January 31, 2011
Steve Riddle

Royal Rumble 1997
January 19th, 1997
The Alamodome
San Antonio, Texas

Free for All:

Perro Aguayo Jr. and Venom defeat Maniaco and Mosco de la Merced at 10:00.
Octagon, Blue Demon Jr., and Tinieblas Jr. defeat Heavy Metal, Abismo Negro, and Histeria at 14:00.
Mascarita Sagrada Jr. and La Parkita defeat Mini Mankind and Mini Vader at 4:29.

Actual Show:

We see the opening video for the Royal Rumble.

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

We see the buildup to the Intercontinental Championship match.

1. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Mr. Hughes) pins Goldust (w/ Marlena) with the Pedigree at 16:50 to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

The Buildup/Face Turn: At the last IYH, HHH tried to hit on Marlena, and she rejected him. Goldust then turned face when Jerry Lawler accused him of being a “queer”, and Goldust attacked him. Goldust would defend Marlena as Helmsley kept trying to obtain her.

One-time Return/Temp. Farewell: During Helmsley’s entrance, we see a big man with him. He is revealed by Jim Ross as Mr. Hughes, acting as Helmsley’s butler. After leaving in 1993, Hughes would move to ECW and be Shane Douglas’s bodyguard. He was brought back to be with Helmsley, but was fired for an alleged interest in S&M clubs. This is his last PPV until 1999.

Analysis: A pretty boring match to start the show. Goldust had just turned face and the fans did embrace him, but it took awhile. HHH has been champ for a few months, but was still trying to get over as a heel. Hughes was brought in to try to help, but it wasn’t working. Luckily, Helmsley’s next bodyguard would get him over. This feud started when Hunter tried to take Marlena, and she wasn’t having it and Goldust tries to defend the honor of his woman. Goldust is dominate during the first few minutes, using the stairs constantly and working on Hunter’s leg, with Hunter using his techinal prowess to regain the advantage. In the end, Helmsley plants a kiss on Marlena, and then plants Goldust with the Pedigree to retain the belt. Both men’s night was not over, as both were in the Rumble, and their issues were far from over. A pretty disappointing affair, although the dead crowd did nothing to help the situation. Grade: 2.5

We see a clip of Bret Hart and Mankind talking about the Royal Rumble.

We see the buildup to the next match.

2. Ahmed Johnson defeats Faarooq (w/ The Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 8:48.

The Buildup: This whole issue started back in August in 1996 when Faarooq made his debut and injured Ahmed. The two would take shots at each other throughout the rest of the year while Ahmed recovered from the injury. After fully recovering, this match was made and it became Ahmed’s first in-ring match since his injury.

Analysis: This was another average match, as the heat in the feud had all but evaporated long before the match. Faarooq was not in the best in-ring shape and all the great workrate Ahmed had is long gone. Both men just pound on each other for 9 minutes, while the Nation get involved. In the end, the Nation jump in the ring, drawing a DQ, ensuring this feud would continue. The highlight was Ahmed’s Pearl River Plunge on a random Nation member through the French announce table. Both men move on, as both men, along with Crush, are in the Royal Rumble match. Grade: 2

We see a clip of Terry Funk who says that he was born to Rumble.

One-Time Return/Temp. Farewell: As we saw, Terry Funk makes a return for one night. After WM II, Funk returned to WCW as an announcer, before feuding with Ric Flair, culminating with their classic “I Quit” match. He would leave WCW briefly before returning in 1994 as part of the Stud Stable. Funk would then compete in ECW, becoming a “Hardcore Icon”. He made an appearance on Shotgun Saturday Night, running down WWF and WCW and fighting with Steve Austin. This is Funk’s last PPV until 1998.

Todd Pettengill interviews the Nation of Domination, who say they will finish Ahmed Johnson off in the Royal Rumble.

3. Vader pins the Undertaker with the Vader Bomb at 13:19.

The Buildup: On a episode of Superstars in December, Taker Tombstoned Vader’s manager, Jim Cornette. Shortly afterwards, this match was made.

Analysis: A pretty solid match that started to bring the crowd around. Both men have been toiling around in the midcard, Vader now had no manager, and Taker has moved on from feuding with Mankind for now. It seemed unlikely both men would move up the ladder with the title picture crowded, but Taker was on the verge of a surge back to the top. Both men use their power to wear each other down. The turning point is when Paul Bearer comes down to ringside. Taker assults him, but Bearer gets the last word by using the urn on Taker. One Vader Bomb later, and Vader gets a huge win. He then leaves with Bearer, signaling a new alliance. Taker, furious with the outcome, chokeslams the ref and gets in Vince’s face, starting the slow burn of Vince getting involved as the owner. For now Vader wins, but both men are comng back to compete in the Royal Rumble. Grade: 2

We see a clip of Steve Austin and the British Bulldog talking about the Royal Rumble.

4. Hector Garza, Perro Aguayo, and Canek defeat Heavy Metal, Jerry Estrada, and Fuerza Guerrea when Aguayo pins Metal at 10:56.

Analysis: Just a simple match to showcase AAA and to spell the crowd before the Rumble, although they have been quiet all night. I say showcase in a cheek-and-tongue methon because the real stars in lucha libre are in WCW jacking up the cruiserweight division. In any event, a bunch of spots and wrestling make this 11 minutes go by slow. Let’s just move on. Grade: 1.5

Howard Finkel announces the attendance at 60,477.

5. Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the Royal Rumble.

Order of entry and time lasted:
Crush (6:17)
Ahmed Johnson (3:02)
Razor Ramon (:17)
Phineas Godwinn (2:52)
Stone Cold Steve Austin (45:07) (Ironman) (WINNER)
Bart Gunn (:26)
Jake “The Snake” Roberts (1:10)
The British Bulldog (8:04)
Pierroth (10:32)
The Sultan (3:23)
Mil Mascaras (7:28)
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (6:42)
Owen Hart (8:29)
Goldust (5:33)
Cibernatico (1:25)
“Wildman” Marc Mero (3:53)
Latin Lover (1:47)
Faarooq (:41)
Savio Vega (:29)
“Double J” Jesse James (:46)
Bret “The Hitman” Hart (21:42)
Jerry “The King” Lawler (:04)
Diesel (17:49)
Terry Funk (15:18)
Rocky Miavia (13:01)
Mankind (12:20)
Flash Funk (6:12)
Vader (10:06)
Henry Godwinn (6:11)
Undertaker (6:46)

Order of Elimination:
Ramon by Johnson (1)
Johnson eliminates himself
Crush by Phineas (1)
Phineas by Austin (1)
Gunn by Austin (2)
Roberts by Austin (3)
Sultan by Bulldog (1)
Bulldog by Owen (1)
Cibernatico by Pierroth (1)
Pierroth by Mascaras (1)
Mascaras eliminates himself
Helmsley by Goldust (1)
Goldust by Owen (2)
Lover by Faarooq (1)
Faarooq by Johnson (2)
Mero by Austin (4)
Owen by Austin (5)
Vega by Austin (6)
James by Austin (7)
Lawler by Bret (1)
Flash by Vader (1)
Henry by Undertaker (1)
Miavia by Mankind (1)
Terry by Mankind (2)
Mankind by Undertaker (2)
Vader by Austin (8)
Undertaker by Austin (9)
Diesel by Bret (2)
Bret by Austin (10) (New Record)

One-Time Debuts: Mil Mascaras is largely considered one of the most famous luchadores in history. His career spans almost 3 decades and has wrestled all over the country of Mexico and the United States. Many wrestlers, however accuse him of being overly arrogant and unwilling to sell moves and put people over. He makes his only PPV appearance and is currently semi-retired. Latin Lover is also from AAA. He makes his only PPV appearance here and would compete in AAA and CMLL.

Returns: The Sultan is Fatu under a mask. After his last PPV appearance, he was taken off TV to be repackaged. He was given this character of a Middle Eastern wrestler, with the storyline that his tongue was removed and he couldn’t talk. To give him heat, he was given the Iron Shiek and Bob Backlund as managers. The other return is Jesse James. Since 1995, he would compete in USWA before returning in 1996 in the Free For All match before Survivor Series. When he came back, he became “The Real Double J”, revealing that he, not Jeff Jarrett, sang “With My Baby Tonight”.

Temp. Farewell: This is Glen Jacobs’ (Diesel) last PPV until October 1997.

Farewells: This is Jake Roberts’ and Rick Bogner’s (Razor Ramon) last PPV. Roberts was fired in February after he suffered a relapse in his addictions, coupled with being divorced from his wife Cheryl. After a brief stop in ECW, he would compete at Heroes of Wrestling, in what many consider the worst PPV of all time and Roberts’ antics at the show have come under criticism. He was also featured heavily in “Beyond the Mat”, and was shown in a negative light. Roberts would compete in England and TNA and other independents before semi-retiring. Bogner would compete largely in Japan before semi-retiring.

Analysis: Avery solid, albiet unusual Rumble. The roster in the match was pretty stacked, with a few people doing double duty. As much as the AAA stars didn’t belong in the match, they do hold their own. Many of the stars don’t last 10 minutes, only a handful do. A great funny moment is Lawler starting a sentence, getting in the ring, getting knocked right out, and then completing his sentence. There are a few storylines advanced, such as Owen dumping out the Bulldog by “accident” as he claims. Right from the get-go, Ahmed eliminates himself to get Faarooq, but then returns with a 2x4 to eliminate Faarooq. The big story of this Rumble is Steve Austin. He comes in at number 5, lasts over 45 minutes, and takes out one third of the roster by himself. The end is perhaps the most unusual, and exciting ending. Bret tosses Austin, but the refs don’t see it as they are tangled up with Mankind and Terry Funk. Speaking of Funk, he gets a nice run in the match as he would make history in about three months. Back to the match, Austin comes back in and dumps Taker, Vader, and Bret to win the match. Bret then throws a fit to the refs and also to Vince, claiming to be screwed again. This controversy would boil over by our next PPV, but for now Austin wins a nice Rumble that gets the crowd back into the show and ready for the main event. Grade: N/A

We see the buildup to the main event.

We see an interview with Shawn Michaels from Superstars, who says that even with the flu, he will be ready and will win the WWF Title.

6. Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) pins Sycho Sid with the Sweet Chin Music at 13:49 to win the WWF Championship.

The Buildup: After the last IYH, it was announced the Rumble would be in San Antonio, and that HBK would get his rematch. Thus, the plan to turn HBK heel was aborted for now. Prior to the show, Sid upped the ante by powerbombing Jose’s son, Pete onto a table. It was announced Pete would be at ringside if Sid crossed the line, and that this would be Jose’s last PPV at Shawn’s side.

Analysis: After a long night with a pretty pedestrian crowd, the hometown hero comes out to a huge pop. Sid has been on a great 2-month run as champion, but it comes to an end, for now. Michaels is not at 100% due to having the flu, and Sid has to do most of the work, and does a good job. Sid uses his power to wear down Michaels, with Michaels making his comebacks. After a ref bump, Michaels grabs a camera and uses it on Sid, getting retribution form Survivor Series. A superkick later, and HBK is a 2-time World Champion. A very solid match by both men, but Michaels would throw everything into chaos by the time our next show comes around. For now, he wins the strap back in his home and Sid takes a loss, but would recover. A good match to end the show on a high note. Grade: 2.5

We see the highlights from the Royal Rumble as we go off the air.

Final Analysis: Overall, the first PPV of 1997 is just average. The first few matches were ok, but the crowd seemed very subdued for most of the show until the Rumble and the main event. Part of that maybe because of the Dome, as most Dome events sound very quiet especially when the crowd number isn’t big, although there were 60,000 people. Shawn wins the strap again, but his backstage antics are going to throw everything into chaos. Steve Austin gets a huge win and is set for a classic encounter with Bret. 1997 will be a very controversial and important year for the WWF, but with many highs and many lows. This show was right in the middle. Final Grade: C

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