The Spotlight On The 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw

Huge news in the world of WWE today as it was announced that for the first time in its history WWE Monday Night Raw with take place live and air from two separate locations. In honor of its 25th Anniversary, WWE Monday Night Raw will emanate live from the Barclays Center as well as the Manhattan Center on January 22nd, 2018. This is the first time that WWE has ran a live broadcast from two different locations in a number of years, the most famous being Wrestlemania which aired live from Los Angeles, California, Chicago Illinois, and Long Island, New York. Of course, the Manhattan Center was the site of the first ever Monday Night Raw taping way back on January 11th, 1993. This is the first time that WWE has ran the Manhattan Center since a taping of WWEECW back in 2006 when the crowd infamously turned on a Batista Vs. Big Show match by chanting such chants as “Change The Channel”. It’s interesting to point out that the original episodes of Raw were actually taped in the Grand Ballroom which is the smaller of the venues in Manhattan Center, along with the most familiar Hammerstein Ballroom. It’ll be interesting to see in WWE decides to run the Grand Ballroom or sticks with the Hammerstein Ballroom, which is more commonly used for bigger events such as ECW pay per views back in the early 2000s and, more recently, Ring of Honor’s annual Final Battle Pay Per View.
WWE announced that The Undertaker, Shawn Micahels and Kevin Nash will all be making appearances at the Manhattan Center portion of the taping. This is pretty cool as both Michaels and The Undertaker both competed on the very first edition of Monday Night Raw. From this tidbit, I would think that the Manhattan Center taping will be more appearance centered with not as big of an emphasis on the matches taking place at the Center whereas the taping taking place at the Barclays Center having more of a focus on in ring matches. (though matches are also listed as taking place at the Manhattan Center so there will be matches on both shows). Pwinsider broke a story last week that WWE has already confirmed a DVD release on the 25 years of WWE Raw. While nothing is confirmed for the DVD, it would be fair to assume that this special will be included on the DVD and some post Raw dark matches for the live Manhattan Center crowd would make for good DVD extras if they decide to go that route. 
While it still is over 2 months away from the 25th Anniversary of Raw, and a lot can change, this is the first advertised WWE appearance of the Undertaker following his loss to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania. It’ll be interesting to see if Undertaker is there merely for an appearance or if perhaps he will be there to kick off his involvement at next year’s Wrestlemania. I should add that it’s interesting that Undertaker is being promoted as a Legend, which is usually a term used for WWE Superstars following their retirement from active in ring competition, but I wouldn’t read too much into that as The Undertaker hasn’t been a full time performer for WWE since 2010. 
Lastly, it is important to point out that WWE is promoting that both Superstars from Raw and Smcakdown Live will be in attendance from both venues. This is the first time both superstars from Raw and Smackdown Live have been advertised as appearing together since last year’s draft with the exception of the big four pay per view events (Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series). The 25th Anniversary of Raw will also take place on the go home episode of Raw before the 2018 Royal Rumble (the final Raw before the Royal Rumble), taking place just 6 days beforehand.  
The fact that WWE is making such a big deal over the 25th Anniversary of Raw comes as no surprise, they did big special editions of Raw for the 10th Anniversary, the 15th Anniversary and, more recently, the 1000th Episode of Raw which ended up being the start of Monday Night Raw expanding to three hours permanently. It’ll be interesting to see what types of special events and announcements WWE will announce for the 25th Anniversary of Raw and, as always, you can keep it locked right here to thedailyspotlght.com as updates continue to come in. For those interested, the official press release for the 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw is attached below. 
WWE® to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Raw® Live on USA Network on January 22

Tickets Available This Friday, November 3
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw® will emanate from Barclays Center and Manhattan Center in New York City on Monday, January 22, 2018, and air live on USA Network at 8/7C. Tickets are available for each event starting this Friday, November 3 through all Ticketmaster outlets, http://www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
WWE Superstars from both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown® Live will be at Barclays Center, while the event at Manhattan Center, the site of the first episode of Raw, will feature both WWE Superstars competing, and special appearances by WWE Legends Undertaker®, Shawn Michaels® and Kevin Nash®, amongst others. VIP packages, including a meet and greet with a WWE Legend, will be available for fans at Manhattan Center.
“We look forward to celebrating this unmatched milestone with our fans around the world, but 25 years only marks the beginning of WWE surprising, delighting and entertaining generations to come,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon.
Monday Night Raw debuted on January 11, 1993 from the Manhattan Center, and since that time, has been broadcast from iconic venues around the world. Raw is the longest-running, weekly episodic program in U.S. primetime TV history and is one of the most-watched, regularly scheduled programs on cable, airing live every Monday night on USA. Each week, it is rated one of the most socially active shows and continues to be a “must-stop” for celebrities to reach WWE’s TV audience and its more than 825 million social media followers. Raw has aired more original episodes than some of the most popular television series of all time, including The Simpsons, Gunsmoke, Lassie and Monday Night Football.
In its 25-year history, Raw has also helped launch the careers of pop-culture icons including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena and The Bella Twins.
About WWE
WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 20 languages. WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 180 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo.
Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com. For information on our global activities, go to http://www.wwe.com/worldwide/.
Trademarks: All WWE programming, talent names, images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which are subject to various risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, risks relating to: WWE Network; major distribution agreements; our need to continue to develop creative and entertaining programs and events; the possibility of a decline in the popularity of our brand of sports entertainment; the continued importance of key performers and the services of Vincent K. McMahon; possible adverse changes in the regulatory atmosphere and related private sector initiatives; the highly competitive, rapidly changing and increasingly fragmented nature of the markets in which we operate and greater financial resources or marketplace presence of many of our competitors; uncertainties associated with international markets; our difficulty or inability to promote and conduct our live events and/or other businesses if we do not comply with applicable regulations; our dependence on our intellectual property rights, our need to protect those rights, and the risks of our infringement of others’ intellectual property rights; the complexity of our rights agreements across distribution mechanisms and geographical areas; potential substantial liability in the event of accidents or injuries occurring during our physically demanding events including, without limitation, claims relating to CTE; large public events as well as travel to and from such events; our feature film business, including anticipated release, marketing or involved talent for upcoming titles and productions; our expansion into new or complementary businesses and/or strategic investments; our computer systems and online operations; privacy norms and regulations; a possible decline in general economic conditions and disruption in financial markets; our accounts receivable; our revolving credit facility; litigation; our potential failure to meet market expectations for our financial performance, which could adversely affect our stock; Vincent K. McMahon exercises control over our affairs, and his interests may conflict with the holders of our Class A common stock; a substantial number of shares are eligible for sale by the McMahons and the sale, or the perception of possible sales, of those shares could lower our stock price; and the relatively small public “float” of our Class A common stock. In addition, our dividend is dependent on a number of factors, including, among other things, our liquidity and historical and projected cash flow, strategic plan (including alternative uses of capital), our financial results and condition, contractual and legal restrictions on the payment of dividends (including under our revolving credit facility), general economic and competitive conditions and such other factors as our Board of Directors may consider relevant. Forward-looking statements made by the Company speak only as of the date made and are subject to change without any obligation on the part of the Company to update or revise them. Undue reliance should not be placed on these statements. For more information about risks and uncertainties associated with the Company’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of the Company’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, our annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.

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

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Spotlight On Monday Night Raw Tampa 1/2/2017

WWE Monday Night Raw just went off the air a few minutes ago, emanating live from Tampa Bay, Florida and I thought that for the most part it was a pretty good show. I know a lot of folks I spoke to believed that Triple H would be returning to television tonight with this being the first Raw of the New Year and Monday Night Football being finished, but I’m glad that he didn’t. Raw already had Goldberg promoted for tonight and so they already had the audience coming in with him and it makes sense to stagger out some of these bigger headline attractions. There was no reason to bring back Triple H yet and I actually don’t expect him to be back into the thick of things until at the earliest The Royal Rumble as we are still a ways away from Wrestlemania and the focus right now should be on the Royal Rumble and filling up that 60,000 seat arena at the Alamodome. I feel that tonight’s Raw did it’s part to kick things into high gear as far as the Royal Rumble is concerned and with four weeks left of television until that show, that’s a pretty cool thing. Let’s get right into my highlights of the show tonight.

Goldberg On The Kevin Owens Show
– The biggest promotion of the show tonight was all about the return of Bill Goldberg to Monday Night Raw. While I’ve really enjoyed Goldberg’s return to WWE over the past few months, he’s really only been involved with Brock Lesnar. This is clearly the big money match for Wrestlemania, or somewhere down the road, and there is still a lot to do between the two. That said, Goldberg has entered the Royal Rumble now and so it makes sense to see him in there with some of the other bigger names on Raw like he did tonight. I felt that Goldberg’s faceoffs with both Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns made them both feel like bigger deals and makes fans that are tuning in specifically for Goldberg, take notice of the Raw main event scene outside of Brock Lesnar, who isn’t there every week. There were people on twitter clamoring for Goldberg to destroy Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho upon coming out for the segment which I didn’t get at all. Owens and Jericho have been carrying Raw since Finn Balor’s injury and you don’t want Goldberg to come out an destroy all of their credibility that they’ve built up, instead, he enhanced it further.

BRAUN
!!!- Another big story coming out of Raw tonight was the continued push of Braun Strowman. This guy is really starting to grow on me and I think WWE could have their next monster heel on their hands here. Braun looked like a beast in his destruction of Sami Zayn (who may need to go to Smakdown) in their Last Man Standing Match and then even more so during the post match beatdown. His showing up and destroying everyone recently have reminded me of early Stone Cold Steve Austin (to a much less extent) in that he’s unpredictable and doesn’t give a damn. Braun showing up at the end of the night with the three top guys on Raw and Bill Goldberg brought him up to that level and established him as a real threat to win the Rumble. This was made even more apparent during the awesome double spear as it took both Bill Goldberg (the guy who took out Brock Lesnar in less than 2 minutes) and Roman Reigns to take Strowman out. Sami Zayn did a ton to establish Braun as this monster and it’s exciting to see where Strowman goes now that he’s past Zayn.

The Ratings War
– Last week for the first time since the brand split, Smackdown Live defeated Raw in the ratings. Tonight on Raw they actually acknowledged this with Stephanie McMahon returning and telling off Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and Mick Foley proclaiming that Raw was now at war with Smackdown Live and that it was basically time to stop messing around. I thought this was real cool and added to the hostility between the two brands. Wrestling has always been better with competition and so it’s nice to see some internal competition within WWE. While it will never be the Monday Night War, there was legitimate competition between Raw and Smackdown within WWE back in 2002-2004 when Paul Heyman was overseeing Smackdown. Smackdown at the time was consistently better than Raw and would compete for better ratings with Raw from time to time so it’s good to see WWE getting back there.  

Match Of The Night-
Each week as we do these post Raw columns we’ll have one section reserved in the end for the match of the night. If you don’t have much time and can only see one match, this is the one that you will want to go out of your way to see. While Sami Zayn and Braun Strowman had a really fun Last Man Standing match, the best match of Braun’s career to this point, I have to give the nod this week to Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho. Jericho and Reigns had a really good match for the US Title with the stipulation being that if Reigns were to get counted out or disqualified then he would lose the title. This led to a good amount of intrigue throughout the match that maybe Jericho would find a way to weasel his way to the title. The best false finish came when Jericho channeled his inner Eddie Guerrero and threw the belt Reigns only to fall and take a bump while the ref’s back was turned. Of course when the ref turned around and saw Reigns with the belt in his hands and Jericho down on the mat, he would believe that Reigns laid him out. It was wild to see the crowd doing the YES chant over the potential of the title change but it was not to be tonight as Roman Reigns retained the US Title. I was a little disappointed as I was hoping we would get a few weeks of Team Kevin and Chris running around with both Raw singles titles and I don’t think Roman needs the US Title especially if he is in contention for the Universal title belt.  
That’s going to do it for me for now but be sure to come back tomorrow where I’ll break down the highlights of what looks to be a loaded Smackdown Live show. Also be sure to check out “The Rumble of The Royal Rumble”, a series in which I will look back at every Royal Rumble for each day of January leading right up until the 30th Royal Rumble on Jnauary 29th. Later today will be the third part of the series, looking at Royal Rumble 1990! 

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?!