Oh, 1995 WWE – how you even got a nameless 11-year-old future list-writer to almost give up on the company. One cartoony gimmick after another was trotted out before diminishing crowds, while crowds whittled down, and the gravitas of the heel side of the roster faded like an old t-shirt. Generally, each PPV in 1995 had to be saved by either a great Bret Hart performance or a great Shawn Michaels performance. The 1995 Royal Rumble just so happened to include both.
Hart challenged for the WWE Championship held by Diesel, who was in the early stages of Vince trying to recast him as a smiling heavyweight do-gooder in the mould of Hulk Hogan. The push would be seen as a flop, but Diesel would at least look quite good in matches with Michaels and Hart, one of which is on display here with the latter. It’s one of the better WWE matches you’ll see that lacks a finish.
As for Michaels, well…have you ever seen one man carry a Royal Rumble all by himself? Entering from the number one spot, Michaels does everything possible to get a match filled with dead-end midcarders (on account of gimmicks, not so much their talents) into praiseworthy terrain. And it’s Shawn Michaels so of course, he succeeded.
10. Earning Your Stripes
There would be a number of aesthetic changes throughout WWE in 1995, as WWE attempted to make the “New Generation” feel completely different from the era that preceded it (perhaps distancing themselves from that version of WWE due to its sullied image). As far as the modifications to the visual presentation went, the 1995 Royal Rumble would mark the end of an era for the third man in the ring: the referee.
The ’95 Rumble marked the last pay-per-view in which WWE referees wore the button-up blue shirts and black bow ties, a look that went back a great many years in WWE history. Beginning with the March 13, 1995 episode of Raw, the officials switched to the zebra stripes that have been largely the go-to standard ever since.