January 25, 2009
Royal Rumble 1992, January 19, 1992, Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby ďThe BrainĒ Heenan
As long as Iím doing Royal Rumbles, I gotta do the most famous one of them all. Back at Tuesday In Texas, Hulk Hogan seemingly regained the WWF Title from The Undertaker. But due to a controversial finish that included Ric Flair getting involved, the Title was declared vacant and it was declared that it would go to the winner of the Royal Rumble. This makes it the first Rumble that actually has something more than pride on the line and the result is a field that features many possible winners. The favourites going in were Hogan and Flair, but plenty of other top guys like Sid Justice, The Undertaker, Randy Savage, and Roddy Piper were also pushed as potential winners. Recycled Content Alert: The Rumble match is a cut and paste job from my review of the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection, but obviously the play by play and opinion arenít going to change so thereís no point in redoing it.
Opening Match: The Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The New Foundation
After spending most of 1991 floundering as a commentator and part time wrestler, Jim Neidhart gets back into it here now teaming with Owen Hart as the New Foundation in kind of a successor to the original Hart Foundation. Neidhart would actually be fired only a few weeks after this, so the team never really got a chance to go anywhere and this would end up being they only major match they ever had. Owen and Kato start out by trading holds and counters. Owen flips out of a hammerlock, but canít get a rollup. Kato comes off, so Owen leapfrogs and goes to an armdrag. Test of strength is controlled by Kato, but Owen bridges out, leaps up to the top rope, bounces off and gets Kato with a hiptoss. Rana gets 2 and he goes to a wristlock. Tag to Anvil who works Kato over with his power until Kato makes the tag. Tanaka tries a shoulderblock, which fails so spectacularly that he just has to try it again with the same result. Anvil tags Owen, and then sets Tanaka up with a spinebuster so Owen can come in with an elbow off the 2nd rope for 2. Backbreaker gets 2 and Owen maintains control, always one step ahead of any of Tanakaís reversals. Owen hits a backdrop, followed by the ensiguiri. Tag to Anvil with Owen whipping him into Tanaka in the corner. Kato comes in and the Express tries a double whip on Anvil, but he runs out of the corner with a clothesline on both. Tag to Owen. Anvil sets the Express up with a double noggin knocker, and Owen comes off the top with a bodypress on both for 2. Owen then gets a spin kick on Kato for 2, followed by a suplex. He goes for the mask, but Kato rolls out of the ring lest anyone find out he isnít actually Japanese, or even Asian for that matter. Back in, Owen goes to a side headlock, but gets fired off. He ducks Kato, but gets kicked by Tanaka from the apron. Owen tries to go for Tanaka, but that lets Fuji nail him with the cane to finally give the Express control of the match. Kato chokes Owen, and then with Anvil distracting the ref, they switch off and Tanaka gets some choking in. Tag back to Kato who hits a crescent kick for 2, followed by a back elbow off of an Irish whip, also for 2. They get in more double teaming while Anvil keeps trying to come in. Tanaka whips Owen to the buckle and he borrows Bretís patented chest first bump. Tanaka gets 2 from that and then another 2 from a crescent kick. Owen comes back and hooks a crucifix on Kato for 2, but the Express still controls. They work over Owen and make quick tags for a bit until Owen comes back with a bulldog on Tanaka. He crawls for the tag, but Kato comes in and draws the refís attention long enough for him to miss the tag to Anvil. That allows more double teaming by the Express as the ref now has to put Anvil back out. Fuji hangs the cane in the corner and Owen gets whipped right through it for a 2 count. More working Owen over by the Express until Owen finally comes back once more with a belly to belly suplex on Tanaka for 2. Kato cuts off the tag though and draws Anvil in again setting up a double clothesline when the ref puts Anvil out. Eventually Owen ducks another attempted double clothesline, nails a dropkick on both and gets the hot tag to Anvil. He slingshots Anvil in onto both guys and now Anvilís the house afire. He hits slams on both, followed by a backdrop and clothesline on Tanaka. Owen comes back in and whips Anvil into Kato who is sent out to the floor. Owen then gets whipped by Anvil and does a dive through the ropes on Kato. In the ring, Anvil slams Tanaka and they hit the Rocket Launcher on him for the 3 count at 17:19. Great job, and I always think that the best way to open a big show is putting a babyface team over in a hot tag match. ***1/2
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Mountie (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Originally this was scheduled as Bret Hart defending against The Mountie, but two nights ago at a house show in Springfield, MA, Bret, who was said to be suffering from a fever, Bret lost the belt to him. They show us footage of The Mountie continuing to attack Bret afterwards, with Piper making the save, thus setting up this match here. A longstanding rumour says that Bretís contract was up and he may have been leaving, which was why they took the Title off of him so suddenly, but in his book, Bret confirms that the entire scenario was planned out in advance and he was always going to be back to win the belt back from Piper at Wrestlemania. That means that the Bret/Mountie match they were advertising was never meant to actually happen, but thatís par for the course in wrestling I guess. Mountie brandishes the shock stick, so Piper waits him out and attacks when Mountie lets his guard down. He beats Mountie up pretty good, but Mountie manages to slide out. Piper chases and nails him out there too. Monsoon shows that he didnít watch the video package on Mountieís Title win as he accuses Jimmy Hart of playing a role in the change, but it appeared that he wasnít even there. Back in the ring, Piper keeps on him and gets a bulldog for 2. Finally Mountie holds on to the ropes and forces Piper to miss a dropkick to take over. He covers for 2 and rams him to the buckle a few times. Irish whip and elbow get 1 and then he tosses Piper out. Piper is right back though with a shoulder from the apron and a sunset flip for 2. Piper keeps on him and nails a backdrop, followed by an atomic drop which sends Mountie over, but he skins the cat back in. Piper is going for Hart on the apron as Mountie comes back, but Piper moves and they collide. Sleeper is hooked and Mountie goes out to give Piper the Title at 5:19. Not that good of a match, maybe worth only *. But the heat was pretty incredible and it was a great moment to see Piper capture the gold.
The Beverly Brothers (w/The Genius) vs. The Bushwhackers (w/Jamison)
Stall-O-Rama starts things off as the Whackers play to the crowd. Finally Blake gets Luke in the corner and works him over a bit, but Luke comes back and bites him in the ass and then the Whackers clear the ring. Butch and Beau are in now with Beau offering a handshake. Weíre at the five minute mark and this is all Iíve had to write about this match so far. Butch asks the crowd for approval, but gets jumped. It soon breaks down again with all four in and the Beverlys get whipped into each other and sent to the floor. They try a series of sneak attacks, but the Whackers have them covered. Finally the Beverlys get it together and catch Luke in their corner. Beau gets a backbreaker and drops a headbutt for 2 and they keep drawing Butch in the ring which allows for double teaming. Beau drops Luke on the ropes and tags Blake who gets a non-chalant cover for 2, but the gets rolled up by Luke for 2. As the Beverlys keep working Luke over, the Genius goes over and smacks Jamison. Blake drops a double ax from the 2nd rope for 2 with Butch making the save. Tag to Beau who hits a neckbreaker and a legdrop. Tag back to Blake who whips him to the corner, but Luke comes out with a clothesline. Both guys tag now with Butch dominating both Beverlys. He uses Beau as the Battering Ram on Blake. He covers Beau, but Blake makes it back to save. Luke is in now and he clotheslines Blake out. Irish whip by Beau on Butch, but Blake trips him. Blake then goes up, drops a double ax, Beau covers and gets 3 at a long 14:58. The Whackers get their heat back by clearing the ring and then they let Jamison take a shot at the Genius. That was pretty much Hell to sit through. -*
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Legion of Doom vs. The Natural Disasters (w/Jimmy Hart)
This match has actually been in the works since Summer Slam, and it finally comes to a head here. Hawk and Typhoon are in first and they go to a standoff of power. Nobody moves on a couple of shoulderblocks, so Hawk comes off with a forearm and then quickly gets up top and comes off with a clothesline to take him down. Quake wants the tag now and gets it. Hawk tries a dropkick which has on effect, so Quake responds by trying one of his own which misses completely. Tag to Animal and a slugfest breaks out. They end up clotheslining each other. When they get up, Animal tries the bodyslam, but falls back and Quake gets 2. Tag to Typhoon with Quake whipping him into Animal in the corner. Typhoon tries another charge, but runs into a boot and then gets hit with a clothesline. Tag to Hawk who comes in with a shot off the top. A couple of clotheslines have no effect on Typhoon, so Hawk tries a bodypress, but gets caught and dropped with a backbreaker. Tag to Quake, who drops an elbow for 2. Tag back to Typhoon who chokes Hawk on the ropes and nails a rope straddle. He goes to a bearhug, from which Hawk escapes, but when Hawk tries something off the 2nd rope he gets caught right back in it. Tag to Quake who keeps working on Hawkís back. He hits a splash in the corner and steps on him a couple of times. To his own bearhug now, but the arm only drops twice. He whips Hawk to the corner, but this time the splash misses. Hawk drops an elbow from the 2nd rope and tags Animal. He nails a flying shoulderblock on Quake before Typhoon comes in and the double team is on. Animal comes back though with a double clothesline and now all four of them go at it. It spills outside and only Typhoon, who wasnít actually the legal man beats the count back in. The Disasters win on a count out at 9:25, but LOD clears them out with a chair afterwards. Obviously the feud was meant to continue on, but the Tag Title scene would change pretty drastically within a few weeks. Ĺ*
Main Event: 1992 Royal Rumble Match
WWF Title is vacant, and goes to the winner. Hogan and Undertaker, for being involved in the match that resulted in the vacancy have been allowed to pick from numbers 20-30. This is, by far, the best Rumble field in history, with an unmatched before or since number of guys having a legit shot at winning. British Bulldog gets #1, while Ted Dibiase is #2. Dibiase takes it right to him, nailing several suplexes before tossing him, but Bulldog holds on, comes back and clotheslines Dibiase out right off the bat. #3 is, of course, the man of the hour, Ric Flair. Bulldog overpowers him and gets a big press slam, but canít get him out. Nasty Boy Sags is #4 and he goes for Bulldog. He and Flair double team for awhile, but Bulldog comes back with a double clothesline and gets rid of Sags. #5 is Haku who goes after Bulldog, but then establishes the every man for himself thing by going after Flair as well, much to the horror of Heenan. Bulldog is able to come back and toss Haku just as a freshly heel-turned Shawn Michaels is in at #6. He and Flair go at it and whoíd have thought they would have Flairís retirement match sixteen years later. Tito Santana is #7 as weíre finally allowing the ring to fill. #8 is the Barbarian, who goes after Bulldog. Kerry Von Erich is #9, and he goes for Flair, but the announcers canít bring up their history together so itís not quite as meaningful. Repo Man is #10, and Greg Valentine is #11 (more unacknowledged history with Flair) as weíre really starting to go awhile without an elimination. Shawn is putting on a great performance, going over, but not out at least 7 or 8 times by now. Nikolai Volkoff is #12. Valentine actually puts Flair in the figure four which gets a big reaction. Volkoff is gone quickly courtesy of Repo Man to give us our first elimination since Haku. Big Boss Man is #13 and he nails everyone. Valentine is tossed by Repo, who himself is soon eliminated by the Boss Man. Flair backdrops the Bulldog out, and gets Von Erich right after. Shawn and Tito eliminate each other just as the horn sounds making it six eliminations in that one segment. Hercules is #14. Flair has seemingly made an alliance with the Barbarian, but turns on him right away. Barbarian gets a press slam and goes to put Flair out, but Hercules comes from behind and tosses Barbarian, followed by Boss Man clotheslining Herc out. That leaves Flair and Boss Man one on one. Boss Man charges, but Flair is able to avoid it and Boss Man goes flying out leaving Flair alone. Roddy Piper is #15 and the look on Flairís face is just priceless. Piper just beats him from pillar to post in a great segment, culminating in a sleeper hold. Jake Roberts is #16 and he just sits back until Piper turns his back and Jake attacks. Jake helps Flair upÖ and nails the short clothesline. DDT is set up, but Piper makes the save, which has Heenan singing Piperís praises for all of five seconds until Piper goes after Flair again. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is #17, and he goes for Flair as well. IRS is #18, and Superfly Snuka is #19 so we can fill the ring up again. Undertaker is #20, which is actually the lowest number he was eligible for. He gets rid of Snuka immediately, and then chokes Flair. Savage is #21 in the middle of a white hot angle with Jake Roberts, so Jake hides until Savage gets clobbered by Undertaker. Now Jake attacks, but Savage soon turns that tide and hits a knee to the back to eliminate Roberts. Savage is seemingly out too, jumping over the top after Jake, in what may have been a legitimate mistake, but the announcers cover for him, and heís allowed back in. Berzerker is in at #22, followed by Virgil at #23, Col. Mustafa at #24, and Rick Martel at #25 as we line up bodies for the big names yet to come. Savage gets rid of Mustafa. Hulk Hogan is #26 and heís a house afire. He briefly gets caught and double teamed, but soon enough clotheslines Undertaker out, followed right after by backdropping Berzerker out as well. Virgil and Duggan go out together. Skinner is #27. Sgt. Slaughter is #28 and soon after Skinner is eliminated by Martel. Sid Justice is #29, and #30 is the Warlord to complete the field. Finalists (in order of entry): Flair, Piper, IRS, Savage, Martel, Hogan, Slaughter, Sid, and Warlord. Hogan and Flair fight on the floor where Flair takes a suplex. Slaughter is our next elimination as Sid whips him to the corner and he takes his patented bump over and out. Piper pulls IRS over by the tie to get rid of him. Hogan and Sid double team and toss Warlord. The only guy left with no shot whatsoever is Martel, and thatís a great ratio. Martel, sure enough, is gone next, along with Piper when Sid shoves them both out. Final four are left, and anyone could take it. Savage is next out as Flair nails Sid from behind while he holds Savage on the ropes. Hogan works over Flair and whips him to the corner where the Flair Flip fails, but Hogan knocks him over the top anyways. As he tries to kick Flair out, Sid comes from behind and tosses Hogan. Hogan, Sportsman of the Year and role model to children everywhere grabs Sidís arm allowing Flair to come from behind and toss Sid giving him the win and the WWF Title at 62:06. Flairís time in, starting from the horn that sounded on his entrance was 60:17. A great performance by Flair, as well as several others, great buildup, great commentary, and legitimate intrigue into who would win make this by far the best Rumble ever. *****
Like I said, itís the most famous one of them all, and itís pretty much all thanks to Ric Flairís great sixty minute performance in the Rumble match. Obviously that makes the show a winner on its own, but we also get a really good little tag match in the opener as well as the great moment of Roddy Piper taking the IC Title from the Mountie. Not to mention that the commentary team of Monsoon and Heenan is always worth points regardless of whatís going on in the ring. Iíd say you could safely skip the other two matches but the show still gets a big thumbs up and a high recommendation.