Royal Rumble 1997 was the tenth annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It took place on January 19, 1997 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
The main event was between Shawn Michaels and Sycho Sid for the WWF Championship. The main matches on the undercard were the Royal Rumble match, which Stone Cold Steve Austin won after last eliminating Bret Hart, Vader versus The Undertaker, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley versus Goldust for the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
The feud between Goldust and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley centered around Goldust's manager, Marlena. During the free broadcast prior to In Your House 12, Helmsley attempted to seduce Marlena. Goldust responded by attacking Helmsley during matches in the following weeks. The feud escalated on the December 30, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw during a match between Goldust and Jerry Lawler. Helmsley came to the ring and tried to carry Marlena away. Marc Mero, who had dropped the WWF Intercontinental Championship to Helmsley, blocked Helmsley's path, but the distraction was enough to cause Goldust to be counted out.
On July 22, 1996, Faarooq Asad (later Faarooq) made his WWF debut by attacking Ahmed Johnson, the Intercontinental champion. He claimed that he attacked Johnson because Johnson was not "from the streets", as Faarooq claimed to be. Soon after the attack, Johnson was diagnosed with a legitimate kidney problem, so the WWF claimed that Faarooq's attack had hospitalized Johnson. Johnson was unable to compete for several months and was forced to vacate the Intercontinental Championship. When Johnson returned to the WWF, he interfered in several matches involving Faarooq's stable, the Nation of Domination. He attacked them with a two-by-four, which led to an angle in which Johnson was suspended for the attacks. By December, Johnson's injury had recovered sufficiently to allow him to resume wrestling, and a match was scheduled for the next pay-per-view, the Royal Rumble.
Vader and The Undertaker did not have a substantial buildup to their match at Royal Rumble 1997. Vader had joined other heel wrestlers to attack The Undertaker on several occasions, but there was no major storyline behind their match. The Undertaker had been involved in a feud with Paul Bearer that dated back to SummerSlam 1996, when Bearer had turned on The Undertaker. On the January 5, 1997 episode of WWF Superstars, The Undertaker attacked Vader's manager, Jim Cornette, leaving Vader without a manager at the Royal Rumble.
The feud between Sycho Sid and Shawn Michaels dated back to 1995. The storyline saw Michaels hire Sid to be in his corner during the Michaels vs. Diesel main event at WrestleMania XI. Sid interfered in the match by distracting the referee, but the plan backfired when the referee was unable to count the pinfall after Michaels superkicked Diesel. On the following night's episode of Monday Night Raw, Michaels told Sid that he would not be needed in the case of a Michaels vs. Diesel rematch. Sid responded by turning on Michaels and powerbombing him three times. This attack led to a feud between Sid and Diesel, but Sid and Michaels were reunited as partners in an elimination match at Survivor Series 1995. During the match, Michaels accidentally kicked Sid in the face, which led to Sid being eliminated. Sid retaliated by powerbombing Michaels again. Once again, the feud was not developed, as Sid left the WWF. Sid returned to the WWF on the July 8, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw when Michaels introduced him as a partner in a six-man match at In Your House 9. Sid helped Michaels several times in the coming months by saving him from attacks by other wrestlers. At In Your House 11, Sid defeated Vader to win a WWF Championship match against Michaels at Survivor Series 1996. During the match at Survivor Series, Sid attacked Jose Lothario, Michaels' manager, with a television camera. While Michaels was distracted, Sid hit him with the camera and powerbombed him to win the title. A rematch was later booked for Royal Rumble 1997.
The first match that aired was an Intercontinental Championship match between Goldust and the champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Before the match began, Goldust attacked Helmsley up the aisle, but they then returned to the ring where they continued to brawl back and forth. Later into the match, Helmsley would attempt to hit Goldust with the Intercontinental Championship belt, however, Goldust countered and grabbed the belt and hit Helmsley with it, and as Goldust attempted to pin Helmsley, Mr. Hughes, who was at ringside as bodyguard for Helmsley, pulled Helmsley out of the ring. Hughes then continued his distraction on Goldust, which led to Helmsley deliviring a Pedigree and pinning Goldust for the win, thus Helmsley retained the Intercontinental Championship. The next match was the encounter of Faarooq and Ahmed Johnson. Johnson won the match after members of the Nation of Domination, who were at ringside, interfered on Faarooq's behalf.
The third match was the encounter of The Undertaker and Vader. Undertaker gained control early into the match, however, Vader gained control after Paul Bearer, who was at ringside in Vader's corner, hit Undertaker with an urn. The Undertaker did not retaliate, as Vader hit a Vaderbomb on him, which gained a successful pinfall for the win. The next match was a six-man tag team match between the team of Héctor Garza, Perro Aguayo, and El Canek against the team of Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal, and Fuerza Guerrera. A slow-paced match between the two teams, as they exchange control of the match back and forth. Late into the match, the two teams brawled outside of the ring, as Aguayo hit Metal with a diving double foot stomp off the top rope, which gained a successful pinfall, thus Garza, Aguayo and Canek won the match.
The fourth, and final, match on the undercard was the Royal Rumble match. The match began with Ahmed Johnson and Crush, where the rivalry with Johnson and Faarooq continued, as Johnson eliminated himself after Faarooq came down the aisle to chase him. The final five wrestlers were The Undertaker, Vader, Bret Hart, "Diesel", and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The first of those wrestlers to be tossed over the top rope was Austin, who entered the Rumble fifth and who was thrown out by Hart. However, the officials were occupied trying to separate Terry Funk and Mankind, who were brawling with each other outside the ring, and thus no one saw Austin's elimination. Meanwhile, Vader and Undertaker began brawling with each other as a continuation of their feud and Hart began fighting with "Diesel" as Austin reentered the ring. Austin dumped both Undertaker and Vader out of the ring, while Hart eliminated "Diesel". As Hart was celebrating, thinking he had won, Austin came in from behind and tossed him over the top rope. Since Austin was still considered to be in the match and was the only man left in the ring, the officials declared him the winner. With ten eliminations, Austin tied with Hulk Hogan for the most eliminations in single Royal Rumble match alongside Kane in the record until Roman Reigns topped them all with 12 in 2014.
The main event was a WWF Championship match between Shawn Michaels and Sycho Sid. Sid dominated most of the match and works over on Michaels's back early into the match, however Michaels retaliated by hitting a flying elbow drop on Sid. Michaels then attempts to deliver a Sweet Chin Music to Sid, however, he counters by tossing Michaels over the top rope onto ringside. As Sid threw Michaels back into the ring, Michaels accidentally hit referee Earl Hebner. Sid then delivered a Chokeslam and attempted to pin him, however, as the first referee was down, a second referee came out to count the pin, which got a two count. Sid then attacked the second referee, which allowed Michaels to hit Sid with a camera and delivered Sweet Chin Music, as the original referee slowly counted the successful pinfall, thus Michaels won the WWF Championship.
Shawn Michaels later vacated the WWF Championship on the Thursday Raw Thursday special. Due to this and the controversial situation over the Royal Rumble ending, Steve Austin, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, and Vader were pitted against each other at In Your House 13: Final Four in a Four Corners match for the WWF Championship, which saw Hart win the vacant WWF title. The next night on Raw, Austin interfered in a WWF title match between Hart and Sycho Sid. As a results of Austin's interference, Hart lost the belt, which resulted in Hart's short-lived title reign. On the March 17 edition of Raw, Hart and Sid faced off in a Steel Cage match for the WWF title. Sid won after interference by both Stone Cold and Undertaker. At WrestleMania 13, Undertaker defeated Sid for the WWF title, while Hart and Austin battled each other in a Submission match with Ken Shamrock as the special referee.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Free For All: Perro Aguayo, Jr. & Venum defeated Maniaco & Mosco de la Merced (10:00)
- Free For All: Mascarita Sagrada and La Parkita defeated Mini Mankind and Mini Vader (04:29)
- Free For All: Octagón, Blue Demon Jr., and Tinieblas, Jr. defeated Heavy Metal, Abismo Negro, and Histeria (14:00)
- Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) (w/ Curtis Hughes) defeated Goldust to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship (16:50)
- Ahmed Johnson defeated Faarooq by DQ (8:48)
- Vader defeated The Undertaker (13:19)
- El Canek, Hector Garza & Perro Aguayo defeated Fuerza Guerrera, Heavy Metal & Jerry Estrada in a Six Man Tag Team Match (10:56)
- Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Bret Hart (50:29)
- Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) defeated Sycho Sid (c) to win the WWF Championship (13:49)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.
|8||The British Bulldog||8||Owen Hart||8:04|
|10||The Sultan||7||British Bulldog||3:23|
|12||Hunter Hearst Helmsley||12||Goldust||6:42|
|22||Jerry Lawler||20||Bret Hart||0:04|
Austin was eliminated by Bret Hart, but sneaked back into the ring while officials were distracted by a brawl between Mankind and Terry Funk on the other side of the ring.
- Shawn Michaels later vacated the WWF Championship on the Thursday RAW Thursday special. Due to this and the controversial situation over the Royal Rumble ending, Steve Austin, Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Vader were pitted against each other at In Your House 13: Final Four in a Four Corners match for the WWF Championship. As a result, Steve Austin was the first Royal Rumble winner to not receive a WWF Championship shot at the following WrestleMania since the stipulation was introduced in 1993.
- During his stay with the WWF, Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall has only competed at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in championship matches. "Razor Ramon" competed in the 1997 Rumble match, however by that point he was being portrayed by Rick Bognar, not Scott Hall.
- During the Free For All pre-event match featuring "Mini Vader" and "Mini Mankind", Vince McMahon inquired if there was a "Mini King" (in reference to Jerry "the King" Lawler), to which Lawler promptly reminded him that were, in fact, "mini Kings", in the form of Cheesy, Sleazy, and Queasy at the 1994 Survivor Series.
- This is the only Royal Rumble event to be held in a stadium. All other events have taken place in arenas.
Other on-screen talent
- Royal Rumble 1997 Offical Website
- Royal Rumble 1997 on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 1997 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 1997 at Online World of Wrestling
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