WWF 1988 Royal Rumble

January 24, 1988

From the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario

Your hosts are Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Vince McMahon. (Gorilla Monsoon was scheduled to do the play-by-play but suffered a mild heart attack and missed this show as well as the next set of Challenge TV tapings as Vince also replaced him there).

Vince runs down the show, including the official contract signing between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Title match on February 5th. Also, Dino Bravo attempts to set the World Bench Press record, and matches such as the Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls for the WWF Women’s Tag Team Titles, Islanders vs. Young Stallions, Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat, and the 20 Man Royal Rumble match.

 

 

“Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Heenan is absent here and no mention of his whereabouts was made on commentary. The match starts with both guys trading strikes. Rude breaks that up with an eye rake and tries to send Steamboat over the ropes. However, Steamboat skins-the-cat and backdrops Rude to the floor. Steamboat then mocks Rude by flexing in the ring. Rude now tries to work a test of strength but stops to jaw at the fans before they go to battle. Rude has Steamboat on his knees as the fans get behind the Dragon. Steamboat twists up and takes Rude down as he now works the arm. Steamboat continues to work the arm as that lasts for a while as he cuts off Rude each time he reaches for the ropes. Rude gets up and hits a few forearm smashes but Steamboat chops him down then goes back to the arm. Rude fights back then hammers away. He catches Steamboat with a poor excuse of a back elbow smash before smashing his head against all four corners. Steamboat uses a pair of baseball slides before catching Rude with an armdrag as he goes back to working the arm. Rude catches Steamboat with a back elbow smash then starts to hammer away. Steamboat fights back with chops but gets caught with a knee smash after a clunky Irish whip sequence and rolls out to the floor. Rude heads out and slams Steamboat before rolling back inside to flex. Rude suplexes Steamboat then applies a Camel Clutch then breaks in order to pose to the crowd. Rude re-applies the Camel Clutch as Steamboat eventually powers out and lifts Rude up for an electric chair drop. Both men are down then Steamboat tries a splash but Rude gets his knees up. Rude hits an atomic drop then applies a chinlock as Steamboat slowly crawls to the corner and shoves off Rude. Steamboat hits Rude with ten turnbuckle smashes then chops him down for a nearfall. Steamboat bridges out of a pin attempt and nearly puts Rude away with a backslide. Steamboat tries a few more rollups but fails to put Rude away. Rude comes back with an eye rake then follows with a clothesline. Steamboat blocks a suplex and hits one of his own for a nearfall then heads up top for the flying body press but Rude shoves the referee into the way then puts Steamboat in the backbreaker as the referee signals for the bell. Rude celebrates as his music plays but we learn the official decision and that is Steamboat won by disqualification (17:41) **. Rude gets pissed and yells at the referee.

Thoughts: This got a lot better at the end but it was a long, boring match otherwise. Rude in particular had a poor night. I have no idea if this was supposed to lead to a feud but outside of a house show match or two, these two never did anything in the WWF.

 

 

Gene Okerlund and Jesse are on the interview platform as they introduce Frenchy Martin and Dino Bravo, who is attempting to break the World Bench Press record by attempting to press 715 lbs. Bravo then asks the crowd to be quiet as he prepares as some of them boo. First, Bravo does a warmup of 415 lbs and easily puts that up several times. This is obviously not 415 lbs. Bravo then keeps increasing the weight and puts it up easily as Okerlund reminds the crowd Bravo wants silence in order to generate heel heat. Bravo gets up as the crowd boos then Jesse yells at them for not giving him a chance. This lasts for a long time and is extremely boring then Bravo storms off just before attempting the record. Jesse yells at the crowd for not wanting to see the World Record as Bravo comes back then puts it up with assistance from Jesse. Vince is on commentary saying he does not believe Bravo broke the record due to Jesse helping him. God, this was dreadfully boring and they had Okerlund and Jesse doing everything they can to get the crowd to react. Martin also cut a promo in French that no one cared about.

 

 

WWF Women’s Tag Team Title Match, 2/3 Falls: Glamour Girls (c) w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Jumping Bomb Angels

Jesse is on commentary, upset at Vince for questioning his intergrity regarding his assistance of Bravo’s bench press. Match starts with the Jumping Bomb Angels dropkicking the Glamour Girls. Noriyo misses a dropkick as Kai tosses her by the hair. Martin tags and goes for a cover but Noriyo bridges out and makes the tag. Itsuki runs wild and hits a rolling clothesline and a gutwrench suplex before tagging out. Jesse asks Vince to name the Bomb Angels and Vince says that he does not speak Japanese and suggests we refer to them by the color of their tights and he does. They miss elbow drops then Noriyo hits a high knee. The Bomb Angels beat on Kai in the corner then Itsuki applies an octopus hold. Martin tries to break that up but accidentally hits her partner as the Bomb Angels use stereo figure four leg locks. Itsuki works the legs of Kai before Noriyo tags and applies a bow-and-arrow lock. Martin tries to tag Kai by standing on the bottom rope and its waived off but shortly after that she tags and mixes it up with Itsuki. Martin slingshots Itsuki from the corner then Kai boots Itsuki from the apron as Martin puts Itsuki away with an alley oop for the first fall (6:11). Kai beats on Itsuki to start the second fall. Itsuki bridges out of a pin and dodges a splash before tagging out. Noriyo runs wild as Vince finally tells us the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels. Itsuki is back in and manages to pin Kai with a sunset flip, that Kai was out of position for, and tie it up at one fall a piece (8:05). The third fall starts with Kai booting down Itsuki before tagging out. Itsuki comes back with an enziguiri then tags Noriyo, who attempts a suplex that fails. Martin beats on her and hits a slingshot. Kai tags in as the Glamour Girls cut off the ring. Kai bites the hand of Noriyo, who is able to tag out. Martin immediately yanks Itsuki into the ring as the Glamour Girls beat on her in the corner. Itsuki blcoks a strike and ducks a few punches before hitting a pair of atomic drops. She then drags Martin inside by the hair and tags Noriyo, who comes off of the top with a knee drop for two. Scoop slam gets two. Bridiging suplex gets two. Itsuki is in and almost puts Martin away but misses a senton from the middle rope. Martin covers and gets two but Noriyo tags and hits a clothesline for two. Kai yells at the ref but that allows the Bomb Angels to hit Martin with missile dropkicks and the win (13:06) ***.

Thoughts: Good match. There was some sloppiness towards the end but the two teams always had good matches together and this was no exception. The Jumping Bomb Angels getting the belts got a decent reaction.

 

 

We are shown a clip of Andre the Giant almost putting away Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, which has been the source of controversy among Andre and Heenan. After that we are shown clips of DiBiase offering to buy Hogan’s WWF World Heavyweight Title as Hogan declined, leading to DiBiase buying Andre’s contract and having him beat Hogan for the title on the February 5th show. Andre will then deliver the title to DiBiase as other clips of the Hogan/Andre feud are shown to build towards tonight’s contract signing for the February 5th show.

 

 

The table is set up in the middle of the ring as Ted DiBiase, Andre the Giant, and Virgil are in the ring. Okerlund then welcomes out Hogan as the crowd goes nuts. WWF President Jack Tunney invites Hogan and Andre to sit down and sign the contract. However, Andre refuses to sit down and just stared at Hogan. Andre eventually sits down as DiBiase tells Hogan that is a career-ending contract as Andre had him beat in three minutes at WrestleMania while he will be history while Andre is rich and DiBiase the champion. Andre points out something in the contract as DiBiase laughs and said its “extra incentive” money. Andre reads it over and takes his time while a pissed off Hogan stares him down. DiBiase yells at Okerlund for not letting Andre take his time in reading the contract. Andre finally signs the contract as DiBiase tells him to put on his official stamp of approval as he smashes Hogan’s head off of the table and flips it over onto before walking away. Excellent segment to hype their match and by having Andre easily knock Hogan down, it put a lot of doubt in the fans minds that Hogan could beat Andre again. And DiBiase did a fantastic job on the mic here as well. He really did a great job with the Million Dollar Man character. And Andre’s heel work in this segment was top notch as well.

 

 

Royal Rumble Match

The first two men in the match are standing in the ring now and they are Bret Hart and Tito Santana. They lock up then Hart beats on Santana in the corner. Santana fights back and hammers away until Hart comes back with an inverted atomic drop. The countdown starts up at 12 seconds in the left corner for contestant #3, who turns out to be Butch Reed as he hammers away on Santana. Reed tries to eliminate Santana, who fights back against both guys. However, Santana gets outnumbered and hit with a back elbow smash as #4 entrant is Jim Neidhart. The crowd goes nuts as Hart almost gets eliminated but he hangs on then joins in on the triple-team on Santana. They try to toss Santana over the top rope but the #5 entrant is Jake Roberts, who makes the save and eliminates Reed. Roberts beats on the Hart Foundation by himself then Santana joins in on the attack. The fans chant for the DDT as the Hart Foundation get rammed into each other. Roberts tries to hit Hart with the DDT but Neidhart breaks that up with a clothesline. #6 is King Harley Race as he helps Neidhart beat on Roberts as they try to toss him out while Santana attempts to dump Hart. The action slows down a bit until #7 Jim Brunzell runs in and attacks the Hart Foundation. Hart is almost out but Neidhart grabs his leg and he lands on the apron and rolls back inside. Brunzell tries to dump Race, who is hanging on to the top rope. #8 is Sam Houston as he goes after Neidhart then fights off the Hart Foundation for a bit. He is also in the ring with his brother, Jake Roberts. The Hart Foundation regroup then toss out Santana. #9 is Danny Davis as he goes after Houston, who hammers away. Race is caught between the middle rope as Roberts beats on him. Houston tries to dump Neidhart as Davis escapes a DDT attempt. #10 is Boris Zhukov as he attacks Houston. The action slows down for a bit here as Jesse gloats over the fact that Hart is still in the match, despite drawing #1.

#11 is Don Muraco but Nikolai Volkoff is running behind him. The ref makes Volkoff wait and as that happens, Zhukov gets dumped by Roberts and Brunzell. The referees hold back Volkoff until the #12 entrant is officially announced as Volkoff. He enters and helps Davis beat on Houston. Brunzell almost gets eliminated but Race does get dumped over the top and to the floor courtesy of Muraco. Race tries to re-enter as the crowd flips out because Roberts is almost eliminated. So far, Roberts is easily the most over person in the match. #13 is Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who shoves Race and gets clotheslined as a result. Duggan chases Race away and enter the ring as the fans go nuts. Duggan fires away at Neidhart then #14 Ron Bass enters the match as he attacks Muraco. Volkoff tosses Brunzell to the floor and eliminates him from the match. #15 is B. Brian Blair as he mixes it up with Neidhart and tries to dump him but Bret stops that. Roberts tries to dump Davis, who manages to hang on as Vince tells us we will hear from Hogan later on in the show. #16 is Hillbilly Jim, who was rarely seen on TV at this point. He comes in and eliminates Neidhart. There is all sorts of action going as #17 Dino Bravo enters the match and gets beat on by Jim. Houston ends up on Bass’ shoulders and gets dumped to the floor as he is eliminated. That was one hell of a bump from Houston. #18 is the Ultimate Warrior as he goes right after Bass. Muraco eliminates Hart by tossing him over the top rope. Blair & Roberts beat on Davis in the corner as #19 is the One Man Gang, who attacks the faces. Warrior jumps on the Gang’s back but gets shoved off then Gang eliminates Blair and Roberts. Warrior has Davis in a lifting choke as #20 is the Junkyard Dog, who goes after Bravo.

Ten guys are left as Vince thinks either JYD or the Gang will win the match as Duggan eliminates Volkoff. Jesse thinks Gang will win as Gang dumps Hillbilly Jim. Bravo and Davis work over Duggan as Warrior and Gang mix it up. Duggan then eliminates Davis and shortly after that, Bravo & Gang dump the Ultimate Warrior. Bass eliminates JYD then Muraco eliminates Bass with a clothesline.

The final four are Muraco, Duggan, Bravo, and Gang. Bravo & Gang team up as Muraco fights off both guys. Muraco staggers Gang with a dropkick then knocks Martin off of the apron. Bravo holds up Muraco for Gang, who eliminates him with a clothesline. Duggan gets up and goes after both guys until Gang hammers him down. Duggan is hit with a double clothesline then Bravo holds him up again but Duggan escapes and Gang accidentally eliminates Bravo with a clothesline as we are down to Duggan and Gang, who is in control. Gang charges as Duggan ducks down and pulls on the top rope as Gang is eliminated as Duggan is the winner of the match (33:19) ***1/4.

Thoughts: Good match. Of course, this match didnt carry the same prestige as it does now but it was fun and instantly got over with the crowd, who gasped whenever one of their favorites was on the brink of elimination. Roberts and Duggan were the two big crowd favorites here. Hart had a great showing and they put Muraco over by giving him a few key eliminations. Guys like Hillbilly Jim and the Junkyard Dog, who are essentially nostalgia acts at this point, even got appearances. All in all, the match was a success.

 

 

Craig DeGeorge is on the interview platform with Hogan, who is seething. DeGeorge asks him about the message Andre and DiBiase tried to send him tonight. Hogan tells us they just added more fuel to the fire as he has been waiting just as long as Andre for the rematch. Hogan tells us that none of the Hulkamaniacs will sell out and to beat him, they will have to beat every single Hulkamaniac in the building and they cannot do that.

 

 

2/3 Falls Match: The Islanders vs. Young Stallions

Powers and Tama start off the match. Tama yells at the camera about Matilda then slides outside after getting hit by Powers. Back inside, Powers hits Tama with an atomic drop before working the arm. Vince tells Jesse that he thought Bravo’s bench press segment was boring (and he was correct). Haku tags in and takes Roma down with an armdrag after a miscommunication. Roma comes back with a crossbody then tags out as Powers works the arm. The Islanders take control of the match as they beat on Powers for a bit. Roma tags in and runs wild on Tama and even takes a shot at Haku, who was standing on the apron. He gets two with a dropkick as Haku breaks that up. Haku then pulls the ropes down on Roma, who spills outside and starts clutching his knee. Roma tries to stand up but is unable to beat the ten count as the Islanders win the first fall by countout (7:54).

Before the second fall, as the officials check on Roma, we get a clip of Andre attacking Hogan after he signed the contract. Then, we are shown DeGeorge on the interview platform with Virgil, Ted DiBiase, and Andre the Giant. DiBiase laughs and tells the fans they showed them a glimpse of the future but on February 5th, Andre will be covering Hogan, not a table, as DiBiase says Hulkamania will be dead and that all of the Hulkamaniacs have a price. Andre tells us he will make history when he beats Hogan on February 5th. Andre also yells at DeGeorge for cutting him off and talks about “Giantmania.” Andre might have been hitting the sauce here because he was much, much harder to understand than usual.

The second fall begins with Roma having to start off because he lost the first fall. Tama immediately attacks the injured leg. Roma manages to escape and tag Powers, who hits a backdrop then a turnbuckle smash. Powers beats on Haku, who comes back with a chop. Tama is in now and he stays in control. Powers manages to use a small package but Tama kicks out and tags Haku. Powers gets beaten down as Haku almost puts him away a few times. Haku uses an abdominal stretch as Powers breaks up with a feeble hiptoss. However, Haku goes on the attack but misses a flipping senton as both men are down. Roma is barely able to stand as Powers kicks Haku, then just falls down on his back like he was hit. Tama tags and misses a dropkick as Roma tries to tag in and does but Haku sweeps the leg and works on that as Roma screams in pain. Tama comes off of the top with a splash onto the leg as Haku makes Roma submit to a single leg crab (15:05) **1/4.

Thoughts: This match dragged a bit and the fact the falls were split up by a lengthy promo was not helping matters. By losing in two straight falls, this ended any sort of push the Young Stallions had going. They would ride out the rest of the year losing most of the time, except for a few TV squash matches. The crowd was not into this and looking back, the Rumble probably should have closed the show.

 

 

Final Thoughts: Well, for a free show put on opposite of the NWA Bunkhouse Stampede PPV in an attempt to take viewers away from that, this was a success. The Royal Rumble gimmick worked here to the point they made it a PPV event the following year. Also, they hyped up the Andre/Hogan feud and had a good Women’s Tag Title match. The other two matches were unmemorable and the Bravo bench press lasted for what seemed like an eternity but overall, for a free show, this was good.

 

Here is my schedule for the rest of the week:

Thursday: RF Video Shoot Interview with Nick Bockwinkel

Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 1/30/88

Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 1/31/88

Tuesday: WWF The Main Event 2/5/88