Royal Rumble 1989
January 15, 1989
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse "The Body" Ventura
This is famous for being the first Royal Rumble held on PPV, though the first Rumble ever had been on USA the year before. Wrestlemania V was eleven weeks away, so there was still opportunity to build to that, though at this point there wasn't much of a solid indication for a main event. The Rumble itself is a once-a-year match for the crowd to enjoy, but isn't very menaingful here because the stipulation of "winner gets a Wrestlemania Title shot" didn't come around until 1993.
Two Out Of Three Falls: Hart Foundation & "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo
For some reason, the heels come out to Bravo's music and not the Rougeaus' awesome theme. Ah, maybe this was still a few more months before they got music. The issues here are between the Harts and the Canadian born, but American residing, Rougeaus, and US partiot Duggan, and Canadian Bravo. Bravo, cowardly heel, runs whenever Duggan is tagged in. The Harts and Rougeaus go, and Bret goes hard for the all important first fall with a series of pinning combinations. All six men come in, and the faces clear house to get the crowd going, but soon Bret gets caught in the wrong corner, and the Rougeaus put him away with the Rougeau Bomb for the first fall at 4:33. The heels continue to punish Bret in their corner to start the second fall. The ref misses a tag thanks to heel distraction tactics, but Bret is able to counter a Jacques monkey flip and make the hot tag to Duggan for real. Hacksaw slingshots each Hart on top of Raymond and covers for three at 10:12 to even the score at one fall apiece. Duggan pounds away at Ray, but stupidly runs in to the heel corner where he's triple teamed. Moron. Bravo tags in and proves he's equally dumb by atomic dropping Hacksaw right into the face corner, where Bret gets the hot tag. The ref gets distracted, allowing Duggan to use his 2x4 to nail Bravo. Bret covers for the pin at 14:57 to give the Harts and Duggan the victory. Good opener. ***
We're shown pre-recorded segments of some of the Royal Rumble participants drawing their numbers. Among those shown are the Bushwackers, The Honky Tonk Man (who's mad), Bad News Brown (who's pleased), Demolition (who discover they're both in for a long night), and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Ted DiBiase seems upset at his number, so he calls Slick over to talk business...
Super Pose Down: The Ultimate Warrior vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude
No, this isn't a wrestling match. It's a steriod display conducted by Gene Okerlund. Rude challenged the Ultimate Warrior to this; not for the Intercontinental Title, but to prove that he has a better body. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan takes the mic and sucks up to the Houston crowd on behalf of Rude. The fans decide who wins each pose based out how loud their reaction is, so who do you think is going to win? The beloved face or the hated heel? Case in point, Rude does a double bicep pose and hears the jeers from the crowd. The Warrior does it and the crowd goes nuts. Rude pumps a bar in the corner the whole time, seemingly warming up between poses. The next pose starts and the simple formula remains. Rude does a "best abs" pose. Crowd boos. Warrior does it. Crowd pops. Rude pumps the bar. Heenan gets angry. "Most muscular" pose. Rude goes. Crowd boos. Warrior does it. Crowd pops. Heenan frowns. Rude pumps. Jesse critiques. Hell, this whole thing was probably his idea anyway. Rude does a medley of poses next, but this time when Warrior goes, Rude jumps him with the bar, does a number on him, and leaves him for dead. Gee, that wasn't predictable. The whole segment got nearly twenty minutes of PPV time; was that really necessary? When Warrior finally makes it to his feet, he beats up some officials for fun. This led to Rude challenging Warrior for the Intercontinental Title at Wrestlemania V.
The tape is blatantly edited here, and cuts out a Harley Race/Haku match.
Women's Title Match: Rockin' Robin (Champion) vs. Judy Martin
Oh, great. They clip Race/Haku, but leave this? Prior to the match, Sensational Sherri challenges the winner, then joins Gorilla and Jess for commentary. Thankfully, we don't have to hear her very long because Robin retains with a crossbody at 2:48. * Next.
Sean Mooney is with Slick and the Twin Towers. When asked about DiBiase, Slick says that he hasn't talked to Teddy in a month, despite the fact that we saw them on screen together no less than thirty minutes ago. Something smells fishy to Mooney, but it's probably just his deodorant.
Gene is with Rude and the Brain.
Royal Rumble Match
As mentioned, this is only the second Rumble ever, and the first featured on PPV, so the announcers are sure to emphasize the rules as well as the importance of the luck of the draw. Co-holder of the Tag Team Championship, Ax of Demolition, is #1, and his partner Smash just happens to be #2. It's every man for himself, so they slug it out, but when Andre The Giant comes out at #3, they double team him. #4 is Mr. Perfect, as Andre dumps Smash. Ax & Perfect team up on Andre. "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin is #5. They triple team the big guy, but still can't toss him. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine is #6, and Andre dumps Garvin. Good riddance. Jake "The Snake" Roberts, smack in the middle of a feud with Andre, is #7, and goes straight after him to a big pop. "Outlaw" Ron Bass is #8 and no one cares. Andre eliminates Jake and next targets Valentine. Shawn Michaels is out at #9 to the Hardy Boyz' little girl pop. Perfect dumps Ax and moves on to mix it up with Shawn! Valentine takes a breather in the corner. #10 is Bushwacker Butch. Jake comes back down the aisle, having already been eliminated, and lets his snake, Damien, loose in the ring. Andre, deathly afraid of snakes, hops over the top rope and out of the ring, thus eliminating himself. D'oh! Mission accomplished for Jake, who puts Damien back in the bag and leaves for good. #11 is the Honky Tonk Man, which makes six men in the ring. They pair off. Tito Santana is #12 and goes straight for Perfect before grappling with his old foe, Valentine. #13 is Bad News Brown, as Tito and Butch team up to get rid of Honky. Shawn's fellow Rocker, Marty Jannetty, is #14 as the ring starts to fill up a little. The Rockers eliminate Bass with a double dropkick. There are lots of future or former Intercontinental Champions in there right now: Valentine, Santana, Perfect, Michaels, and Jannetty. Another one, current WWF Champion, "Macho Man" Randy Savage is #15. The place erupts as he brawls with Bad News.
#16 is one half of the Brainbusters, Arn Anderson. Valentine is gone, courtesy of Savage. A face Savage and heel Anderson team up to eliminate the face Shawn to emphasize that it's every man for himself. Savage goes back to Bad News, and Jannetty crotches Arn on the top. Santana and Perfect brawl. #17 is Arn's partner, Tully Blanchard. I guess someone didn't shake the bowl very well. Savage and Tito double team Perfect. Lots of talent in the ring right now. Arn hits his big spinebuster on Marty, and Tully eliminates him. Hulk Hogan is #18 to a big pop, and immediately eliminates the long man, Perfect. Hey, 28 minutes isn't bad, Curt. Several guys come together to dump Tito. #19 is Bushwacker Luke, but Butch gets tossed. Koko B. Ware draws #20. The Megapowers double team the Busters. Hogan dumps Koko, then Luke, his buddies. #21 is the Warlord, as Hogan singlehandedly dumps both Brainbusters. The Warlord hits the ring, steps in, and gets clotheslined out by Hogan immediately. Savage and Bad News brawl by the ropes, and Hogan, on fire, rushes over and dumps both of them to clear the entire ring. Ooh, Savage didn't like that, and gets in Hogan's face to let him know about it. Elizabeth rushes out to prevent a potential fight between the two Megapowers. Hogan contends that it's every man for himself; you should've followed your own logic three years later, Hulk, you hypocrite. Savage offers a meaningless handshake to please Liz, and leaves. Megapower foe, The Big Boss Man, is #22, with only Hogan remaining in the ring. Hogan slams him, but Boss Man comes back with an avalanche and a piledriver. #23 is Akeem, Boss Man's partner, and the Towers gang up on Hogan. After a double avalanche, they toss him, but the brawl continues on the floor.
#24 is Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, notorious Hogan ass-kisser, so he helps out the Hulkster. The Towers manhandle Beefcake in the ring, but Hogan pulls the rope down on Boss Man, thus eliminating him. They brawl down the aisle while Akeem remains with Beefcake inside. #25 is the Red Rooster, and they double team the big guy, Akeem. #26 is The Barbarian, and #27 is Big John Studd. Hercules comes out at #28, as the ring starts to fill up for the home stretch. #29 is Rick Martel. #30 rolls around, and of course it's "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, though I don't understand why he'd have been upset with #22 or 23, which is what he must have "traded" for with one of the Twin Towers. Unless that is, DiBiase used Slick to orchestrate something with Heenan, and The Brain ended up sticking Andre with DiBiase's #3. Just speculating, because otherwise that's a pretty big logic flaw. Virgil stays at ringside with DiBiase even though managers aren't allowed down there. I guess he's not technically a manager (he's merely a stooge), but still. DiBiase eliminates The Rooster, who goes out with a Flair flip. Beefcake and Herc are eliminated by DiBiase and the Barabarian. Barbarian hits a running powerslam on Martel, then hits the top rope headbutt. Barbarian charges, but Martel dumps him. Akeem follows up by ousting Martel, leaving him alone with DiBiase and Studd as the final three. The heels double team Studd and Akeem hits an avalanche, but Studd pulls DiBiase in front of a second attempt of the same move. Akeem checks on his buddy, which is a mistake because Studd takes the opportunity to eliminate him. DiBiase offers to talk deal with Studd, but Big John will have none of it. Studd runs through some offense, then tosses him over the top to the floor, basically squashing him in the process. Big John Studd wins the Royal Rumble at 60:02. Virgil runs in after the match, and Studd cleans house with him as well. Hey, Virg, it's a Rumble; no DQ's. Why not interfere during the match? Oh well. Big John Studd celebrates his last hurrah as the Rumble comes to a close. ***1/2 Rumble.
Gene is backstage with Savage and Elizabeth in Savage's locker room. Gene tries to start trouble between Savage and Hogan, but for now nothing comes of it.
Gorilla and Jesse wrap things up as fans begin to file out of the Summit and stir things up between the Megapowers one last time. Could it be they're on the verge of exploding? We'll see.
That brings the 1989 Royal Rumble to a close. It wasn't a terribly impressive show, with only one real men's match before the actual Rumble (on this tape anyway). This show isn't overly significant, but it was fun. The Rumble was booked well and there are enough booking periods in the second half to prevent it from being boring for any extended length of time. It also slowly started the build towards Wrestlemania V with Hogan/Savage, Warrior/Rude, and to a lesser degree, Jake/Andre.
Royal Rumble 1989 Key Stats
Average Match Rating: **1/2
Top Moments: A Harts victory is always fun, Savage finally getting in Hogan's face about hogging the limelight, and DiBiase and Slick's shady business transaction
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