Reviewing The Rumbles: 1993
1993: The Monster
It’s 1993, and WWF was finally starting to go through a changing of the guard. Also of minor note? This was the first Royal Rumble I watched as a true, watch-every-week wrestling fan. At the time of this match, Bret Hart was the face of the company as the WWF World Champion, ushering in what would come to be called “The New Generation”. And speaking of new… after the success of 1992, a new stipulation was added to the annual Royal Rumble match…
1. Ric Flair (Actually drawing worse than he did in 1992)
2. Bob Backlund
3. Papa Shango
4. Ted DiBiase (Consistently early in these things ever since buying #30 years prior)
5. Brian Knobbs
7. Jerry Lawler
8. Max Moon (Holy crap… I forgot about this guy. Did ANYONE think a guy in this get up was ever getting over??)
10. Mr. Perfect
12. Koko B Ware (in the ludicrous HIGH ENERGY get-up)
14. The Berserker
15. The Undertaker
16. Terry Taylor (Post-Rooster)
17. Damien Demento (Seeing Demento and Moon on here remind me this is the beginning of Monday Night Raw era of WWF. And also that I miss stupid characters)
18. Irwin R Schyster
19. Tatanka (You know what was weird? I DESPISED Tatanka as a kid. Just hated him. I was glad he never went anywhere, but it’s weird that he didn’t because he was over)
20. Jerry Saggs
24. Carlos Colon (Now that’s cool)
25. Tito Santana (in an interesting little fact I was keeping track of, Tito is the last guy left from the first Rumble to have competed in every single one to this point)
26. Rick Martel
28. Owen Hart (plucky babyface)
29. Repo Man
30. Randy Savage
The Final Four
4th – Rick Martel
3rd – Bob Backlund
2nd – Randy Savage
WINNER – Yokozuna
-I know this is only the 6th Rumble, so it’s not too surprising, but there are a couple of notable firsts this year: For starters, this is the first Royal Rumble to be worth a title shot at Wrestlemania, probably because the 1992 Rumble was so impressive in no small part because of how important it felt. Second, this is surprisingly the first Rumble with a repeat announcing team in Monsoon and Heenan. It would also be their last before Gorilla was moved up to Commissioner and Heenan left for WCW. It’s disheartening to know I’ll be losing this team after this year already. They really were the gold standard.
-This is pretty early on during Bob Backlund’s return run, and it would be nearly two years from this time before he’d win the title from Bret, making me think… what was he doing that whole time? Just… being around? I don’t remember that at all. Presumably he just floated around the midcard for a whole year before going crazy. Anyway, apparently Bob had no entrance music.
-Bob Backlund is 43 at this point, and the announcers keep making mention of his age, as if it is some great medical feat that he can lace up the boots and compete. Heenan in particular keeps ragging on Bob about his age. No one brings up that Ric Flair is 6 months OLDER than Backlund, which shocked me when I looked it up because this era of WWF had me convinved that Backlund was a fossil. It all makes me realize… Bob initially retired young.
-An early moment of happiness for me was seeing guys brawl outside and noticing that one of the ringside referees was Bill Alfonso. I spent a few minutes wishing he had a whistle and could tell us that he would call the Rumble “right down the middle, daddy!”
-This would be during Mr. Perfect’s first ever run as a face in WWE, having turned two or three months prior to help Randy Savage fight Flair and Razor Ramon. He hits the ring and immediately goes after Flair. In kind of a funny sight, everyone else in the match completely stops what they were doing to just watch Perfect and Flair go at it for a second or two. That’s how you show an angle is important, when even people who aren’t involved are invested.
-It would end up being a rough 24 hours for the Nature Boy. He would be eliminated here by his nemesis, Mr. Perfect (to a GIANT pop from the crowd). His longevity record he set the year before would surprisingly be broken at the end of the night. And the following night on Raw, he would drop a Loser Leaves Town match to Mr. Perfect (which was, as a young 12-year-old wrestling fan, one of the greatest matches I had ever seen to that point. And would remain as such… well, forever, I guess).
-Skinner, at one point, skins the cat. It’s so obvious.
-Perfect dumps Lawler, and then is revenge-eliminated by him. They have a big brawl on the outside, and Monsoon declares them “enemies for life”, which amused me because I’m pretty sure no angle ever came of this. Not one I can remember of having any substance, anyway.
-After Terry Taylor is dispatched of almost immediately, The Undertaker is left alone in the ring, and it is at this point that Giant Gonzalez debuts. Yeah… good times. Good, furry-bodysuited times. Anyway, Gonzalez effortlessly eliminates and pummels Undertaker for a while. So long, in fact, that while this beatdown is happening, both Damien Demento AND Irwin R Schyster have their numbers come up. They just stand around outside and watch it because… wouldn’t you?
-Gonzalez leaves, his mission fulfilled (apparently he was getting revenge on Harvey Whippleman’s behalf for Undertaker defeating Kamala), and Paul Bearer has to rush to ringside to revive a battered Undertaker with THE POWER OF THE URN.
-Post-Gonzalez, the ring fills up with midcarders (Demento, IRS, Sags, Tatanka… and Backlund is still there) so we can give the fans a little cool-down period.
-Fatu debuts in a Rumble, and if you would have told me that one of the Headshrinkers would go on to have the career that Fatu had, I would never have believed you as a kid.
-Fat Guy Standoff part I, as Earthquake goes straight after Typhoon upon entering. Doesn’t make a lot of sense considering they could have been an unbeatable force together, but whatever. ‘Quake pretty easily gets rid of his tag team partner.
-Fat Guy Standoff, part 2 when Yokozuna enters and is targeted by Earthquake. Yoko ends up getting Earthquake out with just a terrible belly-to-belly.
-When Randy Savage comes out at #30, he is announced as a two-time WWF champion, which shocked me until I thought about it. He’d only won the belt twice? That’s inconceivable in the modern era. He’d have been champ at least 8 or 9 times at this stage in his career nowadays.
-After a lukewarm first HOUR, the fans actually go a bit nuts for Backlund being in the final three. He doesn’t get far against Yokozuna, but he does break Flair’s Iron Man record and would go on to be the standard in that regard for over a decade. And this was still over a year before WWF had any idea what to do with Bob, as noted prior.
-It’s funny… I never questioned it as a youngster, but when I look at Yokozuna now… he doesn’t look even a little bit Japanese.
-It all comes down to Randy and Yoko, and… sigh. What might have been? I’ll admit to being something of a Yokozuna fan, don’t get me wrong, but how awesome would another Savage run have been? And Savage vs Hart at Wrestlemania? Can’t even wrap my mind around how great that would have been. But it was not to be. Savage does well, and he’s the first guy to get Yoko off his feet. He even hits the Elbow. In a nonsensical moment, Savage GOES FOR THE PIN after the elbow, but it allows for a great showing when Yoko kicks out so hard, it sends Savage over the top rope and to the floor.
-I don’t really disagree with Yoko winning. He was the fresh, young monster heel, and was just going to be fed to Hogan, anyway. Of course, they would have to abort that and put the belt back on Yoko, where he would hold it for FAR TOO LONG. But if not for Yoko, there would be no precedent of “monster” guys winning the Rumble. So every time an announcer talks up a guy like Big Show’s chances, you know it’s at least possible…
1. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10
2. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
3. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
4. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
5. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
6. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10