Friday, 14 December 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1992

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Event poster
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York
January 19, 1992


Following the controversy surrounding the WWF Championship matches between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker at both Survivor Series 1991, the title was vacated and thus the World Wrestling Federation entered 1992 without a champion at the helm. 

As a result, for the first and only time in WWF/WWE history, the WWF title was on the line in a Royal Rumble match many have declared to be the greatest of all time.

Was the show really that good? Let's find out, shall we?

Welcome
This year's show opens with the one and only Mean Gene Okerlund giving us a run-down of the thirty men who will be competing for the title later on in the show before our commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan welcome us to New York's Knickerbocker Arena, a venue which would eventually be renamed to the less-ridiculous Times Union Centre.

Onto the action at last, and Howard Finkle welcomes us to our opening tag team 'attraction.' Personally, I think I preferred it better when it was an 'encounter' the year prior.

The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The New Foundation (Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart & 'The Rocket' Owen Hart)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The New Foundation (Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart & 'The Rocket' Owen Hart) vs. The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka, w/ Mr. Fuji)
If fairytale hero Aladdin forged a hip-hop career in the early 1990s, you'd have to believe that his backing dancers would be attired in much the same way as The Anvil and The Rocket.

Indeed, it's probably fair to say that the baggy trousers and racing flag patterns adorned by Owen and Jim were the most memorable thing about the short-lived team of The New Foundation, though not far behind must surely be this very enjoyable tag team team contest against The Orient Express.

Showing early signs of the flare, technical wizardry and high flying excellence which would endear him to wrestling fans throughout his career, the late, great Owen Hart was undoubtedly the star of this opening match. Surprising both crowds and announcers with moves likely never seen before in a WWF ring and keeping the New York audience in a frenzy.

His partner, Jim Neidhart also played his part well, adding brute force in a match littered with smaller competitors. Perhaps rejuvenated thanks to his partnership with brother-in-law Owen, the former tag team champion looked better here than he had for some time. Elsewhere, Kato and Tanaka looked good as the wily villains keeping Owen isolated from his corner for an elongated babyface-in-peril spot.

Following a great opening contest, The New Foundation picked up the victory thanks to the Rocket Launcher.

Every now and again, Monsoon and Heenan would divert their attention to the other bouts on tonight's card, including a recap of how Bret 'The Hitman' Hart came to lose his Intercontinental Championship without once mentioning The Hitman's relationship to either Owen or Neidhart.
Your Winners: The New Foundation

Speaking of Hart's Intercontinental Title woes, Lord Alfred Heyes gave us a further recap of the situation. In a nutshell, Bret, 'running a temperature of 104 degrees' defended the title 'against doctors orders (depending on who you believe, the backstage situation was either that Hart was considering a move to WCW, or that this was nothing more than to set him up for Wrestlemania), and subsequently lost to The Mountie.

The new IC champ then proceeded to beat down on his victim, only for Rowdy Roddy Piper to rush to the rescue. Mountie took him out too, and thus we had tonight's Intercontinental Championship match.


Pre-match promos
Revelling in the victory, Mountie's manager Jimmy Hart gloated to Sean Mooney about his man's title win, before The Mountie turned his attention to his challenger, vowing to take Piper's manhood, integrity and um, his skirt.

In a manner akin to a delightfully delirious drunk, Piper offered a retort, basically insinuating that 'Jacques Rougeau' (yes, he used The Mountie's real name, shock horror!) was something of a homosexual and vowing to beat him in the following contest.

Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie for the Intercontinental Championship
One of the biggest disappointments in professional wrestling history must surely be the solo career of Jacques Rougeau. Highly entertaining both between the ropes and in character, with brother Raymond as The Fabulous Rougeaus, and again when teaming with Carl Ouellet as The Quebeccers later in his career, Rougeau was nonetheless one of the most boring in-ring stars during his early-90s run as The Mountie.

It was Piper who saved this match from falling flat, though even The Rowdy One's antics couldn't save the only single's match on the card (and The Mountie's only IC title defence) from being anything more than watchable.

Thankfully, the whole thing didn't last too long. Piper swiftly put his opponent away with a sleeper hold to pick up not only the win, but the first and only singles title of his WWF career.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Rowdy Roddy Piper wins the Intercontinental Championship
Your winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: 'Rowdy' Roddy Pipper

In al honesty, the whole match was worth it just to hear The Fink's classic 'And NEW...' line. If there's one thing this writer truly misses from the good old day's it's Finkle on the mic.

Heading to one our beloved Coliseum Home Video Exclusives next, Lord Alfred Hayes got a few word from the Immortal Hulk Hogan.

In your standard Hogan promo, the Hulkster promised to win the WWF title in the Royal Rumble match and, in something of a theme of the night for the former champion, talked about how this was his cup of tea.

The Bushwhackers Jameson
If you don't remember Jameson, grubby uber-nerd, Prime Time Wrestling star and friend of The Bushwhackers, consider yourself lucky.

Pure Wrestlecrap if ever there was such a thing (I'm only sad that the actual Wrestlecrap induction of Jameson wasn't online at time of writing), Jameson was a revolting, utterly annoying character who was somehow supposed to be a babyface. Here, he joined The Bushwhackers in a pre-match promo in which they promised that the next match would be The Beverley Brothers 'final fling' whatever that meant.

The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch w/ Jameson) vs. The Beverley Brothers (Blake & Beau w/ The Genius)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The Bushwhackers with Jameson
Imagine the worst professional wrestling match you've ever seen in your whole life, multiply it by infinity and add some annoying git eating his own tie at ringside  and you're probably half-way close to matching the awfulness of this utterly awful affair.

The only good thing about this bout was the commentary from Monsson and Heenan.

In what was by far the worst tag team match that ever happened, The Bushwhackers spent the first six months trying desperately to work the crowd. The effort seemed to have the opposite effect and only served to put the New York audience to sleep. For the next twelve years, The Beverley's beat up on The Bushwhackers until they finally defeated them to end the pain.

Or not, since afterwards we had another sixteen millennia to wait whilst Jameson kicked The Genius in the shin to the delight of absolutely nobody.
Your Winners: The Beverley Brothers

In many ways, I feel like something terrible happened to my life from which I will never recover after watching that terrible thing.

A Word with The Legion of Doom
Prior to their upcoming Word Tag Team Championship defence against The Natural Disasters, champions Hawk & Animal delivered a fairly compelling promo.

"[Typhoon & Earthquake] wanna throw their weight around," quipped Hawk "Well that's OK, we wanna throw your weight around too!"

World Tag Team Championship Match:
WWF World Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon w/ Jimmy Hart)
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Tag Team Title Match - The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defended against The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon)
For the first part of this tag team title defence, nothing happened. As the match wore on, nothing continued to happen, and then it was over.

That's the whole match in a nutshell. An entirely dull encounter only made marginally better by the occasional brights pot from The L.O.D and again the hilarious banter between our commentary team.

The Disasters eventually won by count-out to end a very underwhelming contest.
Your winners via count-out The Natural Disasters (L.O.D retain the titles)

With the undercard out of the way, it was onto the obligatory promofest spot before the main event.

"Right now, let's take you to Sean Mooney," bellowed Gorilla Monsoon.
"Who?" replies Heenan in one of the more subtly humorous in an altogether hilarious exchange between the two men which ran throughout the show.

PromoRama
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Shawn Michaels talks to Sean Mooney
As it happened, Mooney was standing by to greet a clearly irate Natural Disasters. Jimmy Hart vowed to call both his lawyer and his attorney (huh?) after which Earthquake and Typhoon swore that they were the tag team champions (cue jokes about Kane and Daniel Bryan).

Next, Rowdy Roddy Piper took one step closer to insanity by asking Mean Gene Okerlund where else could a 'skinny fifteen year-old kid come on down and be the Intercontinental Champion'

Who knew that Piper wasn't a grown, muscular adult, but a 'skinny fifteen year-old'?

Back to Sean Mooney, he and Shawn Michaels recapped Michaels' heel turn against former partner Marty Jannety, with the future Hall of Famer insisting that he had saved Jannety from '29 other beatings' and that he was about to become World Wrestling Federation Champion.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The Nature Boy Ric Flair talks to Lord Alfred Hayes
'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair told Lord Alfred Hayes that he had drawn number three in the Rumble match (this was another Coliseum Home Video Exclusive, so apparently the announcers had no idea when Flair would arrive once the match got started), but that it didn't matter anyway because he was still going to win.

Finally, we got the usual brief "I'm gonna win the Royal Rumble" spots from a bunch of competitors, the highlights of which included:

'The Macho Man' Randy Savage talked about getting his hands on Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and becoming WWF Champion, Sid Justice asking us to open our eyes and look at the next champion, The Repo Man giggling like a mischievous school boy, The British Bulldog getting confused and claiming that London was his hometown, and Hulk Hogan going on about cups of tea again like it was the first time he'd heard of the stuff.


WWF Championship Royal Rumble Match
30-Man Battle Royal featuring: The British Bulldog, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sid Justice, Hulk Hogan, Ted Dibiase, Jake Roberts, Texas Tornado, Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper and more.
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Sensational Sherri leads Ted Dibiase to the ring for the Rumble match
And so it was finally down to the main event, the first (and, as of 2012 last) time that the WWF Championship title was on the line in the Royal Rumble Match.

Prior to the match kicking off, WWF President Jack Tunney took to the microphone to basically repeat everything Howard Finkle had said only seconds ago. Surrounded by a chorus of boos from the Knickerbocker crowd, Tunney then gave permission for the best man to win the match, and we were off at last.

'The British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith was our number-one entrant, starting this year's battle against 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase.

The two kicked things off with a fairly entertaining exchange, though despite a usually impressive show in the Rumble, this was not to be Dibiase's year and he was swiftly clobbered over the top rope, leaving the Bulldog to await the arrival of entrant number three, Ric Flair.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The British Bulldog celebrates eliminating Ted Dibiase from the competition
Much like he would with his now-famous 'but who's side is he on!?!' line four years later, Heenan pretty much telegraphed the ending to this one right from the outset, talking with Monsoon througout the contest about how much Flair had to overcome the odds to claim the gold.

Bulldog and Flair controlled the opening minutes of the match, with Nasty Boy Jerry Sags putting in a brief cameo before being eliminated by Smith, who went right back to work in a thrilling exchange with The Nature Boy.

It's moments like this, watching the Bulldog in action, that you have to wonder if, had he stayed clean and were it not for that thick Lancastrian accent (and trust me, I come from the same town as The Bulldog, I know how we sound!), Davey Boy could have been a major main event player in the 1990s.

The Bulldog was certainly a joy to watch throughout his one-hour plus contribution to the match, and was one of the many highlights throughout an admittedly incredible Royal Rumble match before Flair himself tossed the Wigan-born grappler over and out.

Alas, the one-on-one encounter was  interrupted by the entrance of Haku (also eliminated by The Bulldog) and Shawn Michaels, who gave an impressive performance of his own during his 15 minutes or so between the ropes.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - The wrestlers try to throw each other over the ropes
The ring began to slowly fill with superstars, each one brawling around the ring in entertaining fashion. Eventually however, the eliminations began to fly thick and fast until The Nature Boy found himself all alone in the ring. Flair's respite from the action however was short lived, the legendary wrestler recalling in horror as Rowdy Roddy Piper made his way to ringside.

If this had been a fun contest so far, things only got better with the second half of the match, a more star-studded affair featuring headline stars such as Hulk Hogan, Sid, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Sgt. Slaughter and, erm, Virgil.

The action came thick and hard, everyone doing their best to make this one of the most memorable Rumble matches to date as they vied for the World Title until only Hogan, Sid and Flair remained.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Sid Justice mauls I.R.S
Supposedly on the same side, Sid drew the ire of Hogan by eliminating him from the competition, causing the former champion to act like the proverbial sore loser and try his damnedest to pull Sid over the ropes (seriously, it's when I write things like that, and when I think about some of Hogan's kayfabe tactics, that I have to wonder how the hell he was booked as a good guy).

That allowed Flair to toss Sid over the ropes, win the match, and ultimately the title.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion, Ric Flair.

Mr. Perfect made his way to share in Flair's glory, though the celebrations were shortlived as Hogan once again had to have the final word, this time getting into a pull-apart argument with Sid which actually saw the crowd firmly behind Mr. Justice.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1992 - Ric Flair gives an interview after winning the WWF/WWE Title for the first time
Finally, WWF President Jack Tunney presented new Undisputed WWF Champion Ric Flair with his title. As Mean Gene held a microphone for the new champion, Flair said that 'to beat the man, you had to beat the man (wooh!)' and that the WWF title was the only wrestling championship that mattered.

Bobby Heenan (who had raced from the commentary position to join his allies) and Mr. Perfect also rejoiced in Flair's victory, claiming that, whilst they hated to say they told us so, well, they told us so.

In a completely bizzare moment, Mean Gene Okerlund then admonished somebody off camera for lighting a cigarette. It was both surreal and incredibly funny at the same time.

The final word of course, went to the new champion, and that was all we had for the World Wrestling Federation 1992 Royal Rumble event.

So, was the 1992 Royal Rumble match really the greatest of all time? It's certainly up there among the best, though this writer has to believe that the 1991 bout was marginally more entertaining
Still, after an absolutely appalling undercard (when Jim Neidhart is part of the best non-main-event match, you know something's gone awry), it was so refreshing to spend over an hour indulging in some truly gripping action culminating in one of the most memorable title wins of the decade. Maybe not the greatest of all time then, but certainly up there.


===============
WWE: Royal Rumble - The Complete Anthology
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3 comments:

I can give you a bit of background on that Jamison chap:

Jamison is played by a New York comedian named John DiGiacomo, whom Vince discovered in a comedy club and brought him into the WWF in 1989, just like how Oscar from Men on a Mission got his job after doing a rap in front of the WWF's creative team on a night out sometime before WrestleMania 9.

Y'see, Jamison's gimmick is that he's a super-nerd and a hugh mark for all the babyfaces on the roster, kind of a babyface version of Harvey Wippleman, or even a parody of Woody Allen. Clearly, Jamison is what Vince McMahon thought of his veteran fans at the time. It's like when Dixie Carter said sometime around late 2009/early 2010 that every last member of TNA's fanbase is basically The 40-Year-Old Virgin who lives in his mum's basement.

Anyway, in 1989, Bobby Heenan secured the last half-hour of Prime Time Wrestling to create his own talk show called "The Bobby Heenan Show" (a parody of The Tonight Show), as well as bring in Jamison as his co-host. Jamison's crowning moment was when porn star Heather Hunter came on the show as a guest. The joke was that Heenan was unaware that Heather did porn until Jamison told him. When Heather started to strip, Jamison put a pillow on his lap, and the punchline was that he cummed on the pillow!

From there, Jamison became a re-occurring character on Prime Time Wrestling throughout 1991 when it became a talk show. Finally, the 1992 Royal Rumble was Jamison's only WWF PPV, as he would make one more appearance on the February 16th 1992 episode of Wrestling Challenge before vanishing for good.

Finally, Vince would re-visit the idea of huge marks again in late 1994/early 1995 with Charlie Minn, a Asian-American mark reporter, and George and Adam, who appeared at the 1997 Slammy Awards, pissing themselves when The Undertaker showed up. So yes, Vince wasn't done making fun of his meal ticket, the fans.

Wow, thanks for this, great insight. Seems like an odd thing to mock the people making your money, but then again, given Vince's past history, perhaps it doesn't!

I remember reading a piece on Jamison, I think it was a "Where are they Now" feature on WWE.com -though I could be mistaken- that talked about how he was still doing improv comedy in New York.

You're welcome.

Also, there are two good reasons why Bret dropped the Intercontinental Title to Mountie two days prior to this PPV:

1.Bret was offered a $300,000 contract by Ted Turner and Kip Frey to jump ship to WCW in case his old contract expired, not to mention that the title switch was booked one month prior, clearly early December 1991.

But, Bret chose to stay with the WWF, and his contract never expired like Big Ted and Kip were hoping. In fact, WCW promoted a big suprise for the January 1992 edition of Clash of the Champions, which aired two days after the Rumble, and the big surprise was the WCW debut of ex-WWF commentator Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

2.Taking the Intercontinental Title off Bret and having Piper win it was to help boost Piper's house show feud with Flair. Y'see, Piper was working with Flair on the house shows that Hogan didn't work, and Vince thought that the IC belt would give Piper some short-term credibilty and help the Flair/Piper matches draw better.

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Retro Pro Wrestling

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