January is WWE Royal Rumble month, so it’s a nice time to look back on the history of WWE’s annual January event by re-posting my reviews of every Royal Rumble match in WWE history. By that I mean the actual matches (not the whole PPV), which I reviewed in depth earlier this decade and you can check out in our Royal Rumble section at any time.
What I’ll be doing is posting three Rumble reviews in each post. I could break them up and do them individually again, but I think three in one is a little easier for you the reader.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 24, 1988
The announcers are Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura. This is a 20 man Royal Rumble as opposed to the 30 man Rumble’s we would get accustomed to. It was also broadcast on USA Network rather than being a PPV like we know it to be.
#1 is Bret Hart, #2 is Tito Santana. They are already in the ring as ring announcer Howard Finkel explains the rules. Tito was tag champion in Strike Force while Bret was a heel. Nice atomic drop by Bret. I mark for atomic drops. Classic move. #3 is “The Natural” Butch Reed. He’s a black man with blonde hair, long before Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man. The heels work over Tito with a double back elbow. There’s no official buzzer that we’d get used to years later, but you can hear the crowd. #4 is Jim Neidhart, who is Bret’s partner in the Hart Foundation. It’s three heels versus “Chico” as Jesse calls him. Big elbow off the middle rope by Bret. They finally put a clock up in anticipation of #5…Jake Roberts, who is a babyface. He throws Reed out. That’s your history lesson. First elimination in Rumble history is Jake Roberts dumping out Butch Reed. One thing you notice is how hot the crowd is. I bet WWE wishes their fans popped like this upon the sight of babyfaces. It’s explosive. The heels take over and #6 is King Harley Race. “Look at the speed of the King…” says Roberts. This was near the end of Harley’s awesome career.
You can tell the Rumble is in its infant stages because the fans go nuts over the spot where people are threatening to be tossed over the top even though years later nobody ever pops for those spots. #7 is Jumping Jim Brunzell to make it 3 to 3 in terms of heels and faces. Haha! Jake just ripped the beard of Neidhart. What a spot. #8 is Sam Houston, a babyface who I barely remember. Just looked him up. He didn’t last too long and he’s actually the half brother of Jake Roberts. So there you go. The Hart Foundation teams up to throw Santana out, so he’s the second elimination. “Oh no not this guy” says Vince as former ref Dangerous Danny Davis is in there at #9. This crowd is awesome. They are not shutting up despite the fact that it’s all a punch and kick fest. #10 is Boris Zhukov, who is another guy that didn’t last too long in the WWF. There’s not much play by play to do here. Everybody tries eliminating people, but nobody ever really goes.
It was nice to see Jesse put over Bret Hart’s endurance in the match. Little things like that make a difference. And this was three years before Bret’s singles run would start, which tells you how high management was on Hart. #11 is Don Muraco although Nikolai Volkoff also comes out at the same time. It looks like it’s really Muraco, who was also known as The Rock in case you didn’t know. Zhukov is eliminated. #12 is Volkoff, who of course jumped the gun a spot too early. I guess he’s dumb? Muraco eliminates Race. I enjoy Ventura ripping on McMahon more than I enjoy the match I think. #13 is Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Race takes a shot at him, Duggan chases, Race leaves and Duggan gives a “HOOOOO!” before going in the ring. Huge pop for Duggan. #14 is “uh oh The Outlaw Ron Bass” according to Vince. He didn’t last too long in the company either. The most popular guys are Roberts, who gets a lot of DDT chants, and Hacksaw who gets a huge reaction with his “HOOOO!” chant. Volkoff eliminates Brunzell with a toss over his shoulder. #15 is B. Brian Blair, the other half of the Killer Bees. There are a lot of tag wrestlers.
We get the first of our last five entrants as #16 in Hillbilly Jim. He quickly tosses out Jim Neidhart. Sorry Natalya. There are 10 guys in the ring as Dino Bravo comes out at #17. Ventura puts him over as the Strongest Man in the World. There goes Sam Houston in one of the best/worst bumps of the night as he fell off the shoulders of Ron Bass. A huge pop for #18 is Ultimate Warrior, who was still pretty new at this time. Muraco eliminates Bret Hart, who was in the longest at 25:42, which Ventura puts over very well. #19 is One Man Gang, who is an overwhelming favorite because he’s big and that’s the rule for the Royal Rumble. Vince: “Why’s he picking on Jake?” Jesse: “Because he’s a snake.” Expert commentary, folks. OMG (that stands for One Man Gang as opposed to Oh My God) eliminates Roberts. Last man at #20 is Junkyard Dog. We have ten men in the ring. Feel the excitement.
Jesse asks Vince who is going to win. Vince says Junkyard Dog or One Man Gang. Jesse says Gang too. Duggan eliminates Volkoff and Gang eliminates Hillbilly Jim. Duggan clotheslines Danny Davis over the top as Ventura praises Davis. There goes Ultimate Warrior, eliminated by Bravo and Gang. They really didn’t give Warrior much to do here although over the next two years he got pushed to the top of the company. Ron Bass eliminates JYD. A little odd booking there, but you can’t stop the Bass Man I guess. I just called him the Bass Man. Don’t think anything of it. Muraco eliminates Bass. You can tell they’re hurrying for the finish now.
The final four are Muraco, Gang, Duggan and Bravo. Bravo & Gang work on Muraco. Bravo holds him, Gang charges and he clotheslines Muraco over the top to the floor. Wow, that spot never works. Usually the guy holding him gets eliminated by mistake. It worked in 1988 though! Now it’s Duggan left with Gang & Bravo, both of whom are heels. Double clothesline on Duggan. Now Bravo holds Duggan, Gang charges and this time Duggan moves, so Bravo is eliminated. I guess they set that spot up nicely, huh? The announcers question how Gang could be eliminated. Then as they’re talking about it, Duggan’s against the ropes, Gang charges in, Duggan ducks and like the idiot that he is Gang misses and ends up over the top rope onto the floor.
Winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan
The match ended at 33:23, so it was not two minutes per entrant like they said. Oh my God, WWE lied to us! Crazy.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– This wasn’t a PPV and there was no title shot on the line like we’d see in the future, so having somebody like Duggan win this was good booking. He was a popular midcard babyface for most of his career. As I wrote throughout, the crowd was really hot for everything he did in there.
– It was nice to see Bret Hart featured as much as he was. You could tell from the commentary that they saw a bright future for him.
– No DDTs by Roberts even though the crowd was super hot for him and calling for it. A little disappointing that he didn’t deliver. It’s 25 years later and that move is still very popular although now we see so many variations of it.
– Watching this match I was reminded of how good the tag division was back then. They actually cared about creating tag teams and giving them feuds whether they were in the title picture or not.
– You could see how raw the Ultimate Warrior was here. He would get the biggest push of anybody in this match, but he was a nobody at this point. He didn’t even look that big, really. He would “grow” in the coming years.
For each Rumble I’ll hand out some awards in a section called…
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Bret Hart at 25:42.
Most eliminations: One Man Gang with 6.
Best Performers (3): Bret Hart – Lasted the longest at 25:42. Nobody else stood out.
Jim Duggan – The winner of the match. Got huge pops from the crowd.
One Man Gang – He was booked so strong with the most eliminations.
Best Elimination: Bass eliminating Houston – That was a big bump especially for 1988.
Match Rating: **1/2 – It was well booked for the most part although the lack of action hurts the quality. There are way too many slow points. Of course this was only the first Rumble, though, so they would improve on that obviously.
The WWF Champion at the time was Randy Savage, who was one half of the Megapowers team with Hulk Hogan. How would they use the Rumble to set up things for WrestleMania V? Let’s find out.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 15, 1989
The announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura. This is the first 30 man Royal Rumble to be broadcast live on pay-per-view. Howard Finkel explained the rules. Two guys start the match, then every two minutes somebody else comes in and in order to be eliminated both feet have to touch the floor.
Number 1 is Ax. Number 2 is Smash. They are the tag champs known as Demolition. I love this theme song. And they are both from Parts Unknown. It’s like a tropical paradise there, I hear. They brawl for two minutes with a lot of punching, basically. Needless to say, they aren’t known for their awesome ring work. Ax almost eliminated Smash at one point. The clock counts down and the crowd doesn’t chant with it. Here’s #3…Andre the Giant, who is a heel at this point. No theme music for the entrants. They do a double clothesline to knock Andre down. The whole two minutes was Demolition working on him with punches and tag team moves. #4 is a favorite of mine, Mr. Perfect. This was at a point when he was new to the WWF and an undefeated heel at this point in his career. He’s not wearing his normal ring gear yet. Andre throws Smash out of the ring as the first elimination. Perfect and Ax work on Andre by stepping on his face. Perfect does the Bret Hart chest bump in the turnbuckle because he’s awesome. And then he nearly does a flip off a headbutt from Andre. The #5 entrant is “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin, who was just an average talent. They triple team Andre, but they can’t do it because his arms are hooked into the ropes. I like how Gorilla pointed out that Andre likely has the best record in the history of battle royals. That’s true and there’s nobody in the history of wrestling that is more of a battle royal threat than Andre. Speaking of Andre, he sat on Ax for a bit just because he’s Andre and you can’t stop him.
The #6 entrant is Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Oops, Jesse said “Axe Hennig” instead of Mr. Perfect. That was his dad, Larry Hennig. Andre eliminates Garvin with a hip toss as the second elimination. Andre goes around choking everybody with a lovely smile on his face. You can tell he’s enjoying this. The #7 man is Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who was a babyface here. He went right after Andre. Valentine hits Andre twice, but Andre doesn’t care and does some more choking on Jake. Then Andre steps on him. I love Andre’s offense. Seriously. The guy was larger than life more than anybody in the history of wrestling, so it worked for him. Huge draw. I’ll never forget meeting him when I was about 8 years old. I was scared shitless, but he was so damn friendly with us. The #8 man is “The Outlaw” Ron Bass. I barely remember him. Andre eliminates Jake, who only lasted about 2 minutes thanks to Andre beating him down. We’ve got five men in the ring now. The action is pretty slow. The announcers can barely believe that Ax has lasted this long. It hasn’t been that long. #9 is the best wrestler in WWE history Shawn Michaels. He was a part of The Rockers babyface tag team here. Perfect dumps out Ax. Then Perfect goes after Shawn, but HBK skins the cat back in, which was not something we were used to seeing in 1989. Dropkick by HBK, Perfect goes over the top, but he hangs on. Two great athletes showing their stuff right there. And there’s Andre choking Bass. #10 is Buschwhacker Butch. Hey there’s Jake Roberts coming back in. He’s got his snake Damien in the bag. He throws it in the ring. Andre freaks out and takes off, eliminating himself from the match. The crowd was going nuts for all of this. Jake left the ring happy. We are back to five with Perfect, Michaels, Valentine, Butch and Bass.
The #11 man is Honky Tonk Man, who is a heel of course. The announcers do a good job of pointing out how rare it is to see guys like Perfect and HTM fighting (due to being heels), but in a Rumble match anything goes. Valentine and HTM are close to eliminating Michaels. Shawn holds on. #12 is Tito Santana or “Chico” as Jesse calls him and he immediately goes after Perfect with a back body drop plus clothesline combo. Michaels is bumping all over the place now. #13 is Bad News Brown. What do you think: babyface or heel? The name gives it away doesn’t it? Tito & Butch eliminate HTM leaving us with seven guys. Michaels goes up top with a double punch to the head just because he can. Valentine gives Michaels an atomic drop and Michaels almost gets eliminated. Right on cue #14 is Marty Jannetty, Michaels’ partner in the Rockers. Double elbow on Bass followed by a double dropkick and the Rockers eliminate Bass. Can somebody tell me why was Bass on the poster of the event? Marginal talent, at best. Tito hits the flying forearm on Valentine, but the Hammer hangs in there. We are at the halfway point now with #15 being the WWF Champion Randy Savage who comes out to a HUGE pop. He goes right after Bad News Brown. Valentine works over Savage, who comes back at him with a double axehandle.
The #16 man is Arn Anderson. Savage eliminates Valentine. Hey, there’s a superkick by Michaels on Anderson. Savage & Anderson double team Michaels and eliminate him with a back elbow. That was pretty random. Anderson goes up top even though he never goes up, Jannetty punches him and Arn gets crotched. The #17 guy is Tully Blanchard, who is Arn’s partner in the Brainbusters team. I’m counting 8 guys in there now although there’s very little action until Anderson hits a VINTAGE spinebuster on Jannetty. Marty is eliminated. #18 is Hulk Hogan to the biggest pop of the night thus far. He saves Macho from Mr. Perfect and he throws out Perfect. There goes Tito Santana. As the years went by the eliminations were booked much better. You can see how raw it is at this point in only the second Rumble ever. Hogan’s getting triple teamed, so Gorilla wonders why Savage isn’t helping his friend. It’s Buschwhacker Luke at #19. Brown eliminates Butch. Hogan with a press slam on Blanchard and he drops him across the top rope. That looked scary actually. The big story is Hogan getting double teamed as well as Savage getting double teamed. Big boot to Arn “right in the kisser” as Gorilla says. In at #20 is future WWE Hall of Famer (ugh) Koko B. Ware. He was an average lower card babyface at best. Arn goes up again, Hogan catches him there and Arn takes the Flair bump after getting tossed down. That was a tribute to his friend I think. Hogan eliminates Koko & Luke with consecutive back drops leaving us with Hogan, Savage, Brown, Blanchard & Anderson.
The 21st entrant is the Warlord. While he’s coming out, Hogan eliminates Arn & Tully with a double clothesline. The Warlord poses on the apron, he walks into the ring, Hogan charges, clothesline and Warlord is eliminated in 2 seconds. He would hold that record for 20 years. Congrats Warlord. On the other side of the ring, Brown & Savage are struggling. Hogan sees it, he lifts Brown up & he’s gone. While he did that he also tossed Savage “accidentally.” Savage is pissed, yelling at Hogan for it. Ventura takes Savage’s side while Gorilla defends Hogan. Elizabeth comes running out and she gets between Hulk and Randy. This was your big WrestleMania setup right here. She gets Macho to shake his hand. They hugged too. That was such a big angle. It may be hard to understand it now, but if you remember this era then you know how big this was.
In at #22 is Big Boss Man. It’s just two people now since Hogan cleared everybody else out. Bodyslam by Hogan. Splash by Boss Man followed by a piledriver. That move is banned in WWE these days. The #23 entrant is Akeem, who is Boss Man’s partner in the Twin Towers team. A year earlier he was known as One Man Gang. Hogan slams the very large Akeem, but they are able to overwhelm him. Hogan comes back with a double noggin knocker (classic phrase!) plus a back drop on Boss Man. The numbers game catch up to him as they double team Hogan with a splash in the corner. Then they throw Hogan out rather easily. Post elimination, Hogan fights with both guys on the floor. The #24 person is Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. Boss Man goes into the ropes, Hogan pulls it down and that eliminates Boss Man. That’s your babyface Hogan. They go fighting up the aisle. Back in the ring, Akeem and Beefcake struggle in the ring. “It’s the Red Rooster” at #25. It’s one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history. That’s what it is. Beefcake and Rooster double team Akeem, but he fights them off as the announcers wonder how he can be eliminated.
We’ve got another heel in at #26 in The Barbarian while Gorilla says he’s stupid for not helping them eliminate Akeem. These are not very good wrestlers, I have to say. Big splash by Akeem on Red Rooster. How could be it a little splash when he’s over 400 pounds? A big favorite comes in at #27 – Big John Studd. Sometimes the ladies call me that. Not often enough, though. It’s okay. It’s a slugfest with Studd & Akeem. Vince is marking out over that. In at #28 is Hercules. They need more guys with big muscles in there. Crazy how there was steroid trial in WWE a few years after this, huh? The announcers discuss where Dibiase is, suggesting that he bought the #30 spot. We’re not there yet, though, as #29 comes in and it’s Rick Martel, who was a babyface here. The Studd-Akeem interaction has literally been Studd holding him for about four minutes. It’s as bad as it sounds, trust me. The last entrant at #30 is the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, who comes out with Virgil. We’ve got 8 people left: Studd, Akeem, Hercules, Barbarian, Red Rooster, Martel, Beefcake and Dibiase.
The Rooster gets some offense in on Dibiase, which is pretty rare for The Rooster. See what I mean? Dibiase throws him in the turnbuckle and he takes the Flair turnbuckle bump to be eliminated from the match. He had the Flair hair, boots & tights to match. Beefcake puts the sleeper on Hercules, so Dibiase & Barbarian eliminate them both leaving us with five. Powerslam by Barbarian on Martel and then he hits a headbutt off the top. Barbarian charges in, Martel ducks, hits a dropkick and Barbarian is eliminated.
The final four: Ted Dibiase, Big Jon Studd, Akeem and Rick Martel. Martel charges at Akeem, he catches Martel and throws him out to eliminate him. Studd fights off both heels as best he can. Akeem splashes him in the corner. He does it again except this time Dibiase accidentally goes in front of him. Studd comes out of the corner and clubs Akeem in the back, sending him over the top. We’re down to two. Dibiase pleads with him, telling him he’ll give him some money. Studd overpowers him in the corner. His offense isn’t very impressive and he has very limited mobility. He did bust out a butterfly suplex that surprised me. There was even a Gutwrench suplex that looked stiff as hell. Clothesline by Studd. Then he tosses out Dibiase. That was an anticlimactic ending. Post match, he beat Virgil up too.
Winner: Big John Studd
The match ended at 64:53. The intervals were a legitimate two minutes this time.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– I forgot how immobile Big John Studd was. I don’t think he took very many bumps here. It’s like he was standing up straight the whole time. The last ten minutes really sucked in terms of quality, largely because of him.
– Hogan was great here. And I don’t love Hogan, but I have to give him props. He had a lot of energy and the match was way better when he was in it. When he left it got worse.
– Savage was the WWF Champion, yet he only eliminated two guys. They didn’t book him strong enough. I understand that most of the eliminations were done by the big guys, but this is your champion. You need to make him look better. The accidental elimination by Hogan was good. You could see both sides of it and I liked hearing the announcers bicker about it.
– I never really noticed it until here, but they really made Terry Taylor aka The Red Rooster into a Ric Flair knockoff. The hair, the tights, having “RR” on his boots (Flair always had “RF” on his) and he even did the Flair flop to get eliminated. Of course calling a guy “The Red Rooster” was ridiculously stupid.
– I always have been and always will be a huge Andre The Giant mark. I can’t explain it except to say that he entertained me so much when I was little. You just marveled at how big he was. Sometimes workrate doesn’t matter. You just have to look at the entertainment value. To me, Andre’s one of the best entertainers ever in wrestling history.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Mr. Perfect at 27:58
Most Eliminations: Hulk Hogan with 10.
Best Performers (3): Hulk Hogan – He really performed well in terms of eliminating guys as well as furthering the angle with Savage.
Mr. Perfect – He didn’t do anything special, but he was in there the longest and took some great bumps to make others look good. I mean, come on, he did a flip after taking an Andre headbutt. That’s skill.
Andre The Giant – Because seeing him try to move fast when the snake was in there was tremendous comedy!
Best Elimination: The Warlord going out in two seconds is a classic. I have to give it to that.
Match Rating: ** The last ten minutes were pretty awful. When Hogan & Savage were in there the heat was through the roof. The rest of the time it was pretty average.
To begin the 1990 calendar year, the WWF World Champion was Hulk Hogan. He’s in this match. His WrestleMania VI opponent, The Ultimate Warrior, is also in the match. I wonder if they’ll interact in some way to set up their match at WrestleMania? Hmmm. Let’s find out.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 21, 1990
The announcers are Tony Schiavone (ugh) and Jesse Ventura. Why is it Tony? When they show Howard Finkel during the introduction they only put “The Fink” this time. No full name. Sorry Howard. Nice hair, though. I like when the Fink says this loudly: “Remember in the Royal Rumble it is every man for himself!” Okay thanks, I didn’t know before.
The #1 entrant is Ted Dibiase. He was #30 the year before. The #2 entrant is Koko B Ware, who comes out with his bird Frankie. Dibiase attacks him right away and doesn’t let Koko get going at all. Koko no sells it when Dibiase slams him into the turnbuckle. What is he, Samoan? Koko charges in with Dibiase against the ropes, so Ted dumps him over the top. We get the music playing when the guys come out this year. Good move, WWE. #3 is Marty Jannetty of the Rockers. I’m sure that over 20 years ago people were wondering which one of the Rockers would be better. Don’t sleep on Marty. He’s still got time! Dibiase goes for a double axe, but Marty counters and gets a back elbow. Dibiase’s against the ropes, Marty charges, Dibiase ducks and Marty goes flying over the rope with a cross body block. Ted’s alone in the ring for 15 seconds again. The #4 man is Jake Roberts to a huge pop. He’s still a babyface. I liked him more as a heel, but that would be in the future. They had a rivalry at this point. The crowd is super hot for it. They brawl on the floor a bit and then Jake gets the short clothesline, but Ted counters the DDT. The #5 man is Macho King Randy Savage. He was a heel here, so they double team Jake a lot. Three of the biggest names in the company are in here early. That’s usually a good thing in terms of quality of the Rumble. I mark out for double axehandles off the top. Do you? The Macho/Jake feud in the future would be pretty awesome although they’d be in different roles.
In at #6 is Roddy Piper; another guy that was near the main event level. He’s a babyface at this point. He saves Jake from the double teaming. The crowd is hyper. Macho nearly eliminated Piper and then Piper nearly eliminated him. That was a great two minutes (that’s what she said). #7 is the Warlord, who got eliminated in 2 seconds the previous year. He goes after Jake and Piper. The odds that The Warlord could pass a WWE Wellness Policy today? 1%. And that’s generous. The #8 man is Bret Hart, who was still part of The Hart Foundation tag team for another year. Everybody in there except the Warlord is a legitimate Hall of Famer if the Hall of Fame was legit. Good match in terms of star power. In at #9 is Bad News Brown, who was a heel. Look at his name. It says “bad” in it. Jake goes to DDT Dibiase, but Macho comes charging in and clothesline Jake over the top to eliminate him. That was a cool spot. Piper nearly knocks Dibiase out, but Savage saves him. Ted is carrying the match at this point with Savage doing great too. Two of my all-time favorites. The #10 entrant is Dusty Rhodes. He looks “dashing” in those yellow polka dots doesn’t he? (See what I did there?) He goes after Savage, who he was having a feud with. Macho charges in at Dusty, who gives a backdrop and Savage goes all the way over the top to the floor to get eliminated. That sets up a Savage-Dusty WM match although it was a mixed tag with Sherri and Sapphire involved, which wasn’t great.
The #11 man is Andre The Giant, who is still a heel here and was near the end of his career. Andre headbutts the Warlord and then gives him a hip toss to the floor, eliminating him. Piper and Dusty double team Andre, but he breaks free with the vintage double noggin knocker. In at #11 is the Red Rooster Terry Taylor and he gets a decent sized pop. Brown tries to eliminate Piper, but Roddy hangs on and eliminates him. Bad News goes back in, grabs Roddy by the hair and tosses him out. I never understood how that can be legal. That would lead to a WrestleMania match along with some odd face painting by Roddy. The #13 entrant is Ax of Demolition, who is now a babyface. As he’s running out, Andre eliminates the Rooster. Now he can go back to spiking his hair with red coloring. Dusty & Ax tie up Andre in the ropes and work together to double team him. With five men in the ring, the sixth one is the #14th entrant Haku, who you might also know as Meng. He was Andre’s tag partner in the Colossal Connection team managed by Bobby Heenan. They were the tag champs here. Not a whole lot happens there. We’re halfway through as #15 is the other half of Demolition, Smash. Ventura puts over how great it is that Dibiase has lasted since the #1 spot. There are no eliminations or serious threats of them. It has slowed down a bit.
It’s Akeem the African Dream that is also a One Man Gang in at #16. I love his dancing. It makes my dancing look less shitty. Bret Hart got eliminated by Dusty even though the announcers missed it. Demolition eliminates Andre with a double clothesline. That was awkward looking, but I still mark out for Andre and always will. The #17 man is “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. No footwear of course. He’s gangsta like that. Akeem works over Snuka, then he decides to dance and Jimmy eliminates him. There’s no dancing in the Royal Rumble! Or crying in baseball. There have been a lot of double axehandles in this match. That’s a high impact move off the middle rope. It’s Dino Bravo at #18 with Jimmy Hart from Memphis who is waving the Quebec flag. Only in wrestling. This was when the WWF was manager heavy and they were all around the ring here: Heenan, Fuji, Slick, Hart and to a lesser extent, Virgil. Dibiase hangs on again. Earthquake is #19, rocking the Canada flag in the front of his lovely outfit. He’s a heel, by the way. He does some shaking and then tosses out Dusty. That’s a lot of beef. The Quakester picks up Ax and chucks him out over the top. He is a threat to win! Wow, that exchange by Smash and Bravo was very sloppy. The #20 entrant is Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, who was a babyface here as part of The Hart Foundation with Bret. Six guys team together to eliminate Earthquake. That was fun. We have six men left with another ten to enter.
The #21 man is a big name as The Ultimate Warrior enters the match to the biggest pop of the night so far. He gets attacked by Bravo, but he quickly eliminates him. They should have had him eliminate more than one guy upon his arrival because the crowd was so hot for him. In at #22 is Rick Martel, who was “The Model” by this point and a heel. He had been part of the babyface team Strike Force with Tito Santana previously. Haku eliminates Smash with a standing sidekick. Neidhart almost eliminates Martel, but he hangs on. Coincidentally, #23 is Tito Santana. Dibiase’s still in from the #1 spot and Virgil helps to keep him in the match. That’s clever. The #24 spot belongs to The Honky Tonk Man, who wins the award for best sideburns in the match. There goes Neidhart, eliminated by Martel and Warrior. Ultimate Warrior works on Dibiase and eliminates him with a clothesline. Dibiase was in for 44:47, which was by far the new record at this point. The crowd popped huge for that one. The #25 entrant is Hulk Hogan, the WWF Champion. Ever heard of him? He eliminates Snuka with a clothesline. He eliminates Haku with the big boot. Santana goes to eliminate Martel, the Model hangs on, so Warrior tosses out Tito.
We’re down to the last five entrants with Shawn Michaels at #26. Hogan tosses out Honky Tonk Man, Warrior tosses out Michaels (who lands on his feet after tumbling over the top just because he’s the man) and Warrior tosses out Martel too. The crowd is going APESHIT as Warrior faces off with Hogan. Oh the double shoulderblocks with nobody moving and then the random criss-crossing. Then a double clothesline. I love the criss-crossing thing. That’s how I think all fights should go: “Let’s run in opposite directions who the tougher man is!” It’s a bit silly right? They are both down as #27 comes out…The Barbarian. And the crowd goes…mild. Best way to describe it. Even though there’s no countdown clock, Rick Rude comes in at #28. I’m assuming they were running late, so they had to rush it a bit. That was totally random. He goes after Warrior, who he had a lengthy feud with. Nice dropkick by Rude. Warrior saves Hogan from the two heels while Jesse questions why. Jesse was so good at calling people out for their actions. The heels double team Warrior, Hogan charges in, clothesline for all and he eliminates The Warrior. So there you have a different reaction to what Warrior did. Smart booking. Warrior runs back in the ring, clotheslines Barbarian and Rude and then starts running to the back. Why? Because he’s nuts. That’s why. The #29 entrant is Hercules, who Jesse calls “mighty.” Is that a synonym for jobber? I don’t think so. There’s not a whole lot going on as we wait for the last man, who we know is Mr. Perfect. The #30 man is Mr. Perfect and Hercules eliminates Barbarian.
The final four: Hogan, Rude, Hercules and Perfect. Perfect dropkicks Hercules and Rude clotheslines Hercules out of there. The Rude/Perfect duo double team Hogan. They were very good friends from the state of Minnesota too. They go to double team Hogan, but Hulk moves. Perfect gets knocked to the apron. Hogan whips Rude in and as Perfect is trying to get in the ring the rope is pulled down, so Rude gets eliminated. Perfect gets Hogan with a boot followed by a clothesline. “Now you’re gonna see it,” yells Perfect. What exactly? We don’t know. Oh, it’s the Perfectplex. Hogan pops right up. Hulking Up time. Slingshot into the corner with Perfect hitting the post. Hogan clotheslines him a few times and throws him out over the top. Jesse can’t believe it.
Winner: Hulk Hogan
The match ended at 58:46.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– I have read through the years about how Mr. Perfect was actually booked to win this, but Hogan got it changed. He had a lot of creative control. On the one hand, it’s a poor decision because he was already the WWF Champion, so he didn’t need the win. On the other hand ,it gave him momentum for the huge match against The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI where he would lose.
– I loved the way Dibiase was booked. He was in there for nearly 45 minutes, he eliminated just three people, but he did a great job hanging on every time he was close to being thrown out. It made his actual elimination a big deal. That’s how you build up a moment properly.
– The Dusty/Savage stuff was really fun. It would have been nice if they got a long singles match at WrestleMania instead of the mixed tag. They could have had some great matches together.
– I marked out for Earthquake. No lie. It was a ridiculously fun gimmick. The ring is shaking while he jumps. Sometimes it’s just that simple, ya know?
– Shawn Michaels was only in the match for 12 seconds? Fail.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Ted Dibiase at 44:47.
Most Eliminations: Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior with 6 each. They teamed up with other guys for some of them, so it’s a little tricky!
Best Performers (3): Ted Dibiase – Easy call here. He carried the first half of the match. One of my all-time favorite workers.
Hulk Hogan – I could actually tolerate him in Rumbles. They hid his deficiencies, which were the crappy matches.
Ultimate Warrior – Nobody else was booked to stand out very much.
Best Elimination: Hogan eliminating Warrior “by accident” was done remarkably well. It was a surprise and it built up the WrestleMania match. Kudos to Savage’s awesome bump too.
Match Rating: ***1/2 Good stuff. They booked it smartly early with a lot of star power and then later on built it well with the Warrior/Hogan showdown that everybody wanted. Yes I realize I mentioned that a lot. There wasn’t much else in the match except for Piper/Brown and Savage/Rhodes building.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.