For the first time since bringing SummerSlam 1992 to Wembley Stadium in London, WWE had aspirations of filling an especially-large building for a pay-per-view. In this case, WWE decided to bring the annual Royal Rumble to San Antonio's Alamodome. To fill the 64,000-seat venue, Vince McMahon and company were banking on two major selling points for the locals: the infusion of numerous stars from Mexico's AAA promotion (including the iconic Mil Mascaras), and hometown son Shawn Michaels, who was attempting to regain the WWE Championship.
By this time, WWE's product was entering a more provocative realm, with a major uptick in violence, profanity, sexuality, and (most central to the changes) characters neither truly good nor bad. Steve Austin's minacious anti-hero persona was earning raves for its refreshing audacity, while Bret Hart's stoicism began to give way to frequent complaining about injustices, as would be clear on this show.
The 1997 Royal Rumble feels like a house that somebody is starting to move out of, but not everything has been shipped out. What remained provided familiar comfort (the babyface standing tall at the end, the red, white, and blue ropes, some stars with defined alignments), but what was missing left a somewhat uncertain void. And few would've guessed just how much WWE would transform as 1997 rolled on.
Here are ten facts about the 1997 Royal Rumble you may not have known.