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On the Marc Reviews: 1996 Royal Rumble

January 13, 2012 | Posted by Marc Elusive
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On the Marc Reviews: 1996 Royal Rumble  


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Selland Arena, Fresno, California; January 21, 1996

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect

Ahmed Johnson vs. “Double J” Jeff Jarrett:   Jarrett bashed Johnson in the head with a guitar at In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings to set this up. Ahmed nearly kills Jarrett in the outset so he retreats to the floor. Jarrett manages Johnson into the corner and tries a hiptoss; Ahmed blocks and hits his own. Jarrett side headlocks him; Johnson tosses him off. Double J tries to whip him out of the corner but Ahmed reverses into a short clothesline. Jarrett charges and gets shoulderblocked and powerslammed. Flying clothesline; Ahmed charges and Jarrett ducks sending Johnson over the top rope but he gets his hand caught in the top rope. Jarrett gets him (eventually) to the floor where he jumps off the apron with a clothesline and tosses him into the steps. Back to the ring, Jarrett hangs Ahmed on the ropes and struts. Ahmed fires up and completely ignores a bunch of double axe handles; Jarrett jumps off the top… right into a bearhug. Johnson clotheslines Jarrett; spinebuster follows. Jarrett retreats to the floor so Ahmed follows him out via a plancha. Ahmed goes to the top but misses the somersault Off-ramp; Jarrett immediately applies the figure-four leglock. Ahmed reverses so Jarrett releases the hold; Jeff Jarrett stays in the leg but Ahmed kicks him off another figure-four. Jeff Jarrett gets frustrated so he grabs the guitar and comes off the top rope with a deadly guitar-shot to Ahmed’s head for the DQ. 3/10 Fast match a few impressive spots and a screwy ending; the guitar-shot was death though.

Diesel, the tweener version, is going to have the time of his life. He gives his opinion on Shawn Michaels and the debuting Vader. Diesel has a problem with Undertaker being #1 contender.

WWF Tag Team Championship Smoking Gunns vs. Bodydonnas (w/Sunny):   The Bodydonnas are Skip (the late Chris Candido) and Zip (Tom Prichard) who looks EXACTLY like Finlay with his short haircut. Skip starts off with Billy Gunn; Skip counters into a head scissors but then gets backdropped. Skip low-bridges Billy and he sails over the top rope (see, Rumble). Bart Gunn comes in but gets extricated from the ring. They try to slingshot Bart back into the ring but he releases the top rope then slingshots BOTH Bodydonnas to the floor. Clever. Billy Gunn follows up with a topé to the floor onto them. Billy and Bart pinball Skip between them and Zip tries to help but gets clobbered. Skip tags Zip as Sunny distracts Billy Gunn with her hotness. Bart tags in and Zip chops but they are no sold; Bart returns the chop favor and press-slams him. Blind tag allows Skip to clobber Bart with a clothesline. The Gunns do the same thing and hit a combination Hart Attack-like move. Sunny bounces around on the apron again; Skip tosses whips Billy into the ropes inadvertently knocking her off. Billy checks on her and gets double crossed. Skip pescatos onto Billy on the floor. Skip slams Billy and front suplex splashes Zip onto him then, Zip gutwrench powerbombs Skip onto Billy. Unique tandem offense by the Donnas. Bart distracts the referee and the Bodydonnas unload on Billy; reverse chinlock by Zip. Skip tags in and drops a second-rope fist. The Donnas hit Billy with a double flapjack for a close two count. A complicated series of dropdowns involving Zip and Billy sees Skip plow into both of them and all three are kayoed. Bart Gunn gets the hot tag and rips through the Bodydonnas. Billy returns and Zip accidently backdrops Skip; Bart dropkicks Zip in the back sending him into a Billy Gunn bodyslam. The Gunns nail the Sidewinder but Sunny is on the apron distracting the referee meanwhile Skip nails Bart from the top and covers… for two!! Zip flings Billy to the floor and they double backdrop Bart. They try a double suplex on Bart but Billy spears Zip and Bart inside cradles Skip for three. 8/10 This was a fun tag team match; formula strategy and the Donnas had the tools to entertain on the heat segments.

Billionaire Ted skit follows; they show the Hukster and the Nacho Man loathing the WWF’s new Generation.

Goldust hits on and frustrates Razor Ramon making him uncomfortable, in a creepy way. Razor loses it in a homophobic sort of way and obliterates Goldust on Monday Night Raw.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Razor Ramon vs. Goldust (w/Marlena):   This is Marlena’s WWF debut as Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect have no idea who she is. Early Goldust’s antics were awesome but he was boring in the ring; Goldust’s current antics are toned down severely but he is much more entertaining in-ring. Goldust fondles himself so Razor chucks his toothpick at him. Goldust keeps avoiding lockups and hitting L1 to taunt over and over again. Razor gets pissed and wrenches on an armbar. Razor tries a wastelock and Goldust reverses and feels Razor up. Mind games. Goldust keeps trying to feel up Ramon to piss him off and it is working. They take turns slapping each other like little bitches; Ramon slaps him on the ass and Goldust likes it. Goldust retreats to the floor and puts Marlena between them. They trade headlock/head scissors reversals; Goldust retreats and hides behind Marlena again. Goldust blows Razor a kiss. Ramon finally gets annoyed and clotheslines Goldust over the top. Ramon moves Marlena out of the way this time but Goldust rams him into the steps and the apron. Double axe off the top by Goldust and whips him into the buckles a few times and hits the bulldog; slingshot backdrop suplex by Goldust. Marlena blows gold dust into Razor’s eyes. Goldust follows up with a swinging neckbreaker and slaps on a sleeper hold. Mr. Perfect wonders what Goldust would do to Ramon if he puts him to sleep to the consternation of Vince. Razor Ramon counters with a backdoor low blow. Razor comes back with a driving chokeslam, fall-away slam and a backdrop superplex. Marlena “twists” her ankle and hangs onto to referee Tim White allowing the 1-2-3 Kid to mount the buckles and spin kick Ramon; Goldust covers for three and the IC championship. 2.5/10 Goldust wins the title but all his early matches were very long and lacking in much action due to the psychological techniques of Goldust. You can play a good drinking game though; take a shot every time Vince McMahon says “bizarre” during one of his matches.

Royal Rumble promo merry-go-round; Shawn Michaels’ doctor, Owen Hart, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Barry Horowitz, Vader and Jim Cornette and Shawn Michaels himself.

The Royal Rumble:   #1 Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who lost in the Free-For-All, got stuck with #1 and #2 Henry O. Godwinn start off. There is some storyline between these two; they met in the infamous hog pen match at In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings. HHH attacks immediately but Godwinn clotheslines and backdrops him. Godwinn almost press-slam eliminates HHH but a finger in the eye frees him. The crowd counts down #3 Mr. Bob Backlund comes out to his music as this is the first Rumble to accompany each wrestler’s entrance with their theme. Backlund works over Godwinn. They all take turns trying to eliminate each other. Now #4 Jerry “The King” Lawler heads to the ring as Hunter high knees Godwinn. All three heels work over Godwinn as the crowd irritates Lawler with “Burger King” chants. Lawler grabs Godwinn’s slop bucket but he reverses and acquires the bucket and chases everyone out of the ring with it. He dumps in all over Lawler. Godwinn works over all three until #5 Bob “Spark Plug” Holly jogs out and backdrops the King. Hunter gets Godwinn over the top but he saves himself. They battle on the ropes as it is time for #6 King Mabel wanders to the ring. The kings Lawler and Mabel work over Godwinn. HHH and Bob Holly battle on the other side; Backlund meanders over and tries to dump both of them. #7 Jake “The Snake” Roberts gets a huge pop from the crowd. He unveils his snake, everyone scatters, and drapes it all over Lawler; he scampers under the ring. Roberts gets nailed by Holly as everyone reenters the ring (except Lawler). Mabel gets tied in the ropes à la André the Giant. Sir Mo saves Mabel but gets clobbered. Here is #8 Dory Funk, Jr. heading to the ring; he goes for Bob Backlund in a battle of the extreme veterans. Everyone battles and the fans chant “DDT”. We get a shot of Lawler peeping his head out from under the ring. #9 Yokozuna shambles to the ring and he enters and ELIMINATES Bob Backlund. Mabel and Yoko threaten to tip the ring over brawling in the same corner. Wait, where’s Henry Godwinn? Oh, there he is eclipsed in the corner by Yoko and Mabel. Mabel avalanches Yoko killing Godwinn behind him; Helmsley drops a knee on Godwinn and then Mabel necromancies him just to kill him dead again with a splash.

#10 1-2-3 Kid looking over his shoulder on his way to the ring because Razor Ramon is hot on his tail. WWF officials get Razor out of there and the Kid attacks Dory Funk in the corner. Jake ELIMINATES Godwinn and Mabel choke lifts the Kid as #11 Takao Ōmori comes in to the Orient Express’ music; wait why did the Express get dubbed over a few Rumbles ago? Anyway, the Kid clobbers HHH in the corner. Ōmori gets chopped by Mabel; Ōmori tries to slam Mabel for some reason. Jake tees off on Yokozuna and knocks him down. Here is #12 Savio Vega; it is great to hear Vince McMahon scream his name, Saaaaaaaaavio Vega! Funk and Ōmori team up to chop 1-2-3 Kid. Savio spin kicks Mabel; revenge for King of the Ring. Yokozuna then ELIMINATES Mabel. Ōmori lifts Jake over the top but Roberts hold on like the snake he is and Takao Ōmori tumbles to the floor ELIMINATING him. Holly tries to work over Yoko and Dory Funk vertical suplexes Vega. #13 Vader debuts in the WWF; he beats in Holly. Savio Vega suplexes Dory Funk, Jr. over the top ELIMINATING him. Vader grabs Vega and destroys him in the corner. Here is #14 Doug Gilbert, from the USWA, and Mr. Perfect does not know who he is and neither does the crowd. Yoko and Vader go at it just as Jake DDTs Savio Vega. Jake tries to DDT Gilbert but Vader clotheslines him so hard he gets ELIMINATED. Vader clobbers Gilbert and then the 1-2-3 Kid. Vader runs over Gilbert. #15 Squat Team I debuts here; I don’t know who he is but he and his partner did not last much longer after the Rumble. He is a big fat guy with boots like the Iron Sheik. He goes for Yokozuna. Vader chokeslams Doug Gilbert as 1-2-3 Kid and HHH continue to brawl. Vader ELIMINATES Doug Gilbert via press-slam then he turns around and ELIMINATES Squat Team I. Yoko and Vader gravitate towards each other. #16 Squat Team II, who looks exactly like his partner, heads towards the ring and meets his brother in the aisle and they both head for the ring and attack Vader. Yokozuna ELIMINATES Squat Team II as Vader re-eliminates Squat Team I. Holly avoids a 1-2-3 Kid dropkick. Now #17 “King of Harts” Owen Hart yells all the way down to the ring. Everyone brawls in the corner and Savio makes the mistake of going for Yoko and Vader. Vader tosses Savio into the corner then whips Yokozuna into him and follows up with his own avalanche. Savio is officially dead. Vader slams Savio and then splashes him and Yoko follows up with the Hulkbuster legdrop. Savio’s kids are now officially dead. #18 Shawn Michaels comes out as Vince loses him mind; he attacks everyone. Vader scrapes Savio off the canvas and ELIMINATES him. Shawn attacks fellow Kliq members 1-2-3 Kid and Helmsley then goes for Owen who injured him with an enziguri a few months ago. Yoko and Vader brawl again by the ropes; HBK sneaks over and ELIMINATES both of them and the crowd explodes. Shawn press-slams the Kid out, ELIMINATING him, and the crowd goes completely insane. Vader and Yokozuna brawl on the floor as #19 Hakushi walks to the ring. Vader knocks Yokozuna and Jim Cornette down and storms back into the ring, beats up Shawn Michaels and press-slams him to the floor then he kicks the crap out of Owen Hart, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Bob Holly sending them all to the floor. About ten WWF officials including WWF President Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Cornette talk Vader out of the ring so the Rumble can continue.

Everyone reenters the ring as #20 Tatanka heads out; HBK beats up Cornette. Hakushi hits the handspring elbow on Owen in the corner. HBK teeters on the top rope a few times. HHH and Bob Holly have been in the ring an awfully long time. Hakushi almost tosses HBK then HHH tries it, same result. Owen catches Hakushi on a corner float-over and ELIMINATES him. #21 Aldo Montoya (wow, he had that gimmick for over a full year) runs to the ring. HHH high knees Shawn. HBK winds up on the floor where he finds Jerry Lawler still hiding under the ring; he drags him back in. #22 Diesel walks out to the ring as Tatanka ELIMINATES Aldo Montoya and Shawn ELIMINATES Jerry Lawler. Diesel comes in and clobbers everyone ELIMINATING Tatanka in the process. Diesel finds Shawn and they brawl; Owen attacks Diesel shoulder blocking him in the corner. Shawn finds new ways to almost go over the top. Here is #23 Kama, the Supreme Fighting Machine, still part of the Million Dollar Corporation, I think. Kama attacks Diesel and beats him in the corner meanwhile Shawn pummels Holly in the other corner. Owen dangles HHH on the apron; Diesel misses a punch on Kama and nails HBK. Kama has Diesel over the top as #24 “Ringmaster” Steve Austin, with hair and no goatee and also not over yet, heads out. Austin, Ted Dibiase’s current Million Dollar Champion, clobbers Bob Holly; Diesel shows up and attacks Ringmaster. Kama sends Shawn over the top but not out. Ringmaster ELIMINATES Bob Holly with a high knee after nearly forty minutes in-ring. Owen gets HBK on the top rope. Why it’s #25 Barry Horowitz, awesome. Diesel attacks him. Owen skins-the-cat on Shawn Michaels and Diesel continues to battle with Kama. Diesel takes a moment away to launch (ELIMINATE) Hunter Heart Helmsley out after almost fifty minutes of in-ring time. Poor Horowitz gets caught with Diesel just as #26 Fatu, no longer a Headshrinker, no he’s “Makin’ a Difference”; he would finally get over in 2000 as Rikishi, still gets his usual good draw, though. Fatu superkicks Kama upon his entry as Horowitz beats on Owen in the corner. Diesel and Ringmaster go at it on the ropes. Owen suplexes Shawn by the ropes and nearly gets him out. It’s… it’s… KANE!!! Oh, wait it’s just #27 Isaac Yankem, D.D.S., my bad. Yankem goes for Diesel; Owen backdrops Horowitz out ELIMINATING him. Poop. Owen enziguris Shawn knocking him (nearly) out cold; a “double feature” replay obscures HBK using a momentum move to ELIMINATE Owen Hart. Ringmaster takes Shawn’s head off with a diving lariat. Here is #28 Marty Jannetty rockin’ to the ring; he gets caught and clobbered by Kama. Fatu drapes HBK on the top rope for about the fifty billionth time but does not go out. Jannetty head-butts Fatu, he may not be a Headshrinker but is still Samoan, no effect. Austin beats on Diesel in the corner. Finally, Shawn and Marty realize they are in the same ring together and brawl to a huge ovation. They run the ropes and rock each other with a double clothesline spot. Diesel side suplexes Marty; #29 British Bulldog getting good karma from drawing #2 last year. He seeks out Shawn for revenge; he is a heel here. The Bulldog ELIMINATES Marty Jannetty. Fatu upends the Ringmaster ELIMINATING him; don’t feel bad he’ll win one or a few, in the future. Kama clotheslines Fatu then Yankem ELIMINATES Fatu. Does that count towards Kane’s elimination totals? The final entrant is #30 Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, he heads for Yankem. Bulldog and Shawn Michaels battle on the floor (not eliminated) where Owen Hart reappears and the brothers-in-law beat on Shawn Michaels. HBK dropkicks Isaac Yankem over the top ELIMINATING him. Diesel and Kama team up to ELIMINATE Duke Droese. The final four for the 1996 Royal Rumble are; British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, Diesel and Kama. Bulldog gets Shawn over the top but he slips back in through Davy Boy’s legs and clotheslines him to the floor thus ELIMINATING him. Kama gets HBK over the top again but he skins-the-cat back in. Diesel forces Kama over the top ELIMINATING him. Diesel turns right into a superkick ELIMINATING him giving Shawn Michaels his second consecutive Royal Rumble victory. Post-match a frustrated Diesel attacks the Bulldog in the aisle and yells at Dok Hendrix. Diesel returns to the ring and high fives Shawn. 2.5/10 This Rumble is only entertaining to see all of the “Attitude Era” superstars saddled with crappy gimmicks and Vader’s debut; he was such an unstoppable force when he first entered the WWF.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer):   Diesel is still sulking at ringside and gets into a brawl with Undertaker in the aisle as he was upset that Taker was named the #1 contender in lieu of himself, this set up their WrestleMania XII (full review, click here) match. Undertaker is still wearing his bone mask (or “facial appliance” in McMahon-speak) from an attack from Mabel and Yokozuna back in 1995. Bret avoids the Undertaker early; Taker catches him and pummels him in the corner. Undertaker choke lifts Bret and rams him into the corner. Undertaker applies a claw hold and tries to smother Bret. Um, DQ? Bret gets his feet on the rope but Paul Bearer keeps shoving it off. Ropewalk forearm connects for the Taker and reapplies the claw/smother hold. Bret wakes the crowd up with a boot off a corner charge and a second-rope clothesline. Bret sends Taker to the floor and pescatos onto him. Bret jumps off the apron again but Taker catches him and posts his back. Undertaker tries to javelin him into the post but Bret slips off his back and posts the Undertaker; Bret charges… right into a boot. He rams Bret into the steel barricade. This match feels like it is in slow-mo. Bret manages a reversal on the floor and tosses Undertaker into the steps injuring his leg. Bret works the leg on the floor and chases Paul Bearer away from helping the Undertaker. They’ve been on the floor for a good two minutes; how long IS that ten count? Bret finally rolls Taker back into the ring and applies the “Diesel strategy”; work the leg so Undertaker can barely stand. Bret works the leg dropping rope assisted splashes onto it, leg whipping it and applying a toe hold and a figure-four leglock. Taker rolls over on the figure-four so Bret grabs the ropes. Undertaker hobbles across the ring so Bret kicks his leg out and then Bret stretches the leg. Another leglock applied by Bret Hart. Bret goes for the “facial appliance”; Taker comes back so Bret kicks his leg and applies a modified Indian deathlock. The fans meekly chant “Rest in peace”, they must be bored too. Undertaker slams his other leg over Bret’s face a few times to break his hold. Undertaker chucks Bret over the top, tosses him into the steps and chokes him with an electrical cord. Um, DQ? Oh, wait Paul Bearer ran interference, never mind. Taker tosses Bret into the timekeeper’s table and jabs him with a chair. Both babyface guys are working heel strategies as the Vince Russo influence was slowly beginning to kick in. Taker misses a boot and Bret leg snaps the bad wheel over. Fans begin to boo at Bret. Foreshadowing. Bret wraps the bad leg into the ringpost; just like at the ’95 Rumble (full review, click here) versus Diesel. Bret reapplies the leglock. Undertaker somehow reverses the hold and drops a leg; clothesline by the Undertaker. Taker goes for the Tombstone too close to the ropes, that, coupled with the bad leg and Bret escapes to the floor. Bret hangman’s Undertaker’s throat off the top rope; Bret counters a backdrop with a DDT. Bret goes through his usual moves but Undertaker keeps sitting up on him. He cannot sit up on the backbreaker so Bret drops the second-rope driving elbow. Undertaker counters the Sharpshooter with a goozle. They run the ropes and double clothesline each other. Bret gets up first and removes a turnbuckle pad. Bret removes the mask and freaks out at Undertaker’s face; he looks the same as he always does. Bret finally rams Taker’s face into the exposed buckle. Bret tries a cross body but jumps right in to a Tombstone. Diesel reappears and pulls referee Earl Hebner out of the ring drawing a DQ for Bret Hart costing the Undertaker the title. Diesel flips off Undertaker and leaves. 2.5/10 Boring, boring match. This match feels like it is in slow motion and really, really long for the DQ ending. It did pick up at the end but the ending killed it. I understand the importance of building to WrestleMania XII but can you have a decisive ending in the main event; should have just put the Rumble on last.

Post-Rumble show, Gorilla Monsoon books a title match for In Your House 6; Bret “Hitman” Hart versus Diesel. Elsewhere, Dok Hendrix talks to Shawn Michaels who says the Kilq and HBK are going to WrestleMania XII. He still loves Diesel despite his change of attitude. Gorilla Monsoon is happy Shawn Michaels is back. Undertaker gets in Monsoon’s face and says that it will be a cold day in Hell before Diesel wears the WWF title. Monsoon makes the title match a steel cage match to prevent outside interference. Dok Hendrix then talks to Diesel who says Bret Hart lives and breathes because he has allowed it. Diesel calls himself the best thing going today and shrugs off the Undertaker’s threat. He dubs the WWF as the “Diesel Wrestling Federation”. We close out the show with Vader throwing a fit in the locker room.

The 411

1996 was the year of the Shawn as they pushed him realizing he was talented and people loved him; problem was not much outside of Bret Hart, Owen Hart and maybe Mankind (yet to debut) was any good. Diesel and Razor Ramon jumped to the competition and kicked off the WCW dominated portion of the Monday Night Wars. The horrible gimmicks that the “New Generation Era” stinks of were in full effect here. The best match was the tag team match and the only thing worth watching. The Rumble itself was average to mildly good, just as a curiosity to see all the future stars saddled with their stupid “New Generation” characters.

Final Score:  2.0   [ Very Bad ]  legend

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