Royal Rumble: The Complete History

Royal Rumble 1994

The first televised match of the pay-per-view was supposed to be Ludvig Borga vs. Tatanka. The two were engaged in a feud that began prior to Survivor Series 1993. Tatanka was undefeated in the WWF since his debut in 1991.

Date: 22nd January, 1994
Venue: Providence Civic Center
City: Providence, RI
Attendance: 14,500
Commentators: Vince McMahon &
“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase

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Background

Royal Rumble 1994 promotional poster

Royal Rumble 1994 promotional poster

The first televised match of the pay-per-view was supposed to be Ludvig Borga vs. Tatanka. The two were engaged in a feud that began prior to Survivor Series 1993. Tatanka was undefeated in the WWF since his debut in 1991. Borga ended this streak on the October 30, 1993 edition of WWF Superstars (taped on September 28, 1993), when he hit Tatanka with a steel chair while the referee was distracted. As a result of storyline injuries from this attack and the beating he suffered afterward at the hands of Borga and Yokozuna, Tatanka was forced to miss the main event match at Survivor Series. Although Tatanka defeated Borga by disqualification on the December 20, 1993 edition of Monday Night Raw, the bitterness between the two remained.

Borga suffered a legitimate ankle injury, however, and was replaced by Bam Bam Bigelow. Although the substitution took place shortly before the event, Bigelow and Tatanka also had a heated rivalry. In 1993, Bigelow cut Tatanka’s dyed red hair as an insult to his Lumbee heritage. The two faced each other as part of a six-man match at SummerSlam 1993, but the feud continued even after Tatanka’s team emerged victorious.

At Survivor Series 1993, Owen Hart was eliminated from the “Hart Brothers vs. Shawn Michaels and His Knights” elimination match due to miscommunication within the Hart team. Bret Hart was walking along the ring apron when Owen ran into him, causing Owen to lose his focus and be pinned by Michaels. After the match, Owen interrupted his brothers’ victory celebration to verbally attack Bret. He demanded a match with Bret to settle the dispute. Bret refused, and the brothers reunited over the Christmas holidays. They decided to focus their energy on taking the tag team title from the Quebecers. Their plan was temporarily put on hold when Marty Jannetty and the 1-2-3 Kid won the belts, but the Quebecers won a rematch the following week, guaranteeing that the Harts would get their title shot.

Razor Ramon and Irwin R. Schyster (I.R.S.) began feuding prior to SummerSlam 1993 because of an angle in which Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and I.R.S.) teased Ramon about losing to the 1-2-3 Kid, a newcomer to the WWF. The rivalry heated up when I.R.S. stole Ramon’s gold chains while Shawn Michaels had Ramon distracted. Ramon and I.R.S. agreed to settle the feud at Royal Rumble 1994 with Ramon’s Intercontinental Championship on the line.

The rivalry between Yokozuna and The Undertaker began at Survivor Series 1993. Yokozuna, who was pushed as an unstoppable monster, was unable to inflict any serious damage on The Undertaker when the two faced each other in an elimination match. Yokozuna slammed The Undertaker’s head into the steel steps leading up to the ring, but The Undertaker was unharmed. Later, Yokozuna used his finishing move, the Banzai Drop, on The Undertaker. When he tried to repeat the move, however, The Undertaker became the first wrestler to sit up after the move, surprising Yokozuna and his managers. The Undertaker was granted a title shot, but Jim Cornette, Yokozuna’s American spokesperson, included a clause in the contract that The Undertaker would not get a rematch if he lost. Paul Bearer, The Undertaker’s manager, included a clause stating that the confrontation would take place in a Casket match. In the following weeks, it was revealed that Yokozuna had a fear of caskets. The Undertaker used this knowledge to gain a psychological advantage going into the match. On one occasion, Paul Bearer brought the casket to the ring to intimidate Yokozuna. When Yokozuna approached the casket to face his fear, the Undertaker popped out to scare Yokozuna.

Lex Luger wanted to participate in the Royal Rumble match, as the winner was scheduled to get a title shot for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X. The contract he had signed for his title shot at SummerSlam 1993, however, stated that he would not receive a rematch if he failed to win the title. A compromise was reached, allowing Luger to compete. Yokozuna’s manager, Mr. Fuji, was allowed to bring in two wrestlers, Genichiro Tenryu and The Great Kabuki to hurt Luger’s chances of winning.

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Match Results

Dark Match: 
Brooklyn Brawler defeated Jim Powers

Singles Match:
Tatanka defeated Bam Bam Bigelow (with Luna Vachon) (8:12)

WWF Tag Team Championship:
The Quebecers (c) defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart & Owen Hart (16:48)

Intercontinental Championship:
Razor Ramon defeated Irwin R. Schyster (11:30)

WWF Championship:
Casket Match:

Yokozuna (c) (with Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette) defeated The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) (14:20)

Royal Rumble Match:
Bret “Hitman” Hart and Lex Luger co-won the Royal Rumble after they eliminated each other (55:08)

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Aftermath

Ludvig Borga did not return to the WWF after his ankle healed, so there was no closure to his feud with Tatanka. The feud between Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow was also soon forgotten. In the summer of 1994, both wrestlers joined Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. The two eventually formed a tag team and unsuccessfully challenged for the WWF Tag Team Championship.

The feud between Razor Ramon and I.R.S. ended shortly after the Royal Rumble. On the January 31, 1994 edition of Monday Night Raw, the 1-2-3 Kid stole Ramon’s chains back from I.R.S., bringing the feud to an end. Shawn Michaels’ attack on Razor Ramon increased the hostility between the two. The debate over the true holder of the Intercontinental Championship was settled at WrestleMania X in a ladder match with both belts suspended above the ring. This ended the feud between Michaels and Ramon, although Ramon continued to feud with Michaels’ friend Diesel.

Owen Hart demanded a match against Bret Hart, which Bret repeatedly refused. This situation was complicated because of Bret co-winning the Royal Rumble. Jack Tunney decided that both Bret Hart and Lex Luger would get title shots at WrestleMania X, but that they would each wrestle two matches at the event. Lex Luger won a coin toss televised on Monday Night Raw and won the chance to face Yokozuna first. If he had lost the toss, he would have wrestled Crush before facing Yokozuna. Under the rules set forth by Tunney, Bret was required to wrestle Owen in the opening match at WrestleMania. Owen won the match, but Bret came out of WrestleMania with the WWF Championship after Yokozuna dropped the title to him. This led to an extended feud between the two that saw Jim Neidhart return to the WWF to side with Owen and Davey Boy Smith to make a comeback to take Bret’s side.

Several of the events during the Royal Rumble match led to feuds and pay-per-view matches later in 1994. The uncertainty surrounding Shawn Michaels’ assistance in eliminating Diesel from the Royal Rumble foreshadowed the split between the two at Survivor Series 1994. Diesel’s performance in the Royal Rumble, however, played a large role in helping him become the first wrestler to win the WWF’s Triple Crown in one calendar year. Meanwhile, Crush and Randy Savage faced each other in a Falls Count Anywhere match at WrestleMania X to settle their feud, and Doink and his midget sidekick Dink faced Bigelow and his  girlfriend Luna Vachon in a mixed tag match.

The Undertaker did not appear in the WWF for several months after his loss to Yokozuna. In reality, he was given time off to allow a back injury to heal. During his absence, the WWF promoted his return by showing video clips of people who claimed to have seen The Undertaker. Ted DiBiase claimed to have brought The Undertaker back to the WWF, but Paul Bearer informed him that DiBiase’s Undertaker was an impostor. Paul Bearer claimed to have located the true Undertaker, which led to a match at SummerSlam 1994 between DiBiase’s Undertaker (portrayed by Brian Lee) and Paul Bearer’s original Undertaker. After defeating the false Undertaker, Bearer’s Undertaker got revenge against Yokozuna by winning a Casket match at Survivor Series 1994. To help prevent outside interference, Chuck Norris was brought in as a guest referee.

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Royal Rumble Stats

Draw Entrant Order Eliminated by Time
1 Scott Steiner 4 Diesel 9:00
2 Samu 1 Scott Steiner 3:13
3 Rick Steiner 2 Owen Hart 3:57
4 Kwang 6 Diesel 5:57
5 Owen Hart 5 Diesel 4:10
6 Bart Gunn 3 Diesel 2:30
7 Diesel 13 Bigelow, Mabel, Plugg, Michaels & Crush 17:41
8 Bob Backlund 7 Diesel 0:41
9 Billy Gunn 8 Diesel 0:14
10 Virgil 9 Diesel 0:32
11 Randy Savage 11 Crush 4:38
12 Jeff Jarrett 10 Savage 1:19
13 Crush 16 Luger, Plugg & Bret Hart 25:03
14 Doink the Clown 12 Bigelow 1:48
15 Bam Bam Bigelow 23 Luger 30:12
16 Mabel 14 Valentine, Tatanka, Kabuki, Crush, Bigelow, Plugg & Michaels 9:57
17 Sparky Plugg 17 Hart & Michaels 21:33
18 Shawn Michaels 27 Luger 29:17
19 Mo 21 Fatu 22:46
20 Greg Valentine 18 Martel 20:39
21 Tatanka 22 Bigelow 20:07
22 The Great Kabuki 15 Luger 2:46
23 Lex Luger CO-WINNER 21:58
24 Genichiro Tenryu 25 Bret Hart & Luger 17:21
25 Bastion Booger Unable to compete 0:00
26 Rick Martel 19 Tatanka 11:22
27 Bret Hart CO-WINNER 15:08
28 Fatu 26 Bret Hart 13:04
29 Marty Jannetty 24 Michaels 8:18
30 Adam Bomb 20 Luger 4:55

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