We’re continuing SummerSlam week on Fight Game Blog. Check out our SummerSlam 1996 throwback review. Continue reading
Alan, Duan, and GG remember the 1992 Royal Rumble. Continue reading
The most flawless in-ring competitor of his generation or any other, Bret Hart possessed the rare ability to connect with people through matches alone. He was an expert storyteller, bringing a Stampede realism and believability to mainstream pro wrestling at a time when it was needed most.
Hart made his own luck in WWE. We have grown accustomed to seeing “great workers” of the modern era fall flat or lose a crowd given the wrong program or card position. Bret never allowed an audience that option. He just dragged you into it – a meaningless match he could make mean something. And while the company was out looking everywhere else for their next big star, he took the choice from out of their hands.
Seen at the time as an also-ran by the powers that be, it was tag team success with The Hart Foundation which threw his career an early lifeline. He and Jim Neidhart mixed contrasting styles and characters, creating a compelling dynamic while giving Bret the platform to showcase his talent clearly. Once that door creaked open for him, Bret forced his way through – his combination of technical ability and match psychology separating him from the rest of the locker room.
It was at this time we first saw one of Hart’s greatest strengths as a wrestler; the duality he brought to The Hitman character. At the drop of a hat, he could slide from heel to face / face to heel, equally effective in each, without losing his edge. It gave him depth as a performer. He could show a darker side to the hero or redeemable qualities in the villain as a storyline or match required it. It was a concept he grasped better than anyone and was able to utilize effectively throughout his run.
Solo stardom was the next logical progression for the already very popular Hitman. His connection with the crowd and near-perfect match quality made him the guy to build the company around. Hart had a terrific wrestling brain and understanding of how to work around the limitations of opponents. His name on top of a card guaranteed the main event would always deliver. He could be paired up with anyone from the 1-2-3 Kid to Yokozuna and produce a match worthy of closing the show.
Yesterday, we wrote about our favorite Royal Rumble moments ever. In part two of our preview, we’re going to list the most surprising Royal Rumble moments.
Alan: HBK returning into the ring and eliminating Davey Boy. Was crushed by it as a kid. I was like “NOOOOO!!! This can’t happen!”
Duan: Vince McMahon’s win in 1999. Even at the height on Russo’s madness, I never envisioned Vinny Mac winning the Rumble. Then again, I never envisioned him being ECW champion either, so maybe it’s just a Vince thing. I fully bought Santino as a potential winner last year, but not McMahon in 99. I’m still stunned. I just googled it now to make sure it actually happened.
Don: I’d have to go with the return of John Cena at the 2008 Royal Rumble. It’s not too often that I’m surprised by anything in wrestling these days, so when it caught me off-guard I rather enjoyed it. It was apparent he was going to win as soon as he came out, but I still rewound that sucker 2-3 times to watch the crowd reaction.
Big D: Definitely Cena’s comeback. No question. I watched that in the living room and was like “WHAT?” “WHAT!?!?!?!” Then I cursed out Scherer and Meltzer for not telling me.
GG: I have to agree with Don and Big D. Nothing these days about John Cena will ever surprise any of us, unless he turns heel. And then people will say, “I knew it all along.” But when he won that Royal Rumble, it may have been the last time I was truly “surprised” and had no clue was going to happen. We were worried that he wouldn’t be at WrestleMania and low and behold he shows up at the Rumble. That dude is tough, no matter how stale his character may be.