Friday, January 15, 2016

Royal Ramble: 1992

Yeah, so after a horrid Royal Rumble showing, let's go back in time to 1992 and check out that year's edition of the Royal Rumble, considered by most old-school fans to be one of the finest Rumbles in Rumble history. Most folks would probably know this as the show where multi-time NWA World champion Ric Flair won the Royal Rumble match to win his very first WWF World title, as the Rumble was for the vacant title at that time. And I will shoot with you here right off the bat; if you absolutely need to watch a Rumble match done exceptionally well, this is the one to watch (along with a couple others, but baby steps).

That having been said, how's the rest of the show? Let's check it out.

The New Foundation (Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart in baggy tights) defeated the Orient Express (Pat Tanaka & Kato) when Owen pinned Tanaka after a Rocket Launcher. Actually quite enjoyed this one; nothing particularly memorable here, but it was fairly enjoyable fare.

We get footage of the Mountie beat Bret Hart for the Intercontinental title at a house show for some reason (either Bret was really sick or threatening to jump ship or lost his smil... wait, wrong guy.) That, of course, leads us to Roddy Piper defeating the Mountie to win his first and only singles WWF title (many years later, he and Ric Flair would win the tag titles, but that's MUCH later.) The match wasn't anything special because you knew Mountie wasn't destined to hold the belt for long, but when Piper won, the crowd popped big. So it wasn't completely worthless.

The Beverly Brothers (with the Genius Lanny Poffo) defeated the Bushwackers (with, oh good lord, fucking JAMISON) when Beau hit Luke (or is it Butch? They both look the same) with a top rope ax handle for the pin. For those who don't know who Jamison is, he's a stereotypical Nerd gimmick; unkempt, big rimmed glasses, obnoxious, makes you want to punt babies across the ocean. Just an absolutely horrible gimmick. has more lovely details on this shit-stain of humanity if you're brave enough to know more.

As for the match? The match fucking blew chunks. It was long, it was abysmal, it had Jamison in it. It is pretty much the wrestling equivalent of an anal evacuation and let's just leave it at that.

The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon a.k.a. Tugboat a.k.a. THE SHOCKMASTER!!!) defeated WWF Tag-Team Champions The Legion of Doom (a.k.a. the Road Warriors) by way of countout. LoD retains the titles... and well, that's pretty much it. This one almost put me to sleep, which is shocking because you'd figure four big guys beating the crap out of each other would be golden. Alas, 'tis not to be.

And now, it's time for the Royal Rumble match, which will be for the vacant WWF Championship. To provide some timely context;

Hulk Hogan was WWF Champion and set to defend the title against Undertaker at the 1991 Survivor Series PPV. With the help of Ric Flair, Undertaker defeated Hogan to win his first World title - not bad for a guy whose WWF debut was a little over a year ago. Fast-forward a week or so, Taker defends the title against Hogan at a rare Tuesday PPV event, Tuesday In Texas, where Hogan, sportsman of the year, cheats to win the title back. All is well in the world, right?

Well, not quite... see, WWF president and generally useless fellow Jack Tunney would declare the WWF title abeyant and declared that the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble match would win the coveted title. This proved significant because, up until that point, the Royal Rumble match was an annual tradition with no real stakes at, well, stake... other than bragging rights, of course. But now, there was a prize to be won and it was the biggest prize of them. The following year's Rumble would have an equally valuable prize - a guaranteed shot at the WWF champion at that year's Wrestlemania.

But back to this Rumble match, which featured a who's who of wrestling stars, be it Flair, Hogan, Savage, Piper, Bulldog, Von Erich, Sid, Bret, Shawn, DiBiase, IRS, and so on and so forth. The Rumble match was an open affair with a feel that anyone could possibly win the title, with very few dead weights clogging up the scene. I'm almost envious of those who got to watch this live for the first time, to be completely oblivious to the end result of the match.

More than anything, however, this was all about the Nature Boy. Drawing at number 3 and going the distance, taking on all comers while the crowd waited in anticipation for this smug, arrogant asshole to finally get his, only to be shocked and awed when Flair eventually outlasted everyone else to win the whole damn thing. Flair looked strong here and watching him go through the paces almost made me want to root for the guy, despite being the villain. And as much as Flair put on a hell of a show, give credit to Bobby Heenan, whose manic commentary and reactions to everything Flair had to deal with (that, along with sprinkles of Gorilla Monsoon twisting the proverbial knife further) only served to accentuate the stakes and the story even further. The match itself is exceptional, but the commentary makes the match truly excellent.

So it boils down to the final four; Sid dumps Savage and then dumps Hogan while he was struggling with Flair. Hogan throws a fit, grabs on to Sid, and Flair capitalizes to win the Rumble and the championship. Hogan tries to rally the crowd in his favor, but the crowd isn't buying it. Sid tossed Hogan fair and square, while Hogan, sportsman of the year, gave Flair the assist by holding onto Sid. This altercation would lead to the match between Sid and Hogan.

And then Ric Flair cuts an interview. It's on Youtube; go look it up. It's a good interview.

Royal Rumble 1992 had exactly one worthwhile thing to it; the Rumble match itself. The rest of the show was pretty forgettable fare and if you skipped all of it, you've not missed a thing. On a closing note, I would like to give a piece of advice to whoever is booking this year's Royal Rumble match; the one where Roman Reigns is booked to defend the title in the match itself.

Yeah, to you guys? Watch this match, study it, dissect it, see what works, see what doesn't and book YOUR Rumble like that.

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