The 1997 Royal Rumble match has one of my favorite endings. For those who don't remember, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was a rising star in the company. He had drawn number five and had gone on two total elimination runs, leaving just himself in the ring.
|Waiting for more victims|
Then Bret "The Hitman" Hart came out and the action intensified. The two had a great feud going at the time and I think the rub from Hart helped to build the Stone Cold character. The two battled for about 90 seconds until Jerry "The King" Lawler left commentary and entered the ring. He was eliminated about four seconds later, courtesy of Hart.
|Stone Cold wins|
They battled it out alone until the ring slowly filled again. In the end it was The Undertaker, Vader, Hart, Austin and Diesel. Hart tossed Austin over the top rope, but because the referees were distracted by Terry Funk and Mankind brawling on the floor, Austin slipped back in the ring. He pushed Undertaker and Vader over the top as Bret threw Diesel out. Of course Bret thought he'd won, only to to be thrown over by Austin. Since the refs hadn't seen the prior elimination Austin was declared the winner. As a Stone Cold fan, this made me happy. Nineteen years later it's a textbook example of how to help get a guy over even more.
Despite Austin winning the Rumble, he did not get the "guaranteed" championship match at Wrestlemania that year. The newly crowned champion Shawn Michaels gave up the belt and Bret won it in a special four man match at the In Your House pay per view, only to lose it the next night to Sid thanks to Austin's interference. That set up the Mania match between Austin and Hart and Sid defended against The Undertaker.
Here are some other ramblings about the 97 event...
|Vader roughing up Rocky|
- Toward the end, I thought it was cool watching it today and seeing all the future mega stars in the ring with established Superstars and legends. Terry Funk, Vader, The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, "Diesel" (now Kane), Rocky Maivia (The Rock), and Mankind were in there together.
- JR made the same joke I did about Flash and Terry Funk not being related. Of course more people heard Ross than me...
- There was more inconsistency with the eliminations as Mil Mascaras jumped off the top rope and to the floor. When Randy Savage did a similar move in 1992, he was allowed back into the match.
- Faarooq also eliminated himself trying to escape Ahmed Johnson who had eliminated himself earlier in the evening. I never understood why guys not involved in the match could do this, but I digress.
Bottom line as Stone Cold would say, I enjoyed this Rumble and think the ending is second only to Ric Flair's historical win in 1992.