Royal Rumble 1995
January 22, 1995
Tampa Bay, Florida
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry "The King" Lawler
Ray Rougeau caught up with some Royal Rumble entrants earlier today including King Kong Bundy, Seone, Owen Hart, and Davey Boy Smith.
Pamela Anderson, who's here to raise the hand of the winner of the Royal Rumble, arrives, and all the superstars, face and heel alike put their differences aside to greet her.
Intercontinental Title: Razor Ramon (Champion) vs. Jeff Jarrett
The Roadie, Jarrett's lackey who would later become known as the Road Dogg, makes his PPV debut alongside Jarrett here. The match starts and Razor hits a quick fallaway slam and a chokeslam causing Jarrett to bail to regroup. Back in, he hits an arm drag and struts over the minor victory. Jarrett gets the better of a nice wrestling sequence, then takes another one on the mat and messes up Razor's hair just to mess with him. Razor responds with a right hand to the jaw and a clothesline over the top that puts Jarrett back on the floor to a big pop. Jarrett does some strategizing and decides he wants a test of strength, which Razor of course wins. Ramon goes to an armbar and returns Jeff's favor of earlier by messing up his long blond hair. Jarrett takes exception and fights back with an excellent standing dropkick. Ramon gets up, but Jarrett puts him down with another one, followed immediately by a third. A rope splash and a clothesline get two for Jarrett, as Razor is able to kick out. A Jarrett enziguri misses, but so does a Razor elbow drop. Jarrett gets another two count, then hits the chinlock. Razor battles out, sends him off the ropes and counters a Jarrett hiptoss into a backslide for two. Jeff gets up and puts him back down with a clothesline for two. An irish whip leads to a sunset flip sequence that results in near falls for both. They both get to their feet and Jarrett goes right back to the beautiful dropkick to put him down again. This is some awesome wrestling. Jarrett hooks a sleeper but it doesn't last long, as Razor whips him into the ropes. That leads to a Jarrett swinging neckbreaker. Jarrett covers with his feet on the ropes but only manages a two count. Razor reverses a cross corner whip and crotches Jarrett against the steel post. The reverse second rope bulldog gets two for Razor. The momentum is in Ramon's favor but Jarrett sidesteps a charge and propels Razor all the way to the floor where a camera shot reveals that he injured his knee on the fall. Razor tries to walk it off, but with the ref occupied by Jarrett, the Roadie clips him from behind to take it out for good. The ref starts the count and counts Ramon out of the ring, giving the victory to Jeff Jarrett.
The Roadie gets the mic for Jarrett, who says that he didn't come to the Royal Rumble to win the match; he came to win the Intercontinental Title. Jarrett hurls insults Ramon's way, accusing him of being both a coward and a chicken (and in fact, Razor happens to be wearing yellow trunks) until Razor finally agrees to restart the match. Jarrett taunts him, but Razor actually scores a rollup for two, still selling the knee injury. Razor gets a quick small package for two, but Jarrett gets up and takes his knee apart. Razor somehow boots Jarrett out to the floor, drawing a huge pop, but Jarrett storms right back in the ring and hooks the Figure Four Leglock. Razor tries like hell to reverse, but can't. He finally slugs his way out of it, and nails a charging Jeff. He goes for his trademark back suplex off the second rope, but it fails as his knee gives out in mid air and Jarrett collapses on top of him. Razor actually rolls through for a two count. A clothesline puts Jarrett down. Ramon goes for the Razor's Edge to finish him, but his knee collapses on him again, and Jarrett gets a small package. Razor's knee is too weak to power out, and Jarrett gets the pin at 18:02. Fun match, great story, lots of action, smart booking, and a solid performance from all involved. What more can you ask for? **** As a big Jarrett fan at the time I loved this. As you might be able to tell, it's a sentimental favorite of mine. Jarrett struts to the back with the Intercontinental Title around his waist, and damn if it doesn't look perfect on him.
Todd Pettengill sits down with Pamela Anderson in her dressing room and basically stumbles all over his words and makes a fool out of himself. As is evident by the table full of gifts in front of them, all the wrestlers are doing their best to make Pamela feel right at home.
Stephanie Wyand, who breifly co-hosted WWF Mania with Todd, talks to the new World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Heavyweight Wrestling Champion (hey, that's what it says on the belt) and his Roadie. Double J is the man!
The Undertaker vs. IRS
This is the first in a long series of matches in the Undertaker/Million Dollar Corporation Feud which technically started in the summer of 1994 and wouldn't end until late 1995. IRS attacked the Undertaker at Survivor Series, then cut a series of strange vignettes from a cemetery that aired on Superstars and Wrestling Challenge about how he repossesed John Doe's gravestone… yeah. I don't think the WWF really knew how to fully utilize the Undertaker at that point. He was one of the most over wrestlers in the company, but between infinitely smaller but more talented wrestlers like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels on top and a different big man, in Diesel, being established as a dominating Champion, they couldn't really put him in the Title picture. Besides, this was before Taker ever did jobs, so if he was in the ring with either of those guys it would either destroy his image or hurt the others' credibility. So as a result Taker was put into this feud with a heel stable, which I guess gave the Corporation a rub, but really just stagnated the careers of those involved for an extended period of time.
Anyway, to the match, lots of stalling goes down before The Undertaker has enough and just kicks his ass. Lawler and Vince mention that NFL legend Lawrence Taylor is in attendance tonight. Ah, good to see all they did was drop his name and not try to expose him in some silly wrestling storyline to pimp money out of him. The Undertaker impresses me in the ring by executing the greco roman tiedrag without flaw. That's becoming a lost art these days. Lawler says that McMahon is in the NFL. Juh? The National Federation of Losers. Oh, right, a punchline. Taker does the ropewalk. DiBiase gets on the apron, which leads to heel miscommunication, which leads to Taker clotheslining IRS to the floor. Irwin is steamed, and DiBiase calls for his supposedly evil druids to make their presence felt at ringside. They come out and help IRS armdrag Taker off the top rope on ropewalk attempt #2. IRS puts him out on the floor, but Taker attacks the druids. The distraction allows IRS to get some shots in, then the druids put the boots to Taker once he's down. IRS comes in and does his (by this point very tired) abdominal stretch routine. They break, and IRS hits his Write Off clothesline, but The Undertaker comes back with his chokeslam and pins Irwin at 12:20 before the druids can do anything about it. The match actually wasn't bad at all. ** Afterwards the druids jump The Undertaker. He fends them off, but King Kong Bundy of the Corporation runs in and IRS nails Paul Bearer and swipes the urn. He and DiBiase take off as Bundy squashes Taker with an avalanche and a splash.
Prerecorded interviews are shown of Todd talking to Diesel, then Bret Hart, who cuts a terrific promo. At the time my friends and I speculated about a Bret heel turn but thought better of it because Bret was the one guy that could NEVER go heel. Not only did we think he'd be in the WWF FOREVER, but we were sure he'd be a babyface forever as well. Man, how strange it all turned out…
WWF Title: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Diesel (Champion)
Both are strong babyfaces but Bret seems way more over based on crowd reaction. Tip: Don't try to get a freshly turned face over by pitting him against the company's other top babyface, especially one he feuded with while he was still a heel. Bob Backlund beat Bret for the WWF Title at Survivor Series thanks to Owen Hart, but Diesel went over Backlund for the gold just three days later at Madison Square Garden in an eight second squash. Bret took some time off to be with his family following Survivor Series (covered in storylines with the injuries he suffered while in Backlund's excruciatingly painful Crossface Chickenwing during the Survivor Series match), so this is his first chance at a rematch to regain the Title. Diesel shakes hands with his aforementioned "friend" Lawrence Taylor at ringside before the match begins.
Diesel establishes a power advantage to begin, so Bret wrestles him and cuts him down to size, posting his leg and working it over. He gets a Figure Four early, but Diesel makes the ropes. Bret goes back to it, and Diesel makes the ropes again. Diesel bails to the floor to assess the damage on his knee but Bret stays on him, hitting a dive through the ropes to the floor. Diesel reverses a whip to the stairs and controls Bret in the ring. A Diesel side suplex gets two. He follows it up with a rope splash, then a backbreaker submission, which I don't like because Bret won't quit but it's impossible to counter, so Diesel is forced to merely release the hold. Diesel smartens up and goes to an overhead variation of the same move, which Bret is able to counter by unhooking his hands and flipping over into a sleeper. Bret is sent off the ropes and runs right into a Diesel big boot. An elbow gets two for the big guy. Diesel tries a whip but Bret hops up to the second rope for a big clothesline. Bret goes up top and Diesel catches him, but Bret turns it into a crossbody for two. Bret goes to the floor, trips up Diesel and ties his wristtape around his legs to the post to immobilize him. Bret takes advantage and pounds on him in the ring. Diesel breaks free, but a Bret bulldog gets two. Bret is obviously playing the heel here, but the crowd loves it. A russian leg sweep, backbreaker, and elbow drop off the second rope all get two counts for Hart. Bret clotheslines Diesel to the floor and then tries a pescado, but Diesel catches him in midair and rams his back into the steel post. He tosses him in the ring and Jackknives him. Diesel covers, but at two, Shawn Michaels, Diesel's former tag team partner, runs in and breaks it up. He does a number on Diesel, seemingly causing a DQ, and the crowd actually pops for it. Referees escort Shawn out of the ring and referee Earl Hebner determines that he doesn't like the cheap finish and the match must continue.
Bret soon tries another Figure Four but Diesel blocks it. Bret misses a charge and goes hard to the turnbuckle. Diesel hits a gutwrench suplex. Bret bails to the floor and works Diesel's knee. He hits it with a steel chair to a mixed reaction. Bret climbs in and hooks the Sharpshooter to a definitive pop from the crowd. Owen Hart now runs in and nails Bret to break it up as Hebner loses control again. Owen rips off the turnbuckle pad and whips Bret into it. Good booking to offset Shawn's earlier interference and protect Bret's face heat. Owen is ushered away and Hebner again states that the match must continue. Both men are beaten and broken. Diesel slowly crawls over to chalk up a two count on Bret. He tries to slam Bret into the exposed turnbuckle but Bret reverses and does it to Diesel instead. Diesel still fights back and Bret fakes a knee injury to get him to back off, then suckers him in with a small package for two. Awesome strategy there. They do a ref bump at which point Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, and Bob Backlund all run in and start to attack Bret and Diesel. A dazed Hebner sees the overwhelming interference and is now forced to call for the bell at 27:17. Jeff Jarrett makes his way out to join in on the fun and he and Shawn beat on Diesel while Owen and Backlund target Bret. Refs rush the ring to break it all up and the fans boo Howard Finkel's announced official decision of a draw. Another brawl breaks out and Backlund gets the Chickenwing on Bret, but Diesel makes the save and he and Bret share a handshake and a hug much to the delight of the crowd. Hell of a match despite the interference and the undecisive finish. ****1/4
Todd talks to us from Pam's dressing room while she's changing. Todd of course stumbles around like an idiot.
Stephanie Wyand interviews Sparky Plugg and the 1-2-3 Kid. You might know them today as Hardcore Holly and X-Pac. The Kid's promo isn't bad actually, but let's just say Holly's come a long way since then.
Tag Team Titles: The 1-2-3 Kid & Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka
After reigning Tag Team Champions Shawn and Diesel split up at Survivor Series, the Titles were vacated and an eight team Tag Team Title Tournament was announced. The finals have come down to this, as the Corporation beat two former Championship teams in Men On A Mission and the Headshrinkers (who defeated Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart in the first round) to make it here, and the underdog team of the Kid and Holly beat Well Dunn and The Heavenly Bodies (who went over the Bushwackers in the first round). A graphic claims that the Kid and Holly are a combined 344 lbs. which can't be right, especially by wrestling standards. I think they meant 444. Bigelow beat Holly in a singles match leading up to this, and Tatanka did the same to the Kid. The announcers are really driving home the angle that the Kid and Holly are severe underdogs, so who do you think's going over? Bigelow dominates the Kid to start, but Waltman hits a perfect hurricanranna. Bigelow responds with an enziguri. A nice tag sequence follows as the underdogs use their speed and teamwork to outsmart Bam Bam and Tatanka. Bigelow finally pulls the top rope down on Holly to begin another heat segment. Heel miscommunication eventually leads to a hot tag tease, but the Corporation prevents it. A dazed Holly gets a weird standing dropkick on Bam Bam, then crawls and struggles over to make the hot tag… to Tatanka. D'oh! Wrong corner. Holly and Tatanka do a double knockout spot a few minutes later and the Kid gets the hot tag for real. The Kid and Bam Bam come in and the Kid hits a quick dropkick off the top rope, then does a somersault pescado onto Tatanka on the floor like it's nothing. He gets up and hits a flying crossbody off the top onto Bigelow in the ring. Bam Bam recovers and press slams him to the floor where Tatanka tosses him back in for Bigelow's top rope moonsault. Tatanka doesn't realize his partner is going upstairs, however, and comes in the ring and runs the ropes, preparing to do more damage to the Kid. Bigelow, however, gets knocked down to the mat as a result. Holly nails a confused Tatanka, and the Kid slowly crawls over and covers Bigelow for three to win the Tag Team Titles at 15:46. Ted DiBiase flips out. *** The Kid and Holly are awarded the Titles and Bam Bam is left alone in the ring, the victim of a major upset. DiBiase and Tatanka have already left ringside, undoubtedly embarassed for themselves.
Bam Bam gets mocked by the fans and really plays it up. One of those fans happens to be Lawrence Taylor, seated in the front row. LT playfully jabs him about the loss, but Bigelow takes exception and doesn't think it's a laughing matter. LT offers a handshake, so Bigelow shoves him back into about the sixth row. Taylor is held back by his cronies as the crowd gets behind him with an LT chant.
A Royal Rumble 1994 video package is shown for some reason with the Diesel elimination and the Bret Hart/Lex Luger finish.
Vince pretends that the Bigelow/LT situation was a shoot and apologizes.
Howard Finkel introduces Pamela Anderson, who will raise the hand of the winner of the upcoming Royal Rumble match.
Royal Rumble Match
Shawn Michaels is #1 and is confident as ever despite it. #2 is the British Bulldog, the man Shawn won the Intercontinental Title from back in October 1992 on the final episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. Shawn bumps around big time for Davey Boy and teases an elimination right off the bat off a Flair Flip. This year entrants are only spaced sixty seconds apart, so Vince dubs it as the "most fast paced and accelerated Rumble ever". In reality, that means it won't last nearly as long, will be rushed, won't tell as good of a story, and ultimatley cheapen and undermine the outcome. #3 is Eli Blu of the Blu Brothers, and Duke "The Dumpster" Droese follows a minute later at #4. #5 is one half of the Heavenly Bodies, Jimmy Del Ray, and everyone goes at it. #6 is Headshrinker Seone as Vince continues to sell the "fast and furious" pace of the match. The Bulldog tosses Del Ray for the first elimination of the evening. #7 is Del Ray's partner, Tom Pritchard. Seone presses Shawn Michaels, but Shawn wiggles free. #8 is Doink (with Dink), followed by Kwang at #9. Nothing's really happening here. Just the standard elimination attempts. With sixty second intervals the ring fills up too quickly, so it's a mess in there. #10 is Rick Martel. #11 is Owen Hart. The crowd finally wakes up as Bret jumps him on his way to the ring in retaliation for Owen's interference in Bret's Title Match earlier in the night. #12 is Timothy Well as officials separate Bret and Owen. Owen finally reaches the ring but is quickly clotheslined right back out.
Shawn eliminates Droese, and the Dumpster lands right on Earl Hebner. Well tries to get eliminated in memorable fashion by Flair Flipping out of the ring, but he screws it up and Bulldog is forced to just dump him over the top rope instead. Shawn gets rid of Martel and Pritchard, and Kwang kicks Doink out. Blu and Seone eliminate each other as Bushwacker Luke makes his way out at #13. Shawn and Davey Boy are now the only two left in the ring. Talk about a huge booking period. They got rid of nine guys in about forty seconds. Shawn tosses Luke twelve seconds after he enters. We know it's twelve seconds because Lawler tells us so. Vince asks, "What are you, a stopwatch?" to which Lawler replies, "Yeah, see Mickey's hand?" Vince, in typically overexaggerated Vince voice questions, "Mickey's hand?" I don't know why I included that in my notes but I did. Maybe it seemed funny at the time; I can't remember. The Bulldog hits the delayed suplex on Shawn and could probably hold him up until we get to #17 if he really wanted to, but he instead finishes up as #14, Jacob Blu, enters. Shawn ducks a charge and eliminates him almost immediately. #15 is King Kong Bundy. A double feature shows Owen getting eliminated before. #16 is Mo of Men on a Mission who's backdropped out by Bundy in three seconds, a new record low. And people say Mo didn't accomplish anything of note in the wrestling industry. Davey Boy stupidly tries to slam King Kong Bundy, but can't. #17 is Mabel, who goes right after Bundy. #18 is the other Bushwacker, Butch. Mabel dumps Bundy and Shawn rids us of Butch. #19 is Lex Luger, who dumps the massive Mabel and goes nuts on Shawn Michaels. Could this finally be Luger's time to shine? Will he finally get his hands on that WWF Championship as was promised nearly eighteen months ago? Will we really be subjected to an awful Luger/Diesel Title Match at Wrestlemania XI? Only time will tell.
#20 is Mantaur. #21 is Aldo Montoya (today known as Justin Credible) who goes at it with Shawn Michaels even though he's way out of his league. #22 is Henry Godwinn to make it six men in the ring. #23 is Billy Gunn. Vince mentions that the next night on Raw the Smoking Gunns have a Tag Title shot against the Kid and Holly since they were injured and couldn't participate in the tournament (in fact it was the oddball team of the Kid and Holly that replaced the Gunns in the first place). The Gunns would go onto win that match and the Titles. Six years later when two thirds of the people on this show are long gone from the WWF and half of those are infamous across the web for becoming Wrestlecrap inductees, three of the four involved in that match are three of the top Intercontinental Title contenders out there today (at least they were in December when I took these notes… by now I suppose Billy might as well be in Japan with his "brother"). Speaking of which, Bart Gunn is #24. #25 is Mr. Bob Backlund, and that wacky Hitman, Bret Hart, snaps and runs out after him just as he did with Owen. #26 is Steven Dunn for God knows what reason. Though it does occur to me that his partner, Well, entered right after Owen during Bret's other attack. Weird. Officials finally pull Bret Hart off Backlund and Bobby enters the ring only to be clotheslined out by Lex Luger. Bret breaks away from the refs and he and Backlund brawl all the way to the back. #27 is Dick Murdoch, an "old timer" to say the least, brought back by the WWF just for the novelty of teasing an old guy winning the whole shebang. That and they were desperately searching for ways to fill spots. The crowd has no clue who he is of course. Gene Okerlund actually had the audacity to knock the WWF for Murdoch's Rumble participation on his WCW hotline, basically ridiculing them for having a 50 year old wrestler take part in their PPV. Nevermind the fact that he played a completely insignificant role. I think everyone could see the glaring hypocrisy (and therefore humor) in that statement considering that this was just around the time the average age of WCW's main eventers was starting to skyrocket, a trend that didn't stop until the company's demise in 2001.
#28 is Adam Bomb. Billy Gunn almost eliminates Shawn Michaels, but fails. Some things never change. #29 is Headshrinker Fatu, who brawls with Billy. Hey, it's the Ass Man vs. the other Ass Man! Luger dumps Mantaur. #30 is Crush, who rids us of both Smoking Gunns. Aldo eliminates Dunn. Crush and Adam Bomb slug it out in the corner. Kronic explodes! Lawler brings up last year's "controversial" finish where there were two winners and Vince guarantees us that will never happen again. Heh. Crush backdrops his future partner out. Shawn tosses Montoya and the yellow jockstrap on his head. Fatu does his 360 clothesline sell off a Crush shot, then Crush eliminates him. Murdoch is eliminated by Godwinn. Luger dumps Godwinn shortly thereafter but Shawn knees Luger over the top to the floor in turn. Crush and Shawn double team the Bulldog, as we're down to the final three. Crush double crosses Shawn and press slams him, but the Bulldog seizes an opportunity and clotheslines Crush out of the ring. Now the first two men in the ring are the final two. The crowd goes nuts as they slug it out. The Bulldog dominates and crotches Shawn on the ropes before clotheslining him over the top on the far side of the ring. Shawn holds on but goes over quickly, his feet dangling towards the floor. The crowd pops huge and the Bulldog's music plays. He celebrates with a pose on the second turnbuckle, but Shawn comes back in the ring and knocks him over the top to the floor. The bell rings at 48:37 and the ref raises Shawn Michaels' hand as Shawn's music plays. A replay clearly shows that only one of Shawn's feet touched the floor, and he was amazingly able to hold on without the other one touching as well until he could muscle himself back in. Shawn is victorious and celebrates with Pamela Anderson, knowing he has a shot at his ex-best friend Diesel's WWF Championship at Wrestlemania XI. ***1/4
The '95 Royal Rumble was a very good effort. In previous Rumbles the Rumble Match had been phenomonal but often the other matches on the card were lacking. This card is the reverse, however, as the Rumble features a weak talent pool, a rushed feel, and leaves a lot to be desired, but the undercard is excellent, with Bret, Diesel, Jarrett, and Razor all working terrific matches.
Royal Rumble 1995 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 122:02
Average Match: 24:24
Average Match Rating: ***1/4
Top Moments: Jarrett's awesome performance and IC Title victory, Bret working his magic with Diesel, the good Tag Match, the Bigelow/Taylor confrontation, Shawn and the Bulldog's performance, Bret's revenge, and the presence of one Pamela Anderson
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