Royal Rumble 1996

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The Rest of the Card:

-Ahmed Johnson defeated Jeff Jarrett by disqualification

-The Smoking Gunns defeated The Bodydonnas to retain the World Tag Team Championship

-Goldust defeated Razor Ramon to win the Intercontinental Championship

-The Undertaker defeated Bret Hart by disqualification (Hart retained the WWF Championship)

We get Royal Rumble promos from a number of the participants: Owen Hart, Jake Roberts, Jerry Lawler, Barry Horowitz, Vader (and Jim Cornette), and Shawn Michaels.

Royal Rumble Match

Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect are on commentary.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley is #1. He lost a match to Duke Droese on the Free For All where the winner would get #30 and the loser would get #1. Henry Godwinn is the #2 entrant. That’s not the greatest start. Bob Backlund is #3. He lasted almost an hour last year, let’s see how he does this year. Jerry Lawler enters #4. Not much going on in there. Lawler gets slopped. #5 is Bob Holly. Not a great field this year. King Mabel is #6. How will they ever get him over the top rope? Same way they always do.

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Jake Roberts is #7 and he lets an enormous python loose in the ring. The ring clears until they get the snake out. Lawler never comes back and it turns out he’s hiding under the ring. Love that. Dory Funk is #8. He was 55 at this point, and he looks closer to 70. It’s a totally random entrant because they’re not in Texas where the crowd might recognize him. Yokozuna is #9 and he tosses Backlund. 1-2-3 Kid is in #10. Razor Ramon tries to get after him but is restrained. #11 is Takao Omori. He comes out to the Orient Express music, because what else would a Japanese wrestler use?

#12 is Savio Vega. We start to get some eliminations as Yokozuna throws out Mabel and Jake eliminates Omori. #13 is The Man They Call Vader, and business is about to pick up. As he gets in Savio eliminates Dory Funk. Vader stiffs the shit out of Savio as we see…that his singlet is on backwards. I thought it looked a little weird, it has the “Vader Time” on the back instead of the front. Doug Gilbert is #14. That’s Eddie Gilbert’s son. He was in Memphis at this point. They were really stretching to fill the 30 spots this year. Vader hits Jake with a punch in the middle of the ring and he flies over the top rope.

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One SWAT Team member is #15, and then the other is #16. These guys had a really short run. Better known as “The Headhunters” from ECW, I guess.  Vader throws out Gilbert and then both the Squat Team. That’s what I want to see. #17 is Owen Hart. Yoko and Vader team up and beat down Savio. #18 is Shawn Michaels! Here we go. Vader tosses Savio. Shawn goes for Owen, but not with the intensity he should. Now Vader and Yokozuna are going at it! Thought the crowd would pop more for that. Vader and Yoko fight by the ropes, allowing Shawn to swoop in and eliminate them both! Now Shawn Military Presses 1-2-3 Kid over the top.

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Hakushi is #19. Vader beats up Yokozuna and then goes back in the ring. He throws Shawn out, but it doesn’t count because Vader has already been eliminated. Vader beats up everyone until referees force him to leave. Tatanka is #20. Owen eliminates Hakushi. #21 is Aldo Montoya. Michaels goes to the floor and drags Lawler out from under the ring. He throws him in, then dumps him out to eliminate him. #22 is Diesel. Now we’re playing. He gets a big pop.

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Diesel throws out Tatanka. Kama is #23. Steve Austin, as “The Ringmaster” is #24 in his WWF pay-per-view debut. Perfect puts Austin over a lot on commentary. Good eye for talent. Diesel throws Holly out. #25 is Barry Horowitz. Diesel throws out Helmsley, who lasted an impressive 48 minutes after entering #1. Fatu is #26. #27 is Isaac Yankem. Owen hits Michaels with the Enziguri, but Michaels bounces back and eliminates him. Marty Jannetty is #28. British Bulldog is #29. He eliminates Jannetty and goes after Michaels. Austin gets eliminated. I heard him say on his podcast that this was a mistake, as he was supposed to last into the final four, but he slipped on the apron.

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Yankem throws out Fatu. Shawn and Bulldog fight out to the floor, where Owen returns to attack Shawn. Shawn gets back in the ring and Dropkicks Yankem over the top. Shawn and Kama eliminate Drose, and we’re down to four: Shawn, Diesel, Bulldog, and Kama. Surely Austin was supposed to be in Kama’s spot. Shawn Clotheslines Bulldog out and Diesel eliminates Kama, but turns around into Sweet Chin Music and Shawn wins.

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Rating: **¾. One of the weaker Rumbles. Super weak field, not many memorable spots. Tons and tons of filler and lots of time spent with guys leaning on each other against the ropes.

Diesel high fives Shawn, but is definitely pissed he lost.

The Aftermath

Shawn would go on to defeat Bret Hart in the first ever 60 Minute Ironman Match at Wrestlemania, fulfilling his boyhood dream and becoming WWF Champion. Undertaker and Diesel’s feud was settled at Wrestlemania as Undertaker defeated Big Daddy Cool. Shawn would hold the title until Survivor Series, where he was defeated by Sycho Sid.

 

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