August 21, 2009
Steve Riddle

1988 Royal Rumble
January 24th, 1988
Copps Coliseum
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Actual Show:

Vince McMahon welcomes us to the Royal Rumble and runs down the card. Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

1. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat defeats “Ravishing” Rick Rude by disqualification at 17:41 when Rude pulls the referee into a Steamboat crossbody.

Analysis: A nice opener to a brand new show. Rude was clearly on the rise as evident by his performance here. Steamboat, however, is on borrowed time. After achieving great success last year, he moves further and further down the card. Both men give it their all, and although a little slow at times, it was a good match. Rude thinks he wins with the backbreaker, but gets DQ’ed for pulling the ref into Steamboat. Doesn’t hurt Rude that much so it’s ok. Grade: 3

Dino Bravo “unofficially” sets a new world record for the bench press at 712 pounds, although it is clear Ventura, who was Bravo’s spotter, helps him lift the bar on the last press.

2. The Jumping Bomb Angels defeat the Glamour Girls (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) in a 2 out of 3 falls match to win the WWF Women’s Tag Team Championship.

Fall #1: Judi Martin pins Itzuki Yamakazi at 6:10
Fall #2: Yamakazi pins Leilani Kai at 8:33
Fall #3: Noriyo Tateno pins Martin at 15:41

Fun Fact: The Glamour Girls won the tag titles in 1985 from Velvet McIntyre and Desiree Petersen.

Fun Fact #2: The Glamour Girls regained the titles from the Angels in June of 1988, then the titles were abandoned.

Farewells: Kai would jump to the LPWA with Martin and have a successful run there. She would return in 1994. Sadly, this is also the last TV appearance of the Jumping Bomb Angels. It would be a few years before American audiences were treated to the lady wrestlers of Japan.

Analysis: A great match. Many fans that see women’s wrestling see the stuff that ladies like Lita did during their run and consider it innovative, which it is. But back in the 80s, the Angels were certainly ahead of their time. Here they go toe to toe with the Glamour Girls for 16 minutes, something unheard of in ladies wrestling. These two teams would be the only teams to wear the tag titles. It’s a damn shame the Angels would not be seen anymore, but they were a pleasure to see. A good match to set the crowd up for what was to come. Grade: 3

Vince and Jesse recap the events of Wrestlemania III between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant and the intentions of Ted Dibiase to buy the WWF Championship.

Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant sign the contract for the rematch to take place on Feburary 5th on The Main Event. Andre then pushes the table over Hogan.

3. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan wins the inaugural Royal Rumble match at 33:23.

Order of entry and time lasted:
Bret “Hitman” Hart (25:42) (Ironman) (New Record)
Tito Santana (10:41)
“The Natural” Butch Reed (3:18)
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (19:06)
Jake “The Snake” Roberts (21:52)
“King” Harley Race (10:03)
“Jumping” Jim Brunzell (12:06)
Sam Houston (14:39)
“Dangerous” Danny Davis (17:51)
Boris Zhukov (2:33)
“The Rock” Don Muraco (16:16)
Nikolai Volkoff (11:40)
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (14:43) (WINNER)
“Outlaw” Ron Bass (10:14)
B. Brian Blair (5:50)
Hillbilly Jim (5:55)
Dino Bravo (8:12)
The Ultimate Warrior (3:51)
One Man Gang (6:50)
Junkyard Dog (2:08)

Order of elimination: Reed by Roberts (1)
Santana by the Hart Foundation (1,1)
Zhukov by Roberts and Brunzell (2,1)
Race by Muraco (1)
Brunzell by Volkoff (1)
Neidhart by Hillbilly (1)
Houston by Bass (1)
Hart by Muraco (2)
Blair by OMG (1)
Roberts by OMG (2)
Volkoff by Duggan (1)
Hillbilly by OMG (3)
Davis by Duggan (2)
Warrior by OMG and Bravo (4,1)
JYD by Bass (2)
Bass by Muraco (3)
Muraco by OMG (5)
Bravo by OMG (6) (New Record)
OMG by Duggan (3)

Fun Fact: This is the debut of the royal rumble match. Pat Patterson is credited with creating the event.

Debut #1: Sam Houston began in Florida and moved to Mid-Altantic and Central States Territories. He is the son of wrestling legend Grizzly Smith, and the half brother of Jake Roberts and Rockin’ Robin.

Debut #2: Ultimate Warrior started as Rock in the tag team Blade Runners (his partner would go on to be Sting). He then moved to WCCW as the Dingo Warrior before coming to the WWF and becoming the Ultimate Warrior.

Analysis: The first of what would become one of the hottest events of the year. Since this was a test, there were only 20 as opposed to the 30 we will see starting next year. One of the things that is weird is even though it is hyped as every man for himself, it was mostly face vs heel. As for the field, it is mostly midcarders and tag teams. Even though there are some big names missing (Randy Savage, Honkytonk Man, Bam Bam Bigelow, Rick Martel), it is still interesting as the novelty was there, like the Survivor Series style matches a few months earlier. Big props go to the first Ironman, Bret Hart who would set the standard for time lasted in the match. Also, we see the first appearance of the Ultimate Warrior, who would provide many great moments, but would be bogged down by attitude and money issues, but more on that later.This would be one of Jim Duggan’s biggest moments in the WWF, and there were not many. Overall, there have been great Rumbles and there have been bad Rumbles, this one is right in the middle, but because it is the first, it is leaned more towards the good side. Grade: N/A

We recap the events of the contract signing earlier in the night. Craig DeGeorge interviews Hulk Hogan.

4. The Islanders defeat the Young Stallions in a 2 out of 3 falls match.

Fall #1: Paul Roma is counted out at 7:54
Fall #2: Haku forces Roma to sumbit to a half crab at 15:05

Analysis: A quick filler match to end the show. The Islanders were in the midst of a feud with the British Bulldogs after kidnapping their mascot Matilda, but take a detour from that to take on the Stallions. Roma and Powers were a good looking team, but never were serious contenders. Not to mention that they hated each other in real life. Roma seems to legitimatly injure his leg on the countout win for the Islanders. Powers wrestles most of the 2nd fall, before Roma gets in and ends up costing the Stallions the match. The Islanders were on a roll and were ready for a big showdown with the Bulldogs. Grade: 2

During the break between the falls of the last match, Craig DeGeorge interviews Andre the Giant, Ted Dibiase, and Virgil. Vince and Jesse recap the events of the night.

Final Analysis: As mentioned in other reviews, this show was done to counter Jim Crockett’s PPV, Bunkhouse Stampede. That show was terrible, this one was not bad. It would end up becoming a very important show that got on PPV the next year. Some good action, a title change, and a great moment for Jim Duggan. This would start us down the Road to Wrestlemania, with a very important stop on Feburary 5th in Indianapolis for The Main Event. Overall, it is nothing real special, but is a fun show that starts a great tradition. Final Grade: B-

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