Reviewing The Rumbles: 1994
1994: The Duocracy
So at this point, Yokozuna had been enjoying a reign of heel terror over WWF for more than half a year. Lex Luger had been turned into an American Bus-Ridin’ Icon to challenge him, but that failed. WWF was still trying to find the man who could rescue the belt from Yokozuna and be the guiding light of the New Era…
1. Scott Steiner
3. Rick Steiner (I know what you’re thinking! And I was thinking it, too when I saw ¾’s of two tag teams enter in a row! But no… Fatu is not imminent)
5. Owen Hart (entering to major heat from the fans after he kicked Bret Hart’s leg out of his leg earlier in the night)
6. Bart Gunn
8. Bob Backlund
9. Billy Gunn
11. Randy Savage (For some reason I assumed he was already gone by this point to join Hogan in WCW, but that was still months away here, it turns out)
12. Jeff Jarrett
15. Bam Bam Bigelow
17. Sparky Plugg (I can’t recall whether he was Thurman Plugg or Bob Holly here… I think he was still Thurman)
18. Shawn Michaels
20. Greg Valentine
23. Lex Luger
24. Tenryu (Oh, we are totally in that era where they were rounding out Rumbles with random luchadors or Japanese guys that Vince had on loan)
25. [no-show] (I guess this was SUPPOSED to be Bastion Booger, but he got sick backstage and couldn’t compete)
26. Rick Martel
27. Bret Hart
28. Fatu (he missed his calling in the Top 5)
29. Marty Janetty
30. Adam Bomb (and HOLY GOD does Vince mark out for him on commentary. When Bomb is revealed at #30, Vince does everything short of running into the ring and advising everyone else to go home. I’m pretty sure he says “ADAM BOMB WINS THE ROYAL RUMBLE!” before Bomb even makes it to the ring)
3rd – Shawn Michaels and Fatu tie here, as they were essentially eliminated simultaneously by Bret and Lex
WINNER[s] – Bret Hart and Lex Luger
-The Rumble is down to 90 seconds between entrants here. I really don’t care for that. I think two minutes (give or take, because you know they fudge it, especially the longer the Rumble goes) is the ideal. It gives each guy enough time to have his moment and really integrate into the match, especially in the early going, where these briefer delays feel so sudden here.
-Vince McMahon and Ted DiBiase on commentary this year. And wow… Vince is ABOMINABLE. I was never a fan who particularly disliked Vince’s commentary, and I always thought he had a certain flavor, but he’s truly abhorrent here. He just oversells EVERYTHING, and does not even have the chemistry with Ted that he once had with Jesse The Body.
-This year the Countdown Clock has a sponsor, Casio. Jesus, there’s a company I haven’t thought about in, oh, 22 years.
-The Steiners team up to easily eliminate Samu, and there’s a gnarly spot where Samu is flying over the ropes and gets his head tied up in the top two. I want to say it was intentional given Samu’s reaction (he waves his arms around for effect rather than immediately reaching up to free himself), but it is pretty nasty looking either way, even as far as “head stuck in the ropes” spots go.
-Rick Steiner sells Kwang’s green mist like it’s Carrion’s Red Dust (not a comic book fan? Look it up). After Kwang mists him, Steiner is helpless for at least a minute or two before he’s finally eliminated. He just goes to the ground and writhes like a cobra is latched to his eyeball.
-Diesel just start chucking fools and clears the ring upon his arrival, and the Royal Rumble gets its first REAL Dominance Push. He just keeps tossing every new entry for a while until Savage comes out and neutralizes him.
-An underrated feud is brought to the Royal Rumble as the newly villainous Crush enters and targets his former friend, Savage. The gist of this angle was that Crush was shelved by Yokozuna while Savage was on commentary. When Crush returned, he attacked the Macho Man because the latter never attempted to contact him while he was hospitalized (for added effect, I recall Crush mentioning that Mr. Fuji and Yoko DID visit him, which makes it even better because it made his plight more sympathetic. Or maybe that was just for me because Crush was one of my favorites in this era).
-There’s a great monster heel segment of the mid-Rumble where the three guys in the ring are Diesel, Crush, and Bam Bam Bigelow, all going to town on each other. The next entrant is Mabel, and the ring is a glorious visage of angry giants (though Mabel was still a good guy here) all wailing on each other. What makes it even better is that, with the four behemoths having a mastodon battle in the ring, the next man out is fucking SPARKY PLUGG.
-Eventually it takes a whole crowd of guys to get Diesel over the top, and the fans respond very appreciatively to Diesel’s performance here, with claps and cheers and chants. WWE was listening to that, and Big Daddy Cool would be a babyface World Champion by year’s end.
-Apparently Crush was friends and allies with the two random Japanese dudes? I don’t remember that at all.
-Lex Luger gets assaulted backstage by Kabuki and Tenryu a few turns before Lex’s number is called, but he successfully no sells the shit out of that by hitting the ring like a greyhound when he’s up.
-Things I just realized: We never saw the Hawaiian version of Crush or the Narcissist version of Luger in a Rumble. I guess they were only around for one Rumble before this one, though.
-Vince and Ted put over Shawn’s longevity several times late in the Rumble. The weird part of which is that while they’re doing it, Crush, Bam Bam, and friggin’ Sparky Plugg had all been there longer. But at least they were outright telling us who had the bright future, which is nice.
-Bret reminds everyone what selling is SUPPOSED to be like after Lex refused. Hart hobbles to the ring like he just had a kneecap surgically removed due to Owen’s post-match attack on him earlier in the evening.
-The match ends with the [in]famous Bret/Luger double elimination, which, to WWE’s credit, they’ve not intentionally ripped off once since then (and handled it differently when the occasion arose). The post-match goes on for what feels like the rest of my life, with both guys getting credit as the sole winner in turns, before it’s finally decided “Ah, nuts to it. They both win”.
1. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10
2. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
3. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
4. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
5. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
6. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
7. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10