(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
January 24, 1993
The high turnover rate in the WWF forced a necessary change to the yearly tradition of the Royal Rumble. The match could no longer simply be a showcase of stars. It needed an extra kick, so Vince added the stipulation that the winner would receive a WWF Title Match at WrestleMania. This stipulation remains to this day and makes the Rumble one of the more exciting events of the year (sometimes). The Rumble is now the start of the road to WrestleMania, as the announcers are so fond of saying. Also, Vince realized that his thin roster meant he needed to bring in some special entrants. He invited Carlos Colon (Father of Carlito and Primo) from Puerto Rico and Genichiro Tenryu (You may remember him from Mania VII) from Japan. The Rumble Match will also include the new and returning faces I mentioned in my RAW review, such as Jerry Lawler and Bob Backlund.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned turnover continues because Ric Flair is on his way out of the company. Vince told him that he had the right to give his notice if he ever became unhappy in the WWF. Flair saw the writing on the wall when Vince decided to push the younger stars, so Ric announced his intentions to return to WCW. Flair is in this Rumble, but he would face Mr. Perfect in a Loser Leaves Town Match the next night on RAW and he would lose. (The match had already been taped, but it would air the following night.)
The primary storylines for this show are the WWF Title Match between Bret Hart and Razor Ramon and the Intercontinental Title Match between Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. I already discussed Jannetty’s return in my Survivor Series review and thankfully Marty didn’t get fired since then. (Give him some time.) I also discussed Sherri getting hit with a mirror and the injury she suffered, but she’s set to return at this show. They built intrigue around which man she would manage because she has reason to be angry with Shawn. In the WWF Title feud, Razor Ramon attacked Bret’s brother Owen and threatened to slap Stu Hart in the face. (I’d kind of like to see him try. I could only imagine how Stu would react.) They filmed some pretty cool promos between Bret and Razor that made good use of the WWF’s newest toy, the video-wall, to get some great camera shots of the two men looking at each other.
This show would also include a debut, of sorts. Bobby Heenan hyped a new wrestler, named Narcissus, for weeks. He claimed that he would be a foil for Mr. Perfect. That wrestler is none other than Lex Luger. He was brought in for the WBF. However, Luger wasn’t able to compete because he was involved in a motorcycle accident before the first show. The WBF failed and ended, so Vince decided that he might as well use Luger as a wrestler, which I’m sure disappointed Lex. (He would have loved to collect a paycheck to work out and pose on stage.) The motorcycle accident would require reconstructive surgery, which included a metal plate in Lex’s forearm. The WWF would use this as part of Luger’s new gimmick, as he would use the metal forearm to knock out his opponents.
The show opens with a shot of the crowd, as Gorilla Monsoon welcomes everyone. (I’m so glad he’s back, but sadly this would be the last PPV that Monsoon & Heenan call as a duo.) Gorilla talks about the card, but Heenan is visibly impatient. He keeps motioning for Gorilla to get to the point. Gorilla finishes, so Heenan asks, “What about the unveiling of Narcissus?” Monsoon replies, “Who cares!?” Then, there’s a brief moment where you can hear the Beverly Brother’s theme, but a weird edit cuts to their entrance with different music. (That’s odd because their proper theme is intact on all the other shows.)
The Steiner Brothers vs. The Beverly Brothers
They open with a match between brother tag teams, but only one team is legitimately related. You may notice that the Genius is not with the Beverlys and that’s because he left the company shortly after Survivor Series. (There goes the only interesting thing about the Beverlys.) They threaten to jump the Steiners during Fink’s introductions, so Howard bails out of the ring in mid-sentence. Heenan sarcastically tells him that their name is the Steiner Brothers as if Fink had forgotten.
Scott and Beau start the match and Beau quickly complains of both hair and tight-pulling, but he does some hair-pulling of his own. Scott answers with a tilt-a-whirl slam, so Beau regroups and tags Blake, who goads Rick into joining him. Blake takes a cheap shot and hits a powerslam, but Rick returns the favor and tags Scott. He hits an overhead belly-to-belly and goes for a Tiger Bomb, but Beau clotheslines him and the Beverlys begin double teaming Scott. They take turns hitting backbreakers and work over Scott’s back in their corner. Blake even chokes Scott with the tag rope, so Heenan jokes that he’s hangin’ around. Scott finally fights back with a reversed suplex and a Tiger Bomb before tagging Rick. The Beverlys try to double team Rick, but he gives them both Steinerlines. Then, Scott makes a blind tag and goes for ten-punches, but the Beverlys try a Doomsday Device. However, Scott turns it into a victory roll and then hits a dangerous looking Frankensteiner on Blake for the win.
This was a fun opener. There was some good basic psychology from the Beverlys and the Steiners offense looked both dangerous and exciting, as usual. The crowd loved the Steiners, so the heat bumped the match up a notch. Even the Beverlys were solid enough in this match. I wish the Steiners had better competition because it’s kind of sad that they joined the WWF when the tag division is so weak.
Winners: The Steiner Brothers (10:34)
After the match, Heenan uses the Brain Scan to demonstrate that Beau was too far away on the Doomsday Device attempt. He draws some sloppy arrows on the screen and realizes it’s terrible, so he blames it on the production truck and asks for a new Brain Scan.
Next, they recap the Shawn Michaels/Marty Jannetty feud. They show footage of their days as the Rockers and the breakup at the Barber Shop. Then, they show Jannetty’s return in November and Sherri getting hit with the mirror. When they return to the arena, Fink introduces Sherri, who comes to the ring wearing a flowing red dress that is cut rather low. She’s also sporting quite the impressive afro. Heenan talks about how great she looks, but Gorilla speculates about which man she will choose.
Intercontinental Title Match: Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Marty Jannetty
Marty is still using the Rockers theme for his entrance. (You can tell who is considered the bigger star. Shawn got a new theme when he went solo.) Shawn then makes his entrance and he mouths the words to his song. (I guess he’s practicing for when he re-records the theme with his own vocals.) He enters the ring and beckons Sherri to join him, but she remains firm and stares at him in silence. Shawn finally gives up and slowly removes his entrance gear in an attempt to psych-out Marty.
Shawn shoves him to start, but Marty quickly gains the advantage. He chases him around and sends him in and out of the ring more than once. Marty even hits a suicide dive and a flying punch, but Shawn hits him on a second attempt. Then, Shawn rams Marty shoulder-first into the post a couple of times. (He has to redo it because he attacked the right shoulder. American wrestlers always work the left and that’s the shoulder Marty started selling.) Shawn begins working over Marty’s shoulder and they fight in the aisle, so Heenan accuses Jannetty of trying to leave. The attack continues until Marty raises his boot on a jumping nothing by Shawn and catches him with a back elbow. Shawn also crashes into the post on a missed corner charge. Shawn tries to fight back by pulling Marty to the floor, but they fight on the apron and Marty suplexes him outside. Sherri looks concerned and approaches Shawn—before slapping him in the face! Marty seizes the opening to hit a suplex and a powerslam. Then, he fakes Shawn out on a flying fist drop before hitting a DDT. Shawn tries to answer with a superkick, but he misses and Marty hits one. They reverse through some pin attempts before Marty catapults Shawn into the post, but then the ref gets hit by an errant elbow. Sherri takes the opportunity to try and hit Shawn with her shoe, but she nails Marty by mistake. Shawn berates her for turning on him and then hits Marty with a superkick for the win. (Marty takes a ridiculous spinning bump from the move.)
There was some great storytelling in this match. Marty’s selling of the shoulder was a bit hokey at times, but it was still a solid match. (To be fair, both men were doing a bit of over-selling. It wasn’t quite HBK/Hogan levels, but it was over the top.) I’m even okay with the finish because this feud should continue. However, we will have to wait a while for the rematch. Marty would sadly be fired the next day when he was found passed out in the locker room. It would turn out that he was only sleeping, but Shawn told Vince Marty was drunk. Michaels was apparently annoyed with Marty. Vince would later rehire Jannetty after learning the truth. (I see that Shawn’s bad behavior is starting already.)
Winner: Shawn Michaels (14:20)
Sherri runs to the back in tears and starts throwing a fit. Shawn sees her on the video-wall, so he follows. Mean Gene attempts to calm her—by yelling, “SHERRI, DAMMIT, SETTLE DOWN! YOU’RE HYSTERICAL!!” (I agree. Her performance is pretty funny. Oh, that’s not what he meant.) Shawn arrives and tells her she’s going back to the gutter, but Jannetty attacks him. They start brawling and a mysterious orange flies over their shoulder. (Where did that come from!? Did someone throw it?) The officials finally break up the fight and Gorilla says that Marty saved Sherri because Shawn was going to clobber her. Heenan says she deserves it for slapping him. (Wow, that comment hasn’t aged well.)
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Big Boss Man
Bam Bam Bigelow has finally returned to the WWF after a short stint in WCW and a long one in Japan. (He even teamed with Vader for a while, which sounds awesome.) He’s a heel now, unlike his initial WWF run. They aired vignettes for his return that focused on his tattooed scalp and the fire theme. He threatened to burn his way through the WWF. On the other hand, his opponent is on his way out of the company. This would be Boss Man’s final PPV appearance in the WWF until he returns in the Attitude Era to steal caskets and cook dogs. (You don’t need to worry. We’ll see Boss Man elsewhere soon enough.)
Bam Bam jumps Boss Man to begin and starts attacking his back. Boss Man fires back and hits ten-punches on both the mat and the turnbuckles. (Gorilla jokes that he’s reading Bam Bam his rights.) Bammers responds with a back suplex, but he misses a falling headbutt and Boss Man hits a facebuster. Then, Boss Man charges him, but Bam Bam back drops him over the ropes in what looked like a nasty spill. Boss Man is slow to return, but Bam Bam immediately returns to attacking the back when he does. He locks Boss in a rear bear hug, which doesn’t look like it would hurt the back. Boss Man briefly breaks free, but Bigelow hits a hotshot and returns to the move—for a while. Boss Man eventually breaks free again and Bam Bam misses a cross body, so Boss Man hits a back drop. He then follows it with a running knee attack on the ropes, but Bigelow ends up catching him with a boot on a corner charge and hits a flying headbutt for the win.
This match was slow and boring. There were a couple of good spots, but they were unfortunately mixed with endless back work by Bigelow. This was not a good way to showcase Bam Bam. I know he’s capable of better, but I guess he needs to reacquaint himself with the WWF style.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (10:10)
Next, they recap the Bret Hart/Razor Ramon feud. They show a clip of Razor attacking Owen on WWF Mania. Heenan finds it hilarious, but Gorilla says that Razor will stoop at nothing. Then, they show Ray Rougeau interviewing Razor at a Sacramento Kings game the night before the PPV. Razor says he will have gold on his fingers, around his neck, and around his waist after the Rumble. He then tells Rougeau to leave and warns Bret to get some sleep before tomorrow.
Razor makes his entrance and they show a fan sign that says, “Razor’s so dull he can only cut the cheese.” (I don’t know whether to laugh or shake my head.) He enters the ring, but they cut to Mean Gene, who is with Bret Hart. Gene talks about Bret’s many title defenses, but he says this one is personal. Bret replies that Razor crossed a line that he won’t forget because this is now about family and blood. He then says that Razor will pay for everything he’s done. Bret promises to defend his family’s honor—and defend he’s going to do. (There was some better intensity in this promo, but the verbiage wasn’t quite there. Bret is still trying to find that good mix of both.)
WWF Title Match: Bret Hart (c) vs. Razor Ramon
Razor, unfortunately, blew out his knee shortly before this show. You can see that he’s wearing an extra brace under his knee-pad, but he deserves a lot of credit for doing this match anyway. They show Stu & Helen Hart in the crowd before the match starts and Stu looks as grumpy as ever, but he almost cracks a smile during Bret’s entrance. Bret gives his shades to a child before the match, so Razor throws his toothpick at the kid, which is great heel work.
Bret takes offense to the act and attacks Razor. They trade punches and Razor gets the advantage until he misses a running knee in the corner. (That’s a good way to incorporate the knee injury into the match.) Bret immediately goes after his leg and locks Razor in a Figure Four, but he reaches the ropes. He then continues the attack, but Ramon reverses a whip and sends Bret rib-first into the post. Ramon then focuses his attack on Bret’s ribs. He hits a couple of backbreakers and more post attacks before hitting a fallaway slam. He also locks Bret in an abdominal stretch, but Bret eventually reverses it. Then, Bret answers with a cross body and a slingshot sunset flip, but Razor sits on him. They reverse through some more pin attempts, but Ramon regains control and wears Bret down with a chinlock and a bear hug. Bret finally breaks free with some biting before back dropping Razor over the ropes and hitting a suicide dive. He then hits Ramon with an inverted atomic drop, backbreaker, and flying clothesline, as well as a bulldog and a Russian leg sweep. He follows that up by going for the Sharpshooter, but Razor breaks it by pulling Earl Hebner into Bret. Razor then returns to attacking Bret’s ribs until Bret reverses a super back suplex attempt into a suplex of his own. However, Ramon raises his boot on Bret’s diving elbow attempt and goes for the Razors Edge. Bret reverses it into a backslide and then reverses a knucklelock into another pin attempt. Razor kicks out, but Bret quickly rolls him over into a Sharpshooter from the mat and gets the win.
This was a great match. They masterfully worked around Razor’s knee injury and there was good storytelling. The crowd was hot for the entire thing. I have to give Razor credit for working hurt and taking bumps you wouldn’t expect him to in that condition. I will also give Bret credit for crafting a match that worked around the limitations. Both men played their part perfectly.
Winner: Bret Hart (17:52)
After the match, Bobby Heenan leaves the announce table to do his unveiling. He heads down to the arena and stands in front of a curtain. He asks the crowd if they’re ready and they cheer until they realize what’s happening. Then, they show some ladies in the front row wearing evening gowns. (They have to be plants. Who dresses like that for a wrestling show?) Heenan says it’s an honor to introduce the Narcissist, Lex Luger! (They changed his name already? That didn’t take long. It must have been a recent change because he still says Narcissus a few times.) The curtain raises to reveal Luger kneeling in front of some mirrors. He’s wearing a shiny cape, so Heenan tells him not to tease the crowd and show the world what they’ve been waiting to see. Luger stands and Bobby helps him remove the cape before he poses and flexes. He sings Luger’s praises and tells him he has every reason to love himself. (They have to be ribbing Heenan by having him say all of this. They know exactly how he sounds and Vince is probably laughing his butt off at it.) Heenan then tells Luger to pose for the crowd and he rambles about Lex’s muscles. He also tells the fans they all wish they were Luger. Then, Heenan takes a shot at Mr. Perfect and asks Lex for some words. Luger calls himself incredible and promises to be the most dominant force in the WWF. He says that all the wrestlers will bow before him because he’s the most mesomorphically magnificent physical specimen and he’s beyond perfection. (I’m shocked Luger said all of that without stumbling. He must have practiced for hours!) He then claims everyone is impressed by him and tells Mr. Perfect he will learn how great he is if he has the guts to take the challenge. Then, the curtain lowers again and Heenan kneels to try and get in some final words before it reaches the floor. (This is quite suggestive and probably got an even bigger laugh from Vince.)
Next, the Fink introduces—Caesar and Cleopatra?? They enter the arena to some epic sounding Roman music and are flanked by guards. (One of the guards is Louie Spicolli/Rad Radford.) Gorilla talks about how WrestleMania IX will be at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and he practically reads a Vegas brochure. (I hope he got paid extra for that advertisement.) Then, the community theater reject—I mean Caesar opens a scroll and asks the fans to lend him their ears. He personally invites everyone to WrestleMania IX, where the superstars of the WWF will compete on Sunday, April 4, 1993. He calls Caesar’s Palace sumptuous, splendiferous, and lavish. (I’ve seen the Mania IX set up and it’s none of those things.) He also says that everyone will be royally entertained. (Oh—I doubt that.) Then, he announces that the winner of the Rumble Match will face the WWF Champion at Caesar’s Palace and calls for the games to begin.
Gorilla tries to explain the rules of the Rumble Match, but Heenan can’t stop gushing about his previous segment. Gorilla tells him he won’t have any trouble finding Mr. Perfect, which surprisingly delights Heenan.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Before I begin this match, I wanted to point out a couple of noticeable absences. Crush and Doink, who are currently feuding, aren’t in the match to sell their current storyline. Doink had been faking an arm injury and used it to lure Crush into a trap on Superstars. He removed a fake plaster arm and cracked Crush over the head with it, revealing it was filled with batteries. Crush would skip this match to sell the attack and Doink isn’t there because he’s still pretending to be hurt. Meanwhile, the Fink doesn’t explain the rules. Gorilla already did that. He simply introduces #1, which is—Ric Flair. Heenan immediately becomes worried. #2 is Bob Backlund and the crowd doesn’t react to him, but that would change over the course of this match.
Backlund keeps getting the better of Flair and tripping him before doing a weird little waddle in celebration. #3 is Papa Shango and Heenan jokes that he might make both men disappear, but Shango is quickly dumped out by Flair. #4 is Ted DiBiase, who helps Flair attack Backlund. #5 is Brian Knobbs, who surprisingly gets a big pop and even more surprisingly takes control of the match. He even gives DiBiase the Pit Stop (Rubbing his face in his armpit.) Then, Virgil enters at #6 and goes straight for DiBiase. Knobbs sees an opening and charges Ted, but he ducks and Brian flies over the top for an elimination. #7 is Jerry the King Lawler, who doesn’t have his crown. (It was reportedly stolen backstage by people that don’t like Jerry. The story is that they all took a dump in it.) Lawler oddly goes after Flair, despite both men being heels. #8 is Max Moon, who gets a surprising amount of offense against Flair, but he gets dumped out by Lawler when he tries too many spinning wheel kicks. Next, Genichiro Tenryu enters at #9 to apathy from the crowd until he trades chops with Flair. #10 is Mr. Perfect, who sprints to the ring and Heenan loses his cool.
Perfect and Flair immediately brawl and Perfect gets the advantage. Perfect slams Ric off the top rope and hits a neck whip, before both men start trading chops. #11 is Skinner, who has a big grin on his face. (I think I know who stole Lawler’s crown.) Mr. Perfect has an even bigger grin because he clotheslines Flair over the top rope and Heenan starts crying it’s not fair to Flair. #12 is Koko B. Ware, who hitches up his pants and does a funny dance on the way to the ring. Perfect eliminates Skinner after a couple of attempts before Afa drags Samu to the ring by his hair for the #13 entry. Then, the Berzerker enters at #14 and Husses his way to the ring. Perfect then back drops Lawler out of the match, but everyone gangs up to push Perfect to the apron. Lawler sees a chance for revenge, so he helps pull Perfect to the floor while officials try to stop him. They finally make Lawler leave and he receives a fright when the Undertaker enters at #15. Meanwhile, Berzerker pulls Backlund out under the bottom rope and knocks him out with a chair while Taker eliminates Samu and Tenryu. #16 is Terry Taylor, who has also returned to the WWF, but the fans couldn’t care less. DiBiase quickly dumps both Taylor and Koko, but Taker chokeslams Ted and eliminates him. Taker and Berzerker then brawl, but then—WHAT IS THAT!?
Oh, no. It’s Giant Gonzalez. (He’s the former El Gigante from WCW in an airbrushed bodysuit with fur.) Harvey Wippleman chose him as his next monster to fight Taker. Heenan jokes that he’s 20-feet tall, while Taker dumps Berzerker out of the match. Taker then sees Gonzalez and the two slowly step towards each other. Damien Demento quietly enters at #17, but he remains at ringside while Gonzalez starts beating down the Undertaker and knocks him over the top rope for an elimination. Gonzalez continues his attack and runs Taker into the steps before hitting a chokeslam. He also runs Taker’s leg into the post, while IRS enters at #18. Officials finally make Gonzalez leave, but Taker is out cold. Backlund then enters the ring, so Demento and IRS attack him. #19 is Tatanka, who gets a good pop. Paul Bearer returns to ringside with the urn and Taker rises and stumbles his way to the back. Then, #20 is Jerry Sags.
#21 is Typhoon and #22 is Fatu, who is also dragged to the ring by Afa. Then, Earthquake enters at #23 and the fans stomp their feet to make a cool rumbling sound. Quake surprisingly goes after Typhoon and the two collide with each other until Quake dumps Typhoon to the floor. #24 is Carlos Colon, who Gorilla hilariously calls a “Youngster.” He manages to eliminate Demento with a back drop. #25 is El Matador before Backlund sends Fatu out of the ring. Next, Rick Martel enters at #26 and goes after Tito, but he regrets it. Meanwhile, IRS eliminates himself with a missed jumping clothesline. #27 is Yokozuna, who trades chops with Tatanka before throwing him over the top rope. He also sends Carlos Colon out of the match, but then Quake challenges Yoko. (Quake was legitimately a sumo wrestler, so he probably loved this.) The fans react well to the face-off while Owen Hart enters at #28. Quake hits a corner splash on Yoko, but he misses a second one and Yoko—kind of belly-to-belly suplexes Quake out of the match. #29 is Repo Man, who foolishly goes after Yokozuna. Everyone tries to gang-up on Yoko, but he fights them. Finally, #30 is Randy Savage, who gets the biggest reaction of the match. (I hope Vince heard that.) Yoko tosses out Santana, while Savage fights with Repo Man. (Repo stole Savage’s hat on RAW.) Then, Owen dropkicks Sags out of the match and goes after Yoko, but he hip tosses Owen over the ropes. (Owen landed horribly on his knee and injured it.) Savage then throws out Repo, so it’s down to the final four.
(Final Four: Yokozuna, Randy Savage, Bob Backlund, & Rick Martel.) Yoko chokes Savage in the corner, while Martel tries to eliminate Backlund. Bob places Martel on the top rope and punches him to the floor, which gets a good reaction. Backlund is so tired he has a quite amusing look on his face like he barely knows what’s happening. He then tries to charge Yoko, but Yoko throws Bob over the ropes to boos. (The fans gave Backlund a great reaction because of his endurance.) It’s down to just Savage and Yoko and the fans become loud. Yoko chokes Randy, but he fights back and tries to knock him off his feet. Savage hits some flying axehandles and gets Yoko to one knee, but Yoko answers with a thrust kick and a belly-to-belly. Yoko then follows up with a leg drop and a corner splash, but he misses a second one and falls onto his back. Savage then hits the flying elbow drop and—goes for a pin!?!? Yoko presses Savage off of him and over the top rope for the win.
This was a very lackluster Rumble Match. The Flair/Perfect stuff was good and Backlund’s performance was impressive, but the rest dragged. Plus, there was the stupid Giant Gonzalez stuff, which leads to one of the worst feuds ever. You could tell there was a dip in star-power in this match and even half of these competitors would soon be gone. Also, that finish was dumb and made Savage look like an idiot. I get they wanted the impressive sight of Yoko pressing him over the ropes, but it made no sense. Why would a veteran like Savage go for a pin? I have no problem with Yokozuna winning, but I don’t think the finish made him look as impressive as they think.
Winner: Yokozuna (1:06:35)
After the match, Caesar’s theme plays again instead of Yoko’s music. Caesar and Cleopatra walk to the ring to escort Yokozuna, while Heenan says Yoko will be a national hero for Japan. Gorilla then says goodnight and introduces a highlight video.
– Bret/Razor was great.
– Shawn/Marty was quite good.
– The opening match was fun.
– Bob Backlund’s performance was impressive.
– The stuff with Sherri was amusing.
– The Rumble Match was disappointing.
– Bam Bam/Boss Man was bad.
– Giant Gonzalez.
Performer of the Night:
It’s a tie between Razor Ramon and Bob Backlund. They both had impressive performances. Razor was impressive for working through an injury and Bob was impressive for his endurance at his age.
I think the good far outweighed the bad on this show. There were enough good matches and segments to make it quite watchable and fun. The Rumble Match might have been disappointing, but it’s not the worst one ever. It’s a shame the rest of the year doesn’t match the good start. (I have a feeling I’ll be saying that again next week.)
My next review will be WCW’s SuperBrawl III, featuring a cross-promotion with White Castle—I think. (Now, I’m hungry for burgers.)