The whole general time frame was one of transition anyhow, as Monday Night Raw (in its muddled larval form) took the place of Prime Time Wrestling on Monday nights, while most of the musclebound wrestlers were phased out, replaced by stars who were naturally big (Bigelow, Yoko, Razor Ramon). Never before in its history had the entire WWE landscape been so in flux.
Royal Rumble 1993 had a strange feel to it, much less star-studded than its colorful and celebrated 1992 predecessor, and more laden with go-nowhere gimmicks in their various death rattles. Yet, it's still an enjoyable show to watch, not entirely hindered by the uncertainty that surrounded the company at the time.
10. Farewell To A Great Duo
The commentary team for the 1993 Royal Rumble would be one of the most celebrated voice combos in wrestling history - Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Their comedic chemistry can never be duplicated, and it was a sad day when we no longer got the light-hearted banter of "Gino" and "The Weasel".
Little did anybody realize at the time that the '93 Rumble would be Monsoon and Heenan's last PPV on commentary together. Monsoon would step aside for Jim Ross in JR's surprise debut at WrestleMania 9, and Ross would also replace Gorilla on WWE Wrestling Challenge broadcasts alongside Heenan. As for "The Brain", he left the commentary shortly after Survivor Series that fall, and ended up in WCW in the early part of 1994.
9. Blasted Into Orbit
One of the more colourful characters of the period (and that's saying something) was Max Moon, a masked space-cyborg fitted with a blue costume that came equipped with a circuit board design. The Moon gimmick was originally designed for Konnan, who wrestled a few matches under the guise before leaving. The outfit was then turned over to Paul Diamond (the former Kato of The Orient Express).
Moon was apparently due for a decent push, as he was originally slated to work against Terry Taylor at the Rumble in a singles match, which was even listed in event programs. For unknown reasons, the bout was called off, and both men worked briefly in the actual Rumble match instead. Perhaps Moon's departure the following month had something to do with it.
8. Behind The Times
As noted in the intro, WWE was undergoing some radical changes at this point in time, and the roster shuffling was off the charts. Big name stars were casting off, and the company tried with great difficulty to re-fortify their ranks. To give you an idea of just how drastic the changes were by early 1993, just look at the Royal Rumble event poster.
Beneath the war-faces of Bret Hart and Razor Ramon are a horde of wrestlers who were candidates to take part in the actual Rumble match itself. Three different wrestlers (Ultimate Warrior, Davey Boy Smith, and Nailz) were fired in the two months before the Rumble, while two other wrestlers (Crush and Kamala) missed the show altogether. Ric Flair is featured, although he finished up as an in-canon character the weekend of the Rumble. The poster doesn't even account for the likes of Big Boss Man and Earthquake, who weren't long for WWE at that point either.
7. Rocked Out
Perhaps the best match of the 1993 Rumble was the Intercontinental title match that pitted former partners-turned-enemies. Shawn Michaels successfully defended the belt over former Rocker-mate Marty Jannetty in a competitive bout, decided by Michaels' former flame Sensational Sherri accidentally knocking Jannetty out. The match was a pretty dang good one, though its quality had little to do with either man's condition.
Michaels would admit that he'd been out too late the night before, while Jannetty was in little better shape, and was actually fired the next day, reportedly for being found passed out at the Superstars tapings in San Jose. Jannetty would prove resilient, however, and was rehired four months later, continuing his seemingly-endless feud with Michaels for the Intercontinental gold.
6. A Rare Sight
Bret Hart went over strong in his WWE Championship match against Razor Ramon, withstanding everything the bully could throw at him, only to outmanoeuvre and outwit him in the end. It was the sort of victory that Hart needed for what was shaping up to be an extra-long reign (spoiler: it wouldn't be), and to top it off, Hart finished Ramon with the Sharpshooter, making his submission hold look mighty in the process.
Hart would wrestle five more years with WWE, and since that win over Ramon, he would only win one more WWE Championship match on pay-per-view with the Sharpshooter - his victory over The Patriot at Ground Zero in September 1997. It was less often that Hart won a high-profile match, particularly a title match, with his signature hold. In fact, of his five WWE title wins, only the first one (over Ric Flair) occurred using the Sharpshooter.
5. Grand Prize
The 30-man Royal Rumble match may have boasted a less-impressive field from prior years, but it was pretty star-studded nonetheless. Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect, The Undertaker, Ted DiBiase, Yokozuna, Earthquake, Tatanka, et al, comprised the upper echelon of a strong-enough field, one member of which would earn a WWE title match at Bret Hart at WrestleMania 9.
This would be the first year in which the Rumble winner earned a World title match for WrestleMania, a stipulation that has remained in effect ever since (except for the 2016 show). Some erroneously attribute the stip's birth to the 1991 event, since winner Hulk Hogan went on to face Sgt. Slaughter for the belt that year, but that was just coincidental, as Hogan's title match was dictated by the angle's direction.
4. Closing Space Mountain
Ric Flair entered the 1993 Royal Rumble match from the first position, and would have to recreate his enduring jaunt from one year earlier if he had hoped to win the match once more. Sadly for him, he only made it about a third of the way, getting bounded out by Mr. Perfect after more than 18 minutes in the fray.
During the match itself, it was announced that on Raw the following night, Flair would be facing Perfect in a loser-leaves match, which was the kayfabe cause of Flair's exit. In reality, the match was actually taped six nights before the Rumble, so Flair had already lost the match that cost him his WWE employment. And technically, Flair still wrestled with WWE for a few more weeks. The Nature Boy took part in a tour of Germany in February 1993 that saw him lose a number of times to Bret Hart.
3. Model Of Consistency
So much had changed in WWE since the first Royal Rumble match in 1988, as the two shows felt at points like they came from two entirely different eras, and there may as well have been an eternity between the two events. There were few holdovers from that 1988 Rumble still kicking in WWE by this point, and one of them was a true Rumble veteran.
Tito Santana can lay claim to being the only man to have wrestled in each of the first six Royal Rumble matches, taking part in his final one in 1993. Across those six Rumble matches, Santana would last a cumulative one hour, 13 minutes, and 56 seconds. He would only make a total of two eliminations, one of which was he and Shawn Michaels eliminating each other in 1992.
2. Raising The Bar
It probably came as a surprise to most viewers when 43-year-old Bob Backlund, the match's number two draw, survived all the way into the final three, before being deposited to the floor by eventual winner Yokozuna. With his performance, Backlund broke Ric Flair's all-time longevity mark set the prior year, at one hour, one minute, and 10 seconds.
It marked the sixth consecutive year that a new duration high mark would be set in the Rumble, though it would take until Chris Benoit in 2004 for Backlund's record to be broken. Bret Hart posted the initial record in 1988 with 25:42, followed by Mr. Perfect in 1989 (27:58), Ted DiBiase in 1990 (44:47), Rick Martel in 1991 (52:17), and Flair in 1992 (1:00:02).
1. Mass Exodus
Just to bring this list circle, let's go back to what was said about WWE being in a rather in flux state at this point in time. If you thought the game changed going from 1992 to 1993, check out how much things changed by the end of 1993. Ric Flair may have been on his way out of WWE, but he was far from the only one.
In all, 18 of the 30 Rumble match entrants would exit the company before the end of 1993, a whopping 60 per cent. They include Flair, Papa Shango, Ted Dibiase, The Nasty Boys, The Natural Disasters, Max Moon, Genichiro Tenryu, Carlos Colon (the latter duo both guests), Mr. Perfect, Skinner, Koko B. Ware, The Berzerker, Terry Taylor, Damien Demento, Tito Santana, and Repo Man. When your roster changes that much in one year, chances are you're not living in banner times.