Simonetti’s Rumble to remember

Derek Simonetti
Proving Ground Wrestling

It’s Royal Rumble time again, which means the Road to Wrestlemania has begun. In recent years, the road to Wrestlemania has often been paved in disappointment. Roman Reigns was number 30 last year. . . Fuck You!

I have been accused of being one of those wrestling fans that pines for the “Old Days.” However, the “Old Days” to some people means the attitude era, and the attitude era sucked (I don’t care, fight me). No no, I pine to go back to the days wrestling historians refer to as, “The absolute worst time in the business monetarily,” The New Generation Era.

The New Generation Era became a “thing” after the steroid trial put wrestling in the spotlight and put all those big, drug-fueled physiques on display for judgment. I love the wrestling of the late 80’s/Early 90’s, but I am fairly certain if you poked 90% of those wrestlers with a needle, they would spill chemicals. So, naturally, the WWF decided to focus more on the smaller wrestlers with the less pronounced muscles. Business tanked. However, during this time we got to see the rise of some of the best wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle. Guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The 123 Kid and many more that withstood the test of time. This was my absolute favorite time in wrestling, and it showed with how many WWF Live events I wound up at in that time period.

The last time I wrote something for the Jobber Knocker, I was talking about Survivor Series 1993, which emanated from the Boston Garden. As luck would have it, the follow-up event, Royal Rumble 1994, was held in Providence, Rhode Island. My father once again bought tickets for us to go check it out. There I was again, ready for another series of memories I would carry forever. I knew one day I would have to report my experience on a Podcast – which back then was known as talking shit with your friends, but we did it in person, which is something not many people reading this will remember. Before I start sounding like an old crank bitching about how the internet killed personal friendship, let’s break down the results of the 1994 edition of the Royal Rumble.

– The Brooklyn Brawler defeated Jim Powers

This match was the non-televised opening Dark Match used to pump up the crowd. And there is nothing that can pump up a crowd like Jim Powers wrestling the Brooklyn Brawler. You know how much they didn’t care about Jim Powers? The Brooklyn Brawler won this match. That’s all you need to be told.

– Tatanka defeated Bam Bam Bigelow (with Luna Vachon)

This was supposed to be Ludwig Borga vs Tatanka, but Borga suffered an ankle injury. For those who may not know, Tatanka once had an undefeated streak going that was ended by Ludwig Borga in embarrassing fashion, kickstarting a feud. This feud would never be resolved because Borga never returned to the WWF after his ankle healed. Bam Bam took over Borga’s spot in the feud. It didn’t go very long and was ultimately forgotten.

– WWF Tag Team Championship: The Quebecers (c) (with Johnny Polo) defeated Bret Hart and Owen Hart

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I was personally upset that the Quebecers were the Tag Team Champions. The 123 Kid and Marty Jannetty defeated them two weeks before the Royal Rumble. I would have loved to see that combo take on the Hart brothers for the tag team titles, but Baby vs. Baby matches didn’t occur all that often back then so it was not to be.

This is the infamous match where Owen kicked Bret’s leg out from under his leg. It’s what you young people would call a meme, back then we called it, something funny we remembered for years. (Years are lengths of time people used to remember things. I realize this is a hard concept for some of you)

This would eventually lead to the single greatest cage match that ever happened, Bret vs. Owen at Summerslam 1994. Watch it.

– WWF Intercontinental Championship Razor Ramon (c) defeated Irwin R. Schyster

This match was pretty much a throwaway while Razor was in a holding pattern waiting for Shawn Michaels to return from his drug test suspension for their ladder match at Wrestlemania X. Arguably the best Ladder Match that ever took place.

Speaking of Shawn Michaels, here is a little story you may have missed if you were born in the 2000s. Shawn Michaels was suspended while he was the Intercontinental Champion and was subsequently stripped of the title. A Battle Royal to decide a new champion would usher in the babyface turn of Razor Ramon. During this time, Monday Night Raw was filming two episodes a taping, one that would air live, one that would air the following week. During one of these episodes, a fan vote was the gimmick of the night, and the question was, should the WWF reinstate Shawn Michaels? During the program, Diesel would try to get you to call in and vote to reinstate, while Mr. Perfect would suggest you called in to vote against it. Here was the catch, each call to vote would cost you $1.99. During the program, they kept saying that the votes kept coming in and that they would reveal the results by the end of the program. At the end, they revealed that the vote was very much against reinstating HBK. The funny part about all of this: based on all of my investigating, the episode this occurred on was a TAPED SHOW. They revealed the results of a poll that was supposed to be real on a taped show. That means it was all bullshit anyway. $1.99 per fucking phone call to vote and it wasn’t even real to begin with. Now, if I am wrong and this was one of the live episodes, then let me remind you that Shawn Michaels WAS REINSTATED ANYWAY!!! Just remember when people tell you that the New Generation was the worst time in the WWF, there were fans that talked their parents into letting them spend $1.99 per vote to tell the WWF to kick Shawn Michaels to the fucking curb. That is dedication, something that died a long time ago in the wrestling fans of today.

– Casket match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship: Yokozuna (c) defeated The Undertaker

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This match would stay with me forever for many reasons, but let’s talk about the two that stand out.

DOUBLE WIDE, DOUBLE DEEP was not the slogan for a 90’s porno video (maybe it was). It was the catchphrase of The Undertaker’s squeaky-voiced manager Paul Bearer as he described the size of the casket Yokozuna will be buried in. Every weekend, scenes of the Undertaker building a giant casket by hand burned in our memories as the Casket Match drew closer. And then…

The Undertaker was put in the casket by about a dozen wrestlers and it was nailed shut. At this point, they began to roll away the coffin until the Undertaker appeared on the titantron as if there was a camera inside the casket. I remember while this was going on, I was shitting my little pants. The effect was supposed to make you believe that the Undertaker had died and his spirit began to drift away from the titantron. The Undertaker began to rise, eventually escaping the screen and pulled up to the ceiling of the building. (Actually, Marty Jannetty in the Undertaker’s entrance gear was dragged towards the ceiling. My father took a picture of this moment.)

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This would eventually lead to the Undertaker vs Undertaker match at Summerslam 1994… Awesome (Fuck you, fight me)

– Bret Hart and Lex Luger co-won the Royal Rumble

This is the first time two men won the Royal Rumble by being eliminated at the same time. For me, I wanted Lex Luger to go away. He had his chance a year earlier and failed miserably. Luger’s initial run to the WWF World Title actually ruined a potential Razor Ramon World Title run. If you ask Scott Hall, he will tell you he was run over by the Lex Express, which is a hilarious visual chico.

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Shortly after the show, we were on our way out of the arena when I noticed the Merch Table, and I wanted something. . . anything. At the time, I was lucky to get the ticket to the show nevermind extra shit, but I remember being a little shit about it. My father walked us past the table and I was dragging my ass, and naturally, I became a brat (I’m not proud of it) and I wound up with an Undertaker urn made out of foam. It was hollow inside, so it was literally $1 worth of foam that they sold for $15. I remember wrestling in my backyard and having a friend hold it up during matches and I would sit up (I am complete mark). Eventually – and by that, I mean immediately – there was a slit in the side of the urn. My mother was a smoker at the time, and I would take her ash collection and put it in the urn to create a smoke illusion. It was childhood imagination that never left me, and it’s all because I was a little shit to my dad on the way out. I miss you pop.

Will the 2018 rendition of the Royal Rumble live up to its moniker as “The Road to Wrestlemania Beginning?” I can only hope so, but I doubt it. And now with a Women’s Rumble on the show, they have two opportunities to disappoint us going into Wrestlemania.

Welp. . . See you all at Summerslam when I discuss how much better Summerslam 1989 was compared to any Summerslam you think was good.

Simonetti OUT.

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