TJR Review: WWE Royal Rumble 1995
This was not the best year for the WWF. In fact, it was probably the worst year they ever had in the WrestleMania era. This Rumble wasn't even sold out in Tampa and business was down across the board.
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.
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. Now let's get to the match.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 22, 1995
The announcers are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler. The King would be in that chair for many Rumbles going forward and he was a very good heel announcer, second only to Bobby Heenan for me. They've got Pamela Anderson at ringside because she was going to appear at WrestleMania as well. This was in the middle of her Baywatch run. She is Canada's greatest export. You're welcome, world.
The #1 entrant is Shawn Michaels, who is a heel here. 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 Pritchard 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 run downs 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 Pritchard 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 15 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 & Bart Gunn.
There's a nice shot of Pamela Anderson's legs. More please. 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 him, Luger ducks and eliminates him 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. He 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. We're 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. He uses it to hang on and he puts his left hand on the middle rope. Then he does the dangling that was so famous. Vince declares Bulldog the winner and his music starts playing. He climbs the ropes, Michaels comes back in and hits a double axe to the back, knocking him out. The ref raises Michaels hand as the announcers are shocked.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
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 well done finish and they had the cameras in place for it. His right foot touched the ground, but never both feet at the same time. Refs Earl Hebner and Tim White were there to see it. After it's over,Andersongoes in the ring with Michaels. I don't think she enjoyed it too much. She did show up at WrestleMania, though, and so did Jenny McCarthy. The teenage John Canton loved both of them.
The match ended at 38:41.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
- 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
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. Had some good power spots.
Lex Luger - He sure loves the clothesline.
Best Elimination: Michaels eliminating Bulldog was a great finish.
Match Rating: **3/4 It was very average although Michaels & Bulldog had their working boots on to try to make it a respectable Rumble.
Ranking the Rumble's in terms of star ratings:
Here's a link to previous Royal Rumble recaps:
1988 Royal Rumble won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan
1989 Royal Rumble won by Big John Studd
1990 Royal Rumble won by Hulk Hogan
1991 Royal Rumble won by Hulk Hogan
1992 Royal Rumble won by Ric Flair
1993 Royal Rumble won by Yokozuna
1994 Royal Rumble won by Bret Hart & Lex Luger
Next up is the 1996 Royal Rumble, which again was a match troubled by a depleted roster. Things would get better in the years ahead.
John Canton - email@example.com