Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1992
Live from Albany, NY
Your hosts are Gorilla and Brain.
Opening match: The New Foundation v. The Orient Express.
Hart Foundation – Bret + Owen = New Foundation. (2012 Scott sez: Although Owen later joined the real Hart Foundation, so the algebra got REALLY ugly at that point…) Owen and Kato do a wrestling sequence to start, with Owen working in the slingshot off the top rope to break a wristlock and a rana for two. Neidhart tags in and pounds on Tanaka. Bobby Heenan is bravely predicting a Flair victory tonight the whole time. Owen debuts his enzuigiri and leg lariat to “Oooos” from the fans. Cross-body off the top onto both Express members gets two. But the cheating Japanese duo (both of whom are from the southern US, btw) (2012 Scott sez: A fertile breeding ground for many foreign heels) use Fuji’s cane to take control of Owen. Extended Ricky Morton heat segment on Owen as Kato turns back into Paul Diamond before our eyes and uses Americanized offense. Owen takes a nice shoulderfirst bump into the corner, where Fuji’s cane is set up. Owen makes the hot tag, slingshooting Neidhart in with a shoulderblock, then hits a plancha on Tanaka. The New Foundation finishes Kato off with a Rocket launcher shortly after. ***
Review of Mountie’s mega-upset of Bret Hart for the Intercontinental title a few days prior. Bret was badly injured and sick and had to drop the title, and Mountie was lucky enough to be wrestling him that night. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, we later found out that Bret was full of crap and his “fever” was about as real as his “hardway” blood at Wrestlemania that year. But for all the talk about Montreal and contracts, the crushing irony is that Hart was set to walk out on his valid WWF contract before the title change, taking the IC title with him to debut in WCW the next week before Vince managed to change his mind. That would have been WCW’s revenge for the Flair belt controversy, I guess. So there you go, feel free to use that one as a countpoint next time Montreal comes up.) The honeymoon was not to last, however.
Intercontinental title match: The Mountie v. Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Mega-pop for Piper. Piper basically beats up Mountie at will, countering his wrestling stuff with punches, ramming him to the turnbuckle, and bulldogging him for two. Heenan’s banter as he tries to bribe Monsoon into letting him check on Flair is great. Piper misses a dropkick and Mountie takes over with the half-nelson smash into the turnbuckle. Flying elbow for two. This match is pretty disjointed, especially on two days’ notice. Piper atomic drops Mountie out, and he does the skin-the-cat back in. Mountie charges, but Piper moves and Mountie collides with Jimmy Hart, allowing him to slap on the sleeper. Mountie is out, and then Piper zaps him with the cattle prod for good measure. The pop from the crowd as Fink announces him as the new champion still gives me goosebumps. This was the one and only WWF title ever held by Piper. (2012 Scott sez: This was of course written years before Piper got that tag title reign with Flair.) Bad match, but who cares, it was such a great moment. *1/2
The Beverly Brothers v. The Bushwhackers.
This is the Jameson match. Don’t ask. Don’t even ask. Shit happens and we’ll just pretend that an actual match happened here and move on with our lives. Beverlys win after about 7 hours with an axehandle off the top rope. I’ll be generous and go DUD (2012 Scott sez: That was being REALLY generous. Who the FUCK booked this match to go almost 20 minutes?! I don’t know why they even bothered bringing Bloom & Enos in)
WWF tag team title match: Legion of Doom v. The Natural Disasters.
Typical LOD match as Hawk plays Ricky Morton. Match drags on until Hawk hits an elbow off the top on Earthquake and makes the hot tag. Animal with the flying shoulderblock, and everyone ends up outside the ring. Typhoon beats the count back in. Boring. 1/2* This was the first sign that the LOD was nearing the end. (2012 Scott sez: There was all sorts of wacky stuff going on around this show, with Vince desperately trying to get the tag titles off the LOD in case Hawk self-destructed, as of course they finally convinced them to do the job to Dibiase & IRS on a house show where it would be filmed but then never aired as part of the deal.)
The Royal Rumble (winner gets vacant WWF title):
This is course was set up after Hulk Hogan cheated to regain the title from Undertaker at “This Tuesday In Texas”. Jack Tunney (big boos) officially opens the match. And away we go. British Bulldog is #1 and Ted Dibiase is #2. Dibiase kills Bulldog and tosses him, but he lands on the apron, climbs in, and clotheslines Dibiase out. Ric Flair is #3 and Bobby has a heart attack. (2012 Scott sez: One of the all-time great Bobby Heenan reactions there.) Gorilla rubs it in. Bulldog goes right after Flair, destroying him with power moves until Flair starts a trend by lowblowing him. Nasty Boy Sags is #4. Flair and Sags double-team Bulldog. Bulldog knocks Sags out in short order and then goes back to Flair. Haku is #5. He beats on Bulldog and Flair until getting dumped by Bulldog. Shawn Michaels is #6. He and Flair immediately begin their selling contest by trading chops. Shawn goes over the top and back under the ropes a couple of times. Tito is #7 and of course he goes after Flair right away, like everyone else. Gorilla: “Some people just hate Flair less than others”. Ballshot #2 on Bulldog. Big “OOooooooh” from the males in the crowd for that one. Barbarian is #8. Gorilla (in ominous voice): “Barbarian doesn’t like Flair”. (2012 Scott sez: That line slays me for some reason. Just Gorilla’s glee at twisting the knife on Bobby.) Another near-elimination for Shawn. Kerry Von Erich is #9, and one guess who he goes after. Flair Flop. Shawn does his own.
Repo Man is #10. Nothing notable happens. Greg Valentine is #11 and he and Flair start trading chops. Another Flair flop. Nikolai Volkoff (subbing for Janetty) is #12. (2012 Scott sez: Jannetty went through the Barbershop window, which is code for rehab, I guess. Scott Hall has been thrown through windows on WWE’s dime quite a few times now.) Flair and Valentine are trading some NASTY chops. Repo Man dumps Volkoff. Big Bossman is #13 and you can just guess who his target is. Repo Man dumps Valentine. Bossman dumps Repo Man. Flair dumps Bulldog, then Von Erich. Santana and Michaels eliminate each other. Whew. Hercules is #14 and he goes right after Flair. Flair is saved by Barbarian, and then turns on him. Oops. (2012 Scott sez: It blows my mind how incredibly well booked this match was, with Flair being Flair even to the point where he would turn on a guy who is likely to rip his head off in retaliation.) Barbarian kills him, but Herc dumps Barbarian and Bossman dumps Barbarian. We’re down to Flair and Bossman. Bossman wallops Flair, but misses a cross-body and flies out. Flair celebrates with a Flair flop. (2012 Scott sez: And again Bobby is in prime form, declaring Flair the winner before Gorilla puts him in his place again.)
Piper is #15 and the crowd erupts. Piper cleans Flair’s clock from one side of the ring to other. He even works in the eye poke off an atomic drop. Airplane spin and sleeper on Flair. Jake Roberts is #16 and he just sits back and lets Piper continue. Then he turns on him. Evil Jake was so cool. (2012 Scott sez: What an awesomely booked match. I’m sitting and picturing the whole sequence in my head and I don’t even have to watch it to relive how effective it was.) Flair and Jake take turns turning on each other until Duggan comes in at #17. Flair is the punching bag as usual. IRS is #18. Snuka is #19. Not much going on. Heenan is having a nervous breakdown at this point. Snuka goes after Flair, of course. Undertaker is #20. Snuka is gone. UT chokes out Flair, who is saved by Duggan. UT no-sells all. Randy Savage is #21, but Jake Roberts is hiding outside the ring. Roberts comes in and Savage goes medieval on him, knocking him out with a high knee. Savage follows him out over the top, but the ruling is that Savage wasn’t thrown out. UT no-sells a ballshot from Flair. Berzerker is #22. Piper and UT do a double-choke on Flair, but UT doesn’t appreciate Piper’s sense of humor. (2012 Scott sez: What a unique program that would have been. Can you IMAGINE the crowd reaction if UT did the zombie situp and Piper poked him in the eye? It would bring the house down. It would have to end with Piper taking the most overblown tombstone bump ever and doing the job, but that would be a fun match, I’m pretty sure.)
Virgil is #23. Piper is beating on protégé Virgil. Col. Mustafa is #24, but no one cares. And why is Mustafa such a popular name in wrestling? Colonel, Saied, Kama…too many to count. (2012 Scott sez: I guess I actually did count them.) Rick Martel is #25. Savage eliminates Mustafa. Hulk Hogan is #26 to a big pop. He gets attacked by the Undertaker right away. Heenan starts bargaining with God to let Flair win. (2012 Scott sez: All of Bobby’s greatest hits in one match!) UT gets clotheslined out by Hulk. Berzerker gets backdropped out, allowing Hulk time to rip off the shirt. Duggan and Virgil eliminate each other. Skinner is #27, impressing no one. Sgt. Slaughter is #28, but the heat is gone at this point. Skinner gets dumped. Kind of a mish-mash of stuff going on. Sid is #29, and he hammers a variety of people. Warlord is #30, so our suspects are: Flair, Hogan, Warlord, IRS, Sid, Savage, Slaughter, Martel and Piper. Slaughter takes a dive over the top and out. 8 guys left and watching you’d have no idea who would win. Piper goes to the apron and pulls IRS out by his tie. 7 guys left. Hogan and Sid double-team Warlord out. 6 guys left. Martel and Piper fight on the ropes and Sid dumps them both.
The Final four: Hulk, Savage, Sid and Flair. Sid dumps Savage as Flair and Hogan fight in the corner. Hogan gets Flair almost out…and Sid takes advantage and dumps Hulk! Hulk whines from the outside and won’t let go of Sid, so Flair comes from behind and dumps Sid to win the Royal Rumble and his first WWF title. Sid and Hulk get into a shoving contest in the ring, meanwhile, and the crowd is firmly behind Sid on this one. ***** Best Rumble ever. And the first serious backlash against Hogan from the fans. (2012 Scott sez: And then the next night on RAW, they spent the whole show talking about how fans had the right to pay their money and boo whoever they wanted, then marketed shirts that said “Hogan Sucks” before wondering why people weren’t reacting to Hogan as strongly as they did before. Oh, wait, sorry, that’s what they’d do NOW.)
Backstage, Flair delivers his acceptance speech.
The Bottom Line: The Rumble is great, the rest is bad. This show is pretty much universally loved, but the Rumble literally saved the show. But it saves it in a big way.