Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1988

WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - EVENT POSTER
Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio
November 24, 1988

After a successful debut the year before, the World Wrestling Federation's annual Thanksgiving event returned with four strong outings that entertained from opening bell to closing credits.

A little note about today's show; I actually watched the original Coliseum Home Video release of this event, which puts the matches in a slightly different order with a couple of different promos than the later versions which came out on WWE DVD. Regardless, for the sake of historical accuracy (or something), we'll look at the show in the order that it actually went down live. Here goes.

Your commentators for the show are none other than Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura.

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination match
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake, Sam Houston, 'Jumpin' Jim Brunzell and The Blue Blazer VS. The Honky Tonk Man, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, 'Dangerous' Danny Davis, 'The Outlaw' Ron Bass and Bad News Brown
The late, great Owen Hart puts in an early WWF PPV appearance, donning the blue mask in his first gimmick of The Blue Blazer to kick off the second annual Survivor Series event.

WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - LIVE IN RICHFIELD
Yet before the Blazer could hit the ring, it was up to former Dream Team partners, Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake to get the action under way, both men beating on one another with clobbering blows before The Hammer gained a sneaky advantage. Danny Davis entered the fray , only to be shot into the ropes and then put to sleep by Beefcake for an elimination in record time.

Both teams traded the advantage before Bad News Brown pummelled Jim Brunzell, taking out the former Killer Bee with the Ghetto Blaster. Brown wasn't long for the competition however, a misunderstanding between the noted loner and partner Valentine led to Bad News storming off, leaving the ring and ultimately being counted out.

Luck began to fail the Warrior's team, Sam Houston was eventually taken out by Ron Bass before an exciting exchange between the Blazer and Valentine resulted in the masked man being caught in the hammer's patented figure-four leglock and discarded from the contest.

As this fun opening match continued with each man playing their parts well and getting hte crowd pumped for an action-packed night ahead before Honky Tonk Man and Beefcake both toppled to the outside and were counted out.

Left alone against Valentine and Bass, Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior took the fight to his opponents. The outnumbered Warrior made lightwork of the bad guys, taking out both in rapid succession to be declared the sole survivor and end a good, if barely memorable, opening contest.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: The Ultimate Warrior

WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Heading to the back, Bad News Brown talked about growing up as a loner on the streets of Harlem, before deciding that he didn't really care about that at all, and was only concerned with getting a title shot against The Macho Man.

In a Coliseum Home Video exclusive, The Ultimate Warrior then declared that every man on his team was a winner because they went without food and sleep and 'all the other luxeries of mere mortals.'  Sans facepaint (owing to most of it being sweated off in the prior bout), Warrior actually delivered one of his more coherent promos here.

Ten Team Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Demolition: WWF Tag Team Champions, Demolition, The Conquistadors, The Bolshevieks, The Brain Busters and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers VS. Team Powers of Pain: Powers of Pain, The Young Stallions, The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The British Bulldogs

Clocking up more in-ring time on a single PPV than their modern-day counterparts do in a calendar year, the World Wrestling Federation's premier tag teams (and The Conquistadors) showcased what made many of them so memorable in a lengthy, thoroughly enjoyable 20-man tag team elimination match.

Moving at a slower pace than the similar match from 1987 actually benefited this classic Survivor Series contest, giving everybody ample time to grab a piece of the action and gradually build a story up throughout.

WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - 20 MAN TAG TEAM MATCH

The early portion of the match saw a succession of quick tags from both teams, the excitement building rapidly before a swift inside cradle from Bret Hart sent The Fabulous Rougeaus to the showers for the first elimination.

The action continued with every ma involved working hard to deliver a compelling match with barely a dull moment in sight. Though whilst contributions from The Rockers, The Brain Busters and The British Bulldogs were arguably the highlights of this thrilling contest, it was the exchanges between face-painted powerhouses Demolition and The Powers of Pain which really had the crowds on their feet.

The two rival squads stood firm and strong, and as their team mates dropped around them, they continued to entertain the Richmond audience with hard-hitting audience until only Powers of Pain remained for the good guys against the four-man team of Demolition and The Conquistadors, the latter of whom surprising everybody by lasting this long into the match.

It was at this point that Demolition manager Mr. Fuji made his presence felt by climbing onto the apron and waving his walking cane in the general direction of the ring like some half-crazed old man who wasn't entirely sure why he was there.

Of course, the cunning manager knew exactly why he was there; to complete one of the most memorable turns in WWF history. As Smash charged towards the ropes, the dastardly Fuji prized them open, sending his own man crashing to the outside. Confronted by an irate Ax, Fuji reminded his team that he was the boss, and proceeded to whack his charge across the spine with his cane.

That move was to be Fuji's undoing, as the WWF Tag Team Champions turned on their manager, Smash throwing the diminutive man from the orient towards Ax for a crowd-popping bodyslam.

Unsurprisingly, the chaos on the outside led to Demolition's elimination from the contest, leaving The Conquistadors alone to face The Powers of Pain. In a confusing move, Warlord and Barbarian left their corner to attend to Mr. Fuji, helping the fallen manager to his feet and bringing him to their corner before making light work of their masked opponents to end a match which, even some 20-plus years later remains one of the best Survivor Series matches to date.
Your Winners and sole survivors: Powers of Pain

In the post-match, Warlord and Barbarian hoisted Fuji on their shoulders to confirm their new allegiance before Demolition returned to the ring and cleaned house. Though the tag champs certainly got a huge babyface reaction for ditching Fuji, the Powers of Pain heel turn was less than effective; The Richmond crowd greeted their victory with a roar of approval that was unfitting for WWF's newest villans. The ending aside, that was all kinds of awesome.

The show cut to the back with promos from Mr. Fuji and The Powers of Pain explaining their earlier actions, the Heenan Family team decreeing that they would take out Jake 'The Snake' Roberts' team in the upcoming contest, and The Mega Powers team insisting they were ready for action in the main event. Those these promos were not on the Coliseum Home Video we're watching today, a quick look on Youtube backs up my point from last year's event that all early Survivor Series promos were done on crack cocaine.


5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination match
Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Ken Patera, Tito Santana, Scott Casey and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Dino Bravo, 'Mr. Perfect' Curt Hennig, 'Ravishing' Rick  Rude, Harley Race, and Andre The Giant.
There comes a point after watching wrestling for over 20 years that you start to believe you've heard of any and all PPV-worthy combatants. Then jobber Scott Casey comes  along and proves you wrong.

Sadly, the muscular Casey didn't last long in his first (and perhaps only), WWF pay per view outing, Dino Bravo banishing him from the ring with a hard side-suplex to put the scores at 5-3 following an earlier elimination of Ken Patera thanks to a Rude Awakening from The Ravishing One.

Tito Santana helped reduce his team's deficit by taking the fight to Harley Race and eliminating him in short order. Santana's luck quickly ran out as Andre The Giant stepped between the ropes and anihilated Chico . The former Strike Force member tried to counter the attack with a sunset flip which proved to be his downfall, the menacing giant simply took a seat on Santana's chest and took him out of the action.

Hacksaw Duggan picked up the slack for his team, beating on Giant with aplomb and offering a couple of  shots to fellow co-captain Jake Roberts. Duggan was the next man to leave the match, countering the heel team's cowardly cheating ways by grabbing his trusty 2x4 and taking out Dino Bravo, thus getting himself disqualified.

WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN
Irate at the decision, Hacksaw stormed to the back, though not before yelling a very visible BULL SHIT  right in front of the camera. Honestly, as good at this match was, seeing Duggan curse on camera was a guilty highlight for this reviewer .

That aside, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts found himself seriously outnumbered against four opponents, finding small consolation in taking out Rick Rude with a roll-up. Andre then returned to the ring and choked out Roberts, absolutely obliterating his rival and earning himself a disqualification in the process.

The damage had been done however, and all that was left was for Mr. Perfect to pick up the pieces and pin Roberts for the win.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig and Dino Bravo

though hardly full of technical excellence, that was a fantastic match-up that told a great story and kept the audience, or at least this fan, captivated throughout, just the way the best wrestling matches should do.

Heading to the back once more, Sean Mooney provided us with another Coliseum Home Video exclusive in which Andre The Giant reminded us that he promised victory for his team and delivered. The big man then challenged Jake Roberts to a match.

Offering a retort, Jake The Snake then cut a compelling promo in which he vowed to gain revenge against his giant adversary.

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Mega Powers: WWF Champion Macho Man Randy Savage, Koko B/ Ware, Hillbilly Jim, Hercules and Hulk Hogan . Team Twin Towers: Akeem, 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase, King Haku and The Big Boss Man
WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - SLICK AND BOBBY HEENAN
Finally, it was time for the main event as Hulk Hogan looked to get his hands  on arch-rival The Big Bossman, Hercules sought revenge on Ted Dibiase for that whole dodgy 'Herc is Dibiase's slave' thing, and everybody else was seemingly there to make up the numbers.

This was a very good, old-school Survivor Series contest, the drama building throughout and keeping the crowd on their feet.

Following a see-saw battle in the early going, Koko B. Ware got the better of The Red Rooster before tagging in Hogan for the Big Boot. In a good display of team work, The Hulkster then brought Mega Powers team mate, Randy Savage, into the match to finish off The Rooster with a flying elbow drop.

As a brawl erupted in the ring, a dejected Rooster was berated by manager Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, leading to their eventual split later in the year. Inside the ropes, the good guys cleaned house and celebrated with such gusto you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd already won the match.

The villains evened the scores after Akeem took out Hillbilly Jim before his Twin Towers team mate The Big Boss Man sent Koko packing.

Seizing his opportunity, Hogan returned to the ring to beat up on the Boss Man, but his bulky adversary refused to go down and got the better of the former World Champion with the assist from Akeem. Haku entered the fray to inflict further damage on Hogan before Ted Dibiase added to the assault.

Mounting a comeback, Hogan tug out to Hercules, giving the mighty one his opportunity to final serve some justice to Dibiase. His revenge was short lived however, as thanks to the assist from bodyguard Virgil, The Million Dollar man was able to eliminate Herc.

That was the beginning of the end for this gripping finale,.

Slick attempted to drag Elizabeth to The back, only for Hogan to make the save. That allowed the Twin Towers to attack Hogan from behind and handcuff him to the ring posts.

Forgetting to make a legal tag beforehand, The Big Bossman was then counted out.

Down to two against one, Savage brought the battle to Haku and Akeem but was quickly overwhelmed and beaten on before Akeem somehow got himself disqualified.

Haku continued the assault in the ring as Savage looked desperately for his partner to make a tag.

WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1988 - MEGA POWERS: HOGAN AND SAVAGE
As the drama reached fever pitch, Hogan socked Heenan, called over Elizabeth to get the handcuff keys from The Slicker's pockets and free him.

Hogan then returned to the apron, made the tag, took out Haku and won the match for his team.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: Hulk Hogan and The Macho Man Randy Savage.

Afterwards, Hogan celebrated triumphantly as Savage sold his beating on the outside. As Elizabeth attempted to get the Hulkster's attention, you know, to get him to check on his partner, Hogan instead swooped up Elizabeth for a celebratory hug. Savage then revived himself long enough to celebrate with the duo, flashing a look towards the Hulkster which fused anger, bitterness and jealousy. The downfall of The Mega Powers had begun.

Cutting to the back for a final promo, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura interviewed Savage, insinuating that the look in the WWF Champion's eyes suggested all was not well between him and Hogan. Savage rebutted the claims and reminded us that he was the champion, storming off camera to end the show.

And so, the second annual Thanksgiving spectacular, Survivor Series 1988 was in the history books. Match of the Night honors undoubtedly go to that epic 20-man tag team match which should, and often is, revered as a classic even years later. Yet really, there was no bad match on the card; everybody played their parts perfectly and delivered excitement, entertainment and enjoyment from bell to bell. As a wrestling fan, what more could you possibly ask for?
------



Wednesday, 24 October 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1987

WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 1987 - POSTER
Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio.
November 26, 1987


Teams of five strive to survive as the World Wrestling Federation presents a brand new pay per view concept designed as much to harm the rival NWA Starrcade PPV as anything else.

The original Coliseum Home Video release of this was heavily, and often badly edited. Sadly, that just so happens to be the version we're watching today. Still, let's see what went down, shall we?

Following an excruciatingly cheesy, incredibly 80's opening mostly consisting of Wrestlemania II clips played over jazz music (yes, jazz music), it was up to the legendary duo of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura  to welcome us to the show and run down the rules of the Survivor Series matches.

Shake, Rattle & Roll, baby!
If there's one puzzling thing about early Survivor Series shows, it's that everybody seemed to be on crack in the pre-match promos. As they grouped together to say a few words about how they would destroy their opponents, every combatant would abandon their usual personalities in favor of some kind of manical, half-crazed hysteric.

It was all rather strange.

WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 1987 -  TEAM HONKY TONK MAN
Case in point here as The Honky Tonk Man threatened laid into new fan-favourite Macho Man Randy Savage and even threatened to shake, rattle and roll Elizabeth again (having previously pushed her to the ground in a previous assault). All the while, team-mates Hercules, 'Dangerous' Danny Davis, Ron 'Outlaw' Bass and 'King' Harley Race, along with managers Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Jimmy Hart snarled and jeered and acted well, like they'd just taken a large amount of Class-A drugs.

Things were little different when the Macho Man and his team took to the mic to offer a rebuttal, basically threatening to kick everyody's ass before the show finally took to the ring.

5 v 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match:
Honky Tonk Man (Team Captain), Hercules, 'Dangerous' Danny Davis, 'Outlaw' Ron Bass, 'King' Harley Race vs. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake and 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan.
And so, after just facing off in their now legendary Wrestlemania III encounter, The Dragon and The Macho Man found themselves on the same team in this battle of WWF's premier mid-carders of the time.

Yet enough of that for now. Hercules and Brutus Beefcake kicked off the match with an exchange every bit as awkward as 'The Barber's' ill-fitting yellow and black ring attire. Clearly going nowhere fast with Herc, Bruti brought Danny Davis into the affray to play whipping-boy for the babyface team; each of Beefcake's allies taking it in turns to lay the damage to the former official.

As the fast-paced action continued, it was ultimately Jim Duggan and Harley Race who were the first men out of the contest. The heated rival battled to the outside and continued to batter each other with clobbering blows as the referee counted to ten, eliminating both men.

WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 1987 -  MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE
The good guys continued to gain the advantage with Brutus taking out Ron Bass with a high-knee to put the scores at 4-3 to the good guys. Ah for the days when a knee to the chops could lead to a pinfall.

The match, which is actually better on second viewing than your writer originally thought, continued with the villans gaining some measure of revenge. Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man planted Beefcake with the Shake, Rattle and Roll to even the scores.

As the pace began to drop just slightly, the good guys eventually took out Hercules and Danny Davis, leaving HTM alone to face three of his biggest rivals in Steamboat, Savage and Roberts.

Rather than do that, however, the cowardly champion simply grabbed his belt and walked to the back, leading to a count-out elimination and a win for the heroes.

And thus ended the first ever Survivor Series match, a contest which at times did seem rushed and awkward, but was actually a really enjoyable opener featuring several Hall of Fame-worthy stars.
Winners and sole survivors: Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts

Following the contest, Ventura and Monsoon wondered aloud as to why Honky decided to bail, killing time til the next contest.

Women's 5 v 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Sensational Sherri (team captain), Judy Martin, Leilani Kai, Dawn Marie & Donna Christanello vs. The Fabulous Moolah (team captain), Rockin' Robin, The Jumping Bomb Angels and Velvet McIntyre
WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 1987 -  SENSATIONAL SHERRI
First things first, let's get the typical male aesthetic view-point out of the way, shall we? Yes, WWF Women's Champion Sensational Sherri looked damn fine here, Fabulous Moolah looked as old here as she did during her 'comeback' of the late-90s and well, yeah, your reviewer has always had something of a soft-spot for Rockin' Robin.


All that aside, this was as good a women's wrestling match as you'll ever see; the action moved at a solid pace and there was barely a dull moment to e found.

The babyface team made short work of Dawn Marie and Donna Christanello, the latter being taken out thanks to a quick roll up from Irish-born McIntyre before Robin took got rid of the former thanks to a flying cross-body.

This left women's champion Sherri and women's tag title holders The Glamour Girls (Martin and Kai) to hold their own against five opponents.

And hold their own they did. Sherri took the action to Rockin Robin, taking her out with a wicked suplex before Moolah, working as a babyface despite a lengthy career as a heel, succumbed to a weak-looking double clothesline to leave the contest.

As the match wore on and fatigue set in, the remaining six girls slowed the pace yet continued to deliver a dramatic, entertaining contest. McIntyre eliminated Sherri with another roll-up before exiting the contest herself thanks to a hard Electric Chair.

Down to The Glamour Girls vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels, the four remaining combatants closed the contest on a high note with a series of beautiful exchanges before the Angels eliminated their rivals to win the contest and lead to their memorable tag title match at the 1988 Royal Rumble.
Your Winners and sole survivors: The Jumping Bomb Angels.

Heading to the back for another crack-addled interview, Bobby Heenan spoke on behalf of The Hart Foundation and the four other teams making up their Survivor Series team. Speaking on behalf of the Strike Force team, Tito Santana offered a response as his equally as excited teammates went loco in the background. Neither man said anything of note.

Ten Team 10 v 10 Survivor Series Elimination Match
The Hart Foundation (team captains), Demolition, The Islanders, The Dream Team and The Bolsheviks vs. Strike Force, The Killer Bees, The British Bulldogs, The Rougeaus and The Young Stallions.
If I've mentioned any of the other bouts on this card being fast-paced, ignore it. Or at least, take my word for it that, as fast as they were, the furious pace of this twenty-man match makes every other contest seem like it was moving in slow-motion.

The rules here are that when one member of a team is eliminated, both men have to hit the showers, and so it was that after Boris Zhukov ate a flying forearm from Santana, The Bolsheviks were out of the running.

WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 1987 -TAG TEAM ELIMINATION MATCH

Wasting absolutely no time, the action picked up just a second later with Demolition Axe charging the ring to beat up on 'Chico.'

Tagging in and out almost every thirty seconds, each combatant had the opportunity to step between the ropes and showcase their wares at some point in this exhilarating, if someone crowded penultimate contest.

One of your writer's favourite teams, The Islanders again showcased why they were perhaps one of the more underrated teams during the glory days of the WWF tag team division while the Rougeaus and The Bulldogs (the latter of whom didn't even have their elimination from the match recorded on video due to the aforementioned editing from Coliseum Home Video) also shined here.

Yet ultimately, once most of the teams had been kicked out of the contest, it was down to The Islanders to hold their own against The Killer Bees and The Young Stallions.

Credit where credit is due, Haku and Tama took it to the babyfaces, though they were no match for Jim Brunzel and Briann Blair's old routine of suddenly donning masks, confusing everyone insight (including some viewers!) and scoring the win for their team.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: The Killer Bees and The Young Stalions

Out in the back, Andre The Giant, flanked by his team, claimed to be out for Hulk Hogan's soul as we began to build to tonight's main event.


WWF SURVIVOR SERIES 1987 -TEAM ANDRE THE GIANT

In reply, an animated Hogan riled up his already excitable partners, claiming hat thy were hungry and that 'the food chain doesn't matter.' Whatever that means.

Anyway, main event time.

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Andre the Giant (Team Captain), Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang and 'The Natural' Butch Reed vs. Hulk Hogan (Team Captain), Bam Bam Bigelow, Ken Patera, 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Ordorf and Don 'The Rock' Muraco.
Stepping into a WWF ring for the first time since his losing effort against The Hulkster at Wrestlemania III, Andre The Giant lead his team into a surprisingly enthralling main event.

Ravishing Rick Rude and Don Muraco kicked off this entertaining contest, The Rock trading ring time with his partners as each one laid into the relative newcomer Rude. But it was Butch Reed, thanks to the Legdrop of Doom from Hogan, who was the first man sent packing for the bad guys.

Sensing an opportunity, Andre stepped through the ropes to finally extract some revenge on Hogan, only for the referee to mistake Hulk's celebratory high-five with Ken Patera for a tag and insist that Patera, not Hogan, continue the match.

Why Hogan didn't just tag back in again is anyone's guess, but alas it was Patera who continued the action against King Kong Bundy, the latter tagging in after Andre made it known he had no interest in anyone who wasn't the WWF Champion.

Following some dramatic back and forth action, the heels evened the scores when One Man Gang eliminated Patera, and continued to gain the advantage shortly after thanks to a Rude pinfall on Paul Ordorff.

The pace quickened, with quick successive elminations for Rude and Muraco, leaving Hogan and Bigelow against Bundy, Andre and The Gang.

It was from this moment on that Bam Bam Bigelow really came into his own. Easily the surprise star of the match, The Beast from the East looked more than comfortable as he and Hogan looked to turn the tide against the behemoths on the opposite side of the ring.

Things took a turn for the worse for Bam Bam as Hogan tussled on the outside of the ring with King Kong Bundy and was ultimately counted out, leaving his partner alone against his three larger opponents.

A undouted star on the rise, with impressive agility, charisma and that intangible star quality, Bigelow put forth a valiant effort, managing to eliminate both Bundy and One Man Gang before finally falling victim to Andre the Giant.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Andre the Giant

Stealing the spotlight and sending the crowd home happy, WWF Champion Hulk Hogan then returned to the ring, smacked Andre upside the head with the title belt and posed before the crowd.

In the closing moments, Bobby Heenan insisted that if Hogan wanted a rematch against The Giant, all he would have to do is sign the contract. More of that at Royal Rumble 1988.







And so the first ever Survivor Series event was in the history books. Hardly the most memorable or historically significant event ever (apart from it being the first one), this was nonetheless a fun, action-packed show which gave just about everybody on the roster a chance to shine and managed to create enough variation out of four matches with the exact same concept. It's not hard to see from watching this event just why Vince McMahon decided to return to Survivor Series year after year.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1990

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - Event poster
Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida
January 21, 1990

A brand new decade was upon us as the World Wrestling Federation presented it's third annual Royal Rumble event. Ushering in a format more familiar to modern day fans, the 1990 pay per view was a pretty hit and miss affair.

Here's what went down.

With his trademark growl in full force, a hyperactive Vince McMahon ran down tonight's card including a complete itinary of every single participant in the 30-man battle royal before handing over to your commentary team for the evening, none other than Jesse 'The Body' Ventura and Tony 'Greatest Night in Our Sport' Schiavone.

The Fabulous Rougeaus vs. The Bushwhackers
It says something (what exactly, I couldn't be sure), that in 20+ years of being a pro wrestling fan, this is genuinely the first time your writer can ever remember sitting down to watch a Bushwhackers match.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - Jacques Rougeau has a beard!
It probably also says something when The 'Whackers are perhaps more over than I could have ever imagined. I mean seriously, the crowd lose their frickin' minds for Luke and Butch. Then again, as the show goes on, it seems everything is insanely over on this cold January evening.

Here they take on the team with arguably the best entrance music in the history of pro wrestling, The Fabulous Rougeaus in what would be the Canadians' final PPV outing before Raymond retired and Jacques would done the red and black to become the infamous 'Mountie.

As for the match itself, it stunk.

Unlike last year's show, in which the Rougeaus opened the show in rioutous fashion, teaming with Dino Bravo to face Hacksaw Duggan and The Harts, their opening performance here was less wrestling classic, more comedy show for the benefit of the live crowd.

Indeed, whilst the capacity crowd in the Orlando Arena seemed to relish the Bushwhackers' biting of their opponents and the referee and throwing out more heel tactics than the actual heels, on screen it actually looked kind of sloppy.

Ray and Jacques (the latter barely recognisable thanks to his scruffy-looking beard) carried the bulk of the contest but eventually fell pray to a Bushwhackers battering-ram and lost the bout.
Your Winners: The Bushwhackers

In a nice bit of continuity from last year's show, Mean Gene Okerlund quizzed Ted Dibiase about just how he came to be in possession of the #30 slot at the '89 show. This year, it turned out Dibiase had drawn the number one spot, something which seemed to please Okerlund no end.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - The Genius Lanny Poffo
The Genius vs. Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake 
Prior to the opening bell, The Genius cut a promo on his opponent in the form of a tawdry poem, essentially touting his intellectual superiority over Brother Bruti.

Struttin' his way to ringside in a very effeminate pink and white ensemble, the Beefcake went on to deliver a clever, entertaining contest with the man better known as Lanny Poffo.

Comprised mostly of stalling, playing to the crowd and The Genius camping it up, this was a match devoid of what you might normally class as in-ring action.

Yet the more this went on, that became part of its charm as the clearly out-matched Poffo did everything he could to avoid taking a beating from his larger opponent.

In the closing moments, the referee took a wicked bump, allowing Beefcake to put his rival to sleep and begin with the haircut, only for Mr. Perfect to run in for the beatdown.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
When the referee came to on the outside, he ultimately disqualified both men:
Draw - Double Disqualification

Returning to the back, Sean Mooney began to stir the shit among the Heenan family, taking a perfectly calm stable and instigating an argument between them as to what might happen if Ravishing Rick Rude, Haku and Andre The Giant came face-to-face in the Rumble match.

It was unintentionally hilarious, especially as, with Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan leading his men away, Mooney claimed 'I think I detect some dissension" yes Sean, that YOU started!

Submission match:
Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine vs. 'Rugged' Ronnie Garvin

Accompanied by his manager, Jimmy 'Mouth of the South' Hart, the two rivals went back and forth in an absolutely fantastic submission mission match.

In a bout which was completely different from anything offered by McMahon's company at the time, Greg Valentine and Ronnie Garvin beat the living hell out of each other in a brutally stiff display which turned into what this writer would easily claim to be an underrated classic.

If there was one downside to this match, it was the number of times both men attempted a pinfall. Ya know, in a submission match?

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - Rugged Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine
All fine at first of course, have both men go for a pin only to be denied by the referee, and you set the scene well, a reminder to the wrestlers, and the audience, reminded that the only way to win this bout would be to make your opponent submit.

But to do it over, and over, and over again throughout the course of a lengthy contest? Despite frequent reminders? I could be alone in this, but it really does make both Valentine and The Hammer look kind of stupid.

That aside, this really is a compelling match that this reviewer could watch all day long and which ends when Valentine taps to Garvin's scorpion deathlock (or 'reverse figure four', as Shiavone called it)
Your winner: Rugged Ronnie Garvin

Returning to the backstage area, Okerlund interviewed Mr. Perfect, who laid into Brutus Beefcake to set up their eventual meeting at Wrestlemania VI. The future Intercontinental Champion also announced his number for the rumble; 'the perfect number', #30. Hennig was captivating in his promo, arguably the best wrestler on the mic besides Jake Roberts on the entire show.

Brother Love interviews Sensational Queen Sherri and Saphire
Having a segment before the live crowd which had barely anything to do with two or more wrestlers, ya know, wrestling, was becoming something of a Royal Rumble tradition. It started with Dino Bravo's bench press attempt in '88, continued with the Rude/Warrior pose-down in '89, and now, in 1990, we get The Brother Love Show featuring Sherri and Saphire, the manager/valets of Randy 'Macho King' Savage and Dusty Rhodes respectively.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - crowd
This dreadful segment, in which Love and Sherri laid into Saphire for what seemed like an eternity, eventually came when Saphire slapped the crap out of Sherri, leading to the arrival of Savage and Rhodes. Clearing off the heels, Rhodes and Saphire then proceeded to cut a rug in the middle of the ring for about five thousand years.

'Don't we have an interview we can go to or something?' asked Ventura, echoing what probably everybody in the crowd were thinking.

Hoooo! Tough Guy!
Luckily, such an interview was forthcoming as Hacksaw Jim Duggan spoke to Sean Mooney about his upcoming battle against The Big Bossman.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. The Big Bossman
If there's one thing I've learned in watching the first three Royal Rumble events, it's that not only was Duggan incredbly over with live crowds, he was actually capable of having some damn exciting matches.

That was certainly the case here as Mr. USA and The Big Bossma battled back and forth in a hard-hitting brawl that was incredibly fun to watch.

In a similar fashion to the previous contest, this was simply two tough bastards beating the living crap out of each other, albeit in a way that was totally unique from Valentine/Garvin.

Going at it tooth and nail in a solid big man brawl, the ending came when a visibly irate Bossman grabbed his trusty nightstick, drilling his foe across the head with it for the DQ finish.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Hacksaw Jim Duggan

As the ring cleared in anticipation of our main event, cameras cut away to a number of pre-recorded promos from tonight's Royal Rumble participants. Superstars including Dino Bravo, Earthquake, Demolition, Dusty Rhodes, The Rockers, Hercules, The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Jake Roberts, the latter of whom delivered the best mic work out of the whole montage, each declared themselves ready for the challenge of winning the Royal Rumble.


With that out of the way, it was on to the rumble match itself:

Royal Rumble Match:
30-man battle royal featuring: Ted Dibiase, Koko B. Ware, The Rockers, Demolition, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Akeem, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Randy 'Macho King' Savage, The Hart Foundation, 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper and more.
WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - The Ultimate Warrior

As previously announced, it was up to The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase to start this year's rumble match, his first opponent coming in the form of future Hall of Famer, Koko. B. Ware.

Dibiase made light work of his opponent and tossed him over the rope for the night's first elimination in quick time. Marty Jannety entered at number three in a flurry of excitement, flying at his foe with gusto and taking him around the ring.

Even with hindsight, Jannety's brief appearance was one of the highlights of the early part of the 'Rumble match, though he too was eliminated by the Million Dollar Man.

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts entered at number four, Dibiase meeting him outside the ring for a brawl which eventually spilled back between the ropes. Two minutes later, Randy Savage entered the fray and joined Dibiase in a double-team on Roberts which was eventually broken up with the arrival of Roddy Piper.

The action continued in the usual fashion, men came in, men kicked each others' backsides, men were thrown out, altogether making for an exciting, engaging and entertaining battle royal match.

Ted Dibiase stole Mr. Perfect's crown as the longest-surviving Rumble participant, clocking up an impressive 44+ minutes of ring time before finally being disposed of by The Ultimate Warrior.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior

Speaking of the then-IC champion, the main story of the Rumble match itself came down to Warrior and Hogan, both men at one point being the only two in the ring and squaring off, only for neither combatant to gain a clear advantage over the other.

Hogan eventually eliminated Warrior later in the contest and would go on to hurl out #30 entrant Mr. Perfect to claim the win.
Your Winner: World Wrestling Federation Champion, Hulk Hogan

Afterwards, Hogan celebrated his victory with the Orlando crowd for a decade and a half to close out the show.



If there was one thing more evident this year than in years past, it was how much the Royal Rumble would go on to set the scene for Wrestlemania. With Hogan/Warrior, Bad News/Piper, Colossal Connection/Demolition, Rhodes & Saphire/Savage & Sherri, Beefcake/Perfect and Dibiase/Roberts all begining at Royal Rumble '90 and culminating (for the most part) at Wrestlemania VI, the January PPV served as a great starting point for the year ahead. Match of the night honors most likely go to Valentine and Garvin though, somewhat surprisingly, Duggan/Bossman weren't too far behind. 
Here's to Royal Rumble 1991. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

PPV Review: WWF Royal Rumble 1989

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 DVD cover poster
The Summit in Houston, Texas
January 15th, 1989

Following a rocky start as a television special the previous year, the World Wrestling Federation’s biggest event of the winter months made it’s pay per view debut in 1989 and, with almost all of the kinks from the previous year’s show worked out, delivered on almost every level.

Here’s what went down:

Following a fun opening in which Vince McMahon delivered his trademark growl while introducing the participants in tonight’s 30-man main event, Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon welcomed viewers to the show before settling in to deliver the kind of commentary teamwork that would ensure long-time fans revere the duo in much the same way that those in the modern era do Lawler & Ross.

With that out of the way, it was on to the action.

2-out-of-three falls six-man tag team match:
Hacksaw Jim Duggan & The Hart Foundation vs. Dino Bravo & The  The Fabulous Rougeaus (w/ Frenchy Martin and Jimmy Hart)
And so it was that the winner of the inaugural Rumble match found himself tagging with The Hart Foundation in this entertaining opening contest against the dastardly Canadians.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 DVD Live in Houston, Texas
As opening matches go, the WWF could have hardly delivered anything better, the six combatants putting on a textbook bout which worked the crowd perfectly.

Following a see-saw battle in the opening moments, it was The Hitman who ate Le Bombe de Rougeau to award the first fall to the bad guys.

“I like to call him The Excellence of Execution,” declared Monsoon when Bret was in charge of the match, coining a term the future World Champion would use himself for the remainder of his career.

Hart’s exchanges with both Rougeaus were undoubtedly the highlight of the match, Jacques and Raymond assisting Bravo in isolating their adversary and Bret playing the babyface-in-peril well, teasing the odd comeback before making the hot, and I do mean HOT tag to Hacksaw.

Though Duggan has always been popular with crowds, it’s absolutely insane to see just how over he is in this match; the capacity crowd responding with a deafening ‘Hoooooo!’ and chants of USA! USA! whenever he stepped between the ropes.

Battering the bad guys with clobbering lefts and rights, Duggan shot both members of the Hart Foundation over the ropes onto his opponent before finally landing an vicious elbow drop to Raymond Rougeau to even the scores for his team.

From there, the match only got better

Though Neidhart hardly did anything throughout the entire thing (seriously, I just watched this thing not an hour ago and the only contribution from The Anvil that I recall is him being pulled over the ropes onto Rougeau.) and Dino Bravo, who stunk up the place at last year’s show didn't add much either,  the other four competitors each played their roles perfectly.

Together, they built to a crowd-popping crescendo which saw Hacksaw finally counter the bad guys’ cheating ways with a sneaky 2x4 shot to the spine of Dino Bravo, allowing The Hitman to pick p the third and final fall for the good guys.
Your Winners: Hacksaw Jim Duggan & The Hart Foundation

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase
Cutting to pre-taped footage, various WWF stars were shown drawing their numbers for tonight’s Rumble match. Displeased with his luck, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase called Slick into the picture, leaving with the Doctor of Style to apparently cut a deal.

Elsewhere, Demolition hinted that they both had ‘a long night’ ahead of them, Bad News Brown appeared to have picked a good spot, and The Bushwackers swapped numbers for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Jake Roberts, The Honky Tonk Man and The Rockers were also among those pulling out their numbers for the match.

Returning to ringside, it was time for something that was starting to look like a tradition of Royal Rumble shows; a really boring segment featuring no wrestling whatsoever.

Super Posedown: Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
In a move which suggested that the WWF Brain Trust learned absolutely nothing from the previous year’s Bench Press Bore Fest with Dino Bravo & Friends, Ravishing Rick Rude took on The Ultimate Warrior in a Super Pose Down.

Even with Rude’s cockiness, Bobby Heenan’s usual mic work and the Warrior being his usual insane self, this was almost entirely tedious.

The highlight of the whole thing was Warrior’s usual entrance, a tsunami of muscle and facepaint tearing to the ring to a brutal, adrenalin charged guitar riff which remains one of the most memorable entrances in pro wrestling to this day.

From that point on, this quickly disintegrated into a mind-numbing mess.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 Ultimate Warrior pose

Rude would pump his workout bar for a bit before striking a pose which Ultimate Warrior would then copy and repeat..over..and..over..again.

Anyone with half a brain cell could have telegraphed the ending to this one; Rude struck Warrior from behind with his workout bar and choked him out.

After officials raced to revive a fallen Warrior, the Ultimate One eventually came round and threw said officials around the ring for no apparent reason.

This whole thing dragged on far too long, achieved very little and was a dampener on a so-far entertaining show.

Things only got slightly better with the return of in-ring action.

WWF Women’s Championship Match
Rockin Robin defends against Judy Martin
The camera cut away from the aforementioned Warrior/Rude showdown to find both Martin and Sensational Sherri in the ring awaiting the arrival of the champion.

Prior to the opening bell, Sherri took to the mic to announce that she would face the winner of this match for the gold.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 Rockin Robin
Arguably the only interesting thing in this thing, Sherri then joined Monsoon and Ventura on commentary. Her voice, which made her sound either drunk or delirious, distracted from an otherwise passable outing from the women which culminated in the champion retaining via flying cross-body.
Your Winner and still WWF Women’s Champion: Rockin Robin 

Oh..*that* Ted Dibiase
In a humorous moment, cameras cut backstage to Sean Mooney standing by with Slick and the Twin Towers.

Questioned on his liaison with Ted Dibiase earlier in the show, Slick first claimed not to have seen the Million Dollar Man in over a month.

“Ohhh, you mean *that* Ted Dibiase, I thought you meant homeboy Ted what did my shoeshine,”  He quickly retorted after being shown video footage of his earlier encounter with ol’ Money Bags. I’d tell you the rest, but here, watch this:


Still in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund tried to elicit some sort of explanation from Rude and Heenan for Rude’s earlier attack on the Ultimate Warrior. Rude claimed to have Warrior beaten from the start before The Brain quickly hurried him from the building.

The Managers speak
Heading to more pre-recorded footage with the managers of various WWF superstars including Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Hart and Miss. Elizabeth made this writer pine for the days when managers were such an integral part of the show, even if neither Hart nor Fuji said anything of note.

The only interesting thing to come from this segment was Liz, who, despite being wooden and completely ill-at-ease in her interview with Okerlund, did  fret over what would happen should her boys Hogan and Savage come head-to-head in the Rumble.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 King Haku
King Haku vs. Harley Race
In the final undercard bout, the big man Haku defended his royal crown against former king Harley Race.

Haku was carried to the ring on his thrown by a collective of jobbers, one of who this writer swore was none other than Tugboat/Typhoon/Shockmaster himself, Fred Ottman, but on closer inspection probably wasn't.

That aside, this was a good, solid brawl between two hard-hitting workers that differed from anything else on the card and delivered in spades. Though not quite as entertaining as the opening six-man contest, it was nonetheless a welcome return to form for the Royal Rumble’s PPV d├ębut following all the previous guff that went between these two matches.

In the end, Haku thwarted Race with a swift kick to the chops to win the match and retain his crown.
Your Winner: King Haku

In a brief respite from the action prior to the main event, a whole bunch of Royal Rumble entrants cut essentially the same promo. Valentine, Beefcake, Hogan, Savage, Perfect and a select few others each reminded the audience that this would be every man for himself and that they would be the one to outlast the 29 other wrestlers to be declared the winner.

And here’s another thing this reviewer misses from the good ol’ days; the custom backdrops for each wrestler’ promo.

Royal Rumble Match
30 man battle royal featuring Demolition, Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect, Bad News Brown, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Rockers, The Brain Busters, The Twin Towers,  The Powers of Pain, Big John Studd and more.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 Demolition fighting
Reinforcing the idea that anything really could happen in the Royal Rumble match and that, yes, it really is every man for himself, participants one and two in the bout’s PPV debut were none other than Ax and Smash, Demolition.

In one of the more memorable moments in Rumble history, the two partners wasted no time in laying waste to one another with thick, hammering blows, trading the advantage as they battered each other around the ring. And this despite being the reigning tag team champions.

All the while, Monsoon and Ventura wondered aloud whether entrant number three would stand a chance against Demolition. In a smart piece of booking, said third entrant turned out to be none other than Andre the Giant.

After all, was there really anybody else who could’ve withstood a double-team from the tag champs?

Mr. Perfect came in at number four, going on to become the MVP of the match, lasting the better part of half an hour and trumping Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart’s previous record by around two minutes.

It was Perfect who stood out as one of the highlight of this match, a joy to watch, the future Intercontinental Champion delivered a solid performance from the time he stepped through the ropes to the moment Hulk Hogan tossed him back out again.

Yet the real underrated star of this event was Shawn Michaels. Though he was in the match for just 15 minutes, Michaels made sure that every single second of those 15 minute counted. Flipping, jumping and bumping like a trooper, Shawn gave a thrilling performance and outshone just about everybody he shared a ring with long before he ever became ‘The Showstopper.’

Of course, the real talking point of the match, and a spot which would eventually lead us on to Wrestlemania 5, was the rising tensions between The Mega Powers of Hulk Hogan and World Wrestling Federation Champion, Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1989 Mega Powers EXPLODE!
Unleashing the power of the Red and Yellow, Hogan stormed around the ring, eliminating anybody and everybody in sight including, though not entirely on purpose, his partner Savage.

With the ring cleared and only Hogan remaining, the champion returned to the ring to confront the Hulkster, only for Elizabeth to come between her men. The diminutive valet seemed to defuse the situation, leading Savage to extend a hand to his friend and the two to share an embrace.

The second part of the match continued without much of the excitement which played such a large part in the pre Savage/Hogan section. That’s not to say it was boring per se, and there was still enough to keep your attention, yet without the likes of Perfect and Michaels, the pace certainly decreased.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody given the story which had played throughout the evening, Ted Dibiase arrived on the scene as participant number thirty, yet the combined efforts of the Million Dollar Man and Akeem were no match for Big John Studd, who eliminated both men to claim the contest as his own.

Your Winner: Big John Studd

As a special treat for the fans, Studd then proceeded to beat up Dibiase’s bodyguard, Virgil to close the in-ring portion of the show.

Macho Madness
In the final moments of the show, Randy Savage, flanked by a distressed-looking Elizabeth reminded Mean Gene Okerlund (repeatedly) that he was the champion and claimed that he was only eliminated from the Royal Rumble as a ‘victim of circumstance’ and not because he wasn't the better man. The whole thing was to tease the eventual heel turn against Hogan which would lead to their big Wrestlemania showdown and in this regard was highly effective.

With Savage’s promo out of the way, it was down to Gorillla Monsoon and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura to close out the first pay per view version of the WWF Royal Rumble. A step up from last year’s show, the actual Rumble match itself, thanks in no small part to Perfect, Michaels, Savage and Hogan was a vast improvement on the inaugural bout, even if John Studd as eventual victor was somewhat underwhelming.




It’s certainly rare that you’ll ever hear any match involving Hacksaw Jim Duggan described as ‘match of the night’ material, yet his six man outing with the Harts, Rougeaus and Bravo was certainly that; an enjoyable, entertaining affair from bell to bell.
Though it’s easy to watch this show on its own merit, it’s important to look at Royal Rumble 1989 from a historical standpoint. 
This was the show which set both tone and standard for all over Rumbles to come, provided that memorable moment between Demolition and of course, started Hogan and Savage on the road to dissent. More of that at another time.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

EVENT REVIEW: WWF (WWE) ROYAL RUMBLE 1988

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1998 logo Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario
January 24, 1988


In the time before the World Wrestling Federation became the pay per view juggernaut we know and sometimes love today (albeit as the WWE), the first Royal Rumble event began life as a television special designed, as legend has it, simply to stick it to Jim Crocket Promotions, who were hosting their NWA Bunkhouse Stampede pay per view on the same night.

Whilst the NWA show would fade into eventual obscurity, WWF's January event would, of course, go on to become an annual tradition. Yet the inaugural event was far from flawless and featured the good, the bad, and the incredibly boring.

Here's what went down.


WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1- LIVE AT COPPS COLISEUM
Following a welcome from your commentary team of Vince McMahon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura (as excellent a pairing here as they ever were) and a run down of tonight's card, things kick off properly with the one and only Ravishing Rick Rude getting what would go on to be known as "The Jobber Entrance" for tonight's opening contest.


Ravishing Rick Rude vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.
If Rick Rude wasn't the established star he would go on to become when this match started, he would certainly be one step closer to stardom by the time it concluded.

Both men put gave a valiant effort in this one-on-one encounter, The Ravishing One using strength and brute force to counter The Dragon's speed and agility.

Following an opening tumble, Steamboat accepted Rude's challenge to a test of strength, yet was no match for his muscular foe and quickly reduced to his knees. Putting his wrestling prowess to good use, Steamboat eventually found a counter and slapped on an armbar.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1988 - RAVISHING RICK RUDE
The story from then on in was a simple-yet-effective one (much aided by an explanation as to the dragon's motives from Ventura on commentary, something sorely lacking from today's announce teams); Steamboat could not outmatch Rude for pure power, so instead concentrated on working over his opponent's arm, taking strength out of the equation.

Using this as the basis, the two Ricks delivered a very enjoyable, solid contest with perhaps more 'arm drag into arm bar' spots from Ricky Steamboat than certainly this writer has ever seen in a single contest.

The end came as The Dragon looked to finish off his foe with a huge leap from the top rope. The dastardly Rude however, pulled referee Dave Hebner in harm's way, forcing him to take the blow. Seizing the advantage, Rude applied a submission hold, and claimed victory when the official revived himself enough to call for the bell.

All was not as it seemed however, and in a somewhat obvious move, the match was awarded to Steamboat on grounds of a disqualification.
Your Winner by disqualification: Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.


WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1988 - DINO BRAVO
What happened next was probably the most boring thing your reviewer has ever seen on any wrestling show ever as Dino Bravo (with manager Frenchie Martin, who refused to speak English to mic man Gene Okerlund) attempted to break a new world record by bench pressing 715lbs. After warming up by pressing progressively heavier amounts and yelling at the crowd quite a bit, Bravo eventually accomplished his feat, yet only by cheating; spotter Jesse Ventura lending a hand.

The whole thing lasted almost 20 minutes (though it felt more like 20 hours) and reached hitherto unforeseen levels of tedium. Seriously, this thing was so bad that, reflecting back on it during the final match of the show, Vince McMahon himself even claimed 'I thought it was boring.'

WWF Women's Tag Team Championship  2-out-of-3 Falls match
The Glamour Girls defend against The Jumping Bomb Angels
Thankfully, things picked up again with a fun, exciting match between defending women's tag team champions Judy Martin and Leilani Kai defended their (fairly meaningless, even back then) women's tag team titles against Japanese exports Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki.

WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1988 - JIMMY HART WITH THE GLAMOUR GIRLS
The action in the ring moved at a furious pace for the time, The Jumping Bomb Angels using quickness, aerial  assaults and a whole arsenal of moves which had barely been introduced to US audiences before as The Glamour Girls counted by basically beating the crap out of the challengers.

Perhaps the most curious part of this whole match was McMahon, when questioned by his broadcast partner, claiming he had no idea as to the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels, instead referring to them throughout the contest as 'Pink Angel' and 'Red Angel' according to their attire.

Perhaps this was an attempt to add a bit of mystique to the ladies from the Orient, or perhaps Vinny Mac genuinely didn't know, or care, which just seems odd.

What also seems fairly odd is that the belts were constantly referenced to as the WWF Women's titles, yet any and all on-screen text surrounded this match named them the WWF Ladies titles. True, this is a small quibble, yet still, a bit of consistency would have been nice.

At any rate, Pink Angel and Red Angel won the match by two falls to one to capture the gold in a thrilling contest which really put modern day women's wrestling to shame.
Your Winners and new WWF Women's Tag Team Champions: The Jumping Bomb Angels

A pattern was beginning to emerge here; great match followed by boring angle. Following the ladies battle, it was the turn of WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant to send everybody to sleep.

Hulk and Andre sign the contract for their upcoming match
WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1988 - HULK HOGAN / TED DIBIASE / ANDRE THE GIANT
The background to this segment should be fairly well-known by any long time wrestling fan, yet here it is again anyway:

At Wrestlemania III, Hogan defeated The Giant in their now legendary showdown, yet early on in the match, Andre was convinced he'd scored a pinfall when he fell on top of the champion following a failed bodyslam attempt.

Enraged, Andre would claim to anyone who would listen that he'd defeated Hogan, and was out for revenge.

Meanwhile, Ted Dibiase had attempted to purchase the WWF title from The Hulkster. Declaring that he (and the Hulkamaniacs at large) didn't have a price for The Million Dollar Man, the champ declined the offer, leading to Dibiase's hiring of Andre to defeat Hogan, win the belt and deliver it to him.

So far, so good, right?

And the this happened.

With the heels (Andre, flanked by Dibiase and his lackey, Virgil) already in the ring along with Mean Gene Okerlund and WWF President Jack Tunney, Hogan made his way to the ring and riled the crowd before taking his seat at the contract-signing table.

Andre, meanwhile, simply rocked back and forth against the ropes with a look upon his enormous face which flirted between apathy and cockiness (though which the announcers assured us was a look of disdain).

He did this forever.

OK, maybe that's a lie, but he genuinely did nothing for a very long time. OK, it made sense, the longer Andre did nothing, the more the crowd would hate him and want to see The Hulkster kick his ass, but then there's doing nothing to get a reaction  and then there's doing nothing for so long that things start to get very dull, very quickly.

Eventually, after much goading from Mean Gene, Andre sat down to sign, and this segment finally ended the way all wrestling contract signings do; somebody got beat up.

In this case, Andre slammed Hogan's head into the table, then pushed Hogan on his ass.

As segments go, this was a poor one.

The Royal Rumble Match
20 Man Battle Royal featuring The Hart Foundation, Tito Santana, 'The Natural' Butch Reed, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Sam Houston, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Ultimate Warrior, One Man Gang and more.



WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 1988 - JIMMY HART w/ BRET HART
And so it was that Bret Hart and Tito Santana became the first ever participants in a Royal Rumble match, squaring off with some fairly enjoyable action until Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart entered at #3 and #4 respectively to help out 'The Hitman'.

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts eventually hit the ring to even things, making the first ever Rumble elimination when he tossed Reed over the top rope.

From there, things generated into your typical battle royal. The ring began to fill with bodies, each one vying for victory, pounding on one another and making attempts at eliminations.

All things considered, this was a decent battle royal event with enough action to keep things entertaining throughout. There's certainly been far worse battle royals in the history of wrestling, and this one is at least worth a look.

HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN WINS THE 1988 WWF / WWE ROYAL RUMBLE
In the end, Hacksaw Jim Duggan ducked a charging One Man Gang and pulled the top rope down, causing the future Akeem to topple to the outside, giving the match to Duggan.
Your Winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan

The show continued with more Hulk Hogan, this time giving an interview to short-lived WWF interviewer Craig DeGeorge in which he claimed that if Andre wanted to beat him in their rematch that coming February, he would have to defeat 'Each and every Hulkamaniac' which, of course, Hogan didn't think his rival was capable of.

With time still to kill, it was down to the final match of the night.

2-out-of-3 Falls Match:
The Islanders (Haku & Tama) vs. The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers) 
In all honest, the career of Islander Tama somehow passed me by, which is a shame since he was the most enjoyable thing in this lengthy contest, displaying an in-ring talent and natural charisma which should have surely earned him a more memorable career.

It was Tama, brother of Umaga and Rikishi, who shone in the early moments of the match as both teams traded the advantage until those evil Islanders (at the time engaged in a feud with the British Bulldogs over the kidnapping of the Brit's mascot Matilda), sent Roma crashing to the outside, injuring the Stallion's knee. Unable to meet the referee's count, Roma lost the first fall for his team via count-out.

Selling the injury, Roma was taken to the back to be checked over. As The Islanders waited in the ring, time was killed thanks to a promo from Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant.

The match resumed with Powers picking up the slack on behalf of his injured comrade. Haku and Tama spent the bulk of the second half beating down on Powers before Roma eventually grabbed the hot tag, only to be just as destroyed and eventually succumbing to a pinfall after Tama leapt off the rop onto his foe's injured leg.
Your Winners: The Islanders




So that was that then, the first ever Royal Rumble event in the history books. A far cry from the pomp and spectacle we've come to expect from today's pay per view spectacles, this was a mixed  bag as far as quality is concerned. Great matches in Steamboat vs. Rude and Glamour Girls vs. Jumping Bomb Angels and an entertaining Royal Rumble match make this show worth watching.
That said, the contract signing was poor, the bench press record was by far the most dull thing ever filmed at a wrestling event, and the tag team main event, though at least decent, was a strange choice to end the show on.
Thankfully, things would only get better for this event as the years wore on.

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.