Hello everyone we’re continuing our trip down memory lane looking at te different Royal Rumbles from years past as we get you set for the big show this Sunday night! In this edition, we’re going to pick up where we left off and take a look at the Royal Rumble from 1989-1991
1989– Andre The Giant! The Immortal Hulk Hogan! WWF World Champion, The Macho Man Randy Savage! The list of the 1989 Royal Rumble is a literal who’s who of Wrestlemania main eventers. If you’re a casual fan you probably assumed that Hulk Hogan won the first Royal Rumble match on pay per view, but you’d be wrong…it was actually Big John Studd. Don’t get me wrong, Studd is a WWE Hall Of Famer and had an accomplished career in his own right. That said, this was pretty random to me as Studd had just returned to the company as a babyface after being retired for two years and wasn’t really being pushed as a big star. I’m not sure if it was for injuries or what but he was actually relegated to a referee for the Andre- Jake Roberts match in that year’s Wrestlemania so this was clearly before the winner of the Rumble won the shot at the champion.
As for the rest of that Royal Rumble, I remember renting this tape a million times from Blockbuster and actually enjoying the Rumble a lot. I’ve always been a fan of the backstage vignettes showing the superstars choosing their numbers or even talking about how they were going to win the Rumble. This show had a lot of that as it followed a story that the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase was buying number 30 from Slick. From there, Ax and Smash being 1 and 2, the mega powers exploding prior to their Wrestlemania showdown and Marty Jannetty hanging on by his toes made this rumble match a lot of fun. Aside from the Rumble, I can’t mention this show without mentioning the posedown between Rick Rude and the Ultimate Warrior. Although it was a little hokey, this was 1980’s WWF and I remember that fondly. I also liked that all signs led to Wrestlemania and this show was designed as this showdown was designed to do and the two would be held off until Wrestlemania 5.
1990- This match to me is really remembered for the great showdown between the Ultimate warrior and Hulk Hogan in the middle of the match. I remember thinking it was pretty silly that Hogan was in the match considering he was the world champion! Hogan would go on to win the Rumble and, to me, the Rumble really wasn’t a big deal yet for the company as opposed to just a fun gimmick match and reason to have a pay per view, similar to the old Survivor Series format. That said, this was the first of two years (that I can remember) where Vince McMahon kicked off the show by reading out the list of all of the competitors. Vince had so much excitement that could be matched and I just love that old school Rumble music. I love a good surprise as much as the next guy but something can be said for knowing all 30 participants prior to the Rumble match.
This was still prior to having cable and so I would continue to rent this tape from Blockbuster. A couple other things about the show that I remember thinking as a child was why the WCW guy was doing commentary for WWF. For those that don’t know, Tony Schiavone worked very briefly for WWF and this is one of the shows that he called. Speaking of brief stints in the WWF, Rugged Ronnie Garvin (Of all people) had a singles match on this show against Greg Valentine.
1991- No matter how many times you see it, how great is the Rumble poster above? This was the first pay per view in which my family ordered live and it was crazy to see the event as it happened. Leading up to that year’s Royal Rumble, I was told by my parents that my dad’s friend was going to be ordering the show and was going to record the show for me. My dad’s friend had been doing this a lot as my family didn’t have cable. Anyway the day of the rumble there were people in our house the whole day and everytime I asked who they were and what they were doing, my parents told me it was a surprise. As it turned out they were installing cable and my parents were putting on a full court press to get cable installed so we’d be able to get the rumble. I was absolutely ecstatic to be able to watch the show live and to stay up late doing so (WWF pay per views would become my one time a month to stay up late on a school night). To this day I still have the tape that my dad recorded on pay per view for me.
This was the first show that made the Rumble seem really big time. There was a title change on the show (Slaughter over Warrior), a big angle (Virgil turns on Ted Dibiase) and even though it wasn’t announced prior, the winner of the Rumble (Hulk Hogan) went on to face the champion at Wrestlemania. As a huge Hulkamaniac (at age 4) Hogan winning to go on to defend the USA against Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter was as good as it got.
That’s going to do it for right now but tomorrow we’ll take a look at what some people consider to be the greatest Royal Rumble of all time, the only rumble that ended with 2 winners and my favorite non rumble match to take place at the Royal Rumble, until then, take care!