The main event between Bret Hart and The Undertaker hasn’t had a lot of build. After Undertaker defeated Mabel at In Your House 5 it was announced that he has become the number one contender to the WWF title, something Diesel wasn’t happy to hear. With Bret Hart retaining his title against the British Bulldog at Season Beatings it meant that Undertaker and Hart have been on a collision course. However there has been no build on Raw between the two which is a shame.
Intercontinental champion Razor Ramon has received a lot of admiration from Goldust as of late. He’s sent Razor letters and gifts, playing mind games with the Bad Guy. Tonight the bizarre newcomer gets his shot at the Intercontinental title. Ahmed Johnson also takes on Jeff Jarrett after Jarrett returned at the last PPV and attacked the big man. Also tonight The Smoking Gunns defend their tag team champions against The Body Donnas, Skip and his new tag team partner, Zip.
We start with a shot of sunny in the bath. Great stuff. Then to shots of different wrestlers like Diesel, Razor Ramon, Hakushi and Ahmed Johnson until eventually getting to Bret Hart and Undertaker who collide tonight. We get the same treatment for Razor Ramon and Goldust and then of course the Royal Rumble match. Plenty of favourites for the Royal Rumble. Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Diesel, Vader, The British Bulldog and The Ringmaster amongst others.
Vince McMahon welcomes us to the show, he’s joined by Mr Perfect who hasn’t been on PPV since Survivor Series. And we’re straight underway.
Jeff Jarrett vs. Ahmed Johnson
Johnson jogs to the ring and the match starts quickly! Jarrett uses the classic roll out and roll back in trick but then makes a mistake going for a hiptoss which gets reversed. Jarrett won the Intercontinental title at last years Royal Rumble event whilst this is Ahmed first Royal Rumble event. Johnson is undefeated on pay per view thus far, winning both his Survivor Series match and a singles contest against Buddy Landell. He takes Jeff off his feet with a big clothesline but misses with a second as Jeff ducks and he goes flying over the ropes. Outside of the ring and Jarrett throws Johnson into the steel steps. Back into the ring now and Jarrett struts then tries for some double axe handles but Johnson jogs around no-selling them before catching the former Intercontinental champion and hitting him with another clothesline then a spinebuster. Jarrett rolls to the outside and rather impressively Johnson dives to the outside. Back in the ring and Ahmed missed a rolling thing off the top.
With Ahmed down, Jarrett locks on a figure four leglock but Johnson manages to kick Jeff out of the ring. Jarrett then grabs his guitar and goes to the top before jumping off and smashing Ahmed with it! The guitar cracks over Johnsons head and the announcement is made unsurprisingly that Ahmed Johnson wins by disqualification! Great ending to a short match.
Todd Pettingill is backstage with Diesel who isn’t sure what he’s about to do next but he’s going to have the time of his life. Diesel thinks he could beat both Shawn Michaels and Vader tonight. He doesn’t have a problem with The Undertaker, he just has a problem with him being number one contender.
The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) (c) vs. The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip) – WWF Tag Team Title Match
This is the first match with Zip teaming with Skip. For those that don’t know, Zip is actually Dr Tom Prichard with a buzzcut. The Smoking Gunns defend their title on pay per view for the second time during this reign. They previously defeated Razor Ramon and The 123 Kid. A big statistic here is that the defending tag team champions have never lost the titles at a Royal Rumble event. The Gunns will be hoping that they aren’t the first. Billy Gunn and Skip start things off and Skip hits a flying head scissors before sending Billy over the top rope. Skip and Zip then clean house of Bart. Bart manages to bring The Body Donnas out of the ring and Billy flies over the ropes and nails them! Interestingly the Smoking Gunns are receiving a few boos.
I like this match because it feels like two proper tag teams. Matching ring gear and proper tag team names. Sunny is at ringside cheering on the Body Donnas and flirting with the Gunns. Billy tags Bart and Skip tags Zip. Bart hits some painful sounding chops on Zip and then Gorilla Press Slams him! Skip tags in and so does Billy. Billy then gets thrown into the ropes but Sunny is on the apron and gets thrown off! Billy looks worried and attends to Sunny but there was nothing wrong with her! It’s too late though, The Body Donnas stomp down Billy until Bart makes the save. It’s The Body Donnas all over The Gunns now, making quick tags and double teams. Skip gets a two count after being suplex’d onto Billy by Zip. Plenty more double teaming from The Body Donnas behind the referees back. Classic. The Smoking Gunns have been on Royal Rumble PPVs before but only as part of the Royal Rumble match. The Body Donnas go for a double team but end up clashing into one another! Billy then tags Bart!
Bart is explosive, taking down Skip and Zip with left hands, back body drops and elbows. All four men get involved now and it’s Bart and Billy wit hthe advantage. They then hit their sidewalk slam/legdrop finisher! But Sunny distracts the referee and Skip comes off the top! He gets a near fall then the Body Donnas throw Billy of the ring. They attempt a double suplex on Bart but Billy comes back in and spears Zip, Bart rolls up Skip for the three count! The Smoking Gunns win the match and retain their titles! This was quite a fun match between the two teams. Hopefully the tag team division is on the rise.
We then get a Billionaire Ted skit. These are pretty lame. The Huckster and Nacho Man aren’t the best but the WWF likes to do a good job of ridiculing them.
Now to a video package about Razor Ramon and Goldust. Goldust has bought Razor many gifts like flowers and his wig. Goldust even got Razor named tattoo’d in a heart on his chest. Then we see Ramon beating the hell of Goldust last week on Raw.
Razor Ramon (c) vs. Goldust – Intercontinental Title Match
For the third year in a row Razor Ramon is in a title match at a Royal Rumble PPV. And for the second year in a row he is defending the Intercontinental title. Goldust comes out with not only his usher but a lady dressed in gold carrying a cigar. Goldust is undefeated on pay per view having previously defeated Marty Jannetty and Bam Bam Bigelow. Razor Ramon or Shawn Michaels have been involved in every Intercontinental title match on PPV since Summerslam 92 and this one is no different. That is an amazing statistic. Ramon is a four time Intercontinental champion which is more than anybody else. Goldust actually competed at a Royal Rumble before as Dustin Rhodes in a losing tag team match with his Dad, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes. Goldust starts the match by rubbing himself but gets a toothpick in the face. Razor starts the match well working on Goldusts arm. Goldust manages to get behind Razor and feels up his chest! Razor doesn’t like that.
Ramons hair seems longer. Just an observation. He slaps Goldust around and out of the ring and as Razor chases him, Goldust uses the lady at ringside as a shield. The two men get back into the ring and Goldust blows a kiss. Razor clotheslines him back out of the ring! This has been pretty stop/start so far. Again Goldust hides behind the lady but this time Razor picks her up and moves her out of the way but it allows Goldust to take the advantage. The bizarre one throws Razor around the ring then hits a bulldog. Goldust gets a two count then hits an atomic drop, bouncing Razor off the top rope as he does. Goldust then places Razor on the middle rope and the lady at ringside blows gold dust in the bad guys eyes. Another two count for the challenger. Goldust locks a sleeper on the champion now but after going down to the mat Razor gets up to his feet and manages to hit a low blow to get out of the sleeper, something the referee doesn’t see.
Razor takes the advantage now hitting a chokeslam and getting a two count. Razor then hits his trademark fallaway slam for another near fall. Razor then hits a falling belly to back suplex off the top then motions for The Razors Edge. The woman gets in the ring and holds her ankle, distracting the referee. From the crowd comes The 123 Kid! He dives off the top and hits a spinning heel kick on Razor Ramon! Goldust then dives on top of Razor Ramon and the referee counts the three! Goldust wins the match and wins the Intercontinental title! This was a pretty good match between the two. Ramon loses his title but he’s got unfinished business with both Goldust and The 123 Kid.
We have a shot of Shawn Michaels doctor now and he says that Michaels is back to “tip top shape”. Then to Owen Hart who says he’ll be ending Shawn Michaels career and winning the Royal Rumble. Jake “The Snake” Roberts is back and he’s looking for a taste. Jerry Lawler now says the Rumble will be won by Royalty. Barry Horrowitz says he’s the underdog but he’s confident of winning. Jim Cornette is with Vader and Cornette is looking forward to managing Vader, who goes mental. Shawn Michaels is back in the saddle and says he’ll be winning the Rumble again.
McMahon announces that Hunter Hearst Helmsley is the first man in the Royal Rumble after losing to Duke “The Dumpster” Droese in the free for all. He lost by disqualification which means Hunter is in first and Droese is in last.
The 1996 Royal Rumble Match
Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Henry Godwinn start the 1996 Royal Rumble match off and both men get straight into it! These two men have plenty of history, namely at the last In Your house PPV when they fought in a Hog Pen match. Godwinn has been in a Royal Rumble before and he was in the last 5 at last years event. This is a Rumble debut for Helmsley. The two men slug it out in the early going until eventually #3 Bob Backlund comes in. He’s been a part of the last three Royal Rumble matches but hasn’t faired too well in the last 2. He had a great Rumble in 1993 though starting at number 2 and lasting until the final 3. Helmsley tries to eliminate Backlund but Bob almost reverses it. There are no double teaming in this one yet as all three men go for each other. #4 now and it’s Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler made his WWF PPV debut in the 1993 Royal Rumble. He seems happy to team with Helmsley and Backlund. Jerry then grabs the slop from outside of the ring but Godwinn grabs it off him and clears the ring! Everyone exits through the ropes but as Lawler turns his back, Godwinn throws the slop at him! #5 on his way and it’s Bob Holly participating in his second Royal Rumble match.
The ring has started to fill with guys that don’t stand much of a chance of winning. Backlund is a former WWF champion but he hasn’t been in action since Wrestlemania 11 last year. #6 is King Mabel and interestingly this is the first year that the entrants have come out to music. Mabel has had a taste of main eventing after winning the King Of The Ring last year. He’s been in the last two Royal Rumble matches but not had much success yet. Helmsley and Bob holly go at it on one side of the ring as Backlund attempts to eliminate Lawler on the other. Backlund then tries to eliminate both Helmsley and Bob Holly at the same time. #7 is Jake “The Snake” Roberts making his triumphant return to the WWF! The crowd go nuts as Jake comes out with his trademark bag. He opens up the bag and a huge snake is released! Lawler doesn’t see it coming though and ends up with it on his face! This is Roberts first WWF PPV match since Wrestlemania 8 when he lost to The Undertaker. The wrestlers that had done a runner are now back in the ring except Lawler who has gone missing. #8 now and it’s Dory Funk Jr wrestling in his first WWF PPV match since The Big Event in 1986! He lost to the Killer Bees in tag team action that night. Mabel nearly eliminates Bob Holly but thus far nobody has been eliminated. A “DDT” chant breaks out and we get a shot of Jerry Lawler hiding underneath the ring. Business picks up as #9 Yokozuna enters the match.
Yokozuna, the winner of the 1993 Royal Rumble comes in and eliminates Bob Backlund! Yokozuna and King Mabel then go after one another. Those two men fought at In Your house 4 a few months ago. Bob Holly hits a hurricanrana on Henry Godwinn. The crowd start another “DDT” chant. #10 is The 123 Kid who looks over his shoulder for Razor Ramon. And Razor chases him through the ring! Eventually the referees catch Ramon. This is The 123 Kids first Royal Rumble match. And Razor chases him out again! #11 now and it’s Omori and little is known about him. I have no idea where Henry Godwinn has gone. I can only assume he’s been eliminated and we missed it. Having re-wound it back, yes I can confirm Godwinn was eliminated by Jake Roberts just as 123 Kid entered the match. Jake Roberts and Yokozuna go at it in the middle of the ring. Savio Vega is next in at #12 and he knocks Mabel down with a spinning heel kick. Yokozuna then eliminates Mabel from the match! Then Jake Roberts eliminates Omori! 123 Kid and Savio go at in as do Bob Holly and Yokozuna. Vince McMahon keeps saying that Savio Vega is making a different, which is Fatu’s gimmick. Perfect knows who’s next and it’s Vader in at #13. He’s making his debut in the WWF and he’s a big, mean unit. Vader goes right for Bob Holly who is in at number 5 as Savio Vega eliminates Dory Funk Jr.
So we’ve got Vader, Yokozuna, Savio Vega, Bob Holly, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, The 123 Kid and Jake Roberts. And joining them at the half way point is Doug Gilbert. Perfect had no idea who he is, brilliant. Gilbert goes to town on Helmsley and the crowd go nuts as Jake Roberts hits a DDT on Savio Vega. He then tries the same on Doug Gilbert but Vader clotheslines him and eliminates Roberts from the match! The crowd give Jake Roberts a decent ovation as he heads to the back. Vader takes down Doug Gilberts but in next is Swat Team Member #1 making his debut in the WWF. He’s a big old unit and goes straight for Yokozuna. Vader chokeslams Doug Gilbert then throws him out of the match before throwing Swat Team Member #1 out of there. The ring starts to clear a bit as Vader and Yokozuna go at it! #16 is Swat Team Member #2 who comes out, sees his identical twin and both men go back to the ring. Both go after Vader but Vader pummels both men. Vader and Yokozuna then eliminate both Swat Team Members confirming that both of them are officially eliminated. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is still in the match, he’s been there since the beginning. Hunter and Savio Vega double team Vader in the corner as #17 Owen Hart comes out. He’s always been on the cusp of the main event. Could this be his year? He’s been in the last three Royal Rumble matches and not had a lot of success. Vader and Yokozuna double team Savio Vega much to Jim Cornette’s enjoyment.
Vader and Yokozuna crush Savio Vega in the corner.Also in there are Hunter Hearst Helmsley, having a rest, Bob Holly, Owen Hart and The 123 Kid. Vader and Yoko take it in turns to crush Savio Vega as #18 Shawn Michaels comes out to a huge reception! Michaels comes in and goes after everyone as Vader eliminates Savio Vega! Michaels hits Owen Hart with some right hands as Vader and Yokozuna comes to blows! Vader takes off his mask and Yoko smashes him to the ground. The two men then fight on one side and Shawn Michaels eliminates them both! Michaels then gorilla press slams The 123 Kid out of there! #19 Hakushi is the next man in there! Vader gets back in the ring though and takes down Shawn Michaels. He then lifts him up above his head and throws him out! Vader clears the ring, throwing out Owen Hart, Helmsley and Bob Holly! Referees and Gorilla Monsoon come out from the back to calm him down then Vader leaves. Tatanka is the next man in at #20. He joins Hakushi, Bob Holly, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Six smaller guys in there now. Helmsley has been in there over 40 minutes now.
Michaels nearly goes over twice after Hakushi and Helmsley send him over the top. Owen Hart then throws Hakushi out of there! Aldo Montoya is the next man in, battling in his second Royal Rumble match. Shawn Michaels who exited the ring through the middle rope grabs Jerry Lawler who has been hiding under the ring since Jake Roberts entered. Michaels pulls him out and throws him into the ring, then over the top and out of there! Lawler is eliminated. At the same time Tatanka eliminates Aldo Montoya. Diesel is next in at #22 and he comes in and throws out Tatanka. Diesel then hammers Michaels and the two best friends go at it! Helmsley and Bob Holly are still in there! as are Shawn Michaels, Diesel and Owen Hart. #23 is Kama who now had a shaved head. He’s representing the Million Dollar Corporation and goes after Diesel. Kama hasn’t been up to much since his feud with The Undertaker. He actually fought in the 1993 Royal Rumble as Papa Shango. #24 is The Ringmaster who comes out to eerie music. It’s his PPV debut and he goes right after Bob Holly. Holly tires to slingshot The Ringmaster out of there but Ringmaster rolls back in and throws out Bob Holly. He was in there a long time. The Ringmaster of course is the future Stone Cold Steve Austin.
So now we have The Ringmaster, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Kama and they are joined by Barry Horrowitz who comes out to his Jewish sounding music. Perfect is confident Horrowitz isn’t winning this one. There are only four more to enter this match. The Royal Rumble is like a showcase of the roster at the beginning of every year. Kama takes some shots at Diesel but Big Daddy Cool eliminates Hunter Hearst Helmsley from nowhere! He was in there for over 50 minutes. #26 is Fatu who is out there to make a difference. He has been a part of the last three Royal Rumbles and got to the last 4 in 1994. Fatu nails Kama then goes after Shawn Michaels. There’s only really Shawn Michaels and Diesel in there at the moment who look like they could win. #27 Isaac Yankem DDS makes his Royal Rumble debut up next. Owen Hart eliminates Barry Horrowitz then hits his enzeguri on Shawn Michaels, the move that took him out of commission. Diesel then eliminates Owen Hart in spectacular fashion! The Ringmaster hits an awesome clothesline on Shawn Michaels. Kama and Yankem go at it in one corner as #28 Marty Jannetty enters the fray. He’s been in his fair share of Royal Rumble matches. He goes after Kama and Yankem as Ringmaster tries to get Diesel out. Jannetty and Michaels then go at it. #29 is The British Bulldog who has been a staple in the main event scene since turning heel. He eliminates Marty Jannetty pretty quickly then Fatu eliminates The Ringmaster. Isaac Yankem then eliminates Fatu.
So we’ve got The British Bulldog, Isaac Yankem, Kama, Diesel, Shawn Michaels and Duke Droese who comes in at #30. Duke goes after Yankem. Droese’s last PPV match was last years Royal Rumble match. On the outside Shawn Michaels and The British Bulldog go at it but from nowhere Owen Hart comes out and attacks Michaels! Back in the ring and Bulldog lifts Michaels up but he can’t eliminate him. Shawn Michaels then dropkicks Yankem out of there then Diesel and Kama eliminate Duke The Dumpster. It’s the final 4 now as Diesel and Kama pair off and Michaels and bulldog do the same. Michaels manages to clothesline Bulldog out of there then Diesel eliminates Kama. Diesel then turns around and Shawn Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music, sending Diesel over the top and out of the match! Shawn Michaels win the Royal Rumble for the second year running! Michaels celebrates as Diesel hammers British Bulldog in the aisle. Diesel then heads back to the ring and the two men high five. Shawn Michaels heads to Wrestlemania 12 after winning an entertaining Royal Rumble.
Bret Hart (c) vs. The Undertaker
This is the first one on one meeting between these two guys on pay per view. They were both involved in the same match when Undertaker debuted in the WWF but haven’t crossed paths since. The Undertaker hasn’t received a WWF title shot on pay per view since the 1994 Royal Rumble event when Yokozuna beat him in a casket match. As Undertaker comes to the ring, Diesel who is still walking to the back shoves the dead man before getting escorted to the back. Surely that means a feud between the two going into Wrestlemania. Bret Hart gets a good ovation, he’s still clearly very popular. Undertaker has his face mask on still. The lack of build going into this one annoys me a bit. McMahon claims this is Bret 43rd PPV appearance and that matches my figures. Undertaker does a great job of no-selling Hart right hands in the early going before nailing some of his own. Undertaker hasn’t lost on pay per view since his match against Mabel at King Of The Ring 95. Harts last PPV loss was at the PPV before that one, the first In Your House PPV where his victory over Jerry Lawler was reversed when Hart wouldn’t break the Sharpshooter. Undertaker chokes down Bret Hart on one side of the ring whilst Paul Bearer pushes Brets leg of the rope. Undertaker then twists the arm of The Hitman and balances across the top rope before nailing the champion.
Since Yokozuna lost the title at Wrestlemania X every World champion has been a face going into a PPV defence. Which is why Undertaker has struggled to get title defences. Hart clotheslines Undertaker out of the ring but the dead man lands on his feet. Bret then springboards himself over the ropes and right on top of The Undertaker. Bret tries for it again but this time Undertaker catches him and rams him into the ring post. There’s plenty of fighting on the outside of the ring now as Undertaker whips Hart into the ringpost and Bret throws ‘Taker into the ring steps. This is Bret second PPV defence since winning the title for a third time. It’s all Bret now as he goes to work on The Undertaker back in the ring. Bret locks on a figure four which could be a setup for The Sharpshooter. Undertaker reverses the hold but Hart quickly gets to the ropes. The Hitman goes back to the leg executing a leg lock and applying as much pressure as he can. Bret then tries to get the mask off The Undertaker! Undertaker throws Bret to the outside then smashes his face off the ring steps before grabbing some cable and choking The Hitman with it! The crowd boo these heel tactics especially as Paul Bearer distracts the referee. Undertaker then throws Bret into the ring bell before attacking him with a chair!
Back in the ring and Bret ducks a big boot then goes to work on Undertakers leg as boo’s ring out around the arena. He smashes Undertakers leg into the ring post as the boos continue. It’s back and forth until Undertaker nails a headbutt and follows it up with a legdrop. He sells the leg as he walks around the ring then attempts a Tombstone but Bret slips down his back and outside the ring. Bret gets back into the match with a DDT then gets a two count. Undertaker sits right up and Hart hits some headbutts then a side Russian leg sweep and a bulldog. Undertaker just keeps sitting up though. Bret hits a backbreaker then his elbow drop off the second rope. Bret then goes for the Sharpshooter to a very mixed reaction. Undertaker grabs his throat though to get out of the hold then both men go for a clothesline and knock each other down. Bret is first up and he takes off the turnbuckle then once again tries to take Undertakers mask off and this time he succeeds! Bret targets Undertakers face and rams it off the exposed turnbuckle. Bret goes for a cross body but Undertaker catches him and hits The Tombstone! Undertaker pins Hart but before the referee can count, Diesel drags out the referee! The bell rings and it’s announced that Bret Hart has been disqualified so Undertaker wins but doesn’t take the title! Diesel flips Undertaker the middle finger then heads for the back as Undertaker walks after him!
So Bret Hart keeps the title in a good match. This one could have gone either way but with Diesel not winning the Rumble it looked more like Hart would win. The Diesel/Undertaker feud is red hot now. Decent title match but I think I would have preferred to see the Rumble close the show.
Gorilla Monsoon is backstage with Todd Pettingill. Monsoon announces that at the next In Your House PPV Bret Hart will defend the WWF title against Diesel.
Dok Hendrix is backstage with Shawn Michaels who says he has completed phase one and now Shawn Michaels and the Kliq will run rampant in the 90’s.
Back to Todd Pettingill and Gorilla Monsoon. Monsoon says that Michaels will be getting his title shot at Wrestlemania. Yes, well, we know that. Undertaker then interrupts and says that Diesel will not become WWF champion. Monsoon then says that Diesel and Bret Hart will battle in a steel cage match.
Dok is now with Diesel. Diesel says he’s the best thing going today and he’ll do whatever he wants to do. He then shouts at somebody off camera for trying to wrap him up.
Todd Pettingill is now with Jim Cornette. Vader is throwing chairs at a lockers. Cornette says that from now until the end of time is Vader Time!
And that was the 1996 Royal Rumble event. Five matches featuring all of the top WWF stars. Ahmed Johnson and Jeff Jarrett look like they’re just getting started. Jarrett popping Ahmed with the guitar keeps this feud very open and will probably go all the way to Wrestlemania. The Smoking Gunns cleanly beat The Body Donnas so that feud looks like it could be over. The two teams put on a decent match and Sunny is becoming more of a sex symbol now than a body donna type. I like that and watching Billy Gunns concern for knocking her off the apron was reminiscent of Shawn Michaels, Rick Martel and Sensational Sherri’s love triangle back in 1992. Goldust won the Intercontinental title from Razor Ramon in a fairly surprising result. 123 Kid was the man that cost Razor the match which keeps his feud alive with Ramon.
The royal Rumble match itself was the best one in a few years. It had no tag teams in which meant there was less filler than there has been. Actually, they did have the Swat Team or Squat Team, I’m not sure what there name was. But when you look at the talent in the Rumble, guys like Shawn Michaels, Diesel, British Bulldog, Yokozuna and Vader were the favorites whilst Hunter Hearst Helmsley, The Ringmaster and Isaac Yankem show a lot of potential for the future. I liked the way the match was set out which was in three parts for me. The beginning was to fill the ring with lower carders then enter Jake The Snake. Then the middle was all about Vaders dominance followed by the ending which was all about Shawn Michaels.
Then the WWF title picture looks to be split into Bret Hart, Undertaker, Diesel and Shawn Michaels. Diesel and Undertaker are clearly feuding at the moment and I can see their feud going all the way to Wrestlemania. Which leaves us with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels who should put on a technical masterpiece if given the opportunity. This show was a decent one overall and one of the better Royal Rumble events in recent memory. For me, the best one since 1992.
Overall Rating: 62.5/100 (Ranked #1 out of 52)