Arnold Furious: January 29 2017. We’re in San Antonio, Texas at the enormous Alamodome for the first Rumble there since the hugely papered one in 1997. Hosts are the many, many announcers WWE have.
WWE RAW Women’s Championship Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley Lots of huggers in attendance. Charlotte remains unbeaten on PPV. She’s 15-0. As with Sasha they’ve been slow in getting Bayley into a big match and she’s suffered because of that. Also because her promos aren’t very good. The in-ring is good enough to compensate for that. There’s a feeling that, despite the ***** classic Bayley and Sasha had, Charlotte is the most rounded of the three. She’s certainly the best promo. She’s also adapted well to the main roster way of doing things. Which means talking on RAW, occasionally working short matches and being able to shrug off shit angles. Part of the problem all the women have had on the main roster is having to go bigger (Hell in a Cell etc) because they already worked each other in great wrestling matches on NXT and, because of the Network, everyone saw them. It’s a new and interesting problem for WWE; the success of their own feeder promotion burning out development stars before they hit the main roster!
To be fair to these two, they do tremendous work in getting the crowd invested in this match and this moment. This is especially evident in the Figure Four stuff but also when Bayley starts lifting Randy Savage spots to counter Charlotte’s Daddy issues. Charlotte’s selling has improved of late, to the point where I’m convinced she’s in trouble. That’s a big step for any performer and I’m thrilled she’s found that extra step. Charlotte nails Natural Selection on the apron to get the win. Why are people still shocked when Charlotte wins on PPV? That’s what she does! This was a touch botchy but they told a good story and Charlotte was excellent. Final Rating: ***1/2
Arnold Furious: I’m going to level with you right now; 1999 is a terrible year for wrestling. Dreadful matches, silly angles and not a decent in-ring performer in sight until the arrival of ‘The Saviour’ Kurt Angle toward the end of the year. My dislike of the year is intensified by this damn video tape, which has degraded worse than any other tape I own. I have tapes 15-years older that are almost immaculate. This one is all scratchy and has horrible audio.
Backstage: Video Control gives us footage of Rumble participants. They discuss the $100,000 bounty on Steve Austin and Chyna coming in at #30, but nobody cuts a shouty promo. They’re almost shoots, like Jeff Jarrett casually talking about the Rumble being a special match in a neutral manner. They’re more like the kind of interviews you see on superstar DVD releases nowadays.
We’re in Anaheim, California. Hosts are Michael Cole (urgh) and Jerry Lawler. Jim Ross recently had a relapse of his Bell’s Palsy, giving us my least favourite commentator pairing outside of Mark Madden and Stevie Ray.
Arnold Furious: This show has a special spot in my heart. It was the first WWF PPV that I saw live. Living in England meant having to pay for almost everything wrestling related. Before obtaining Sky TV I used to watch PPVs that my friends had taped and I used to watch WCW Worldwide for my wrestling fix. But in 1995 I bit the bullet and bought Sky for myself. It was too late to watch Survivor Series, although I caught a repeat, but the Rumble was there to be watched, which is why the Rumble has always been a special match for me. It also explains why I was a big Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels fan. I loved them both anyway but when I started into the PPV world I could see just what made them so special… live, and that added an aura of unpredictability. Given my inexperience with big wrestling events, I went into the 1996 Royal Rumble not knowing what to expect. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious Shawn is going to win. All the hype surrounds him. All the long-term planning is blatantly aimed at getting Shawn over. Hell, he comes out for an in-ring interview before the event, where he renamed his fanbase “The Kliq”. Hindsight is 20-20.
We’re in Fresno, California. Sadly the tape contains the Free For All in full. Only two good things about that: 1. Jim Cornette hyping Vader in the Rumble. 2. A Jake friggin’ Roberts promo! Unfortunately Jake’s 1996 comeback tour was lame. Mainly because he was clean, but also because he was in horrible shape. At least it stopped jobbers using the DDT as a transitional move for a while. Every cloud has a silver lining. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect.
Arnold Furious: We’re in Tampa, Florida. The WWF was struggling in 1995. No one had kicked the company up the ass yet and the only major change the company faced was its title situation. Shawn Michaels’ Kliq was beginning to dominate. Diesel had the world title and Shawn was in line for the Rumble victory, but it was a company lacking in big star names. Vince McMahon opted to build his own. The title match sees Bret Hart challenging Diesel. Bret never really lost the WWF title, thanks to his brother Owen, and Diesel beat Backlund before Hitman could get a re-match. The pre-show is hosted by Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wiand, who are both truly awful at their jobs. A highlight of the pre-show is Man Mountain Rock. I love that guy! We also have a slew of pre-WrestleMania celebrities. Lawrence Taylor is at ringside and Pamela Anderson is one of the guest celebrity stars. Pammy was a big selling point by the time WrestleMania rolled around, as she married Tommy Lee in between and became a major star for a while. Of course she was already a Baywatch babe, but as anyone knows; if you pair up two big celebrities they become even more famous. Coliseum Video shows her arriving at the arena, greeted by the entire locker room, complete with porn star music. Hosts for the main show are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler.
Arnold Furious: Desperate men do desperate things. That’s the motto behind Royal Rumble ’94. Vince McMahon had become so desperate in the midst of a personal crisis stemming from steroid allegations, that he started throwing all manner of crap onto TV. Rumble ’94 featured a bizarre solution to The Undertaker asking for time off. Plus “co-winners” of the Rumble event itself and finally pulling the trigger on an Owen Hart heel turn. The WWF were rumoured to be experimenting with all kinds of possibilities including, but not limited to, putting the WWF title on Ludvig Borga. That isn’t quite as ridiculous as Vince Russo’s suggestion that Tank Abbot become WCW champion, but it’s not far off. Vince did know he was desperately short on main event talent though and allotted time in this Rumble match that ensured a new one was born: Diesel.
We’re in Providence, Rhode Island. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Ted DiBiase. Bobby Heenan had left the company so Vince moved on to another former wrestler who’d recently retired to join commentary with him. It wasn’t until Jerry Lawler settled into the role that the WWF would truly replace Heenan. Heel colour guy is not an easy spot to slot into.
Arnold Furious: 1993 must have been a worrying year for Vince McMahon. Not only was he facing increasing pressure from the US government over steroid allegations, but also his talent roster was getting thin. Going into the Royal Rumble event there were only four realistic winners. Those being Ric Flair, who won it the previous year but was on the outs, Randy Savage, the former champion, The Undertaker and Yokozuna. Savage was winding his career down and Taker was about to become embroiled in a feud with Giant Gonzalez. The lack of depth was further demonstrated by Razor Ramon securing a PPV title shot after mere months in the company. It’s not like he was setting the world on fire, either.
Arnold Furious: The last time the WWF vacated their world title the result was an enormous tournament that lasted forever and ate up the majority of WrestleMania IV. Pretty much everyone hated it and, aside from Savage winning, it was a bust. So with the title vacant again, following not one but two screwy belt changes featuring Hogan and The Undertaker, the WWF had a better idea; put the title up for grabs in the Royal Rumble and make that match really mean something. The Rumble would go onto become one of the most prestigious matches in wrestling. Hell of a job for a glorified battle royal. 1992 is when it all started to make sense as a match, with the title on the line in an hour long contest. The field was strong too with potential winners throughout led by Hogan and Taker who’d been promised late entrance numbers. Also involved were Flair, Piper, Sid, Jake and Savage. We all know what happened, but Flair didn’t know until the day that he would win. Nor that he’d enter at #3. The WWF were eager to put over his stamina, notorious in the NWA, without putting him in an hour match on PPV. This way they could have their cake and eat it. We’re in Albany, New York. Hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan.
Arnold Furious: With the Gulf War raging in Iraq the WWF spent most of late 1990 and early 1991 trying to capitalise on the feelings of the American people. The problem came not from the WWF’s attempts to be topical, if anything that was a plus, but rather the TV nature of the war made it oversaturated in the media without the WWF putting their own spin on it too. Coming into the Rumble, the WWF had made the decision to switch champion from Warrior to Slaughter in order to set up Hogan-Slaughter at ‘Mania for the title and Hogan defending the USA against the evils of foreign people and turncoats. Of course the Iraq conflict was done by the time WrestleMania rolled around and the WWF had to suspect their timing would be somewhat out. I still think the safer bet would have been Hogan-Warrior II, even if neither man wanted to lose.
Arnold Furious: I remember when this show aired I proclaimed it to be my favourite PPV of all time. While that may not be the case now, it’s certainly still a quality show. Mainly because of the epic Cactus Jack vs. Triple H match that *made* Hunter as a main eventer and a WWF icon. So, we have Mick Foley to blame for that. As we progress I’m sure you’ll fondly recall this show as I do. We’re in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.
Arnold Furious: There was only one big singles match at RR90 and that was the returning Ronnie Garvin against Greg Valentine in a submission match. The rest of the WWF’s top end talent was loaded into the Royal Rumble to make it the most star studded possible Rumble match. We’re in Orlando, Florida. Hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura. This would be Tony’s second and final WWF PPV as host.