The road to the WWE Royal Rumble continues with this look back at the 1991, 1992 and 1993 Royal Rumble matches. In case you missed it yesterday, I posted the reviews for the Royal Rumble match in 1988, 1989 and 1990. For more Royal Rumble match reviews, check out the archive section we have set up as well.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 29, 1991
The announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper. Every Rumble has had a different set of announcers so far. I’m a big fan of Monsoon, but Piper was just average as a color commentator. He wasn’t as good as Heenan (the best) or Ventura (very good). It’s the first year The Fink didn’t explain the rules. The announcers did it.
The #1 entrant was Bret Hart. This was the year where he’d start his singles career as a babyface, so it was a good chance to showcase him. In at #2 was Dino Bravo, managed by Dino Bravo. Bret nearly eliminated Bravo early on, but he was able to hold on. The #3 spot goes to Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, who used to be an associate of Jimmy Hart. Valentine eliminates Bravo rather easily and Jimmy Hart is pissed off, so the Hammer knocks him off the apron. Bret tries to eliminate Valentine as #4 comes in…Paul Roma. And the crowd goes mild. Roma never really got over very well in the WWF or WCW. “No friends, only foes” say the announcers over and over. The #5 man is the Texas Tornado, who was a very popular midcard babyface also known as Kerry Von Erich. He decks Valentine with the tornado punch. What are the odds that the Texas Tornado in 1991 could pass a WWE Wellness Policy test? 1%. He was always a very good performer, but drugs sidetracked him and ended his life early too.
Rick Martel comes in at #6. He’s a heel with his “Arrogance” perfume. He’s so mean he’ll spray perfume in your eyes. Or cologne. Take your pick. Roma and Martel work together on Hart and then Roma decks Martel with a clothesline. Piper loves it when the heels fight eachother. The #7 man is Saba Simba, who you might know as Tony Atlas. The announcers take their time saying his name because you know they want to say Atlas. The Saba Simba gimmick was not successful. Tornado almost eliminates Martel, but he hangs on. The Tornado puts the claw on Roma in the corner. The #8 entrant is Bushwhacker Butch. He goes around the ring doing the Bushwhacker dance. Simba picks up Roma, goes to eliminate him, but Roma escapes and Simba’s gone after just over 2 minutes of action. The crowd loves the Bushwhackers! You do too. It’s okay. You can start doing the Bushwhacker dance. Nobody’s watching you. To a big pop, #9 is Jake Roberts and he goes right after Rick Martell, who would be his WM7 opponent in a Blindfold Match. The crowd wants the DDT. He hits the short arm lefty clothesline, but Martel leaves the ring through the bottom ropes. Jake chases him back in. The #10 participant is Hercules, who was Roma’s partner in the heel tag team Power & Glory. There are a total of 8 guys in the ring as we are 1/3 of the way into this match.
The #11 participant is Tito Santana. While he’s coming out, Roma charges in at Jake, he ducks and Roma goes flying over the top to be the next elimination. Santana’s close to eliminating Martel, Valentine tries to get rid of Tito, but Bret saves him. It’s real talk time with #12, The Undertaker. His debut came a few months earlier at Survivor Series 1990 and he was a heel of course. He’s managed by Brother Love here. Double choke on Bret and Undertaker eliminates him. That looked painful, but very impressive. They should have had him eliminate a few guys right off the bat. He no sells everything from Texas Tornado. It’s Jimmy Snuka at #13. Undertaker eliminates Butch. The facial expressions on Undertaker are pretty awesome. I almost forget the character in its inception because it’s been so long. Everybody takes turns punching Undertaker, but he doesn’t go down. It’s Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog, at #14 and he’s a babyface at this point. With 9 guys in the ring there are too many people in there. By the way, Snuka’s wearing wrestling boots. That’s just wrong. He should always be barefoot. That’s what made me think he was tougher than most back when I was a kid. In at #15 is Smash from Demolition. Martel’s scaling the apron and he eliminates Jake. That was good setup for their WM7 match. Piper’s yelling a lot on commentary. Yelling isn’t necessarily good.
What a rush, it’s Hawk from Legion of Doom at #16. He can have a no selling contest with Undertaker. I don’t think Hawk ever liked selling moves. The #17 entrant is Shane Douglas, who I really don’t remember from WWE at this time. He’s an energetic young babyface here. Undertaker eliminates Tornado and Hawk eliminates Snuka. Apparently Douglas left the company soon after the Rumble to be with his ailing father. Undertaker’s eliminated three guys. It really should have been more by this point. Wow, what a sloppy exchange by Hawk and Hercules. “Here comes another one!” Piper is always so excited. For #18 we don’t get anybody. The deal was that since Randy Savage cost Warrior the WWF title earlier in the night he had to leave the arena to escape him and that’s why he never got in the match. The announcers eventually figured it out. The eye gouge is a very popular move in this match. In at #19 is Animal of Legion of Doom. Legion of Doom eliminate Undertaker with a double clothesline to a huge pop. Hawk gets eliminated by a sneak attack from Hercules & Martel. Undertaker went over the top and landed on his feet. The guy is a great athlete. No doubt about that. It’s Crush of Demolition in at #20. Martel leads the match in terms of threatening to be eliminated, but never actually going out of the ring. “Forget arrogance, he can be modeling endurance,” says Piper. Good line or no? I’m not sure. Nine guys in the match. Not a lot of star power, really.
We are down to the last ten entrants with #21 being “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. He comes out destroying everybody and the crowd loves him of course. HHHHHHHHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! And nobody gets eliminated. The booking here sucks. The crowd wants to get really amped up, but they never really give them a reason to. Here’s a BIG favorite at #22, Earthquake. He was in the Rumble a year before, but this year he was getting more of a push. He goes against Animal and backdrops him out of there. Now Quake goes after Hacksaw. Nobody else gets eliminated. Another favorite is at #23, Mr. Perfect. He’s managed by the great Bobby Heenan. He comes out very slowly unlike every other person in the match, who came out quickly. Wow, Brain caught his towel and it was behind him! First bump Perfect takes is a flip one in the corner. What a guy. He eliminates Duggan quickly. They do the time check on Valentine at 43 minutes and Martel at 40 minutes. The #24 spot is Hulk Hogan. Biggest pop of the night, of course. He goes nuts on Smash, tossing him out. He does the ten punch on Earthquake in the corner. Hogan gets double teamed and Earthquake squashes him in the corner. The camera doesn’t even show anybody else while Hogan is in there. Think he’s the biggest star? It’s Haku at #25 to no reaction whatsoever. Valentine is tossed out after 45 minutes. He barely made an impact, though. Earthquake tries to eliminate Bulldog, but that fails. They really don’t have anybody doing a bunch of eliminations at once. As a result you’ve got 10 guys in there again.
The final five entrants start with Jim Neidhart at #26. Great spot with Tito punching Quake a bunch, he no-sells it and chucks Tito out. I should add too that the more Rumbles you watch, the less hair Hogan has. Poor guy. There is not a lot going on, so have to give props to the managers outside the ring. I love managers. Especially this crew of them. Oh classic spot with #27 Bushwhacker Luke. He comes in doing the Bushwhacker walk, Quake grabs him, throws him out and he’s still doing the Bushwhacker walk. That was great! It’s Brian Knobbs at #28. Let’s hope he’s not in there long. Everybody beats him up. That’s pretty random. Martel keeps hanging on. Knobbs eliminates Hercules. The back body drop is a common elimination on this show. The Warlord is at #29. He goes after Bulldog because Vince must love their muscles. You can definitely tell this was when the steroid era was at its peak. Hogan eliminates Crush in a nasty fall near the turnbuckle. That’s why you do the eliminations away from the turnbuckle. Hogan eliminates Warlord with a clothesline. Reminiscent of a couple of years earlier when he eliminated him in 2 seconds. For the #30 spot it’s Tugboat, who is a THREAT TO WIN! The announcers realize Savage was #18 and he probably left because Warrior wanted to get revenge on him, which is what I mentioned earlier.
We have nine guys left and no more entrants. Shane Douglas got eliminated, by the way. Announcers put him over, so I guess they had high hopes for him. Didn’t happen for him in the WWF. Wow, Hogan does a near elimination spot. Not bad. It was Tugboat who tried to do it, so Hogan threw him out on the other side of the ring. Mr. Perfect got eliminated too. Martel dumps Neidhart. Bulldog backdrops Haku out. We’ve got five left. Martel slams Bulldog, then goes up top, Bulldog crotches him and clotheslines him out after nearly 53 minutes, which the new record.
Final four: Hogan, Earthquake, Bulldog & Knobbs.
Earthquake and Knobbs throw out Bulldog to make final three. I think Knobbs might be the worst wrestler to ever be in the final three. They work together with Quake doing the splash on Hogan. The crowd is dead silent. The heels celebrate, but Hogan pops up. Boot to Knobbs eliminates him. Punches on Quake, then the boot dazes him and Hogan punches him down. Then he knocks down Jimmy Hart. He calls for a bodyslam, but Quake falls on top of him. Big elbow. Gorilla talks like Hogan is done as Quake drops another elbow. Earthquake with a powerslam. Hogan Hulks Up. Stick the finger in the face, punch, punch, punch, big boot and another bodyslam works. Hogan slams him. Clothesline to the back and Earthquake is out.
Winner: Hulk Hogan
The match ended at 65:17.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– The booking was weak throughout. Every Rumble needs a moment where one guy throws out a bunch of people. This one didn’t have that moment and it definitely hurt the quality of the match. I do agree with Hogan winning it. He got the title shot after this.
– They didn’t make The Undertaker look strong enough. He should have eliminated 4 or 5 guys upon entry. I am glad that it took a tag team to throw him out, though. That makes him look strong.
– Why the hell was Knobbs booked into the final three? Seriously, Brian F’N Knobbs? That was just weird.
– They must have had high hopes for Martel because he was booked so strongly. His career never really went very far, though. He was always a midcard talent and though he lasted the longest here it was not a star making performance. I will honor him with a best performer nod only because nobody stood out.
– The star power was a lot worse here than it was in 1990 or what we’ll see next time in 1992.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Rick Martel at 52:17.
Most Eliminations: Hulk Hogan with 7.
Best Performers (3): The Undertaker – He had such star power. He stood out from the pack. You could tell why he became the star that he became. Like I said he could have been booked even better.
Rick Martel – He was booked to be in there the longest and he did a great job with the false eliminations.
Hulk Hogan – Like I wrote in previous Rumbles his energy in this kind of match is welcome. I don’t mind him in Rumble matches.
Best Elimination: The Bushwhacker Luke elimination is legendary! The Bushwhacker walk in, the walk in the ring, then he gets tossed out and keeps walking. Hilarious! Classic.
Match Rating: **1/4
This is the Royal Rumble that many consider as the best ever. The World Wrestling Federation Title was up for grabs due to controversial results in title matches involving Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. The winner of this match got to be champion with Hogan and Undertaker being promised spots anywhere from number 20 to 30. In terms of star power it was one of the most stacked Rumbles ever. It holds up well today too. I recommend this match to anybody that hasn’t seen it and even if you have seen it, go watch it again to remember how awesome it was.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 19, 1992
Albany, New York
The announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who are the best announce pairing from this era. The Fink went over the rules here. For the first (and only) time, the WWF Title is on the line in this match. It makes this match even more important, which I love.
The #1 entrant is the British Bulldog, a babyface, and #2 is Ted Dibiase, a heel, who is managed by Sensational Sherri here. Dibiase dominated early, he went to throw Bulldog out, but then Bulldog hung on and then he clotheslined Dibiase out. That was about 90 seconds of Dibiase. Not enough of him. In at #3 is Ric Flair and Bobby Heenan goes “No! Damnit!” This was Flair’s first Rumble since he came to the WWF late in 1991. He was a heel of course. Gorilla tells Heenan to kiss him goodbye. Gorilla points out that nobody that drew numbers 1-5 have ever won the Rumble. Brain freaks out. Mr. Perfect is with Flair. Heenan was an associate of Flair. “I’m going to apologize to the people, I don’t think I can be objective,” says Heenan. Gorilla fires back: “When have you ever been objective?” Haha, love these two. Press slam by Bulldog. He hits him with a couple of clotheslines. It’s Jerry Saggs of the Nasty Boys at #4. They double team Bulldog. Saggs almost gets thrown out, then he celebrates on the apron and Bulldog dropkicks him out. “This is not fair to Flair!” yells Heenan. He says that many times. It’s Haku at #5 as the announcers go over the “every man for himself” decree once again. The heels double team Bulldog again. So far it’s been four heels with just Bulldog as a babyface. The crowd hates Flair so much that they cheer Haku for attacking him. Flair bails and Haku piledrives Bulldog. Heenan’s awesome here, telling Flair to stay down. Bulldog eliminates Haku just as the next entrant is about to come in.
The #6 entry? Shawn Michaels. He was newly turned heel after throwing Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window. He even hits a superkick on Flair about 10 seconds in. It wasn’t his finisher, though. Bulldog clotheslines Michaels, but he hangs on and superkicks Bulldog in a sloppy way. Did I just criticize HBK? I think I might get hit by a bolt of lightning now. Michaels is so great at the over the top bumps. Some say it’s bad, but I always enjoyed it and made him stand out to me as a superior athlete. It’s Tito Santana at #7. He goes right for Flair as Heenan freaks out. Ha, Flair did a double uppercut to Bulldog’s nuts. Classic Nature Boy. Wooooo! Flying forearm by Tito on Flair. Michaels would make that move even more famous. The #8 man is The Barbarian, who Heenan freaks out about because he’s big. By this point Michaels has nearly been eliminated four or five times. He’s showing off. Why? Because he can. The #9 competitor is The Texas Tornado, who would leave the WWF soon after this. And he’d die a year later. He does the Tornado punch and Flair does the Flair flop. Michaels does a spinning bump as well as a face first flop too. Two of the best ever right there, haha. Prior to this, Flair and Tornado (Kerry Von Erich) had some classic matches in other companies. Flair had classic matches with everybody, though. Hey it’s one of my favorite bad gimmicks ever in at #10: The Repo Man. You might remember him from previous Rumbles as Demolition member Smash. He’s sneaky about getting in the ring. What a gimmick. Vince probably thought it was genius and then blamed the wrestler for not getting it over. We’ve got 7 men in the ring now.
The #11 man is Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. He goes after Flair too. There’s not a whole lot going on at this point. Not a threat at #12 with Nikolai Volkoff as the announcers make mention of the fall of the Soviet Empire. Valentine puts the Figure Four on Flair. The crowd loves it while Heenan freaks out. Repo Man eliminates Volkoff. Yep, Repo Man is a threat to win! The Big Boss Man comes in at #13. He’s a babyface here. He threw some of the best punches ever. Repo Man eliminates Valentine. Repo Man is on fire! Michaels nearly flies over the top after a bunch from Boss Man. And Boss Man throws out Repo Man. Why watch from this point? The top guy is out. I’ll keep on going for you, reader, but my heart has left the match with Repo Man out. Flair eliminates Bulldog with a backdrop. He also eliminates Tornado with a backdrop. Michaels and Santana eliminate eachother. The ring has just three people in with Flair, Barbarian and Boss Man with Hercules entering at #14. Barbarian drops Flair with a press slam. He goes to eliminate Flair, but Hercules dumps Barbarian. Boss Man throws out Hercules leaving us with just Flair and Boss Man. Boss Man charges in, Flair ducks and Boss Man goes out. Brain freaks out: “YES! Flair wins it! Flair’s the champion of the world!” Haha that’s awesome. Gorilla explains there are still 16 more entrants. Wow, Flair does the face first flop as the clock counts down from ten. Joining Flair at #15 is Roddy Piper, who is a babyface here. “This isn’t fair to Flair” says Heenan again. Flair bails to the floor, so Roddy chases him and clotheslines him. Eye poke by Piper! Airplane spin. Classic stuff that the crowd loves. Sleeper hold.
The second half of the Rumble begins with #16 Jake Roberts. He lets Piper keep the sleeper on Flair for a bit, but he breaks it up. Roberts was a heel, doing his “trust me” gimmick that I absolutely loved. He was such a great heel. Short arm clothesline on Flair after Ric tried to get him to help. “This is definitely not flair to Flair,” yells Heenan. Flair puts the Figure Four on Roberts, but Roddy kicks both of them. HHHHHOOOOOOO! time with #17 “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who was the winner of the first Rumble in 1988. Pay your taxes because #18 is Irwin R. Schyster aka IRS. Hacksaw does the double noggin knocker on Flair & Roberts leading to another Flair flop. Flair’s been in for 36 minutes by this point. It’s “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka at #19. He’s got the boots on again. That’s just not right. There hasn’t been much going on in the last few minutes. It’s because there are a lot of big names coming up. Real talk time with #20, The Undertaker. He’s so cool walking down the aisle. By the time he gets there the next man might have to come out. One punch and Snuka is eliminated by Undertaker. He chokes Flair as Heenan freaks out. Piper with the eye poke on Roberts. I mark out for those Piper eye pokes!
There’s a huge pop for #21, Randy Savage. He was a babyface here. His feud was with Jake Roberts. He looks for Jake, but he bailed to the floor. Undertaker grabs him, so Roberts takes some shots on him. He misses the clothesline as Savage freaks out on him. Double axe off the top by Savage and then he knees him in the back to eliminate Roberts. Then Savage leaps over the top to the floor. Undertaker goes outside the ring to punch Savage. He throws him back in. Is he eliminated? I guess not. Savage goes after Jake again. The announcers say nobody threw him out, so he’s able to go back in. My guess is Savage wasn’t supposed to get out of the ring over the top and he just did it out of instincts. They wanted him in the match longer, so in he goes. The rule in later years was if you go over the top to the floor you’re out even if you do it yourself. Undertaker’s offense in this era was really just choking people out since he was a young wrestler at this point. Flair with a low blow to Undertaker. He barely sells it. The Berzerker at #22! His specialty is throwing people over the top. YES! My favorite bad gimmick ever. HUSS! HUSS! Mark out! Heenan’s yelling at Flair to take it easy instead of fighting Savage. Savage hits a suplex on Flair. Undertaker and Piper choke Flair. Then Undertaker chokes Piper. Great offense, big man. It’s Virgil at #23, who is clearly not a threat to win. He’s a babyface wrestler at this point in his career. Come on Berzerker. Let’s go! More choking by Undertaker on Flair. It’s Colonel Mustafa at #24, who is the Iron Shiek. I always thought it was ridiculous that they would turn a former World Champion like Shiek into another gimmick. You can do it with lesser names, but not former top guys. Piper’s pounding on Flair in the corner, so Undertaker punches Piper in the ribs just for fun. The Berzerker is still in there, folks! The current endurance record holder Rick Martel is #25. Get out the Arrogance, folks. What’s great is that everybody goes after Flair when they get in there, including Martel here. Flair’s been in for 50 minutes now. There goes Mustafa at the hands of Savage. Flair hangs on again.
The #26 spot belongs to Hulk Hogan to a huge pop. He goes after Undertaker and Flair. Heenan is freaking out about it. Heenan: “Just let Flair win, I’ll be a different person. I promise you!” Classic! Hogan clotheslines Undertaker out. He lands on his feet, staring at Hulk. Hogan with a backdrop on The Berzerker. My heart hurts. How can I continue now? Duggan and Virgil get eliminated at the same time after a Virgil cross body. That was a very entertaining two minutes. And here comes another bad gimmick, Skinner, at #27. “The alligator man is fresh and ready to go,” says Gorilla. I think that says it all. We’ve got 7 men in the ring with another 3 guys due to enter it. This two minute stretch was pretty slow. It’s Sergeant Slaughter at #28, who a year earlier won the WWF Title as a heel Iraqi sympathizer. He was a babyface here, having turned back soon after the loss to Hogan at WrestleMania VII. Skinner gets eliminated. Slaughter follows suit with everybody else by going right after Flair. We’ve got Sid Justice at #29. He’s a babyface at this point in his career although that would soon change. He doesn’t go after Flair like everybody else does right away, but he does soon after. The last man at #30 is The Warlord.
There are 9 men left in the match as Flair pulls Hogan out on the floor with him. Hogan suplexes him on the floor. Sid eliminates Slaughter by whipping him hard into the turnbuckle and Slaughter went over stomach first. That looked painful. Hogan hits the big boot on Flair. Hogan and Sid eliminate Warlord together. “What a surprise!” says Gorilla. See, Warlord was always a threat to win even though he sucked. Sid eliminates Piper and Martel at the same time.
The final four are Hogan, Flair, Sid and Savage.
That’s a good group to end the match in terms of star power. Not like the year before with Knobbs being in the final three. Sid’s got Savage close, so Flair runs over, delivers a knee and Savage is out. It’s Flair against two bigger babyfaces. Flair does the Flair bump in the corner. Hogan kicks away at him. Sid looks over and flips Hogan out of the ring. The crowd cheers that! Yep, they are cheering against Hogan. Sid was a babyface at this point and was popular, but it was shocking that they’d boo Hogan at all. Hogan’s pissed off, saying they were working together. Sid tells him it’s every man for himself. Hogan, while on the floor, grabs Sid’s right arm and Flair dumps Sid. “YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!” That’s Heenan’s reaction. Flair wins.
Winner: Ric Flair
The match ended at 62:02.
After the match, Hogan and Sid argued with eachother. That would set up a match at WrestleMania VIII between them. A match that was terrible, by the way. Not a shocker there.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– Watch this Flair promo that aired at the end of the PPV. It’s the classic “with a tear in my eye” speech that is one of the best ever. Classic Nature Boy.
In a video that’s classic in a comedic way, here’s The Berzerker and Mr. Fuji talking about winning the Royal Rumble.
– The booking for this Rumble was so good. They really featured Flair as the guy to carry the match. That’s exactly what he did. A lot of the guys attacked him when they got in the ring whether they were heel or face. He did so many Flair flops and had so many moments where it looked like he was going to get eliminated. He always found a way to hang on, though. He’s one of the best wrestlers ever. A lot of people say he is the best ever. He showed it here. It was Flair at his absolute best.
– The star power was really strong with a lot of legitimate top guys with Hogan, Flair, Savage, Sid, Dibiase, Piper, Slaughter and Undertaker to name a few. Then they had a good mix of young, up & comers and rounded it out with the bad gimmicks. The star power really helped though. I think it had more star power than any Rumble in the 90s.
– Undertaker wasn’t very impactful here. He was in the WWF Title picture to end the year, but they really limited his involvement here. I thought he should have lasted a lot longer.
– No more Hulk Hogan in Royal Rumbles after this. Like I wrote in previous recaps he really did a good job in the Rumbles because they focused on his strengths, which are the power moves and comebacks.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Ric Flair at 59:26
Most Eliminations: Sid Justice with 6.
Best Performers (3): Ric Flair – Very easy call. He was the story of the match with everybody going after him and he was able to survive them all.
British Bulldog – I really liked his interaction with Flair early on. It would have been better if the had him last longer because he performed well.
Bobby Heenan – It’s rare to stick an announcer in this spot, but he deserves it. Honestly, it might be the best announcing performance in any one match in wrestling history. I absolutely love The Brain here. It’s Heenan at his best.
Best Elimination: Tie for the last two eliminations with Sid flipping out Hogan and then Flair flipping out Sid. I remember it as a kid so well. I thought Hogan was winning again, so I was so shocked (and happy) when Flair won. Yep, I liked the heels.
Match Rating: ****1/2 Best Rumble ever? At the time, yes. It still might be.
The Hogan era was pretty much finished by the time 1993 came around. Of course, he found a way into the World Title at WrestleMania IX, but he wasn’t a full timer anymore. The company was moving on without him and the new face of the company, at least in January, was Bret Hart. He was the WWF Champion heading into this show.
For the first time (and for every Rumble since when a title wasn’t on the line), the winner of this match got to face Bret for the WWF Title at WrestleMania. It’s the stipulation that made the Rumble that much more special. Who went on to win? Let’s find out.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 24, 1993
The announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who as I stated last time were the best pairing of announcers from this era. It was their last Rumble together, however, so I’m going to try to enjoy it.
The #1 slot is Ric Flair. He won the WWF Title a year earlier from the #3 spot, so Heenan theorizes he can do it again. It’s Bob Backlund at #2. He’s a very plain and often times boring wrestler who was in a babyface role. He also looks very young. They’re both former World Champions and they’re both wearing red trunks. There’s not much action with these two as Flair chops him a bunch and Backlund hits him with an atomic drop. It’s Papa Shango at #3. That’s Charles Wright aka Kama, The Godfather, The Goodfather and probably some other gimmicks I can’t remember. He goes to eliminate Backlund, but Flair dumps him in just 28 seconds. Gorilla loves to talk about Backlund’s “intestinal fortitude.” The #4 spot is Ted Dibiase, who always got booked early in these matches because he’s a good worker. That’s how you use the quality guys. Most of the two minutes is spent double teaming Backlund. Brian Knobbs of the Nasty Boys are #5. They’re a babyface team and the Nastys were feuding with Dibiase & IRS (Money Inc.) at this point. He goes to eliminate Flair, but Ric holds on as Heenan freaks out again. They pair off with Backlund going after Flair while Knobbs goes after Dibiase. He gives the Pit Stop to Dibiase, which is when he sticks his armpit in the guy’s face.
The #6 entrant is Virgil, who of course worked for Dibiase in the past. He knocks him down with a clothesline. Knobbs charges in at Dibiase, but Ted ducks and Knobbs is eliminated from the match. I’m not sad about that. Let’s just say I don’t think there will ever be a Best of Brian Knobbs DVD anytime soon. Flair continues to beat on Backlund while Dibiase works over Virgil. In at #7 is Jerry “The King” Lawler, who wasn’t a full time announcer at this point. Flair goes after him and then bails to the floor. He gets back in and tries to dump Virgil, but Lawler ends up saving him. Not a lot going on as #8 Max Moon enters. He’s a threat to win! Not really. The Max Moon gimmick was awful and predictably didn’t last too long. Moon charges Lawler, Jerry ducks and there goes Moon. We’ll miss you. It’s #9 Genichiro Tenryu, who was a famous wrestler in Japan that didn’t have a great WWF career. Their roster was really thin at this point. There are 6 guys out there as #10 buzzes in and it’s Mr. Perfect, fresh off a babyface turn. He goes right after Ric Flair as Heenan freaks out because they used to be allies. Flair bumps like crazy for everything. He even does his signature top rope bump. Heenan’s freaking out, asking for water. Flair comes back with chops. They would have a “career ending match” on Raw the next night that was already taped with Flair losing.
We’ve got another Rumble threat at #11…Skinner. Okay, so he’s not a threat. He’s just a really bad gimmick. Flair whips Perfect in, Flair ducks and Perfect knocks him out after nearly 20 minutes. Heenan goes nuts saying “That’s not fair to Flair” like he did the year before. The crowd loves it. And that’s the last PPV appearance we’d see of Flair in the WWF for 8 years. Now that there aren’t any personal issues in the ring there’s not much excitement in there. It’s Koko B. Ware at #12. He’s a Hall of Famer for some reason. He was one half of the High Energy team with Owen Hart. Perfect dropkicks Skinner out of there. One half of the Headshrinkers, Samu, is #13. He gets thrown in there by his manager Afa, who is also his father. YES! My guy, the HUSS man The Bezerker is #14. A huge threat to win! I love how much Monsoon and Heenan argue with eachother. That’s what I loved about them. Lawler charged in at Perfect and Mr. Perfect backdrops him out of there. Dibiase goes to dump Perfect out. He hangs on for a while, but Koko helps and Lawler pulls him out while he’s standing on the floor. Hey, one of those refs is ECW’s Bill Alfonso! Awesome. At least it looks like him. The Berzerker is the tallest man in the match, which makes him an immediate threat. It’s The Undertaker at #15, who is in his first run as a babyface. “By the time he gets to the ring it’ll be time for WrestleMania,” says Heenan. Great line. Berzerker beats on Backlund on the floor with a chair. Undertaker eliminates Samu. Berzerker slams Backlund on the cement floor. He’s so damn berserk. Undertaker eliminates Tenryu. Berzerker almost gets thrown out by Koko, but he holds on. He so crazy!
It’s Terry Taylor at #16. He’s no longer the Red Rooster here. Dibiase dumps Koko and Taylor at the same time. Undertaker goes after Dibiase, who is the one that brought him into the WWF. He gives him a chokeslam and then clotheslines him out of the ring, so Dibiase is gone.
“WHAT IS THAT?!” Suddenly this giant man walks down the aisle. He’s not in the match, but here he is anyway. It’s Giant Gonzalez. Undertaker eliminates The Berzerker with a backdrop. Gonzalez was tall, but he was thin, so he was wearing a full bodysuit to hide that fact. Heenan says he’s the biggest man he’s ever seen. It’s Damien Demento, another terrible gimmick, at #17. They don’t even show him. The big man chops Undertaker and he goes over the top to the floor. Undertaker’s out of the match. He fights him on the floor. Undertaker gets whipped into the steps. They go back in the ring and he gives Undertaker a chokeslam. The announcers have never seen anybody do this to Undertaker. IRS is #18, but he is in no rush. Gonzalez works over Undertaker’s knee, ramming it against the ring post. All the refs come out to break it up. He finally leaves. Undertaker tries to sit up, but he can’t do it. They would go on to have one of the worst feuds and matches ever at WrestleMania. It’s Tatanka at #19, who is a babyface. Bearer comes out with the urn to get The Undertaker up. He stumbles down. Then using the power of Real Talk he gets out of there limping. Gorilla says the guy that attacked Undertaker was 8 feet tall and that Brain’s assertion that he was 20 feet tall wasn’t realistic. Yeah because 8 feet tall is realistic. Undertaker’s about 6’10” and he was about 7’4″ or so. Not exactly 8 feet. It’s the other half of the babyface Nasty Boys, Jerry Saggs at #20.
Here’s another threat to win, Typhoon at #21. Heenan calls him Tugboat, which was his old name. He’s a very fat man, needless to say. It’s Fatu at #22, who we would later know as Rikishi. His sons, The Usos, are in WWE today. It’s Earthquake at #22, who was a part of the Natural Disasters team with Typhoon. And he goes after Typhoon right away for some reason. They smash bellies in the corner. I don’t know how else to say it. He charges into Earthquake, the Quake moves and there goes Typhoon all the way to the floor. “Every man for yourself, don’t be a sissy!” Good advice, Heenan. It’s Carlos Colon, the Caribbean Champion, at #23. His sons are Carlito and Primo. Monsoon calls him a youngster even though he was 45 years old at this point in his career. Colon eliminates Demento via backdrop. Go back to the Outer Reaches of Your Mind, Damien. Monsoon mentions that Backlund’s been in there for over 46 minutes. It’s El Matador Tito Santana in the #24 spot. He can win it all, says Heenan. Backlund dumps Fatu. Tito tries to get rid of Backlund, but the untanned one hangs on. Wow, that was a very sloppy clothesline by Backlund on IRS. He was really tired, I think. Rick Martel is in at #25. He goes right after Santana. They were tag partners years earlier. IRS charges in at Earthquake. He ducks and IRS is eliminated. The crowd cheered wildly for Backlund hanging on from the near elimination.
We have a legit threat coming in at #26…Yokozuna. He weighed well over 500 pounds according to Monsoon. That is one giant diaper. He no sells everything from Tatanka and throws him out of there. Colon goes after him and he gets knocked down with a punch. Earthquake points at him as we have a battle of the fat men. Rest in Peace for both of them. The crowd enjoys this showdown. They do a couple of shoulderblocks, but nobody really moves. The Rocket Owen Hart is #27. He was in the tag team High Energy with Koko B. Ware. Quake works on Yoko in the corner. He misses a charge, so Yoko flips him over with a belly to belly to eliminate Earthquake. Heenan says he’s going to win the Rumble and the title at WrestleMania. YES! Repo Man at #26. I mark out for Berzerker and Repo Man. I can’t help it. They are legends to me. Don’t question it. Embrace it. “Backlund is still out there,” says Monsoon. He says it many times throughout the match. Everybody gangs up on Yoko. The crowd loves that, but they’re unable to get rid of him. It was 6 on 1. Yoko fought them off. Finally some star power with a babyface Randy Savage at #30. This would be his second last Rumble. Owen dropkicks Saggs out of there. Owen charges in and Yokozuna whips him out with a rough hip toss. Wow, Owen took a hard bump there. That had to have hurt. They were future tag team partners too. Macho Man eliminates Repo Man.
The final four are Backlund, Martel, Savage and Yokozuna. Backlund fights off Martel and puts him on the top rope. He eliminates him with a forearm, sending Martel to the floor. Backlund hits Yoko in the back and then ha this “oh shit what did I do?” type of look on his face. He hits him with a couple of dropkicks. Then he charges in like a dumbass, so Yoko side steps him and hiptosses him out. You were in there for an hour. Don’t you know that charging in at people gets you eliminated? Come on Bob! It’s Savage with Yoko. The big man works him over in the corner. Savage fights back with kicks. Yoko has yet to go down. He goes up top and hits him with a double axehandle. The crowd is going nuts with Yoko teetering. Yoko goes down to one knee. Savage charges in and Yoko drops him with a superkick. He drops Savage with a belly to belly and legdrop. Yoko charges at him in the corner and hits a back splash. He goes for another one, Savage moves, Yoko hits the buckle and falls down. Savage to the top with the elbow! Crowd going nuts. He covers him? WHAT THE HELL? Yoko presses him over the top. I didn’t like that as a finish although they wanted to do it to show off his power. It’s just silly that Savage would go for a pinfall in a match that has no pinfalls.
The match ended at 66:35.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– The talent in this Rumble is horrible. It might be the worst ever. That’s partly because of the roster overhaul that happened due to the steroid trial. It was one year after the 1992 Rumble, which is arguably the most star-studded Rumble ever. The problem with this match was it really lacked heated feuds. The crowd couldn’t get too excited for anything because of the lack of build for a lot of the interactions in the ring.
– The Perfect-Flair stuff was excellent. The crowd was really hot for all of it. I loved their chemistry together and they had some very good matches as well. I remember the Raw match that followed this as being very solid. It’s a shame Flair only stayed in the WWF for a year and a half at this point in his career, though.
– I really loved the Monsoon & Heenan team. They were legendary and deserved to be remembered as such. You could tell they were friends, but as performers, they contradicted eachother so well too. The bickering made them great.
– Even though Backlund lasted over an hour his involvement was pretty limited. He was there, but what did he really do? Not a whole lot. He did okay with the near eliminations. His style isn’t exciting, though.
– Every time I see the “Icopro” banner at the top of arenas I chuckle. What a great business move that was, Vince. What? I had nothing else to talk about.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Bob Backlund at 61:10.
Most Eliminations: Yokozuna with 7.
Best Performers (3): Bob Backlund – He lasted the longest by far, so you have to give him props. He wasn’t outstanding, though, which summarizes the match.
Mr. Perfect – His energy was fantastic. I wish he was booked to last into the final four, though. They needed his talent in there longer.
Yokozuna – He was put over huge here. If Savage was in longer he’d get this spot. Yoko did great in the monster role.
Best Elimination: Yokozuna throwing Owen Hart was the best-looking elimination in the match. It looked painful. I liked Perfect eliminating Flair too.
Match Rating: **1/4 It was okay at best. Far from great.
Next up is the 1994 Royal Rumble, which had one of the most controversial finishes in Rumble match history, the 1995 Rumble that had a great finish to the match and the 1996 Rumble was one of the more predictable ones.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.