6. Royal Rumble 1998 – Stone Cold Steve Austin
If you think that the “YES Movement” crowd booed loudly when they didn’t get their way, can you imagine what the live crowd would have sounded like in San Jose had Stone Cold Steve Austin not won the 1998 Royal Rumble?
Yes, knowing who’s going to win sometimes takes the fun out of the Rumble but that wasn’t the case in ’98. Austin was becoming the hottest thing in the wrestling world at the time and there was absolutely no doubt that he was on his way to WrestleMania. But we had a lot of fun on the way to that victory, didn’t we? First of all, the first two men in the ring were Mick Foley and Terry Funk. Funk was doing the Chainsaw Charlie thing at the time and Mick was in his Cactus Jack gear…for the moment anyway. Funk would eliminate Foley after about ten minutes but that’s not the last we’d see of Mick. During that time, The Rock had entered the mix and this match did wonders for him. He’d become one of the top mid-card guys in the business and after just over a year in the company, he’d really made a name for himself and this night would do nothing but help his career.
So we go through some guys and we get to the number 16 entry … and it’s Mick Foley dressed as Mankind. Brilliant. And we all knew where things were going to go from there and we didn’t care back then. It was too much fun. He’d end up eliminating Funk before being tossed out by Goldust — I’m sorry, The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust, after about three minutes. And sure enough, we’d see him back later at number 28 in the Dude Love gear and I still grin every time I watch this one. Absolutely awesome booking. Probably cost a guy or two a spot but we’ll let that slide for the sheer enjoyment.
But this night belonged to Austin and he hit the ring on a mission at number 24, clearing the ring very similarly to what he’d done the year before. Yet, this was so much different. He was on the other side of things now and the crowd was just jacked for this whole thing, and the showdown with The Rock at the end was just icing on the cake.