This is one of the Royal Rumbles that I've been excitedly waiting for. Anyone who're read my Blogs know that HBK is high on my list of wrestlers I love. I've never seen him live and that tugs at my heart. Pretty much the only way I'd see him in the flesh at this point would have to go to Texas and hunt him down (pun intended). If I haven't driven the two hours to find Stephen King – who is a hero of mine - in Bangor, then I don't see me going to find him in Texas. Then again I never expected to see Bret Hart live and he was at the 900th RAW in Boston, so you never know what can happen.
The 1995 Royal Rumble was on January 22 from the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida. Jeff Jarrett defeated Razor Ramon for the WWF IC Title. Taker with Paul Bearer defeated I.R.S. With Ted DiBiase. Diesel, the WWF Champion, faced Bret Hart to a draw as HBK, Backlund, Owen Hart and The Roadie (BG James) all attacked one or the other competitor in this match. The ref couldn't gain control, so it was a draw and Diesel retained the Title. Bob 'Hardcore' Holly and 1-2-3 Kid (aka X-Pac or Sean Waltman) defeated Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka for the vacated WWF Tag Team Championship. Basically the undercard for this Royal Rumble looked pretty decent, even though the biggest focus at the Royal Rumble PPVs is the Royal Rumble Match – most of the time.
While this Royal Rumble Match started the way they always had in years past, with two entrants, this match had wrestlers joining the match at approximately every minute rather than ever two minutes. That made this Royal Rumble Match much shorter than those in the past. HBK and 'The British Bulldog' started as entrants one and two and the both of them were the last two standing at the end. They both lasted 38:41, until HBK eliminated Smith. HBK eliminated eight wrestlers, the most in this Royal Rumble Match. Mo, one half of Men On A Mission with Mabel, only lasted three seconds, but that's still longer than Warlord who was eliminated after only two seconds from the second Royal Rumble Match.
We all know HBK has had a storied career, but what happened to him that year after he won his first Royal Rumble? Backing up a bit, at SumerSlam 1994, HBK cost his close friend, Diesel, his IC Title against Ramon. Their feud built over the end of 1994, so when HBK won the Royal Rumble Match, he was going after his former bodyguard who had won the WWF Championship before he did. At WMXI Diesel came to the ring with Pamela Anderson on his arm – she was supposed to be on HBK's arm, though in heels she'd have been taller than HBK. Since HBK didn't have Anderson, he came to the ring with Jenny McCarthy. After Diesel defeated HBK to retain his WWF Championship, he left with both Anderson and McCarthy. The next night on RAW, HBK turned on his new bodyguard, 'Sycho' Sid (Eudy). Diesel rushed down to save HBK and they reunited. They became 'Two Dudes With Attitude'. And we complain about some names that come out of the WWE now! HBK took some time off, so Diesel dealt with Sid, defending Diesel's Title against him. HBK returned in May as a face and fan favorite. He faced Jeff Jarrett at In Your House in June and won his third IC Title.
It was around this time that HBK seemed to become the leader of the Kliq. While a lot of people said the Kliq had VKM's ear, HBK claimed that wrestlers in the WWF were pushed on their merits. In October of 1995 HBK was attacked by a group of guys outside a club in Syracuse. He was out with Davey Boy Smith and Waltman. They were held back while HBK took quite a beating. HBK forfeited his IC Title to Dean 'Shane' Douglas. Later that night Douglas lost the Title to Razor Ramon, a Kliq member. In November HBK faced Owen, took an enziguri and ended up getting written off TV. A possible retirement angle was written up so HBK could take some time to heal up as he had returned too early.
Some might say that this year after HBK won the Royal Rumble wasn't his best year as he didn't win the WWF Championship, but he did have some decent angles and then there's his backstage pull with the Kliq. While reading the WWE DX book, I learned about just how unhappy HBK was back during this time. Both he and Trip kept referring to HBK as an 'angry young man'. HBK was mad at the world and about the only thing holding him together was the Kliq, so while a lot of people backstage didn't like the group, it did a lot to help HBK keep things together. There will be more on HBK and the Kliq in the next article as he won the 1996 Royal Rumble as well.
Thank for reading,