Now In Color!
It was a dark time for the Sports Entertainment empire. Wrestling was entering a hot period(what would grow into the hottest period ever for pro wrestling)largely due to the WWF’s competitor WCW, who was handily kicking the crap out of the WWF at the time with their NWO angle and former WWF stars. This Rumble’s winner was supposed to face the world champion at Wrestlemania, but that was a swerve, because the finish of this match was in place to set up a grudge match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin. Funny enough, that match would turn out to be one of the greatest matches in not only the company’s history, but also the history of pro wrestling in general. The submission match between Steve Austin and Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 would be the launching pad for the biggest star in the history of the company(sorry Hulk, but Austin is the man). A lot of things stand out while watching this fifteen years later, the first being that I love the camera angles. You would think that as time goes on that the cinematography would improve, however, Kevin Dunn apparently has given up and making the action watchable and prefers to approach wrestling in a more avant garde manner these days. The roster was noticeably thin for this match as well, because even with the inclusion of several triple A wrestlers, many WWF wrestlers had to pull double duty on this card. Triple H, Goldust, Faarooq, Ahmed Johnson, Undertaker, and Vader all wrestled matches and had to wrestle in the Rumble match. This is a stadium show, often forgotten in the history of the WWF, as they were able to fill the Alamo Dome with over 60,000 people for this card.
Standout Performance – Stone Cold Steve Austin. This was the first time Austin would win the Royal Rumble(he currently holds the record of 3 Rumble wins). At the time Austin was still a heel, but the seeds were being sewn for his turn at that years mania. He eliminates ten men in this match, and lasts forty-five minutes to win in controversial fashion. The Rumble was largely built around Austin eliminating a bunch of guys to be the only man in the ring and have an old rival come out to face him. This first happened with Jake Roberts, who had the year prior lost to Austin at the King of the Ring finals, resulting in the famous Austin 3:16 promo. Later on longtime mid-card rival Savio Vega comes out to get beat-down by the now ascending Austin. Finally Bret Hart comes down and the two start to battle, giving a great preview of their upcoming match, and a friendly reminder of how great their previous match at the Survivor Series was. Vince McMahon once stated that those two men were made for each other, and watching them here clearly shows that he was right. This is one of the all time great performance’s of Steve Austin’s career, and one of the greatest single Rumble performances.
Surprises – Jerry Lawler started the reoccurring joke of announcers entering the Rumble only to be eliminated immediately and then pretend that it didn’t happen. Even though at the time, to help sell all those tickets, they had announced the participation of several Triple A wrestlers from Mexico, watching this now it’s surprising to see Latin Lover, Mil Mascaras, Peirroth, and Cibernetico enter the match-up.
The No Chance In Hell Winner – The fake Razor Ramon Rick Bogner. Though really you could go with any of the Triple A Guys, because the thought that anyone from an outside organization would be headlining Wrestlemania is pretty outlandish.
Most Memorable Moment – The finish. During the chaos caused by Mankind and Terry Funk(teasing that Wrestlemania match that never happens), Bret Hart eliminates Steve Austin, however the referees don’t see it. Austin slides back into the ring to eliminate Vader and Undertaker, and Pearl Harbor job Bret Hart(much like Shawn Michaels did to the Bulldog in 94), throwing Bret over the rope for the duke. Bret, understandably upset, accosts Vince McMahon at the announcing booth. This would lead to the famous double turn at Wrestlemaina and it is just fantastic work by everyone involved, including Vince, who’s reaction on commentary is priceless.
What to Watch For – Phineas Godwinn’s shirt sleeve will not cooperate, Steve Austin checks his watch because the countdown clock is malfunctioning, Sloppy Bart Gunn botches two spots in half a minute, Steve Austin drops down to pray for Jake Roberts(hilarious), Austin not a member of PETA as he tosses the bagged snake at the eliminated Jake, the Sultan is Rikishi(oh spoiler alert), WWF=WIld Wacky Fun, Triple H’s entrance music is so epic they need to bring it back(and I love Moterhead, but this music is too perfect), descension in the hart family as Owen eliminates tag partner/brother-in-law British Bulldog, Mil Mascaras eliminates himself because he’ll be damned if any gringo is going to get over on him, Ahmed Johnson has the largest two-by-four in wrestling history, Road Dog is the new Double J, That’s got to be, that’s got to be Kane…oh never-mind it’s just fake Diesel, Flash Funk is of no relation to Terry Funk, Vince always thinks the thirtieth entrant is going to win the Rumble.