June 2, 2006
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

Royal Rumble
January 21, 1990
Orlando Arena
Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16, 000
Buy Rate: 2.0
Announcers: Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura

1) The Bushwhackers defeat the Rougeau Brothers when Butch (Robert Miller) pins Jacques Rougeau with the Battering Ram at 13:34

Fun Fact: This is the Rougeau Brothers’ final PPV match as a team. Their final PPV record is 3-6-1. They were 0-2 at the Royal Rumble, 0-3 at Wrestlemania, 1-0-1 at Summerslam and 2-1 at Survivor Series.

Scott: Our first PPV match of the new decade is an old feud. This dates back to Wrestlemania V, when these two teams met the first time. The Bushwhackers won that one, which I thought was bogus. After not meeting at Summerslam they were on opposite teams at Survivor Series. They fight in the re-match from Atlantic City, and once again the Bushwhackers come away with the win. This match was not great, as the Rougeaus were really packing it in. They looked lazy, out of shape and unmotivated. Jacques had this sloppy looking beard, and half-assed his moves. Even their heel double-teaming had nothing behind it. Luke and Butch have their typical match, except for one thing that really pissed me off: did they have to do all that biting? They bit a Rougeau like 8 times in this match. By the 7th one even the crowd stopped caring. Jesse calls these two the “marching morons.” I concur. Grade: 2

Justin: Alas, after battling many times over the past 9 months, this is the final PPV meeting between these two teams, and, as usual, the Bushwhackers get the best of the Rougeaus, who were on their way out the door. Raymond was retiring from in ring action, and Jacques was taking some time off before being repackaged as the Mountie exactly one year from this show. The Bushwhackers could hang in there when they had the right opponents, and they usually meshed well with the Rougeaus, but not this time around. Chalk it up to apathy from Jacques and Raymond or this feud being stale, but this match is a notch below their usual outings. Over the past 4 years, the Rougeaus have provided some great matches and fun angles, but due to the tag division depth, they never were given that chance to stand atop the tag team mountain. Jacques will go on to have a successful career, garnering some impressive gold, but as of now he steps out of the spotlight alongside his very talented brother. An inoffensive match, and a pretty good way to start the show as the kids love the Bushwhackers, thus the match was guaranteed to get a decent pop and to get the crowd going. Grade: 2

2) The Genius (Lanny Poffo) and Brutus Beefcake (Ed Leslie) wrestle to a double disqualification at 11:05

Fun Fact: On the 11/25/89 Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Genius picked up the biggest win of his career, as he defeated World Champion Hulk Hogan by count-out, after Mr. Perfect nailed Hogan with the title belt. The heat from the Perfect-Hogan feud was transferred to Beefcake, leading to this match.

Scott: The next match is another mess as Randy Savage’s brother faces Randy Savage’s enemy for most of 1989. Lanny Poffo’s character, who has been on PPV already, wrestles his first match. His poems and academic garb prompts Jesse to call him “light in the loafers.” This match is bad on many levels. Genius spends way too much time posturing outside the ring, which he learned in the same place his brother learned: the stalling capital of wrestling, Memphis, Tennessee. The pacing of this match is dreadful, as neither guy really gains a foothold on the tempo. As a result, the workrate is choppy. Then there’s a ref bump, and Beefer slaps the sleeper on Genius. He knocks him out, gets his clippers and starts cutting. Genius’ friend Mr. Perfect comes in to make the save, and ends up stiffly jabbing a steel chair twice into Beefer’s gut. Then, out of nowhere, the bell rings. Fink comes in to say it’s a double DQ. Meanwhile the ref was still out. So who called for the bell, the boogeyman? An absolute clusterfuck of a match meant to direct heel heat to Perfect and set up the Wrestlemania match. Good, because if there was no meaning to it, it was a waste of time. Grade: 1.5

Justin: In the sole WWF PPV match of Lanny Poffo’s career, he is mainly present to continue the brewing feud between Brutus Beefcake and Mr. Perfect. Poffo was a very talented wrestler, but the character limited what he was allowed to do in the ring, thus his matches usually consisted of effeminate mannerisms and lots of stalling, eye scratching, kicking and slapping. As the new decade dawned, Brutus Beefcake had come along way as an in ring performer, and he was just reaching the peak of his career, wrestling wise. He was having very good matches (this one aside) and was very, very over. His career would take a tragic turn over the summer, but for now, he was one of the hottest faces in the Federation and on a collision course with one of the hottest heels. At the end of the match, Mr. Perfect interferes and lays a whooping down on Beefer with a steel chair, setting up the huge Wrestlemania match. The match here is nothing more than a plot point of a much bigger storyline. Grade: 1.5

3) Ron Garvin (Roger Barnes) defeats Greg Valentine (John Wisniski, Jr.) in a Submission Match with the Scorpion Deathlock at 16:52

Fun Fact: On the 12/23/89 Wrestling Spotlight, Ronnie Garvin came to ringside and stole Greg Valentine’s “Heartbreaker” shin guard, which he had been using to apply extra pressure when he applied the Figure Four Leglock. This led to Garvin wearing his own shin guard, which called the “Hammer Jammer.” The battle over the shin equipment would come in to play in the big PPV submission match.

Scott: This feud dates all the way back to April 1989, and now the blowoff is finally here. That’s only because of the lack of PPVs back then. If this feud was in 2005, it would have been 2 months. Garvin went through various jobs due to Jack Tunney suspensions, from wrestler to referee to ring announcer. Now he’s back to wrestler, and finally gets the Hammer in a submission match. For the most part this was a solid match. Both guys can bring the goods when forced, and they really knock the shit out each other in this one. However, both constantly forget it’s a submission match because they keep getting into pinning predicaments. I thought this match was awesome for so long, but watching it again I have to take some points off. The lack of concentration in what kind of match it was hurt, but the psychology of both men wearing shin guards was nice, including Jimmy Hart stealing Garvin’s and Garvin stealing Valentine’s. In the end Garvin slaps a Scorpion Deathlock/Texas Cloverleaf hybrid and Valentine quits. This was Garvin's only major win in his WWF tenure. Grade: 3

Justin: A really fun match that had great build-up, a good storyline and some very strong psychology. The two men spend the whole match trying out various submission holds and wear down maneuvers on each other to try and squeak out a win. We even get to see a couple of rare submission holds, as Valentine busts out the old “Jesse Ventura Backbreaker” and Garvin utilizes an Indian Deathlock. I always enjoyed the mental aspect of this match, as each man is able to resist the pain of the other’s signature due to their respective shin guards. Halfway through the match, Jimmy Hart is able to pry the “Hammer Jammer” off of Garvin’s leg, allowing Valentine to do some damage with the Figure-Four. Garvin is able to escape though, and eventually locks on a Scorpion Deathlock (Sharpshooter) for the huge victory, which is easily the biggest of his WWF career. Garvin would stick around through October, but would not be seen on PPV again. Grade: 3

** We receive a special Brother Love Show with Sapphire (an enthusiastic Dusty Rhodes fan who became his manager) and Sensational Queen Sherri. Randy Savage and Dusty Rhodes come out too, leading to a big brawl between the 5. This encounter sets up the mixed tag match at Wrestlemania VI. **

4) Jim Duggan defeats Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) by disqualification at 10:22

Scott: This was a strange match, because in a couple of months Boss Man would undergo a major personality change. Boss Man comes into this match the same nasty heel with Slick he’s been since his debut in the summer of 1988. He and Duggan have a decent match, maybe Duggan’s best match in a while. He took a good beating, and sold pretty much all of Boss Man’s offense. After not being able to put him away, Boss Man whacks him with the nightstick and gets DQ’d. He leaves a heel, but by Wrestlemania is a law abiding face (more on that in our next review). Duggan gets a 2X4 shot in on both Boss Man and Slick. Duggan just keeps chugging along. I have to say normally I want to fast-forward Duggan matches, but this one is not that bad. Grade: 2

Justin: A pretty good brawl here, as Boss Man had evolved into quite the good worker by this point, and busts his ass selling all of Duggan’s power offense. These two pound on each other for a good 10 minutes, but once again, we get a lame PPV ending for a Duggan match, as Boss Man hammers him with his nightstick. I am not really sure why they gave Boss Man a match that would solidify his heel status when they had plans to turn him face weeks after the show. It would have made more sense to have Boss Man in the Rumble and be accidentally eliminated by Akeem or something along those lines. It just seemed odd that they were showcasing his heelishness when they had no plans to keep him heel. Duggan, on the other hand, marches on as a very over face that beats people up and defends the USA and that doesn’t care about wins or titles. As Scott mentioned this match is solid, which was surprising, but sometimes a classic, good, stiff brawl hits the spot. Grade: 2.5

5) Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) wins the Royal Rumble

Order of entry, followed by who eliminated them

1. Ted DiBiase: Ultimate Warrior
2. Koko B. Ware (James Ware): Ted DiBiase
3. Marty Jannetty (Marty Oaks): Ted DiBiase
4. Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.): Randy Savage
5. Randy Savage (Randy Poffo): Dusty Rhodes
6. Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs): Bad News Brown
7. Warlord (Terry Szopinski): Andre the Giant
8. Bret Hart: Dusty Rhodes
9. Bad News Brown (Allen Coage): Roddy Piper
10. Dusty Rhodes (Virgil Runnels): Earthquake
11. Andre the Giant (Andre Rousimoff): Demolition
12. Red Rooster (Paul Taylor): Andre the Giant
13. Ax (Bill Eadie): Earthquake
14. Haku (Uliuli Fifita): Hulk Hogan
15. Smash (Barry Darsow): Haku
16. Akeem (George Grey): Jimmy Snuka
17. Jimmy Snuka (James Reiher): Hulk Hogan
18. Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano): Ultimate Warrior
19. Earthquake (John Tenta): Haku, Jimmy Snuka, Ted DiBiase, Smash, Dino Bravo & Jim Neidhart
20. Jim Neidhart: Rick Martel
21. Ultimate Warrior (Warrior): Hulk Hogan
22. Rick Martel (Richard Vigneault): Ultimate Warrior
23. Tito Santana (Merced Solis): Ultimate Warrior
24. Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris): Hulk Hogan
25. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea): WINNER
26. Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom): Ultimate Warrior
27. Barbarian (Sionne Vailahi) Hercules
28. Rick Rude (Richard Rood): Hulk Hogan
29. Hercules (Ray Fernandez): Rick Rude
30. Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig): Hulk Hogan

Longest Time: Ted DiBiase (44:47)
Shortest Time: Shawn Michaels (00:12)
Most eliminated: Hulk Hogan (6)

Fun Fact: According to various sources, Mr. Perfect was scheduled to win the Royal Rumble for weeks leading into the event. At the last minute, however, Hulk Hogan vetoed the booking and made sure he went over instead. Perfect was made the runner-up instead.

Scott: After a so-so undercard, this was a very entertaining Rumble. A lot of the current upper mid-carders and main eventers were in the Rumble, so the intrigue into who was winning was real. Hogan was the champ, and still getting the big pops. However, someone was starting to crawl up the ladder in popularity. The Ultimate Warrior had a very good 1989, as he wrestled Rick Rude in two stellar Intercontinental Title matches on PPV, and even main evented Survivor Series. He did not quite equal Hogan in popularity, but he was getting there. They both came in like gangbusters and laid out 11 guys total. Eventually they meet in the ring one on one. This was scripted for one reason: to see if the fans wanted to see the two biggest guys in the promotion go head to head. The obvious answer was yes. The World Champion and the Intercontinental Champion would battle for a few moments, but then the Rumble would continue. That sets up the big match in 3 months at Skydome. Other points include an impressive run for Ted DiBiase; he was #30 last year, and #1 this year. He lasts close to 45 minutes and takes a couple of guys out. Randy Savage had his cute frilly flower tights. What the fuck happened to him? He loses to Hogan at Wrestlemania and he becomes a whack job. His credibility dip continues. Andre wrestles in his last Rumble, and tosses out a couple of guys before being dumped by Demolition. Piper and Bad News toss each other to set up their Wrestlemania match. Mr. Perfect is #30, and gets some moves on Hogan before eventually being tossed. Perfect was slated to win this rumble, but Hogan pulled his card and took the win. Just like the year before, he “accidentally” tosses Warrior while trying to get a couple of heels out. Unlike 1989, when Randy Savage came in and bitched about it, Warrior beats a couple of heels up and leaves. Jesse and Tony try to play it up, but not hard enough to make a stink. Overall, this was a good rumble with some good performances.

Justin: A very good Rumble that is only diminished by the fact that there is still no prize for the winner, so the whole match is a little anti-climactic. There was a good number of feuds intertwined throughout the Rumble(Roberts/DiBiase, Hogan/Warrior, Demolition/Colossal Connection, Savage/Rhodes, Piper/Bad News), which added some juice to it, and gave the crowd a situation where they can say they witnessed furthering of stories, and not just 30 random guys fighting each other. This was a very stacked Rumble, as every big name in the federation at the time was involved. I am not going to get into the Hogan-Perfect thing again, but you know where I stand on the issue of the winner. I do like how the managers are allowed at ringside, as it adds some excitement and some “dream” match-ups of heel managers that you don’t normally see (Heenan going at it with Mr. Fuji or Jimmy Hart arguing with Slick). A very good Rumble that is only tarnished by a predictable ending that means nothing in the long run…OK…here we go: It meant nothing! Hogan didn’t need it. He was ALREADY champion! Perfect could have become a major star! Damnit…it’s not like I’m saying Hogan had to give him the title, but let Perfect eliminate you here, get a huge win, have a rematch and make a lot money, as people will want to see you get your revenge (same scenario as DiBiase at Survivor Series). The days of people backing Hogan just because he is Hogan were coming to end, and they needed a reason to hate his opponent, and they pissed away two golden opportunities in 3 months just to jerk off Hogan’s ego. Just like I said at Survivor Series, Hogan could have still knocked him out of the ring after the show and posed to send the fans home happy. Damnit. Look, I got all worked up again…Ok…I’m done. The match featured a nice showing for DiBiase and some great storyline advancement, so big plusses there, but the huge minus at the end takes something away from a match that could have been a career maker.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: The first Royal Rumble of the 1990s is a tale of two shows. The undercard is pretty average except for Garvin/Valentine. The Bushwhackers have their typical comedy victory as the Rougeaus exit stage left. Jim Duggan actually wins a good match, even though it was by DQ. The Ultimate Warrior begins the greatest year of his career with a good Rumble showing, and he doesn’t make a stink when he’s tossed. Here’s the reason why. In 1989 Savage and Hogan were partners (THE MEGAPOWERS) so Hogan tossing Savage was a big deal because they were partners. They should be protecting each other. That’s like Marty Jannetty tossing Shawn Michaels. In this case, who said Hogan and Warrior had to look out for each other? Just because they’re both fan favorites? Even though we’re all in a Hogan-bashing mood, he’s not at fault here. Jesse tries to stir the shit as usual, but in this case he’s reaching for straws. The stage is set for the big show. After 2 years in a very small venue, Wrestlemania is back on the big stage. This show doesn’t do too much to set it up, but it’s entertaining. Final Grade: C

Justin: A solid Rumble, but not a card that stands out when you look back at the history of the Federation. It seems like they had to water down the undercard quite a bit in order to stack the Rumble with the top guys (Hogan, Warrior, Rude, Savage, Rhodes, Demolition, Andre, DiBiase, Roberts, Perfect, Piper, Hart Foundation and Earthquake), so the matches were sub par when compared to future years (with just one good match out of four). This is a problem the WWF fixes in future years because of a) a deeper talent roster and b) having guys do double duty by having a match and being in the Rumble as well. Also, as I said above, by having no prize the ending is a bit anticlimactic, but I’m probably not being fair there, because at the time the event was still fresh and new and just winning it meant something. When you look back at it now, knowing that there is always something on the line; it makes it hard to get into the winner. Just one more quick word on Mr. Perfect: He had stellar matches, cut great promos and had great crowd heat. He had an awesome gimmick and a long unbeaten streak. Vince was behind him big time, which is evidenced by Perfect being booked to win the big win here, and eventually the World Title. At the last minute (and I’m talking hours here), Hogan vetoes the idea and refused to put Perfect over, and Perfect never again came close to winning the World Title. Unbelievable. It would be another 3 and ½ YEARS before Vince got some balls and told Hogan to shove it after he refused to put Bret over at Summerslam 1993. Anyway, the match did start a mega-storyline, however, in Hogan-Warrior, so big props to Vince there. Finally, they hadn’t yet started the “Jesus Push” in the Rumble, where one guy would last forever and throw out like 8 or 9 guys (Diesel, Kane in future years). DiBiase puts on a strong showing, lasting 44:47 but only eliminating 2 guys. All in all, this was a fun, nostalgic show, but not one that had much historical significance to it. Final Grade: C+

MVP: Mr. Perfect (good soldier)
Runner Up: Ronnie Garvin & Greg Valentine
Non MVP: Hulk Hogan (jobbing out Perfect)
Runner Up: Rest of weak undercard

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