As we continue down the path on the history of the Royal rumble we’re going to take a look at the last Royal Rumbles of the 1990s. At this point in my life I was just about to enter my teenage years. In October of 1996 I turned 10 years old and then by the time Rumble 1999 rolled around I was 12 years old. It’s amazing to look back at these shows and not only see how I was changing as a wrestling fan but also how much the landscape of the WWF was changing at the same time. Let’s get right into it…
1996– For whatever reason this Royal Rumble is a bit of a blur for me. If there’s one thing that they did that year was they had a match on the Free-For-All in which Triple H took on Duke The Dumpster Droese and the winner of the match got the number 30 entry in the Rumble while the loser got number 1. Duke ended up winning the match (Hunter’s come a long way, eh?) but I liked the concept of having something on the pre show that impacted the Rumble later that night. In many ways it’s similar to the four way tag matches two spots in the Rumble that they’re doing on sunday. As for the show itself, the two things I remember most about this Rumble was that this was the first Royal Rumble that had entrance music between entrances which I thought really added to the show and overall kept the tempo up throughout the night. From there, it was also the first Royal Rumble that didn’t close the pay per view, which I thought was weird especially because the world title match ended in a disqualification.
1997- Are you enjoying the posters for each Rumble as much as I am? In any event one thing that really stuck out in my mind immediately was remembering how awkward the promo that Terry Funk cut on Shotgun Saturday Night the night before the Rumble. I had slept over my friends house and just like we did every time we had a sleepover we stayed up late to watch Shotgun (This show was so unique and really fun for its time, I wish it was on the Network) and ECW (which aired at 2:05AM in New York). I’ve attached a link to the promo below and remember just how uncomfortable everyone looked with Funk going off the rails on the show, even Austin who literally looked like he was trying to get Funk to stop. Of course, Funk would be gone from the WWF immediately following the Rumble due to the incident.
As for the Rumble 1997, this was one of my favorite Rumbles in that Austin winning came out of nowhere to me. I remember being stunned but liking the twist as I was sure Bret Hart would win the match and take on Shawn at Wrestlemania 13. I also remember Shawn getting a hero’s welcome this time around as the Royal Rumble took place in his hometown, at the AlamoDome in San Antonio, as opposed to Survivor Series 1996 where the Garden crown turned on Shawn completely.
1998- I don’t know why exactly but I remember how cool it was that they continued to show Mike Tyson watching the Royal Rumble with Shane McMahon in a private suite throughout the entire night. This was before Shane was really much of a character on WWE television and the two looked to be having a great time. This was the night before Tyson was officially announced as being the enforcer for WrestleMania 14. As for the Royal Rumble, the winner here was never really in any doubt as this was Steve Austin’s time. This was actually the one time where the Rumble being on before the title match seemed ok to me as Shawn and Undertaker in the Casket match seemed to mean a lot more. This was the second Rumble, by the way, that the Undertaker seemed to have died in a casket as Kane set the casket on fire to end the show. The difference being that now the WWF had changed from the wholeso
1999- I can’t lie this was one of my favorite Rumbles because Mr. McMahon won. I don’t think anyone saw that coming and it made for a great twist, in my opinion. The whole build to that match really was a lot of fun with all of the Shane and Vince training vignettes and the win was great for the characters. I actually remember this was at the time when WWF would go live on the Home Shopping Network immediately after the pay per views and I watched the entire special just to hear the post match comments from the McMahons. This was also the show where the Rock nearly killed Mick Foley with like 12 chair shots in their title match that’s heavily featured on the Beyond The Mat documentary.
That’s gonna do it for my look back at the first decade plus of the Royal Rumble. I’d love to hear your Royal rumble feedback and memories! Tomorrow I’ll start to break down the Royal Rumbles in my area or that I attended live, by first looking at the Royal Rumble 2000!