The No. 1 Showstopper

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January 24, 2007

An exhausted Davey Boy Smith stood atop the second turnbuckle to celebrate with the cheering crowd inside Tampa's University of South Florida Sun Dome. The crowd favorite "British Bulldog" had just endured—and seemingly won—a grueling 1995 Royal Rumble Match after clotheslining the last remaining Superstar, No. 1 entrant Shawn Michaels, over the top rope. With the playing of his entrance music signaling his apparent victory, Bulldog understandably basked in the moment; no one had ever won the 30-man main event with such a low entry number, and now he was going to face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania XI (to be escorted by guest hostess Pamela Anderson, no less).

Suddenly, Michaels double axe-handled Smith from behind, knocking him over the top turnbuckle and onto the outside floor. Just like that, WWE history had been forever rewritten, and WWE.com's No. 5 Over-the-Top Rumble Performance belonged to the cocky Heartbreak Kid.

Meaning no disrespect to the late British Bulldog, but facts are facts: Michaels was propelled over the ropes, but only one foot touched the outside floor. Since the inaugural Royal Rumble in January 1988, the match stipulation is that both feet must touch the ground in order for a WWE Superstar to be eliminated. HBK's uncanny instincts kept one hand on the top rope and one foot dangling in midair (as video replays and two referees quickly confirmed). This, in turn, enabled him to regain his footing on the mat, and snatch victory from defeat.

Michaels did more than eliminate six Superstars and win his first of two consecutive Royal Rumbles that January night; he also rightly earned his claim to fame as "The Showstopper" of WWE. After the match, even guest commentator "Rowdy" Roddy Piper had to credit the arrogant HBK for a then-unprecedented start-to-finish win. "This year it wasn't the size of the dog in the fight," he said, "it was the size of the fight in the dog."

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