The Rock and Roman Reigns close the Royal Rumble, former champion debuts - This week in WWE history (January 23-January 29)
In many ways, it's a great time to be a fan of WWE. Royal Rumble weekend is always exciting, and it also sets the tone for the road to WrestleMania. The two-night event is just a few months away and the audience is thrilled to experience the highs and lows heading into it.
While things are still chaotic behind the scenes with Vince McMahon's return to the company and a looming sale, the direction of the company is still an exciting one. Monday featured a special edition of RAW highlighting legends of the past, NXT focused on the stars of tomorrow, while SmackDown turned up the volume ahead of the Royal Rumble event.
For fans looking to experience a little bit of nostalgia, however, you've come to the right place. This weekly article takes a look at major events and stories that happened this week in the company's history, be it good, bad, or even tragic.
Last week was all about the Royal Rumble, but other Rumble events will be covered this time around. Additionally, an unusual show aired for the first time ever, and a true legend passed away. What exactly went down?
Below are five key events that happened this week in WWE history.
#5. Tazz debuted at the WWE Royal Rumble on January 23rd, 2000
The WWE Royal Rumble took place on January 23rd, 2000, from the legendary Madison Square Garden arena in New York. The main card featured six big bouts, including the 30-person over-the-top-rope Royal Rumble Match.
The big bout was won by The Rock and other stars featured on the show, including the likes of Cactus Jack, Triple H, and The Big Show. Still, one of the most noteworthy moments of the night came when Kurt Angle was challenged by an unnamed opponent.
Angle was undefeated heading into the bout, and the roof almost came off of the building when former ECW Champion Tazz made his debut for the company.
The Human Suplex Machine defeated the undefeated Angle by submission in just three minutes. While his push never quite matched the debut, Tazz would go on to become a key part of the company via commentary.
#4. The first-ever Royal Rumble took place on January 24th, 1988
Fans today recognize the Royal Rumble event as an iconic pay-per-view turned Premium Live Event. Surprisingly, however, the event initially debuted as a television special on the USA Network on January 24th, 1988.
The show was held at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and featured four matches. Two tag team bouts and Rick Rude vs. Rick Steamboat filled out the undercard, but naturally, the key bout was the Royal Rumble Match.
WWE didn't yet do a 30-man match, instead opting for just 20 superstars. While the likes of Bret Hart, Jake Roberts, Harley Race, The Ultimate Warrior, and Junkyard Dog were involved in the bout, Hacksaw Jim Duggan was the first-ever Royal Rumble winner.
#3. The Rock and Roman Reigns closed the WWE Royal Rumble on January 25th, 2015
The 2015 WWE Royal Rumble took place on January 25th. The event was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in front of over 17,000 fans. The main card featured five bouts, including the Royal Rumble Match.
Roman Reigns ultimately won the 30-man match, but many top stars were featured. Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Diamond Dallas Page, Dean Ambrose, and Bubba Ray Dudley were all involved.
When Kane, Big Show, and Rusev attempted to gang up on Reigns even after being eliminated, The Rock made the save and helped Roman stand all in the end.
The match wasn't well received, with fans angry over Roman Reigns winning the bout and sentimental favorites such as Daniel Bryan not being treated particularly well. The audience reaction was so severe that even The Rock was booed when he held up Roman's hand post-match.
#2. The first-ever Halftime Heat aired on January 26th, 1999
WWE Halftime Heat aired on January 31st, 1999. The special was a unique attempt to garner a large audience while Super Bowl XXXIII went into halftime. The 20-minute program featured just one match, but it was memorable.
The Corporation's The Rock battled Mankind on the pre-taped program in an Empty Arena Match. The two battled all over the arena with the WWF Championship on the line.
In the end, Mankind defeated The Corporate Champion to capture his second-ever WWF Championship, thanks to using a forklift to pin The Rock. This continued their rivalry for a little bit longer before The Brahma Bull shifted his focus to Stone Cold Steve Austin.
#1. The legendary Andre the Giant passed away on January 27th, 1993
Andre the Giant is one of the most iconic superstars of all time. The former world champion was a touring icon prior to primarily working full-time with WWE and helping the company grow during the Rock 'N' Wrestling Era.
Unfortunately, a man of his size had to deal with numerous health problems. The giant struggled to get around as he got older and eventually passed away on January 27th, 1993, at only 46 years old.
While his passing was unfortunate and sad, his legacy lives on to this day. The first-ever WWE Hall of Famer is constantly recognized for his contributions to both pro wrestling and pop culture, with young fans knowing the legacy of the big man to this very day.
Thanks to YouTube, Peacock, and WWE Network, fans can relive some of his best-remembered matches and moments forever.