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

Showing posts with label Rougeaus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rougeaus. Show all posts

Monday, 27 June 2022

EVENT REVIEW: WWF The Big Event (1986)

WWF The Big Event - Event Graphic

August 28, 1986,
Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, Ontario

Although currently classed as a PPV (sorry, Premium Live Event) on the WWE Network, WWF's The Big Event was never broadcast on Pay Per View, or anywhere else for that matter other than the fondly-remembered Coliseum Home Video.

Despite that, it was a phenomenal success for the World Wrestling Federation, attracting some 65,000 fans to the Torono Exhibition Stadium for a world title main event between reigning champion, Hulk Hogan, and his arch-nemesis, Paul Orndoff.

Here's what went down:

Welcome to Toronto!

Our show tonight began with a helicopter’s eye view of Toronto with Mean Gene Okerlund giving a voiceover in which he pretended to be on the actual helicopter.

C’mon Gene, your fooling nobody with that one.

As the ‘copter flew across the city and random shots of tonight’s stats were intercut, Okerlund told us how amazing Toronto was before putting over tonight’s big matches.

The wrestling clips from this intro were clearly from the event itself and the first thing you notice is just how loud and crazy the crowds were.

WWE may be more profitable than ever these days, but you can’t help but wonder if the part of Vince McMahon that still cares about his product doesn’t pine for the days when he could pack an arena full of fans who were genuinely this enthusiastic.

Hoss & Jimmy Jack Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Killer Bees (Jumpin" Jim Brunzell & B. Brian Blair)

With the intro, we cut straight to our opening contest with both The Funks and The Killer Bees already in the ring and the trio of Gorilla Monsoon, Big Cat Ernie Ladd, an Lucious Johnny Valiant on commentary.

The match was -I kid you not- fantastic.

OK, so if you compared it to a modern day Bryan Danielson classic it probably doesn’t seem all that fantastic, but it was way better than I expected for a 1986 WWF show.

The Killer Bees clearly brought their working boots and kept up a relentless pace, so relentless that there wasn’t a single moment when I could pause to grab a half-decent screenshot because everybody just kept moving.

Meanwhile, The Funks proved to be the perfect heels for the match, countering B. Brian Blair & ‘Jumpin’ Jim Brunzel’s fast-paced technical style with underhand tactics and general bad guy shenanigans.

It was a lot of fun.

In the end, the ‘Bees decided to confuse both their opponents and the referee by donning masks so that nobody could tell who was who.

The confusion allowed Blair & Brunzel to pick up the win.
Your Winners: The Killer Bees

That whole mask gimmick seemed like something heels would do, the crowd were so vocally into The Killer Bees that it was met with roaring approval.

King Tonga vs. The Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji)

WWF The Big Event Review - Magnificent Murraco vs. Haku

King Tonga was, of course, a svelte and youthful Haku and he was booed by the Toronto crowd just as loudly as his opponent, Magnificent Muraco, which makes it impossible for this writer to tell if Tonga was a heel or a face here.

The match went to a full 20-minute time limit draw but it was heavily clipped so we didn’t see the whole thing.

The heavy editing job was welcome here because this was far from the most exciting match you’ll ever see.

The parts we were shown were mainly rest holds and Muraco slowly, methodically working Tonga’s legs.

I’m not prepared to say that it was awful because it was very much a match of it’s time period, but you do have to question how boring this match really was if all the highlights were so uninspired.
Time-Limit Draw

Moving on…

Ted Arcidi vs. Tony Garea

WWF The Big Event Review - Ted Arcidi

This wasn’t a good match. The crowd didn’t care about it at all and spent half their time looking at something elsewhere in the arena while Tony Garea clearly did his best to make Ted Arcidi look good but failed.

After less than three minutes (at least as it was shown here) Arcidi took Garea out with a bear hug.

To be fair, that finish was at least funny.

To really sync the hold in, Arcidi bounced up and down with Garea in the bear hug so the referee started bouncing up and down with them and it looked like all three were having a fun time.

At least they were because I’m sure nobody who watched this match had fun.
Your Winner: Ted Arcidi

WWF The Big Event Review - Mean Gene Okerlund interiews Jimmy Hart

Out on the arena floor, Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart.

Hart began to rant about all the terrible things The Junkyard Dog had done to him and swore that he’d get revenge tonight.

Before he could go any further, Hart was dragged away by the man who would get that revenge for him, Adorable Adrian Adonis.

Adorable Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Junkyard Dog

WWF The Big Event Review - Adorable Adrian Adonis with  Jimmy Hart

I appreciate this may be blasphemy to some, but I’ve never really understood why Junkyard Dog is held in such high regard.

In all the years that I’ve been watching pro wrestling, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a good match.

Of course, it didn’t help that Adonis was his opponent tonight.

Now fully into the flamboyant, gender-bending ‘adorable’ character, Adrian had really let himself go by this stage in his career and couldn’t seem to wrestle a decent match if his life depended on it.

In fact, this match tonight was only a few months removed from his horrible Wrestlemania 2 match against Uncle Elmer which for years had been the worst match I’ve ever seen in my life until I recently watched the scaffold match from WCW Great American Bash ‘91.

Anyway, not only was this match not great from a wrestling standpoint, it made absolutely no sense.

Early on, JYD blatantly pummelled Adonis with his steel chain right in front of the referee who let it slide.

Then, Junkyard (who was the babyface, remember) grabbed the same referee and threw him across the ring in what I’d describe as a pretty unprovoked attack.

Instead of calling for the DQ, the ref simply let it slide and the match continued.

The two combatants then brawled to the floor and barely beat the referee’s ten count.

Once back in the ring, JYD threw Adonis back outside and the referee instantly called for the bell without bothering to give Adonis a ten count.
Your Winner via Some Bullshit Finish: Junkyard Dog

Seriously, what the heck was that?

That was either the worst case of biased officiating ever seen in favour of a babyface or that idiot referee had never seen a pro wrestling match before in his life.

Dick Slater vs. Iron Mike Sharpe

WWF The Big Event Review - Dick Slater Haters Are Greater

Dick Slater wasn’t dirty yet and that made him the babyface here while Iron Mike
Sharpe was a heel whose loud, vocal selling really made this entire match.

The version shown on the WWE Network wasn’t very long and the action itself was decent but forgettable, though Iron Mike’s constant backing off and loud “no! No! No!” Yells every time Slater came near him made this a pretty fun match.

Slater won with an elbow from the top rope to Iron Mike’s head.
Your Winner: Dick Slater

WWF The Big Event Review - Mean Gene interviews Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan

Back on the arena floor, the ever-entertaining Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan spoke to Mean Gene about his involvement in our next match.

Heenan was, just as you’d expect, excellent at riling up the crowd here.

The Machines (uper Machine, Big Machine & Captain Lou Albano w/ Giant Machine) vs. King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd and Bobby Heenan)

WWF The Big Event Review - The Machines

For those unfamiliar with The Machines, the story goes thusly:

Andre The Giant was in a feud with Bobby Heenan and his crew. Giant no-showed a match which led to Heenan calling for his suspension.

The storyline suspension was granted, which gave Andre the chance to take time off to rehab an injury and film The Princess Bride.

When he returned, the suspension was still in place, so Andre did the whole “masked guy who’s real identity is obvious” ala The Midnight Rider, The Yellow Dog, Mr. America etc and called himself The Giant Machine.

Captain Lou Albano had then recruited two other masked machines who were better known as Bill Eadie and Blackjack Lanza, and thus we got tonight’s match.

Though this was far from a technical masterpiece, the crowd were hot for it and the competitors did their best to keep them hot, which made for entertaining viewing.

After a decent big man match, all hell inevitably broke loose and Giant Machine -who wasn’t officially involved in the match- stormed in and attacked, causing the referee to call for the bell.
Your Winners via DQ: Bobby Heenan, Big John Studd, and King Kong Bundy.

Post match, Andre beat up Heenan who sold like an absolute hero.

Howard Finkle then announced the heels as the winners by disqualification and the babyfaces looked absolutely shocked, as if they didn’t know that having an illegal man come in the ring and attack would lead to a DQ.

Maybe they were hoping they’d have the same dumb ass official from the JYD/Adonis match and expected a different outcome.

Snake Pit Match
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

A snake pit match was basically a no-DQ, anything does match.

WWF The Big Event Review - Jake 'The Snake' Roberts vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat

To the surprise of no one, this was the best match on the card so far by a country mile.

The two wrestled, they brawled, Ricky Steamboat got busted open, and Jake Roberts was so good that the crowd seemed to love him despite him being a sinister heel.

After an excellent battle, Roberts had Steamboat beaten down and battered into a bloody mess, but The Dragon caught him off guard with a roll-up at the last second and snatched victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat.
Your Winner: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

That was good.

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules Hernandez

It’s interesting seeing Billy Jack Haynes looking so well put together here when I’ve been far more used to seeing him lately as the portly Black Blood at events like Clash of the Champions 15 five years after The Big Event took place.

As the two locked up, it became obvious that Gorilla Monsoon was calling this match solo, and was doing so from a studio rather than an arena. 

Gorilla explained the jarring change in commentary by claiming that his colleagues Johnny Valiant and Ernie Ladd had gone out to buy groceries.

Because, you know, what a normal thing to do while you're in the middle of calling a wrestling show.

Nothing really happened in this match, so a clearly bored Monsoon went through the motions and spent as much time bigging up the magnitude of the event as he did calling what little action there was to call.
Your Winner: Billy Jack Haynes

The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond) vs. The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine)

I’m very much one of those people who believes that opposing wrestlers shouldn’t wear the same attire, but apparently, Greg Valentine wasn’t.

He wore the exact same trunks as his opponent which looked kind of dumb and occasionally gave the impression that he was on their team.

Having returned from his grocery shopping, Valentine and Brutus Beefcake’s manager, Johnny Valiant cheered them on as they gradually picked apart The Rougeau Brothers and gave us a solid, formulaic tag team match.

I don’t mean “formulaic” in the bad sense either.

The standard tag team match formula has worked for decades, and it certainly worked here, giving us a match that may have been the best thing on the card had we not seen the Roberts/Steamboat match.

As a side note, I love the way Gorilla Monsoon consistently referred to Raymond Rougeau as “Ray-moan.”

Speaking of The Rougeaus, as good as The Dream Team were at being the aggressors, Ray-Moan and brother Jacques were effective as the popular babyfaces.

That said, they were obviously much better as heels, if only because their heel run gave us one of the greatest pro wrestling themes of all time.

After a well-fought match, The Rougeuas emerged victorious thanks to a sunset flip by Jacques.
Your Winners: The Rougeau Brothers

And on we go..

Harley Race vs. Pedro Morales

We joined this match in progress and I’ve read some pretty poor reviews of it, but I honestly didn’t think it was that bad.

Clocking in at a little under four minutes, it was obviously designed to give space between the excellent tag match and the main event, and it served its purpose well.

After a few short minutes of decent but unremarkable action, Handsome Harley Race got the win with his foot on the ropes.
Your Winner: Harley Race

Post-match, the crowds chanted loudly. I thought they were changing “Hogan!” But Monsoon said they were letting it be known what they thought of the match which may mean they were actually chanting “Bullsh*t!”

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff

WWF The Big Event Review - Paul Orndorff thinks he's the champion!

This was a good Hogan-style main event with Paul Orndorff getting the best out of the reigning champion.

This was the match that had sold out the venue to capacity, so it was no surprise that the crowd were red hot for it, and that level of pure excitement helped to elevate this one to something special.

After a good 80s-era WWF main event match, Paul Orndorff got disqualified when his manager, Bobby Heenan, struck Hogan with a chair.
Your Winner via DQ and Still WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan

Afterwards, Heenan put the belt on Mr. Wonderful who proceeded to attack Hogan, only for the champion to make his big comeback to send the crowd home happy.

The Big Event was big in stature but not so big on quality wrestling.

I can’t remember the last time I watched a wrestling event with such a large audience of fans who were so rabidly enthusiastic and genuinely excited to be there.

Yes, I know Wrestlemania is a humongous event these days, but while it may match tonight’s event in terms of the crowd it draws, modern day Mania pales in comparison to The Big Event in terms of a lively, impassioned crowd.

Still, the match quality wasn’t great. Although I personally enjoyed the opening match much more than many other reviewers seem to, and although the main event was good for a Hulk Hogan title defence, only Dragon/Snake and the Dream Team/Rouegaus matches stood out as being particularly excellent from a pure wrestling standpoint.

Not the greatest show of all time then, but certainly one I’m glad I watched.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Top 10 WWF / WWE Wrestling Themes of the 1980s

top 10 WWF wrestling themes of the 1980s
Just recently, we got done reviewing the two major contributions to music  m made by pro wrestling in the 1980s  - first 1985's Wrestling Album and its 1987 follow-up, Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2

There was some dross on those albums sure (hello, Land of 1,000 Dances) but there was also a lot of good stuff too (Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Coo anyone?), and that got me thinking...

Namely, it got me thinking about the fact that so many of my favourite WWF wrestling themes came from the 1980s.

Sure, the 90s had some gems, but let's be honest, the 80s really was the golden age of the pro wrestling theme, wasn't it?

With that in mind, let's turn back the clock and count down Retro Pro Wrestling's top then WWF themes of the 80s.

10: Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake 

No, I'm deadly serious.

Though I'm not sure it was entirely suited to a male-stripper-cum-hairdresser, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake's theme tune was a terreffically fun piece of music that always had me bopping along whenever the Booty Man would make his way ringside.

I even mentioned in an earlier review what a good little track it was.

OK, so it wasn't exactly iconic like a lot of stuff on this list, but it was undeniably catchy, and a great fit for the popular crowd favourite.

9: The Rockers

Given how truly iconic 'Sexy Boy' would become, I think many of us overlook what a kick-ass track Shawn Michaels' first WWF entrance theme really was.

Tearing to the ring with partner, Marty Jannetty, Michaels' Rockers entrance was always a highlight of late-80s WWF programming for this writer, and a big part of that was because of this theme.

Sure,  it sounds a lot like a demo version of The Ultimate Warrior's track, but then who says that's a bad thing?

8: Macho Man Randy Savage - Pomp & Circumstance

The very first moment that first chord strikes up - you know you're in for something special. Despite what you might think about the late Warrior's personal views, there's no denying that when it comes to being a physical presence back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, nobody came close to The Ultimate Warrior.

What he lacked in wrestling ability, the Warrior made up for by being a force of pure cosmic insanity that was just fascinating to watch as a kid, and I dare say that the man who would become one of the most popular characters of all time just wouldn't have been half as entertaining without this smash-mouth theme tune.

 6: Mr. Perfect - Perfect

And no, we're not talking about that abomination of a remix/audio vomit that was the Mr. Perfect song from 1993's Wrestlemania: The Album.

We're talking about that magical, grandiose piece of music that would accompany the one and only Curt Hennig (and was later ripped off for Shawn Stasiak in WCW), the one that when you hear it you instantly know you're in for a great match, the one that is, in every sense of the word, the perfect theme.

Yeah, I went there.

5: Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase - It's All About The Money 

Few wrestling themes from any era are quite as instantly recognisable as the soundtrack of evilness that was The Million Dollar Man's theme - and not just because Ted Dibiase himself played the role to perfection.

From Ted's opening cackle to Jimmy Hart's Nintendo-esque guitar riff, everything about this theme is glorious, not to mention seriously addictive.

Trust me - listen to the video and then go about your day. I bet you find yourself singing "money, money, money, money, mu-kneeee" at least once today.

4: Slick - Jive Soul Bro 

As I believe I mentioned in my review of Piledriver, I'm never entirely sure if it's politically correct to like Jive Soul Bro, but damn do I find it entertaining.

You see, although it may very catchy and infectious and full of the kind of rhythms that force you to bop your head whenever you hear it, what really makes Jive Soul Bro such a great song is that -like all good wrestling themes- it perfectly embodies the character that was Slick.

For those only familiar with The Doctor of Style from that time he officiated Daniel Bryan & Aj Lee's wedding, he was a devious and conniving heel manager who espoused the idea that 'honesty is the best policy' despite being one of the most dishonest guys on the roster.

It was a character that Slick played wonderfully, and that he carries forward in this song as he talks about all his failed attempts to be a player  and date multiple women.

The man was hysterical, and easily one of my favourite characters of the decade.

Take one listen, and I'm sure you'll see why.

3: Derringer - Demolition 

'Here comes the Ax, and here comes the Smash-ugh'

The second you heard those words, delivered in a guttural snarl over a menacing, heavy metal guitar riff, you know you were about to see one of the most unique acts in the WWF at that time.

From their BDSM-style ring attire to their face paint and no-BS ring style, Demolition were like nothing else.

I mean, yes, they were a direct rip-off of The Road Warriors, but when you're a little kid, you neither know, nor care about that.

All you care about is these two bad-ass dudes coming down the ring to destroy somebody. It was exciting as hell, and that excitement started the very moment you heard this hard-hitting Derringer track, taken from the Piledriver album.

2: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers - All American Boys  

Glorious, hilarious, and ridiculously catchy, Jimmy Hart penned this theme for his Canadian team The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and it's been one of my favourites since.

OK, so it lacks the bad-ass riffage of Rick Derringer's Demolition theme, and it isn't quite as iconic as the song that's in our number one spot, but then very few actually are.

Instead, what we've got here is a track that was so perfectly suited to Jacques and Raymond, two brothers who managed that rare feat of pulling off the 'we're nice guys really' heel gimmick to perfection.

Honestly, just give it a listen - isn't it fantastic?

1: Hulk Hogan - Real American 

I love All American Boys so much that I was tempted to give it the number one spot, but let's be honest:

How could I?

How could I justify handing the title of the 1980s Wrestling theme to two Canadians pretending to be Americans when we've got the actual, genuine, Real American right here?

Besides, it's Hulk F'N Hogan - the embodiment of 80s wrestling and the reason why we're even talking about the WWF and it's superstars here today.

Yes, I know the track was originally intended for I.R.S and The Stalker, but aren't you glad this scorching rock song became synonymous with the biggest thing in wrestling instead?

I mean Real American sounds HUGE in every possible sense of the word.

I still get shivers down my spine when I hear it even today, and you better believe  that it doesn't take long for me to start rocking out when I hear that sharp-yet-strangely-uplifting guitar riff.

Here's to Real American.

Here's to Hulk Hogan.

Here's to all the stars -and the rocking tunes- that made the 1980s such a fun time to be a wrestling fan.

Disagree with any of my picks?

Let me now in the comments below, or by commenting on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page

Alternatively, let's connect on Twitter @RetroPwrestling

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 its 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.

Welcome to the Royal Rumble! 

With his trademark growl in full force, a hyperactive Vince McMahon ran down tonight's card including a complete itinerary 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 lost their frickin' minds for Luke and Butch. Then again, as the show went on, it seemed everything was insanely over on this cold January evening.

Here they took 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 riotous fashion (teaming with Dino Bravo to face Hacksaw Duggan and The Harts) their opening performance here was less a wrestling classic, and more a comedy show for the benefit of the live crowd.

Indeed, while 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 recognizable 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 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 group of men 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 that was completely different than 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 that turned into something of 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- 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 Schiavone 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. In fact, I'd argue that he was the best wrestler on the mic besides Jake Roberts throughout the entire show.

Brother Love interviews Sensational Queen Sherri and Saphire

Having a segment in front of the live crowd which featured no actual 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 got 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 to an end 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 incredibly 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 Bossman 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 featured here included 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.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1990 - The Ultimate Warrior

Each man naturally 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.

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 Jannetty 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

Afterward, 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, it proved to be a PPV that delivered on almost every level.

Here’s what went down:

Welcome to the Royal Rumble! 

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 very entertaining see-saw battle, it was Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 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 was absolutely insane to see just how over he was in this match. The capacity crowd responded 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 a vicious elbow drop to Raymond Rougeau to even the scores for his team.

From there, the match only got better

Jim 'The Anvil' 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, but 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 review 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.

Back at ringside, the WWF returned to something they'd delivered plenty of during the '88 Rumble:

A 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 intense 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
WWF Women's Champion Rockin Robin vs. Judy Martin
The camera cut away from the aforementioned Warrior/Rude showdown to find both Judy 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 challenge the winner of this match for the women's championship.

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

When The Slickster was shown footage of his earlier encounter with The Million Dollar Man, he replied with a line that had this writer in stitches.

“Ohhh, you mean *that* Ted Dibiase, I thought you meant homeboy Ted what did my shoeshine.” 

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

Up next, we went to more pre-recorded footage of the managers of various WWF superstars including Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Hart and Miss. Elizabeth. 

I'll be honest, it made me pine for the days when managers were such an integral part of the show, even if neither Hart nor Fuji said anything of note here in this particular instance.

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.


King Haku vs. Harley Race

In the final undercard bout, the big man King 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. Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, and a select few others all reminded the audience that this would be every man for himself and declared 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.

Reinforcing the idea that anything really could happen in the Royal Rumble match and that, yes, it really was 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 by lasting the better part of half an hour, beating Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart’s previous record by around two minutes.

It was Perfect who stood out as one of the highlights 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 minutes 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.


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, lacking much of the excitement which had 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 the 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.

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.