[PPV Recap] ‘WWF Royal Rumble 1992’ – Greatest Rumble of All-Time

Date: January 19, 1992
Venue: The Knickerbocker Arena (Albany, NY)
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan

Happy Royal Rumble season everybody, let’s celebrate by reviewing what I think is one of, if not the, greatest Rumble match of all-time. Also we’ll tackle the undercard too, I guess.

Champion Roll-Call

  • WWF Champion: VACANT
  • WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Mountie (no, seriously)
  • WWF World Tag Team Champions: The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)

The Lineup

  • The New Foundation vs. The Orient Express
  • The Mountie [c] vs. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
  • The Bushwhackers vs. The Beverly Brothers
  • The Legion of Doom [c] vs. The Natural Disasters for the WWF WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
  • 1992 Royal Rumble for the vacant WWF CHAMPIONSHIP

*****

-Vince McMahon, perhaps you’ve heard of him, narrates the opening video which lists all of the combatants in this year’s Royal Rumble. The WWF World Title is on the line for this one, having been vacated in late-1991 due to some shenanigans between Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and The Undertaker. I can’t believe I made my parents get me that dumb Tuesday in Texas PPV when I was a kid. I also can’t wait to review that again at some point.

-We go live to the Knickerbocker Arena where we join hosts Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan. Heenan is pro-Ric Flair to the surprise of absolutely no one. Monsoon lets us know that The Mountie is somehow the new Intercontinental Champion having beaten Bret Hart at a house show and he’ll be defending against Roddy Piper.

The New Foundation (‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart & Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart) vs. The Orient Express (Tanaka & Kato) [w/ Mr. Fuji]

The New Foundation was a way to introduce Owen Hart to WWF audiences while also giving Jim Neidhart something to do post-Hart Foundation breakup. They didn’t accomplish much other than make goofy bright colors and checkerboard patterns a viable wrestling gear option, something Hart would be stuck with once he transitioned into another tag team with Koko B. Ware. Who doesn’t miss the 90s? They’re facing the second version of The Orient Express here, which features original member Tanaka and his former AWA tag team partner Paul Diamond under a hood as ‘Kato’. Fuji is still rocking his Oddjob look but ditches that later in the year when he becomes the manager of Yokozuna.

Hart and Kato trade wristlocks to start, Hart showing off his agility to take control. Hart with a leapfrog followed by an armdrag into a wristlock. Monsoon announces that Nikolai Volkoff and Haku will be replacing Marty Jannetty and one of the Nasty Boys in the Royal Rumble match. Jannetty got taken out by former Rockers partner Shawn Michaels in a very memorable incident on WWF TV during a ‘Barber Shop’ segment. Hart brings Kato to the mat with a hurricanrana then goes back to the wristlock when Kato kicks out of the pinfall attempt. Crowd pops as Neidhart gets the tag. The Anvil’s over, brother. Neidhart unsurprisingly overpowers Kato, blocking a hip toss attempt and sending him crashing to the mat. Tanaka, who is apparently wearing a sweatshirt and has ditched wrestling boots, tags in and tries his luck with a shoulderblock but crashes to the mat. Hart tags back in and connects with a flying elbowdrop for a two-count. The Orient Express try to double-team Neidhart but he takes them down easily with a double clothesline and Hart follows up with a flying crossbody on both of them for a two-count. Hart tries to unmask Kato, forcing him to roll to the outside to escape. Neidhart laughs at him as he’s wont to do. Tanaka hits Hart from behind and leaves him prone for Fuji to jab him right in the throat with his evil foreigner cane of death. The tides they turn.

The Express work Hart over, Fuji riling up Neidhart so they can hurt The Rocket behind the ref’s back. Tanaka sends Hart chest-first into the corner and he moves the ring on collision. Hart manages to reverse a corner Irish whip but eats a superkick (or I guess ‘crescent kick’ as it was known at the time). Kato tags in and slaps on a chinlock. Hart escapes and rolls Kato up with a crucifix but Kato kicks out and immediately strikes him to stop the momentum. Tanaka tags back in and drops a hard headbutt between the legs behind the ref’s back, causing most in the crowd to boo and others to clutch their jewels in sympathy pain. Hart escapes a chinlock but gets caught with a flying something or another from Tanaka (chop? headbutt?). Hart manages a terrible faceslam on Tanaka and tags in Neidhart but the ref didn’t see it so he’s not going to allow it. The Orient Express ram Hart right into Fuji’s cane and Kato covers for the 1…2…Hart gets his leg over the bottom rope. The Express turn their focus on Hart’s left arm, Tanaka trying to rip it out of its socket with a hammerlock. Hart sends Tanaka into the ropes and hits a release overhead belly-to-belly suplex for the 1…2…Kato breaks it up. Neidhart gets heated and accidentally distracts the ref so The Express can double team Hart some more. Hart ducks a double clothesline and responds with a double dropkick, one boot for each of them.

Neidhart finally gets the hot tag and hits a slingshot double shoulderblock as the crowd pops huge. Neidhart bullies Tanaka down with a clothesline then rams Kato out of the ring. Neidhart whips Hart into a tope suicida to Kato on the floor then launches Hart off the top for a Rocket Launcher and the 1…2…3!

The New Foundation defeated The Orient Express when Owen Hart pinned Tanaka with the Rocket Launcher (17:19)

  • Last year The Orient Express opened the Royal Rumble with a tremendous match against The Rockers. This one was definitely not as good but Owen Hart doing high flying stuff people hadn’t really seen in the WWF quite yet made it entertaining enough to forgive the drag in the middle. The Foundation get a solid win en route to…nothing, to be honest. Oh well. (**3/4)

-We join ‘Lord’ Alfred Hayes backstage who shows us footage of The Mountie beating Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. Mountie attacks Hart after and Roddy Piper comes out to even the odds. Mountie pretends to leave then attacks Piper from behind with the belt. Piper easily gets up to his feet and decks Mountie, who leaves for real.

-Cut to Sean Mooney who’s standing by with The Mountie and his manager Jimmy Hart who’s holding the Intercontinenal Championship belt. Mountie says Piper doesn’t even deserve a shot but he’s a fighting champion so he’ll do it anyway and take his manhood and his skirt while retaining the title. DA MOUNTIE.

-Cut to ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund who’s with Roddy Piper. Piper makes a weak accusation that DA MOUNTIE is gay then yells about not having dignity and something else or other. Cocaine is a helluva drug.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Mountie [c] [w/ ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart] vs. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper

The Mountie is former All-American Boy Jacques Rougeau, who adopted the gimmick the year before. You may remember his feud with The Big Boss Man which led to a series of hilarious segments at SummerSlam 1991 where he was forced to spend a night in jail. Piper is Piper, if I have to explain anything about him to you then you need to subscribe to the WWE Network, only 9.99/month. He’s still in good shape here, this isn’t WCW-era Piper which was really hard to watch.

Piper throws his kilt into Mountie’s face and immediately goes on the offensive. Mountie manages to escape the ring but Piper follows him out and belts him with a running right hand. Mountie throws Hart at Piper, distracting him long enough so Mountie can get a cheap shot in. Mountie tries a monkey flip, Piper counters with a fist drop and rams him into opposite corners. Piper follows up with a bulldog and covers but Mountie gets his foot on the rope. Piper pulls Mountie to his feet and pokes him in the eye. Hart grabs Piper’s leg, distracting him once more so Mountie can hit a running double axhandle. Mountie dodges a dropkick which hurts Piper for no reason and covers for a two-count. Mountie with a an Irish whip and a running back elbow but again Piper kicks out of the pinfall attempt. Mountie sends Piper to the floor, Piper climbs the apron and catches Mountie with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Mountie kicks out. Piper with a series of jabs, Mountie sends him to the floor but Piper immediately climbs back in and continues the attack, connecting with a back bodydrop. Mountie skins the cat and tries to attack Piper from behind but Piper moves and he hits Hart instead. Piper slaps on his Sleeperhold and Mountie passes out, giving Piper his first WWF singles championship of his career.

Roddy Piper defeated The Mountie [c] via KO with the Sleeperhold to win the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (5:18)

  • It’s insane on paper that it took Piper until 1992 to become a champion in the WWF but given that his biggest run was in the 80s, during the time of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior and all that, it’s not so surprising. It’s really cool to see him finally do it though and the crowd going ape when the bell rang would agree. Match itself wasn’t great, a lot of weak brawling, but Piper winning is very cool. (**)

After the match Jimmy Hart tries to attack Piper with the cattle prod but he sends him out to the floor. He scares the ref away from the ring with the prod then shocks Mountie while cartoony ‘BZZZZ’ sound effects play. Howard Finkel announces Piper as the victor and is all smiles and excitement. He’s also in the Royal Rumble match itself too, so he might win TWO titles tonight! Well I mean he won’t but he COULD HAVE.

-Lord Alfred Hayes catches up with Hulk Hogan in Hogan’s locker room. This is a Coliseum Video exclusive apparently. Hogan is glad he and the Coliseum fans came to see him now because once the Rumble begins he won’t have any friends. What an exclusive…?

-‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is standing by with The Bushwhackers and friggin’ nerd Jamison. They have a surprise for The Beverly Brothers’ manager The Genius. Jamison wants one minute alone with The Genius to ‘thrash him’. You know that really nerdy ‘New York Jew’ accent people use sometimes in comedy sketches? That’s what Jamison sounds like. Yuck. Jamison was originally a character on Heenan’s Prime Time Wrestling off-shoot The Bobby Heenan Show and is probably best remembered for prematurely ejaculating in a pillow during one of those episodes. Yup.

The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch) [w/ Jamison] vs. The Beverly Brothers (Beau & Blake Beverly) [w/ The Genius]

The Beverly Brothers are former AWA Tag Team Champions The Minnesota Wrecking Crew and I guess they’re smart heels or something? I never really understood their gimmick outside of their love of purple and having The Genius, one of my favorite managers of all-time, as their second. Genius recites one of his poems which I’m not going to repeat verbatim because I don’t want to rewind and listen to it again. It’s interrupted anyway by The Bushwhackers’ entrance. Jamison tries to get his Bushwhacker on but he’s pretty bad at it. How many lawsuits do you think WWE would get nowadays if they had wrestler licking faces like The Bushwhackers used to do? My guess is INFINITY. I’ll be honest, I’m not looking forward to this one on a quality level but hopefully the comedy will make up for it.

First minute is taken up by The Bushwhackers posing for the crowd and rubbing/licking each other’s heads because of course that’s how this one starts. Eventually some action happens, Bushwhackers connect with tandem right hands and clear the ring to the sort-of joy of the crowd. Also some ass biting happened. It’s a given but hey I might as well note it anyway, up that word count into unreadable levels. Jamison wipes his nose with a random sock. Heh? One of the Beverly Brothers, whoever Mike Enos is supposed to be, tries to sucker Butch into a handshake then attacks him from behind. Butch fights back and hits Blake Beverly (THAT’S ENOS, THANK YOU WIKIPEDIA) with a bulldog then The Bushwhackers clear the ring once again with double clotheslines. Blake and Beau try to attack Luke from behind but they aren’t that successful and back to the floor they go. Blake takes a bow at how smart he is and gets a poke to the eye from Butch for his troubles. Blake hangs Luke over the top rope and Beau comes crashing down with a double axhandle, turning the tide out of nowhere. Beau goes for the cover, Luke kicks out. Dem Beverly Boyz double team while Butch accidentally distracts the ref, and Jamison gets mad about all the cheatin’. More double teamin’, more cheatin’, this match is about to cross the ten minute mark. Crowd is pretty silent at this point, or I’m so bored I’m going deaf. Either or. Luke is not great at selling offense. On the outside Genius grabs Jamison by the tie and slaps him across the face. He complains to Butch that Genius ‘hitted’ him.

Butch finally gets the ‘hot tag’ and peppers Blake with a series of rights followed by a clothesline that turns him inside out. Butch uses Blake’s head to hit Beau with the Battering Ram then catches Blake with a flying headbutt crossbody thing for the 1…2…Beau breaks it up. Beau gets sent to the floor and trips Butch up. Blake covers, Luke breaks it up. Beau hits Butch with a flying double axhandle and Blake covers for the 1…2…3?!? I’ve never seen a match past the 70s end with an axhandle before. Weird. (14:57)

The Beverly Brothers defeated The Bushwhackers when Blake Beverly pinned Bushwhacker Butch (14:57)

  • Dull as dirt and way longer than it needed to be. I don’t remember the TV surrounding this feud all that well but it couldn’t have been enough to justify the length. Yikes. At least the right team went over; The Beverly Brothers needed wins, The Bushwhackers could (and did) lose all the time because people loved them anyway and it didn’t hurt them one bit. (1/2*)

The Bushwhackers attack The Beverly Brothers anyway and clear the ring, then slingshot The Genius into the ring. Luke holds Genius’ arms and Jamison teases a punch but instead kicks him in the shins and out of the ring. Poor Lanny Poffo. Bushwhackers and Jamison celebrate, Jamison wearing Genius’ graduation cap. The Beverly Brothers left the ring instead of help their manager like a pair of douchebags.

-‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is standing by with the WWF World Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom. Animal screams about being champions. Hawk opens his spiel with ‘you know what makes us sick besides EVERYTHING?’ which is a line that I can super identify with. Hawk is one of the best promo men in wrestling history, anyone who says otherwise has a valid point and I’m glad we can coexist in the same fandom while respecting each other’s opinions. Also they’re wrong.

WWF World Tag Team Championship
The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) [c] vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) [w/ ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart]

I remember being SO HYPED for this one when I was five years old. The Legion of Doom were my jam and everything but barely had any challengers after they won the belts at SummerSlam 1991. The Natural Disasters, who formed around the same time, seemed unbeatable and terrifying. How would the LOD survive? I WAS ABOUT TO FIND OUT. I MISS BEING A KID SOMETIMES.

The Disasters are much taller and heavier than the Legion of Doom but Hawk and Animal ain’t scurred of nobody, jack. Hawk and Typhoon lock up and end in a stalemate, Heenan egging the LOD on to try and throw them around. Hawk hits a pair of shoulderblocks and Typhoon doesn’t budge so he goes with a forearm instead and finally takes the big man down with a flying clothesline. Earthquake tags in wanting some of Hawk and brushes off a dropkick. Earthquake tries an enzuigiri (or maybe dropkick like Monsoon said) and Hawk dodges so he crashes to the mat in a big heap. Monsoon says he wouldn’t have hit Sky Low Low with that one, no doubt popping all the little kids who moonlit as pro wrestling historians. I actually knew who that was because I used to rent old WWF compilations at Blockbuster. You know the ones, hosted by Jesse Ventura and featuring the old rings that had four ropes for some reason. ANYWAY Animal tags in and tries to slam Quake but Quake falls on top of him. Typhoon tags in and gets whipped into Animal in the corner, flattening him like a pancake. Typhoon tries for another but runs into a big boot and Animal brings him down with a hard clothesline. Hawk tags back in and Typhoon goads him into trying a crossbody. Naturally (HA!) he catches him and delivers a series of backbreakers. Quake tags in and drops an elbow right to the kidneys (HIS KIDNEYS HIS KIDNEYS). Typhoon tags in and goes right to the…standing bear hug. Blehhhh. Hawk manages to escape but Typhoon catches him in mid-air and rams him into the Disaster corner so Quake can tag in and continue the punishment…which is a bear hug. Blehhhh again. Be right back I think I have time to write my memoirs before this spot ends.

And we’re back. Hawk dodges a corner splash and hits a flying elbow, causing Quake to fall over like a giant tree. Love that sell. Animal gets a hot tag, taking Quake to the mat with a flying shoulderblock. The Disasters go for a double suplex but Animal flips out (and falls over), hitting them with a double lariat. All four start brawling on the floor, Typhoon sneaks into the ring before the count and they get the countout win. Aw man that’s it? Okay, fine.

The Legion of Doom [c] and The Natural Disasters fought to a double countout; The Legion of Doom retain the WWF WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (9:22)

  • I love me a good HOSS FIGHT and this was certainly one of those but that cop-out ending took a little wind out of my sails. I guess that makes sense, keep the Disasters strong and give them a win without giving them the belts, but still. I want to lie and say this sets up a big rematch at WrestleMania or something but it doesn’t; The Disasters do get a run with the Tag Team Titles but it’s later in the year and they do it as smiling babyfaces. Nothing say good guys like a couple of monsters named after cataclysmic life-ending situations. (**1/2)

The Disasters celebrate with the belts but LOD ruin their party with a steel chair and stand tall as The Fink mentions that they’re still champions due to not being pinned or submitted. LOD celebrates like they won even though they didn’t. It’s false. IT’S A FALSE HAPPINESS.

-Cut to Sean Mooney (Bobby Heenan: “WHO?!?”) in the fake locker room set where Jimmy Hart threatens legal action for The Natural Disasters not winning the titles. Earthquake and Typhoon don’t understand how title changes work and are furious about it. Guys this is your job, read the rulebook why don’t you? Jeeeeeeeez.

-‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is with new Intercontinental Champion Roddy Piper who’s still crazy excited about being champion. Piper has his eye on also winning the WWF Title in the Rumble, dedicating it to his son Colt. Colt Toombs is a great name by the way, props to the Piper family.

-Cut back to Sean Mooney who catches up with the now heel Shawn Michaels. We look back on Michaels’ attack on his former Rockers partner Marty Jannetty a week ago on The Barber Shop. What a great segment that was. Michaels has his eye on the prize.

-After a quick pan of the crowd we then cut to Lord Alfred Hayes who’s with Ric Flair in a Coliseum Video exclusive. Flair says he drew #3 but he says it makes no difference because he will be the WWF Champion against all odds. This is an awkward insert to throw in but hey whatever, sell those tapes.

-And now we get some pre-recorded thoughts from some other participants scheduled for the match:

  • ‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage says he’s been to the top of the mountain before and will be going back this afternoon, yeeeeah. He also wants to get his hands on Jake Roberts, who he’s currently in a feud with.
  • Sid Justice is all intensity and cuts a heel promo despite still technically being a face at the time.
  • Repo Man (!!!) whispers his promo, excited that he’s got the opportunity to ‘take’ the WWF Championship from the other men in the match. Oh god I would have loved a Repo Man World Title run. No one else would have and it would have been a terrible idea but whatever, appease me dammit.
  • ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith reminds everyone he won a battle royal in England last year to give himself some credibility.
  • Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts will be waiting for The Macho Man, and will have enough left after to win the WWF Title.
  • Mr. Perfect introduces ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. Flair says he’s called himself the ‘Real World Champion’ for the past four months and reminds everyone that to be the man you’ve gotta beat the man and he’s the man, WOOOOO!
  • Paul Bearer has prepared 29 caskets for tonight and he’s excited about it. The Undertaker vows to be crowned WWF Champion once more.
  • Hulk Hogan talks to his Hulkamaniacs and whines about being Jack Tunney being mean or whatever, but says he will prove that Hulkamania reigns supreme. Hogan won the two previous Rumbles plus he’s HULK FREAKIN’ HOGAN so it’s fair to say that a lot of people expected him to walk out of this champion.

-Before the match WWF President Jack Tunney reminds everyone that the winner of the Rumble will become WWF Champion and ‘may the best man win’. Heenan calls him the best president since Noreaga. COLD BLOODED.

WWF Championship
The 1992 Royal Rumble

#1 and #2 are ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith and ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase, respectively. DiBiase is led to the ring by Sensational Sherri, who is looking quite sensational in her ridiculous garb. Smith and DiBiase immediately go at each other as soon as the bell rings, DiBiase taking control with a series of chops and a clothesline. DiBiase tosses Smith to apron, Smith reenters and clotheslines him out to the floor. TED DIBIASE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.

#3 is ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair [w/ Mr. Perfect] and Heenan absolutely loses his mind. Monsoon mentions that no one who drew 1-5 has ever been in there at the end. Flair don’t care though, he’s got the champ swagger going. Smith catches Flair with a military press slam, forcing Flair to beg off into the corner. Flair whips Smith into the corner, Smith comes charging out with a clothesline. Flair gets to his knees and begs Smith to have mercy on him. Smith dumps him to the apron but Flair gets back in.

#4 is Jerry Sags of The Nasty Boys, led to the ring by Jimmy Hart. Sags attacks Smith and holds his arms so Flair can connect with a chop. They double team the Bulldog until they’re taken down with a double clothesline. Sags almost goes out but gets back to the apron. Unfortunately he’s an idiot and brags about it instead, allowing Smith a dropkick and out he goes. JERRY SAGS HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.

#5 is Haku who immediately attacks Smith. He and Flair double team Smith then Haku turns his attack on Flair. Flair bails under the bottom rope so Haku goes back to work on the Bulldog, delivering a piledriver. Flair takes advantage of a prone Haku and starts raking the eyes, following it up with his patented kneedrop. Heenan pleads with Flair to take a breather but he can’t hear him. Smith dumps Haku as the countdown happens. HAKU HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.

#6 is Shawn Michaels, not quite The Heartbreak Kid but on his way. Flair and Michaels trade chops, then Michaels connects with a series of right jabs and a back bodydrop followed by Sweet Chin…sorry Monsoon, I meant crescent kick. Forgive me. Smith hits Michaels with a clothesline to the apron, Michaels quickly scurries back in before his feet touch the floor. Flair tries to eliminate Michaels, Michaels stops it with a poke to the eye. Smith crotches Michaels on the top rope and brings him back into the ring. Flair attacks Smith from behind and goes back to work on Michaels.

#7 is ‘El Matador’ Tito Santana. Boy was that gimmick credibility-killing. Poor dude. Santana immediately tries to dump Flair as Heenan screams from the broadcast table. Luckily for The Brain’s heart he hangs in there. Flair hits Santana with a suplex and goes to work on Smith, which allows Michaels to stay in the ring. Flair connects with a hard low blow on Smith, forcing the Bulldog to crumple to the mat. Santana hits Flair with the Flying Forearm and he’s out cold. Could he get thrown out? Nah.

#8 is The Barbarian, finishing out his run in the WWF. Or at least this run. He’d go onto WCW later in the year to inexplicably be a World Title contender. Halloween Havoc 1992 is definitely something, I’ll tackle that beast in due time. Smith and Santana work on Barbarian, Michaels looks like he’s going to do a high-flying move but no one is near him so he gives up. Michaels once again evades elimination as the countdown begins again.

#9 is ‘The Texas Tornado’ Kerry Von Erich making his final WWF PPV appearance. Von Erich goes right after Flair, which probably popped older wrestling fans as Von Erich beat him for the NWA World Heavyweight Title back in the early-80s. A nod without a nod, respect. Heenan suggests people should carry a big wrench to the ring to win. Too bad Flair didn’t think of that.

#10 is Repo Man, sneaking his ass towards the ring. I love it. Repo Man forever. Santana hits Barbarian with a crossbody, Repo Man helps Michaels with Smith, Barbarian and Flair double-team Von Erich.

#11 is Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. Don’t worry they mention that he’s a marathon man, so cross that off on your Bingo card. I believe this is his final WWF PPV appearance as well, as he also defects to WCW during the Bill Watts era. Valentine immediately attacks his old friend/enemy Flair, no doubt excited to fight somebody who actually wrestles and not these fake fools in the WWF. It’s like a reunion! Heenan is scared because they planned for Flair to only go 30 minutes at most. Smith and Von Erich almost get Michaels out but once again that little weasel evades elimination.

#12 is Nikolai Volkoff, brought out of the moth balls for this one. This is his first WWF PPV appearance since Survivor Series 1990. He’s quickly eliminated while Valentine tortures Flair with a Figure Four. NIKOLAI VOLKOFF HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.

#13 is The Big Boss Man and the crowd wakes up a little. Out goes Valentine. GREG VALENTINE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Michaels again evades elimination as Boss Man dumps Repo Man out. REPO MAN HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Heartbreaking. Smith goes back to Flair, Flair backdrops him out to the floor! DAVEY BOY SMITH HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Von Erich attacks, Flair dumps him out as well. KERRY VON ERICH HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. The heard is clearing a little bit. Michaels and Santana both go out to the floor after a crossbody. TITO SANTANA AND SHAWN MICHAELS HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED

#14 is Hercules. Not awesome 80s Hercules, weird middle aged man trying to hit on high school girls-looking Hercules. Yuck. There are only four folks left in the ring. Barbarian tries to eliminate Flair, Hercules dumps them over but only Barbarian hits the floor. THE BARBARIAN HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Big Boss Man then comes up and clotheslines Hercules out. HERCULES HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Only Boss Man and Flair remain from the initial batch. Boss Man charges at Flair, Flair ducks, and out he goes. THE BIG BOSS MAN HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Heenan proclaims Flair the winner, Monsoon quickly shuts him down.

#15 is ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and immediately Heenan melts down. These two have been feuding since Flair’s WWF debut. Crowd goes wild as Piper ruins his Christmas with a backdrop and a kneelift. Flair bails to the floor, Piper follows him out and hits him with a clothesline. Flair tries an inverted atomic drop but Piper counters and pokes him in the eye. He hits an Airplane Spin (POP!) and locks in a Sleeperhold.

#16 is Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Roberts sits in the corner and invites Piper to attack him. Piper focuses on the sleeperhold so Roberts breaks it up and Heenan thanks him. Roberts beats Piper down in the corner then helps Flair up…only to hit him with a short-arm clothesline. He goes for a DDT, Piper breaks it up with a clothesline and Heenan thanks Piper saying ‘it’s not a skirt, it’s a kilt’. Flair applies a Figure Four on Roberts, Piper breaks it up and Heenan snaps at Piper saying ‘it’s not a kilt, it’s a skirt’. Probably my favorite minute of commentary ever, wish I could do it justice.

#17 is ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan and the crowd goes absolutely insane. Duggan belts Flair with a series of rights followed by a clothesline (to the midsection?). Heenan is losing his voice. Loud ‘USA’ chants. Piper goes after Duggan, and they fight in the corner. Rare face vs. face fight. Flair fights with them despite having the chance to breathe. He’s a real goddamn man, brothers. Roberts hits an inverted atomic drop on Duggan mid ‘HOOOOOO’. Roberts would have been a cool choice for WWF Champion; he and Savage had the hottest feud in the WWF at the time, would have made a great main event feud.

#18 is Irwin R. Schyster, better known as IRS. I’ll try not to fall asleep. Duggan grabs him by the tie and decks him with a series of rights. Wrestling in suspenders and a tie must have been super uncomfortable. Also Michael Wallstreet was a way better gimmick, I don’t know why he left WCW to do this instead…you know besides getting title shots and being higher in the card. Okay fine I get it. Flair and IRS treat Piper like a wishbone and drop elbows.

#19 is ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka, making his final WWF PPV appearance as an active member of the roster. Su-Su-Su-perfly. Things die down a little bit, Piper chopping Flair and Snuka focusing on IRS. Flair has welts on his back as the WWF roster officially welcomes him to the company.

#20 is The Undertaker, led to the ring by Paul Bearer. Jake Roberts and he are friends so he welcomes him in with open arms. Undertaker immediately eliminates Snuka, the man he began his WrestleMania streak with the year before. JIMMY SNUKA HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Flair for some reason attacks Undertaker, Undertaker chokes him down to the mat in the corner. Duggan attacks Undertaker from behind, Undertaker hits him with a low-blow. Piper, Flair, and IRS try to triple team Undertaker, Undertaker goozles Duggan and Flair.

#21 is ‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Savage runs in looking for Roberts, who bails out to the floor. Undertaker immediately attacks Savage from behind, Roberts comes back in to help attack. Savage ducks the short-arm clothesline and peppers Roberts with a series of rights. One high knee later and Roberts is sent out to the floor. JAKE ROBERTS HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Savage continues attacking Roberts, Undertaker attacks from behind. Savage isn’t eliminated quite yet, despite initial reports from Monsoon and Heenan. Apparently you have to be propelled by someone else for it to count. That’s a fair on the fly reason, respect to you WWF for thinking on your feet. Duggan tries to slam Undertaker, Undertaker fights him off with a forearm across the back. Flair hits Undertaker with a low-blow but Undertaker doesn’t sell it much. Dead man don’t have working junk.

#22 is The Berzerker. His schtick was throwing people over the top rope and winning via countout so this is the match he was made for. The Berzerker may not end up winning this but he did headline my figure fed’s version of WrestleMania when I was a kid so that’s just as good, I think. Flair ends up on the apron but luckily enough Savage suplexes him back in. How nice.

#23 is Virgil, Wrestling Superstar. Heenan accuses him of being a thief because of reasons. Undertaker goozles him, but Flair saves him for some reason. Undertaker goozles Flair instead and brings him to the corner.

#24 is Col. Mustafa, led to the ring by General Adnan. Mustafa is a very very very past his prime Iron Sheik. Ewww. Not much happens obviously because it’s freakin’ Col. Mustafa.

#25 is Rick ‘The Model’ Martel. I would have been cool with Martel being WWF Champion. Martel unsurprisingly goes right after Flair; these two had some matches I believe when he was AWA World Champion. Yes Martel is a former World Champion and yes I’m very okay with that. At some point someone throws Mustafa out so COL. MUSTAFA IS ELIMINATED. Fine by me. Duggan starts a ‘USA’ chant to try and wake the crowd up. That doesn’t work but the countdown does.

#26 is Hulk Hogan and Heenan loses his mind. Undertaker, IRS, and Berzerker triple team him in the corner but Hogan fights his way out with relative ease, Hogan sending Undertaker to the floor with a clothesline. THE UNDERTAKER HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Berzerker charges, Hogan backdrops him out. THE BERZERKER HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Hogan tears his shirt off and chokes Martel with it while Duggan and Virgil eliminate themselves. JIM DUGGAN AND VIRGIL HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED.

#27 is Skinner, formerly known as Steve Keirn one half of The Fabulous Ones. Skinner rules. Hogan almost eliminates Flair but IRS attacks him from behind. Skinner and Piper duke it out while Martel tries to eliminate Savage. Heenan calls someone over to get him something to drink as he’s soaked in sweat. Flair and Martel try to eliminate Piper but Piper hangs on to the ropes as well as the apron. Flair whips Hogan into the corner, Hogan drops him with a clothesline coming out.

#28 is Sgt. Slaughter, now a good guy having renounced his Iraqi sympathies. He’s also a former WWF Champion. Skinner goes tumbling out. SKINNER HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. I hope no one bet on him becoming the next champ, Vince Russo wasn’t booking this thing. Piper and Hogan reignite their feud from the 80s, using Martel as a human weapon against his former rival. Hogan and Piper get over it real quick though and try to eliminate Martel. IRS is still wearing Hulk’s shirt around his neck, having been choked with it earlier.

#29 is Sid Justice. He may be big and bad but he can’t even eliminate IRS, the wuss. Flair brings Hogan to the mat with a snapmare, Justice goes after Flair.

#30, our final entrant, is The Warlord, led to the ring by Dr. Harvey Wippleman. He’s not a doctor for long but I felt it necessary to include it, whatever.

Hogan and Flair fight on the floor, the former hitting the latter with a suplex. Justice whips Slaughter hard into the corner and out he goes. SGT. SLAUGHTER HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. No one does that ‘flying out after being whipped into the corner’ thing better than Slaughter. He was still doing it like less than a decade ago on WWE TV. IRS tries to eliminate Piper, but Piper grabs the tie and throws him out. IRS HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Hogan and Justice then toss Warlord out, so THE WARLORD HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Piper tries to throw Martel out, Justice tosses them both out. RODDY PIPER AND RICK MARTEL HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED. Only four remain: Hogan, Flair, Justice, and Savage. Justice tries to eliminate Savage, Flair comes running in with a knee and out the Macho Man goes. RANDY SAVAGE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Justice watches Hogan attack Flair then tosses Hogan out to the floor as the crowd goes WILD. We hear boos though because the tape was doctored after the fact to hide the cheers. Boo-urns. HULK HOGAN HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Sore loser Hogan grabs Justice by the arm and helps Flair dump Justice out to the floor. SID JUSTICE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. Ric Flair is the new WWF Champion and Heenan goes absolutely mental on commentary in celebration.

Ric Flair wins the 1992 Royal Rumble and the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP, last eliminating Sid Justice (62:01)

  • One of the all-time greatest Royal Rumble matches, and holds up to this day thanks in part to Heenan’s brilliant turn on commentary. It’s not something that can really be described via text so just click this link and hear some of the brilliance yourself. I absolutely love this match; even the slower parts are more interesting than other Rumbles. All the story threads leading in, Savage/Roberts, Hogan/Piper, etc. were all handled well and highlighted here and Flair’s story of lasting through the Rumble to be champion was a great underdog tale turned on its head by having it be someone the fans are supposed to hate. So good. So damn good. Must-watch every year. (****1/4)

Mr. Perfect comes back out to congratulate Flair and bring him backstage. Back inside the ring Sid understandably shoves Hogan for costing him the WWF Championship. Hogan shoves back and a whole host of officials and refs try to separate the two. Sid is absolutely 1000000% in the right here, why would anyone take Hogan’s side? Every man for himself man. What a baby ass baby. Let the road to WrestleMania VIII begin.

-Cut to ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund as we hear Sid threaten to kill Hogan. Jack Tunney presents Ric Flair with the WWF Championship while Perfect and Bobby Heenan (who left the broadcast table to celebrate) look on. Flair proclaims that this is the greatest moment of his life. Flair says the WWF Championship is the only title in the world that makes you #1 and says he now rules the world. Heenan and Perfect celebrate with WOOs. Heenan puts Flair over even more, going on about his toughness. Okerlund tells someone off-camera to put their cigarette out (?!?) and Flair says now everyone pays homage to him. Off the trio goes as Okerlund signs off on behalf of everybody. A collage of still photos from the night take us out.

*****

Overall Thoughts: The undercard is pretty trash but who cares when the Rumble match is this good? One of the all-time greatest Rumble matches with an all-time great performance from Ric Flair, finally proving that he belongs at the top of the WWF the same way he was at the top of the NWA for so long. So good. You can skip the undercard no problem, though you may wanna see Piper actually win a title for once, but by no means skip that main event. WOOOOOOOOO.

  • Match of the Night: The Royal Rumble
  • Moment of the Night: Bobby Heenan loves Piper, Bobby Heenan HATES Piper
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