This is one Royal Rumble I’ve been looking forward to writing about. Both winners of this Royal Rumble Match are wrestlers I enjoyed, and sometimes loathed early on. In my mind, this is when the Royal Rumble really started getting good and the winners were seriously pushed due to their wins. Yes, both of these guys were big names, but this started the controversy and intrigue that seems to go hand in hand with the Royal Rumble. Okay, I’m babbling, onto the match.
This Royal Rumble took place on January 22, 1994 at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island. So much for the big four taking place in huge arenas! The undercard included (as I previously wrote) Yokozuna vs Taker in a Casket Match, Owen and Bret Hart defeated The Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Championship, and Bam Bam Bigelow with Luna Vachon was defeated by Tatanka. While it wasn’t a stacked card, there were some solid and interesting matches leading up to the main event Royal Rumble Match.
The Royal Rumble Match started with Scotty Steiner and Samu – who had, as half of The Headshrinkers, helped Yokozuna defeat Taker in the Casket Match. Samu was the first to be eliminated from the Royal Rumble Match and it was by Steiner. Steiner was the fourth eliminated and that was by Diesel. Diesel, #7, and Luger, #23 tied Hogan and Yokozuna for most eliminated in one Royal Rumble Match at seven. But Diesel eliminated all seven of those in a row – eliminations 3-9 – and holds the Title for doing so. While Bigelow was in an earlier match, he was also in the Royal Rumble Match as the 15th entrant. He was the entrant to last the longest at 30:12, but that doesn’t come anywhere near breaking the record set by Backlund the year before. There were only 29 wrestlers in this Royal Rumble Match as Bastion Booger was unable to compete and no one filled in his spot. It took seven wrestler to eliminate Mabel from this Royal Rumble, the most to eliminate one wrestler to this point. He later broke this record as his alter ego Viscera. Lex Luger entered the Royal Rumble Match at #23 and Bret Hart entered at #27. Luger’s last elimination was HBK. That left Hart and Luger in the ring together. They both eliminated each other at the same time. Refs argued and different camera angles were analyzed, but WWF President Jack Tunney came out and declared them both co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble.
The next night on Monday Night RAW it was decided that both would get Title shots at WMX. At WMX Bret Hart faced his brother Owen in a Singles Match that lasted just over twenty minutes. The match went back and forth, including a kayfabe knee injury on Bret, until finally Owen reversed a victory roll and pinned his older brother for three. Luger faced Yokozuna with Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette with Special Guest Ref Mr. Perfect, and Special Guest Ring Announcer Donnie Wahlberg (New Kids On The Block was his claim to fame at this point), and Special Guest Timekeeper, Rhonda Shear (actress and comedienne). Luger lost via DQ. Basically Yokozuna’s managers distracted Perfect while Luger pinned Yokozuna after his running forearm (with the kayfabe metal plate from his motorcycle accident). When Perfect turned back, Luger pushed him for not being there to count and Perfect called for the bell. After Hart’s twenty minute match with his brother, he went on to face Yokozuna with Rowdy Roddy Piper as Special Guest Ref, Burt Reynolds as Special Guest Ring Announcer, and Jennie Garth as Special Guest Timekeeper. This match went back and forth. The participants in this match weren’t the only ones taking bumps as Cornette took a punch from Piper when he tried to distract Piper from the match. Late in the match Yokozuna attempted a Banzai drop, but lost his balance and fell. He landed on the mat so Bret rolled him up for three. Bret celebrated his win of the WWF Championship with Luger, Piper, Razor Ramon, Savage, Burt Reynolds, Donnie Wahlberg, Gorilla Monsoon, then announcer VKM, and other faces available. Owen stood on the ramp and glared before stomping off in a huff.
Almost every match on the WMX card had a Special Guest something, right down to Sy Sperling – President of Hair Club For Men ‘I’m not just the President, I’m also a client’ (who’s old enough to remember him without looking him up online?) – announcing his newest client, Howard Finkel came down to the ring wearing a toupee. We complain about how the WWE books as many stars from mainstream media as possible now, back then it was much worse. Honestly, I had forgotten how bad it was until I started the research for this article.
After WMX Hart continued to feud with his brother Owen and with Diesel. At King of The Ring Hart defended his WWF Championship against Diesel. HBK interfered to help his friend Diesel, but just after Diesel his his jackknife powerbomb Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart interfered causing Diesel to win by DQ, Hart retained his WWF Title. Neidhart didn’t stay to help Hart when HBK and Diesel beat up on Hart after the match. Everyone figured out what Neidhart was up to when he later helped Owen win KOTR. At SummerSlam Hart retained the WWF Title after defeating his brother in a Steel Cage Match (which is a match that I love). Many people thought this was a top notch match, the fans of PWI voted it the feud of the year, Bret was also voted wrestler of the year Actually, I remember hearing a story about Bret and Owen being booked on the same flight during that feud, but they were in different rows as they couldn’t be seen fraternizing. A stewardess caught them passing notes between them and got all excited. She was so worried that the brothers might actually hate each other as they weren’t sitting together and she knew what was going on between them kayfabe. They both told her to stay quiet and not say anything. She was so excited and happy about it all.
Hart ended up losing the WWF Championship at Survivor Series in a Submission Match with Bob Backlund. Davey Boy Smith acted as Hart’s manager, Owen acted as Backlund’s. It was the manager’s job to throw in the towel for the wrestler they represented. Smith was knocked out, so when Backlund locked on his signature crossface chickenwing, Owen convinced his mother to throw in the towel for Bret.
Luger and Tatanka were aligned through 1993. After WMX tensions grew between the two. Tatanka was sure Luger was going to join Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. The trust between them became a huge issue and they faced off at SummerSlam. Tatanka won and immediately joined the Million Dollar Corporation. Luger feuded with DiBiase and his MDC. At Survivor Series Luger’s team Guts & Glory was defeated by the MDC team.
Obviously Hart’s post-Rumble push was better than Luger’s, but they both did pretty well in that following year. Honestly I think having two Royal Rumble winners made it hard as both couldn’t be pushed to the same level. That Hart held the WWF Championship for a big part of the year further showed how much bigger his push was than Luger’s. Luger ended up leaving the WWF for WCW that following summer and he had considerable success there.
Queen of WNW