Royal Rumble 1994
January 22, 1994
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence Civic Center
Announcers: Vince McMahon & "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
This is the show that set the stage for one of the best Wrestlemanias ever, Wrestlemania X. Going into the Rumble, Lex Luger was considered the favorite to win. Luger had defeated Yokozuna via countout at Summerslam '93 but was never granted a rematch because of a clause in the contract that Jim Cornette had weaseled in on behalf of Yokozuna. But the winner of the Royal Rumble Match automatically gets a shot at the WWF Champion at Wrestlemania whomever he may be, and that would override Cornette's stipulation. As a result, this is Luger's only chance at earning a shot at Yokozuna's WWF Title.
Before we start, Vince McMahon introduces a returning Ted DiBiase as his color analyst for the night.
Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Originally it was supposed to be Ludvig Borga against Tatanka, but Borga injured his ankle a few weeks before this and had to be replaced. It's interesting to hear DiBiase announce a match between two future Corporation members. He doesn't sound like he's completely comfortable announcing. Bigelow looks weird because his beard is barely grown in. The action is hot to start, but Bam Bam holds onto a bearhug too long. Tatanka makes the comeback, so Bigelow ghettoblasts him and mocks him, drawing a face pop. I think that's how they knew Tatanka's usefullness as a babyface was wearing thin. Bigelow misses a moonsault and Tatanka takes the win with a crossbody off the top at 8:11. ** Vince reminds us that both men will be in the Royal Rumble Match later on, marking the first time two participants from an earlier match later competed in the Rumble Match.
A Wrestlemania X promo is shown. They show past clips from several Wrestlemanias, and JR is heard announcing Randy Savage's Wrestlemania IV Tournament win. I bet they chose that Savage clip for DiBiase. The only problem is that Gorilla Monsoon called that event and it occurred five years before JR even came to the WWF. Why the hell did they do that?
A package on Bret and Owen Hart is shown. After their incident at the Survivor Series, Owen challenged Bret to a one on one match, but Bret refused, saying that he would never wrestle is own brother. Over the holidays they reunited, saying that, "United we stand, divided we fall." They challenge the Quebecers to a match at the Royal Rumble for the Tag Team Titles. Owen says, "1994 is going to be the year for the Rocket and the Hitman!" Yeah, no kidding. They'd go on to have some of the best matches of all time with each other. Even as a face, there are still subtle underlying tones of Owen's true jealousy towards Bret.
Two weeks before the Rumble, the 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty upset the Quebecers for the Tag Team Titles, but the Quebecers regained the Titles the next week at Madison Square Garden. Watching Waltman fly around the ring brings back memories. The guy was nuts. He hops up to the top rope then somersaults to the floor like it's nothing, then gets back up and does it again inside the ring. He makes Jeff Hardy look tame.
Todd Pettengil talks to Bret and Owen. Owen symbolically stands in the background behind Bret and there's even a noticable shadow over him. Bret does most of the talking and promises victory for the Hart Brothers tonight.
Tag Team Titles: Bret Hart & Owen Hart vs. The Quebecers (Champions)
Hey, Bret and the Mountie do get to meet at the Rumble after all, albeit two years late. DiBiase calls Bret and Owen the "Bret Brothers". Either he's being really subtle or it was a slip of the tongue. Regardless, he's actually getting better on commentary as the show continues. Owen starts off using his quickness on Pierre as Johnny Polo (known today as Raven), the Quebecers' manager, looks on. Jacques tags in and applauds Owen and tries to turn him against Bret. Owen responds with an enziguri. A Demolition Decapitation gets two for the Harts. Bret tags in and scores a few near falls on Jacques. All four come in and Owen gets a near fall, forcing the Quebecers to bail. Back in, the Harts still dominate as Owen shows off his moveset on Pierre. Bret comes in and Pierre catches him with a powerslam for two. The Quebecers doubleteam the Hitman. A high-pitched "Go Bret Go" chant from the crowd exposes just how much of the audience is children. Owen gets the hot tag and cleans house with a belly to belly on Pierre. He gets the Sharpshooter on Jacques, but Pierre bulldogs him and the Quebecers start a heat segment on Owen. Owen hits a double dropkick and tags Bret. He runs the ropes, but Polo pulls the top rope down on him and he falls to the floor, injuring his knee in the process. The Quebecers take full advantage. Referee Tim White looks straight at Jacques using a chair, then quickly occupies himself with Owen as if he missed it. Owen helps Bret into the ring, but the Quebecers destroy his injured knee. They go for their cannonball finisher off the top rope, but miss, allowing Bret a window of opportunity to tag Owen. But Bret instead elects to put the Sharpshooter on Pierre, which he does, but his knee soon gives out and White uses his discretion and calls for the bell to stop the match due to Bret's injury at 16:44. **** The Quebecers retain much to the surprise of everyone, and Owen and Bret are left alone in the ring. Owen is pissed about the loss. He yells at Bret as he struggles to his feet, and when Bret finally makes it up, Owen kicks his bad knee out from under him to huge heel heat. Owen rants the whole way back to the dressing room. "Why didn't you tag me, Bret? You're too damn selfish!"
Ray Rougeau gets into the ring on the house mic as several WWF officials tend to Bret. Rougeau wants to get a word with Bret. Oh no, not another Rougeau! Don't trust him, Bret! Ray wants to get that interview, but Pat Patterson tells him to buzz off. Bret is stretchered out.
Todd talks to Owen Hart in the locker room. The interview is shown on the video wall as Bret looks on as he makes his way back down the aisle. Owen cuts a great promo until he screws up his big "I kicked your knee right out from under your leg" line, instead saying, "I kicked your leg right out of your... leg". Ouch. Either way he got the point across.
Intercontinental Title: Razor Ramon (Champion) vs. IRS
JR and Gorilla Monsoon join us from Radio WWF to do commentary for this match. Back before this show in '94, I predicted that Razor would wear blue for this match and I was right. Seriously. I used to predict all sorts of crazy stuff like that. Sometimes I was even right. IRS stole Razor's gold chains to set this angle up. IRS gets his clock (yes, clock) cleaned, but sidesteps Razor and tosses him to the floor to grab the advantage. IRS hits the chinlock and of course goes for the cheap heat by using the ropes for leverage. Gorilla mentions how Razor cost IRS a match against "someone relatively unknown" (that means a jobber) on Raw. The "opposition" Gorilla speaks of was actually P.J. Walker, known today as Justin Credible. Razor comes back with fists and his fallaway slam. A ref bump leads to IRS grabbing his briefcase and trying to hit Razor with it, but Razor takes it away and nails him with it instead. He covers, but the ref is still out. Razor hits the second rope back suplex. He goes for the Razor's Edge, but Shawn Michaels runs in and nails him with his bogus IC Title belt. IRS covers, gets a slow three count and wins the IC Title. He celebrates, but Earl Hebner comes down and sticks his nose into the match. He shows the original ref that there are two Title belts in the ring so there must be something fishy going on. He orders the match to restart, and Razor hits a quick Razor's Edge for three to retain at 11:42. They should've left DiBiase out there to commentate so he could tell everyone how IRS was cheated. Razor holds up both belts in victory. **1/2
An Undertaker/Yokozuna package is shown.
World Title (Casket Match): The Undertaker vs. Yokozuna (Champion)
They have decent chemistry, so it's not a real bad match. Yoko is clearly intimidated by Taker and Undie mandhandles him on the floor with a chair. Yoko throws salt in his eyes to take control and hits a belly to belly suplex. Taker battles back with a chokeslam and his awesome version of the DDT. He rolls Yokozuna into the casket, but before he can shut the lid to win the match, Crush runs in and attacks him. The Undertaker fights back, but when Tenryu, the Great Kabuki, Bam Bam Bigelow, Adam Bomb, Jeff Jarrett, The Headshrinkers, and Diesel all follow, the odds become too much. They beat him down as green smoke starts to eminate from the urn. The heels finally stuff The Undertaker in the casket and Yoko retains the Title at 14:26. Not a horrible match before the mass run in hit. *
The heels roll the casket down the aisle, but halfway to the curtain the bell tolls, the lights go out, and The Undertaker, inside the Casket, appears on the video screen. In an obviously prerecorded scene, The Undertaker says that he will never rest in peace and soon all the world will witness the rebirth of the Undertaker. Then the screen goes negative and the image of the Undertaker rises towards the top of the video wall. Someone in an Undertaker costume rises to the top of the arena in a very strange moment. The crowd doesn't quite know what to think.
Yeah, this whole mess was ridiculous and totally illogical, but then again nothing about the Undertaker's character was ever logical. They had to write him out of things for six months and this was the way to do it. I don't think it was so bad.
Randy Savage, Jeff Jarrett, Tatanka, Diesel, Doink, Shawn Michaels, and Lex Luger offer their prerecorded comments on the upcoming Royal Rumble Match.
Royal Rumble Match
#1 is Scott Steiner and #2 is Samu. This year the intervals are one and a half minutes apart, as opposed to two minutes. Rick Steiner is #3 so the Steiners doubleteam Samu. Samu misses a flying double clothesline and hangs him himself in the ropes as result, allowing the Steiners to dump him easily. Kwang enters at #4. He greets Rick with some mist to the eyes to temporairily impair his vision. #5 is the WWF's newest heel, Owen Hart. Feel the heat. Owen dumps Rick. Bart Gunn is #6 and targets Owen, probably just to try to get himself over as a bigger babyface. #7 is Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Up until this he had simply been Shawn Michaels' lackey of a bodyguard and only wrestled occasionally, but this is the start of his rise to superstar status. He nails everyone and tosses Bart, then Scott, then Owen, all in short order. He gets rid of Kwang to clear the ring as Bob Backlund comes in at #8. He's still a face at this point but is still crazy and actually almost dumps the big guy with the help of old school tactics. Diesel, however, fights back and eliminates him with relative ease. Oh well, at least Bobby still lasted longer than he would at their MSG match later in the year. Diesel is now all alone and even though he's a heel, the fans dig it. #9 is Billy Gunn. Here he is and there he goes. Diesel is a monster. As Diesel waits alone in the ring for the next particiapnt, we cut to a backstage shot of Tenyru and The Great Kabuki, Mr. Fuji's hired guns, pounding away at Lex Luger. I guess they had to give him some adversary to return from to offset Bret's match earlier in the night. #10 is Virgil. Yeah, like he has a shot. Apparently Virg replaced Kamala, who was going to make a one time comeback appearance for the Rumble. It's a shame he couldn't make it. I'm sure Kamala could have ousted Diesel. Virgil, on the other hand, doesn't even come close and Diesel eliminates him without a problem. #11 is the legendary "Macho Man" Randy Savage. The crowd loves it. Savage puts an end to Diesel's string of dominance and lasts the full minute and a half until the next participant enters. #12 is the greatest singer, the greatest wrestler, and the greatest entertainer of all time, Double J, Jeff Jarrett. That's J-E-double F, J-A-double R-E-double T, that's Double J, Jeff Jarrett. Ain't he great? The answer is yes! This is his WWF PPV debut and he goes after Savage. Sadly, Macho tosses him about a minute later and brawls with Crush who is #13. Damn, Jeff got shafted from day one.
#14 is Doink (with Dink). Crush drops Savage out and Diesel jumps Crush from behind. Doink sits back and laughs as the two monster heels go at it. This proves to be a mistake as they reconsider and doubleteam the Clown. On commentary, Vince calls Crush and Diesel the two biggest wrestlers in the WWF. Never mind Yokozuna, Mabel, The Undertaker, and Bam Bam Bigelow of course. Speaking of Bam Bam, he's #15 and joins in on the Doink beatdown. He press slams Doink over the top to the floor, but is jumped by Crush and Diesel who try to get rid of him. #16 is Mabel. There's some serious meat in that ring now. Four huge guys. Mabel avalanches all three heels. #17 is Sparky Plugg, replacing the 1-2-3 Kid, who's out with a bad knee. #18 is Shawn Michaels before that meant a whole lot. Everyone in the ring gangs up on Diesel and eventually powers him over the top rope. Vince tries to sell that Shawn helped to eliminate him, but the replay seems pretty inconclusive to me. #19 is Mabel's Men On A Mission tag team partner, Mo. #20 is Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, who's just around to fill up a spot. He hadn't wrestled with the company regularly since 1991. We count down to the next entrant, and I notice that the clock in the arena is a Casio. Take that for what you will. #21 is Tatanka. He's quick to chop away at Shawn Michaels. Shawn withstands some punishment from Valentine. #22 is the not so Great Kabuki. Everyone except Mo works together to try to eliminate Mabel, and with seven guys, they succeed. #23 is Lex Luger to a decent, but far from overwhelming pop. He pounds on everyone, including Kabuki, and tosses him. He clotheslines Michaels, then heads for Crush. #24 is Tenryu, who goes right for Luger. Shawn teases being eliminated for about the fifth time. #25 is... nobody. Vince assumes that it was supposed to be Bret Hart who can't make it due to the injury he sustained earlier.
Michaels tries to eliminate Luger but can't. #26 is Rick Martel after that meant a whole lot. That guy used to get some good draws in Rumbles. Lex and Tatanka slug it out as DiBiase looks on with interest. Foreshadowing or coincidence? You decide. Crush is now the long man in the match. #27 is Bret "Hitman" Hart, still selling his knee injury, to a huge ovation. He limps to the ring where Crush and Tenryu work on his knee, but Valentine and Sparky save. Shawn and Martel go at it. #28 is Headshrinker Fatu. Luger and Crush struggle with each other while Bret takes more abuse from everyone. Bret limps over and helps Luger eliminate Crush. #29 is Marty Jannetty. MJ goes right for Shawn Michaels and they get into a wild slugfest for old time's sake, but we cut to the back for a dumb Coliseum exclusive. Ray Rougeau interviews the recently eliminated Crush, and Randy Savage attacks from behind, triggering a brawl. Rougeau calls for someone to break it up. Hell Ray, you used to be a wrestler. Get in there and show them what you've got. We return to the ring and Marty's segment with Shawn is over. Dammit. #30 is Adam Bomb playing the role of big threatening midcard heel that draws #30 but can't capitalize on it if his life depended on it (see Warlord, The). Vince explains that the mysterious #25 must have been Bastion Booger who was slated for to participate, but ate too much and couldn't make it to the ring because of an upset stomach. Talk about blurring the lines between work and shoot. Shawn tosses Hardcore Plugg while Bret slugs it out with Kronic Bomb. Martel dumps Valentine and Tatanka ousts Martel. Bomb clotheslines Luger but Lex ducks a charge and Bomb is eliminated. Bigelow gets revenge from the opening contest by eliminating Tatanka. Good booking there. Fatu pounds away on Bret while Marty does the same to Shawn. Luger whips Bigelow into the corner and the big guy Flair Flips out of the ring to the floor. Whoa. Shawn dumps Marty to narrow the field down to five. The announcers really start to put over Bret's performance.
In a cool spot, Tenryu double noggin knockers Shawn and Fatu and it hurts Shawn but not the hard-headed Samoan. Bret dumps Tenryu with Luger's help. Now it's down to four, and the remaining participants, Shawn, Fatu, Bret, and Luger all back into separate corners and stare each other down. Shawn is the first to move, pouncing on who else but Bret. Luger gets the better of Fatu, then nails Shawn. Fatu works in the 360 clothesline sell he still uses to this day. A cool corner spot with all four men leads to Shawn and Fatu being backdropped out by the faces on opposite sides of the ring. It's down to Luger and Bret! They slug it out in the center of the ring, then move towards the ropes, and they both tumble out over the top to the floor and appear to hit the ground at the same time. The match ends at 55:32. **** One official thinks Luger has won it, another things Bret has. The announcers are split as well. Nobody knows who the winner is. After announcing Luger as the sole winner, then Bret (who got a much bigger pop), Howard Finkel announces that Lex Luger and Bret Hart are co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble. Both are disappointed, but shake hands. The Wrestlemania theme plays, and the Royal Rumble ends without a clearcut #1 contender for Yokozuna's WWF Title for Wrestlemania X.
Royal Rumble 1994 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 106:35
Average Match: 21:19
Average Match Rating: **3/4
Top Moments: The spectacular Hart saga unfolding, Razor overcoming Shawn's cheating, The Undertaker being defeated in a bizzare manner, Diesel's dominance, Bret's effort, and the unpredictable finish
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