Royal Rumble match for the vacant WWF Championship
We are now into a brand new year in 1992 and after the year we had in 1991, there was a lot of excitement in the WWF especially given that we are going into our first PPV of the year in the Royal Rumble. After being just another show for the last few years, this year it feels much more special because we have a prize on the line in the Rumble match which is the WWF Championship. After the controversy that surrounded the last two PPVs, it made sense to put the title on the line in the match to make it feel like a huge match and to set up the main event of Wrestlemania. Going into the show, it still seemed like we were heading towards a match between Hogan and Flair at Wrestlemania, so logically it would make sense for one of them to be champion and it was just a matter of what would happen at this show to get there.
The build for the match began on the 12/8 Superstars when President Jack Tunney announced that the WWF Title was vacant due to what happened at This Tuesday in Texas and the title would be up for grabs at the Royal Rumble, and he also announced that the last two champions in Hogan and the Undertaker could choose between the numbers 20 and 30. Over the next few weeks, more participants were announced for the match as they all would stake their claim at becoming the new champion. On the 1/12 Wrestling Challenge, the Rockers appeared on the Barber Shop to hash out their recent issues and they would seemingly patch things up, but Michaels would superkick Jannetty and throw him through the window as he declared the Rockers were no more. The build was pretty basic as you had a few guys that were heavy favorites to win and while there were a few obvious longshots, there was no question that this was looking like one of the most stacked Rumbles of the last 5 years which isn’t surprising given the title was on the line.
We get some good promos from a few of the participants including some of the big stars, and then President Jack Tunney delivers a statement before the match and a note is that he gets booed pretty bad by the crowd. The British Bulldog comes out as number one and he gets a good pop from the crowd as Gorilla and Bobby bring up Bulldog winning the battle royal back in October, and Ted Dibiase comes out as number two to some solid heat as Gorilla brings up Dibiase not buying a number this year. The two men waste no time and brawl to start the match as Bulldog pounds on Dibiase and whips him into the corner, but Dibiase catches him with a back elbow and he rams Bulldog into the buckle before pounding on him in the corner. He hits a clothesline on Bulldog and stomps on him before hitting a suplex and a gutwrench suplex, and he drops a fist on Bulldog and hits another suplex before tossing him over the top though Bulldog lands on the apron. Dibiase gloats as Bulldog comes up behind him and clotheslines him over the top to eliminate him as Dibiase had a really weak showing, and Bulldog awaits the next entrant as Flair comes out next to huge heat and Bobby flips out while Gorilla taunts him by saying that no one has ever come in at one of the first five entrants and made it to the end. They lock up with Bulldog shoving Flair to the mat and they tease a test of strength only for Flair to rake the eyes, and Bulldog reverses a whip and hits a press slam on Flair who gets a kick in and he whips Bulldog into the corner only for Bulldog to hit a clothesline. Flair rakes the eyes only for Bulldog to duck a shot and he hits another clothesline on Flair who begs off, and Bulldog dumps Flair over the top though Flair hangs on as Jerry Sags comes out next and Bulldog and Flair lock up with Bulldog backing Flair into the corner and he pounds on him. Sags nails Bulldog from behind and pounds on him before holding him from behind as Flair pounds on Bulldog, and they stomp on Bulldog and Sags holds him from behind again as Flair continues to pound on Bulldog. They whip Bulldog into the corner only for Bulldog to hit a double clothesline on them and he throws Sags over the top though he hangs on, and Bulldog nails Flair as Sags stands on the apron only for Bulldog to dropkick him to the floor and eliminate him. Flair begs off in the corner as Bulldog tries to eliminate him and Flair pounds on him in the corner, and Bulldog reverses a whip into the other corner and hits a powerslam on Flair as Haku comes out next and he is replacing Brian Knobbs who was injured. Bulldog hits a headbutt on Flair as Haku nails him from behind and he hits a headbutt before stomping on him, and he holds Bulldog from behind as Flair pounds on him and Haku stomps on him before pounding on Flair in the corner. Flair turns it around and pounds on Haku who no-sells it and he stalks Flair before stomping on Bulldog as Flair goes outside to regroup, and Haku stomps on Bulldog and pounds on him before hitting a piledriver as Flair tears at Haku’s face. He drops a knee on Haku and grabs Bulldog who blocks a ram into the buckle and he rams Flair into the buckle, and Haku hits a superkick on Bulldog and pounds on Flair in the corner before hitting a headbutt and he stomps on him. Bulldog and Haku trade blows until Bulldog dumps Haku over the top and eliminates him as Shawn Michaels comes out next to good heat, and Bulldog and Flair square off as Flair rakes the eyes twice before kicking at Michaels and they trade blows. Michaels takes control and pounds on Flair before whipping him into the corner and hitting a backdrop, and he hits a superkick on Flair as Bulldog ducks a shot and he hits a press slam on Michaels before hitting a pair of clotheslines. He clotheslines Michaels over the top though Michaels hangs on as Flair grabs at Bulldog’s leg and Michaels hits a superkick on Bulldog, and Flair kicks at Michaels and tries to eliminate him as Michaels rakes the eyes and he pounds on Flair in the corner. He pounds on Bulldog who reverses a whip and Michaels lands on the top rope as Bulldog kicks at him and crotches him on the top rope, and he tosses Michaels to the mat as Flair nails Bulldog from behind and he kicks at Michaels before pounding on him. He tosses Michaels over the top and Michaels hangs on as “El Matador” Tito Santana comes out next, and he pounds on Flair as Michaels chokes Bulldog on the mat and Santana tries to dump Flair out. Michaels pounds on Santana and tries to eliminate him until Santana gets a back elbow in as Bulldog nails Michaels from behind, and Bulldog tries to dump Michaels as Flair kicks at Santana and hits a back suplex before grabbing Bulldog and pounding on him. Bulldog chokes Flair who hits a low blow and Santana pounds on Michaels before ramming him into the buckle twice, and Flair tries to dump Bulldog until Santana knees him in the back and he pounds on Flair before ducking a shot and he hits the flying forearm. Michaels stomps on Bulldog and chokes him with his boot as the Barbarian comes out next and Santana pounds on Flair in the corner, and Michaels and Flair pound on Santana as Barbarian pounds on Bulldog and he tries to eliminate him. Flair pounds on Bulldog while Michaels tears at Santana’s face and stomps on him as Flair helps Barbarian try to eliminate Bulldog, and Michaels stomps on Santana and kicks at him as Barbarian stomps on Bulldog and Flair knees Michaels in the back. He pounds on Santana who battles back and then Santana pounds on Barbarian as Michaels goes up to the middle rope, and Bulldog pounds on Barbarian in the corner as Santana and Michaels lock up with Santana backdropping Michaels over the top though he hangs on as Bulldog tries to dump Barbarian. Flair tries to eliminate Santana who rakes the eyes and he chokes Flair in the corner with his boot, and Bulldog tries to dump Michaels as Barbarian nails Santana from behind and “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich comes out next. Michaels kicks at Bulldog in the corner and pounds on him as Von Erich pounds on Flair in the corner, and he hits the discus punch as Flair flops to the mat as Santana rams the knee into Barbarian in the corner and Von Erich pounds on Michaels before hitting the discus punch. Bulldog trips Michaels up and slingshots him into the corner as Von Erich pounds on Flair in the corner and Santana slams down on the back of Barbarian’s head, and Bulldog hits a clothesline on Michaels as Flair hits an atomic drop on Von Erich and Santana pounds on Barbarian who battles back. Bulldog tries to dump Michaels who rakes the eyes and the six men continue to brawl as Barbarian tries to dump Santana, and Von Erich knocks Flair down before pounding on Barbarian in the corner as Michaels tries to dump Bulldog and Santana stomps on Flair. The Repo Man comes out next as he sneaks around the ring before sliding in the ring and Barbarian hits an atomic drop on Santana, and Repo Man nails Michaels from behind as Flair tries to dump Bulldog and Repo Man pounds on Michaels in the corner. Santana ducks a shot and hits a high crossbody on Barbarian before nailing Flair only for Repo Man to nail him from behind, and Bulldog and Von Erich double team Michaels as Bulldog tears at Repo Man’s eyes and Flair stomps on Santana. Von Erich pounds on Barbarian until Flair grabs him from behind as Repo Man and Michaels pound on Bulldog in the corner, and the 7 men continue to pound on each other as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine comes out next. He kicks and pounds on Repo Man as Barbarian grinds his foot into Santana’s face and Valentine nails Michaels from behind, and Flair pounds on Valentine who battles back as these 8 men continue to beat on each other. Barbarian tries to dump Von Erich and Bulldog tries to dump Michaels as Santana pounds on Barbarian, and Flair pounds on Valentine in the corner as Von Erich knocks Michaels over the top though he hangs on. Flair rakes Valentine’s eyes and hits a low blow on Repo Man as Barbarian hits a headbutt on Santana, and Bulldog and Von Erich try to eliminate Michaels as Santana pounds on Repo Man in the corner. Nikolai Volkoff comes out next as he is replacing Marty Jannetty and he pounds on Repo Man before hitting a headbutt, and these 9 men continue to pound on each other and try to eliminate each other as Flair hits a snapmare on Valentine only to miss the knee. Valentine hooks the Figure-4 on Flair as Volkoff pounds on Repo Man who backdrops him over the top and eliminates him, and Bulldog rams the shoulder into Michaels repeatedly in the corner as Von Erich pounds on Barbarian and Valentine pounds on Flair. These 8 men continue to pound on each other as the Big Bossman comes out next to a good pop, and he fires up on everyone as Repo Man dumps Valentine over the top and eliminates him as Bossman pounds on Michaels. He tries to eliminate Michaels as Repo Man pounds on him only for Bossman to toss Repo Man over the top and he eliminates him, and everyone continues to pound on each other as Flair backdrops Bulldog over the top and eliminates him. Von Erich pounds on Flair who backdrops him over the top and eliminates him as Bossman pounds on him and kicks at Barbarian, and Michaels and Santana trade blows as they send each other over the top and both are eliminated as Hercules comes out next. Barbarian hits a big boot on Bossman as Hercules pounds on Flair in the corner and Flair gives Barbarian a high five, and he pounds on Barbarian who no-sells his shots as Hercules whips Bossman hard into the corner. Barbarian hits a press slam on Flair and tries to eliminate him only for Hercules to dump Barbarian over the top and eliminate him, and Bossman clotheslines Hercules over the top and eliminates him as Flair celebrates only for Bossman to stalk him. Flair rakes the eyes as Bossman ducks a shot and hits a clothesline before hitting a spin kick and he knocks Flair down, and he charges only for Flair to avoid him as Bossman tumbles over the top and is eliminated as Flair tries to regroup.
The new Intercontinental Champion “Rowdy” Roddy Piper comes out next to a big pop and he pounds on Flair in the corner before whipping him into the other corner and he hits a backdrop, and he hits a running kneelift on Flair who rolls outside to regroup only for Piper to go outside himself and he hits a clothesline on Flair. He rams Flair into the guardrail and pounds on him before throwing him back into the ring and he gets on the apron, and Flair tries to hotshot him on the top rope though Piper blocks it and gets in the ring before pounding on him in the corner. Flair attempts an atomic drop though Piper blocks it and pokes Flair in the eyes before hitting a clothesline and an airplane spin, and he hooks the sleeper on Flair as Jake “The Snake” Roberts comes out next to huge heat and he sits in the corner as Piper keeps the hold on. Roberts nails Piper from behind and pounds on him in the corner before choking him with his boot, and he helps Flair up only to hit the short clothesline and he sets up for the DDT only for Piper to hit a clothesline on Roberts. Flair hooks the Figure-4 on Roberts and uses the ropes for leverage as Piper stomps on both men and kicks at them before pounding on Flair, and Roberts grabs him from behind and holds him as Flair pounds on Piper and the three men trade blows as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan comes out next. Piper tries to eliminate Roberts as Duggan pounds on Flair in the corner before whipping him into the other corner and he hits a clothesline, and he rams Flair into the buckle and pounds on him in the corner before pounding on Roberts. Piper grabs Duggan and pounds on him as Duggan battles back and Flair comes over only for Piper to rake the eyes, and he bites Flair in the face as Duggan pounds on Roberts and Flair hits a back suplex on Piper. Roberts hits an atomic drop on Duggan as Piper and Flair trade blows until Duggan nails Flair and Roberts nails Piper, and Irwin R. Schyster comes out next as Duggan hooks a submission on Roberts and stomps on him until Flair nails him from behind. Flair tries to dump Duggan until IRS nails him from behind and rams him into the buckle until Duggan stalks him, and he grabs IRS by the tie and pounds on him until IRS rakes the eyes and rams Duggan into the buckle. Flair and Roberts try to dump Piper until Duggan rams their heads together and IRS tries to dump Piper, and Duggan nails IRS before locking up with Roberts and he rams the shoulder into him repeatedly in the corner as IRS stomps on Piper. Flair and IRS hit a wishbone on Piper and IRS drops an elbow on him as Duggan nails Flair before pounding on IRS in the corner, and Piper tries to eliminate Flair and pounds on him as IRS and Roberts double team Duggan and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka comes out next. Piper pounds on IRS as Duggan tries to dump Flair and Snuka nails Duggan before pounding on Flair, and he hits a headbutt as IRS and Roberts try to dump Piper and Snuka knocks Flair down. Duggan pounds on Flair before holding Roberts as Snuka pounds on him and IRS pounds on Piper, and these 6 men continue to pound on each other as Piper fires up on Flair in the corner and tears at his face. He tries to throw Flair over the top and Roberts also tries to dump Flair over the top as Snuka pounds on IRS, and Duggan pounds on IRS in the corner as the Undertaker comes out next and the 6 men continue to pound on each other. Taker quickly sends Snuka over the top and eliminates him as Flair pounds on him only for Taker to choke him in the corner, and Duggan grabs Taker by the hair only for Taker to hit a low blow and he pounds on Duggan while IRS holds him from behind. Roberts tries to dump Piper who rakes the eyes and Taker chokes IRS in the corner until Flair pounds on him, and Duggan comes over only for Taker to grab both Flair and Duggan by the throat as “Macho Man” Randy Savage comes out next to a big pop. Roberts rolls outside and hides as Savage looks for him only for Taker to nail him from behind and he chokes Savage as Roberts slides back into the ring, and he pounds on Savage only for Duggan to get a shot in and Savage ducks a short clothesline as he fires up on Roberts. He goes up top and hits an axehandle before hitting a high knee that sends Roberts over the top and eliminates him, and Savage leaps over the top to the floor and continues to attack Roberts until Taker goes outside and pulls Savage off before knocking him down. He throws Savage back into the ring only for Savage to roll back outside and go after Roberts until Taker grabs him again, and he knocks Savage down and Roberts stomps on him as it is clarified that since Savage wasn’t thrown over the top by anyone, he is still in the match. Taker throws him back into the ring as Piper hits a clothesline on Flair and pounds on him while Duggan rams IRS into the buckle, and he pounds on IRS as Taker tears at Savage’s face and Duggan grabs at Taker before pounding on him. IRS rams Piper into the buckle as Flair pounds on Savage and Taker chokes Duggan in the corner, and Flair pounds and stomps on Savage in the corner as Piper hooks a Boston crab on IRS and Flair hits a low blow on Taker who no-sells it. Duggan pounds on Flair as the Berzerker comes out next and Piper tries to dump out IRS as Flair tries to eliminate Savage, and Taker chokes Duggan in the corner as Berzerker nails him from behind before nailing Piper from behind. Berzerker pounds on Duggan who ducks a shot and he hits an atomic drop on Berzerker as IRS stomps on Savage and Taker chokes Piper in the corner, and Flair goes out to the apron and holds Savage as IRS pounds on him only for Savage to block a suplex as he suplexes Flair back into the ring. Taker stomps on Savage and chokes Flair on the mat as Piper does the same only for Taker to also choke Piper at the same time, and IRS and Berzerker try to dump Duggan and Berzerker hoists Savage up in a choke before slamming him to the mat. Virgil comes out next to a good pop and he pounds on IRS until Berzerker holds him from behind and IRS pounds on him, and Taker chokes Virgil as Flair tries to dump Duggan and these men continue to pound on each other. Savage and Piper double team Berzerker as Taker chokes Virgil until Flair tears at his face and pounds on him, and Taker chokes Flair in the corner and tries to eliminate him as Berzerker hits a big boot on Virgil and Duggan tries to dump out Berzerker. Piper and Virgil trade blows until Piper kicks him to the mat and these 8 men continue to pound on each other, and Col. Mustafa comes out next as Piper tries to dump Flair only for Taker to nail him and Mustafa chokes Duggan on the top rope. Berzerker pounds on Virgil and hits a piledriver as Savage nails Taker and tears at his face while Flair tries to dump Piper, and IRS hits a legdrop to Virgil’s groin and Duggan pounds on Flair as Virgil and Mustafa trade blows and these men continue to pound on each other. Piper pounds on Flair in the corner until Taker nails him and Savage nails Taker before choking Flair in the corner, and these men continue to pound on each other as “The Model” Rick Martel comes out next and he pounds on Virgil before trying to eliminate him. Flair nails Martel only for Martel to block a ram into the buckle and he rams Flair into the buckle before pounding on him in the corner, and he tries to eliminate Flair as Duggan pounds on Berzerker in the corner and Savage dumps Mustafa over the top and eliminates him. Taker knocks Savage down and chokes him on the mat as Martel chokes Flair on the mat and IRS pounds on Virgil, and Berzerker pounds on Piper in the corner as Taker hoists Savage up in a choke until Duggan nails him and Virgil pounds on IRS. Hogan comes out next to a big pop and he rams Taker and Flair’s heads together as he rakes Taker’s eyes and then he rakes Flair’s eyes, and he pounds on Flair until Taker nails him though Hogan rakes the eyes again and he rams Taker and IRS’ heads together. Berzerker holds Hogan as Taker pounds on him as Virgil hits an atomic drop and a clothesline on Martel that sends him through the ropes to the outside, and Taker, Berzerker, and IRS triple team Hogan in the corner as Hogan fights free and he rams IRS into the buckle. Martel rolls back into the ring as Hogan nails Taker and he clotheslines him over the top and eliminates him, and Berzerker nails Hogan only for Hogan to backdrop him over the top and eliminate him as Hogan rips his shirt off to a pop. He chokes Martel with his shirt and tosses him to the mat as Virgil hits a high crossbody on Duggan that sends both men over the top and both are eliminated, and Hogan chokes Flair in the corner and rams the knee into him as IRS chokes Piper with the shirt and Hogan pounds on Flair before kicking at him. Flair rakes the eyes and pounds on Hogan who no-sells it as Skinner comes out next and Hogan knocks Flair down, and Piper chokes IRS with the shirt and Skinner nails Piper from behind as Savage pounds on Martel in the other corner. Hogan tries to eliminate Flair as Skinner hits a headbutt on Piper and IRS knees Hogan in the back, and Skinner and Piper trade blows as Martel tries to dump Savage and Hogan pounds on IRS before tossing him to the mat by the shirt. Hogan grabs Skinner and hits a headbutt as Flair nails him from behind and Skinner pounds on Hogan while Piper pounds on Flair, and Flair tries to dump Piper while IRS tries to eliminate Savage and Skinner tears at Hogan’s face as Martel tries to help Flair eliminate Piper. Skinner chokes Hogan with the shirt as Piper and Flair trade blows until Piper bites him on the face and Hogan pounds on Skinner, and Flair whips Hogan into the corner only for Hogan to hit a clothesline on Flair and Skinner as Sgt. Slaughter comes out next. Flair rakes Hogan’s eyes and tries to eliminate him as Skinner and Martel look to team up on Piper only for Martel to dump Skinner over the top and eliminate him, and Slaughter pounds on Flair in the corner as Hogan and Piper trade blows and Slaughter tries to eliminate Flair. Savage tries to dump IRS and tosses him to the mat before grabbing the shirt and he chokes IRS with it, and Hogan and Piper try to dump Martel until Slaughter pounds on Piper and Flair tries to dump both Savage and IRS. Slaughter pounds on Hogan and rams Martel into the buckle as Hogan scratches Flair’s back and pounds on him in the corner, and Piper tosses IRS to the mat by the shirt as Sid Justice comes out next to a big pop and he pounds on IRS before kicking at him. Slaughter tries to eliminate Martel and Justice tries to dump IRS as Martel chokes Piper in the corner, and Justice pounds on Martel as Flair and IRS double team Hogan and Slaughter tries to eliminate Savage. These 8 men continue to pound on each other as Flair hits a snapmare on Hogan and Justice chokes him in the corner, and Flair yanks Justice to the mat by his hair and Justice nips up before hitting a clothesline as IRS tries to dump Savage. Flair rakes Justice’s eyes and Slaughter pounds on him as the Warlord comes out as the last entrant, and Martel goes up top only for Piper to crotch him on the top rope as Flair goes up top again only for Hogan to nail him and toss him to the mat. Flair rolls outside to regroup and he trips Hogan up before pulling him outside as Piper tries to dump Martel, and Hogan blocks a suplex attempt as he suplexes Flair on the floor and IRS reverses a whip on Savage in the corner only to miss a charge. Martel comes off the middle rope with an axehandle on Piper as Justice reverses a whip and sends Slaughter over the top and eliminates him, and Hogan pounds on Flair and throws him back into the ring before hitting the big boot as Justice pounds on IRS in the corner. The 8 men continue to pound on each other as IRS tosses Piper over the top only for Piper to grab at the tie and he pulls IRS over the top and eliminates him, and Martel pounds on Piper as Hogan and Justice pound on Warlord before dumping him over the top and eliminating him. Flair pounds on Piper until Hogan scratches his back and Piper rakes Justice’s eyes before going after Martel, and Hogan pounds on Flair in the corner as Piper tries to dump Martel only for Justice to shove both men over the top and he eliminates both of them. Now with only four men left, and Hogan pounds on Flair and tries to eliminate him until Flair rakes the eyes as Justice tries to dump Savage, and Flair knees Justice in the back as Savage falls over the top and is eliminated. Flair fires up on Hogan who no-sells his shots and he pounds on Flair before whipping him inside out in the corner, and he continues to pound on him and tries to dump him out only for Justice to toss Hogan over the top and eliminate him to a pop. Hogan yells at Justice as Justice tells him it’s every man for himself and Hogan grabs at his arm from the floor, and he pulls at Justice as Flair comes from behind and dumps Justice over the top to eliminate him and we have a new champion.
After the match, Hogan gets in the ring and chases Flair who retreats outside as Mr. Perfect comes out and they head to the back, and Justice gets in the ring and confronts Hogan as officials come out and try to keep them apart. We then go backstage where Jack Tunney presents Flair with the title and Flair cuts a great promo as he calls this the greatest moment of his life and the WWF Title is the number one title in wrestling, and Perfect and Bobby are also elated as Bobby puts Flair over strong and Flair says that he’s the man.
The match itself was tremendous as all 30 men worked hard and put on easily the best Rumble match to date. While there were only a couple of guys that were legit choices to win the match and the title, this was still arguably the most stacked Rumble in history as all the big names from the last few years are in the match. A bunch of stars get some time to shine as Michaels lasts over 15 minutes, Bulldog, Duggan, IRS, and Savage last over 20 minutes, and then there’s Piper who lasts over 30 minutes after competing earlier in the night and it wouldn’t have been shocking to see him leave with two titles. But it was clear that the star of the match is Flair as he lasts almost an hour and runs the table to become champion, and you could argue that this might be his greatest performance ever though that is up for debate. The other big thing to take from this is the ending as Justice ends up getting screwed by Hogan and this was the first real backlash as Justice gets cheered for eliminating Hogan and Hogan gets booed for screwing Justice. I can’t forget to talk about the commentary as well as Bobby is fantastic throughout this whole thing pulling for Flair while Gorilla constantly needles him, and Bobby is completely euphoric when Flair wins and even Gorilla has to give him the respect he deserves. Now, the question is what is to come because you would think we are still heading to Hogan and Flair at Wrestlemania, but after the showdown with Hogan and Justice now things don’t seem as obvious. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and while most are not happy when Flair wins, there are some that give him a pop for winning. Flair overcomes the odds and wins the Rumble while becoming the new WWF Champion, and now we wait to see what will happen on the Road to Wrestlemania.
Final Grade: *****