Alan, Duan, and GG remember the 1992 Royal Rumble.
With the 2015 version of the Royal Rumble right around the corner, we wanted to take a look at one of the most memorable Rumble cards of all-time, the 1992 Royal Rumble.
It’s best remembered for Ric Flair coming in at number three and going the entire distance. The WWF Heavyweight championship was on the line after Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker traded it back and forth at the Survivor Series and the often forgotten, This Tuesday In Texas. Both matches were mired in controversy and Jack Tunney announced that because of the shenanigans, the title would be vacant and the winner of the Royal Rumble would be the new champion.
We’re going to go through the entire PPV and discuss the matches and give you our memories and 2015 thoughts on a now 23-year old show.
The first match is between the New Foundation and the Orient Express. The New Foundation was Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart.
Alan: I loved this match when I was seven and I love this match now.
Duan: I had completely forgotten The New Foundation existed.
Alan: I’d argue it’s a tighter match than the version with The Rockers from the year prior.
Duan: The New Foundation are a fairly tidy little team too. Shame nothing more was made of it.
GG: Whenever I see Pat Tanaka, I remember the bio Big D did on him a few years ago.
Alan: Speaking of Tanaka, he’s such an awesome tag match heat getter. He was always preening and posing and being an overall dick when he was beating dudes down.
GG: I loved Bobby Heenan’s comment that the New Foundation must’ve just woken up because they’re still wearing their pajamas.
Duan: This might be the best shape I have ever seen Anvil in. And it’s crazy how graceful and quick Owen is. For a guy who spent the biggest and best years of his career as a heel, he’s got such an awesome babyface working style.
GG: The Rocket, Owen Hart! He takes a great front turnbuckle, as Bret Hart would say.
Alan: The match follows the shine, heat, and comeback template and doesn’t stray at all but every part of it is great so it works.
Duan: There’s no chance a match of this level would ever get so much time on a major show today, but you know what? It totally worked. It was an exciting opener and everybody was into it.
Alan: I loved New Foundation’s combo topé – Owen went flying!
GG: Tremendous closing sequence with Neidhart launching Owen off the top rope and onto Tanaka to get the win.
Alan: The New Foundation could have been better than The Hart Foundation!
GG: That’s a pretty strong comment there.
There was a video shown of Bret Hart losing his Intercontinental title to the Mountie at a house show. The excuse for Bret was that he had a fever and went against doctor’s orders and still wrestled. Roddy Piper went into the ring to check on his friend after the match was over and the Mountie jumped him from behind. The Mountie defends his new belt against Piper in the next match.
GG: Piper was probably in the best shape of his career here. The man has abs.
Alan: Poor Bret Hart wrestled with a 104 degree temperature in Springfield, Massachusetts. I watched this show when I was seven and it stuck with me to a degree that if you asked me at ANY point between then and now the details around Bret losing the IC title to the Mountie, I’d been able to recant all of it.
GG: I’d say that’s called really good storytelling.
Duan: Ah I remember this. It’s when the IC title felt important. I don’t know about you guys, but this one way surpassed expectations for me. This was actually a bit of a slobberknocker. The brawling was surprisingly intense and the crowd went nuts for absolutely everything they did.
Alan: The Mountie was a real jerk, and he got his here against Piper. Short, inoffensive and a decent way of giving the Hot Rod his first title in the WWF.
GG: Piper’s sleeper wasn’t all that tight. Steve Austin would’ve told him to tighten up his hold. It’s also funny looking back and knowing what we know about holds from MMA, but what’s with shaking the head back and forth at the end of the sleeper hold? Wouldn’t that hurt the tightness of the hold? Not that it mattered back in 1992.
Duan: It’s got to suck to be the poor Mountie. The dude only won his title by beating a man with a 104 degree fever, and then he got shellacked and sleepered to death within five minutes of his first defense, and after that he got cattle prodded repeatedly post match. Despicable carry-on from The Hot Rod. What a babyface he turned out to be.
GG: Agreed. The heel is still inside of young Piper.
Duan: The set up here for Hart/Piper at Mania 8 was some beautiful storytelling though, and they put the belt over like a million bucks with it being Piper’s first title win in WWF.
In the next match, the Beverly Brothers with the Genius Lanny Poffo, take on the Bushwhackers with Jamison.
GG: Heenan immediately popped me by saying that Jamison’s parents never got a divorce because neither parent wanted custody of him.
Alan: The phrase “over like The Road Warriors in Chicago” needs to be changed to “over like he Bushwhackers in the Knickerbocker Arena.” My word what a pop they got on their entrance.
Duan: The Bushwhackers got the Road Warriors pop on a show that had the actual Road Warriors on it.
GG: They drank it up too. Most of the match is simply a call and response between them and the crowd.
Duan: This match really drives home two great universal truths: A) people liked wrestling a whole lot more in 92, and B) commentary couldn’t be any worse in 2015. For the first of those, well, this is the Beverly Brothers against the Bushwhackers at the Royal Rumble and the crowd is eating it up. And even after the match went way, way longer than any sane human would ever allow, the fans didn’t turn on it. As for the commentary, Gorilla and the Brain were able to keep even a match like this sort of charming. Yet, Cole and friends can make a five star masterpiece a test of patience.
Alan: The Bevs were a fun team, and I’m fond of the Genius and Jamison but don’t get me wrong, this match was awful. Fun! But awful.
GG: A double axe handle off the top from the Bevs wins the match? Don’t the Bushwhackers use their heads as a battering ram?
Duan: Thank God for the Genius saving this atrocity with some damn fine poetry. What thanks does he get for it? Nothing. He gets his shins kicked and his hat stolen by that pipsqueak Jamison. That’s no way to treat a scholar.
GG: It WAS payback from the Genius slapping him earlier.
The Legion Of Doom defended their tag straps against the Natural Disasters next – back to back tag team matches and three of the first four.
GG: I never liked LOD with teams like this because a lot of the joy in watching LOD was in all of their power stuff, which they couldn’t do here.
Duan: Man, for a big guy, the Quake was working.
GG: That he was. This match ended with one of the fastest count outs you’ll ever see. The Earthquake quickly scurried back into the ring to win the match.
Duan: Apparently 1992 had the worst babyfaces of all time. After a good, fair and square, count out win for the Natural Disasters, the whining, sniveling Road Warriors go to town on them with steel chairs like the sore losers they are.
Jimmy Hart and the Disasters are interviewed by Sean Mooney and scream and yell about how they should be the champs. Talk about caring about the straps.
Alan: Twenty-three years have passed and the miscarriage of justice that was LOD vs the Natural Disasters still stings. We as a community, need to do what we can to bring justice and closure to Earthquake and Typhoon for the events of January 19, 1992. Now I don’t know if anything ever came of Jimmy Hart’s promise of legal investigations, perhaps they’re still proceeding, I don’t know, but clearly this needs to be made right.
Duan: I do always enjoy it though when a wrestler is convinced they’ve won a title by count out or DQ. That needs to be brought back.
Mean Gene interviews Piper and Piper says, “Only in America!” And then says, “I got a dream,” trying his best to sound like Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mooney interviews Shawn Michaels, who recently super kicked his tag team partner Marty Jannety and tossed him through the window of Brutus’ barber shop.
Randy Savage, Sid Justice, Repo Man, British Bulldog, Jake Roberts, Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair, the Undertaker, and Hulk Hogan all cut promos before the big match.
Alan: Sid was just laughably bad. There was nothing laughable about Repo Man’s though – repossession is serious business and he was making some serious threats. “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine too!” *cackle*
The British Bulldog and Ted Dibiase are the first two entrants of the Royal Rumble and the match starts.
Duan: You know, I would be cool with them putting the belt on the line in the Rumble again. It’s been long enough since they did it and it definitely added something to it because this remains my favourite one they’ve ever done.
GG: The four previous Royal Rumble matches were fun, but this is the first one that seemed important. The poor Million Dollar Man was eliminated so early. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to work more in this match. And then, of course, here comes Flair.
Duan: What a line up though. You’ve got Davey Boy, you’ve got Dibiase, you’ve got Flair, and that’s just the first three. There might be more talent in this Rumble than any we’ve ever seen before or since.
Alan: Gotta say, Jerry Saggs (4th entrant) took the absolute best bump for an elimination – arms flailing and everything. Like me the time I fell off the wall in my garden. May have to keep track of that award but he’s leader in the clubhouse so far.
Duan: I had forgotten that they didn’t use music in the Rumbles back then. I kind of like it that way. It adds to the intensity. The formula they used here with Bulldog and Naitch has been gone back to so many times over the years and it never fails. You put two great workers in there early and have them go the distance and carry the match.
Alan: Haku’s run was just tremendous – loved him stomping Bulldog casually as he walked down Flair, and man was the piledriver he nailed Bulldog with ever a beauty.
GG: Why didn’t he use the move more as a finisher? It was one of the cleanest ones I’ve ever seen.
Alan: Shawn Michaels (6th entrant) was misfiring all over the place with his superkicks. Clearly he hadn’t perfected the art yet. A superkick party this was not.
GG: Heenan when El Matador (7th entrant) came in: “Shawn Michaels is beating the guacamole out of El Matador.”
Alan: After eight entrants, it’s just starting to clog up a bit and dudes are pairing off for the usual Battle Royal struggles against the ropes. Texas Tornado brings some life back into it and has an AWESOME exchange with Flair leading to one of my favourite Flair Flops ever.
The Repo Man is the 10th entrant. Only Dibiase, Haku, and Saggs have been eliminated. The Bulldog has been in at this point for 18 minutes. He also leads with three eliminations.
GG: The middle portion of most Rumbles is where things slow down, unless you have moments where guys like Steve Austin clear the ring. When Nikolai Volkoff (12th entrant) comes in, there’s nine guys in the ring.
Alan: Look at Nikolai vaulting over the top rope during his entrance like he’s Jim Brunzell or something! Phenomenal. He was eliminated in the time in which it took me to write that sentence.
GG: What about Greg Valentine (11th entrant) putting the figure four on Flair? That was always one of my favorite parts of this match, even though he only had it for a few seconds.
Duan: If there is one thing that’s really been lost from this match over the years, it’s how the competitors sell the effects of the time they’ve been in the ring. Here, the match just appears absolutely gruelling for anybody who has been in there for a long time. The wrestlers are selling it, the commentators are putting it over, and it just adds that extra bit of drama every time the buzzer sounds and a new guy comes in to clean house.
Alan: Oh man, what a great elimination of Repo by the Boss Man (13th entrant). I’m tempted to have that knock Saggs off his perch for best elimination but I’ll hold off. A mass elimination stretch leaves Naitch all alone, as he takes the opportunity to face plant like a tired girl coming home to her bed after a weekend camping at Download Festival.
GG: Be fair to Flair! By the way, Michaels goes out and so does Bulldog. Bulldog was in there for over twenty three minutes.
Alan: I’m not sure how such a girl would feel about Roddy Piper (15th entrant) running into her bedroom to ruin her rest but that’s what Flair had to deal with. Not Fair To Flair.
GG: If Piper’s running into her bedroom, she better be all out of bubble gum.
Duan: If I had to pick my one all-time favourite Rumble moment, it might well be Flair clearing the ring and collapsing on his face only to look up and see Piper gunning for him. The beating Rowdy lays on him is amazing. This was a good show for Roddy.
GG: What amazing booking. Flair and Piper are legends. Then Jake Roberts (16th entrant is next. Hacksaw Duggan (17th entrant), IRS (18th entrant), Jimmy Snuka (19th entrant), and the Undertaker get us to twenty entrants. This was an All-Star Royal Rumble. All of those men were once the top guy for their promotion. Well, except IRS.
Alan: The Brain had many great moments on commentary but I think my favourite might have been after a long rant, he took a breath and matter of factly proclaimed “I’m soaking wet.”
GG: What about when Piper helps Flair with Jake and then Piper goes back to beating up Flair. Heenan is a fan of Piper for a couple of seconds and then goes back to hating him. Flair’s the MVP of the show, but Heenan comes a close second.
Alan: Mike Rotunda wasn’t good for much but if there was one thing he could do well it’s the slow deliberate walk to the ring during a Royal Rumble.
GG: I totally forgot this stipulation. Jack Tunney made sure Hogan and the Undertaker were secured at least the 20th entry. Gorilla Monsoon reminds us like the great broadcaster he is.
After twenty entrants, this is where we stand. Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, IRS, and the Undertaker are left. Enter, the Macho Man.
Alan: Macho Man (21st entrant) hits the ring like Usain Bolt to get his hands on Jake Roberts but Undertaker cuts him off at the path. Such great intensity for such a great feud.
GG: When Savage finally gets him, he’s a house of fire. He eliminates Jake and then leaps over the top rope to continue attacking him. The Brain says because he wasn’t thrown over the top, he can still be in the match.
Alan: Funny moment with Irwin holding Piper for a Flair chop but Flair leaves him hanging and walks off to do something else.
Duan: This was very much a work-rate early, star-power late kind of match, and I think they got the balance just about right.
GG: Monsoon needles Brain just so slightly when Taker has Flair on top of the turnbuckle, saying that it’s the beginning of the end for Flair and he has nothing to be ashamed of. What chemistry these guys had together.
Alan: Brain accusing Virgil (23rd entrant) of robbing guy’s bags while they were out in the ring was absolute gold. Sheiky Baby (24th entrant) hits the ring and starts throwing down with Virgil in a true clash of the titans. Rick Martel is in at number 25 and I’m confused as to why Tito Santana isn’t there to go right after him.
GG: Because Michaels turned him into guacamole.
Alan: The Hulkster (26th entrant) comes out to a pretty big pop. Big, but not Bushwhackers big. It’s sort of losing steam from an action point of view as we near the end of proceedings but Heenan’s commentary and Flair’s selling are keeping it very fun. Piper, Hogan and Martel had a fun three way eye rake spot.
GG: Virgil and Hacksaw both go out together, which is an odd pairing to rumble with each other. Hogan throws IRS 3/4th of the length of the ring on a hip toss. That didn’t look fun to take.
Alan: We’re killing time until the Warlord (30th entrant) comes in. That’s what the world is waiting for.
GG: Sid Justice is enormous as he comes in at number 29.
Alan: AND HERE HE IS!!! Man, Warlord is making a play for IRS’s slow walk title – he must know his fate.
GG: Hogan and Flair start to get going here, giving me joy. Oh, how I wanted Flair and Hogan to be the main event at WrestleMania 8 back then.
Alan: Oh wow, Sarge (28th entrant) took his patented corner bump over the top. That was crazy. Sorry Jerry Saggs, move aside – Slaughter is our bump king.
Sid Justice dumps out Rick Martel and Roddy Piper, leaving the final four of Hogan, Justice, Flair, and Savage.
Duan: It’s kind of interesting in retrospect that the final four made up the two main events at WrestleMania, but Hogan and Sid was the only match teased. There was no real confrontation or even acknowledgement between Flair and Savage, but just having them out there together at the end gently foreshadowed the direction they would end up going.
Alan: Hulk and Sid have their little tiff and as we all know, the Nature Boy wins and takes the title! Classic stuff.
GG: When Hogan pulled Justice out of the ring, I had a bad feeling that they were going to change the WrestleMania main event. They’d tease us by announcing Hogan as the number one contender, but then pull the chair on us.
Duan: The Hulkster continues the run of bad sport babyfaces by costing Sid the Rumble after he had been fairly eliminated himself and had no business being out there anymore.
GG: I love how when Hogan and Justice were doing their face-off/pull apart, Vicious gets on his tip toes a bit to tower over Hogan.
Duan: If you want to be fair to Flair, you got to say that was a hell of a performance. Ric was sensational in this match. Even when surrounded with so many big names and great workers, it was still the Ric Flair show. For me, that makes it the greatest Royal Rumble performance of all time – better than Michaels in 95 or Austin in 98 – this is the one to beat.
Duan: I would get such a kick out of seeing him as the surprise #3 again this Sunday.