Posted on March 8, 2013
WWF January 1997 – Royal Rumble, Hitman gets an edge.
1997 is to be a mixed year for the WWF, one that would see a lot of changes in direction. But if the year was to be boiled down to one superstars story that man would be Bret Hart. Coming off the match with Sid in December Bret had vowed to win the Royal Rumble.
For the majority of the Rumble Austin was the central character. He would eliminate his opponent then sit on the turnbuckle pretending to look at his watch making out the Royal Rumble match itself was easy. After he had repeated this display of arrogance a few times the buzzer went off and to a great reaction Bret Hart’s music played. The two traded blows just like their Survivor Series match. Towards the end of the Rumble match Bret eliminated Austin however the referee did not see Austin’s feet touch the floor. Austin then eliminated a furious Hart.
The next night on RAW usual clean cut face wrestler Bret Hart cut a promo about Vince McMahon not giving him the opportunity’s he promised when he resigned him. Up until this point it had been unusual for a good guy wrester to speak like this. It was also a promo that broke the wall a little as Monsoon was acting authority figure on RAW and Hart addressed McMahon directly. As a not so wise fan at the time I thought Hart was getting angry with McMahon the commentator. Unknowingly this segment foreshadowed what was coming between Hart and McMahon and make 1997 a defining time in the Monday night wars.
It was decided on RAW that there would be a match between the final four Rumble contestants at the next IYH event. The winner would face the WWF Champion at Wrestlemania
In the under card Farroq was in a program with Ahmed Johnson. Farooq lost his match at the Royal Rumble by disqualification when his Nation of Domination. The Nation were formed in the latter part of 1996 and would later evolve into a very controversial group. Right now Farooqs nation consisted of Crush and former good guy Savio Vega. Also Helmsley won the Intercontinental title from Goldust at the Royal Rumble.
The big title match at the Royal Rumble was Shawn Michaels against Sid in a rematch from their Survivor Series encounter. This time Shawn would come out victorious winning the WWF title and seemingly he was on course to take on Hart at Wrestlemania. It seemed however that fate would intervene on that one too.