Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Royal Ramble - 1997

Since the Rumble is about a couple weeks away, I'd figure it'd be the best time to revisit some older, more ancient iterations of one of the WWE's big events every so often. Unlike the Ramblemania series from years past, the Royal Ramble is done in completely random order. For example, today's on the 1997 version, while the next one could jump ahead several years or even back. In any event, all of these will eventually be linked on the Wrestling page for anyone who cares.

From the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas comes the 1997 Royal Rumble where Shawn Michaels comes home to a mostly papered audience and try to reclaim his WWF World Title from reigning champion Sid. Meanwhile, we have a Royal Rumble match featuring the hottest rising star in the WWF. I am, of course, referring to the youngster known as Terry Funk... My vaguest recollection of this show was renting the VHS tape years ago. This current write-up is based on my viewing of the show as presented on that Royal Rumble Anthology set, which was released in 2007-ish.

Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Goldust to retain the title. Mr. Helmsley's bodyguard for the month is Mr. Hughes. By the following month, he'd have Chyna as a bodyguard and the rest, as they say, is history. Unfortunately, he'd have no IC title by then... The match itself is nothing special. It's just sorta there. Nothing too offensive, I suppose, but for all intents and purposes, I prefer their WM13 encounter... if only because Chyna, even in her pre-facelift phase, is easier on the eyes than Mr. Hughes.

The following match between Ahmed Johnson and Farooooqqqqqqq ended in a DQ when everybody did the run in. This is a thing that happened and that I promptly ignored. Unfortunately, it's the only constant in the life of Ahmed, as the guy who could've been something was stuck in a nothing racist feud with the Nation of Domination, which is nothing short of lame and tragic. A little over a year later, Ahmed would leave the WWF and seemingly fall off the face of the Earth.

Vader defeated Undertaker in a match with a lot of power stuff, a lot of big man stuff... but beyond that, not a match I care for. A shame because you'd figure a Vader vs. Taker would've been great stuff. Maybe they did have a good match somewhere, but this ain't it. I was pretty bored here.

Perro Aguayo, Canek & Hector Garza defeated Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera when Aguayo pinned Heavy Metal in an vain effort to try and counter WCW's spectacular Cruiserweight division. Unfortunately, WCW got most of the better Luchadors (or at least the ones that gave a fig) and Vince was forced to stick witht the spares from AAA... yeah, I'm not feeling this one.

The Royal Rumble match... Steve Austin comes in at number 5, clears out guy after guy after guy along the way, looks like a million bucks, he's always doing something the whole time, and was able to win the Rumble despite Bret knocking him over (because nobody saw him out since they were busy dealing with Mankind and the Funker). This was a guy who you knew was going to get the big rocket strapped onto him, but it was done in a way that you bought into it. He came in, he kicked ass, he stuck in there, he looked good and the crowd dug him... why is that such a hard formula to follow nowadays? The Rumble in general wasn't fantastic, but in terms of telling the story it needed to tell, it did its job just fine.

Shawn Michaels defeated WWF Champion Sid to win the title for the second time so that he can lose his smile somewhere down the line and forfeit the title... this was kinda lame, actually. In all honesty, I wasn't too impressed with this one watching it the first time and watching it years later, I generally have a sort of "meh" attitude towards it. Almost as if there was no real reason to care about this one... oh well.

All in all, not a great show. The Rumble is probably the only real worthwhile part of the show as it showcases the rise of Stone Cold one step at a time, but the rest of it is pretty forgettable fare. Not terrible, but certainly not good.

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