Archive for the ‘1996’ Category



Free For All Match
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Duke Droese

This is the first ever Free For All Match that was delivered during the half hour preview show before the event. This had an interesting stipulation where the winner would be #30 in the rumble while the loser will get the #1 spot in the match. Helmsley was still new to the WWF and was feuding with characters who represented the opposite of what he was. Being a rich snob he competed against wrestlers with blue collar gimmicks such as farmer Henry Godwinn and here with garbage man Duke. The future Triple H had enough of this match and Disqualified himself in the match to only realize that he got the #1 spot in the rumble much to his ire.
Grade: DUD


1. Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett

The only thing noteworthy here is the birth of a Double J trademark, the guitar smash to the head.
Grade: DUD


2. WWF Tag Team Championship
The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) (c) vs. The Bodydonnas (Skip & Zip) w/Sunny

A tag match with no emotion nor desire by anyone which killed all the potential this match had.
Grade: D+


3. WWF Intercontinental Championship
Razor Ramon (c) vs. Goldust w/Marlena

Marlena (Terri Runnels) makes her debut in the WWF. This was a heavily disappointing wrestling match with no chemistry in the ring despite a terrific build up. One interesting fact here is that it’s Ramon’s fourth straight title match at the Rumble and at the time whoever wrestled in the undercard did not partake in the Rumble match which confirms that Scott Hall never participated in a Royal Rumble match.
Grade: D-


4. Royal Rumble Match
Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Henry Godwinn, Bob Backlund, Jerry Lawler, Bob Holly, King Mabel, Jake the Snake Roberts, Dory Funk Jr., Yokozuna, 1-2-3 Kid, Takao Omori, Savio Vega, Vader, Doug Gilbert, Headhunter #1, Headhunter #2, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, Hakushi, Tatanka, Aldo Montoya, Diesel, The Ringmaster, Fatu, Isaac Yankem DDS, Marty Jannetty, The British Bulldog & Duke Droese

This was a very fun rumble with a lot of gimmicks doing their trademarks such as Jake Roberts releasing a gigantic python in the ring to which the participants at the time fled outside. The entertainment value was very high in this one and it also brought up a story with Shawn Michaels returning to the ring after a concussion sustained at a Monday Night Raw that sidelined him.
Grade: B


5. WWF Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer

Bret Hart once again made the best of a match this time with a very gimmicked Taker. The match was long enough for a suitable title match but it didn’t shine very well as it didn’t mesh very well and also the interference of Diesel took a lot of the specialty away but at least it opened another chapter in Taker’s direction.
Grade: C+


Final Thoughts:

Another disappointing show but at least this time around the actual rumble was good enough to be watched for nostalgic purposes. The rest can be easily be lived without. One thing to be noted here is that the seeds were planted for the eventual rise and comeback of the WWF in which stars like Austin, Triple H & Kane were beginning their careers in the WWF at the time which on the long run heavily paid off. I only recommend this show for the actual rumble match and mildly for the main event if you have the patience for it.

Verdict: 6.25/10



Free For All  – Yokozuna vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

On January that year, the WWF debuted a new concept called the Free For All in which 30 minutes before the PPV, exclusive interviews, promos and even a wrestling match was provided as a last chance opportunity for people to order the PPV. This one featured the King of the Ring, Stone Cold Steve Austin taking on the mighty Yokozuna. It was quite depressing to watch because Yoko was morbidly obese and is far from the individual he was when he crushed Hulk Hogan. It was that sad to the point where Yoko was going for the Banzai drop and broke the top rope for losing balance because of his excessive weight which left Austin to capitalize and go for the pin.


1. Savio Vega vs. Owen Hart

Vega was on a hot streak as of late coming fresh off a feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin that raised his stock. On the other hand, Owen was lingering in the shadows as a member of Camp Cornette. Owen paid homage to Cowboy Bob Orton by wearing a cast of an arm injury he had sustained during the summer and used it as a weapon. As for the match, it was pretty even with both applying many kicks at each other and trading high flying moves on another. Fantastic choice for an opener.
Grade: C+


2. Tag Team Championship
The Smoking Gunns (c)  w/ Sunny vs. The Body Donnas vs. The Godwinns w/ Hillbilly Jim vs. The New Rockers

It was a total mess. Imagine 8 lifeless bodies twitching in front of thousands of lifeless people. Exactly.
Grade: F


3. Psycho Sid vs. The British Bulldog 

Sid has been on a role lately and everyone has devoured his every move. Davey Boy has also been on a role but he has failed to capture the main championship on three different occasion so he’s on a proving ground match to demonstrate he has what it takes. Honestly, this match was not bad as I thought it would be. The strategy seems like the shorter the match, the better Sid looks and performs.
Grade: C-


4. Goldust w/Marlena vs. Marc Mero w/Sable

The story here is Goldust wants to recruit Sable to his entourage and willing to accomplish that by any means necessary. Honestly the whole mind games thing they had really cause this match drag. Too much rest holds that quite honestly blew up in everyone’s face. Nobody was interested in it until Mero went with the high flying arsenal that got some reaction but the damage was done.
Grade: D+


5. Jerry Lawler vs. Jake Roberts

Jake Roberts returned at the Royal Rumble and claimed to come in a new leaf as he had been battling demons for years of abusing alcohol and drugs while finding Jesus in his life. Lawler never in to the whole redemption story and was targeting Jake for weeks throwing alcohol jokes and pouring whiskey in his face. Mark Henry who was fresh from the Olympics had just signed a 10-year contract with the WWF and was watching closely on commentary. Not a pretty match to watch as the whole time was Lawler taunting and stalling the match ridiculing Roberts. Lawler even brought a gigantic Jim Beam bottle to get over Jake’s head.
Grade: D


6. Boiler Room Brawl
The Undertaker vs. Mankind

Mankind came to the WWF to cause mayhem and by doing so he would target the ominous Undertaker. Undertaker has faced many monsters in his career but this one was unique. As a tortured sould Mankind would often get into the Undertaker’s head, even causing firction between the Deadman and his loyal manager, Paul Bearer. Taker decided he had enough and challenged Mankind in his own turf inside the boiler room. The objective is that they start in the room and the winner would have to leave the boiler room and head to the ring to retrieve the urn from Paul Bearer. This match broke many standards and set new objectives for the WWF. The violence was very intense as it was the first of it’s kind in the promotion. IMO this is the match that caused the Attitude era to born a year and a half later.
Grade: B


7. WWF Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Vader w/ Jim Cornette

HBK since winning the title at Wrestlemania has been at odds with Camp Cornette. He’s faced and defeated Owen Hart and British Bulldog but has yet to overcome the Mastadon. Vader ever since he debuted in the WWF has been on a rampage taking out Yokozuna and even President Gorilla Monsoon.  Throughout the whole match they played Vader was an unstoppable force and gave a huge pounding on the champion. Vader destroys HBK on the outside and gets a count out victory. Cornette gets the mic and orders the match to restart as he knows the title can only change via pin-fall or submission. Michaels was frustrated and knocked Corny out with his tennis racket and once again Vader gets a victory this time by disqualification. Corny once again restarts the match and off they went to go back at one another. Lots of combinations of high-flying and power moves were integrated in perfection.
Grade: A-

In conclusion, this event was solid from start to finish. Way better than the previous year that’s for sure. The thing that stood out the most was the Boiler Room Brawl. As I mentioned before, I think this match opened the door for the Attitude era to come eventually. After this event, the orientation and focus was more adult themed and excessive violence all the way through. A new concept called Shotgun Saturday Night was brought in which the WWF would hold wrestling matches in numerous night-clubs around the country heavily focusing on the Adults. Also Stone Cold Steve Austin would emerge as the toughest SOB in the World Wrestling Federation becoming a surly redneck with a thirst for violence.

Verdict: 6.5/10