Classic Wrestling Review: Royal Rumble ’91

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Royal Rumble

January 19, 1991

Miami Arena

Miami, Florida

It’s time to enter 1991, which will be a year of decline for the WWF. Business was already showing signs of slowing. The boom period of the 80s was coming to a close, so the WWF became antsy. They insisted on pushing forward with their shameless exploitation of the Gulf War by inserting Sgt. Slaughter into the main event picture. There was barely even a kayfabe reason given for why Slaughter got a title shot. Jack Tunney simply announced him as the #1 Contender, even though Sarge lost his match at Survivor Series. Poor Ultimate Warrior was at the end of a lackluster title reign and the WWF certainly wasn’t going to continue it until Mania. A Warrior/Hogan rematch would probably have done far better business, but it wasn’t in the cards.

In other news, the storyline between Dusty Rhodes and Ted DiBiase continued, but Dusty received word that WCW was interested in bringing him back as a booker. Royal Rumble ‘91 would be Dusty’s final show with the WWF. He would be back in WCW by the following month and even appears on their next PPV.

The show opens with a shot of the American Flag before The Fink announces the playing of the national anthem. They show shots of fans in the crowd and zoom in uncomfortably close to the face of a woman mouthing the words. They also show kids with bad haircuts and some girl chowing down on a breadstick. Then, Vince McMahon introduces the show and lists the participants for the Rumble Match. There are a few new faces and surprises in the list. First, there is Saba Simba, which is Tony Atlas in an African tribal gimmick. He had legitimate ancestry, but it doesn’t make the character any less questionable. It would thankfully not last long. However, Tony credits this run with saving his life, so it wasn’t all bad. The next surprise is the return of The British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith. He’s back for a solo run without Dynamite Kid (RIP) and it looks like someone inflated him like a balloon during his absence. Also, Vince lists off that dynamic dude, Shane Douglas, who is in for a brief but forgettable run. Finally, there is Brian Knobbs of the Nasty Boys, who jumped ship to the WWF. Sags wouldn’t be in the Rumble, but he did wrestle a dark match before the show. Vince also talks about the other matches, including the WWF Title bout.

Gorilla Monsoon then welcomes everyone and he’s joined by Rowdy Roddy Piper, who has a yellow ribbon around his arm. Gorilla says it looks like Roddy has already been in a rumble. Piper replies that it’s a jungle backstage and says something about everyone having hair on their teeth. I’m not sure I want to know what he means by that. It can’t be good. Piper then says he’s prouder than punch that the WWF is broadcasting the PPV for the troops. He tells them to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (w/ Mr. Fuji)

The Orient Express has undergone a slight change. Sato decided to head back to Japan, so he was replaced by Kato, who is Paul Diamond under a mask. This means that there are now no Oriental wrestlers in the Express as Tanaka is Hawaiian. Paul Diamond is the man who would later take on the Max Moon gimmick, but he had made his name in the AWA by teaming with Tanaka as the team of Bad Company, so there is a history with these guys. They even faced The Rockers before in the AWA and it shows in the chemistry of this match.

The Orient Express enter first and Mr. Fuji leads them to the ring. Kato does karate poses for the camera to prove he is totally Japanese. He looks like he went shopping at the same mask store as The Executioner from the first WrestleMania. I wonder if he’s a big leaguer! The Rockers are out next and they’re wearing their loudest outfits yet. They’re almost louder than their crowd reaction.

The Orient Express jump the Rockers and send Marty out of the ring. They try to double team Shawn, but Marty returns and the Rockers send the Express to the outside before hitting stereo suicide dives. Kato returns and faces off with Marty. They reverse through some holds and pin attempts and the Express even run into each other on a miscommunication. Tanaka soon tags into the match, but the Rockers soon take control with some arm work. Shawn and Kato trade off some more holds until Tanaka makes a blind tag, but the Express nearly run into each other again. They stop short, but Shawn hits a double noggin’ knocker. He then tries to wear down Tanaka until the Express use a ref distraction to stop him. Tanaka hits a leg sweep and fights Shawn into a corner, but Shawn reverses and goes for 10 punches. However, he spots Kato entering the ring and moonsaults onto him. All four men end up in the ring and trade off reversed double-whips before the Rockers send them outside with stereo dropkicks. Then, Marty & Shawn feign a dive before hitting almost-stereo flying cross bodies to the outside. Soon, Shawn finds himself in trouble and takes a beating for a while. The Express uses ref distractions so Fuji can use his cane and they even try to clothesline Shawn with Kato’s belt. Shawn ducks it and jumps onto the belt, which whips the Express into each other. Michaels then makes the hot tag to Marty, who slams and dropkicks both men and hits a powerslam on Kato. The Express assist each other on a pin attempt, so Shawn has enough and trips Kato from the outside. The Rockers then attempt a Rocket Launcher, but the Express knocks Shawn off the ropes. They follow up by hitting Marty with a combination catapult/chop and attempt another one, but Shawn assists Marty in turning it into a sunset flip for the win.

This was a great opener. They kept a good pace and did enough exciting moves to start the show off with a bang. It helps that these two teams had faced each other before in another company because they had great chemistry. It’s also nice to see the Rockers get a win for once.

Winners: The Rockers (19:13)

Sean Mooney is with Macho King Randy Savage, who has a statement to make. Savage claims he’s the greatest WWF Champion ever and the #1 Contender. He says he doesn’t care who wins tonight because Slaughter has already promised him a title shot. Mooney replies that Randy is getting ahead of himself and asks if he has the same commitment from The Ultimate Warrior. Savage answers that he’s going to get it in a second because Sherri is going to bait the Warrior into giving it to him. He then directs Sean to a TV monitor to watch.

They cut to the interview podium, where Gene is with Queen Sherri. She says that Slaughter has promised Savage a shot, so she calls Sarge a brave and honorable man who will come through on his promises. She then hopes that the Warrior is as honorable, but she has her doubts. She calls out the Warrior and calls him yellow until his music begins playing. The Warrior comes out in a leather USA jacket and stands before her, so she asks him if he will give Savage a title match. He doesn’t answer, so she begins flirting with him. She calls his eyes beautiful and opens his jacket to touch his chest. The Warrior looks confused, as she continues talking about his hair. She even kisses him on the lips, which startles him. She calls it thrilling, but the Warrior keeps touching his lips. Then, she kneels in front of him, which draws a cheer from the crowd. Warrior touches his lips again and sniffs his fingers before grinning to the camera. Sherri continues begging, but the Warrior spits and then starts convulsing. He’s not having a fit, he’s just building up to yelling, “NOOOO!!!!” He then beats his chest and leaves the area. Savage throws a fit in the locker room before running full-speed to the interview podium, where Sherri is screaming. I like what they were going for with this segment, but it felt like it went on a little too long. I think the Warrior was a bit slow on his cue, so Sherri had to keep repeating herself.

Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian (w/ Bobby Heenan)

Boss Man has decided that he wants to go after the Intercontinental Title, but Bobby Heenan told him it wasn’t that simple. If Boss wants a shot at Mr. Perfect, he has to first go through the entire Heenan family. Boss Man already eliminated Haku at Survivor Series, so now he has to take on the Barbarian. I like this storyline because it’s a simple but effective way to build a challenger for a title. This is how you do it instead of having champions lose pointless non-title matches.

Heenan and Barbarian are already in the ring. You hear a half-second of Boss Man’s theme before the sound guy realizes he’s too early. The Fink introduces Barbarian, who is wearing his antler hat again and what looks like a fur throw rug. Boss Man enters next and slides into the ring, so Heenan and Barbarian roll to the floor. They talk strategy, so an impatient Boss Man grabs Barbarian’s fur cape and taunts him with it. The ref finally makes him put it down and takes the nightstick, so Barbarian decides it’s safe to enter the ring.

Barbarian gets a quick advantage, but Boss soon sends him to the floor. He follows him and whips Barbarian into the post. Then, he tries suplexing him into the ring, but Barbarian thumbs him in the eye. Barbie goes to the top, but he receives a punch to the gut when he jumps and Boss Man hits a Cactus clothesline over the ropes. He also spits on Heenan, but when he gets back into the ring, Barbarian takes control. Barbie hits a clothesline, but he’s already too gassed to capitalize. Come on! The match hasn’t even been going that long and Barbarian spent half of the time on the floor! Fate hands Barbarian a little rest because Boss Man gets tangled up in the ropes and hangs there awkwardly. Barbarian eventually has to help untie him because he can’t get loose. Barbie then rams Boss back-first into the post and distracts the ref so Heenan can attack. Barbarian then works the lower back and utilizes a couple of bear hugs. Piper says that Boss Man can break it by slipping his arm in near the crotch and sitting on it. Huh?? Go home, Piper. You’re drunk! Both men trade off control of the match until they collide in the middle of the ring. Barbarian recovers first and hits his flying clothesline off the top, but Boss Man gets a foot on the ropes. Then, Boss Man hits the Boss Man Slam, but Barbarian gets a fingertip on the ropes. A young Kevin Owens takes notes. Barbie returns fire with another sloppy piledriver and goes to the top again for a flying cross body, but Boss Man reverses it for a 3 count.

This was a slow plodding match. I like the storyline, but the match itself wasn’t very good. The Barbarian needs to work on his conditioning because there’s no reason he should have been that winded so early.

Winner: Big Boss Man (14:15)

Sean Mooney is with Sgt. Slaughter and Gen. Adnan, who is yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” Sean introduces them, but Slaughter yells at him because Adnan wasn’t finished talking. Then, Sarge tells everyone to listen and says there will be turmoil when he faces the “Ultimate Puke.” He also says there will be turmoil like they’ve never seen before when he becomes the new WWF Champion. He claims he will be everyone’s new leader and they can look up to and respect him. He then tells the Ultimate Puke that his weeks, days, and hours are no longer numbered, but his seconds are. He finishes by telling the Ultimate Puke that he’s dismissed and that’s an order. Finally!! He got it right!!

Next, Gene is with the Ultimate Warrior, who says that Slaughter’s orders fell on deaf ears. If that were true, then how did he know Slaughter gave orders? I think Warrior might be lying! He then says he doesn’t give orders. He takes them, but only from the warriors on his back. Warrior then turns to show his back to the camera. I don’t see any warriors unless that’s what he calls his back acne. Gene then asks about Slaughter’s turmoil. Warrior responds that the turmoil is nothing but a grain of sand in the desert where he will dig a foxhole for Slaughter. Gene also brings up Slaughter’s talk of being a leader, but Warrior says his warriors would never lower themselves to look up to someone like him. He claims only the demented would follow Slaughter. Warrior then finishes by claiming he will walk in the ultimate champion and walk out the ultimate victor. That’s odd. I thought his name was Jim, not Victor.

WWF Title Match: Sgt. Slaughter (w/ Gen. Adnan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior (c)

I would question why this match is on so early, but it will be obvious by the end of it. Slaughter enters first and the cameraman gets a great running shot down the aisle. Sarge is wearing a military helmet and he’s also wearing a pair of hooked wrestling boots. Slaughter claimed they were a gift from Saddam Hussein. I can’t help but notice that Sarge has lost a lot of weight since returning, but it sadly doesn’t translate into better conditioning. The Warrior enters next and runs past a low angle camera. It’s either that, or the cameraman was taking a nap on the floor. Sarge and Adnan try to jump Warrior with the Iraq flag, but Warrior ducks and knocks them out of the ring. He then proceeds to rip the flag in half. Geez! Jericho got suspended for doing less than that!

Warrior immediately starts choking Slaughter with the remnants of the flag, but the ref does nothing. He whips Sarge around and sends him flying out of the ring, but Sherri arrives at ringside. She’s changed into a new outfit and skulks around the apron of the ring. She ends up tripping Warrior, so he chases her down the aisle and gets blindsided by Randy Savage. Randy rams him into the guardrail and hits him with some lighting equipment before high-tailing it through the curtain. In the ring, Slaughter keeps breaking Earl Hebner’s count. Couldn’t Hebner start over where he was before the interruption? The crowd chant, “USA,” while Warrior crawls back to the ring and Slaughter rolls him inside. Slaughter works over Warrior’s back and spits on him, which causes Piper to call him a pig. Slaughter eventually grabs a long bear hug and squeezes it while the fans continue chanting, “USA.” Warrior finally breaks it and slams Slaughter, but he sells the back. Slaughter capitalizes and hits a backbreaker before locking Warrior in a Camel Clutch. However, Warrior’s feet are under the ropes. Hebner doesn’t notice at first and nearly calls for the bell until he sees it. Sarge thinks he won and puts his arms in the air, but Hebner pulls them down again. Warrior then hulks-up and hits the shoulder tackle, but Sherri returns to ringside with the scepter. Warrior pulls her into the ring and press slams her onto Savage, but Sarge knees Warrior in the back. He then chokes Warrior on the ropes until Hebner pulls him away to warn him. This opens the door for Savage to shatter his scepter over Warrior’s head and run away again. Slaughter takes advantage and drops an elbow before pinning Warrior for the 3 count. The crowd and commentators are in disbelief and the fans start chanting, “Bullshit.” Warrior stumbles out of the ring and runs after Savage while Gorilla and Piper hope that the ref will DQ Sarge. However, The Fink announces that Slaughter is the new WWF Champion.

I didn’t have high expectations going in, so it was slightly better than expected. That’s not saying much because it still wasn’t great. The storyline work between Savage and Warrior was good, but I had no desire to see this outcome. Putting the title on Slaughter is a terrible idea. The Sgt. Slaughter storyline is awful. The only positive is this leads to a great Warrior/Savage feud.

Winner: Sgt. Slaughter (New Champion) (12:44)

Then, they show a commercial for WrestleMania VII, which Vince still thinks will be in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The end of that WWF Title Match pretty much sealed the fate on that idea.

The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Koko B. Ware

Jacques Rougeau is back, but he’s different. He apparently underwent Canadian law enforcement training because he’s now The Mountie! He carries a cattle-prod, or shock-stick as they call it sometimes. He uses it on his opponents after he beats them and sometimes before. The real-life Canadian Mounties eventually took offense to the gimmick, so he wrestled under his real name when they went to Canada.

Koko B. Ware is already in the ring when they come back from the Mania commercial. He takes off his entrance gear while dancing to the beat of his music. This gets a good chuckle out of one lady in the crowd. Jimmy Hart then leads the Mountie to the ring. He sadly doesn’t have the awesome version of his theme yet. He threatens the cameraman with his cattle-prod before entering the ring.

Koko bobs and weaves around the Mountie’s offense to start and he even mimes for Hart to kiss his butt. The Mountie takes offense to this and clubs him, but Koko dropkicks him to the floor. When he returns to the ring, Koko starts working the arm until the Mountie back drops him over the ropes. It’s a good thing this isn’t WCW or that would have been a DQ. Jimmy Hart then distracts the ref, so the Mountie zaps Koko with the cattle-prod and rolls him back inside. He then gouges Koko’s eyes, which Gorilla calls, “A Mountie pacification technique.” He continues the attack but makes the mistake of ducking for a back drop. Koko hits a sunset flip for 2, but the Mountie responds by dumping him to the floor. Jimmy Hart then takes the opportunity to mock Frankie, but the bird seems disinterested. Koko manages to reverse a piledriver attempt into a back drop and catches the Mountie with a swinging neckbreaker. He celebrates by flapping his arms, which annoys Piper. Koko then follows it up with a jumping headbutt and a tippy-toe missile dropkick, but Jimmy Hart distracts him. The Mountie tries to capitalize, but Koko hits a springboard cross body for 2. Koko then ducks some clothesline attempts, but the Mountie catches him with a sidewalk slam for the win.

This match was slow and never found a rhythm. I like the Mountie character, but you can tell Jacques is still trying to find his footing with it. It didn’t help that these two didn’t have good chemistry.

Winner: The Mountie (9:12)

Sean Mooney is backstage with Savage and Sherri. Sean calls Randy’s attack a heinous act, which earns him a nasty look from Sherri. Savage says that Warrior should have realized no one says no to the Macho King. Then, Savage goes nuts. He mutters, “He was never the World Wrestling Federation champion! I was always the World Wrestling Federation champion! Past, present, and future! Yesterday and tomorrow!” He says to let Warrior cry because he should have made him #1 Contender. Sean then tries to ask another question, but Warrior starts banging on the door, so Savage and Sherri run out the side exit.

Gorilla and Piper then recap the end of the WWF Title match and the actions of Savage and Sherri. Piper complains about Slaughter being the new champion, which leads to the next segment.

Gene is with the new WWF Champion, Sgt. Slaughter and Gen. Adnan. Sarge tells Gene to shut his mouth because he gives the orders. He claims that when he says he’s going to do something, you better believe he’s going to do it. He then calls the Warrior the Ultimate Puke again and says he will reach out and take anything he wants. He also says that people can start respecting him now. He claims to have no boundaries, unlike the military and says he has only begun to fight. He dismisses everyone and states that he’s the new WWF Champion, and that’s an order! Oh, come on! You had it right earlier! Before they leave, Adnan yells some more, which causes Piper to fly off the handle.

Next, they show some pre-taped messages from fans to the troops. They send their general well-wishes and support. One guy calls them, “Yous guys,” and another tells them to get rid of those guys over there. They also talk to some police who tell them to come home safe and sound. One person even sends a message to someone they know in the military.

Gorilla then claims that Hogan was going to do an overseas tour, but the military told him it wasn’t a good idea. He opted to tour the military bases in the U.S. instead.

Then, they show some promos from participants in the Rumble Match. Jake Roberts threatens to cut through 29 men to get to Rick Martel. Earthquake dares everyone to come after him, especially Hogan. Greg Valentine says the real hammer will crash down on 29 men. Does that mean there’s a fake hammer in the match? Texas Tornado talks about a tornado touching down in the Rumble. Legion of Doom talk about people taking a ride on them. I don’t think that came off the way Hawk intended. Brother Love then says the Undertaker will bury 29 opponents and Taker says they will rest in peace. Then, Duggan yells about being the last man in the ring. Next, Martel says that it’s not about what you do, but how you look doing it. He also warns Jake that he will guide him out of the ring. The British Bulldog says he’s glad he’s a bulldog, which is quite bizarre of him. Mr. Perfect then calls himself the greatest athlete in the WWF. Finally, Tugboat toots (not like that) and says if it comes down to him and Hulk, then, “TOOT!!!” Um—okay? Use your words, Tugboat. What does that mean?

They go back to Gorilla and Piper and it looks like Roddy got done doing a line. He says he doesn’t know if he can take it. Then, they talk about the upcoming match between The Rhodes family and DiBiase & Virgil. Gorilla mentions that Piper had lunch with Virgil, but Piper remains vague about what they discussed.

Speaking of DiBiase, Sean Mooney is with him and Virgil. Sean says they will face Dusty & Dustin Rhodes, who are linked by blood. He also says that they have yet to see DiBiase & Virgil as a team and he asks how Virgil will do. DiBiase says Virgil will fare well. Ted then talks about how people ask him why Virgil does everything he’s asked and why he takes the abuse. DiBiase says it’s because of the money, but Virgil starts staring daggers through him. Ted doesn’t seem to notice, as he continues talking about how the Rhodes family will find out the bond of money is thicker than blood.

Ted DiBiase & Virgil vs. Dusty & Dustin Rhodes

Dusty’s problems with Ted DiBiase have escalated to now include family. Dusty’s son Dustin (the future Goldust) started appearing in the front row for his dad’s matches, so DiBiase bought the seats around him to harass Dustin. Ted even attacked him, so a tag match was set up between the Rhodes family and DiBiase & Virgil. The growing tensions caused a change in Ted’s demeanor towards Virgil. He started treating him horribly and tested Virgil’s loyalty by making him do demeaning tasks. However, the money and possibly other factors kept Virgil in check—for now.

Dusty & Dustin enter first and get a great reaction. It’s no surprise as Dusty spent a lot of time in the Florida territory. The Rhodes hug in the ring before DiBiase & Virgil make their entrance. Virgil still looks annoyed, but he holds the ropes open for Ted. Dusty & Dustin then turn to talk strategy, but DiBiase & Virgil attack them.

The Rhodes fight back and send DiBiase & Virgil to the outside, so Ted orders Virgil to get in there and take out Dustin. Dustin keeps knocking Virgil out of the ring, which only angers DiBiase more. He finally demands a tag and tells Virgil to watch how it’s done. DiBiase takes control for a while with punches, a back drop, and a fist drop. However, he ducks for another back drop and Dustin hits a facebuster. The Rhodes then elbow DiBiase back and forth like a pinball and send him to the floor. Dusty rolls him inside and swaps with Dustin without tagging. The ref doesn’t seem to notice. Dusty proceeds to chop and elbow Ted into the corner and then grabs a sleeper hold, but Virgil breaks it. Dustin tags in and hits a dropkick, but Virgil also breaks up the pin. Ted retakes control with an eye rake and tags Virgil. Dustin and Virgil fight back and forth and Dustin reverses a whip, but he misses a knee in the corner. It looks like Dustin injured himself, so Virgil starts attacking the leg. Virgil and DiBiase take turns ramming Dustin’s leg into the post while utilizing ref distractions. However, Virgil ends up accidentally hitting DiBiase with a clothesline. Ted loses his cool and attacks Virgil before throwing him to the floor. This gives Dustin the opening to tag Dusty, but Dusty misses a corner charge and DiBiase rolls him up for the surprise win.

I’m not sure why DiBiase’s team won, especially given what happens next. I guess they won because Dusty & Dustin are both heading to WCW, but it would have been nice to see Dusty win this feud. The match was decent, but it felt rushed. I’m guessing something went long earlier and robbed this match of some time.

Winners: DiBiase & Virgil (9:55)

After the match, DiBiase grabs a mic and gloats about everyone having a price for the Million Dollar Man. He also says that no one crosses him without paying the price as Rhodes did. Then, he calls Virgil an idiot and tells him to bring him the Million Dollar Belt. He orders him to put it around his waist. Virgil glares at him, but he does as he’s told after some more insults. Virgil enters the ring, but he hesitates and then throws the belt onto the mat. DiBiase yells at him and demands he pick it up and put it around his waist. He reminds Virgil about his family and his mother, so Virgil drops to one knee and grabs the belt. DiBiase begins gloating and turns his back, which causes the crowd to come alive. They know what’s coming. When Ted turns around, Virgil clocks him in the head with the belt and the crowd goes crazy. Piper cheers on commentary, as Virgil soaks in the reaction and drops the belt onto DiBiase before leaving.

Next, Mean Gene is with Hulk Hogan, who says it’s time for his Hulkamaniacs to unite. Were they not united before? He then says he’s dedicating the match to the troops and he will scratch and claw his way to the top of the Rumble. He also claims that Hulkamania has more momentum than ever with the troops behind him. Gene interrupts because he received a report on his earpiece, but you’ll have to call the hotline to hear it. I’m kidding. He says he heard that Sgt. Slaughter just defaced a U.S. flag. Hogan flips out and says that’s the fate that sealed Slaughter in for good. Hulk then stumbles over his lines. It was a mistake, but it sells how upset he is. He recovers and compares Slaughter’s title reign to Saddam Hussein. He says it’s only temporary. Could they make it any more obvious who is winning the Rumble?

30 Man Royal Rumble Match

They must be running a little behind because the Fink doesn’t explain the rules. He goes straight to introducing entrant #1, Bret Hart. He’s announced as one-half of the tag champs, but he’s not wearing his belt. Gorilla calls it lousy luck for Bret to draw number one. Then, since Fink didn’t explain the rules, Gorilla and Piper do it for him while Fink introduces #2, Dino Bravo. Gorilla calls Bravo a cheapskate who wouldn’t spend ten cents to buy someone’s entrance number. I guess that makes him the polar opposite of DiBiase.

Bret and Dino fight and Hart nearly eliminates him, but Bravo recovers. Bravo answers with some kicks while making hilarious noises that I don’t think he realized people could hear. #3 is Greg Valentine, who goes after and eliminates Bravo. Valentine is back to being blond because Rhythm & Blues are no more. Honky left the WWF. #4 is Paul Roma, whom Piper continually calls, “Romeo.” #5 is Texas Tornado and he goes after Roma. #6 is Rick Martel, who starts fighting with Bret, but Roma surprisingly stops it. #7 is Saba Simba and you can hear the crowd groan. Even in 1991, they thought this gimmick was a bad idea. #8 is Bushwhacker Butch, who marches around the ring while Martel and Simba go over the top. Martel lands on the apron, but Simba isn’t as lucky. #9 is Jake Roberts and he goes straight for Martel. Jake nearly hits a DDT, but Martel slides under the bottom rope. #10 is Hercules and he immediately goes to the aid of his partner, Roma.

Martel manages to tie Jake in the ropes, but Tornado saves him before Tito Santana enters at #11. Roma then attempts to clothesline Jake, but Roberts ducks and Roma eliminates himself. Meanwhile, Tito goes after Martel because he never forgets! #12 is the Undertaker, who quickly eliminates Bret Hart. Unlucky #13 is Jimmy Snuka, as Undertaker also eliminates Butch. #14 is the British Bulldog and #15 is Smash. Then, Martel gets knocked to the apron, so he sneaks up behind Jake and pulls him over the ropes for an elimination. #16 is Hawk, who starts punching everyone until they gang up on him. #17 is Shane Douglas, who gets a few boos. I guess some people remember the Dynamic Dudes, despite it being a different company. Undertaker continues his dominance by dumping Tornado before Hawk also eliminates Snuka. The clock then counts down for #18—but no one emerges from the curtain. You briefly see Animal’s face, but someone told him it wasn’t his turn. The commentators are confused. #19 is—Animal. Who would have guessed that? The Legion of Doom quickly team up and double clothesline Undertaker over the ropes. However, Martel and Hercules catch Hawk by surprise and eliminate him next. Then, #20 is Crush, who goes to help Smash.

#21 is Jim Duggan, who throws down his 2×4 and slides into the ring. Earthquake enters next at #22 and Gorilla says to get the emergency wards ready. Animal tries to clothesline Quake, but Quake ducks and back drops him over the top. #23 is Mr. Perfect, who tosses his towel over his shoulder and Heenan catches it behind his back! Duggan charges Perfect, who back drops him over the ropes. Come on! Quake and Animal did that same spot a second ago! #24 is Hulk Hogan. He slides into the ring and is jumped by Smash and Perfect, but he soon eliminates Smash. Hogan then goes after Quake. #25 is Haku, as Hogan also eliminates Valentine. Jim Neidhart is next at #26. He runs to the ring and some random fan throws a bandanna at him. Quake then eliminates Tito Santana. #27 is Bushwhacker Luke, who marches to the ring, gets dumped by Quake, and marches to the back without missing a beat. #28 is Brian Knobbs of the Nasty Boys and people quickly gang up on him. I don’t blame them. However, Knobbs back drops Hercules out of the ring. #29 is The Warlord, who goes after Bulldog. In the other corner, Crush foolishly goes for 10 punches on Hogan and gets dumped to the floor. Then, the Warlord tries to clothesline Hogan, but Hulk ducks and sends him over the ropes. Finally, #30 is Tugboat, so the commentators realize that the missing entrant at #18 was Savage. They speculate that Warrior ran him out of the building.

Knobbs then eliminates Shane Douglas. I’m surprised Douglas lasted so long, especially since this WWF run goes nowhere for him. Tugboat then starts attacking Hogan and almost eliminates him, but Hulk returns and dumps Tugboat out of the ring. Then, Bulldog eliminates Perfect by crotching him on the top and dropkicking him. Martel dumps Anvil next and Bulldog backdrops Haku over the ropes. Martel then foolishly goes to the top, so Bulldog crotches him too and clotheslines him to the floor.

(Final Four: Hulk Hogan, Earthquake, British Bulldog, & Brian Knobbs) One of these things is not like the others. One of these things does not belong. I’ll let you guess which. Quake and Knobbs team up to dump Bulldog and then go after Hogan. They hit a double clothesline and then Quake hits a running splash before giving the crowd the gun show. It always amuses me when Quake does that because he has no bicep definition. Quake stomps around and hits the Earthquake Splash, but Hogan pops to his feet. Hulk then hits a double clothesline and eliminates Knobbs with a big boot, which leaves only Hogan and Quake. Hulk hits another big boot, but Quake won’t fall. He then tries to slam him, but Hogan collapses under the weight. Quake follows it up by dropping some elbows and hitting a powerslam, but he mistakenly goes for a cover. Hogan begins hulking-up and grazes Quake with another big boot, which causes Quake to stumble around the ring like a zombie. Hulk signals for a slam, which Gorilla thinks is a bad idea, but Hogan hits it. He then waits for Quake to stand and clotheslines him out of the ring for the win.

This wasn’t a great Rumble Match. It was kind of boring and didn’t have a lot of big moments. Hogan’s win here makes more sense than it did last year, so I have no problem with that, but the match wasn’t thrilling. Thankfully, the next Rumble is much better, but we will get to that soon enough.

Winner: Hulk Hogan (1:05:16)

After the match, Hogan poses as usual. He grabs a few fan signs to show to the camera. One says, “Hulk Rules.” The next one says, “Peace in the Middle East.” The third one says, “Saddam and Slaughter will surrender.” He also grabs an American flag and waves it around before posing some more until Gorilla finally says goodnight.

Best Match of the Night: Rockers/Orient Express. It was paced well and was exciting. It was exactly what you’d want from an opening match and it was nice to see the Rockers get a win.

Worst Match of the Night: Mountie/Koko. It was slow and boring and the two of them didn’t have very good chemistry.

Performer of the Night: I have to give it to Rick Martel. He set the new record for time in a Rumble and stayed active for almost all of it. Plus, his antics were one of the only interesting things in the Rumble.

Final thoughts:

This was a below average show. The opener was good, but nothing else was stellar. There was some good storyline work, but there was also terrible decisions like Slaughter’s title win. The Rumble Match itself was lackluster. This was not a great way to open the year. The WWF was already turning away viewers with the Slaughter storyline, so it’s no surprise that ticket sales for Mania were not good. I will discuss that in more detail in my Mania review.

Thank you for reading. You can follow the Facebook page for this blog by clicking here. You can also follow the Twitter account by clicking here. I look forward to your feedback.

My next review will be WCW’s WrestleWar ‘91, featuring WAR GAMES! Look for it next Saturday!

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I chronologically review NWA/WCW and WWF/WWE PPVs on the WWE Network. I put out a new review every Saturday. Like and Follow the Facebook page for this blog here: https://www.facebook.com/ClassicWrestlingReview. Also, follow me on twitter @PaulDMatthews78

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