Royal Rumble Count-Up: 1995

Royal Rumble 1995
Date: January 22, 1995
Location: USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida
Attendance: 10,000
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

Well, another year has passed and other than some different jobbers in the midcard, the only big change is Diesel has replaced Luger atop the company. Yoko is now a non factor, Bret is of course in the title hunt, and Luger is in the midcard doing jack. Other than that there are just not a lot of differences. Of course we have the Rumble, but other than that and a Diesel vs. Bret title match, we’ve got nothing of note.

This was a very weird period for the company as they were pretty much booking as they went instead of having long term plans. At the same time in WCW, everything was more or less thrown together. Also, there’s still no Nitro at this point as it was about seven and a half months away. There’s just not a ton going on at this point in wrestling and it’s clear that a change was needed. However, that wouldn’t come for over a year and a half, and as you’ll see, that was WAY too far off. Let’s get to this.

Your big deal here is that Pamela Anderson is here and will escort the winner of the Rumble to Mania. This would turn out to be one of the worst celebrity things that I can remember as she just looked like she absolutely HATED being there. If you’re getting paid to be there, at least try to not look like you’re just wanting to go get smashed. The intro is as generic of a beach thing as you can possibly imagine. Why does Vince have to be such a freaking mic hog? It’s really annoying.

Intercontinental Title: Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon

These two feuded for what seemed like forever. Razor is of course the champion here as that’s all he ever did. Razor’s intro has reached Orton levels. Jerry gets in a funny line about how Jarrett, a country singer here, is going to star in a Broadway play: Phantom of the Grand Ole Opry. That’s just great. As we have a long feeling out period, we keep seeing the Roadie, who is more commonly known as the Road Dogg.

These two had some awesome chemistry to say the least. The gimmick that Jarrett had hurt him a lot I think. He was hard to take seriously, which is unfair because he looked good, he sounded good, he wrestled well, and he just overall worked as a big time guy. However, due to his gimmick and eventually the guitar he just failed. I’ve never gotten that. Take this match for example: everything is working fine and it’s a pretty solid match.

I don’t have anything to really make fun of in it. Granted that could be because Razor was incredibly underrated here so that might have something to do with it. Razor does all his usual stuff, although instead of the bulldog from the middle rope we get a clothesline. These two are having a very solid match out there if I do say so myself. We go to the floor though and Roadie clips Razor’s knee to send him down.

That causes the count out but Jarrett is intelligent for a change and says that he doesn’t want it that way so we need to keep going. They went for almost fifteen minutes to get to this point if that tells you anything. It was a lot of feeling out stuff but at the end of it we more or less had a stalemate. Razor gets back in and we’re ready to go again. I’ve never gotten the term restart the match. Why don’t they get new entrances?

That’s what started the match and if you’re going to redo them you might as well redo those too. With Razor’s knee destroyed, Jeff of course gets the Figure Four on a bit later. Lawler channels his inner Monsoon and says stick a fork in him, he’s done.

However, since Razor is a face and therefore comes equipped with healing powers, he escapes and makes his comeback. If Vince says he’s got him! No wait he doesn’t, one more time I’m going to scream. He gets Jarrett up in the Edge but his knee gives out and a small package gives Jarrett the title. That was good.

Rating: B+. That was a solid opener. Razor was a big deal at the time and him jobbing to Jarrett should have been the start of a big push for him but for some reason that wasn’t the case. These two were both solid workers that were likely told to just go out there and have a good match and that’s just what they did. This was a great opener.

Some annoying looking woman can’t find Jarrett. Hint: HE’S IN THE RING!

Todd is with Pamela Anderson who has gotten lots of gifts from wrestlers because apparently wooing her will make them win the Rumble. I really hate this.

The annoying woman has found Jarrett but calls him Razor. He looks good with the belt.

IRS vs. Undertaker

This was during the epically long Taker vs. DiBiase’s Million Dollar Team feud. This was actually billed as Death vs. Taxes. I give up. Apparently Taker was at a monster truck rally the night before, in character. That’s just amusing to no end. They say he was there watching his favorite monster truck: Grave Digger. There’s just something hilarious in that. As expected, there’s not a ton here.

Look at the guys in there and tell me you were expecting a solid match with a straight face. IRS simply isn’t a legit opponent here, plain and simple. This is a lot of IRS trying to fight Taker and naturally failing while Lawler says the Druids, who worked for DiBiase, should be at ringside. I’m quite bored during this match as it’s just not interesting at all. Taker apparently was at the NFL 75th Anniversary Black Tie Dinner. WOW that’s an image.

After more beating on IRS, DiBiase brings in the Druids because this wasn’t uninteresting enough. The Druids mess up Old School as the ring sounds weird. This just needs to end like NOW. It’s completely boring and feels like a bad joke or something. Lawler thinks the urn has something to do with Taker’s power. That’s so stupid I don’t even know where to begin. It’s the SMOKE inside the urn, not the urn itself.

IRS gets out of a tombstone because of the Druids and hits his finisher: a clothesline called the Write Off. Yep, his finisher is a clothesline. After sitting up for like the 4th time, a bad chokeslam ends this FINALLY. Oh wait here are the druids for even more wasting of time. King Kong Bundy comes out and allows IRS to steal the urn. I really couldn’t be any less interested. Oh and apparently the cheering of the fans works as well as the urn. I give up.

Rating: D. Oh man this was bad. It ran about 12 minutes but it felt like 45. I mean really, Death vs. Taxes? Who thought that was going to be a good match? This should have been about half as long as it was and a glorified squash. No one bought Taker as being in any kind of danger here and it’s clear that this was just not going to be competitive. It was also really boring with the Druids and DiBiase taking too much time. Just a horrible waste of time.

We get interviews from earlier in the day where Todd pesters the heck out of Bret and Diesel who don’t want to talk to him.

WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. Diesel

Diesel is champion and Bret wants to be champion, end of backstory. They point out that Bret has won two triple crowns while Diesel has won it faster than anyone else (Punk broke that record.) Diesel goes over to talk to Lawrence Taylor and it starts. I really don’t get what they thought that was going to accomplish. Actually I do as it got them a ton of mainstream press, but the fans got screwed over in about 3 months.

WE ARE LIVE! Vince, I hate your marketing obsession. They’ve bought the show. You don’t have to sell it to them again. This actually starts with a slugfest, which naturally doesn’t work for Bret. There’s a bit of a story going on here as Bret is trying to get at Diesel’s legs using all kinds of little tricks and quick moves while Diesel is just straight ahead power. I like that. Bret gets the leg and hammers it early which is odd.

We’re 5 minutes in and we’re on our seconds figure four. Vince says it’s perfect. Vince is wrong. Lawler uses that line I hate about how they’re the same size on the mat. No, Diesel is indeed still taller than Bret. Bret is acting a bit heelish here which the announcers point out. I love that suicide dive that Bret uses. It just looks awesome. Granted any version of that looks great.

Apparently one elbow from Diesel is like 10 average punches. So he has the strength of ten men. That’s amusing indeed. In a funny moment, Diesel gets Bret up in an Argentinean Back Breaker which starts like a powerbomb but Diesel stops to put the hold on. Bret gives a look to the referee and then realizes what’s going on. It looked funnier than it sounded.

In a weird spot, Bret wraps Diesel’s legs around the post and ties them with his tape to beat on him. This lasts about 5 seconds as the referee frees him. That was kind of stupid. We go to the floor…again and Bret hits a pescado but is caught and posted. Diesel goes for him again but then remembers to sell the knee injury. Thanks for that one big guy.

Diesel hits the jackknife but Shawn runs in for the save. He beats on Diesel and works on his leg, yet that’s not enough for a DQ. Well thanks guys. I guess we’re building up some screwjob credits for two and a half years from now. Bret hooks his third figure four of the match as the fans are so bored with it I’m amazed. Lawler channels his inner Heenan and keeps changing his pick. Dang it Nash sell the freaking knee!

Ok, this whole Bret can’t get disqualified thing is freaking stupid. He cracks Diesel in the knee with a chair and that’s not enough for a DQ. The referee has no issue with checking on a submission after that. Owen runs out for the save as this has just gotten stupid. Hey we’ve used chairs, posts, tape and run ins. Why not an exposed buckle? How can no one get that Bret is likely playing possum as he’s done it about once a match for years. Oh sure. Let’s knock out the referee now.

Owen, Shawn and Backlund and Jarrett and the Roadie run in and FINALLY we get the DQ. So let me get this straight: it was always going to be a double DQ, yet we had to sit through all of those run ins, weapon shots and just absurdity to get there? Why did the heels have to wait for the referee to go down? No one else got disqualified earlier for it.

The announcement of the draw, so apparently they still didn’t get disqualified, gets booed out of the building. Bret gets put in the chicken wing but Diesel breaks it up as his knee is just fine all of a sudden. I hate that. The faces shake hands which I’m ok with. Oh NOW the knee hurts again. Thanks for that one Nash.

Rating: B-. I know I blasted the ending and a lot of this match, but that likely wasn’t fair. This really was a solid match for about 80% of it, but dang they did too much with this. If you want to have the ending the way you had it that’s fine, but why have the run ins earlier in the match like that? I just don’t get that part. I get not wanting to have either guy be made to look weak, but this was just too much overkill for my taste.

That being said, when it was just Bret vs. Diesel, there was a of great stuff in there. The psychology was there, but Diesel, I can’t emphasize this enough: SELL THE KNEE NEXT TIME! I mean Bret worked the heck out of that thing and Diesel barely limped half the time. Anyway, this was solid enough, but the booking didn’t make a ton of sense in my eyes.

Holly and 1-2-3 Kid are in the back and say they believe in themselves.

King draws a picture of himself kissing Anderson using a telestrator. He’s talented but that was pointless.

Tag Titles: Bam Bam Bigelow/Tatanka vs. Bob Holly/1-2-3 Kid

This is the final of a tournament after Shawn and Diesel split and dropped the titles. Holly and the Kid are doing the whole underdog that won’t die thing that no one likes but Vince insists we’re always enthralled with. The heels are completely dominating for about the first 8 minutes or so. I know that’s kind of a blanket statement, but dang this just isn’t even close.

Why should we buy either of these guys as having a snowball’s chance in the world of beating Bigelow or Tatanka. They mention Lou Albano which is still kind of sad. We get it: Holly drives cars. As if we don’t have enough dominance here, Kid accidentally hits Holly. Vince points out that the faces haven’t been around for long and were thrown together. Way to bury the teams they’ve beaten Vince.

Oh apparently they were supposed to be the Smoking Gunns but there was a rodeo accident. I don’t want to know. Holly actually tries to tag in Tatanka. This is just stupid at this point. The faces make a brief comeback which given the way they booked it is something close to believable. Kid is launched to the floor and Bigelow goes up for the moonsault. Tatanka picks that moment to hit the ropes though, and Bigelow crashes to the mat back first.

Holly hits a running forearm to knock the stereotype to the floor and the referee starts a double count. He gets to EIGHT and Kid puts an arm over Bigelow for the pin, SEVENTEEN SECONDS after he hit the mat. So let me get this straight. Falling about 12 feet to concrete keeps you down for about 5 seconds in the Kid’s case, but falling about 6 keeps you down at least 20 seconds? Yeah I hate this match.

As if that’s not enough, the Gunns would win the belts the next night on Raw, which makes me want to know something: WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST WIN THE FREAKING TOURNAMENT??? If you want to put the titles on the Cowboys, that’s fine. However, why not just have them go over Bigelow and Tatanka here?

Oh that’s right: to further Bigelow’s mindless face turn that happened because he kept losing to guys like Kid and Lawrence  Taylor of all people. Where did that turn wind up? Oh yeah: Japan and ECW. Thanks for taking care of your audience Vince.

Rating: D+. I HATE matches where one team completely dominates and then a mistake at the end gives the other guy/team the win. That’s just lazy booking and it makes the winners look completely weak. Bigelow and Tatanka shouldn’t have won, but the faces should have been the freaking Guns. How hard is it to just think for a minute and not overbook the heck out of a match? This is Vince’s biggest flaw as a booker: he over complicates everything.

Post match, Taylor is laughing at Bigelow so the big bald man shoves him and we have our Mania main event. Man I hate 1995 wrestling. This takes 10 minutes somehow.

We get a ton of interviews about the Rumble that I don’t feel like recapping. Everyone says they’ll win and say stuff about Pamela Anderson because she’s more important than Wrestlemania.

Royal Rumble

Oh wait we have to let Pam look bored out of her mind and pretend to be into this for awhile first. I hate celebrities being in wrestling. Anyway, Shawn is first and Bulldog as second. Oh and this year it’s one minute because we just HAD to have all those other matches and we don’t have time for actual intervals. Good night Shawn calls spots loudly at times.

Bulldog has Shawn in a gorilla press but of course slams him instead of throwing him over. Shawn is getting the tar beaten out of him as Eli Blu (Skull of the DOA) comes out as 3. We’re 10% of the way through already which is just stupid. Oh come on we’re at the countdown already? Duke Drose is 4th. What kind of a name is the Dumpster? It’s just stupid.

His gimmick was a wrestling garbage man. That’s beyond any and all logic whatsoever. Let the countdown begin! It’s Jimmy Del Ray who means nothing at all for the most part. We get some heel vs. heel mullet action with him fighting Shawn. Sixth is Sione (Barbarian) as I already hate this match. Del Ray is the first guy out as Shawn keeps surviving in impressive ways.

In at seven is Tom Pritchard, Del Ray’s partner because we have to keep a high level of suckage in there. Vince is in full blown over the top mode here as he asks Lawler if every guy that he likes is going to win the Rumble. Also notice that Vince always says Royal Rumble instead of just Rumble. He has to make sure it’s said correctly. Doink is eighth as this match is rapidly catching 93 as worst Rumble of all time.

Everything is all over the place and the time intervals are just killing it. Granted the whole and complete lack of interesting talent is killing it too. Kwang is in at 9 as I’m thinking about throwing on some Family Ties which I’m not a fan of but it would be more interesting than this.

We’re at double digits with Rick Martel who never changes at all. Del Ray is the only elimination at the moment so the ring is full. That’s another issue with this: You can’t get rid of people without making them look weak, but at the same time you can’t let the ring get this full because it’s too cluttered. That clock is really starting to tick me off. Owen is number 11.

Bret runs out to jump him though on his way to the ring in the most interesting thing in the whole match so far. Now everything starts going insane. Timothy Well (of Well Dunn) is number 12 to a big pop? No actually Bulldog threw Owen out about a second after he got in. At the same time I think Martel went out and Droese was thrown over and landed on Earl Hebner in an unplanned spot. Well is gone also.

Oh Martel just got thrown out. Pritchard is out and we have Doink, Barbarian, Shawn, Bulldog, Eli and Kwang. Doink is out as Luke of the Bushwackers comes out. In an elimination that you can only see on the screen and isn’t acknowledged by Vince or Jerry, Barbarian throws out Kwang and then he and Eli eliminate each other. That leaves us with Shawn, Bulldog and Luke. This is making my head hurt.

He’s in there about 10 seconds as Shawn throws him out. He still had a job at this point? Why? Jerry is timing people with his Mickey Mouse watch. That sounds like a simple comedy one liner right? This confuses the HECK out of Vince. You can tell he’s just thrown completely off by it which granted could have been him fighting back laughter. Now I want a Mickey watch. Jacob Blu (8-Ball of the DOA) is number 14 as we’re nearly halfway done and 15 minutes hasn’t passed yet.

Shawn dumps him in about 15 seconds and we’re back to the first two all over again. Former Wrestlemania main event level talent King Kong Bundy is our halfway man. We get a replay of Owen being eliminated, which was a mere five minutes ago. This show should be shown to ROH fans as a torture method. Mo is in next and Bundy becomes my hero by putting him out in three seconds. Naturally Mabel is next as we continue the dumb tag partners in a row tradition.

Of course he goes right after Bundy and we have a bad battle of the big men which can indeed get old. Eighteen (seriously?) is Butch. Bundy is gone and Butch follows soon thereafter. Both guys (Mabel and Bulldog) try to put out Shawn as Luger the midcard guy is 19th. Dang he fell very far very fast. He puts out Mabel with ease.

Mantaur is number 20 as my eyes roll. He’s supposed to be half man and half bull I think but it was never really explained. This is easily his crowning achievement though so take that for what it’s worth. 21st is Aldo Montoya who is more commonly known as Justin Credible and more commonly known as the guy wearing a jockstrap on his face. Henry Godwin is 22nd and the sixth guy in along with Luger, Mantaur, Bulldog, Shawn and Montoya.

He’s a heel here for no apparent reason. We see Pamela who looks like she’s being told she is about to drink yak urine. Our Jordan entrant is Billy Gunn. WAIT A SECOND! He was too injured to fight in the tournament but he can fight here. I hate Vince. Oh apparently they were injured to keep them out of the tournament but they get a title shot tomorrow instead? I’d just fake injuries to get title shot after title shot.

Bart is of course 24th because tag partners always get the same numbers. In case you can’t tell I hate this match to a great extent. Bob Backlund is next as we have 5 left. Oh look it’s Bret playing policeman again. They would fight at Mania in an ok at best rematch from Survivor Series. Next is Steven Dunn since we have to further lower our intelligence. In case you can’t tell, the final two will be Shawn and Bulldog.

Backlund is out after being in about 15 seconds. Bret stays in the spotlight by jumping him again. As that happens, Dick freaking Murdoch is in at 27. He’s 48 here and would be dead in about a year and a half. He’s also in the KKK but that’s not likely to be mentioned. No one has a clue who he is by the way. It amazes me that he can get an entry here. Were they that hard up for talent that he’s the best they can get?

What’s even worse is he’s more energetic than most people in there. Adam Bomb who should have been pushed harder than he was is 28th. There’s like 10 guys in there and I’m not even bothering to recap them as it’s obvious what’s going to happen in case you can’t tell. Fatu is the penultimate guy. Luger gets Mantaur on the ropes and shakes him up and down to get him out which just looked stupid. He’s out though.

Crush who also should have been pushed is number thirty. Like I said I’m not wasting my time on listing them. The Gunns go out at the same time because of Murdoch and Crush. Murdoch looks pretty good out there actually. We go back to Anderson who points back at the ring as in get off me so I can be miserable and then get my check. I think there’s 9 people in there. Let’s up the stupidity a bit as Vince says that never again will two guys go out at the same time and hit at the same time.

Of course, this ended the show last year and JUST HAPPENED. Luger saves Michaels for no apparent reason. Bomb goes out. I nearly spit out my drink as Vince says he was a favorite. That’s just amusing. He’s young and over and decent. There’s no way he could do anything of note. Montoya is out and AGAIN Luger saves Michaels. Is he that scared of the power of Murdoch? The final six are Luger, Murdoch, Godwin, Bulldog, Shawn and Crush.

Murdoch is by far the most interesting guy in here as he hooks an airplane spin but falls out when trying to dump Godwin. Shawn sprints at Luger which is awesome. This just needs to end as it’s not interesting at all. Godwin is out and we’re at the final four. Crush puts out Luger and I think some nachos sound good here. The heels beat on Bulldog for a bit as we’re just wasting time. Crush tries to jump Shawn but Bulldog sneaks up and drops Crush to get us down to the starters.

We get the famous ending as Bulldog clotheslines Shawn up and over and the music hits for the celebration. But wait. What’s this? Shawn jumps back in and nails Smith to put him over the top and he’s declared the winner. For the only time this will ever be said, Vince is awesome on the mic here. Fink announces that only one foot hit and Vince is stunned. We go to the replay and in one of the coolest and most impressive things I’ve ever seen in wrestling, Shawn’s foot does not touch.

That’s amazing and very risky as if he slips one inch, and who could blame him if he did, the next few months have to be completely altered. Anyway, Shawn wins and he and Pam “celebrate” as it looks like she wants to scream. She even leaves halfway through it as Shawn poses to end the show.

Rating: D+. This has been called the Jobber Rumble and it fits perfectly. I mean look at the list of people. The only ones that were ever going to have a chance were Shawn and Luger, both of whom were midcard guys at best here. The whole thing was just messed up with no monsters to save anything and no one that was a big star to be a big surprise. That’s just stupid.

The one minute intervals are just flat out stupid too. There’s zero time to get going at all and it was just stupid. This did however get two things right: the ending was downright inspired. That’s one o the best ways I can think of to end the thing and the key to it for me is Shawn won completely legally. He earned the win and that’s the most important thing as it ties into the other thing they got right: a midcard guy got elevated.

Shawn goes from IC Title dude to world title shot at Mania in less than 40 minutes. That’s what the Rumble could be for yet never is. They got the end right, but the road getting there was just awful. This could be worse than 93 but I don’t think it quite is.

Overall Rating: C-. This show is just not great at all. It’s the epitome of just being there. It’s not good or bad although it’s leaning towards that latter of the two. The matches are just uninteresting and this feels like it could be on any show at all. Yes we have three title matches, but while they’re good, they could easily have happened on Raws or any run of the mill PPV.

It’s a show where the matches don’t add up to the whole show, as this just feels completely empty despite having some decent stuff on it. I’d say check this out only in extreme cases of boredom or for hardcore fans only. The casual viewer will just be bored to tears, which the ratings around this time reflect. This show was bad, but the individual stuff was ok I guess.


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