Friday, January 12, 2024

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (1993)

The WWF roster in 1993 may have been razor-thin (Razor, get it?), but I'll be damned if this show wasn't a lot of fun....

Royal Rumble 1993 - Arco Arena - 1/24/93

The 1993 edition had no right to be as good a show as it was.  I watched this show live on PPV, mostly for the Shawn Michaels-Marty Janetty clash, and was pretty captivated start to finish.  Despite a very depleted roster the WWF managed a fun Rumble PPV.

The opener was another fast-paced tag match pitting WWF newcomers The Steiners vs. The Beverly Brothers.  While nothing amazing, this was a highly entertaining way to open the show and showcase what the Steiners could do.  The match-ending Frankensteiner was brutal-looking.

Next up was the aforementioned, eagerly-anticipated I-C Title match between the former Rockers, as Marty Janetty returned to the ring to avenge his betrayal a year earlier at the hands of Shawn Michaels.  Adding to the intrigue was an angle taped a few weeks prior, where Marty attacked Shawn in the ring and swung Shawn's mirror at him.  Shawn threw his manager Sherri Martel in the way and Marty accidentally smashed the mirror over her head.  Sherri was at ringside for this match in a neutral corner, and by the end of the bout would turn on Shawn and attempt to help Marty win.  Her interference backfired however and Shawn retained the belt.  This match featured less high-flying than I expected but it made sense given the nature of the feud.  A very solid I-C Title match.

Third was a big-man match between the Big Bossman and the returning Bam Bam Bigelow.  Both of these behemoths could move fantastically well for their size, and this match is very much worth a watch.  Bam Bam won a hard-fought match on his way to a mini-push.
WWF Champion Bret Hart defended against Razor Ramon in one of the best matches of 1993.  Bret and Razor gelled superbly and told an excellent bully vs. scrappy hero story.  One of my favorite spots saw Razor whip Bret toward the turnbuckles, with Bret collapsing on the way over and smashing ribs-first into the ring post below the bottom rope.  After nearly 18 minutes Bret would retain the Title by executing the Sharpshooter from a prone position.  A creative finish to a spectacular Title match.

Killer match right here.

The Rumble match itself suffered from a paper-thin roster and almost no viable contenders.  Ironically this would be the first year that the Rumble winner was guaranteed a Title match at WrestleMania, and the field boasted very few believable participants.  Ric Flair once again drew a very early number, and along with Bob Backlund carried the early parts of the match.  After a slew of lower-card entrants, Mr. Perfect came in at #10 and would eliminate Flair, but was then tossed out after only nine minutes.  A veritable dead zone of midcarders followed until The Undertaker entered, but after clearing the ring he was then eliminated by the debuting Giant Gonzales (despite Gonzales not being an official entrant).  We all know how that awful feud turned out.  Then another major lull until Yokozuna and Randy Savage joined the fray toward the end - after withstanding Savage's flying elbow, Yokozuna tossed Savage out to win the Rumble.  Now on paper this match looks dreadful, but it's actually fairly entertaining.  I would've rearranged the order to keep things interesting all the way through, but this was effective in getting over the company's new monster heel.

Why does it look like Yokozuna threw up all over Randy's clothes?

Participants: Ric Flair, Bob Backlund, Papa Shango, Ted Dibiase, Brian Knobbs, Virgil, Jerry Lawler, Max Moon, Tenryu, Mr. Perfect, Skinner, Koko B. Ware, Samu, Berzerker, Undertaker, Terry Taylor, Damien Demento, IRS, Tatanka, Jerry Sags, Typhoon, Fatu, Earthquake, Carlos Colon, Tito Santana, Rick Martel, Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Repo Man, Randy Savage
Final FourYokozuna, Randy Savage, Bob Backlund, Rick Martel
Long Man: Bob Backlund (61:10)

As I said, the '93 Rumble was infinitely better than it should've been, given the lack of star power on the roster.  But two good-to-great Title matches, two solid undercard matches, and a decent if thin Rumble match is nothing to sneeze at.  This show had easily the best undercard of any Rumble PPV thus far.

Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon
Worst Match: Big Bossman vs. Bam Bam Bigelow - Even this was pretty good though.
What I'd Change: Since Bob Backlund wouldn't be relevant again for another year and a half, I'd make Mr. Perfect the #2 entrant and have him break the record.  Perfect would've been a good potential winner, thus giving the match more suspense.  I'd also keep Flair in the bout until maybe the halfway point.  Taker should've lasted longer as well.  The match just had too many holes due to the almost non-existent star power.
Most Disappointing Match: Probably the Rumble because of how it was laid out.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Bret vs. Razor
Overall Rating: 8/10
Better than WrestleMania IX, SummerSlam 1993 and/or Survivor Series 1993? - Yes, yes, and about even.

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