It’s Throwback Thursday, a new weekly review series of an old-school wrestling pay-per-view.
It’s January, and that means one of WWE’s most popular pay-per-view events of the year happens at the end of the month. So all month long, we’ll be getting ready for the Royal Rumble by reviewing some Rumble’s from back in the day.
For the debut of this series, I can think of no better Royal Rumble than a personal favorite of mine, the 1995 Royal Rumble!
WWE Royal Rumble 1995
January 22, 1995
USF Sun Dome, Tampa, FL
Commentary Team: Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler
“30 Men, 1 Winner, Something’s Gotta Give!”
The show started with Baywatch star Pamela Anderson getting out of a limo while Superstars motioned for her to come get some. At the time of this event, I was eight and thought Pamela Anderson was just the hottest chick around.
Match #1: Intercontinental Championship Match – Razor Ramon (c) vs. “Double J” Jeff Jarrett – I was a big fan of both of these at the time, but preferred Razor over Double J here. This match went almost 20 minutes and was a great match. For a long time it was one of my favorites, and I still highly regard it. This match was pretty unique for WWE in that Razor Ramon actually got counted out due to Double J throwing Razor over the top rope and landing on his knee. While he was trying to walk it off, The Roadie came from behind and clipped the knee. So Razor lost the match but retained the title, only Double J got on the mic and called Razor out for taking the cowards way out. This prompted Razor to come back to the ring and get the referee to restart the match. This wouldn’t be a wise decision from Razor, as Double J would get the pinfall to win the championship.
This match was a showcase for Double J, and he’d go on to have another one later in the year against Shawn Michaels. Jarrett dominated a large chunk of the match and worked as a heel brilliantly. His mic work after the count-out was great and served to make the fans want to see Razor go back to the ring and shut him up. As a kid I loved this match every time I saw it, and it a ton. Watching it now in 2020, it’s still great. It’s got great in-ring action and great storytelling. An underrated gem of a match that wrestlers today could learn a lot from.
Jeff Jarrett defeated Razor Ramon via pinfall in 18:01 to win the Intercontinental Championship. ****
Backstage, Todd Pettengill sat with Pamela Anderson and went over some of the gifts that the Superstars sent to try to win Pamela’s affection. More Pamela, woo-hoo! I was always a Pettengill fan too, I really enjoyed his work during the New Generation. This was followed by Stephanie Wiand interviewing Double J.
Match #2: Irwin R. Schyster vs. The Undertaker – Man I loved the IRS gimmick. Is there a better gimmick for a heel than a tax man? I don’t think so. Mike Rotunda played it so well too. Here, he grabbed the mic and reminded Undertaker and all the “tax cheats” watching that “no one rest in peace until they’ve paid all their taxes.” This was a pretty standard Undertaker match for the time period. A slow, methodical pace with quick bursts here and there where Taker got his stuff in and IRS didn’t get a whole lot of offense save for a little stretch after the Druids were brought out by the Million Dollar Man.
Undertaker got the win, but he was attacked afterwards by the Druids and then another one of Million Dollar Man’s henchman, King Kong Bundy who really worked over Undertaker. While this was going on, IRS attacked Paul Bearer and stole the urn. The match was by no means a wrestling classic, but it was entertaining in the way a lot of those mid-90s Undertaker matches were. The crowd was into it, and as a kid I always loved Undertaker and remember enjoying the match a lot. Watching it now, it’s nothing special, but it’s not a bad match by any means it just went a little longer than it needed to.
Undertaker defeated IRS via pinfall in 12:21. **
Highlights of a Todd Pettengill interview with Diesel and one with Bret Hart from Action Zone earlier that morning were shown.
Match #3: WWE World Championship Match – Diesel (c) vs. Bret Hart – As a kid, I never liked Bret Hart. He was right there with Hulk Hogan as someone I just couldn’t like, unless he was a heel and even then I usually liked the people around him more. I was a big Diesel fan though, and unlike most people seemingly I actually really enjoyed Big Daddy Cool’s almost year long reign as the champ.
I loved this match as a kid, and I still think it was one of the better matches in WWE in 1995. I can say now that I’m a big fan of a championship match ending in a draw, especially when it was the champion’s first big defense. As a kid, it was a good ending and it certainly added some intrigue to their match later in the year at Survivor Series.
Bret worked a little heelish in this match, in an attempt to garner some sympathy for Diesel as the face champion. It didn’t really work as the crowd still was largely behind Bret.
This match is notable for its interference. Diesel seemingly had the match won after a Jackknife, but Shawn Michaels came in and attacked Diesel. Referee Earl Hebner ordered the match to continue. A little bit later, Bret had Diesel in the Sharpshooter, and he was attacked by Owen Hart. Again, the match was ordered to continue. Bret and Diesel continued to brawl and Earl Hebner was knocked out. This led to Michaels, Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie running in and attacking Diesel, while Owen and Bob Backlund worked over Bret. Because of all the interference and inability to regain control, Hebner ruled the match a draw.
Diesel and Bret Hart fought to a draw in 27:19. ****
Backstage, Todd Pettengill was still with Pamela Anderson who was changing her attire. Stephanie interviewed the team of 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly getting ready for their tag team championship match. The King did some royal artwork drawing himself kissing Pamela Anderson and claiming he had a date with her after the show.
Match #4: WWE World Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals – 123 Kid and Bob Holly vs. Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow – 123 Kid and Bob Holly were presented as underdogs, the Cinderella team in the tournament to crown new tag team champions. I liked the pairing but they never felt like a team. Bam Bam Bigelow was of course a beast and I was always a big fan of his. As far as the match goes, this was a nice clash of styles. You can’t really say speed and agility, because despite his size Bam Bam was a very quick and very agile big man who could do some very impressive stuff including some top rope high flying.
During this match, Kid went to break up a pinfall and ended up dropping an elbow on Holly. He followed this up by being out of the corner when Holly tried to make a tag. At one point, Bob Holly crawled over and tagged in Tatanka. This resulted in Bam Bam and Tatanka working over Holly in the corner while Kid was being kept out of the ring by the ref. So this match was very much about the underdogs making mistakes and not working well as a team, which was funny because the match ended when Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow made a mistake (actually their second mistake). Bam Bam was on the top rope to do a moonsault when Tatanka bounce off the ropes and knocked Bam Bam off. 123 Kid was able to cover Bam Bam and get the pinfall.
As a kid, this was a great finish and I loved it. Watching it now, it’s bit a stretch to think Bam Bam would be knocked out for such a long period of time just for falling off the top rope. Unfortunately for Kid and Holly, they lost the titles the very next night to the Smoking Gunns.
123 Kid and Bob Holly defeated Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka via pinfall in 15:32 to win the WWE World Tag Team Championship. ***
After the match, an embarrassed Bam Bam Bigelow shoved NFL player Lawerence Taylor, setting up the match between the two at WrestleMania XI.
Highlights from the 1994 Royal Rumble match were shown. This led to a promo by Shawn Michaels talking about how he was going to win tonight and it was going to be an easy night. More highlights were shown, followed by a promo from last year’s co-winner Lex Luger.
Pamela Anderson made her way to ringside looking very fine.
Match #5: The 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
This was the shortest 30-Man Royal Rumble at just over 38 minutes as new people entered every minute, and possibly one of the least star-studded. You had Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog, Lex Luger, and Owen Hart for like three seconds. King Kong Bundy was in it as well. As for the rest of the line-up this was jobber city, and there was only like three believable people to win it.
This Rumble match is notable for one reason, it was the first time someone won the Rumble after entering at #1, and that was Shawn Michaels. Actually, this Rumble began and ended with Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog, and had a false finish as you were supposed to believe Bulldog won. Only one of Shawn’s feet touched the floor, and Michaels got himself back in the ring to eliminate a celebrating Bulldog who was on the middle turnbuckle with his music playing.
As a kid, I predicted Shawn Michaels to win and wanted him to win. I was super invested in the match and was livid when he was “eliminated.” Imagine my surprise then when Bulldog went tumbling over the top and his music stopped playing, and Michaels was announced as the winner. The replay showing Michaels keeping that one foot off the ground was great. It made for a very memorable moment from a very lackluster Royal Rumble match.
Outside of the work of Michaels and Bulldog, this was a meh Royal Rumble match but still one I like and look back fondly on because of the finish and the win by Shawn Michaels who was my favorite in the 1994-1996 period of WWE.
Shawn Michaels won the 1995 Royal Rumble in 38:41. **
Overall, Royal Rumble 1995 was a very good show with a very mediocre Royal Rumble match. All four of the non-Rumble matches were entertaining, with two of them being great. It’s also a very quick watch, clocking in under three hours which is always a plus in my book.
As an event, I loved the 95 Royal Rumble as a kid and watched it a million times when I was young. It’s still an entertaining and good show, and you can’t really fault the lackluster Rumble match given the roster at the time.