Vintage Vault Repost: Royal Rumble 1992

Vintage Vault Reposts are Pay-Per-View recaps with Justin and Scott’s commentary, including star ratings. Please note, these were written in the past and may have dated references. Each repost comes with the audio for the Place to Be Podcast episode where the show is reviewed.  Please scroll to the bottom to find your listening and downloading options!

January 19, 1992
Knickerbocker Arena
Albany, New York
Attendance: 17,000
Buy Rate: 1.8
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan

1) The New Foundation defeats the Orient Express when Owen Hart pins Pat Tanaka with a splash off the top rope at 17:21

Scott: Our opener is a very exciting tag match with a pair of teams with different roles. The Orient Express have run their course as a viable heel team, and are now in JTTS (Jobbers to the Stars) mode. Kato and Tanaka are great in-ring talents and are good in this role. As for the New Foundation, it’s an opportunity for young Owen Hart to cut his teeth in a safe WWF environment. With Jim Neidhart as his partner, Owen is in a comfort zone where he can go about his growing as a wrestler with someone he trusts as his partner. The match is very good and the action is non-stop. It’s not at the level of Express/Rockers from the previous year’s Rumble, but it’s very good and very fast-paced. Owen actually takes a pretty nice bump with Mr. Fuji’s cane and the turnbuckle, but the Foundation makes the comeback and Owen even gets the pin. Neidhart actually was moved from wrestler to announcer after the Hart Foundation broke up in the summer of 1991, but was brought back to the ring to help Owen along. It was evident he wasn’t at the gym while on hiatus due to his very large gut, but he held his own in the ring. A great opener to what would be a landmark show. Grade: ***

Justin: Another solid, long Royal Rumble opener starring the Orient Express. The Orients are another team that probably deserved more than they got, and are along the lines of Power and Glory, where they got pushed aside for incoming WCW teams, and eventually the Natural Disasters push. Jim Neidhart had been demoted to commentator after Wrestlemania VII so Bret Hart could start up his singles push, but was brought back for a bit to help break Owen in to the federation. Owen looks good here, but gets stuck in the mid-card for a while as he continues gaining experience on the big stage. You could tell early on though that he had special talent and charisma. Anyway, another great start to a Rumble card with some exciting tag action. Also, check out the great bump Owen takes when he gets whipped into Fuji’s cane in the corner; it makes a sick sound and looks pretty nasty as well. Good stuff all around and the match keeps the already hot crowd hot for the whole thing. Grade: ***

2) Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) defeats the Mountie (Jacques Rougeau) to win WWF Intercontinental Title with a sleeper at 5:18

Fun Fact: This is Piper’s first singles title in the WWF, and first singles title overall since holding the NWA US Heavyweight Title in 1983.

Fun Fact II: The Mountie defeated Bret Hart to win the IC Title 3 days before at a house show in Springfield, Massachusetts. Bret was sick with the flu and had a 102 degree fever, but said he would at least get in the ring and drop the title. There’s another rumor that Bret and the WWF were in the midst of contract negotiations, and the WWF wanted to make sure that if Bret did leave the company that the belt was protected. He obviously re-signed, and would soon be in the hunt to get the title back.

Scott: A crowning moment for one of the most bombastic and entertaining personalities in WWF history. After his retirement match against Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III, we all thought that Roddy Piper’s career was over. Then he made his triumphant return to the ring in 1989, but then he left the ring again and joined the broadcast booth. Now he gets a rare title shot, and for the flunky transition champion, it’s a quick ride with the title. The match is brutally bad, as it’s pretty much a Piper squash. The crowd reaction to Piper was off the charts, and adds to the grade slightly. The stage is set for a much-anticipated match between the current champion, and the former champion. The Mountie? He gets his cup of coffee as a champion, but is back to being a low mid-card joke. Grade: **1/2 (*1/2 on the match alone)

Justin: Talk about unexpectedly great moments in wrestling history and you have to mention this match here. Just days before this show, Bret Hart was scheduled to defend his Intercontinental Title against the Mountie, but due to one reason or another, many fans who hadn’t watched Superstars that week were treated to quite the surprise, as the Mountie came strutting out with his newly won gold. What would follow was five minutes of as mediocre a match you could possibly imagine, but thankfully that was followed up by one of the greatest pops and truly classic moments in WWF history. The man who had been on top of the wrestling world for most of his career but never won a title finally had some gold of his own. Roddy Piper put the Mountie down with his patented sleeper and the reaction of the crowd as the bell rings is goosebumps-inducing; just an amazing, amazing moment for one of the all time greats. The Mountie’s brief run as champ ends with a thud, and it is back to mid-card status for him for the rest of the year. Piper would have a solid run as Champ, as he began his trek down the collision course with the former champ. Piper walked in without any gold, but left the match with a chance to make WWF history: win both the Intercontinental and World Championships in the same night. Grade: **

3) The Beverly Brothers defeat The Bushwhackers when Blake (Mike Enos) pins Butch (Miller) following a double axe-handle off the top from Beau (Wayne Bloom) at 14:56

Scott: We now go through the lull of our program with the first of two lackluster tag team matches. The Bushwhackers are continuing to float along as the resident comedy tag team. They bring on Bobby Heenan’s punching bag Jamison as part of their group and that brings nothing to the table. At least the right team went over, as the Beverly’s were the newer, fresher heel team. The Whackers are nothing more than fodder for up and coming heel teams, which is the role that fits them perfectly. The match itself is average, and the crowd starts to slip after the hot start. Grade: **

Justin: Just a disaster as these two teams go out and spend 15 minutes putting the crowd to sleep. The Beverlys were a great heel tag team, but unfortunately did not have much heat at this point, and just didn’t mesh with the aging Bushwhackers. Jameson and Genius at ringside do their shtick well, but unfortunately that doesn’t amount to much at this point, as this match fell apart rather quickly. The Bushwhackers were out of their element trying to battle through a match this long, but The Beverlys try their damndest to carry them. The match mercifully ends after fifteen minutes and the Beverlys would move on to see better days. This is also the last time we see Jameson on Pay Per View, thankfully. Grade: *

4) The Natural Disasters defeat the Legion of Doom by countout at 9:23; LOD retains WWF Tag Team Titles

Scott: The Road Warriors’ first title defense on PPV is not the best match in the world. The Disasters are a pretty big, lumbering heel team with not much work-rate. The tempo of the match was not quick and even though LOD is very much over with the fans, the poor quality deflated the crowd even more than after the previous match. LOD’s offense is all about power, but when they face a team that they can’t manhandle they have to improvise and it doesn’t necessarily project to a great match on television. As the year progresses, things don’t get any better for them. Grade: *1/2

Justin: After a promising start, LOD’s title reign is starting to peter out a bit and would have to be considered quite the disappointment. The Disasters had been hunting for the titles for the past few months, and this match had some solid build up, but just couldn’t deliver in the ring. The finish is bizarre as well, but sort of makes sense as things play out over the coming months. The Disasters did not have the offense to carry a match like this, and LOD doesn’t sell for anyone so the match may have been doomed from the start. The tag division has gotten a bit stale, but things would be shaken up quite a bit in the weeks after the show. This match is just there, but that is OK because it simply here to set the table for the pure greatness that was to follow. Grade: *1/2


5) Ric Flair wins the Royal Rumble, and the WWF World Title

Order of entry, followed by who eliminated them:

1) British Bulldog (David Smith): Ric Flair
2) Ted DiBiase: British Bulldog
3) Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr): Winner
4) Jerry Sags (Jerry Sagonovich): British Bulldog
5) Haku (Uliuli Fifita): British Bulldog
6) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom): El Matador
7) El Matador (Merced Solis): Shawn Michaels
8) Barbarian (Sionne Valahai): Hercules
9) Texas Tornado (Kerry Adkisson): Ric Flair
10) Repo Man (Barry Darsow): Big Boss Man
11) Greg Valentine (John Wisniski, Jr.): Repo Man
12) Nikolai Volkoff (Josip Peruzovic): Repo Man
13) Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor): Ric Flair
14) Hercules (Ray Fernandez): Big Boss Man
15) Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs): Sid Justice
16) Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.): Randy Savage
17) Hacksaw Jim Duggan: Virgil
18) IRS (Mike Rotundo): Roddy Piper
19) Jimmy Snuka (James Reiher): Undertaker
20) Undertaker (Mark Callaway): Hulk Hogan
21) Randy Savage (Randy Poffo): Sid Justice
22) Berzerker (John Nord): Hulk Hogan
23) Virgil (Mike Jones): Jim Duggan
24) Col. Mustafa (Khosrow Vaziri): Randy Savage
25) Rick Martel (Richard Vigneault): Sid Justice
26) Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea): Sid Justice
27) Skinner (Steve Keirn): Rick Martel
28) Sgt. Slaughter (Robert Remus): Sid Justice
29) Sid Justice (Sid Eudy): Ric Flair
30) Warlord (Terry Szopinski): Hulk Hogan & Sid Justice
Longest Competitor: Ric Flair (59:26)
Shortest Competitor: Hercules (:56)
Most eliminated: Sid Justice (6)

Fun Fact: This Royal Rumble match featured 8 future or past World Champions, which is 26% of the field.

Fun Fact II: Due to the controversy with the Tuesday in Texas title match, Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker only picked from numbers 20-30.

Fun Fact III: As of 2012, 13 of the 30 participants are in the Hall of Fame.

Scott: Undoubtedly the best Royal Rumble to date, and probably one of the 2 or 3 best Rumbles of all time. Besides the fact it was the first where something was actually up for grabs, it had almost every big-time superstar on the roster, including Piper, who Gorilla and Bobby said was trying to make history by winning both singles titles in the same night. This match was dripping with tension and drama, like any good match involving the WWF Title should be. We saw some very intriguing matchups that led to WrestleMania matches, like Shawn Michaels and El Matador (Tito). However, there is two things that I get from this match. Number one: Ric Flair. He stuck around for almost an hour, almost being tossed 10-12 times. Bobby Heenan’s exasperating commentary, begging, pleading for “Natch” to win the match, and when he did, Heenan sounded like he just won the match. It was a great moment, whether he was a heel or not, for one of the greatest ever. Number two: the downfall of the kingdom, the red and yellow kingdom that is. We saw how the Tuesday in Texas match was convoluted. Now here Hogan is tossed by Sid Justice, a guy fans love, and then Hogan gets all pissed, grabs Sid’s arm, and help Flair toss Sid over for the win. By doing all that, Hogan accomplished 3 things: 1) Gave the big moment to Ric Flair 2) Made more fans feel bad for Sid, and actually boo Hogan because of his immaturity, and 3) Looked like a hypocrite. He threw Savage out in 1989 and Warrior out in 1990, like it was no big deal. Now Sid does the same thing to him, and he cries about it. It looks stupid, but I guess in the Orange Kingdom logic is not allowed. All this was better than just going along with Hogan/Flair? A match for the ages, which I’m sure Flair would have gladly let Hogan win, with Flair winning the re-match at Summerslam, and instead makes Flair look like a champion, and a pro, and Hogan looks like an idiot. We’ll see at WrestleMania how much Hogan’s mistake comes back to haunt him. Grade: *****

Justin: Wow…FAN-Fucking-Tastic Rumble match. No doubt. It had the best talent, the best drama, the best ending and the best commentary of any Rumble. It had the whole, complete package and is the standard for all future Rumbles. This match features the first ON AIR serious fan backlash against Hogan, as they cheer emphatically when crowd-favorite Sid tosses Hulk, and boo LOUDLY when he throws his tantrum and drags Sid out of the ring. The reaction was so bad that Vince and Company have to edit out the boos every time this match has aired since it was on live. Hogan’s Kingdom was fading fast, and he was scrambling to save it. Sid was stealing his pops, Flair was stealing his thunder and the fans were being apathetic to his antics. He gets tossed and as usual pisses and moans and screws the more popular face during the match. The Hulkster has had a great run, but the shit has seriously hit the fan. Bobby Heenan put in a 5 star performance on commentary as he helps carry the whole match. His blatant bias and pleading and begging and praying for Flair is frigging awesome and is what all heel commentators should strive towards, and we shouldn’t forget Gorilla, who does a great job playing the straight man and antagonizing Heenan throughout the match: “No one in the first five has ever, ever been there at the end,” and “here comes the Barbarian…he DOESN’T like Flair either.” Flair puts on an awesome show and definitely steals the whole PPV and shows the WWF fans why he has always been and will always be the MAN. He is the total opposite of Hogan: a consummate professional who does what is asked of him for the good of the fans and the federation. The lasting impression of the show: Hogan is an idiot, Heenan is the best heel WWF commentator of that period, Sid was WAY over and Flair is the Man…and Evil Jake was AWESOME until he snorted his way out of a job by the spring. Grade: *****


Scott: One of my favorite PPVs of all time. It had drama, great moments, and one match that a great legend got his due. Because I still didn’t know much about backstage stuff, I wasn’t as pissed off with Hogan as I am now, knowing what REALLY happened. The weak tag matches between Piper and the Rumble stops this from the being an A+, but the Rumble itself captivates the fan’s emotions, and from here on out, the Royal Rumble means something, with the winner getting a title shot at Wrestlemania. Ric Flair proved what a shot in the arm he gave the WWF product at a time where things were a little up in the air. Now the product is hot again, but one is on the outside looking in. Hulk Hogan, the WWF’s hero for the last 6 years is looking out of date, selfish and is becoming a real wrench in Vince McMahon’s plans. It won’t be for another year before the shit really hits the fan with Hogan, but for now the biggest show of the year is upon us, and already there’s a feeling of change. As for the Rumble, this one is the greatest of all time. Final Grade: A

Justin: A very diverse PPV, as the matches, except the opener, were quite sub-par, but the Rumble is fucking awesome. The PPV definitely rates high for historic reasons: Piper’s first singles title, Flair’s heroic performance, Hogan’s first real backlash, and the World Title being on the line. The matches were bound to suck, as Vince loaded the Rumble, mainly because it was a World Title match. One point that gets forgotten that also adds to this show is that anyone could have won the WORLD TITLE. Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana, Virgil, Warlord…they all had a shot, and that made the match even more special. I remember at the time, there was legit mystery over who would win this thing. There were at least five viable options to walk out with the title (Undertaker, Savage, Hogan, Flair and Sid) and a couple of outside possibilities (Piper, Jake, Slaughter, and Berzerker). Most Rumbles usually feature two, maybe three guys who could win, but five solid choices is unbelievable. The Hogan stuff has been re-hashed a few times now, and the worst was yet to come. Ric Flair proves why he outclasses Hogan 9 times out of 10 as he steals the show and finally restores some much needed credibility to a World Championship that was sorely lacking it. After all of the nonsense involving Undertaker, Sid and Hogan over the past few months, a very unlikely challenger would rise up from nowhere to steal the spotlight…but more on that next time around. For now…a really great Rumble saves this show, and it goes down as one of the best ever, Rumble-wise and history-wise. Final Grade: A+