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IT'S TIME TO RUMBLE: A Look Back At Royal Rumbles' Past (Part III)


1996


Winner: Shawn Michaels
(Entry: 18th | Lasted: 26:09 | Eliminations: 8)



Bridesmaid: Diesel
(Entry: 22nd | Lasted: 17:51 | Eliminations: 5)



Iron Man: Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(Entered: 1st | Lasted: 48:01 | Eliminations: 1 | Dumped: 19th)



Eliminator: Shawn Michaels (8)



First To Fall: Bob Backlund
(Entry: 3rd | Lasted: 12:22 | Eliminations: 0)



Loser: Squat Teamer #2
(Entry: 16 | Lasted: 0:24 | Dumped: 9th)

NOTES:

Total Match Length: 58:49
Billed Interval between Entries: 2 min.

  • I haven't looked for future Rumbles, but I think Bob Backlund (and this Rumble) might have the record for longest time before the first elimination.  Usually first to fall lasts between 1:30 and 3:00.  Backlund got to 12:22.
  • 1996 is the second time (of three) that there was a Back-To-Back Rumble winner.
  • Duke "The Dumpster" Drose won the right to be #30 on the preshow by DQ when Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Y'know, Triple H) had his pin overturned by then commissioner Gorilla Monsoon cuz Trips used brass knucks.  This is literally one of the only noteworthy things about this Rumble.  It wasn't bad, per se.  Just another Rumble.

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Bret "The Hitman" Hart.  If you're a wrestling fan, you know where this is going...

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

Do the words "The boyhood dream has come true!" mean anything to you?  Yes.



1997

 

Winner: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
(Entry: 5th | Lasted: 45:07 | Eliminations: 10)



Bridesmaid: Bret "The Hitman" Hart
(Entry: 21st | Lasted: 21:42 | Eliminations: 2)



Iron Man: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (45:07)



Eliminator: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (10)



First To Fall: Fake Razor Ramon
(yes, there was a fake Razor Ramon, who actually just had a birthday!  Happy Birthday, Rick Bognar!)
(Entry: 3rd | Lasted: 0:17)



Loser: Jerry "The King" Lawler
(Entry: 22nd | Lasted: 0:04 | Dumped: 20th)

NOTES:

Total Match Time: 50:29
Billed Intervals between Entries:
90 seconds, but McMahon said they were having clock issues while on commentary, so really who the fuck knows?  Let's take a more in-depth look:

  • Bret Hart came in 21st and lasted 21 minutes in a 50 minute match.  That don't add up.  Austin lasted 45:07.  He came in 5th, so assuming 90 seconds for the first four, you've got 6:00 before Austin hits.  That ALSO doesn't add up, because 50:29-45:07=5:22.  Also, #30, The Undertaker, is in the ring for 6:46.  It takes 45 minutes at 90 seconds apiece to get all 30 guys in the ring.  45+6:46=51:46.  And 'Taker wasn't even second to last eliminated; that was Kane (who was actually the fake Diesel.  Yes, there was a fake Diesel too.)
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin racks up Iron Man, Winner and Eliminator.
  • He also ties Hulk Hogan's record from 1989 with 10 eliminations.
  • Austin was actually eliminated by Bret Hart, but all the refs were busy with an out-of-control brawl between Mankind and Terry Funk on the outside and didn't see it.  Austin got back in the ring and dumped Bret to steal the Royal Rumble.
  • Jerry Lawler started the once amusing, now tired tradition of announcers jumping up from the desk and entering the Rumble as a surprise.
  • Three men are listed as having eliminated themselves.  Ahmed Johnson jumped over the top to chase Faarooq, who came through the curtain to taunt him.  Faarooq jumped out of the ring when Ahmed Johnson beat him with a 2x4.  Mil Mascaras was dumb enough to jump on some dude standing on the outside from the top rope.
  • This event took place in the Alamodome: A 65,000 seat stadium built to attract an NFL franchise that never came (though there are rumors about the Raiders...) that in spite of putting hometown boy Shawn Michaels in the main event only drew 40-45,000 paying customers.  (source: Jim Cornette, who was there.)  They did put 60 in the building, but they had to pull a WCW to do it, giving out free tickets to fill the rest of the seats.  (Which is ironic, since WCW was one of the reasons WWF was having such a hard time filling arenas then.)
  • TNA did a pay per view in the same building in 2013.  Lockdown 2013 saw Bully Ray win his first World Title, turn heel, and become president of Aces & Eights (which is something I never thought I'd be blogging about, much less in a post about the 1997 Royal Rumble).  It drew 3,800 fans.  Must've been eerie.

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Shawn Michaels, but he wouldn't be walking for long.  The rematch was simple: Take last year's epic Wrestlemania and set up round two.  Done.  Except Shawn didn't want to put Bret over, so he forfeited the title due to a knee injury.  A knee injury he completely no-sold when he came out to do commentary at Wrestlemania, doing all sorts of erratic, flexing things with his "bum" knee.  But wait, you say: What does this have to do with Bret?  Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble!  Well, funny thing...

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

No.  In one of only three occurrences, the winner of the Royal Rumble did not compete for the World Championship in any form at the ensuing Wrestlemania.  Steve Austin and Bret Hart wound up having a grudge match that broke the Muta scale and was one of the best Wrestlemania matches of all time.  Which is good, because good GOD the rest of that card SUCKED.  I mean, Sid and Taker was okay (I know I'm the only one who thinks it was tolerable), but the rest of Wrestlemania 13 was bad.  (Okay, Goldust VS HHH was watchable.)



1998



Winner: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
(Entered: 24th | Lasted: 15:58 | Eliminations: 7)



Bridesmaid: The Rock
(Entry: 4th | Lasted: 51:32 | Eliminations: 4)



Iron Man: The Rock (51:32)



Eliminator: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (7)



First To Fall: Tom Brandi
(Entered: 3rd | Lasted: 0:12)

Loser: Also Tom Brandi
(see above)

NOTES:

Total Match Time: 55:25
Billed Interval between Entries: 90 seconds



  • Mick Foley is the only person to officially enter a Royal Rumble as more than one persona in the same year.  He went in as Cactus Jack (Entry: 1st | Lasted: 9:41 | Eliminations: 1 | Dumped: 2nd), Mankind (Entry: 16th | Lasted: 2:40 | Eliminations: 1 | Dumped: 7th) and Dude Love (Entry: 28th | Lasted: 7:53 | Eliminations: | Dumped: 26th).  (Combined Totals: Lasted: 20:14 | Eliminations: 4)
  • Poor Tom Brandi.  I don't think that's happened before or since.

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Shawn Michaels, but with part of his vertebrae missing.  His bad landing on the edge of Undertaker's casket cost him four and a half years of his career.  (He retired after Wrestlemania XIV and didn't come back until Summerslam 2002.)

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

Yes.  "Stone Cold" won thanks to Mike Tyson, and the Attitude Era was officially born.  This was the beginning of WWF's most successful period in history.



1999



Winner: Vince McMahon
(Entry: 2nd | Lasted: 56:28 (technically) | Eliminations: 1)



Bridesmaid: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
(Entry: 1st | Lasted: 56:28 (technically) | Eliminations: 8)



Iron Man: TIE
(Austin & McMahon.  I realize I messed up with the 1995 Rumble and gave it to Shawn Michaels, but "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith deserved to be co-iron man.)



Eliminator: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (8)


First To Fall: Golga (aka Earthquake)
(Entry: 3rd | Lasted: 0:15)



Loser: Gillberg
(Entry: 6th | Lasted: 0:07 | Dumped: 2nd)

NOTES:

Total Match Time: 56:28
Billed Interval between Entries: 90 seconds

  • This is the third year in a row Steve Austin has been the Eliminator.  He racked up 26 eliminations so far (one in 1996 as The Ringmaster).
  • This is the second (and final to date) time #1 and #2 ended the match together.
  • Both Steve Austin and Vince McMahon left the ring beneath the bottom rope and were gone for extended periods of time.  Austin caught a beat down from The Corporation and was sent to the hospital, from which he stole an ambulance, returned, and promptly eliminated seven more men.  Vince did commentary for the last ten, fifteen minutes of the match.
  • Mabel was kidnapped from the Rumble and indoctrinated into The Ministry Of Darkness.  He changed his name to Viscera and got those freaky contact lenses and pointed teeth (as if being a 6'10" 475lb. man in all leather wasn't intimidating enough).
  • Seven entries didn't even make it to a full minute, including Kane, who eliminated himself.  Also including:
  • Chyna, who is the first woman to compete in a Royal Rumble.  (Beth Phoenix and Kharma are the only other two.)  She won the right to be #30 in a "Corporate Rumble" on Raw with 10 members of the Corporation.

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

The Rock.  After an absolutely brutal I Quit match (seriously; watching it now, knowing what we know about Concussions and CTE is pretty tough) The Rock got out of it by having Shane McMahon play a recording over the PA of Mick Foley saying "I QUIT!" over and over.  It was taken from an interview done just before the pay per view where he was saying "I'm gonna make you scream 'I QUIT!  I QUIT!  I QUIT!'"

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

No.  This is the third (and to date final) time the winner of the Royal Rumble has not competed for the Title at Wrestlemania.  Austin and McMahon had a cage match in February at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and despite a debuting Big Show ripping through from beneath the ring, Austin still managed to win the match and the right to go on to face The Rock at Wrestlemania.  Which is good, because Austin V Rock was the ONLY thing of redeeming value during the entire runtime of Wrestlemania XV.  And it was the worst of their three Wrestlemania matches together.


Come back tomorrow for our first foray into the new millennium!  2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003!

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