Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Royal Rumble 1990


*** Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

Royal Rumble 1990: The Perfect Politician

January 21, 1990
Orlando Arena
Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16, 000
Buy Rate: 2.0
Announcers: Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura

Fun Fact: This is Tony Schiavone’s final PPV appearance with the WWF. He would head back to WCW before WrestleMania and remain there until the company folded in 2001. After a brief stop in TNA, Tony pretty much left the business for good and returned to calling sports in Atlanta.

1) The Bushwhackers defeat the Rougeau Brothers when Butch pins Jacques Rougeau with the Battering Ram at 13:34

Fun Fact: This is the Rougeau Brothers’ final PPV match as a team. Their final PPV record is 3-6-1. They were 0-2 at the Royal Rumble, 0-3 at Wrestlemania, 1-0-1 at SummerSlam and 2-1 at Survivor Series. Raymond would retire shortly after this show due to back injuries while Jacques would take some time off before prepping for an eventual return.

Scott: We open a new decade with a WrestleMania rematch. The Rougeaus have been one of the best tag teams in the company but on this day they seemed a bit off. Rumors were they were leaving the promotion and mailed this one in but that doesn’t seem like either of these guys’ character (real life, not kayfabe). The Orlando crowd is off the hook for this match immediately and the wide camera shot of the sold out crowd makes this such a huge show and for the first time this PPV concept overall seems particularly special. The crowd carries most of this match since the in-ring work is good, but not great. We have two teams of varying degrees who do have some history, as nine months earlier in Atlantic City the Bushwhackers won that match as well. I was surprised Luke and Butch got the rematch win, so maybe there was something to those rumors in PWI of the Rougeaus leaving. The match is standard but the crowd is totally geeked and the energy level is sky high. Grade: **

Justin: For the second time in three shows, Tony Schiavone steps in for Gorilla Monsoon to call this one alongside Jesse Ventura, who is decked out in Mickey garb to celebrate the company’s trip to Orlando. Tony would head back south shortly after this, so we will see if he can match his SummerSlam showing or if he already has one foot out the door. Speaking of one foot out the door, our beloved Rougeau Brothers were about to wrap up their lengthy run in the company. They had been with WWF since 1986 but with Ray nursing injuries and looking to ease into retirement and the fact that they clearly weren’t very high on the tag ladder any more, a departure made sense. Once again they are paired with the Bushwhackers, just as they were at WrestleMania V and this past Survivor Series. The Whackers have pretty much dominated their feud, sadly. Jacques is rocking a pretty swank beard for this one. The fans were really into Luke and Butch and their Three Stooges act, I will say that. I will also say it is sad to have seen the Rougeaus devolve into a comedy act over the last year. With the Whackers continuously biting in this one, Jesse goes off on a tangent about how they may have rabies that always makes me chuckle. After the Whackers got off to a really hot start, the Rougeaus took a break from stooging and double teamed their way into control. They would start to pick apart Luke’s back with a nice mix of strikes and double teaming. Ray had definitely gotten a little pudgy, which I am sure had to do with his chronic back problems that would drive him to retirement. I love how much of a dick Jacques was, dropping to his back just so he could do a kip up and strut around. I am probably going to mention it a dozen more times here, but man this crowd was ridiculously hot. As Ray hooked in a camel clutch, Jesse was beaming with pride over the Rougeaus using wrestling to wear down the brawlers and then shouts down Tony when he complains of double teaming. Luke would make the hot tag to Butch, who started cleaning house on both opponents as well as Jimmy Hart, who got dragged into the ring and picked apart before his charges saved him. As the Rougeaus regrouped on one side of the ring, the Whackers loaded up the Battering Ram and slammed into both brothers, pinning Jacques off the ricochet for yet another win. The crowd loved the finish but I didn’t! My poor Rougeaus. I will miss you guys. The match was nothing special, natch, and pretty similar to their tilt at WrestleMania V. Grade: *1/2

*** Backstage, Ted DiBiase is fuming and reveals that he picked #1. Gene Overland notes that Jack Tunney had extra security in place when he picked to ensure there were no shenanigans like the ones that occurred a year earlier. ***

2) The Genius and Brutus Beefcake wrestle to a double disqualification at 11:05

Fun Fact: On the 11/25/89 Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Genius picked up the biggest win of his career, as he defeated World Champion Hulk Hogan by count-out, after Mr. Perfect nailed Hogan with the title belt. The heat from the Perfect/Hogan feud was transferred to Beefcake, leading to this match.

Scott: A growing feud between Hulk Hogan and Mr. Perfect extends to each mans friends as Lanny Poffo has his first PPV singles match ever against the very popular Beefcake. I remember the huge upset on Saturday Night’s Main Event when Hogan actually lost a decision to the Genius. Sure it was by countout but even that didn’t happen often when Hogan had a rare TV match. I am stunned at how hot this Orlando crowd is. The match isn’t that great though, as Genius spends a majority of the match posturing around the ring. Clearly he (like his brother) learned to do that in Memphis. After some back and forth, we get an ill-advised referee bump. Did we really need a ref bump in this match? Well to really bring the confusion home, after Beefer puts Genius to sleep, he starts cutting his hair, but the match isn’t over yet! Mr. Perfect comes in to start battling with Beefcake and then all of a sudden the bell just randomly rings. The referee is completely out, so who called for the bell? The match mercifully ends in a double disqualification, and I’m not sure why. How could the referee make any call on anything when he literally was just out cold? I don’t even know what happened in the match to call for a double DQ. The Perfect/Hogan feud is siphoned to Beefcake and now this feud continues to our next supercard up north. Otherwise this match is a complete mess. Grade: *

Justin: For the first time on PPV, we get a look at Mr. Perfect’s manager, The Genius, in action. Perfect and Genius were set up for a big 1990 as late in 1989 they became embroiled in a feud with Hulk Hogan and his buddy Brutus Beefcake. With Perfect entered in the Rumble, Genius draws a singles slot against the Barber here. Beefcake is decked out in white and pink and is really quite over as his stock continues to rise. Genius was quite effeminate in his mannerisms, skipping, prancing and stretching seductively in the corner before busting out a cartwheel on the floor. Jesse even calls him light in the loafers. That leads to a very evolved reaction from Beefcake, who blows a kiss, demonstrates a limp wrist, skips across the ring and vogues in the corner. The match would quickly become a slugfest with Genius actually hanging in while trading blows. Beefcake would rattle him with an atomic drop as well as stomp on his hands before crotching him on the top rope and again mocking Genius’ mannerisms as the crowd chanted a very derogatory slur. Genius would land a shot here and there but Beefcake would always quickly come back with a blow to rock him and kill his momentum. Even when Genius was on the offensive it never really felt like he had any sort of advantage. Beefcake would eventually hook the sleeper on but during a struggle, Genius slammed into the referee, sending him crashing to the floor. After a few more seconds of trading blows, Beefcake went back to the sleeper, but with no referee and the Genius out cold, Beefer released the hold. Sensing an opening, Beefcake grabbed his scissors and started to trim right from the top. I love how whenever Tony gets a bit too comfortable and jabs Jesse, Jesse snaps and puts him in his place. As the cutting continued, Perfect showed up on the scene and took it right to Beefcake, laying in some knees and forearms to draw a DQ. Perfect would grab a chair and bash Beefcake in the ribs with it a couple of times before officials broke things up. The match was just literally nothing but the heat for the characters and post match attack was fantastic. With that assault Beefcake and Perfect are far from finished but for now Perfect and Genius get the last laugh. Grade: 1/2*

3) Ron Garvin defeats Greg Valentine in a Submission Match with the Scorpion Deathlock at 16:52

Fun Fact: On the 12/23/89 Wrestling Spotlight, Ronnie Garvin came to ringside and stole Greg Valentine’s “Heartbreaker” shin guard, which he had been using to apply extra pressure when he applied the Figure Four Leglock. This led to Garvin wearing his own shin guard, which called the “Hammer Jammer.” The battle over the shin equipment would come in to play in the big PPV submission match.

Fun Fact II: This is Ronnie Garvin’s final WWF PPV match. Garvin would remain on TV through the summer before leaving the promotion and heading out to the indie circuit where he would wrestle on and off over the next fifteen years. Garvin also owns multiple used car dealerships in North Carolina. His final WWF PPV record was 1-3, with his only win coming here.

Scott: I want to preface my comments by saying that those who know me well know who my least favorite wrestlers in history are: Jim Duggan, Bushwhackers, Jimmy Valiant, and yes Ronnie Garvin. He’s a brutal promo guy and he really has no workrate. However, unlike those other three examples I have found a Ronnie Garvin match that I really like. Garvin’s hard-hitting strike style works well with Valentine’s strike/grapple hybrid style. I can’t believe that technically this feud goes all the way back to the end of 1988 when these two had a series of high profile house show matches in the Northeast. There’s a MSG match in December ’88 that apparently is a lost classic. For many years I glowed over this match and proclaimed it as a five-star classic. Of course that was before Justin and I really honed our guidelines down and put some real thought into these reviews. Watching the match a few times since, it is still very good but there are holes in it. Both guys took some time to really figure the stipulation out as they kept getting into pinning predicaments, including Garvin putting Valentine into a small package. That was really stupid. After about six minutes both guys settled in and the match really took on a war of attrition. The psychology of the match was both guys having shin guards to try and either enhance or counter figure four leglocks and other leg submission maneuvers. After Jimmy Hart actually steals Garvin’s “Heartbreaker” shin guard The Hammer really took control but Garvin battled back and got Valentine’s shin guard off and now it’s just a battle over who can really survive. Garvin clocks Valentine with his shinguard and then slaps the Scorpion on and eventually the Hammer taps out. Well submits, as “tap out” hadn’t hit the wrestling lexicon yet. Jesse denies that a submission took place but in any event the crowd went crazy and Garvin gets his biggest WWF win. The match is still very good but not as awesome as I remember it the first couple of times I watched it. Grade: ***

Justin: One of our most unlikely hottest feuds of 1989 comes to a climax here as Ronnie Garvin and Greg Valentine go toe-to-toe to finally settle their issues. There have been mind games, physical assaults and firings since May, but now the two will battle in the first ever WWF PPV submission match. There was also some nice psychology mixed in here as both men are wearing shin guards that would affect the effectiveness of their respective finishing submission holds. Jesse notes that Valentine’s guard is due to injury while Garvin is just being an asshole. And the guards had awesome names! The “Heartbreaker” and the “Hammer Jammer”. As you would expect, we get some stiff right hands and chops to open things off and the crowd was buzzing a bit while watching it. It would evolve into a bit of a boxing match, with both squaring off and tossing jabs at each other until Hammer finally got an opening to drop Garvin and go right to work wearing him down. During the match, both men would try for pins to really get the stipulation across and show that both men were a bit out of their element. I love how neither guy could gain that true advantage and would almost reset the bout at times before stiffing the crap out of each other again. With Garvin shaking cobwebs on the mat, Hammer turned his shinguard around and then hooked in the figure four, but it was quickly evident that Garvin’s guard was negating the hold as he just sat there and mocked Valentine until he released the hold. Hammer kept control and hoisted Garvin into a sweet hanging backbreaker, which popped Jesse hard. Garvin fought his way back with some gnarly chops and some picture perfect crisp right hands. Both men really dug deep into their bag of tricks as Garvin locked Valentine into an old school Indian Deathlock, but Hammer stayed alive by reaching the ropes. After a tussle on the floor, Jimmy Hart got involved and was able to slip the Hammer Jammer off Garvin’s leg. Valentine would pounce and go right back to the figure four and this time Garvin could fully feel the effects. He would fight through the pain, though, and turn the hold over to bust it up. The fans have really stayed with this one, getting louder and louder as the match built. Garvin was able to lay Hammer out for a moment and it was just long enough to move the Heartbreaker to even the sides up. Garvin would fend off Jimmy and then bash Hammer with the shinguard before hooking in the Scorpion Deathlock for the win to a gigantic pop. What a win! This was such a non-WWF style match in so many ways and that made it really stand out as something different and fun. The two guys just beat the shit out each other for over fifteen minutes, never slowing down or lightening up. They would try a submission hold here and there, but the majority of the time was spent pelting each other with stinging chops and fists. It was pretty cool watching these guys turn the clock back a bit and just go to war, stringing the fans along with them. I was glad they got such a spotlight shined on them with this showcase match and they really took advantage and put on a memorable bout. Garvin gets one last moment in the sun before fading away, bringing this feud to a close. Grade: ***

*** We take a break in the action for a special in-ring edition of the Brother Love Show. While  Love rambles, Tony makes a couple of fat jokes, wondering how many donuts the Brother had consumed that morning. Love then welcomes out his first guest, after laundering her with compliments of course: Sensational Queen Sherri. They would trade more gushing compliments before running down the other guest: Sweet Sapphire. Sapphire had gone from avid Dusty Rhodes fan to Dusty Rhodes’ manager over the winter. She was enthusiastic if nothing else, but other than that, she had a…unique look. Love and Sherri really tore her up for having no class and for being fat and sloppy, as did Jesse who calls her “tons of fun”, before she danced her way out to the ring. The commentary is pretty good as Tony actually debates which of the two he would rather date while Jesse is on the verge of vomiting at the thought of watching Sapphire. Love would pepper Sapphire with questions but never let her answer them as each time he and Sherri cut her off and shredded her more. This was real good heel work, especially when Love asked if Dusty just loads Sapphire in the back of his pickup truck when they travel. Sapphire finally snaps and smacks Sherri, which draws Macho King out to defend his woman. Before he can act, Dusty Rhodes is on his heels and all five brawl in and around the ring. After Savage and Sherri took off, Love decided to stile deride Dusty for some reason. Rhodes hopped back in the ring and chucked Love to the floor before dancing us out of the segment. ***

4) Jim Duggan defeats Big Boss Man by disqualification at 10:22

Scott: I saw that matchup and instantly I’m thinking a lot of punches and kicks. However, this match is where we really start to see the talent that Big Boss Man has in the ring. Once again, babyface announcers fail to justify why Duggan’s allowed to have a 2×4 in the ring but no heel is allowed to bring anything at all. Tony is sniping about Boss Man’s nightstick, but Duggan’s 2×4 is ok because it’s his “calling card.” Did the announcers ever notice that they sound so stupid? Of course with this being a Duggan match we’re also going to not have a definitive finish either, since God forbid he ever jobs. Boss Man’s enhanced in-ring work makes this match much better than it probably had any business being. Duggan actually sells Boss Man’s offense quite well when usually he sells for no one, but the crowd nevertheless is really into it. Tony was so dumb sometimes, as Jesse notes, Duggan shoved the referee and Tony goes “You sure about that?” Well we all just watched it you dope. Tony wouldn’t be sticking around too much longer. Boss Man ends the match with a nightstick shot and a disqualification. Duggan grabs his 2×4 and we get the usual Duggan post-match crap. The match was better than I anticipated, but Duggan as usual can’t have a match with a clean finish. Grade: **

Justin: Any day that I get to hear Jive Soul Bro is a good one. Slick leads Big Boss Man out to the ring for what should be a stiff little tussle with Hacksaw, who has finally moved past his feud with Randy Savage. It also looks like the Twin Towers have really moved on to doing their own thing for a bit here, as they are separated. You can tell they have bigger things in mind for Boss Man as he was the one that got singles feuds throughout 1989 while Akeem just backed him up. I am guessing these guys watched the previous match backstage and decided to pick up where they left off as they immediately kick things off by trading big right hands at each other. In a nice spot, Duggan charged Boss Man and sent him tumbling out to he floor. Hacksaw followed him out and they kept the fight going outside. Back inside, Boss Man used his weight to his advantage, bullying Duggan into the corner and chopping away. He then reversed course and busted Duggan with an enziguri (!) which popped Jesse big time. Nice move for a big guy. As Scott mentioned, Duggan did do a nice job selling here, putting over the power behind Boss Man’s strikes. Boss Man really laid them in too, as well as choking Duggan out with his boots and then just dropping his weight on Duggan’s gut. Hacksaw wouldn’t stay down, though, and kept coming right at Boss Man, making this feel like a big heavyweight fight. Sensing he had Duggan worn down, Boss Man hooked a bear hug but the crowd rallied him and Hacksaw busted it up with headbutts. He would drive Boss Man to the floor again after a series of clotheslines and I am really getting into this one now. The story has been well told, with Boss Man unloading everything as Duggan just stubbornly keeps coming at him. Towards the end, both men were down and out and had a dramatic climb to their feet and I totally believed it as they had really beaten the piss out of each other. It quickly fell apart from there as Boss Man accidentally slammed into Slick and then grabbed his nightstick and smashed Duggan for the DQ. Duggan retaliated by grabbing his 2×4 and bashing both Boss Man and Slick with it to drive them to the back. That was a really unexpectedly fun brawl with two guys unloading the chambers and chucking bombs left and right. There was a good story in there too and the DQ finish makes sense because Boss Man was exhausted and tired of trying to keep Duggan down. Grade: **1/2

5) Hulk Hogan wins the Royal Rumble

Order of entry, followed by who eliminated them:

  1. Ted DiBiase: Ultimate Warrior
    2. Koko B. Ware: Ted DiBiase
    3. Marty Jannetty: Ted DiBiase
    4. Jake Roberts: Randy Savage
    5. Randy Savage: Dusty Rhodes
    6. Roddy Piper: Bad News Brown
    7. Warlord: Andre the Giant
    8. Bret Hart: Dusty Rhodes
    9. Bad News Brown: Roddy Piper
    10. Dusty Rhodes: Earthquake
    11. Andre the Giant: Demolition
    12. Red Rooster: Andre the Giant
    13. Ax: Earthquake
    14. Haku: Hulk Hogan
    15. Smash: Haku
    16. Akeem: Jimmy Snuka
    17. Jimmy Snuka: Hulk Hogan
    18. Dino Bravo: Ultimate Warrior
    19. Earthquake: Haku, Jimmy Snuka, Ted DiBiase, Smash, Dino Bravo & Jim Neidhart
    20. Jim Neidhart: Rick Martel
    21. Ultimate Warrior: Hulk Hogan
    22. Rick Martel: Ultimate Warrior
    23. Tito Santana: Ultimate Warrior
    24. Honky Tonk Man: Hulk Hogan
    25. Hulk Hogan: WINNER
    26. Shawn Michaels: Ultimate Warrior
    27. Barbarian: Hercules
    28. Rick Rude: Hulk Hogan
    29. Hercules: Rick Rude
    30. Mr. Perfect: Hulk Hogan

Longest Time: Ted DiBiase (44:47)
Shortest Time: Shawn Michaels (00:12)
Most Eliminated: Hulk Hogan (6)

Fun Fact: As of 2014, over 40% of the participants in the match are in the Hall of Fame.

Fun Fact II: The Colossal Connection had defeated Demolition to win the WWF Tag Team Titles on December 13 (aired December 30).

Scott: The rest of the roster jumps right into the fire for our third annual Rumble event. We start with Ted DiBiase, who bought #30 last year is now #1. He eliminates Koko and Marty Jannetty but then the place goes insane as in comes Jake Roberts at #4, continuing their red hot feud. Both men go all out and this Orlando crowd, who deserve ***** for their non-stop energy level tonight, goes nuts when Jake hits the short-arm clothesline. That’s the pregame show for the DDT but DiBiase ducks away. At #5 is the Macho King Randy Savage, who has the oddest looking flower tights I’ve ever seen. He and DiBiase work Jake over until the next competitor, Hot Rod Roddy Piper, comes in to even the odds. We have awesome chaos in the ring right now as four future Hall of Famers go all out here. The mighty Warlord comes in to give the heels an edge but we have two great sellers in the ring in Jake and Savage, as both take any beating very well. Tony and Jesse work much better together than they did back at SummerSlam 1989. In comes Bret Hart and DiBiase is still in there after about 20 minutes. We don’t have many eliminations early on, but a guy that I think should have won a Rumble in his career comes in next: Bad News Brown. This match suits him perfectly. Savage eliminates Jake, and due to the lack of closure with DiBiase, that blood feud continues. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell Savage is wearing. Looks like tights a Samoan wrestler would wear. Speaking of Savage, Dusty Rhodes is next and they start throwing haymakers. Rhodes quickly eliminates the Macho King shortly after getting into the ring but that feud is far from over.

Andre the Giant is next but it is evident there’s not much left in his tank, walking VERY slowly to the ring. After pretty much no involvement at Survivor Series, he’s in his twilight. Andre quickly eliminates Warlord and the Royal Rumble is even where heels fight, as Bobby Heenan and Mr. Fuji go nose-to-nose. Red Rooster is next and we’ve only had three eliminations so that means someone’s coming in soon to make a big splash. I say that and Bad News Brown is eliminated, but after hitting the floor he eliminates Roddy Piper. Brown and Piper brawl to the back as another feud begins. Those are two guys that fit each other perfectly. Two loners who flat out love to fight. Next up is last year’s #1, Demolition Ax. Rooster is quickly pitched. I’ve actually enjoyed the flow here even with all the guys in the ring, as this portion of the match is setting up (or enhancing) feuds that are being prepped for WrestleMania. The other half of the Colossal Connection, Haku, comes in to help his partner Andre out. Seeing Bret and DiBiase in the corner battling makes you wonder what a great match those two could have at that point. At the halfway point, #15 Demolition Smash comes in to further the Tag Title feud. Andre is really working here, maybe the last high profile match that he really brings everything he has left in his aching body. Next up is the African Dream Akeem, followed by Jimmy Snuka. Snuka eliminates Akeem as a matter of fact and what a job Tony and Jesse are doing telling the story. DiBiase continues to set the record for longest time in the Rumble, which for the first time is mentioned often. Earthquake comes in and makes an immediate impact by eliminating Rhodes. We may not have seen an actual favorite in the match yet but Earthquake is making a claim by taking Rhodes and then Ax out. Jim Neidhart comes in next and goes right after Earthquake to soften him up. Finally some other guys start working Earthquake over and eventually everybody eliminates him, even the other heels.

We now get a legit favorite as in comes the Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior and the O-Rena goes crazy. He starts eliminating guys, like Bravo. Former Strike Force members Rick Martel and Tito Santana come in back-to-back and they immediately battle even though that feud is dead for the most part. Honky Tonk Man comes in next and the bodies are starting to fill up again and we are about to see why. One more HEAVY favorite hasn’t entered the Rumble yet. DiBiase is finally eliminated by Ultimate Warrior after 44:47, what an accomplishment. Next up is the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, and like with Warrior the place goes nuts. Hogan and Warrior are going crazy as eliminations come at a pretty brisk clip. We get some more action and then, THE MOMENT. Guys start getting eliminated, until only two men are standing. The World Champion and the Intercontinental Champion. They start sizing each other up and Orlando is becoming nuclear. Oh yes, this was definitely no accident, as Vince backstage is trying to size up what his main event April 1 at SkyDome could possibly be. The Orlando crowd gave him his answer as they are blowing the roof off the place. They do some pushing, shoving and then they clothesline each other. As they are down in comes the Barbarian. Rick Rude was next but he came in early before the countdown clock winds down. Hogan eliminates Warrior, like Savage in 1989, but Warrior just leaves after taking some heels out. We finally get Mr. Perfect in at #30, and it seemed Perfect was positioned to win this thing straight out. However, the red and yellow cards were played and Hogan gets the victory. It wasn’t needed, but overall this was a fun match that saw feuds started and continued. Most importantly we may have seen the beginnings of the journey that takes us to SkyDome on April 1. Grade: ***

Justin: It is time to Rumble! We are on to our third edition of this great showcase match and when you analyze the field, this certainly feels like the most important one to date. Last year’s #30 is #1 as Ted DiBiase’s cash couldn’t save him this time around. He opens the bout focused to prove the haters wrong, but first he has to deal with #2 Koko B. Ware. And he does, quite easily. The Birdman gave it a go, but DiBiase dispatched him easily, just as he did #3 Marty Jannetty. I liked the aggressiveness from DiBiase and the way this started with him dumping a couple of guys so he had time to reset and catch his breath. He really was the perfect #1 entrant on many levels, from the heat he could generate, to the psychology he could use to the precision attacks he could utilize, he is definitely the best #1 we have had so far. Things slowed down a bit as Jake Roberts showed up next to a massive pop, playing up his feud with DiBiase that had been raging since May 1989. The anticipation that built as Jake stoically marched to the ring pointing at DiBiase was fantastic. As they warred and DiBiase avoided a DDT, Randy Savage showed up at #5 and we were able to sit back and admire the absurd talent level in the ring right now. The fans got even louder as Roddy Piper entered at #6 and Jake finally had some help after getting worked over for two minutes. Piper’s energy level was awesome as he danced around and slugged away with reckless abandon. They really played up the friendship thing here too, having each side pair off and even have Jake and Roddy stop short of decking each other. Warlord would enter next, looking to make up for last year’s fiasco and he went right to work on Piper. Bret Hart evened up the sides and the talent level continues to be mind blowing at this point. We will see how much Hart is showcased here as the rumblings of another solo run were still rampant. Things got a bit tougher when Bad News Brown walked out at #9 and as we discussed a year ago, this is much more his style than November’s Survivor Series was. Jesse and Tony were very good here, really hitting the points well about what it takes to to win a match like this and how tired everyone can get early on. Our first big elimination comes here as Savage saves DiBiase from a DDT and chucks the Snake. That earned Savage a nice handshake and the intimation of a payoff to come. The excitement continued as we reach the 1/3 point with Dusty Rhodes charging out and assaulting Savage to pick up where they left off earlier.

The Dream did not take long to strike as he sent Savage flying to the back with a big back body drop. That feud is very far from over. Andre the Giant would be the first Heenan Family member, arriving at #11 and Tony raised concerns around issues within the Family about what their cause would be in here. He would make an immediate statement by tossing Warlord out and that led to a fun confrontation between Heenan and Mr. Fuji. Red Rooster clucked his way in and right out here, bringing an end to his WWF PPV stint as he would head back to WCW in the spring. We got some really cool pairings so far in this edition, with Andre working over Piper and Dusty in the corner while DiBiase and Bad News double teamed the Hitman. A minute later, Piper would eliminate Bad News, but a pissed off Brown reached back in and yanked Piper out as well. The two would brawl to the back, setting up an apparent feud between the two brawlers. Ax came out next and went right for the man that took his tag team title a month earlier, hammering on the Giant and driving him to the mat. Dusty would then help him out as they tied Andre in the ropes and double teamed him with huge elbows to the dome. Then they untied him and he slugged them both in the gut. I love that spot. Andre would get immediate help as Haku entered at #14. Smash was next and our two top tag teams went right to war. Jesse really put over DiBiase hard here as he was hanging in and standing strong after 30 minutes. The field would bloat to its max as Akeem hit the ring but room opened a bit as Demolition team up to clothesline Andre out, eliminating a major favorite in the process. Andre had a great run this time around and was a strong focal point during his run. While everyone celebrated Andre getting chucked, Bret Hart was also taken out ending a pretty pedestrian showing. Jimmy Snuka hit the ring and drove Akeem to the floor, making me quite sad in many ways. Jimmy Hart made his first appearance at #18, leading Dino Bravo into the fray and two minutes later, Earthquake joined him. With Andre and Akeem out of the way, Quake looked like a heavy favorite based on size alone. And by eliminating Dusty right away, he really was the largest man remaining in the field. Ax would feel his wrath as well. Dusty had a very good showing overall in this one, going at it for 18 minutes and being very active the whole time. The energetic Anvil would close out the second third the match and went right at Quake, trying to use his fresh energy to make a dent.

And that plan was a wise one as everybody in the ring except Bravo teamed up, hoisted the Quake up and out of the ring. That was some solid booking and a nice way to keep Quake strong and get him out of there before the heavy hitters showed up. The roof would explode at #21 as the Ultimate Warrior sprinted to the ring and started kicking ass and taking names. He dumped Bravo within seconds and then started flailing at anyone in his way. I love that he didn’t care who he was fighting, going at it with both faces and heels with the same ferocity. The newly christened Model, Rick Martel was up next. He was already a cocky heel, but he amped that up even more with this new gimmick. Even though his partner was long gone, Haku would get the last laugh for the champs as he dumped Smash out of the match with a thrust kick. Martel’s good feelings came to a quick halt as Tito Santana was in at #23 to reignite their always simmering feud. They went right at it in the center of the ring as Jesse gloated about DiBiase going strong for over 40 minutes. Honky Tonk was next and things settled down a bit but it felt like a real calm before the storm as the crowd buzzed. The Anvil would get pushed out but that buzz turned to a ecstatic pop as Warrior eliminates Iron Man DiBiase, who went a robust 44 minutes in a performance to be proud of. And that pop was topped less than a minute later when Hulk Hogan burst through the curtain at #25. Hogan is clearly looking to avenge what went down a year ago, and hopefully he is a bit more of a sportsman this time around. He and Warrior would start cleaning house and clearing out all the bodies. Goodbye Snuka. Farewell Haku. So long Tito. Have a good day, Honky. Bye bye Martel. Here comes Shawn Michaels. There goes Shawn Michaels. This was the moment we were all waiting for. It was here.

The crowd was going batshit as Hogan and Warrior waltzed around the ring, prepping for a showdown for the first time ever. 25 years later and it is still an electric moment. They would ram into each other like two proud bulls before both wiping out with a fitting double clothesline. Our dream match came to a quick end, but man did that whet the appetite. Barbarian was out at #27 and Rick Rude prematurely hit the ring at #28. They would feast on Hogan and Warrior, who were both still rattled from the big collision. With Hogan teetering on elimination, Warrior came over and saved him, earning the ire of The Body. Barbarian and Rude would then turn to Warrior and have him on the brink…and Hogan would come over…and knock Warrior out! Not cool, Hulk. Not at all. The man just saved you less than two minutes ago! For the second straight year, Hogan is booked like an asshole. In an odd decision, Warrior would hop in the ring, knock over Rude and Barbarian and then sprint off. Hercules was #29 and Mr. Perfect would enter at #30, the Perfect Number. The five would fight for a few minutes with Hercules and Hogan fighting as a unit. Herc would duck a clothesline and send Barbarian to the showers but Perfect tossed the Mighty One right after. That left a pretty great final three and it was cool seeing Perfect and Rude working together again, just like at Survivor Series. However, thanks to some miscommunication, Rude would get dumped when Perfect pulled down the top rope by accident. Again, a nice callback to November. We talked about it all throughout 1989 and now Mr. Perfect has arrived after spending twelve months torching the mid card. He would go toe-to-toe with Hogan, even taking him over with his finisher. But, Hogan is as Hogan does. He fired back up and ran through Perfect before sending him flying over the ring post to the floor to win his fist Royal Rumble to the delight of the fans.

This was a pretty fun Rumble that had fairly non stop action, big names, lots of talent and a red hot crowd. There were a few dead spots, but none that crippled the match in any way. The talent level at any given time was pretty amazing and just when it felt like there was a lull in the action, another big name would show to wake thing up. I do like how they learned from the year before and had their major angle close to the end of the match to avoid killing the match off completely. And this wasn’t just any major angle. It was THE major angle. It was THE major moment. And the crowd loved it. And so did I. Also, I know the arguments that are out there about Hogan not needing to win this match. Hell, I lived the arguments for years. But I think I was wrong. Sure, a win could have been really big for Mr. Perfect or Rick Rude or Ted DiBiase. But only two men were putting 65,000+ fans into the Skydome: Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. That is all. One of them needed to win this. And since Hogan was the Champion, I think it makes him look even stronger going into Mania. If Warrior beats him, he now wins the title and knocks off the Royal Rumble winner. Perfect still looked good and has had zero blemishes since his debut. This was Hogan’s night for a reason. Grade: ***1/2

Final Analysis

Scott: Our first PPV of the year was back and forth. The undercard was pretty flat other than the surprisingly good Valentine/Garvin match. The Rumble was actually a fun one, including the Hogan/Warrior moment that was the precursor to WrestleMania. We see a major character shift from heel to babyface and another heel start an epic climb up the ladder to a major storyline in the spring and summer. Tony and Jesse had much better chemistry than at SummerSlam but sadly Tony doesn’t stick around. Overall a 50/50 show with a slumping undercard but an entertaining Rumble, and the road to WrestleMania begins to be paved. Final Grade: C+

Justin: Nostalgia running wild here, brother. Big time. This is one of my favorite PPVs of all time. I rented it so often and watched it over and over. As Scott mentioned, the undercard is a bit bland but it paid off by leading us to a really stacked Rumble field. And even with a soft undercard on paper, I think it ended up overdelivering thanks to Garvin, Valentine, Boss Man and Duggan all stiffing the piss out of each other. I also really enjoyed the Brother Love Show segment too. The Rumble itself was like a life sized collection of all my favorite Hasbro action figures. The names, characters and feuds were all the most memorable ones from my sweet spot of fandom. The crowd was phenomenal through out and Tony and Jesse really had developed some solid chemistry with Tony getting ballsier and Jesse getting angrier. Fun stuff. And now, we are on to the second biggest WrestleMania match in history. I know I am overrating this a bit, but I can’t bear to sit it any lower. Final Grade: B-