The Rumble of The Royal Rumble- 1991

Ah Yes the Royal Rumble 1991, a show that I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart and it just may very well be a show that I’ve seen more than any other pay per view in WWE history.  Before we get to the show itself, I’d like to provide a bit of backstory as to where I was at the time in terms of being a fan.  Most people can’t tell you exactly how they became a fan but I can.  Well, I was only 4 years old so we’re talking these are my absolute earliest memories of wrestling and in life for that matter.  Towards the middle of 1990, my father was also a huge wrestling fan.  Every Saturday and Sunday my mother would work and this lasted for about five years from when I was about 6 months old until I was about 5 years old.  Thus, every weekend my father would hang out with me and we’d sit right in front of the television set watching wrestling.  We would watch 3 hours on Saturday afternoon and 3 hours on Sunday afternoon from the time that I was still in a carriage.  I really believe that from these moments wrestling became ingrained in me and I never turned back.

In 1990, my dad found a friend at work that was able to order the pay per view events.  He and my father split the cost of the shows and my dad’s friend would watch and record the shows and then hand them off to my father so he and I could watch the following week.  At the time, all you had to do at the time was avoid a little results section in the newspaper so it wasn’t like today in the world of Twitter, Facbook and insane amounts of WWE programming where you can’t avoid results for more than an hour.  In any event, once 1991 came around, this was really when cable television started to become big and so I remember on the day of the Royal Rumble there were men in our house all day.  They were blowing holes through the wall and making a ton of noise for what felt like all day.  I kept asking my parents what was going on but they just kept telling me it was a surprise.  When the men were done, my father had revealed that we had gotten cable television.  This meant that, for the first time ever, we were going to be able to order the Royal Rumble live on pay per view.

It was just an incredible idea, the likes of which I thought that I would never see.  It was just unheard of for me at the time to fathom that what I was watching on television was what was going on live at that moment.  I must have asked my parents, “so this is happening right now?!?” all night long. None of my other friends were getting pay per views and wouldn’t for quite a few years so I became the wrestling insider amongst my friends at the age of just 4 years old.  It is because of this that I will always hold this event in a special place in my heart.

Royal Rumble 1991

Image result for royal rumble 1991

Results

The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) defeated The Orient Express (Tanaka and Kato) (with Mr. Fuji)

Big Boss Man defeated The Barbarian (with Bobby Heenan)

Sgt. Slaughter (with General Adnan) defeated The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Championship

The Mountie (with Jimmy Hart) defeated Koko B. Ware

Ted DiBiase and Virgil defeated Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes

Hulk Hogan won by last eliminating Earthquake in the Royal Rumble match

Image result for royal rumble 1991

First things first this is the debut of the Royal Rumble theme song.  If you go  out and order the new “True Story of The Royal Rumble” blu ray set (which I suggest you do, it’s a fun watch) that’s the song you hear and it’s the song that’s the most synonymous with the Royal Rumble show.  This was also the show if which they started the really fun ad campaign with the poster you see above promoting all of the major superstars in the match.  I thought these were really cool and way ahead of their time.

Image result for royal rumble 1991 title match

After a couple of years of the Royal Rumble being the complete focus on the show, it was as if this was the year where they made the Rumble event mean more overall.  This was the first Royal Rumble event which featured a World Title Match as well as the Rumble match.  In many ways, the title match was a bigger story than the Rumble match itself because it marked the end, in many ways, of the Ultimate Warrior experiment.  The Ultimate Warrior had won the world title from Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 6 and had seemingly taken over as the face of the company.  However, business was down with the Ultimate Warrior as the face of the WWF and he just din’t click the same way that Hulk Hogan did when he was on top.  Thus, the decision was made to take the title off of the Ultimate Warrior at this show as Sergeant Slaughter defeated him for the belt.  Sergeant Slaughter had recently returned to wrestling and was now doing his Iraqi sympathizer character.  The decision to put the belt on Slaughter was a controversial one being that the US had legitimately gone to war in the with Iraq during the Gulf War.  Dave Meltzer described it in the Wrestling Observor Newsletter “Many within the WWF front office feared a media backlash against such an obvious attempt to heavily exploit the war” and “But in this case, the hypocrisy is just too much for me. The company can claim all day long not to condone the character, but it was the president of the company that was the creator of the character and the man who decided to make him champion at the height of the hostilities.”

Image result for royal rumble 1991 title match

This year during the Royal Rumble, Hulk Hogan would go on to win the Royal Rumble which made sense.  Even thought the Rumble match was not yet for the shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it was clear that WWE was going back to Hogan to defend the US against Slaughter.  Thus, he was the logical choice for the Rumble win especially when he went on to dedicate the Rumble to the troops overseas.  Afew weird things in this Rumble started with the fact that Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs was in this match but Jerry Sags was not.  There was also an entrant who did not enter as the announcers were left wondering who it was supposed to be, it was Randy Savage but I don’t believe any explanation was given.  The incredibly racist Saba Simba also made an appearance in this Rumble as did a very young Shane Douglas.  The iron man in the match was Rick The Model Martel, who last over 52 minutes.

Image result for royal rumble 1991 title match

Looking back at this show, the match of the night was actually the opener, a really fun match between the Rockers and the Orient Express.  The match is actually featured on the latest “True Story of The Royal Rumble” DVD set and is a lot fun.  This was towards the end of the Rockers run but they were always the best team to put on first and get the crowd going with fast paced matches, this night was no exception.

Image result for royal rumble 1991 title match

Lastly, on this packed show, it’s also important to mention that this was the night in which  Virgil finally turned on the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.  This was one of my favorite stories ever told as it was laid out over 3 years from the Million Dollar man’s debut in November of 1987 all the way up until January of 1991.  Virgil was the man servant of Ted Dibiase and was treated like crap.  Finally at the end of their tag match against Dusty Rhodes and a very young Dustin Rhodes, Virgil finally had enough and stood up for himself, laying out Dibiase in the process.

Image result for royal rumble 1991 virgil

 

Looking back, while this may not be the best Rumble match itself of all time, it’s one of my favorite Rumble shows of all time.  What do you think about this show?  Did you think WWE was too much in utlizing the real life issues going on at the time between the United States and Iraq for this angle or do you feel that all is fair in love and wrestling?  Let me know in the comment section below or over on twitter @tommyonthespot.

The Rumble of The Royal Rumble 1990

It’s amazing that as we continue this trip down memory lane looking back at all of the past Royal Rumble events to see how the Royal Rumble transformed and continued to evolve throughout the years.  Let’s get right into the results of the show and what I remember most when looking back at the event.

Royal Rumble 1990- Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida- January 21, 1990

Image result for Royal Rumble 1990

Results

The Bushwhackers (Butch and Luke) defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond)

Brutus Beefcake fought The Genius to a double disqualification

Ronnie Garvin defeated Greg Valentine

Jim Duggan defeated Big Boss Man (with Slick) by disqualification

Hulk Hogan won by last eliminating Mr. Perfect in the Royal Rumble match

Image result for Royal Rumble 1990

It’s important to remember with these early Royal Rumble events that there was nothing on the line for the winner of the Royal Rumble.  What this meant basically was that the main selling point of the Rumble show was the Royal Rumble match and so everything went into the promotion of the Rumble match and building that match up with as much star power as possible.  Thus, when you go back and watch this Rumble match, it just flies right by because it’s a really loaded Rumble.  In this match alone you had Hogan, Warrior, Savage, Perfect, Rude, Dusty, Andre, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Piper, Jake Roberts and Jimmy Snuka.  That’s a dozen all time great WWE hall of famers off the top of my head.  It begins really quick too as 8 of the first 11 participants are all hall of famers and so this Rumble really holds your interest from start to finish.

Image result for Royal Rumble 1990

The hype for the Rumble throughout the show was also at a premium as I counted pre Royal Rumble promos from 18 of the participants.  Of course, there were also interviews with the Rumble participants before they got to the match.  The two highlights for me were Ted Dibiase and Mr. Perfect.  There was a good amount of intrigue around Dibiase leading into the event due to him buying number 30 the year prior but this year he revealed that Virgil had drawn number 1 for him.  Mr. Perfect, on the other hand, was really coming into his own as a top level heel.  He was still technically undefeated in WWE and revealed before the match that he had drawn the “Perfect number” basically letting everyone know that he was number 30.  It took a little bit of the mystique away from the Rumble that we knew numbers 1 and 30 since those two spots were always given a good amount of hype since it was built that number 30 held the greatest advantage and number 1 the greatest disadvantage (even though honestly number 2 starts off at the exact same moment that number 1 does but that’s neither here nor there).

Image result for Royal Rumble 1990

One of the things I really liked about the show overall was that there were a number of Wrestlemania matches that were teased throughout the night and eventually came to fruition.  Mr. Perfect would eventually go on to face Brutus Beefcake at Wrestlemania 6 after his post-match beatdown of Beefcake after his match with the Genious.  Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage as well as Bad News Brown and Roddy Piper would also set up their respective Wrestlemania matches during the Royal Rumble match.  Of course though, the biggest showdown would come when both The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan cleared house of everyone else in the ring until it came down to the two of them alone in the ring.  This was one of the first faceoffs between the two and the crowd just went bananas (quoting the late great Gorilla Monsoon).  It was the top babyface in the company and world champion, in Hulk Hogan, going face to face with the fastest rising arguably hottest babyface in the Ultimate Warrior.  Their faceoff was the moment of the match for me.  Eventually Warrior would get double teamed by the two next guys who entered the match, Rick Rude and The Barbarian, are double teaming the Ultimate Warrior when Hogan runs back in and hits everyone with a clothesline inadvertedly eliminated the Warrior. Just like that you had your Wrestlemania 6 main event.  Thus, while the rumble winner didn’t get a title shot at Wrestlemania just yet, a good amount of the top matches at Wrestlemania were foreshadowed during this show.

Image result for Royal Rumble 1990

The one thing that, looking back, I would have changed about this Rumble match was that I really wouldn’t have had Hulk Hogan win the match.  It made no sense to have Hogan, the champion, who’s popularity at this point was waning, win the Royal Rumble.  For one this match was all about Ted Dibiase who lasted over 45 minutes from number 1 and I thought he would have been an interesting winner in that he couldn’t win the Rumble at number 30 in 1989 but came back to win the 1990 Rumble all the way from number 1.  Regardless, his long run in the Rumble match would kickoff a three year stretch in where a heel would last the longest in the Rumble match culminating in 1992, which we’ll get to on Thursday.  Mr. Perfect also would have made all the sense in the world to win the Royal Rumble this year.  He was still undefeated and debuted as this arrogant SOB who continued to prove that he was better than everyone at everything.  A Rumble win here really would have gotten him over as that next top heel and had him come across as completely legitimate. (The Rumor I’ve heard for years was that Perfect was actually supposed to win the Rumble but the plan was changed to Hogan, seems to be strictly rumor though at this point)  Of course, at the end of the day, the no brainer choice for the Rumble win this year was the Ultimate Warrior.  He had all the momentum in the world going into this match and him getting the Rumble win over Hogan, to me, would have added even more intrigue to the mega match between the two at Wrestlemania 6.

Image result for hulk hogan wins Royal Rumble 1990

Aside from the Rumble, the one thing I always remember enjoying as a kid was the Rugged Ronny Garvin Vs. Greg Valentine match.  This was more hokeyness but it’s the only thing I remember from Garvin’s entire WWF run.  The story here was actually pretty unique in that Greg Valentine had defeated Garvin in a retirement match forcing Garvin to retire.  When Garvin did retire, he ended up getting all of these odd jobs in WWE like referee and announcer trying to screw with Valentine.until eventually Valentine begged for Garvin to get his job back so that Valentine could get his hands on him.  This led to a match between the two on this show in which Garvin won but what I remember most about this match was the Hammer Jammer.  The Hammer Jammer was a guard that Garvin wore that allowed him to block the figure four leg lock.  This lead to a spot in the match where Valentine locked on the figure four leg lock only for Garvin to make a bunch of funny faces as the move didn’t effect him because of the hammer jammer.  Funny faces aside, this was a pretty underrated match between two veterans.

Image result for royal rumble 1990 ronnie garvin

That’s going to do it for today but what were some of your favorite memories of the Royal Rumble 1990?  Let us know in the comment section below or over on twitter @Daily_Spotlight

The Rumble of The Royal Rumble- 1989

It’s probably important before we move on that I point out that the first Royal Rumble event I ever saw live was the Royal Rumble 1991.  That said, the Royal Rumble 1989 and Royal Rumble 1990 were two shows that I saw about a million times growing up.  Since these shows were some of the few available at my local Blockbuster and some of the few events I didn’t own, I went out of my way to rent these tapes every time I had the chance to do so.  My parents were smart and knew that if we didn’t record the pay per views when we ordered them, I would want to buy the tapes as soon as they came out.  Thus, I owned pretty much every WWF pay per view on VHS cassette from 1991-2005 or until Digital TVs came out and made it tough to record on video cassette.  Thus, every other show that was available at Blockbuster made it’s way to my house every Friday when my father would go down to get us a movie.  It seemed like the videos at Blockbuster only went back to 1989 so in many ways this 1989 Royal Rumble was the beginning of my wrestling fandom, at least wrestling that I could remember.  With that out of the way let’s get into my thoughts of the Royal Rumble 1989.

Royal Rumble 1989- The Summit in Houston, Texas- January 15th, 1989

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

Match Results

The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) and Jim Duggan defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond) and Dino Bravo (with Frenchy Martin and Jimmy Hart) in a Two out of three falls match

Rockin’ Robin (c) defeated Judy Martin for the WWF Women’s Championship

King Haku (with Bobby Heenan) defeated Harley Race

Big John Studd won by last eliminating Ted DiBiase in the Royal Rumble match

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

This was the first Royal Rumble to be presented on pay per view and also the first Royal Rumble to feature the, now famous, 30 participants.  Unlike the first Rumble event that we went over last night, the Royal Rumble is the complete focus of this show from start to finish.  There are only three other matches and other than a really fun six man tag opener, the other two matches were largely forgettable.  If you’re in the mood for Royal Rumble nostalgia then this is the show for you.  Right off the bat we’re greeted with the video montage of all of the Royal Rumble participants as Vince McMahon runs down all of the participants before proudly proclaiming “ITS THE ROYYYYYAAAALLLLL RRRUMMMBBBBLLLLLEEEEEE!!!!!”  in classic Vince McMahon announcer voice.  They only continued this for the first few Rumble pay per views but damn I loved these videos.  They got you so excited for the rest of the show and made everyone mean something by having their video features pop up on the screen.  Also, if you weren’t following along at the time, it introduced you to all of the participants.

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

From here throughout the night there was a variety of vignettes that ran with a number of the participants choosing there spot in the rumble at random.  These were a lot of fun and got you ready for the match later on that night as they would set up good teasers as to the numbers each guy got based on their reactions to the numbers picked.  The big one I remember here was that The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase went ahead and purchased a more favorable number from Slick, who at the time was managing the Twin Towers.  Then from there this was the debut of the classic Royal Rumble promos that would run throughout then night and feature some of the bigger names standing in front of their logos via green screen.  These always did a lot for me because they set up a number of potential winners for the Rumble.  It was obvious to me that with all of these different pieces that WWE wanted to build up the Rumble as just as important as the other big three pay per views, which had already debuted as annual pay per view traditions.

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

As for the Rumble match itself, believe it or not, this one ranks up there as one of the most unpredictable Rumbles of all time to this day.  Remember, at the time, the Royal Rumble was not for the main event spot at Wrestlemania.  Therefore, with no clear reward for the winner, WWE was allowed to take a chance with the winner.  If you look at some of the Royal Rumble participants, it reads like a late 1980s who’s who of talent.  Huge stars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Curt Hennig, Andre The Giant, Jake Roberts, and The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, to name a few, were all in the Rumble this year and you know what? None of them went on to win this match.  Instead, the winner of the match was Big John Studd who had just returned from a 2 year retirement a few months prior, turning face in the process.  The Studd win came out of nowhere as he didn’t even have a match at Wrestlemania 5 and would be gone from the WWF just six months after this.  While it was really cool to see someone win out of nowhere, looking back it would have been nice to see Ted Dibiase get the win.  He was such a hot heel and always seemed to be right there to get that tip top spot (Wrestlemania 4, 1988 Main Event, the Royal Rumble 1989) but never quite seemed to get over the top for a variety of reasons.

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

There were also a couple of Rumble themes that debuted with this show. The first theme of course was that there were no friends and only enemies in the Royal Rumble.  This was no truer than Ax of Demolition drawing number 1 and Smash of Demolition drawing number 2 and then actually wrestling each other until teaming back up when Andre The Giant entered at Number 3.  Speaking of Andre he introduced us to our next theme of everyone in the ring coming together to try and eliminate the big guy in the match.  This always made for a nice visual and never quite worked with Andre who eliminated himself due his fear of snakes after Jake Roberts threw his snake back into the ring.  As stated earlier, there wasn’t anything on the line in the Rumble but that didn’t mean that this Rumble didn’t have major implications on Wrestlemania later that year.  The aforementioned Andre The Giant and Jake The Snake Roberts would go on to have at match at Wrestlemania but we would also see a bit of hype for that year’s Wrestlemania main event.  This was still during the year long build for the Hulk Hogan/ Randy Savage match at Wrestlemania 5 when the two were still teaming as the Mega Powers.  The tension between the two would continue to build throughout the year and nearly reached a climax here as Hogan would accidentally eliminate Savage.  Looking back, why was Savage the heel in this feud?  Hogan was always being the one to screw Savage over!

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

Aside from the Rumble, the one thing that I remember most from this show was actually the posedown between Rick Rude and The Ultimate Warrior.  This was one of the silliest segments I can remember, even more hokey than the Dino Bravo bench press from the year prior, but as a kid I watched this segment almost everytime I rented this tape.  This was during the time period where the WWF was at its peak with the larger than life bodybuilder types on the top of the card.  This was still over a year before Vince McMahon would launch the World Bodybuilding Federation but you could tell how passionate he was about Bodybuilding with segments like these.  Jesse Ventura was classic again in this segment really putting over each pose.  Unlike the year before, the Ultimate Warrior was now on the rise in WWE and was likely held out of the Rumble match so that he could be protected and given his own segment.  While it may have been hokey, it was cool to see WWE doing something different and the result of this posedown would be the start of the Ultimate Warrior/ Rick Rude feud that would last over a year and give the Ultimate Warrior some of the best matches of his career.

Image result for the royal rumble 1989

Well that’s going to do it for the Royal Rumble 1989, tomorrow we will look back at the Royal Rumble 1990 as Hulkamania runs wild, the Rumble theme song debuts, A familiar voice calls the action  and the Hammer Jammer? Until then, what were some of your favorite memories of the Royal Rumble 1989?!

The Rumble of the Royal Rumble- 1988

Hello and Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to the new launch of thedailyspotlight.com for the year of 2017.  I appreciate everyone checking us out and promise that while, 2016 was just a really hectic year for me, and honestly a really tough year,  I’m ready to jump back into this website full tilt during 2017 and give this a real go. One of the big things that I plan on doing is the countdown to the Royal Rumble series.  It just so happens that the 30th annual Royal Rumble takes place on January 29th and so that gives us 29 days of January to look back at all of the other Royal Rumble events and present them in as grave detail as I can.  We’ll look back at the events from a historical perspective citing quotes and information from Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter among other sources while also giving you guys full results and thoughts of some of the highlights from the Rumble show itself.  Then as we get deeper into our month long discussion of the Royal Rumble through the years, I’ll give you guys a bit of backstory as to what I remember about the shows, watching as a fan.  We’ll get into some of my personal memories of the shows including 3 different Royal Rumble events that I attended live and some other shows that I came damn close to attending which have some fun backstories attached to those as well.  Of course, I did get this idea from the Lapsed Fan Wrestling Podcast which I have waxed poetic about and cannot recommend enough to any type of wrestling fan that there is.  They have covered every Starrcade and Wrestlemania at length (each podcast generally runs between 4-9 hours and is totally worth checking out) and with Wrestlemania they did one podcast per week about each one of the Wrestlemanias leading up to Wrestlemania 31.  What it did for me that year was really provide an unprecedented trip down memory lane and also provided a ton of great hype for Wrestlemania that year.  That’s what I hope to accomplish here for the Royal Rumble.  Of course, I don’t want this to be this to be all about me, moving forward I’d like you to get involved too.  Go ahead and send me your Royal Rumble feedback over on Twitter @TommyOnTheSpot or in the comment section below.  I’ll update this section of the post each day to let you know the different ways to get involved.

The Rumble has always been my favorite WWE show of the year.  While it may not have some of the glitz and glamour of a Wrestlemania, the Royal Rumble is the reason that I became a wrestling fan.  30 of the top WWE superstars taking turns coming into the ring at evenly timed intervals for usually over an hour long match was just as good as it got.  You never knew who was going to win or, in most cases, who was even going to show up.  I have so many memories of sitting with a group filled with 10+ family and friends crammed into a living room all shouting the “10-9-8…” countdown while anticipation for the next superstar grew with each second.  Without any further ado let’s get this month long celebration started by taking a look back at the Royal Rumble 1988.

Royal Rumble 1988

Image result for royal rumble 1988

January 24th, 1988- Copps Coliseum Hamilton, On

Results

Ricky Steamboat defeated Rick Rude by disqualification

The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) defeated The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) (c) (with Jimmy Hart) in a Two out of three falls match for the WWF Women’s Tag Team Championship

Jim Duggan won by last eliminating One Man Gang in the 20-man Royal Rumble match

The Islanders (Haku and Tama) defeated The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers) in a Two out of three falls match

Image result for royal rumble 1988

Before we get started with the actual event.  It’s probably important that we look back at a bit of a history on the Royal Rumble.  For those who don’t know, the Rumble was a concept created by WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, while there was actually one other Rumble held at a live event in 1987, the Royal Rumble 1988 was the first one to be televised and it wasn’t on pay per view but rather aired live on the USA Network.  The story goes that in November of 1987, the NWA ran Starrcade 1987 live on pay per view.  When Vince McMahon heard this, he decided to present the first ever Survivor Series on the very same night.  Furthermore, McMahon told the pay per view companies that if they aired Starrcade over the Survivor Series, they would not be able to air Wrestlemania 4 the following spring.  This was coming fresh off the heels of the success of Wrestlemania 3 and so many of the pay per view companies didn’t want to lose the rights to air Wrestlemania 4 and so few aired Starrcade.  This did, however, upset many of the pay per view companies and the companies urged both the WWF and the NWA never to air pay per views on the same night again since it would split the audience that the companies were going after to buy pay per views.  Fast forward now 3 months later and the NWA is running the Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 live on pay per view on January 24th, 1988.  Knowing that running a pay per view live on the same night would upset the pay per view companies, the WWF decided to run the first ever Royal Rumble on cable TV up against the Bunkhouse Stampede.  This gave wrestling fans, in essence, a free alternative if they didn’t want to pay for the pay per view.

Related image

As for the Royal Rumble event itself, I mean look up at the results above, the show left a bit to be desired if you’re comparing it to the loaded Rumble show that’s going to air later this month.  This was actually a show that I don’t think was even available for purchase until 2007 when WWE released the Royal Rumble Anthology and so I didn’t even see this show until that set was released (it seems that Coliseum Video did make a VHS of the tape but I never recall seeing this at any Blockbuster Video or Palmer Video, remember Palmer Video?).  The Royal Rumble match only had 20 participants and the match took place before the main event, which was a largely forgettable 2 out of 3 falls tag team match between the Young Stallions and the Islanders.

Image result for royal rumble 1988

The main focus on the show moreso than even the Rumble match, was the contract signing between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant promoting their Wrestlemania 3 rematch that the main event live on NBC some two weeks later.  The rematch was a big deal because at the time Andre had been saying for months that he actually pinned Hogan during their Wrestlemania 3 match on Hogan’s failed bodyslam attempt and there was a good amount of controversy about the finish that was played up on WWE television over the next 9 months.  It sounds crazy to think that a contract signing would be built up as the focal point of a show, with signings taking place so often nowadays and with the signings almost always resulting in a brawl.  That said, at the time, Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan were such big stars and there wasn’t too many big TV shows so a promoted appearances by both men at the same place at the same time was a big deal.  Of course the signing would result in a big melee but this did lead to Andre The Giant winning the title at The Main Event and selling it to Ted Dibiase leading to the tournament for the belt at Wrestlemania 4.  I guess even back in 1988, the Royal Rumble really did lead to the road to Wrestlemania.

Image result for royal rumble 1988

As for the Rumble match the most surprising thing for me the first time I saw the match was that the Ultimate Warrior was in the match.  I had never even realized that the Warrior was in the WWF so early in 1988 and looking back at the match he’s a complete after thought.  Warrior comes in and is quickly disposed in under 4 minutes by The One Man Gang and Dino Bravo.  Since this Rumble did not provide the winner with any actual reward like it does today, via a world title match at Wrestlemania, I’m surprised that the Warrior wasn’t the guy chosen to the win the Rumble as it would have highlighted him in a big way.  The winner of the match ended up being Hacksaw Jim Duggan who won the match when the One Man Gang ended up eliminating himself.  I’d say that Duggan and Jake Roberts were the two guys that people were into the most.  If there’s one takeaway from the match, it was probably that this was first time that Bret Hart was highlighted as a singles talent on WWE television.  He lasted the longest in the match and had the first of many long runs for the guy who drew number 1 that we would see for many years of the Royal Rumble.

Image result for royal rumble 1988

One last thing I really remember from this show was the silly Bench Press Challenge that featured Dino Bravo trying to break the bench press record of 715 pounds.  This was pretty hokey (nothing compared to the bodybuilding posedown at the next year’s Rumble but we’ll get to that tomorrow) but I remember being interested in this because it explained why Bravo was always referred to “Canadian Strongman” Dino Bravo during my first memories of watching in 1990-1991 when Bravo was mostly an enhancement talent.  It was nice to see that they put so much effort into character development back then and the segment really showed Jesse Ventura at his best as a heel commentator in how much he helped to enhance some of the villains.

Image result for royal rumble 1988 dino bravo

Well that’s going to do it for me here today as for the first day of the Rumble of the Royal Rumble…tomorrow we’ll travel back to 1989 where we had the most surprising rumble winner in history.  Until then, what are your favorite memories of the Royal Rumble 1988?

The Spotlight On The History Of The Royal Rumble-2008

Whereas Royal Rumble 2000 ended with the disappoint of not being able to attend the event live, I was hoping for a different outcome come 2008 when the Royal Rumble returned to Madison Square Garden in 2008. In the years leading up to 2008 I had became pretty good friends with my biggest wrestling friend growing up who i had drifted apart from during my early college years. In 2006, I noticed that he and his girlfriend had become really big wrestling fans and were attending conventions and shows almost weekly. We ended up going to a smackdown taping together in 2006 and I remember we had an absolute blast booing Tatanka during his ill fated return. We ended up becoming good friends again from this moment and literally started attending local wrestling shows regularly. Whether it was Ring of honor, Dragon Gate USA, WWE, TNA or even local independents on the tip of New Jersey to see Hardcore Holly, we were finding ways and reasons to attend wrestling events live. I had to give my buddy credit too because we often had good seats to WWE events which weren’t always easy to get as a three pack. When Royal Rumble 2008 rolled around, it seemed we had really met our match as tickets for that event sold out instantly.
Something that was really cool back then, was that the WWE was doing a tour of their Axxess fan festival events in the surrounding areas of the live events leading up to Wrestlemania. In New York that year there were a series of Axxess festivals running out of South Street Seaport. The events were hosted by HillBilly Jim and had appearances by WWE superstars as well as different types of contests, games and WWE memorabilia. My friends weren’t working at the time and so they attended every Axxess event prior to the Rumble that weekend as these festivals were also free. I went to work on Thursday and Friday that week and was unbelievably jealous as my friend texted me photos with Matt Striker and the like. I attended Axxess with them on Royal Rumble Sunday. My buddy’s girlfriend and I had pretty much accepted that we were not going to be attending the Rumble as the cheapest seats on the secondary market were $500 each. My buddy on the other hand was hell bent on going to the show and wouldn’t accept no for an answer.

Also at Axxess that day Ric Flair was signing autographs from 12-2 which was huge not only because it was Ric Flair but this was during the last leg of Flairs active wrestling career for WWE. Unfortunately with the line so long for Ric ( people were lined up outside since 6am) we didn’t make it anywhere close to see the Nature Boy. Thus, at 2pm, while we were on the line,Ric was replaced with The Highlanders. Though this could be viewed as about as bit of a downgrade, as you could imagine, the highlanders were some of the nicest superstars I could remember. They asked us if we were ready for the Rumble that night and if we were going. I said “I’m afraid not, we can’t get any tickets”. I remember Rory specifically encouraging us and saying don’t give up you can make it and telling us to go to the venue and sometimes tickets were released prior to the show.

Before we got to that point, there was a wrestler impression contest where five people were picked from the crowd to do impressions and the winner got two tickets to the Rumble while second place got the new Steve Austin DVD. (This reminded me of a similar contest that the WWF did for Wrestlemania 13 but that’s a story for my Mania retrospectives) In any event I was chosen to participate in the contest and after three people were awful, I got up and did my very best Jim Ross. The crowd loved it and ate it up. My friends were going bananas mouthing ” Holy Shit you’re going to win”! Then the final contestant went up and did a picture perfect Joey Styles that he couldn’t even finish his impression without people going absolutely nuts for him. He won the contest and I got the Austin DVD for my troubles.

Upon the completion of Axxess, in which HillBilly Jim refused to take a photo with me and only took one with my buddy’s girlfriend. It was off to the races as we raced to Madison Square Garden to hope for the best in getting tickets for the Rumble.
It was absolute torture waiting on that line, as we waited for about three hours with tickets getting released little by little up to the show. To add insult to circumstance, we all noticed one of our friends at the show passing us by who had stopped watching wwe years earlier. Finally tickets were released, for $156 a pop. My friends were excited but I knew I couldn’t pay for it. I had left my debit card at home and didn’t have enough cash.

Dejected, I made my way back to the train and called my parents to order the show. I waited on the train about five minutes feeling like I wasted the whole day and all I got was a highlanders autograph. Just then my phone rang and it was my friend, he explained that while he didn’t have the money to cover my ticket, his girlfriend did and couldn’t let me watch from home. I couldn’t believe it, it was truly one of the nicest things someone had done for me and so I ran off the train and all the way back to the arena. I was so excited I forgot to tell my family to cancel the event order on ppv. I was finally going to the Royal Rumble!

What a Rumble this was too, I remember the great Rumble commercial and poster that took place in a New York City subway. The big story other than the Rumble that night was Jeff Hardy challenging for the world title against Randy Orton. I loved the story going into this match as Jeff was finally getting a shot at the big title. Unfortunately, Jeff lost that night and I honestly thought he could have been given a run with the title. He was had a ton of momentum going into this match and I think a moment on this show at MSG would have been great for him. It sadly was not to be and to add insult, this was the night Mike Adamle called him “Jeff Harvey”.
As for the Rumble, this was probably my favorite Royal Rumble match. The talk before the match amongst my friends were we had no clue who was going to win the Rumble because John Cena was injured at the time. As for surprises that year, this Rumble had some of the best ones ever when you consider the MSG connection. You first had Mick Foley who grew up going to shows at the Garden. From there you had back to back surprise entrants as SuperFly Jimmy Snuka came out followed by Rowdy Roddy Piper who were on opposite sides of the first Wrestlemania which took place at MSG and then came time for Number 30.

The big rumor of the night was that the Big Show was returning after an 18 month absence. We were so prepared for Shows return that we were prepared to do the big chokeslam hand as we counted down with the countdown. When the clock struck zero it was huge pause and then a familiar rattle. It was John Cena! Now typically, the MSG crowd was pretty hard on Cena booing him time and time again during his run on top. Well, on this night it became clear that everyone forgot they were supposed to hate John. This was by far the biggest pop of the night and the biggest I’ve heard in my history of attending shows at MSG. The crowd went nuts as it was a huge return as Cena was supposed to be out of action another nine months. Cena went on to win the rumble to celebrations from the crowd that included grown men hugging each other. Such a great live experience.

After the show, we went to the area where the superstars were leaving and it was a who’s who of people we saw. Anyone from John McEnroe to Darryl Strawberry to Mean Street Posse’s Pete Gas to R Truth who didn’t re debut for WWE until later that year. Then as Ric Flair exited the building, a small child ran under the barricade right at the Nature Boy. Flair put his hand out to stop the youngster and said “control your child” while walking passed the kid no selling the kid entirely. The crowd began to boo Ric until he let out a signature “Whoo” and got a huge pop. Only in wrestling!

Well that’s gonna do it for now but next up I’ll be traveling live to Atlanta, Georgia for the Royal Rumble 2010.