It was a night that gave us such fondly remembered classics as Val Venis vs Chainz, Jeff Jarrett vs Darren Drozdov, and Dustin Runnells vs Marc Mero. As well as a special appearance by Avatar (aka Al Snow). To be fair it also gave us intriguing (on paper) King of the Ring qualifying matches The Rock vs Vader and Triple H vs X-Pac. Which weren’t very good either… Thanks, WWF.
Although those matches will be locked into your memory banks, you may well have forgotten that Raw that night saw the first-ever Tag Team, Royal Rumble. That’s right, TEN of the top tag teams in the history of the WWE battled it out for the right to become the number one contender to the tag team titles, then held by Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker. This may seem a cool idea. The problems were twofold. The WWE didn’t really have ten tag teams of any repute in 1998 and earlier in the evening Kane and Mankind had issued a challenge to Austin & Taker for a match, a challenge which had been accepted and was (nominally at least) set for the evening’s main event… Which kind of gave away the ending of the Rumble once Kane and Mankind were unveiled as participants number two in the match. Anyway. The participants in the first (and only) Tag Team Royal Rumble;
- Kane & Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)
- Bradshaw & Taka Michinoku
- Faarooq & Steve Blackman
- Golga & Kurrgan
- Scorpio & Terry Funk
- The Disciples Of Apocalypse (8-Ball & Skull)
- The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)
- LOD 2000 (Road Warrior Animal & Road Warrior Hawk) (w/ Sunny)
- The Midnight Express (Bodacious Bart & Bombastic Bob)
- Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor)
The rules were simple. If one man was eliminated, his team was eliminated. A new team was introduced every thirty seconds and the last team standing were the winners. Along with Kane and Mankind, the match started off with the new and improved L.O.D 2000. Which still sounds more like a washing powder than a badass tag team. Hawk and Animal were accompanied by Sunny, who was probably the only interesting part of that alliance. Although to be fair, at this stage the nostalgia of what the Legion of Doom were does still warrant crowd pops.
With a new team every 30 seconds, the match is at least fast-paced, even if the eliminations are slow to come (with most being saved for when all the teams are in). The New Midnight Express was probably an even dumber idea than L.O.D. 2000 and even “Bombastic” Bob Holly and “Bodacious” Bart Gunn must have known this was going precisely nowhere. Still at least they, The Headbangers and the DOA duo of the Harris Twins were at least “tag teams”. The Oddities duo of Kurrgan and Golga aren’t’ fondly remembered and if there’s ever a tag team hall of fame then it’s unlikely that the makeshift teams of Faarooq & Steve Blackman, Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw, or Terry Funk & Too Cold Scorpio will ever make the ballot. Too Much (not yet Too Cool) round off the numbers.
The most over the thing for most of the match is the ten-second countdown, but the quickness of the entries mean that the match gallops along and never really has the time to become boring. Terry Funk eliminates Kurrgan in a fun spot, Too Much eliminate themselves when the Headbangers duck their attack and the only stars of the show Kane and Mankind eliminate a few teams between them. It comes down to them against Funk and Scorpio and it’s always fun to see Funk and Mankind go at it but it’s an inevitable end. Mankind holds a chair to Funk’s face and Kane big boots it into his face which sends him over the top and crashing to the floor.
It’s by no means a great match. But it’s fun in its own way and if you ignore that the winners had already effectively made themselves number one contenders earlier in the evening it at least has a point to it.