Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: The WWF at Madison Square Garden 2/23/92

20-Man Battle Royal

As we continue the build to Wrestlemania, a lot of things have changed between our last MSG house show and this one in that we were no longer going to the get the Hogan/Flair match that we all thought we would get when Flair came in last year. Instead, Hogan would now face Sid Justice and Flair would defend the title against Randy Savage and while you now had two big matches instead of one, it was pretty disappointing not seeing Hogan and Flair on the biggest stage. Having said that, you knew that Flair and Savage would put on a great match and the question was how Hogan and Justice would mesh and we would get a brief glimpse of that as they were set to face each other here in this battle royal which feels reminiscent of the battle royal from the March 1987 SNME when Hogan and Andre faced off in that match.

Since the last SNME on the 2/15 Superstars, it was announced that Hogan would pull out of his title match with Flair and face Justice instead while it was also announced that Flair would defend against Savage, and the next day on Challenge Justice appeared on the Barber Shop and justified his actions while also destroying the set. On the 2/22 Superstars, it was announced that Roddy Piper would defend the IC Title against Bret Hart and the next day on Challenge, we would see footage of events after SNME went off the air where the Undertaker saved Randy Savage and Elizabeth from Jake Roberts. It’s so crazy to see how much has changed between the Rumble and now, and it was going to be interesting to see how the rest of the Wrestlemania card shapes up between this and the next MSG house show.

The faces get their pops from the crowd with Hogan and Piper getting the biggest pops while the heels were pretty hot with Flair and Justice getting the most heat, and a note is Butch coming out with his ribs taped up to sell the injury from earlier tonight. Hogan wastes no time and goes right for Justice to start the match as everyone else starts to brawl, and Hogan knocks Justice through the ropes to the outside and goes out himself as Taker chokes Jerry Sags and the Big Bossman chases Rick Martel to the outside and back into the ring. Hogan returns to the ring and rips his shirt off as he chokes Flair with it and Justice kicks Brian Knobbs back, and everyone continues to brawl and try to eliminate each other as Taker chokes Sags on the mat until Sags rolls outside to regroup. Bossman tries to eliminate Martel as Chris Walker rams the shoulder into Kato repeatedly in the corner, and Hogan rakes Warlord’s eyes and holds him from behind as Justice pounds on Bossman and Piper tries to lift Berzerker up. The British Bulldog tries to dump Sags over the top as Warlord pounds on Luke in the corner and everyone continues to pound on each other, and Hogan rams Berzerker and Hercules’ heads together as Taker chokes Knobbs in the corner and Berzerker pounds on Hogan. Taker pounds on Berzerker as the Nasty Boys maul Butch and Bossman pounds on Warlord while Hogan battles back on Berzerker, and Jim Brunzell tries to eliminate Flair as the Boys dump Butch over the top and eliminate him and Skinner pounds on Bossman. Piper tries to eliminate Justice only for Wippleman to hand him his bag and he hits Piper in the face with it, and Hercules tries to eliminate Walker as Taker chokes Flair and Hogan rams the knee into Sags while Justice pounds on Taker. The Boys pound on Hogan who falls to the outside and he trips both men up before pulling them outside and he rams their heads together, and Taker chokes Justice on the ropes as Hogan rolls back into the ring only for Hercules to pound on him and then Hogan stalks Flair as everyone continues to pound on each other. Hogan pounds on Flair in the corner as Walker tries to eliminate Repo Man and Taker chokes Kato while Hogan bites Flair on the face, and Berzerker pounds on Hogan as the Boys pound on Piper and Berzerker rams Hogan and Taker’s heads together. Taker and Berzerker lock up as Flair pounds on Hogan and Walker rams the shoulder into Martel repeatedly in the corner, and everyone continues to brawl as Berzerker tries to dump Knobbs and Taker pounds on Repo Man while Brunzell tries to dump Knobbs. Skinner holds Hogan from behind as Berzerker charges only for Hogan to move as Berzerker gets caught up in the ropes until Hogan dumps him over and eliminates him, and Hogan and Taker pound on Flair in the corner as Warlord tries to dump Hercules and Piper backdrops Skinner over the top and eliminates him. Everyone continues to brawl as Piper tosses Kato over the top and eliminates him as Hogan and Taker continue to double team Flair, and Justice hits a high knee to someone as Martel tries to dump Bossman with Repo Man’s help while Hogan and Taker try to eliminate Flair. Brunzell rams Martel and Repo Man’s heads together and Hogan scratches Martel’s back as Brunzell pounds on him, and Piper fires up on Taker as Martel backdrops Brunzell over the top and eliminates him and Hogan and Hercules trade blows. Bulldog pounds on Warlord as Hogan powers Hercules up and over the top to eliminate him as Justice tries to dump Walker, and Bossman pounds on Martel in the corner before tossing him over the top and eliminating him as revenge for earlier tonight. Hogan and Flair trade blows until Hogan rakes the eyes and rams the knee into Flair only for Flair to choke him as Repo Man pounds on him, and Piper tries to dump Taker as the Boys and Justice triple team Luke and Hogan hoists Flair up only for Justice to pull him down. Sags pounds on Hogan as Bossman pounds on Knobbs while Piper and Flair trade blows and Hogan sends Sags over the top and eliminates him, and Taker tosses Luke over the top and eliminates him as Piper pounds on Flair in the corner and Warlord backdrops Walker over the top and eliminates him. Taker tries to eliminate Knobbs as Warlord pounds on Hogan and Bossman knocks Repo Man down, and Justice charges only to miss and hit the corner as Repo Man pounds on Piper and Flair rakes Bossman’s eyes. Justice rams Knobbs’ head repeatedly into the mat as Hogan and Bulldog try to dump Warlord while Flair and Repo Man double team Piper, and Piper avoids a charge from Flair who nails Repo Man and Piper clotheslines both men over the top and eliminates both men. Knobbs tries to eliminate Piper only for Bulldog to nail him and Justice clotheslines Piper over the top and eliminates him, and Warlord tries to dump Bossman and Flair and Repo Man pound on Piper on the floor and Hogan rams Knobbs into the buckle. Taker pounds on Bossman and chokes him in the corner as Knobbs battles back on Hogan and Warlord pounds on Bulldog, and Justice goes up to the middle rope and hits an axehandle on Bulldog as Hogan kicks Knobbs to the mat and Taker stomps on him. Justice kicks Knobbs through the ropes to the outside as Hogan scratches Justice’s back and pounds on him, and Knobbs rolls back into the ring as Justice catches Hogan ducking with a kick and Taker pounds on Bossman who avoids a charge and he dumps Taker over the top and eliminates him. Warlord pounds on Bossman as Hogan kicks at Knobbs and Justice chokes Bulldog in the corner, and Bossman hits a pair of back elbows on Warlord and pounds on him as Knobbs pounds on Hogan in the corner and tries to eliminate him while Bossman hits a headbutt on Warlord. He kicks at Knobbs as Bulldog tries to dump Justice only for Justice to send him over the top and eliminate him, and Bossman hits a back elbow on Knobbs as Hogan pounds on Warlord in the corner and he rams him into the buckle. Knobbs pounds on Hogan who battles back and he hits a big boot that sends Knobbs over the top and eliminates him, and with only four left Warlord pounds on Hogan in the corner as Justice rams the knee into Bossman. Hogan ducks a shot and clotheslines Warlord over the top to eliminate him as Bossman pounds on Justice who backdrops him over the top and eliminates him, and the crowd pops huge for the big showdown between Hogan and Justice as they have a staredown and Justice gets a knee in before pounding on Hogan. He kicks at Hogan repeatedly and whips him into the corner only to miss a charge and Hogan pounds on him, and the ref gets in between them which allows Justice to get a shot in as the ref gets knocked down. Justice pounds on Hogan and kicks at him before grabbing the ref and ramming him into the buckle, and Justice chokes Hogan on the ropes and whips him into the corner only for Hogan to catch him with a boot to the face. Hogan then dumps Justice over the top to the floor though the ref is still out and Hogan tries to revive him as Justice rolls back into the ring, and Wippleman hands him the bag and he hits Hogan in the back of the head with it before tossing the bag back to Wippleman. Justice rolls Hogan out of the ring and revives the ref as he tells him he threw Hogan over the top and the ref declares him the winner, and after the match Hogan brings a chair into the ring and chases Justice out of the ring as Justice and Wippleman head to the back.

The match itself was pretty good as all 20 men worked hard and put on a really fun battle royal, and for men who is a big fan of battle royals this was a solid one and a good capper to the night. Considering most of the men involved had already competed earlier in the night, they all worked hard and a bunch of them got some good shine throughout the match. It was a bit weird that Flair was involved in the match since he really had nothing to do anymore with guys like Hogan or Piper, but I guess he was there just to add more star power though ultimately he felt like filler. Obviously, the big hook of the match was seeing Hogan and Justice finally get their hands on each other similar to the battle royal in 1987 I had referenced earlier with Hogan and Andre. I thought the ending was pretty smart too as Justice actually outsmarts Hogan in the end and steals the win while keeping Hogan looking strong since he cheated to win, and it was a good bounce back for Justice after the way he looked at the Rumble. The crowd was pretty hot for the whole match and popped huge when it was down to Hogan and Justice, but they are not happy when Justice ends up winning in the end. Justice gets the win in the battle royal and has momentum over Hogan going into Wrestlemania, and we will see how things continue to play out heading to Indianapolis.

Final Grade: ***