The journey to the completion of the Rumble reviews continues! Actually, there's a story behind this one, as I was contacted by another wrestling fan regarding one of the Rumbles I was missing, the '89 Rumble. He just so had a copy, and he was willing to do a trade. It took a while (the guy had a little of everything), but I finally worked it out, sending him a couple of WCW pay-per-views. Is it a fair trade? For a Rumble-fanatic like me, it works great. After all, it ain't easy to find some of the older PPVs nowadays, unless you buy one of those massive sets. And seeing as how I have most of the Rumbles already, that would be a waste of dough. Anyhow, with the boring explanation of the tape out of the way, I suppose we might as well get to a little review, right? Unless you want me to ramble some more... no, didn't think so. Let's get to it.
WWE Royal Rumble '89 |
Posted by the Accelerator, August 29th, 2007
- I could describe the box, but, well, there is no box. All I got was the tape (although it IS an official tape, WWE, so please don't sue me). Of course, I DID post a picture of the original box on the WWE Show Information Section, and I suppose I could throw it up here as well...
- Our announcers are Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon. I always liked that combo, personally, although Monsoon/Heenan would top it soon enough.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan & the Hart Foundation (Bret "Hitman" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart) vs. Dino Bravo & the Rougeau Brothers (Jacques Rougeau & Raymond Rougeau) w/ Jimmy Hart, Three Falls Match:
At the time, the Hart Foundation had turned good (in part due to Hart being betrayed by Bad News Brown at Wrestlemania IV), leading to them joining up with Hacksaw for this special opening match. Special, as in, there wasn't much of a storyline to explain why these guys were fighting, unless it was a battle of Canadian pride. BTW, at one point, when Bret was getting beat down, the fans started chanting "USA", with Ventura correctly pointing out that Bret was Canadian. Then again, maybe they were chanting that because of Duggan always wanting to hear it. Who knows? Anyhow, early on, the heels struck first, with the Rougeaus double-teaming Hart and taking him down with their finisher for the first pin after only 4 minutes of action. The heels then concentrated their efforts on the weakened Bret for the longest time, but Bret (despite having just been pinned) wouldn't stay down again. Hacksaw finally got the hot tag, leading to some double-teaming on Jacques. Hacksaw then dropped a big elbow to pin him, evening things up. Hacksaw next was in trouble, but (in a reversal) got the hot tag to Hart, leading to chaos. During the brawl between the six men, Hacksaw cheated (great, the only American in the thing is the cheater), knocking out Bravo with his 2x4 to allow Bret to get the pin, getting the faces the win.
Ace Thoughts: While it bugs me a little bit that the faces had to cheat, while the heels actually had a semi-clean pin, that's just the way things came down back then. After all, look at Hogan. That guy cheated all the time, and usually dumped out his friends in the Rumbles as well (more on that later). Did it hurt Hogan's momentum? Nope, the fans loved him anyway. They also loved Duggan and his 2x4, so who am I to complain now, decades later?
- We see several men drawing their random numbers. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase was a little upset at his draw, so he called over Slick and went to have a meeting. I sense treachery afoot! Meanwhile, tag-team partners like Demolition's Ax & Smash and the Rockers' Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty contemplate their fates.
Rockin' Robin(c) vs. Judy Martin, WWF World Women's Title Match:
At the time, Rockin' Robin (aka Robin Smith, the sister of Jake "The Snake" Roberts) was feuding with Sensational Sherri Martel over the Women's Title. That didn't stop another match being set up at the Rumble, though, pitting Robin against tag-team specialist Judy Martin (known as one of the Glamour Girls). Sherri joined the crew at commentary. The crowd just wasn't into this one, as Robin had never taken off like her 'predecessor', Wendi Richter. Robin still put on some good wrestling moves, including faking out Martin at the end, then nailing her with a bodypress off the turnbuckle for the victory.
Ace Thoughts: Really, it's a filler match to build to a future confrontation between Robin and Sherri, although I'm not sure that one ever really happened. In fact, Robin, instead of wrestling at Wrestlemania V, sang America the Beautiful instead. That's how bad the Women's division had gotten. Of course, Sherri became Queen Sherri with "The Macho King" soon afterwards, basically killing the feud, and Robin would abandon the title later on after leaving the company to go wrestle for the UWF and the LPWA. Yep.
- Slick is confronted in the back about tampering with the Rumble draw. He tries to say he hasn't seen DiBiase in a long while, but then, of course, the video doesn't lie, so Slick has to backtrack.
"Ravishing" Rick Rude w/ Bobby "The Brain" Heenan vs. the Ultimate Warrior, Pose Down:
Honestly, is there that much to review here? Ok, a little bit of history, I suppose. At the time, the Warrior was the WWF Intercontinental Champion, still over a year away from his main-event run. Rude, managed by the Brain, wanted that title. Since Rude was the first (and only, I believe) Jesse "The Body" award winner, he thought a posedown would show how impressive he was against the Warrior. Of course, this was decided by the fans, so every Rude pose was booed, while every Warrior pose was cheered. Not surprisingly, Rude attacked the Warrior shortly thereafter, choking him out with a work-out bar. What a sore loser.
Ace Thoughts: This wasn't so much a 'match' as it was a gimmick to continue the feud between these two. Rude would go on to win the Intercontinental Title from the Warrior at Wrestlemania V, with their feud continuing over the summer, with the belt going back to the Warrior at Summerslam '89. This would help boost the Warrior into the main-event slot, while Rude fell backwards, eventually leaving to go to WCW for a while. While the feud was interesting, this pose-down was not, so feel free to fast-forward.
- The managers promote their teams, in the usual way. Back then, almost anyone supposedly could win the Rumble. I kind of miss those days, really, since we usually have a pretty good idea nowadays of who the top 2-3 potential winners are. It was fun to be surprised.
King Haku vs. "King" Harley Race:
The story here was that Race, managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, was taken out by Haku (also managed by Heenan), with Haku laying claim to the crown (which Race won in the King of the Ring '86 tournament). If you're a fan of Race, this is a tough match to watch, as you can tell that Race is near the end of his run in the wrestling business. Then again, he still carried Haku in this one, so who's to say? The most interesting part of this match is the Brain, who works both sides, wanting to manage the winner. Haku eventually took this one, taking out Race with one of his violent kicks to win the match and 'retain' the crown.
Ace Thoughts: While Haku had been both a prince and a king before (aka King Tonga), this role really didn't work for him, at least in the eyes of the fans. While it was a good way to boost him up by having him dispatch with Race, it really didn't go anywhere, with Haku eventually going another tract by dropping the crown and teaming up with Andre the Giant in the Colossal Connection, a team that did pretty well for itself for a time. As for Race, he left the WWF behind, only wrestling occassionally (although he did hold the WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Title the next year) before retiring.
- Various participants talk about the Rumble, including the champion, "Macho Man" Randy Savage. This was long before the Rumble winner gets a title shot, so the champion could compete in the match as well. While I wouldn't have recommended it for Savage, it was his right to try and get the battle royal win (which wouldn't come until WCW's World War III event).
- Meanwhile, "Mean Gene" Okerlund tries to get Ted DiBiase to confess about tampering with the numbers, but DiBiase's no fool. He knows the camera is rolling. The other favorites soon talk as well, with Andre prepared to throw out his stablemates to win, while Hulk Hogan is ready to Rumble over everyone, as usual.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match:
Howard Finkle does the special ring instructions beforehand. #1 is Demolition Ax, who was a co-holder of the WWF Tag-Team Titles at the time. #2 is his partner, Demolition Smash. Monsoon's reaction is priceless.
Gorilla Monsoon: "It is partner against partner, perhaps brother against brother."
The two partners do indeed fight hard for a few minutes, rather than doing the smart thing and waiting for the next competitor. The crowd doesn't know who to cheer for at this point. Ventura talks about the effect this could have on the tag-team champions after this match. However, when #3, Andre the Giant, comes in (with Bobby Heenan leading the way), Demolition pulls back together, double-teaming the big man and taking him down with a double clothesline! Demolition worked over the Giant, but Andre fought back on both men, staying alive. #4 is Mr. Perfect, who goes after everyone. Andre soon scores the first elimination, tossing out Smash. This convinces Perfect to team with Ax against Andre. #5 is "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin, who ties up Andre in the ropes with one punch. All three men try to lift Andre up, but his arms are locked, keeping them from sending him out. It continued to be Andre vs. all three men for the next few minutes, with Andre apparently winning.
#6 is Greg "The Hammer" Valentine w/ Jimmy Hart, who joined in the assault on Andre. All four men tried to get rid of the giant, but he again worked to fight them off. Andre then got the odds better for him, sending out Garvin. With Perfect and Ax going at it, Andre chokes out Valentine, then comes for Ax, with a sadistic grin on his face. #7 is Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who goes right after his rival, Andre. But Andre caught him, choking Roberts out. A small camera mistake takes place here, as Monsoon says that Andre's size 21 is right in Roberts' throat, when it can clearly be seen that Andre's foot is to the side of Roberts. Whoops.
#8 is "The Outlaw" Ron Bass, or 'Baldy', according to Monsoon (Bass got a haircut from Brutus Beefcake). Shortly thereafter, Roberts gets thrown out by Andre, having been brutally beaten by the big man. I love alliteration. #9 is Shawn Michaels, long before he meant anything other than in the tag-team ranks. He goes after Bass, while Perfect ducks a swing from Ax and sends him out, the first non-giant elimination. Perfect tries to throw out Michaels as well, but Michaels pulls out his "skin of the cat" maneuver, then dropkicks Perfect over, only to have Perfect save himself as well. #10 is Butchwhacker Butch, but the crowd is more excited about the return of Jake Roberts! Roberts throws his snake, Damien, into the ring, causing Andre the eliminate himself in utter terror. Jake follows, leaving the arena again.
#11 is the Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart), and the fans really don't like him. They cheer a lot, though, when Mr. Perfect nearly sends Honky out, but Honky gets back in. #12 is Tito Santana, or Chico, as Ventura calls him, and he goes right after Mr. Perfect. Tito was still a member of Strike Force at this point, so he's another tag-team specialist in there. BTW, Michaels has been showcasing his flips and flops throughout this match. #13 is Bad News Brown, who focuses on Ron Bass. Meanwhile, Butch & Tito form a mixed team, both grabbing Honky and throwing him out! Short night for Honky. Michaels gets lucky after stupidly climbing the turnbuckle, as he actually manages a double axehandle on Bad News and Bass. #14 is help for Michaels, as Marty Jannetty runs in. Unfortunately for Marty, Bass no-sells everything he's got, so Michaels has to join in to take him down, sending Bass out with a double dropkick! #15 is the "Macho Man" Randy Savage, aka the champ. He goes after Bad News like crazy, eventually taking off his sunglasses while doing so. We have a lot of fighting, without much of a result.
#16 is Arn Anderson of the Brain Busters, and as we're watching him come in, Valentine gets eliminated by Savage. Surprisingly, Savage then teams up with Anderson for a minute, with the two knocking out Michaels! Jannetty goes for revenge on Anderson, as a tag feud erupts. #17 is Anderson's partner, Tully Blanchard, with Blanchard immediately attacking Jannetty and a Bushwhacker. I miss having tag-team feuds. Sorry, random comment. Jannetty eventually gets eliminated, after hanging from his feet, thanks to the Brain Busters. #18 is Hulk Hogan, who comes to the aid of his partner, Savage. Hogan strikes fast, eliminating Mr. Perfect, then using his headband to choke Bad News with! See, he cheats! I told you!
As Hogan and Bad News go at it, the Brain Busters strike again, sending out Santana. Bad News and the Brain Busters then nearly toss out Hogan, with Savage not coming to his aid (he's busy with a Bushwhacker). Speaking of, #19 is Bushwhacker Luke. Stupidly, though, they don't team up, and Bad News Brown tosses out Butch while Luke's busy on the other side of the ring. The Mega-Powers get ganged up on for a minute, but Hogan fights his way free. #20 is Koko B. Ware, a man who never seemed to make an impact in the WWF. Koko proves my point, not even lasting two minutes before Hogan rakes his eyes and sends him out. Cheater. Bushwhacker Luke goes out shortly thereafter, again thanks to Hogan.
#21 is the Warlord, as Hogan catches both Brain Busters with the longest-clothesline ever and sends both out. The Warlord steps into the ring, then is gone only a couple of seconds later. How is that not the record? Anyhow, Hogan clears the ring by dumping out Bad News, while sending out Savage as well. Savage comes back in to argue with his 'friend', with Miss Elizabeth coming out to try and get between them. Thanks to Elizabeth, Savage offers a handshake, and Hogan agrees, temporarily reuniting the Mega Powers. #22, meanwhile, comes down, and it's the Big Boss Man (w/ Slick). It's Hogan vs. the Boss Man right now, back when that meant something. Hogan dominates for a while, even throwing in a symbolic bodyslam, but the Boss Man comes back with a splash and a piledriver. Just as Hogan comes back, #23, Akeem (w/ Slick) comes out, uniting the Twin Towers. Hogan fares ok for a minute, slamming Akeem, but the numbers game gets to him. After a Double Avalanche in the corner, the Twin Towers throw out Hogan, ending his run in the Rumble. Hogan's a sore loser, though, pulling out Boss Man and staying involved.
#24 is Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, who quickly starts getting dominated by the Twin Towers. But as the Boss Man goes off the ropes, Hogan pulls them down, eliminating the Boss Man! The two fight down the aisle, as Ventura talks about Hogan's cheating. Right on, Body! In the ring, Akeem and the Beefcake continue to go at it. #25 is the Red Rooster, and I'd say it's before he became a joke, but he was a joke as soon as he was named the Red Rooster. Beefcake & the Rooster double-team Akeem, and Ventura's still venting about Hogan illegally dispatching the Boss Man. #26 is the Barbarian w/ Mr. Fuji, and he lasts longer than his tag-team partner simply by sliding into the ring. The Barbarian is immediately deemed stupid by the announcers, though, when he stops Beefcake & the Rooster from tossing Akeem, only to attack him himself. #27 is Big John Studd, stalking out to the ring. He throws the Rooster out of his way to allow him to attack Akeem, with the two massive men going at it. The Barbarian looks small in comparison.
#28 is Hercules, pounding away on the Barbarian. The announcers start talking about the luck of the draw, and for once, it's true, as Hogan, Andre, and Savage aren't there anymore. Nobody goes out for two minutes, as the ring's filling up a little bit here at the end. #29 is Rick Martel, and he tries to go after Akeem, only to face an annoyed Studd, who is only focused on Akeem. I have no idea why, but ok. Martel then switches to the Rooster, an infinitely better target for Martel. BTW, Martel's still with Strike Force; his model days aren't too far away, though. #30 is "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase w/ Virgil, obviously having bought his number. We've got eight men left. It's Akeem, the Barbarian, Beefcake, DiBiase, Hercules, Martel, the Rooster, and Studd.
Ace Thoughts: Better match than the first one, that's for sure, as you had some major stars involved in the 2nd Annual Royal Rumble match. It was also nice to see one from the old days that didn't feature a dominating performance from Hogan. In fact, Studd was said to have a major push on the horizon, explaining the Rumble win. However, it would be Studd's last match at a WWF Pay-Per-View, due to a sickness brought on by taking growth hormones. You can tell how fast he went out, due to the fact that he's not even on the cover of the Rumble '89 box (even though he won it all)! At least he went out on top. Good to see you once more, John. RIP.
- To cap off the night, "Mean Gene" Okerlund interviews Randy Savage & Miss Elizabeth in the back about the apparent problems between the Mega Powers. Although Savage is still ticked off about being made to look foolish, he says that the Mega Powers will live on forever. That lasts just a short time, as the Mega Powers would go to war at Wrestlemania V, but that's for a future article. Gorilla & the Body say goodbye to everyone, while encouraging us to buy commemorative videos to get a Wrestlemania souvenir watch. Yay.
Final Ace Thoughts: All-in-all, actually a pretty enjoyable Rumble match. I definitely recommend it if you can find it around somewhere. The matches, well, they didn't do that much for me, although the crowd reaction to Hacksaw is still impressive. Really, none of the regular matches are worth seeking out on their own, but the Rumble is still a fun time, especially when you know what's going to come at Wrestlemania V. I'll put it this way: I've seen much worse Rumbles.