As we count down the hours to the 25th anniversary edition of the Royal Rumble (yes, WWE, it is the 26th edition but the first one was 25 years ago. That's how anniversaries work.), it's important to look back at some of the forgotten gems of the 30-man battle royal. Well, maybe it's not so important, but I have the footage, so here we go....
The year is 1994, and Diesel is beginning to establish himself as a wrestler in his own right after being Shawn Michaels's bodyguard for the past six months. Diesel would begin his dominant Royal Rumble performance by clearing the ring, then standing guard in the ring as new competitors entered one at a time. Unfortunately for him, his first one-on-one challenge in the Rumble would be former WWWF champion, Bob Backlund. Backlund, faced with a seven-foot opponent, did the most sensible and least sports-entertaining thing possible, dropping down on all fours and circling the big man like a hyperactive dog. By keeping low to the ground, Backlund was able to grab Diesel from underneath and nearly eliminate him. Were it not for a rake of the eyes by the seven-footer, Backlund would have made Rumble history rather than being eliminated within two minutes of entry.
Next year's Rumble, in addition to being packed with gimmicky lower-card wrestlers like Mantaur, the Blu Twins, and Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, was also the occasion for another forgotten Royal Rumble moment provided by none other than the aforementioned gimmicky lower-card wrestler, The Dumpster.
Shawn Michaels, the eventual winner and one of only a handful of serious contenders, back body-drops Duke over the top rope. Unbeknownst to either man, referee Earl Hebner is patrolling the ringside area and happens to walk by just as The Dumpster goes over, resulting in a high-impact collision. Give Hebner credit, though. While like many referees he can be knocked out for minutes after the gentlest of accidental (but scripted) collisions, Hebner is up and about just seconds after the bump.
And to think that none of this would have happened had the 1995 Royal Rumble featured the likes of Razor Ramon, the 123 Kid, the Undertaker, IRS, Jeff Jarrett, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka, and even the relatively straight-laced grappler/race car driver Bob Holly. Sure, the Rumble would have been infinitely more entertaining, but Hebner wouldn't have been toppled by a trash man.