This show takes place at one of those weird places in wrestling history where everything was changing, but the changes hadn’t quite taken effect yet. Bret Hart was now the WWF Champion, a big step up from the previous year where he had just lost the IC Championship. Hulk Hogan was pretty much gone at this point, not having appeared on TV since Wrestlemania VIII. And new stars were beginning to take over: Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, and Shawn Michaels would all be prominently featured on this show.
This was the year of the now traditional stipulation where the winner of the Royal Rumble would get to fight for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania. The heavy favorite had to be the massive Yokozuna. Who could possibly throw a 600 pound sumo wrestler over the top rope?
The Rest of the Card:
-The Steiner Brothers defeated The Beverly Brothers
-Shawn Michaels defeated Marty Jannetty to retain the Intercontinental Championship
-Bam Bam Bigelow defeated The Big Bossman
-Bret Hart defeated Razor Ramon to retain the WWF Championship
The Royal Rumble rules are read by “Julius Caesar” and “Cleopatra.” Goofy and unnecessary. In case you’ve forgotten, Wrestlemania IX was at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
The Royal Rumble Match
Winner goes to Wrestlemania to face Bret Hart for the WWF Championship. Ric Flair is #1, Bob Backlund is #2. Backlund had just returned and Vince apparently thought he was big money. Which is odd, since he never drew in his prime and was now almost 45 years old. Papa Shango enters #3 and gets tossed by Backlund. Ted DiBiase, reigning Tag Team Champion with IRS, is #4. Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs is #5. Virgil is #6 and he of course goes after DiBiase. #7 is recently debuted Jerry “The King” Lawler, still rocking the mullet well into the 90s.
Max Moon is #8, he doesn’t last long before being eliminated by Lawler. #9 is Tenryu. He had previously competed at Wrestlemania VII where he and Koji Kaito defeated Demolition. Tenryu and Flair trade nasty chops. #10 is Mr. Perfect, who goes after Flair. Crowd is going crazy for Perfect getting his hands on Naitch. Perfect and Flair would face off the next night on Raw in a Loser Leaves Town match. Perfect would of course win and Flair wouldn’t be seen in the WWF again until 2001.
#11 is Skinner. Perfect sends Flair over the top with a Clothesline. Koko B. Ware is #12 as Perfect eliminates Skinner with a Dropkick. Headshrinker Samu is #13. Berzerker is #14. Not much going on right now. Perfect sends Lawler out with a Dropkick. Lawler comes back in and he and DiBiase team up to eliminate Perfect.
Ring is getting full, so it’s a perfect time for Undertaker to enter #15 and clear things out a bit. He eliminates Tenryu and Samu. Terry Taylor is #16. DiBiase eliminates him and Koko. Taker Chokeslams DiBiase and then eliminates him. Taker dumps Berzerker as well to clear out the ring. Harvey Whippleman comes out with the debuting Giant Gonzalez, who is absolutely enormous. He towers over Taker. Damian Demento is scheduled to enter #17, but he stays out of the ring to let Taker and Gonzalez go at it. Smart man.
Gonzalez proceeds to destroy Taker and throw him out. IRS enters #18 as the match begins to resume. #19 is Tatanka. #20 is Nasty Boy Jerry Sags. #21 is Typhoon, #22 is Headshrinker Fatu. Really thin on stars this year. #23 is Earthquake, who ends up eliminating his tag team partner Typhoon. #24 is Carlos Colon. Another guy the crowd doesn’t know. Colon eliminates Demento, who has actually in there for awhile. #25 is Tito Santana. IRS gets eliminated by Earthquake. #26 is Rick Martel. He fights with his old Strike Force partner Tito.
#27 is Yokozuna and business finally picks up. He throws out Tatanka and Colon. Owen Hart is #28. Yoko eliminates Earthquake. #29 is Repo Man and everyone teams up to try to eliminate Yokozuna but can’t do it. #30 is Randy Savage, who gets a huge reaction.
Yokozuna dumps Santana. Owen eliminates Sags with a Dropkick. Owen charges Yoko and gets thrown out with a Backdrop, injuring his knee in the process. Final four are Martel, Backlund, Yokozuna, and Savage. Yes, Backlund is still in there despite having done nothing of interest the entire match. Backlund eliminates Martel, then goes after Yoko. That goes as well as you would expect and Backlund is done. He lasted 61 minutes, setting a record that would stand until Chris Benoit beat it in 2004.
We’re down to Yoko and Savage. Savage hits a pair of Ax Handles that bring Yoko down to a knee. Yoko comes back with a Side Kick and then a Leg Drop. He goes for an Avalanche in the corner but misses, hits his head on the post, and goes down. First time he’s been knocked off his feet. Savage hits the Flying Elbow and…goes for a pin. Yoko powers out so strongly that Savage is propelled over the top to the floor. Yokozuna wins the Royal Rumble in 66:40.
Rating: ***. Not awful, but not one of the better Rumbles. Lots of filler participants, Backlund as the long runner didn’t do much for me, and things got boring after Flair and Perfect were eliminated. But it did make Yoko look strong, so mission accomplished on that front. Never liked that finish with Savage, going for a pin just made him look stupid.
We go backstage where Bret and Yoko go face to face. Nice tease for Wrestlemania.
The Aftermath: Hart and Yokozuna would face off at Wrestlemania IX in Las Vegas. Yoko would defeat The Hitman to become WWF Champion after Mr. Fuji interfered. And then Yokozuna lost to Hulk Hogan in an impromptu title match.