Normally, the Royal Rumble is something to look forward to for wrestling fans. With thirty of the top guys battling in one match, how could anyone screw it up? And while WWE somehow did manage to screw it up for most of the past five years, no Rumble match was ever quite like the one the company threw together in 1995, perhaps the WWF’s worst year ever from both a creative and a financial standpoint.
Knowing the disaster in the making he had in front of him, Vince McMahon used seemingly every trick in the book to try to make the match passable, and while it was, to quote Vince, a gallant effort, my proboscis would grow if I told you the 1995 Royal Rumble was anything less than a headache-inducing embarrassment.
That year, the Rumble match would have only sixty seconds between entrants, rather than the usual two minutes. Vince hyped up the 1995 Rumble as the fastest-paced ever, requiring great conditioning. Yes, the Rumble itself was faster-paced in that people entered at shorter intervals, but it didn’t mean anyone in the match actually had to move any faster. In fact, it required less conditioning than any Rumble before it, since a wrestler had to last only half as long to make it to the end. It’s a bit like trying to get in shape by driving to work every day, since it’s way faster and therefore more strenuous than biking or running.
The other special stipulation for this Royal Rumble was that the winner would not only receive a title shot at Wrestlemania XI, but would also be accompanied by Pamela Anderson.
So when Pam arrived at the arena, who should greet her but a mob of freaks!
When WWE gathers up all of its oddballs into one segment nowadays, it’s always a set-up for Ron Simmons to walk in and say “Damn!”
When the WWF did this in 1995, it was them showing off their actual roster. Really, take a look.
Nearly every misfit and weirdo on the scene was in the Rumble match that night.
The first man to enter the match was Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid made a kissy face while flashing the letters “TK,” standing for up-and-coming country singer Toby Keith. Suck it, Double J!
No, actually it stood for “Themis Klarides,” the former Raw girl who would become the only wrestling personality to win an election in Connecticut.
The second man in was The British Bulldog.
Davey Boy didn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, but he did wear this penis on his tights.
Judging by the caliber of the first two entrance, you’d think the WWF was really pulling out the stops to put on a Rumble worthy of Pam Anderson, since it looked completely stacked.
Then reality hit in the form of an Appalachian mountain man dressed as Bruiser Brody with Nazi tattoos. Keep in mind that “reality” in 1995’s WWF was pretty weird. Eli Blu, by the way, is the first Wrestlecrap inductee in this match.
Next out was the wrestling garbageman Duke Droese, the second consecutive Wrestlecrap inductee of the match…
…followed by a Heavenly Body…
…Sione, the third Headshrinker…
…and the other Heavenly Body.
Now, you might think that the famous ending was the only memorable moment of this match… but not if you’re Earl Hebner, who surely remembers taking this unexpected plancha by “The Dumpster.”
Then there was Doink, who was never inducted as a character, but who was responsible for two horrific Survivor Series matches that were, and was accompanied by Dink, one of the first inductees to the site. So I’ll add him to the count. Three.
Next came Kwang, the masked ninja from The Orient (or Puerto Rico). Four.
Kwang would eliminate Doink a few minutes later. To give you an idea of how low on the totem pole Doink was by 1995, he jobbed to Kwang in the ninja’s last match. In the opening match of a house show. After Kwang had already shown up on TV as Savio Vega because the WWF had decided to retire the ninja character.
The number ten entrant was the returning Rick Martel, who, despite his lack of lapel button explaining this fact, was a model. Five.
Finally, Owen Hart entered, and this match at last had another contender to win and challenge for the title at Wrestlemania…
…until Bret Hart attacked his brother from behind before he could get to the ring.
Our next entrant was Timothy Well, Wrestlecrap inductee number six of the match. It’s pretty clear that Vince saw the list of guys he’d have to shove into the Rumble to fill up all thirty slots and freaked out, deciding to make the match as short as possible and to throw as much at the fans in rapid succession that they wouldn’t know what hit them. I mean, can you imagine waiting two whole minutes for the next entrant, only for it to end up being one of the guys from Well Dunn?
But what do I know? The crowd ended up popping huge for Timothy Well… well, actually they popped huge for Owen Hart’s elimination just seconds after stepping into the ring, which happened off-camera during the thong-wearer’s entrance.
So one of the few legitimate contenders in the match got eliminated in three seconds, but no worries: halves of three atrocious tag teams were ready to fill the void, averaging 17 whole seconds apiece: Timothy Well of Well Dunn…
…Luke of the Bushwhackers (who, amazingly, have never been inducted as a team)…
…and Jacob Blu of the Blu Twins (Wrestlecrap inductee number seven).
By now you will have noticed that this Rumble was chock-full not just of tag teams, but of some of the worst tag teams in WWF history.
As if the one-minute intervals and four consecutive sub-30-second entrants hadn’t yet driven home that the WWF was trying to get this battle royal over with as quickly as possible, Davey Boy and Shawn then cleared the ring to reset the match. Basically, they unclogged the toilet that was this Rumble match.
Then came the King Kong Bundy, Vince’s pick to win it all because he was so fat.
After crushing the Wrestlemania main event hopes of Mo from Men on a Mission (eight) in three seconds…
…he faced off with fellow big man Mabel (nine), who immediately started on the slowest elimination in Rumble history…
…very gradually pushing Bundy over the top rope and to the floor.
Bundy, disillusioned at his failure to win the big one, then took up a second career trying to fool the public into thinking the Sandy Hook massacre took place. Or something.
Next came Bushwhacker Butch, who lasted 19 seconds…
…followed by Made in the USA Lex Luger, whose failed Lex Express campaign was not only the definitive moment of his WWF career, but was another early inductee into Wrestlecrap’s hallowed halls. That brings the count up to ten. Still, Lex was the first entrant since Owen Hart to have a legitimate chance of winning the whole thing and getting a title shot, and astonishingly, he was not eliminated in under a minute.
The Rumble then continued on its roll with the twentieth participant, the outstanding athletic newcomer Hakushi.
Ha! No, it was Mantaur (eleven). “Jimmy Cornette is really high on this Mantaur,” said The King. You know, I can think of a lot of sentences that include the words, “really high” and “Mantaur,” but I didn’t expect that one.
Mantaur would last nearly ten minutes until Lex Luger demonstrated that the indomitable American spirit could achieve anything, namely dumping a wrestling cow out of the ring.
Next came Aldo Montoya (Wrestlecrap inductee number twelve), who, like Timothy Well before him, wore ridiculous-looking underwear where it didn’t belong.
Wrestlecrap inductee number thirteen Henry O. Godwinn then went to work (by which I mean wrestling, not hog farming)…
…where he was followed by both of the Smoking Gunns, who, as cowboys who went to college on rodeo scholarships, ranked among the more believable gimmicks in this match.
Bob Backlund, the previous champion and only former WWF champion in the match, walked out next to hopefully add some intrigue to the match.
Instead, he was sneak-attacked by Bret Hart and eliminated in 16 seconds…
…and the only reason he lasted that long was because he sold the Hitman’s offense and took forever to stand up. Here’s Lex Luger waiting patiently for the elimination spot, stopping briefly to give Steven Dunn a friendly reminder to get the hell out of the way.
Dunn (Wrestecrap inductee number fourteen), by the way, had entered while Backlund was being assaulted on the outside. You know, the real shame isn’t that this Rumble was packed with jobbers-to-the-stars, but that it could have had so much more star power with the WWF roster available at the time. Besides actually letting Owen and Backlund spend more than a few seconds in the match, Vince could have thrown in some of the Superstars from that night’s undercard. It’s not as if there were a rule against wrestling twice at the Rumble; just the year before, Tatanka, Bam Bam, Owen Hart, and Bret Hart all pulled double-duty, with the Hitman co-winning the Rumble after failing to win tag team gold earlier in the show.
So while Bret and Diesel were tied up in the WWF title match, that still left Jeff Jarrett, Razor Ramon, IRS, Undertaker, Bam Bam, Tatanka, and the underdog team of The 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly, both of whom were still bigger stars than half the guys who actually entered the Rumble that year.
Coming in at the lucky #27 spot was throwback “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch, whose sole purpose may have been to provide, along with the Smoking Gunns, a redneck counter-balance to the Blu Twins’ and Henry Godwinn’s hillbilly contingent.It’s all about diversity.
Murdoch certainly wasn’t supposed to eliminate eventual winner Shawn Michaels, although there were a few close calls, with Lex Luger inexplicably making the save for HBK each time. Maybe he didn’t trust a one-off wrestler like Murdoch not to screw up the whole match, but Jerry Lawler speculated that the babyface Luger had made a deal with the heel Michaels.
“Lex Luger does not make deals!” said Vince. “You should know that.” That would explain why Lex would work for months without a WWF contract, although him showing up on the first episode of Nitro would suggest that he did make a deal here and there, after all.
Our final three were radioactive mutant-turned-wrestler Adam Bomb (Wrestlecrap inductee number fifteen)…
…and Crush in his final appearance with the WWF before spending a day in jail and returning as a hardened criminal.
Next came the second great purge of the night, as the remaining space-fillers were eliminated en masse. The highlight of these eliminations was Dick Murdoch crashing onto Henry Godwinn, who may have accidentally outshone Michaels by hanging on to the top rope for dear life to stay alive.
The Rumble came down, of course, to Bulldog and Shawn, the only two men in the match capable of going for forty minutes (except of course for Owen Hart and Bob Backlund, who each got tossed out in seconds).
Essentially, this Rumble was a one-on-one match between Michaels and Bulldog, albeit one with constant interference by big muscular guys in garish colors, wild makeup, cowboy boots, and thongs. If Shawn and Davey Boy had ever wondered what it would be like to wrestle in the middle of a gay pride parade, they got their answer on this night.
After a number of false finishes, The British Bulldog clotheslined Shawn Michaels over the top rope, and, as we are led to believe in all the Royal Rumble flashbacks, convinced everyone that the match was over. In truth, the crowd mainly held its breath while the fans in the front row stared at the feet of Shawn Michaels, who was still visibly hanging on to the top and middle ropes. Vince McMahon seemed to be the only person in the whole arena who thought the Rumble was over. Well, he and Davey Boy. And the sound guy.
To recap: One!
He got ‘im! He got ‘im!
No he didn’t. And in ran Shawn to dump Bulldog over and win the match.
Poor Davey Boy. In the 90s, it seemed he was always losing to Shawn. He dropped the Intercontinental, tag team, and European titles to HBK, lost the ’95 Rumble to HBK, and would have lost the ’95 King of the Ring finals to HBK if Vince hadn’t lost his mind and left him off the card, then eliminated Michaels in the first round to make way for King Mabel.
Vince, wanting to be sure of what exactly just happened, went back and narrated the match’s climax, but to be honest, with all the excitement in his voice followed by crushing disappointment, it sounded like he was narrating one of his own before having to apologize to Linda.
It’s amazing the sheer number of bad gimmicks appeared in this match. Not only would over a dozen gimmick wrestlers in this match end up being written up on this site as the very worst in wrestling, they were all inducted in the very first year. Fully half of this Rumble’s roster popped into a young RD Reynolds’s head as soon as he decided to start a webpage about the all-time stupidest characters in pro wrestling.
But Shawn Michaels, who crawled through a river of Wrestlecrap and came out clean on the other side, posed triumphant like Andy Dufresne, knowing that at Wrestlemania, he’d be escorted by Pamela Anderson to the main event.
Or by Jenny McCarthy to the semi-main event.
Hey, it could have been worse.
The next guy to win a Gimmick Battle Royal would get a cobra clutch for his trouble.