Royal Rumble 1991 was one of the first shows I’ve ever seen, and before I watched it for the first time, I didn’t know anything about the Gulf War. Because of it, my mom had to explain to me what happened. This was in 1994, before the second Iraqi War, so people had a lot of pre-formed opinions. I’m talking about this because of the rampant patriotism that surrounded this show. The disgusting promotional tactics are part of it too. Worst of all, it’s unavoidable to discuss even now. I do have a soft spot for this show though, the WWF product was on the verge of getting better, and I’ve always thought it took a big step here.
– January 19th, 1991, from Miami Arena in Miami, Florida
Seeing as Operation Desert Storm went down two days before this, it was time to play the anthem. We’re so used to being at war now that we don’t really understand or remember what it’s like to experience the buildup to war and the fear that comes with it. That’s why this Sgt. Slaughter character was so offensive.
I love this Royal Rumble introduction, it’s one of the best. I find it strange that Koko B. Ware against the Mountie wasn’t mentioned at all. Our commentators here are Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper, who sounds like a lunatic. That’s why we like him, though.
The Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers
Pre-Match Thoughts: This match has quite the reputation, and its been years since I’ve seen it. Akio Sato was out of the picture, and he was replaced by a masked man named Kato who was a far superior worker to him. The Rockers were sporting new gear, and I’m sad because of the realization this was their last year together and once I’m done with it, I’m done with them.
Match Review: Tanaka attacks Marty from behind, knocking him over the top, and it’s time for the Express to team up on Michaels. They give him a huge double backdrop, and set him up for another double team attack, but Marty runs in and hits both with superkicks. The Rockers then give Tanaka a double slam and head up top for something crazy, but Tanaka gets pulled to the outside. So, the Rockers fly to the outside with double dives! Monsoon and Piper do not quite know how to react to this match. It normalizes into regular tag form, with Kato and Marty in the ring. Marty slaps a headlock on the new guy, and takes him down with it. Kato gets up, and has a cradle blocked. Kato takes Marty down with a hip toss, and Kato goes down as well. Marty bridges up to a backslide that gets 2, and Kato takes over thanks to a distraction from his partner. Unfortunately, Kato and Tanaka run into each other, and Marty takes Tanaka down with an arm drag. Michaels tags in and continues the work on the arm, but Tanaka nails him with a flying forearm. That got a great reaction from the crowd. Tanaka puts a chinlock on Michaels for a moment, and tags in Kato. This time they don’t run into each other, but Michaels gives them a noggin-knocker. Michaels hits Tanaka with a high knee, and covers him for 2. I guess Kato is not entering the match. Michaels puts a sleeper on Tanaka, and Kato attacks from behind to break it up. This stuff all looks so crisp. Tanaka uses a great leg sweep to knock Michaels down, and follows that with chops and punches. Michaels fights his way out of trouble, but the referee gets distracted by Marty and Kato running into the ring. As the referee removes Marty from the equation, Michaels moonsaults onto Kato to knock him down! The Rockers then try throwing the Express into each other, but they’re smart enough to catch the Rockers with punches. The Express then tries to do the same thing, but the Rockers get out of the way of each other. They then flip through atomic drops, and take down their guys with dropkicks, knocking them to the outside. The Rockers tease another double dive, but it turns out they head up top and fly down with cross bodies from the top for their dives. Wow. Michaels takes Kato down with a snap mare for 2, and the Rockers follow with a double back elbow for 2. Marty had tagged in before that, and puts a chinlock on Kato as the guys rest for a bit. Michaels tags back in and gives Kato a delayed vertical suplex for 2, and goes for a monkey flip in the corner, only for Tanaka to grab him and drop him throat-first on the top rope. So many great spots here. Fuji then hits Michaels across the throat with his cane, and it’s finally time for the control segment after about 12-13 minutes of match. The Express uses that World’s Greatest Tag Team leap onto the back thing, which I love seeing, and it gets 2. Tanaka and Kato then stomp on Michaels for a while, and use the dirty martial arts throat shots. Tanaka puts a chinlock on Michaels, which eventually gets turned into a nerve hold, but of course Michaels won’t give up. Kato tags in, they hit Michaels with a double chop, and Michaels is then thrown into the corner where he does a superpowered version of a Flair flip and gets superkicked back into the ring. The Express then hits Michaels with a clothesline that is followed with a somersault sell, and that gets a 2 count. Michaels finally gets in some offense by smashing Tanaka’s face into the canvas, but Kato cuts him off from a tag. They have a belt, and try to clothesline Michaels with it, but he jumps into the belt and causes them to hit each other.
Michaels finally makes the tag out, and Marty drops these guys with bodyslams and dropkicks. A Marty powerslam on Kato gets a 2 count, as does a flying back elbow. All four guys are in and quickly out, and Kato takes Marty down for a backslide that gets 2 thanks to a Tanaka superkick. This match is ridiculous. Kato follows that up by getting tripped, and Marty covers for 2. Michaels and Tanaka run in there again, and Kato gets hit with a double superkick. Michaels climbs up to the top rope, but Tanaka knocks him all the way to the outside. Kato slams Marty, and sets him up for a slingshot into a chop from Tanaka. The Express signals to do it again, and Michaels hits Tanaka in the gut to double him over. Kato does the catapult, and Marty takes down Tanaka with a sunset flip for the victory at 19:14!
My Thoughts: This match was great in large part because it was so different than any other WWF match of the time. The spots they came up with were incredible, hell, the spots they stole were similarly incredible. It was cool that they were allowed to put together the match they wanted without anyone getting in their way. If they wanted to steal the show, they were allowed to. Also, by no standard did they need to use other people’s finishers or have a long series of near falls in order for this to be a great match. They also got the crowd to care, which the events of the previous days certainly made more difficult. I just dig this match so much. The number of spots that look super contrived were also limited, which is a bonus. ****1/4 and it’s the quintessential Rockers match. Too good.
The Macho King is in the back with Sean Mooney, and Macho has a statement to make. He says he’s the #1 contender if Sgt. Slaughter wins, but there’s no commitment yet from the Ultimate Warrior. He says that Sensational Sherri is going to…bait the Ultimate Warrior.
Sherri walks out to the interview podium, and has things to say about the Ultimate Warrior. People in the crowd looked bored as I could see some of them walking the aisles, but out comes the Ultimate Warrior to make this segment much better. Sherri asks for Randy Savage to get a title shot if Warrior wins in his match here, then things get weird. She starts praising his looks and touching him, then after a lack of response, she gets on her knees. This is so weird. The inference here is just too much. Eventually Warrior spits, and says “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” So, that’s that. Macho then throws stuff around his dressing room and starts breaking stuff, then heads out to the ring and interview podium, but Warrior is long gone.
The Barbarian (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Big Boss Man
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is about putting obstacles in Boss Man’s way before he can get a shot at Mr. Perfect. Could be a good big man match here. Really big pop for Boss Man’s entrance, they want to see him pick up a win here.
Match Review: Lots of early stalling and posturing, but Barbarian attacks first, only for Boss Man to hit him with a big boot and back elbow to knock him out of the ring. Boss Man follows him to the outside, and sends Barbarian into the post. Boss Man tries to suplex Barbarian back in, but he gets thumbed in the eye and Barbarian heads up top. Boss Man hits him on the way down, and follows that with a big clothesline that sends both of them over the top! Boss Man then spits on Heenan, the crowd is kind of on fire now as they’re reacting to every spot. Boss Man blocks a hip toss, but Barbarian suplexes him instead. Barbarian follows that with a clothesline that sends Boss Man down in a heap, then sneds Boss Man to the outside, but his foot got caught in the ropes. That didn’t look intentional, but who knows. Barbarian slams Boss Man into the post, and Heenan gets in a stomp as well. Barbarian gives Boss Man a backbreaker in the ring, and covers for a 2 count. The referee looks like a very young Mike Chioda, which is amusing. Barbarian puts Boss Man in a bear hug, which is held for a while, but they did a good job at keeping the crowd in the match. Barbarian knocks Boss Man down with a right, drops a few elbows on him, and covers for 2. Back to the bear hug, which goes on for quite a bit, but Boss Man bites his way out. Boss Man hits Barbarian with an enzuigiri, and covers for a very near fall. Boss Man misses a splash in the corner, and Barbarian rolls him up for 2. Boss Man gives Barbarian a hotshot for a 2 count of his own, then they collide with each other. Barbarian heads up top and comes down with a flying clothesline, but that only gets 2. Boss Man plants Barbarian with the BOSS MAN SLAM, then signals for the finish. A cover only gets 2, so what’s the finish? Barbarian goes for a PILEDRIVER, and plants Boss Man with it. He heads up top once again, and this time comes down with a cross body that Boss Man reverses for the 3 count at 10:06!
My Thoughts: The bear hug was super long, but everything surrounding that was pretty good. These guys worked pretty hard, expending almost all the energy they possibly had. They looked like they were sucking wind at the time of the finish. Nice touch with Heenan running to the back when the match was over. Liked the spots here, and it felt like an important match. **3/4.
Sgt. Slaughter (w/General Adnan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Now, here comes the shit to get on people’s nerves. Adnan and Slaughter cut a promo before the match, and look…I can’t imagine how much this would have annoyed people. Looking at it now, it’s like a parody. It’s funny to me. Warrior had a response, after which it was time for the match. You know what’s ridiculous, though? Before Slaughter’s entrance, the WWF said they don’t condone the remarks of Sgt. Slaughter. What a line of shit. After tearing down kayfabe, they had the gall to come out with that line.
Match Review: Warrior hits the ring quickly, and hits Adnan and Sarge with a double clothesline that breaks the Iraqi flag in half. He then knocks Adnan over the top with a clothesline, and commences ripping the flag up to humungous cheers. Adnan is leaving ringside, and Warrior beats Slaughter up with the flag pole for a while. This is a hot start. Warrior then feeds the flag to Sarge, and rams him hard into the post. Sarge is bumping like crazy here, and now Warrior chokes him with the remnants of the flag. Warrior follows that with a backdrop, and sends Sarge into the corner for his trademark turnbuckle bumps, the last of which sends him over the top. This dude is putting in a crazy effort here. Sherri runs down to ringside, and who knows why. Warrior puts Sarge back in the ring, and hits him with some shoulderblocks only for Sherri to then grab onto him. Warrior chases Sherri to the back, but THE MACHO KING ATTACKS. He hits Warrior with a clothesline, and follows that by dropping a TV light fixture onto Warrior. Sarge keeps breaking up the referee’s count, and Warrior slowly makes his way to the ring, while selling the whole way. Once Warrior gets close enough, Sarge throws him in, and goes to work on his back. A backbreaker is the right way to go about it, and he rams Warrior into his pointed boot. THAT’S DIRTY. They knock each other down with a double clothesline, and Sarge makes it to his feet first. Warrior makes it up too, and Sarge puts a bear hug on him. Warrior shakes his way out of it, and drops Sarge with a bodyslam, but that took too much out of him. Sarge comes back with another backbreaker, and turns Warrior over for some stomps. Time to MAKE HIM HUMBLE too, IT’S THE CAMEL CLUTCH. Warrior’s feet are under the ropes, and of course, the referee takes forever to notice. Once he does, Warrior makes it to his feet after shaking the ropes, and knocks Warrior down with some clotheslines. The fans are super loud here. He goes for the big shoulderblock, and takes Sarge out with it, but here comes Sherri again! She has Macho King’s scepter, and distracts Warrior, who is now ignoring Sarge. Warrior grabs Sherri and brings her in the ring, THAT’S BEATING WOMEN RIGHT THERE. UNACCEPTABLE. He picks her up for a press slam, and Savage runs out to catch Sherri, who gets thrown all the way to the outside. Sarge hits Warrior with a knee to the back and starts choking him, which the referee has to break up. Savage then grabs the scepter off the apron, AND BREAKS IT OVER WARRIOR’S HEAD. SARGE DROPS AN ELBOW ON WARRIOR, AND COVERS FOR THE WIN AT 12:46! WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION. Warrior then ran at full speed to the back, and the announcement was made to loud boos. Piper was hilarious on commentary, too bad they didn’t have a title defense against him on SNME. Would have done a good rating!
My Thoughts: The crowd initially did not react at all to Slaughter winning, it was borne out of disbelief more than anything else. I don’t think anyone expected this, it was a crazy thing to do. The match was simply standard, with the overbooking mixed into that. I loved the start as Slaughter bumped like crazy and kept things moving really well. **1/2. Obviously, this entire thing should never have happened. The country was at war, and the decision to make Slaughter the champion cost the WWF a lot of money and brought them a ton of bad PR. Could the WWF have filled the Coliseum for WrestleMania 7 if they had done a Hogan-Warrior rematch instead? Possibly. That would be a lot better than this, and in the worst case scenario, they would have sold 50-60k tickets, a lot more than they wound up selling.
Hilarious to see an LA Coliseum commercial after that. Talk about selling wolf tickets.
The Mountie (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Koko B. Ware
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is actually a great way to give the crowd a chance to catch their breath and do things before the matches that matter. I can’t believe Koko was around at this point as he hadn’t done anything for a long time. I love the Mountie character, so I’m looking forward to the years in which Jacques Rougeau played that character and was a fixture on WWF TV. This match was cut from the VHS version of this show that I’ve seen, so I’ve never checked this out.
Match Review: Koko tries to evade the Mountie for a while, and he tries his best to get the crowd into the match after what just happened. He dropkicks Mountie, and that sends him to the outside. He gets back in, and Koko pops him in the jaw, then takes him down with an arm drag. After a little bit, Koko charges at the Mountie, but Mountie backdrops him over the top, and he takes a big bump. Mountie has the shock stick, and he hits Koko with it, but does not shock him. I need to see SHOCKING. Mountie puts a claw on Koko for a bit, then shoves him down to the canvas. Mountie then rams Koko into the buckle while having him in a half-nelson, and follows that with a flying back elbow. This is hilarious, the commentary keeps referring to these as police techniques. Koko tries a sunset flip and gets 2, but the Mountie ties him up and throws him out of the ring. Mountie keeps him out of the ring with a choke and a knee lift, this is awfully boring. He eventually brings Koko in for a piledriver, but Koko reverses to a backdrop. Mountie is still in control, and kicks away at Koko for a while. Very boring. Koko drops Mountie with a swinging neckbreaker, and follows that with a headbutt. Koko slams the Mountie, and heads up top for a MISSILE DROPKICK that looked perfect. Hart gets on the apron to prevent a cover, but Koko takes Mountie down with a cross body for 2. Mountie gets up, drops Koko with a Boss Man Slam, and that gets the victory at 9:12.
My Thoughts: Don’t know why they had the Mountie using that finisher, but this was a bad match in any case. It was simply too boring, I don’t remember the last time I watched a match that was so hard to pay attention to. The only good thing about the match was the commentary, but the gimmick needed some work. It definitely got better the longer it went on. *1/4.
Savage is now cutting a promo about what he and Sherri did during the Warrior match, and said that he deserves it. Now Warrior is pounding on the dressing room door, so Savage, Sherri, and Mooney all ran away.
Adnan and Slaughter are in the back, and it’s time for them to cut another offensive promo, but this one wasn’t too bad.
Now they’re showing the fans wishing the soldiers well, seemed like a lot of people were worried. Monsoon then mentioned that Hulk Hogan was going to go on a tour of military bases to wish people some moral support. In the first place, the WWF wanted to film it and show it on television. It turned out that they didn’t, which was the right thing to do.
It’s time for the Royal Rumble promos now, and Jake Roberts was first. He had words for Rick Martel. Earthquake was next, and he has a new design on his outfit! Greg Valentine made some comments on his own behalf, keep in mind that he turned on Jimmy Hart. Not exactly a big deal, though. Texas Tornado cut a promo completely in gimmick, and LOD followed with a really good one. Brother Love talked on behalf of the Undertaker, so no Paul Bearer yet. Hacksaw did his usual routine, and after that, Rick Martel looked super roided up in hyping himself up and tearing down Jake Roberts. The British Bulldog is here to win it as well, and Mr. Perfect looks awfully happy with his newly won Intercontinental Championship. Tugboat’s promo sucked.
Virgil & Ted DiBiase vs. Dusty & Dustin Rhodes
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is a great way to finish off the Dustin program, but it became an afterthought because Dusty was leaving the company to book WCW. Instead, this turned into a way to finally split Virgil and DiBiase up, and go forward from that. Otherwise, I think Dusty and Dustin would have went over big, and they still would have split those two up. Before the match, DiBiase cut a promo in which he talked a lot of shit about Virgil cleaning shit off his shoes and shining his shoes. That’s cold. Epic laugh at the end.
Match Review: The match starts with a brawl between all four, but DiBiase and Virgil get thrown into each other and knocked out of the ring. Virgil and Dustin will resume the action, and Dustin hits him with a big clothesline and a dropkick to send him out of the ring. DiBiase tries to straighten Virgil out, and he gets back in there. Virgil gets ran over, and goes for a monkey flip only for Dustin to stomp on him. Dustin follows that with a clothesline over the top, nice bump. DiBiase picks Virgil up again, and tells him once more that he better get it together. Virgil tags in DiBiase, who’s going to show him how it’s done. DiBiase hits Dustin with a clothesline, and follows with a backdrop. DiBiase drops a few fists on the kid, but Dustin smashes his face into the mat at his first chance. DiBiase then eats elbows from both Rhodes’, and tumbles to the outside. Dusty sends him back in after a tag, and beats DiBiase up to the delight of the crowd. He puts a sleeper on DiBiase, but Virgil breaks it up. Hey, two Virgils in there now. Dustin tags in, and hits DiBiase with a dropkick for 2. Virgil tags in as well, and dodges a charge. Dustin starts selling his knee, and Virgil goes right to work on it. He rams that leg into the post, and tags back out so DiBiase can do it. He then signals for Virgil to get in there and they go for a double team, but Virgil accidentally clotheslines DiBiase. Virgil turns his back, and DiBiase starts beatin him up, and throws him to the outside. Piper’s commentary about Virgil not standing up for himself was perfect, you know. Dusty makes a hot tag in and clotheslines DiBiase in the corner, but DiBiase moves out of the way of another charge and rolls Dusty up for the win at 9:58.
DiBiase has the microphone, and he goes into his spiel about everyone having a price. He has a major problem with Virgil, but wants him to grab the Million Dollar Championship and put it around his waist. Virgil slowly gets the belt and brings it into the ring, then drops it in front of DiBiase. DiBiase berates him more, and tells him some shit about his mom, so Virgil picks it up. He then NAILS DiBiase with it, to big cheers, and drops the belt on him. That was perfectly done.
My Thoughts: Another acceptable match, fortunately nothing on this show has been too bad. I have a soft spot for this match as it featured DiBiase picking up a clean PPV win, which rarely happened. In the end, everything that happened here was for the best. The Virgil/DiBiase feud made for great TV, as did the angle here. Dusty got to book and Dustin got a push in his dad’s company. Everyone won. **, the cut off after that hot tag was super quick, though. The angle is one of the best that the WWF did to this point, I think. It wasn’t rushed, they were allowed to do it slowly, and it just felt important.
THE ROYAL RUMBLE
Pre-Match Thoughts: Another match I’ve always liked, but I don’t know whether or not that’s entirely warranted. This lineup of wrestlers is great, one of the best they’ve put out in this kind of match. Hulk Hogan got his own promo before the match, he didn’t get treated like the other wrestlers who talked in the montage. I do not like him invoking the troops in his promo. Worst of all, Mean Gene started talking about a rumor that Sgt. Slaughter had defaced the flag. They just keep getting worse with this shit, it’s unbelievable. It was funny that Hogan lost his train of thought and said “YOU KNOW WHAT BROTHER” in order to try to get it back. That’s great.
Match Review: #1 is Bret Hart, so it looks like we’re going to start this thing off with some wrestling. Or not, because Dino Bravo is #2. Both in the ring and in this match. Bret hated working with this guy, so I have no idea why they’d do this to him. They lock up, and do a spot where Bret takes Bravo out with a flying forearm. He goes to clothesline Bravo over the top, but can’t quite pull it off. Bravo goes to work on Bret and chops away at him, and uses an inverted atomic drop as well. Bravo follows that with a bodyslam, and misses an elbow drop. The countdown begins, and #3 is Greg Valentine. He got booed even though he’s turned face, that’s funny. He attacks Bravo to the surprise of the crowd, and they go toe to toe with each other. Jimmy Hart gets on the apron, and distracts Valentine so Bravo can clothesline him. Valentine comes back with chops, and dumps Bravo to the outside very easily at 3:07. Now that’s a weak elimination. Bret appears to have the modesty to not deal with Valentine as he shoves Jimmy Hart off the apron, that’s really nice of him. He follows that incident with an inverted atomic drop and clothesline, and goes for the elimination. Not going to happen. #4 is Paul Roma, and it’s time for Valentine and Roma to beat up the Hitman. Eventually Roma turns on Valentine, and it’s time for Roma to get beaten up. Roma and Valentine try to get rid of Bret, but wind up dropping him instead. The Texas Tornado is #5, great time for an over babyface to get in there. He and Bret beat up the other two guys, with Kerry landing TORNADO PUNCHES. Bret misses an elbow drop from the second rope, one of the bigger bumps taken in this match for some time. Roma hits Tornado with a great looking dropkick that’s worthy of mention, and it’s time for #6. That man is Rick Martel, who goes straight for Bret Hart. He also tries to eliminate Roma, which makes Slick unhappy. Martel has made himself very active early on, and #7 runs down, that man being Saba Simba. HAHA, he could hardly even run. Even the new guys in the WWF were old guys. Tornado nearly atomic drops Martel over the top, but Martel hangs on for dear life and fights him off. Bret then takes a turn at trying to get rid of Martel, but it’s not happening. Tornado puts THE CLAW on Roma, and #8 is Butch of the Bushwhackers. He got a big pop, and right after he gets in the ring, Martel uses momentum to send Saba Simba out at 12:38. Nice athleticism to not go out over the top with Simba on that slam attempt.
This match is a bit boring, with the wrestlers just fighting like it’s a regular battle royal. #9 IS JAKE ROBERTS, who goes straight for Martel and works him over. Jake uses a gutbuster, and smashes Martel’s face into the mat, getting big cheers. Martel then ducks under the bottom rope to leave, and Jake follows to chase him back in. Martel also had a busted lip. Valentine cuts Roberts off and starts beating him up, and Martel goes to the apron. He fights his way back in, and #10 enters, it’s Hercules. Bret gives Martel a backbreaker, and tries to dump him out of the ring. The crowd is falling for all these teases, which is making the match better than when I said it was boring. Roberts gets tied in the ropes, but Tornado helps him break out of the situation. #11 is Tito Santana, we need a big name in here soon. Roma charges at Roberts, and takes himself out with a cross body that misses and has him fly over the top at 18:13. Santana tries to get rid of Martel, and Valentine goes for Santana, which is some interesting feud stuff. Don’t even know what to make of it. #12 is THE UNDERTAKER, who looks like he’s been working on his biceps since joining the WWF. He gets in there and picks Bret up with a choke, and dumps him right over the top at 20:37. He goes for Tornado next, but he appears to be a little more tough. Taker no sells a TORNADO PUNCH, and goes right to work on the Tornado like he’s a nobody. #13 is Jimmy Snuka, who looks so old. Taker throws Butch out of there, so that’s another elimination. His second. He gives Tornado an inverted atomic drop, then heads up in the corner for more choking. Good offense. Tornado comes back with a sleeper once Taker turns his attention to somebody else, and Valentine nails Taker with an elbow from the second rope. #14 is the British Bulldog, who runs in and goes right for Valentine. Bulldog is somebody who got more over the longer the year went on, he didn’t have much fan backing yet. Jake uses an inverted atomic drop on Martel, and Bulldog follows with a…regular atomic drop. Jake and Bulldog try to get rid of Martel, as we’re ready for our next entrant. Smash is #15, and enters to no reaction. He’s losing his hair! Bulldog nails him with a running clothesline, and Jake tries to DDT Martel only for him to move out of the way. Martel winds up on the apron, and grabs Roberts. He then snap mares him, and sends him out at 27:12. That’s an interesting elimination.
Snuka gives Martel and Hercules a noggin-knocker immediately after that spot, and not much else happens. #16 is HAWK, and I hope he gets someone the hell out of there. He goes for all the heels and clobbers them with crazy stiff shots, so they gang up on him. That’s one way to start things off! There are too many people in the ring right now, some of them need to go. Come on, guys. #17 is Shane Douglas, nobody cares in the slightest. I’m surprised they gave him a chance here, doubt he’ll get in an elimination. Tornado misses a TORNADO PUNCH at Taker and gets thrown out at 30:27, and Hawk throws Snuka out just a second or two later. Still need to get rid of more guys. The crowd pops for Martel getting close again, but he won’t go out yet. #18 is, um…nobody. Animal very nearly missed his cue and ran out there. First time they’ve had a non-entrant, and the crowd didn’t know what to make of it. Nothing went on in the interim, until #19 showed up, and we could tell it was going to be Animal. Animal goes after Taker, who was beating up his partner, which makes perfect sense. LOD hits Taker with a double clothesline, and he goes out at 34:46! Hercules and Martel were just as opportunistic, and hit Hawk with a double clothesline when they were celebrating, which sent him over the top as well. Liked seeing Taker scare Shane McMahon after the elimination. #20 is Crush, and I’ve just realized the lack of starpower in this match. Valentine looked completely out on his feet, and apparently this was a punishment for his taking indy bookings with Herb Abrams. Sucks for him. Bulldog drops Smash with a swinging neckbreaker, and it’s time for #21. That man is HACKSAW, who gets the crowd on their feet. He runs full-speed down the aisle, and clobbers away at any heel he can find. Animal puts Martel in a bear hug, and I’ve just noticed that Demolition hasn’t teamed up to do any damage. That’s strange. #22 is out, and it’s EARTHQUAKE. They sure did ask him to be in the match for a long time. He and Animal stare at each other and go toe to toe, and Animal charges at Earthquake, but gets backdropped over the top at 40:52.
Hacksaw tries to get after Quake, and the announcers are starting to put over how long Valentine and Martel have been in the match. #23 is Mr. Perfect, who walks super slowly to the ring. That’s great, he built up a lot of heat by taking so long. Nice towel catch by Heenan. Duggan beats up Perfect for a bit, then charges at him and gets backdropped over the top at 43:02. Santana hits Perfect with a hard clothesline, and Quake smacks Perfect around a little bit too. I guess everyone hates him. There are only three babyfaces in the match, and they all aren’t over. #24 takes care of that, it’s HULK HOGAN. The heels try to beat him up, and the whole thing is a frenzy. Hogan dumps Smash to the outside at 44:39, and goes right after Earthquake. That’s a big dude to pick up. Quake returns the favor and tries to dump Hogan, good way to spend the time before the next entrant. #25 is Haku, what a weak entrant for so late in the match. Hogan finally throws Valentine over the top at 46:19, he was in there for around 44 minutes. That’s a long time. Martel hits Haku with a double axehandle from the second rope, that’s no way to treat the new guy. #26 is THE ANVIL, who got the pop of somebody who was pretty over. He goes for Hercules, and Hogan’s in the middle of trying to kick Perfect out. Santana finally goes out at the hands of Earthquake, he didn’t do a whole lot in the match anyway. That can be said for a few of these guys, things needed to be better structured. It’s still a fun match though. Luke is #27, and he marches into the ring. Quake throws him out at 50:38, so he marches right back out. One of the best Rumble spots ever. Douglas tries to throw Mr. Perfect out, and I’ve noticed these guys look quite a bit alike. As long as you can’t see their faces, anyway. Neidhart teases throwing Martel out, and it’s time for the next man in.
#28 is BRIAN KNOBBS, IT’S TIME TO GET NASTY. He also entered to no reaction, but because of how hard he was trying to fight, everyone initiated him into the WWF with a gang beatdown. They jumped him in! Neidhart and Hercules try to get rid of him, but Knobbs goes to the eyes. He backdrops Hercules over the top, so he’s gone. #29 is the Warlord, who goes right for the Bulldog. Hogan basically press slams Crush over the top as that’s going on, eliminating him at 54:51. Fucked up his back. Martel has broken the iron man record, he certainly had to earn it. Hogan clotheslines Warlord over the top, so he’s gone.
#30 is Tugboat, so the Macho King was #18 and did not show up. Very interesting. Tugboat hits Quake, and Perfect does a great escape after Neidhart clotheslines him over the top rope. Knobbs eliminates Douglas off camera, and Tugboat has Martel up in a choke. Bulldog hits Knobbs with a back elbow, as Martel has nearly been in there for 50 minutes. That’s not the same as working a regular match for that long, but it’s hard work. Tugboat winds up trying to eliminate Hogan, what a dick this guy is. Hogan crawls back in under the bottom rope, and Hogan throws that fat fuck out at 58:52. Bulldog crotches Perfect on the top rope, and dropkicks him over the top shortly after. Wasn’t expecting that! Martel throws Neidhart out, and we’re down to six! Bulldog ducks out of the way and Haku goes over the top, so that’s 5! Good push for Davey Boy. Martel slams him, and heads up top for some reason. Bulldog shakes the ropes to crotch him, and clotheslines him out of there at 1:00:36!
The final four is Knobbs, Bulldog, Earthquake, and Hogan. Knobbs and Quake beat up the Bulldog, and toss him right out of there after 1:01:00. Knobbs and Quake go after Hogan, and hit him with a double clothesline. Knobbs drops some elbows on him, and Quake splashes him. Poor guy. Quake signals for the BUTT SPLASH, and DELIVERS IT. Hogan gets right up, and hits them with a double clothesline. Knobbs goes over the top after a big boot at 1:02:27, and we’re down to 2! Hogan hits Quake with a big boot, and knocks Hart off the apron. He goes for a bodyslam, but Quake falls on top and squashes him. Quake follows that with a big elbow drop, and a second. Quake powerslams Hogan, and that’s the end of Hogan taking any offense. Three punches, the big boot, and Hogan signals for the bodyslam. He drops Quake with it, and clotheslines him over the top for his second Royal Rumble victory at 1:05:15!
To close the show out, Hogan grabs an American flag from a fan, and waves it around. Nice moment, but the exploitation on this show was strong.
My Thoughts: This match did slow down at times, there’s no denying that. I did think the finish was hot, and did a lot to redeem any boring moments there may have been. This was the last time they’d put on a Royal Rumble structured in this way, and things would be so much different the next time. I thought Martel’s performance was amazing, 53 minutes is insane. I didn’t like them beginning to call Hogan “the Immortal” as that’s a shameful nickname. Unfortunately, nobody could really carry the action. However, this is a Royal Rumble, and they’re always entertaining. I simply love them, and they introduced some different characters into the usual formula. Undertaker’s spots were entertaining, and Bulldog’s were at the end too. Martel basically tried to carry the match, but he got tired the longer he was in there. *** is my rating, I was sufficiently entertained and the boring parts weren’t that long.
This was an immensely entertaining show, especially given that we’re so far removed from the Gulf War and the exploitation. That being said, the exploitation was really strong, and I bet it lost the WWF some fans. I don’t just have to bet, I know it did. Look at the houses they got, even when Ric Flair showed up. They ruined their product. The Slaughter character was terrible, and they kept adding shit in that didn’t make sense. People randomly saying that Slaughter was desecrating the flag was making matters worse. What was the point of this? What was gained?
Anyway, as stated, it was a very entertaining show. The nostalgia factor was strong and only one of the matches was bad. They also booked the Rumble correctly in the right guy winning, and outside of the abhorrent Slaughter booking, everything in that regard was good. Tugboat turning on Hogan should have been a bigger deal than it was. The opener is also one of the best the WWF has ever had. I’m going to go back over to WCW for their Clash show, which features an…interesting return. If you will.
Wrestling Time: 2:06:31. That’s a lot of wrestling, but completely standard for a show that has a Royal Rumble.
Best: The Rockers vs. Orient Express. Yeah, this was an amazing match. The Rockers really went all out to show how good they were, and the Orient Express made them look good.
Worst: Exploitation of war-time situation. Nothing else comes close.
Card Rating: 8/10. You get one of the best WWF tag team matches there is, and a really hot crowd for the whole show. You get big angles, and a good power match between Boss Man and Barbarian. The Rumble is also good. One of the best WWF shows to this point, no doubt about it. Maybe ever!