Into the Vault: WWE Royal Rumble 1996

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We’re back with Into the Vault proper with 1996! Kicking off the PPV calendar that year was WWE Royal Rumble 1996. Let’s check out the action from this show! 

Mid-Tier 

Weird that there is a WWE show in the 90s with no low-tier matches. That’s because most of WWE Royal Rumble 1996 was mid-tier. Double J losing to Ahmed Johnson wasn’t bad or lousy, it was a decent, middle of the road RAW match or a main event to the B-shows. 

The WWE Tag Title bout was a successful defense for the Smoking Gunns. As I said before, they were a solid tandem with good teamwork, they just weren’t an interesting combo. The same goes for the Bodydonnas. Together they delivered a perfectly acceptable match. 

There’s something about battle royals that I can’t put my finger on. This one was your typical Royal Rumble bout with most the guys there filling numbers. What this Royal Rumble was about is the continued rise of HBK, the eventual showdown between Diesel and HBK, and Vader’s debut.  

Everything else about this match just wasn’t that important. Oh yeah, Jake Roberts returned as well. There’s a rule-related flub in this match because HBK should’ve been eliminated at one point but whatever. It’s the Royal Rumble, whatever. 

Bret Hart’s defense of the WWE World Title against The Undertaker went a bit long—just like the Rumble match, really. We didn’t need a Bret-Taker epic because in a one-on-one that’s a unicorn. What we did get was a match with some good in-ring action. 

There wasn’t anything particularly exciting in the main. Coupled with it running 10-13 minutes too long and it lands in mid-tier territory. 

Exotic-Tier 

Goldust challenging for Razor Ramon’s IC belt really hit the spot for me. Two good wrestlers who could easily spike to “great” given the match. This wasn’t that match; it was good but it didn’t rock. That said, the match was well-paced and made for a great defense of the title. 

WWE Royal Rumble 1996 Verdict: 6/10 

This was a middle of the road Royal Rumble. Don’t go in expecting thrills and spills because this is WWE at the tail end of the New Generation and PPVs from this period could be a mixed bag.  

While this is the WWE’s big winter PPV, it’s one of those shows where you’re going to find something you enjoy after a bit of fast-forwarding. On a bright note, nothing was low-tier and everything is watchable at least. 

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