Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Royal Rumble 1990

“Rugged” Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) in a Submission match

As we head into the first big show of the new decade that is the 1990s, I don’t think anyone could ever know that the decade would end completely different from how it started. But we obviously have a long way to go before then, so let’s for now focus on starting off the decade after what ended up being a red hot decade that was the 1980s. As the year was starting, there was one feud that was finally ready to come to a head and that was the feud between Ronnie Garvin and Greg Valentine. It’s almost easy to forget that this feud has been going on for so long and that it managed to stretch out into a new year, but with this being the first big show of the year it was time to finally have it come to an end. It also made sense to have it be one of the showcase matches in the undercard of this show considering the Royal Rumble match was pretty stacked with all of the big names. Add into the fact that it was going to be a gimmick match that has been rarely if ever used in a Submission match, and knowing how well these two know each other to this point you hoped that this would be a fitting blowoff to this long feud.

The feud between the two started way back at the end of 1988 when they faced off at the December MSG house show with Valentine winning the match, and then they had the two matches on TV in April with Garvin winning the first one and Valentine winning the rematch leading to Garvin being forced to retire. Garvin would then work as a referee over the summer and screw with the heels including Valentine before being suspended as a ref, and then he would be a guest ring announcer at Summerslam during Valentine’s match and he would brawl with him. Garvin would be reinstated as a wrestler at Valentine’s behest and they would continue to feud on the house shows including facing each other at the September MSG house show, and they would be on opposite teams at Survivor Series though they wouldn’t eliminate each other. Following this, Garvin would begin wearing his own shin guard he dubbed the “Hammer Jammer” to counter Valentine’s “Heartbreaker” shin guard, and it was announced the two men would face off here in a Submission match. They would face each other at the MSG house show earlier this month with Garvin teaming with Jimmy Snuka and Valentine teaming with the Honkytonk Man, but the match would end up going to a time limit draw. This was a pretty solid feud in the midcard and after some of the good matches they had at MSG, you would hope that they would put on a great match here to end the feud.

Both men are already in the ring during the introductions and Garvin gets a good pop from the crowd while Valentine still had solid heat as a heel. Valentine complains to the ref about Garvin’s guard to start the match and Garvin wants after him as Valentine steps outside to stall, and Garvin goes outside and pounds on Valentine before throwing him back into the ring as Valentine begs off. Garvin hits a headbutt and pounds on Valentine as he knocks him down before going for a pin, and he rams Valentine into the buckle repeatedly and pounds on him as they square off and Valentine gets a kick in. He pounds on Garvin in the corner as Garvin tries to battle back only for Valentine to regain control, but Garvin again battles back and knocks Valentine down as Valentine slides outside again to regroup. Valentine returns to the ring and they square off again with Garvin getting a shot in and he backs Valentine into the ropes, and he grabs at Valentine’s leg and tries to take the guard off only for Valentine to knock him down. He drops an elbow on Garvin only to miss a second elbow though he recovers first and kicks Garvin to the mat before hitting a headbutt to the ribs, and he tries to force Garvin’s shoulders to the mat as Garvin fights to his feet and Valentine pounds on him. He continues to pound on Garvin in the corner as Garvin tries to cover up and they trade blows with Garvin taking control, and he hits a jumping headbutt on Valentine as both men collapse to the mat. Garvin attempts a piledriver on Valentine who counters with a backdrop only for Garvin to attempt a sunset flip, but Valentine gets a shot in and he drops down onto Garvin’s shoulders while posing only for Garvin to hook the sunset flip. They square off again and lock up with Valentine backing Garvin into the corner and he pounds on him, and Garvin whips him away and they clock heads as they both fall to the mat. Valentine turns the guard around on his leg and attempts the Figure-4 only for Garvin to shove him off into the corner, and Garvin rolls him up for another pin attempt only for Valentine to knock him down. Valentine drops an elbow on Garvin twice and chokes him on the mat with his knee before hooking the Figure-4 on, but Garvin shows he is not hurt as he mocks Valentine repeatedly which forces Valentine to break the hold and he gets a kick in. Garvin counters a slam attempt with a small package and Valentine knocks him down before hoisting him up in a backbreaker submission, and he drops Garvin to the mat and drops an elbow on him before attempting the Figure-4 again only for Garvin to kick him away. Valentine chokes Garvin on the mat as Garvin grabs at his hair and pulls him up before pounding on him, and he continues to pound on him in the corner and hits a trio of headbutts before hitting a drop toehold. He slams down on Valentine’s leg three times and hooks a submission on as Valentine grabs the rope to force a break, and Valentine rolls outside to regroup with Jimmy as Garvin grabs at him only for Valentine to trip him up and ram his leg into the apron as he pulls him outside. He pounds on Garvin who battles back and he sets up for a piledriver only for Valentine to hit a backdrop on the floor, and Valentine rolls back into the ring and he pulls Garvin into the ring before pounding on him in the corner and ramming the shoulder into the ribs repeatedly. Garvin reverses a whip into the other corner only to miss a dropkick as he gets hung up in the tree of woe and Valentine stomps on him repeatedly, and Valentine goes for the guard only for Garvin to do the same to him as the ref helps him out of the corner. He pounds on Garvin and hooks a headlock as Garvin whips him off and both men clock heads with both men falling to the mat, and Jimmy takes the guard off of Garvin’s leg from the outside and Valentine hits a backbreaker before hooking the Figure-4 on Garvin again. He grinds down on the hold only for Garvin to turn the hold around on Valentine who grabs the ropes to force a break, and Valentine stomps on the leg repeatedly and snaps the leg back before driving his own knee into Garvin’s knee. He goes for the Figure-4 again only for Garvin to counter with a small package and Valentine pounds on him as he knocks him down, and he goes up top only for Garvin to grab him first and he tosses him to the mat. Garvin grabs at Valentine’s leg and takes his guard off only for Valentine to hook a rollup and grab the tights, and he pounds on Garvin only for Garvin to duck a shot and he nails Valentine who gets tied up in the ropes. Garvin grabs Valentine’s guard as Jimmy gets on the apron and tries to untie Valentine only for Garvin to sling Jimmy into the ring, and he stalks Jimmy with the guard as the ref unties Valentine and he grabs Garvin’s guard. He stalks Garvin only for Garvin to turn around and nail Valentine with the guard, and then he hooks the Scorpion Deathlock on Valentine who hangs on as long as he can before finally submitting and Garvin wins the match.

The match itself was really good as both men worked hard and put on a pretty solid Submission match. You could tell that these two had really good chemistry which shouldn’t be too surprisingly given how much they worked together over the last year, and they clearly had no problem working stiff with each other and made the match very physical. The Submission stipulation worked perfectly as both men were pretty well versed in submissions, and with both men’s main submission being a leg submission, having both men wear the guards was a nice touch as each man tried to one up the other. The only real issue that I had with the match was the numerous pin attempts that both men went for, particularly Garvin which was fine early on in the match because it was so instinctual though the fact he kept doing it late in the match did hurt it a bit. Considering they also had almost 17 minutes to work with, it was a bit of a disappointment especially coming off the wars they had in their MSG matches, but this was still a really good match and was easily the biggest win of Garvin’s WWF career. As mentioned earlier, considering how stacked the Rumble match was this was a good match to anchor the midcard and they definitely delivered in the end. The crowd was pretty hot for the whole match and popped big for Garvin when he won. Garvin gets the win over Valentine and ends their long feud as both men move on.

Grade: ***1/2

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