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Winning from #1:
Not Even the Highlight of Rumble '95 

January 22, 2004

by Rick Scaia  
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


[NOTE FROM THE PRESENT DAY: A lot of people are expecting Chris Benoit to start the Rumble at #1 on Sunday, last an hour, and win the damn thing... but if he pulls it off, he won't have been the first.  Shawn Michaels won from #1 in 1995, although the feat was rendered substantially less remarkable due to the Fed using 60 second intervals that year.  In terms of sheer tough-bastard-ness, Benoit winning from #1 in a 2 minute Rumble would easily eclipse Michaels' acheivement (which itself doesn't even match-up to Ric Flair winning from #3 in the '92 Rumble).

In fact, Michaels' win from #1 wasn't even the highlight of the Rumble PPV in 1995.  A killer Nash/Hart match was the hands-down in-ring highlight, while a completely unexpected angle between Bam Bam Bigelow and football legend Lawrence Taylor -- one that many fans thought might be a legit shoot at the time -- dropped jaws and set up the WM11 main event.  Just an awesome all-around show.

And now, with all apologies for letting my under-aged-ness and markish enthusiasm show in this dated recap -- a tender young buck was I back in 1995 -- please try to enjoy this recap as much as I obviously enjoyed the show... ]

Royal Rumble '95 PPV Recap
Originally Published on RSPW on January 24, 1995

I hate to steal somebody else's line, but...

In a word, WOW. This was, by far, the most fun I've EVER had watching a PPV event. The 1992 Rumble was the previous holder of that mantle... but that show only had one match (the Rumble itself with Flair's amazing showing) that got the assembled crowd red hot. On the other hand, this year's show had only one match (UT/IRS) that gave us a chance to catch our breath.

Now, part of that is because the guys the WWF have decided to focus on and have involved in many different angles are the characters I've really taken a liking to. But it was also because of the blend of great work and creative booking. Not only does this show earn a Thumbs Up, it gets a Hats Off. If this is Jim Ross' doing, great, keep it up. If it was some odd occurrence of fate, I sure as hell hope someone was taking notes so they can accidentally put on another PPV like this soon.

Once again, I'll try to provide the most anal retentive and complete review of the show... all this despite the fact that I am stuck working with a demonic terminal in a computer lab instead of my housemates lovely PC. If it weren't such a friggin' great show, you probably wouldn't even have seen one paragraph out of me...

Remember, I'm a mutant and actually can't help but let my own personal feelings and emotions effect my ratings. A favorite wrestler or some great booking will definitely raise my ratings. But in general, I think you all can figure out what I thought was good and what I thought was bad. But just for reference, remember:

***** Superlative, Match o' the Century Candidate
**** Excellent, Match o' the Year quality
*** Good, a definite video-keeper
** Fair, keeps your attention... barely
* Poor, nothing of interest at all
DUD Excruciating, you're embarrassed to watch

The Preview Show

Normally, this doesn't get it's own segment, but tonight, it earns one... first off, I want to know who the hell that was in the dark match. One guy was the Brooklyn Brawler, but the other guy I couldn't make an ID on. And it looked like he got the win...

Also, in a surprise appearance at ringside, Lawrence Taylor, the legendary New York Giant, was announced. I'm a big Giants fan, so it was great to see ol' #56 soaking in the action from ringside. I figured he was probably just a fan who happened to be in Tampa at the time.

Finally, Man Mountain Rock made his first arena appearance, playing the national anthem on guitar. Not only was MMR nervous as hell, he really needs some new duds. The old black leather get-up Maxx Payne had was sure as hell more menacing than the ill-fitting hippie costume MMR was wearing. No more tie dye -- please!!!

But then the show kicks off...

Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon - IC Title Match

There were about 11 of us assembled for the PPV... about 3 real fans, and everyone else was just an interested party who I managed to sell into kicking in on the show. When this thing started off really slow (a lot of boring heel stalling by JJ) and everyone starting bitching about it being boring, I was disheartened... the only thing worse than sitting through a boring show is sitting through a boring show with a bunch of people who aren't even willing to pretend like they're having fun. Fortunately, about 5-7 minutes in, things start picking up. I guess it was probably the well- practiced shtick Razor and JJ have been working on in the houses for months now, and it worked well. Lots of back and forth, lots of old-school style wrestling. It was fun to watch and we really got into it. When Razor did that run-into-the-corner-and-slide-under- your-opponent-then-pull-him-back-and-crotch-him-on-the-ringpost, we were stoked. That move set us up for the rest of the great evening. This match continued with highly elevated fan interest, until JJ through Razor clean over the top rope. While JJ distracted the ref, the Roadie clipped Razor's left knee so expertly, LT probably cringed. With Razor writhing in pain on the mat, the ref easily reached teh 10 count before Razor could recover. But that's not what JJ wants. He is willing to forfeit his win if the match can continue. By calling Ramon a chicken, he is able to entice Razor to re-enter the ring and restart the match. By this point, we're all really excited. Who the hell wants a countout??!?! NOT US! But we're also pretty sure that this is the time honored tradition of having JJ lose ignominiously after asking to restart a match. Some great action ends with Razor rallying against all odds, and almost getting JJ in position for the Razor's Edge. Before he can get full extension, his knee buckles, and he crashes to the mat, releasing JJ. JJ seizes the moment and wraps Razor up in the tightest damn small package I have ever seen. Shockingly, he holds Razor down for the 3-count. The initially stunned crowd eventually remembers to boo, as we have just crowned a new Intercontinental Champion.
RATING - ***1/2 (solid work, and great booking)

Now, we move on to the one lowlight on the card. BTW, isn't this just about the lowest Undertaker has been placed on any card since his inception? Perhaps a sign of things to come...

Undertaker vs. Irwin R. Shyster

It's tolerable. I mean, these guys are pros who don't blow spots, and they've been around long enough to come up with a limited number of neat spots to do. They do them all, but not much else. UT walks the ropes, IRS uses the abdominal stretch and the ropes; UT has the zombie sit up, IRS has the Druids. At one point early on, some interference by DiBiase fails, and IRS is momentarily upset with him. But Ted calls out the Druids, and IRS is happy again, now that he's got back-up. The Druids interfere with mixed results. Ultimately, it's not enough, as Undertaker is able to chokeslam IRS and pin him. Before his post-match celebration can go much further, however, he is attacked by the Druids while IRS has recovered enough to assault Paul Bearer and repossess the urn. UT manages to fight off the Druids, but by now King Kong Bundy has come to the ring. Bundy is able to get a quick advantage on UT, and never lets up. He stops short of totally destroying UT (like he did to Hogan to set up WM2), but definitely delivers a message. Without the urn, it takes all the fans' urging to get UT to stand up and stumble back to the dressing room. Maybe now, UT is no longer immortal, but is instead just a regular guy with an intimidating gimmick. It'd be a nice way to go about toning down the gimmick.
RATING - *1/4 (like I said, it was tolerable... not much else)

The Bundy things at the end kind of got us fired up (some of the not-quite-fans remembered him fondly, and their Bundymania was somewhat infectious), but basically we had got a nice 15 minute breather after the 30 minute opener. Thank god, cuz next up was a match that practically drained us...

Bret Hart vs. Diesel - WWF Championship

Even though I was pretty sure this would be a good match, I still had something in the back of my head wondering if this would match the ***3/4 effort these two put in back in June. Afterall that first meeting had Shawn Michaels directing Diesel and taking some great bumps. This match would lack that... I couldn't have been more off base. This match more than made up for any deficiencies caused by Michaels' not being at ringside. To start things off, Bret Hart was clearly testing the waters of his old heel mentality. Everyone in our party loved it, and it seemed like the crowd did too. Diesel was far from an angel, and certainly had heel elements about him, but he never seemed quite as intense as Hart. At first, we had a 50/50 split among us as to our favorite... then as the new fans got a really good look at Diesel, that ratio swung in Big Daddy's favor. When Bret started getting nasty, he won back the majority. By the 15 minute mark, we were basically just cheering for the thing to go 60 minutes, cuz it was so fucking intense. Bret was diving over the ropes, through the ropes, off the ropes, and just plain brawling like nuts. Diesel, while less mobile, was every bit as intense. Bret chose to work on Diesel's left knee, using many heelish tactics. Eventually, Bret would use the Figure 4 on three separate occasions; each time Diesel would struggle to reach the ropes. Diesel chose to work on Bret's ribs and back. He used his very impressive power arsenal to do this. After about 20 minutes, he had Bret softened up enough to go for the Jackknife. And he nailed it. But before the 3 count can be administered, Shawn Michaels comes in a breaks things up, along the way punishing Diesel's left leg some more. All of us were thinking the match was over, a DQ... some of us were thinking that this would signal Bret's heel turn (as he probably hired Shawn to do this). Turns out we were totally wrong. The ref made the leap of logic that since Bret was not allied in any way with Michaels that it would be unfair to DQ Bret based on Shawn's actions. So the match MUST continue. Whooooooooo! Bret was able to get an advantage on Diesel following the attack by Shawn, but couldn't really dominate him. However, with Diesel's leg in pretty bad shape, Hart was able to get him in the Sharpshooter at about the 30 minute mark. Diesel doesn't give in immediately, and Owen Hart makes his was to ringside to do a number on his brother. Owen undoes a turnbuckle pad and punishes Bret with it. Once again, the ref can't bring himself to call for the bell, so, the match MUST continue. Whooooooo! As you may be able to guess, both guys are tired as hell, but they're still going at it. We get more dirty brawling from Bret, more power attacks by Big Daddy... in general, more entertainment for us, the home viewers. But all good things must end. In this case, as the 40 minute mark approached, both Bret and Diesel were spent... Shawn and Owen both decide they've seen enough, and make it to ringside, bringing with them more guys who have a vested interest in injuring one of the two combatants. Between Owen, Shawn, Bob Backlund, Jeff Jarrett, and the Roadie, both Bret and Diesel are demolished, with Backlund getting Bret in the cross-face chicken wing once again. Luckily Diesel gets enough of a second wind to clear the ring and remove Backlund from Hart. The heels are ushered back to the dressing room as the announcement is made that due to the referee's inability to control the match, he is declaring it a draw. Cheap, you say? Nah... after 2 potential screwjobs are clearly tossed aside and 40 of the most intense minutes of wrestling I've seen in the 90's, nothing would be "cheap" about this ending. In fact, one of my cohorts went so far as to say that this was the only way end such a great match, cuz neither guy deserved to lose. I think we may have lost sight of the fact that sometimes, a draw is every bit as clean a finish as a pinfall, if the circumstances are right. This time, the finish fits just fine. BTW, if you need it spelled out for you, this does mean that Diesel is still WWF World Champion.
RATING - ****1/4 (yep... that's right... it was that good)

We need a chance to mellow out after that, but no way. Well, actually, when some of the not-quite-fans saw the team of Kid and Holly, they thought "scrubs." But that label wouldn't stick for long, even if the image of David vs. Goliath remained.

1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka - Tag Title Finals

When the Kid comes out of the chute red hot like this, it catches everyone's attention... even those ignorant fools who mocked him as he made his way to the ring. I can't run off the entire opening sequence, but it was hot, and immediately plunged us back into Totally Fired Up Mode. The one move I do remember was one where Bam Bam shot the Kid a good 12 feet in the air, at which point the Kid re-aligned himself and came down catching Bam Bam with a Frankensteiner-like manuver. WOW!!!!!! Eventually the opening segment closed as soon as Holly got tagged in. For about 10-12 minutes, the heels got to do an almost uninterrupted destruction of Bob Holly. The Kid had some chances to help his partner, but messed them up (screwing up a double team attempt, being distracted when Holly was trying to tag him), and I thought we might see a heel turn. Then the heels started misfiring as well, and I thought we might see a face turn (afterall, I was pretty much solidly sold on that happening, since Bam Bam has now filmed a Slim Jim ad). Eventually, the hot tag is made to the Kid, and the heat is on again. More crazy antics get the underdogs a quick advantage. But eventually, Bam Bam proves to be too big and strong, as he presses the Kid over his head and tosses him unceremoniously to the outside. My friends, that toss looked vicious. With the Kid stunned, Bam Bam eventually decided to try the Lunasault. But DiBiase forgot to give Tatanka the memo, as the Native American decided to drop a running elbow off the ropes on the Kid, in the process, knocking Bam Bam off the rope and knocking him unconscious. With both the Kid and Bam Bam out of it, the ref starts a 10 count. At the last second, the Kid is able to cover Bigelow. A 3 count later, David has slain Goliath, and The 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly are the new tag team champions.
RATING - ***1/4 (hot action and elements of realism)

To avoid including this next bit in the above match rating, I am separating it out. At this point, Bam Bam still hasn't quite recovered, and is still in the ring. Everyone else (including his co-Corporate members) is gone. But before I can even start thinking "face turn," Bam Bam starts taunting the crowd. At this point, Bam Bam is a real mess, BTW; his eye is black, and he's bleeding pretty bad from the mouth (the second hard-way juice of the night... Diesel also suffered a small cut, it appeared). Bigelow is just really upset, and looking really messed up. The crowd starts taunting back, which only further infuriates Bam Bam. He doesn't think it's funny that he was pinned by the underdogs. Unfortunately, as Bam Bam makes his way around the ring, he finds out that one of the guys laughing hardest at him is Lawrence Taylor. So he goes over to jaw with LT. LT isn't too bothered by it all, and tries to make peace by offering his hand. But instead, Bigelow shoves LT HARD -- into the third row! LT was not just selling this, he got shoved hard, and didn't seem to be expecting it. When he got to his feet, the camera caught him screaming "What the fuck?!?!" as his associates settled him down. At no time till Bam Bam shoved LT did I expect ol' #56 to get involved in anything, and I'm not so sure he did either. I'm kind of wondering if maybe Bam Bam was supposed to stop short of actually abusing LT physically... after the incident, there was awkward silence. Eventually, we hear Lawler's voice telling someone "Vince isn't here... he threw off the headset." Or something like that... it was tough to hear, and obviously we weren't meant to hear it. We cut immediately to a video package of Rumble history, and when we come back, Vince is all quiet and subdued and apologized to LT. Either it was a perfectly executed angle, or Bigelow took things a bit too far. Either way, boy did we eat it up. Man was that exciting!

It's now time for the main event. The Rumble itself. Before the actual match, we get two (or is that 3?) more treats: a great interview by Shawn Michaels, and Pamela Anderson's breasts. If I was giving out stars based solely on how hard one worked, Pam Anderson's dress would get *****.... I swear to god that in places it seemed like it was stretched so tight it was down to a thickness of one molecule. And it sure seemed like the cameramen and the guys in the truck knew where those places were, cuz they were prominently featured. But anyway...

The Royal Rumble

When Shawn Michaels comes out #1, I am just a bit worried, because even though I really thought it made most sense for him to win, I didn't know if maybe this wasn't a sign of bad things ahead. Bulldog drew number 2 so at least we get off to a hot start. Too bad the 1 minute interval is really WAY too short. For next year, I'd suggest going back to 2 minutes, but cutting back to 20 or 24 competitors. It'd be an improvement all around. This is usually my favorite match of the year, gimmick-wise, and while it was still quite good, it lacked the exciting pacing and drama of past years. I have no desire to run through every entry and elimination, but I will pass along some of the sentiments we shared among our group. Our favorites were Mantaur (he was so odd, yet still really tough and brutal... plus, he spent a lot of time working over Lex Luger), Bundy (see aforementioned Bundymania), and Dick Murdoch (we liked the idea of a beer-swilling, out of shape dirtbag bagging Pamela Anderson A LOT!). The non-favorites were Lex Luger (GO MANTAUR!), MOM, the Bushwhackers, and Aldo Montoya. A couple nice spots would highlight certain participants. Mostly Shawn got to display his creativity by avoiding numerous attempts to toss him. Also, when Owen Hart was set to enter, he was attacked and beaten brutally by Bret in the aisle. Same thing happened to Backlund (who actually got beat up again on his way back to the dressing room too). Both guys would then stumble into the rumble, and get tossed immediately. Things finally thinned out as the first two, Shawn and Bulldog, hung tough. I think Murdoch was in there too at the end. He was 4th to last out. Crush and Michaels (as the last two heels) formed a tenuous alliance to get rid of Davey Boy, but Crush would turn on Michaels, only to get tossed out for his troubles. It was down to the first two men, after 30 + minutes of action. After some struggling, Bulldog tossed Shawn out... Shawn had the slightest grip on the middle rope, but I swear it looked like his feet must have touched from the stationary camera angle. When the Bulldog's music started and he started celebrating, I thought we had just seen another really unexpected twist. But the ref was making some kind of signal and letting Shawn back in... at this point, I was thinking that Shawn still must have hit the floor, but that the ref was gonna make up some lie, because the planned finish was for Shawn to win. Shawn promptly tossed the shocked Bulldog and was then declared the winner. When we got to see a reply of Shawn's desperate struggle to not touch the floor from a handheld camera, we saw clearly that Shawn only touched the floor with one foot, which is totally legal (and which has been stressed by Todd Pettingill in the past few weeks). It still looked ultra- realistic through, as I could have sworn Shawn was in legit danger of touching down at any second. He had to work really hard to make it look good and get back into the ring. Hats off to that effort.
RATING - *** (not as good as in the past, but some highlights and a great finish)

What a night!!! Great work, great booking, everything!! Camera work was fantastic (not just the Pam Anderson part), and we saw all the action, and got to see the highlights again, through masterful use of the "Double Feature" option the WWF uses on occasion. Great show, great production. I can't say enough good about it. If you've not watched anything from the WWF in a while, this would be a good time to start!



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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