In the words of Borat Sagdiyev, the 2MB Wrestling Podcast watch-along episodes have been, “Great success! High five!”. So this week the Royal Rumble run continues following the 1992 and 1993 editions with the beginning to the build of WrestleMania X, the ’94 Royal Rumble! After the classic that ’92 brought us, ’93 was a real disappointment. Let’s find out how this year holds up!
Match #1: Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow w/Luna Vachon
Bam Bam looks for an ambush before the bell and Tatanka avoids it, The Native American with right hands in the corner, Bigelow returns fire, scores with a dropkick and backs him into the opposite corner. The Beast from the East whips him across and charges in, Tatanka explodes out with a clothesline that staggers the big man, hits the ropes for a shoulder block, then again for a shoulder tackle and drops Bam Bam to a knee with a dropkick. The Native American heads back into the ropes and connects with a crossbody for a count of 2, catches Bigelow with an arm drag back up and hooks in an armbar, working over the left shoulder.
Bam Bam works his way up, rakes the eyes and shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, Tatanka has it scouted, puts on the brakes and spikes him with a jumping DDT. He looks to the corner and heads upstairs for a crossbody, The Beast from the East ducks it, recovers and puts the boots to him, whips The Native American into the corner and follows him in with a splash. Bigelow sends him back across and goes for another splash, Tatanka sticks a boot up to the chin, goes back up top for a sunset flip, can’t quite get Bam Bam over and the big man simply drops down and squashes him. The Beast from the East drops a headbutt to the lower back, picks The Native American up for a big haymaker, Tatanka blocks it and fires back with overhand chops, Bam Bam absorbing them and clocks him with an enzuigiri for a count of 2.
Irish whip to the ropes and Bigelow grabs a bearhug, Tatanka starts to fade, the official checking his arm and The Native American getting a rush of adrenaline. He breaks Bam Bam’s grip with a series of overhand chops, hits the ropes and gets flattened by a shoulder block, The Beast from the East goes into the ropes for another, goes back to the well a third time and The Native American plants him with a powerslam for a near fall. Bam Bam’s back up and misses a wild right hand, both guys hit the ropes and think crossbody, colliding in mid-air. The Native American seems to get the worst of it, Bigelow up first to drive him head-first into the top turnbuckle, but it has no affect and Tatanka starts absorbing punishment and going into his war dance.
The Beast from the East puts a stop to that with another big enzuigiri, mocks the war dance, positions him on the mat and heads up top for the Bam Bamsault, but he doesn’t find the mark. Tatanka pulls himself up, goes to the top turnbuckle as Bigelow staggers to his feet, The Native American connects with a crossbody, hooks the leg and scores the pinfall.
Winner: Tatanka (Top Rope Crossbody)
- EA’s Take: I’d only call this a decent opener, there was not much special happening here, although it’s always impressive to see Bigelow pull off a moonsault and this was one of the cleaner attempts from him I’ve ever seen. Originally, this was supposed to be Tatanka vs. Ludvig Borga after The Helsinki Hellraiser had (kayfabe) knocked Tatanka out of action with an injury and forced him to miss Survivor Series. The feud continued, but Borga would suffer a legitimate ankle injury just five days earlier and would be forced out, cancelling this match and plans for him to meet Earthquake one-on-one at WrestleMania. Real name Tony Halme, this is the last time we’d see Borga as he left the company soon after and wouldn’t be seen in a big-time American promotion again. Unfortunately, Ludvig was another case of a man who couldn’t get past his demons, struggling with drug and alcohol issues before taking his own life at the age of 47 in 2010.
Video: We take a look at the history of The Harts after there was turmoil between Owen & Bret at Survivor Series, ‘The Rocket’ would later speak to Vince McMahon about how he’ lived in Hitman’s shadow his whole life. Owen would challenge Bret to a match so he could prove himself, The Hitman later stating that people love controversy, but he will never step into the ring against his brother under any circumstances. The two would resolve their issues to keep the family together and looked to channel their energy towards something positive, Bret claiming they are a unit now and have their sights set on The Quebecers and the Tag Titles. Owen would apologize for saying some of the things he said, but he’d like to move on and make 1994 a memorable year for himself and his brother. The 1-2-3 Kid & Marty Jannetty would go on to win the Tag Championships on an episode of RAW, however it would be short-lived as The Quebecers took the titles back one week later.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill is standing by with Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart & ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart, Bret speaking about how confident they are and vows to give everyone a shot at the Tag Titles after they become champions tonight. Owen states this is the happiest day of his life and the opportunity he’s been waiting for, claiming he will make his brother proud and bring the belts home to their mom and dad.
Match #2 for the WWF Tag Team Championships: WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers (Jacques & Pierre) w/Johnny Polo vs. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart & ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart
Bret & Pierre to begin the action, collar & elbow tie-up sees Pierre power The Hitman away, they lock-up again with the same results, this time Bret bouncing off the ropes with a right hand. He goes back to the ropes, slips out of a slam attempt by Pierre, pushes him to the ropes for a roll-up, Pierre hanging on to toss Hitman away. Bret runs right back in and gets planted by a body slam, Pierre hits the ropes, The Hitman pops up and buries a knee to the midsection, tags out and Owen comes off the top with a clubbing shot to the back. He grabs a wristlock, Pierre counters into one of his own, The Rocket rolls through to regain the hold, but Pierre goes to the breadbasket with a kick, snapmares him over and then hits the ropes for a shoulder block.
Back into the ropes he goes, Owen leapfrogs over and hits a hip toss into a cover for a quick 2 count, locks in an armbar, Pierre grabbing the hair and he slams The Rocket to the canvas before tagging out. Jacques comes in and mockingly claps for Owen, telling him he’s better than Bret and they exchange words. Jacques rakes the eyes off the lock-up, shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, The Rocket puts on the brakes, hits him with a snap suplex, irish whip back to the ropes and Owen scores with a dropkick now, Jacques seeking reprieve in his corner and there’s a conference with Johnny Polo. Back to the center of the ring now, Owen attempts a kick that gets caught, Jacques toys with him, The Rocket brings the other foot around for an enzuigiri and gets a near fall.
Tag to Bret, Owen planking Jacques across his knee and The Hitman drops an elbow from the 2nd rope for another count of 2, utilizes a small package, but again Jacques kicks out. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Jacques tries for a back body drop again, Bret countering with a sunset flip for 2, Jacques looks to make a tag, but Hitman catches him with another roll-up from behind for a near fall. Pierre comes in and clobbers Bret off the kick-out, Owen steps in and gets clocked as well, The Quebecers working The Harts over in opposite corners, attempt to whip them into one another, The Hitman dropping down and Owen goes to a schoolboy on Jacques for 2. The challengers clear the ring and the champs look to regroup, Jacques finally sliding back in and instantly getting split by an inverted atomic drop.
Bret sends him to the ropes and goes to the abdomen with a right hand, Pierre gets the tag, Hitman slings him in from the apron, tag to The Rockeet and he whips Pierre into the ropes for a clothesline and another 2 count. He plants him with a gutwrench suplex for a near fall, drops a leg for another, Owen tagging back out and The Hitman goes to a wristlock. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Pierre scores with a powerslam for a count of 2, brings Jacques back in, he drives Bret head-first into the top turnbuckle, baits Owen into the ring to distract the ref and Pierre chokes The Hitman in the corner with the tag rope. Jacques shoots Bret to the ropes for a kick to the ribs that gets 2, Pierre re-enters the match, the champions with a double back elbow, Pierre clubbing him down to the mat and The Quebecers with more double teaming, choking Hitman on the middle rope.
The Rocket tries to intervene and takes the official’s attention again, Pierre with a head of steam for a seated senton to Bret’s lower back, tags out and Jacques hooks the leg for another 2. He whips Hitman to the ropes for a back elbow, tag back to Pierre, he comes off the 2nd rope, but Bret sticks his boot up under the chin and crawls to a tag as Jacques re-enters. Owen with dropkicks for both of the champions, shoots Jacques to the ropes for a back body drop, whips Pierre in for an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, then clocks Jacques with a spinning heel kick. He wants to hook in the Sharpshooter, Pierre tries to make a save and The Hitman drops him with a headbutt, the referee works to get Bret back to the apron and Pierre seizes the opening to save Jacques.
Pierre heads back to his corner and gets the tag, hammers Owen with a couple of rights, tag back to Jacques and The Quebecers with a double hot shot for a near fall. Pierre re-enters and the champions attempt a double clothesline, The Rocket ducks it, takes them both out with a double dropkick, crawls to a tag and The Excellence of Execution takes on both Quebecers by himself. He whips Jacques to the ropes for a fist to the ribs, plants him with a side russian leg sweep, turns back to Pierre to crack him with a backbreaker, then rams them into each other with a double noggin knocker. He sends Pierre spilling over the top after an atomic drop, Owen holds Jacques from the apron for his brother, Bret goes to hit the ropes, but Polo’s on the apron and he separates the ropes to dump The Hitman to the floor.
Bret writhes in pain on the floor while holding his knee, Owen tries to check on him and it distracts the official, The Quebecers taking the opportunity for double team punishment to the leg. Jacques sneaks in a cheap shot with a chair behind the ref’s back, Owen’s attempts to get involved continue to do more harm than good, Jacques now using Polo’s putter for more shots to Bret’s knee. The Rocket finally sends Bret back inside to avoid a count-out, Jacques is there waiting with stomps, tag to Pierre for a wishbone and he targets the injured leg.
Jacques re-enters to keep the punishment going, slaps on a Boston crab, Owen comes in to break it up, Jacques still able to hold The Hitman down and Pierre comes off the 2nd rope with a leg drop to the back of the head. Jacques positions Bret on the mat, the champions look for the Quebecer Crash to the injured knee, The Hitman avoids it and Owen calls for the tag. The Excellence of Execution tries to lock in the Sharpshooter from the canvas instead, his knee gives out on him, the referee decides Bret can’t go on and calls for the bell.
Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Quebecers (Referee Stoppage)
- After The Bell: The Hitman seems to be hurt and can’t get to his feet, Owen arguing with the official for stopping the match, then turns and asks Bret why he didn’t tag him. The Excellence of Execution uses the ropes to pull himself to his feet and The Rocket continues to argue with him, kicks Bret in the bad knee and drops him back down to a chorus of boos. Owen takes his leave as multiple referees and WWF officials check on The Hitman, Ray Rougeau coming down to the ring for an update on Bret’s condition, stating it’s uncertain now that he’ll be able to participate in the Royal Rumble.
- EA’s Take: This was a pretty sloppy tag team match considering the guys involved like Bret, Owen and Jacques are mostly known for being good workers and are all familiar with each other. A lot of the double team stuff that was supposed to be behind the ref’s back just didn’t work for The Quebecers, timing seemed to be off every time they went for it. This made the finish of a referee stoppage look questionable after he clearly saw a foreign object get used multiple times, yet there was no DQ called. Obviously the big takeaway here is Owen’s heel turn which had been building since Survivor Series and would become the most notable time of the younger Hart’s career. In my opinion, Owen was actually better than Bret with his combination of technical ability, high flying offense and was much better at promos. This feud would be a focal point for the company through most of 1994, leading to some of the best matches of the early 90’s.