko. The big man works him over in the corner. Savage fights back with kicks. Yoko has yet to go down. He goes up top and hits him with a double axehandle. The crowd is going nuts with Yoko teetering. Yoko goes down to one knee. Savage charges in and Yoko drops him with a superkick. He drops Savage with a belly to belly and legdrop. Yoko charges at him in the corner and hits a back splash. He goes for another one, Savage moves, Yoko hits the buckle and falls down. Savage to the top with the elbow! Crowd going nuts. He covers him? WHAT THE HELL? Yoko presses him over the top. I didn’t like that as a finish although they wanted to do it to show off his power. It’s just silly that Savage would go for a pinfall in a match that has no pinfalls.
The match ended at 66:35.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– The talent in this Rumble is horrible. It might be the worst ever. That’s partly because of the roster overhaul that happened due to the steroid trial. It was one year after the 1992 Rumble, which is arguably the most star studded Rumble ever. The problem with this match was it really lacked heated feuds. The crowd couldn’t get too excited for anything because of the lack of build for a lot of the interactions in the ring.
– The Perfect-Flair stuff was excellent. The crowd was really hot for all of it. I loved their chemistry together and they had some very good matches as well. I remember the Raw match that followed this as being very solid. It’s a shame Flair only stayed in the WWF for a year and a half at this point in his career, though.
– I really loved the Monsoon & Heenan team. They were legendary and deserved to be remembered as such. You could tell they were friends, but as performers they contradicted eachother so well too. The bickering made them great.
– Even though Backlund lasted over an hour his involvement was pretty limited. He was there, but what did he really do? Not a whole lot. He did okay with the near eliminations. His style isn’t exciting, though.
– Every time I see the “Icopro” banner at the top of arenas I chuckle. What a great business move that was, Vince. What? I had nothing else to talk about.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Bob Backlund at 61:10.
Most Eliminations: Yokozuna with 7.
Best Performers (3): Bob Backlund – He lasted the longest by far, so you have to give him props. He wasn’t outstanding, though, which summarizes the match.
Mr. Perfect – His energy was fantastic. I wish he was booked to last into the final four, though. They needed his talent in there longer.
Yokozuna – He was put over huge here. If Savage was in longer he’d get this spot. Yoko did great in the monster role.
Best Elimination: Yokozuna throwing Owen Hart was the best looking elimination in the match. It looked painful. I liked Perfect eliminating Flair too.
Match Rating: **1/4 It was okay at best. Far from great.
Ranking the Rumble’s in terms of star ratings:
Next up is the 1994 Royal Rumble, which had one of the most controversial finishes in Rumble match history.