The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1991

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1991 (2012 Scott sez:  I find this rant a tad embarrassing at times, actually.)  Live from Miami, Florida, bastion of Americana and/or old people. Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper. This show is, of course, in the thick of the Gulf War and the Sgt. Slaughter storyline, and hence the crowd is in full xenophobic form. Opening match: The Rockers v. The New Orient Express. This is the PPV debut of Paul Diamond as the masked Kato, thus reuniting the awesome Badd Company too late to do any good. Rockers start out with a double pescado and then Jannetty and Diamond show off a wrestling sequence. Michaels tags in and wallops on Tanaka for a while, but he goes for the sleeper, which never leads to anything good this early in the match. Sure enough, Kato comes in and nails Michaels, turning the tide. Then a terrific, luchaesque sequence erupts as the four guys do a complex bit with a double whip, dosee-do, and double atomic drop. The Orients escape and the Rockers follow with stereo topes. Great stuff. Some putz yells “boring” as Shawn takes a 5 second rest with a headlock. Shawn goes for the TEN PUNCHES OF DOOM on Kato but Tanaka pulls him down from the outside and clotheslines him on the top rope, then whacks him with the cane for good measure. Big heat for that. Shawn assumes the Ricky Morton role. Neat sequence as Shawn does a Flair flip and then gets kicked by Tanaka on the outside and flips back into the ring. he works in the triple somersault clothesline sell, of course. Marty gets the hot tag and gets several two counts on Kato. Tanaka kicks Marty in the face to give Kato a backslide two-count. Kato slingshots Jannetty into a Tanaka chop, then in a spectacular ending, Kato slingshots Jannetty again, but Shawn hits Tanaka in the gut to bend him over and Jannetty goes with the momentum and sunset flips Tanaka for the pin. Has to be seen to be appreciated. **** (2012 Scott sez:  I think I may have even UNDER-rated this one, as I think it was on another Shawn Michaels DVD later and I had it about ****1/4 on second viewing.)  Macho Man wants a title shot, so he sends Sherri out to announce that Sgt. Slaughter has agreed to give him a title shot when he wins the title. But to cover their bases, she calls out Ultimate Warrior to challenge him to a title match in case *he* wins. She proceeds to seduce him (with Terri Runnels-level acting) (2012 Scott sez:  Terri wasn’t a particularly convincing actress on RAW, you see.)  and beg for a Macho Man title match. The thought of Sherri on her knees almost makes me vomit my Rolo. (2012 Scott sez:  What is with me and Rolo in 1999?  I don’t even particularly like caramel-based chocolates anymore.)  Warrior yells “Noooooooooooo” to her request, and Savage flips out in the back. This becomes important later. Big Bossman v. The Barbarian. This would be the middle of Bossman’s peak period in the WWF, as he systemically hunted down and destroyed all the Heenan family members (over comments made by Rick Rude about his mother) en route to an Intercontinental title match against Curt Hennig at Wrestlemania VII. (2012 Scott sez:  This was actually a tremendous storyline that I’m shocked had never been done before.  Up until then, the Heenan Family had been used as a plot device to create new challengers for Hogan and then cycle them out again, but here they were kind of a gauntlet for Bossman to run through on the way to Mr. Perfect.  Sadly, Rick Rude had exited the building in 1990, robbing us of the true payoff.)  This is a nothing match with a foregone conclusion that is about 7 minutes too long. Barbarian controls most of the match with his shitty offense and bearhugs, but inevitably makes the mistake of holding Bossman’s foot, triggering the enzuigiri. Barbarian with a cradle out of nowhere for two. Bossman with a stungun for two. Double knockout. This is actually picking up. Barbarian hits the top rope clothesline for two, but Bossman has his foot on the rope. Bossman slam, but Barbarian grabs the ropes at two. Eye poke and piledriver, sold with zeal by Bossman. Barbarian goes for a cross-body off the top (!) but Bossman rolls through for the pin. This didn’t suck! **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Also better than I gave it credit for here.  Bossman was in a great groove at that point.)  Comments from rubes about Warrior. Why, there’s little kids painted like him, he *must* be over. Sgt. Slobber offers some words of wisdom for the Ultimate Puke. The Ulimate Puke responds. WWF title match: The Ultimate Puke v. Sgt. Slobber(2012 Scott sez:  I don’t generally do “funny” nicknames for guys anymore, because it’s STUPID.)  Big-time heel heat for Sarge. Warrior cleans house on Sarge and Adnan to start and then rips up the Iraqi flag for some cheap heat. Slaughter gets to eat the flag for good measure. Warrior absolutely kicks Slaughter’s ass from one side of the ring to the other until Sherri comes down and the storyline kicks in. Warrior chases her down the aisle and Savage clobbers him from behind and smashes a light standard on his head. Warrior resolutely crawls back down the aisle while the fans chant “USA” extremely loudly. Slaughter keeps stopping the count. I’ve gotta say those pointy boots look really cheesy. The heel heat here is amazing. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, if only they had someone not totally past his prime to do the Slaughter role, because it was gigantic heel heat and would have gotten someone over for life.  Off-the-wall suggestion:  Kerry Von Erich, who came in at the same time as Slaughter.  All-American Boy turned Iraqi traitor?  That’s MONEY.  Kerry v. Hogan at Wrestlemania?  C’mon, that’s MONEY.  Yeah I know, drugs and suicide and stuff, but we’re talking a perfect world here.)  The BEARHUG OF DOOM kills the crowd pretty quick. Slaughter drops some elbows and applies the CAMEL CLUTCH OF HIDEOUS FESTERING DEATH but Warrior is in the ropes. Warrior with the supermaniac comeback and the SHITTY CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM, followed by the shoulderblock, but heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Sherri. Crowd is going bonkos. Warrior smacks Sherri around and tosses her out into Macho’s arms, but Slaughter knees Warrior in the back and drapes him on the ropes. Savage nails the prone Warrior with the TIN-FOIL COVERED SCEPTRE OF DOOM and Slaughter drops an elbow for the pin and the WWF title. The announcers are in shock and the audience chants “Bullshit” as the Warrior retreats to the dressing room. Watching this match in 1991, I was in absolute disbelief that they’d actually put the title on Slaughter. Looking back, Vince should have put the belt on him sooner and then had Warrior regain it here. They could have done the money match, Hogan-Warrior II, at WM7. *  (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, this match made me legitimately ANGRY while watching it, which shows what a tremendous job of being an asshole Randy Savage could do.  The first run-in was annoying, but the second one was the one where you just wanted Warrior to kick his ass right into retirement.) Dusty and Dustin Rhodes v. Ted Dibiase & Virgil. After 4 years of waiting, this was the match where it finally happened. This was Dustin’s PPV debut, just before he and his father retreated back to WCW a few weeks later. Dibiase slapped Dustin around (who was sitting in the front row watching his dad wrestle) on an episode of SNME to set this up. Virgil gets beat up by Dustin here to start, and Dibiase bitches him out about it. Dibiase tags in and takes Dustin to school. Dusty gets in and we get tag team bionic elbows. Dusty has ditched the polka dots by this point. Dustin comes in and blows out his knee on a missed charge. The heels work on the knee, but Virgil accidentally clotheslines Dibiase and he flips out and tosses his bodyguard out of the ring. Dusty gets the hot tag in the meantime and quickly gets rolled up by Dibiase for the pin. The Rhodes’ were clearly on the JOB Squad by that point. ** Dibiase gets on the mic and kisses off the Rhodes, then tells off Virgil and orders him to retrieve his million dollar belt. In a great moment, Dibiase tries to blackmail Virgil into subservience…and turns his back on him. Oops. KA-POW! The crowd (and Roddy Piper) goes apeshit. Thus endeth the long relationship… (2012 Scott sez:  Somehow I don’t foresee quite the same reaction if Ricardo ever turns on ADR.)  Assorted comments from the Rumble entrants, and of course the Orange Goblin. I’d do a transcript of Tugboat’s ridiculous bit, but it wouldn’t be fair to subject people to that. Let’s just say it’s really bad. Royal Rumble: Bret Hart gets #1, in order to showcase him in preparation for his singles push. Dino Bravo gets #2 and we’re underway. Hey, there’s Shane McMahon again! Not much notable here. Greg Valentine is #3, and he goes right after ex-partner Bravo, to the shock of Jimmy Hart. Valentine ends up dumping Bravo in short order. (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting to note that this was the first Rumble where the “every man for himself” thing truly came into play.)  Bret Hart plays possum while this is going on, and ambushes Greg when he turns around. Paul Roma is #4, and a three-way breaks out. Kerry Von Erich is #5 and he cleans house on the heels. Rick Martel is #6 and there’s still nothing terribly notable going on. Martel and Roma seem to have an issue here for some reason. Saba Simba (Luckily Roddy Piper doesn’t yell out “Hey, it’s Tony Atlas” this time) is #7 and he takes out pretty much everyone in sight. If you’ve never heard of Simba, there’s a reason. Everyone pairs off. Butch is #8 as Simba tosses Martel…but Martel hangs onto the top rope and Simba’s momentum carries HIM out. Jake Roberts is #9 and he goes after Martel, of course. This was during the infamous “blindfold match” period, another one I forgot about when compiling Netcop Busts. Martel teases falling out of the ring several times, drawing a great reaction from the crowd. Hercules is #10 and he hooks up with Roma immediately so they can work as a team. Tito Santana is #11 as Roma misses a cross-body and eliminates himself. Santana and Martel of course are at each other. (2012 Scott sez:  That was really one of the great long-running feuds with absolutely no real money payoff.  They just kept referencing it over and over but didn’t do anything other than an SNME match long after Martel had already been repackaged.)  Undertaker (still with Brother Love) is #12 and he casually dumps Hart right away. Undertaker no-sells everything as the crowd watches his every move in fascination. I think that was the sign that Vince had something special here. Jimmy Snuka is #13 as UT tosses Butch. DBS is #14. Damn, there’s a lot of guys in there right now. Smash gets #15, but the heat is gone by this point so the crowd doesn’t care about him anymore. They need to clear out some deadwood — it’s getting too hard to follow. Martel teases another elimination, but gets back again…but not before pulling Roberts out. Road Warrior Hawk is #16, and everyone gangs up on him right away. Here’s one for the X-Files: Shane Douglas is #17, post-Dynamic Dudes but pre-credibility. (2012 Scott sez:  Shane Douglas had credibility at some point?  Bet he’s watching RAW these days trying to think of a way to get a paycheck out of Johnny Ace.) UT tosses Snuka and Kerry Von Erich. Did you know that Douglas was actually a de facto Rocker in late 1990 during Shawn Michaels’ first big knee injury? He teamed with Marty Jannetty as the “New” Rockers until Shawn came back. Irony can be so ironic sometimes. The buzzer sounds for #18, but no one comes out. I forget if this was explained. I think it was supposed to be Randy Savage. Anyway, Animal is #19, and he does come out. The LOD double-clotheslines Undertaker out, and then Martel clotheslines Hawk out. Martel is teetering again, but rolls back in. We’re down a manageable number again. Crush is #20, and the Demos go after Bulldog. Martel is hanging by a thread again. Some dipshit in a khaki shirt keeps walking past the main camera, presumably to be cool. Here’s a quarter to buy a hint, guy. Hacksaw Duggan is #21 and gets a big pop. Martel teases another elimination. Earthquake is #22 and sends Animal packing. There’s 11 guys in there right now, way too much. Mr. Perfect is #23, and he takes his time getting down. He dumps Duggan once he’s in, however. He gets beat up by a variety of people, showcasing his selling. The Orange Goblin is #24, knocking out Smash right away. Crowd is nuts for Hogan. Haku is #25 as Valentine is finally eliminated after 45 minutes. Douglas is still in there, oddly enough, although he’s not doing too well. Neidhart is #26, to a big pop. Earthquake tosses Santana like yesterday’s garbage. Luke is #27, and coincidentally he gets knocked out 2.7 seconds after he gets in. Well, it’s easy money, I guess. (2012 Scott sez:  They play that one a lot on Royal Rumble video packages.)  More near-eliminations with Martel. Brian Knobs is #28 and no one cares. Everyone gangs up on him, however, for some reason. Tugboat and the Warlord are the only ones left in the draw so it must have been Randy Savage who missed his chance at #18 because of the Warrior thing earlier. Knobs dumps Hercules. Warlord is #29. Crush does the 10 PUNCHES OF DOOM on Hulk and gets dumped over the top for his troubles. That was a pretty dumb thing to do. (2012 Scott sez:  NEVER GO TO THE TOP ROPE IN A ROYAL RUMBLE!  It’s, like, the first rule!) Hulk clotheslines the Warlord out soon after. Tugboat is #30, as Douglas gets tossed. Our suspects are Hogan, Neidhart, Tugboat, Hennig, Haku, Knobs, Martel, Bulldog and Earthquake. Not a very impressive field, to be sure. Hennig is really taking a licking. Tugboat and Hogan end up fighting in the corner, and Tugboat actually dumps Hogan, but he lands on the apron, then comes back in and knocks Tugboat out. Bulldog dropkicks Hennig out. Martel bids adieu to Jim Neidhart. Bulldog backdrops Haku out. Martel makes Dumb Mistake #1 by going to the top, and Bulldog crotches him and knocks him out after a record 53 minutes  (2012 Scott sez:  See, WHAT DID I JUST SAY?). The final four: Bulldog, Earthquake, Knobs and Hulk. There goes Bulldog. Why is Knobs in there this close to the end? (2012 Scott sez:  Gee, I wonder why, brother.)  They proceed to squash Hulk. Earthquake hits the FAT-ASSED BUTT SPLASH OF DEATH, but Hulk makes the comeback. Big Boot sends Knobs over the top, the three punches and big boot put Earthquake down. But Hogan falls back on the slam attempt and Quake drops some elbows. Powerslam, but Hulk makes comeback #2 and hulks up. Big boot, and this time the bodyslam works. A clothesline later and Hulk wins the Rumble for the second year in a row. An okay, but unspectacular, Rumble. *** Not enough star power to really draw interest of the casual viewer.  (2012 Scott sez:  Nice to see Hogan finally getting his PPV win over Earthquake.)  The Bottom Line: It had to be done, honest. After basically butt-fucking the fans with a spiked dildo in the form of the title change earlier, the WWF had to do something to send the fans home happy, and this was as good as anything. The WWF was in a serious funk at this point, however, creatively and monetarily, and it shows with blasé shows like this. Fear not, however, The Man was on his way. (2012 Scott sez:  Sid?  Oh, wait, the other big signing of 1991, right.)  Neutral feelings on this one.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1991

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1991 (2012 Scott sez:  I find this rant a tad embarrassing at times, actually.)  Live from Miami, Florida, bastion of Americana and/or old people. Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper. This show is, of course, in the thick of the Gulf War and the Sgt. Slaughter storyline, and hence the crowd is in full xenophobic form. Opening match: The Rockers v. The New Orient Express. This is the PPV debut of Paul Diamond as the masked Kato, thus reuniting the awesome Badd Company too late to do any good. Rockers start out with a double pescado and then Jannetty and Diamond show off a wrestling sequence. Michaels tags in and wallops on Tanaka for a while, but he goes for the sleeper, which never leads to anything good this early in the match. Sure enough, Kato comes in and nails Michaels, turning the tide. Then a terrific, luchaesque sequence erupts as the four guys do a complex bit with a double whip, dosee-do, and double atomic drop. The Orients escape and the Rockers follow with stereo topes. Great stuff. Some putz yells “boring” as Shawn takes a 5 second rest with a headlock. Shawn goes for the TEN PUNCHES OF DOOM on Kato but Tanaka pulls him down from the outside and clotheslines him on the top rope, then whacks him with the cane for good measure. Big heat for that. Shawn assumes the Ricky Morton role. Neat sequence as Shawn does a Flair flip and then gets kicked by Tanaka on the outside and flips back into the ring. he works in the triple somersault clothesline sell, of course. Marty gets the hot tag and gets several two counts on Kato. Tanaka kicks Marty in the face to give Kato a backslide two-count. Kato slingshots Jannetty into a Tanaka chop, then in a spectacular ending, Kato slingshots Jannetty again, but Shawn hits Tanaka in the gut to bend him over and Jannetty goes with the momentum and sunset flips Tanaka for the pin. Has to be seen to be appreciated. **** (2012 Scott sez:  I think I may have even UNDER-rated this one, as I think it was on another Shawn Michaels DVD later and I had it about ****1/4 on second viewing.)  Macho Man wants a title shot, so he sends Sherri out to announce that Sgt. Slaughter has agreed to give him a title shot when he wins the title. But to cover their bases, she calls out Ultimate Warrior to challenge him to a title match in case *he* wins. She proceeds to seduce him (with Terri Runnels-level acting) (2012 Scott sez:  Terri wasn’t a particularly convincing actress on RAW, you see.)  and beg for a Macho Man title match. The thought of Sherri on her knees almost makes me vomit my Rolo. (2012 Scott sez:  What is with me and Rolo in 1999?  I don’t even particularly like caramel-based chocolates anymore.)  Warrior yells “Noooooooooooo” to her request, and Savage flips out in the back. This becomes important later. Big Bossman v. The Barbarian. This would be the middle of Bossman’s peak period in the WWF, as he systemically hunted down and destroyed all the Heenan family members (over comments made by Rick Rude about his mother) en route to an Intercontinental title match against Curt Hennig at Wrestlemania VII. (2012 Scott sez:  This was actually a tremendous storyline that I’m shocked had never been done before.  Up until then, the Heenan Family had been used as a plot device to create new challengers for Hogan and then cycle them out again, but here they were kind of a gauntlet for Bossman to run through on the way to Mr. Perfect.  Sadly, Rick Rude had exited the building in 1990, robbing us of the true payoff.)  This is a nothing match with a foregone conclusion that is about 7 minutes too long. Barbarian controls most of the match with his shitty offense and bearhugs, but inevitably makes the mistake of holding Bossman’s foot, triggering the enzuigiri. Barbarian with a cradle out of nowhere for two. Bossman with a stungun for two. Double knockout. This is actually picking up. Barbarian hits the top rope clothesline for two, but Bossman has his foot on the rope. Bossman slam, but Barbarian grabs the ropes at two. Eye poke and piledriver, sold with zeal by Bossman. Barbarian goes for a cross-body off the top (!) but Bossman rolls through for the pin. This didn’t suck! **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Also better than I gave it credit for here.  Bossman was in a great groove at that point.)  Comments from rubes about Warrior. Why, there’s little kids painted like him, he *must* be over. Sgt. Slobber offers some words of wisdom for the Ultimate Puke. The Ulimate Puke responds. WWF title match: The Ultimate Puke v. Sgt. Slobber(2012 Scott sez:  I don’t generally do “funny” nicknames for guys anymore, because it’s STUPID.)  Big-time heel heat for Sarge. Warrior cleans house on Sarge and Adnan to start and then rips up the Iraqi flag for some cheap heat. Slaughter gets to eat the flag for good measure. Warrior absolutely kicks Slaughter’s ass from one side of the ring to the other until Sherri comes down and the storyline kicks in. Warrior chases her down the aisle and Savage clobbers him from behind and smashes a light standard on his head. Warrior resolutely crawls back down the aisle while the fans chant “USA” extremely loudly. Slaughter keeps stopping the count. I’ve gotta say those pointy boots look really cheesy. The heel heat here is amazing. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, if only they had someone not totally past his prime to do the Slaughter role, because it was gigantic heel heat and would have gotten someone over for life.  Off-the-wall suggestion:  Kerry Von Erich, who came in at the same time as Slaughter.  All-American Boy turned Iraqi traitor?  That’s MONEY.  Kerry v. Hogan at Wrestlemania?  C’mon, that’s MONEY.  Yeah I know, drugs and suicide and stuff, but we’re talking a perfect world here.)  The BEARHUG OF DOOM kills the crowd pretty quick. Slaughter drops some elbows and applies the CAMEL CLUTCH OF HIDEOUS FESTERING DEATH but Warrior is in the ropes. Warrior with the supermaniac comeback and the SHITTY CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM, followed by the shoulderblock, but heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Sherri. Crowd is going bonkos. Warrior smacks Sherri around and tosses her out into Macho’s arms, but Slaughter knees Warrior in the back and drapes him on the ropes. Savage nails the prone Warrior with the TIN-FOIL COVERED SCEPTRE OF DOOM and Slaughter drops an elbow for the pin and the WWF title. The announcers are in shock and the audience chants “Bullshit” as the Warrior retreats to the dressing room. Watching this match in 1991, I was in absolute disbelief that they’d actually put the title on Slaughter. Looking back, Vince should have put the belt on him sooner and then had Warrior regain it here. They could have done the money match, Hogan-Warrior II, at WM7. *  (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, this match made me legitimately ANGRY while watching it, which shows what a tremendous job of being an asshole Randy Savage could do.  The first run-in was annoying, but the second one was the one where you just wanted Warrior to kick his ass right into retirement.) Dusty and Dustin Rhodes v. Ted Dibiase & Virgil. After 4 years of waiting, this was the match where it finally happened. This was Dustin’s PPV debut, just before he and his father retreated back to WCW a few weeks later. Dibiase slapped Dustin around (who was sitting in the front row watching his dad wrestle) on an episode of SNME to set this up. Virgil gets beat up by Dustin here to start, and Dibiase bitches him out about it. Dibiase tags in and takes Dustin to school. Dusty gets in and we get tag team bionic elbows. Dusty has ditched the polka dots by this point. Dustin comes in and blows out his knee on a missed charge. The heels work on the knee, but Virgil accidentally clotheslines Dibiase and he flips out and tosses his bodyguard out of the ring. Dusty gets the hot tag in the meantime and quickly gets rolled up by Dibiase for the pin. The Rhodes’ were clearly on the JOB Squad by that point. ** Dibiase gets on the mic and kisses off the Rhodes, then tells off Virgil and orders him to retrieve his million dollar belt. In a great moment, Dibiase tries to blackmail Virgil into subservience…and turns his back on him. Oops. KA-POW! The crowd (and Roddy Piper) goes apeshit. Thus endeth the long relationship… (2012 Scott sez:  Somehow I don’t foresee quite the same reaction if Ricardo ever turns on ADR.)  Assorted comments from the Rumble entrants, and of course the Orange Goblin. I’d do a transcript of Tugboat’s ridiculous bit, but it wouldn’t be fair to subject people to that. Let’s just say it’s really bad. Royal Rumble: Bret Hart gets #1, in order to showcase him in preparation for his singles push. Dino Bravo gets #2 and we’re underway. Hey, there’s Shane McMahon again! Not much notable here. Greg Valentine is #3, and he goes right after ex-partner Bravo, to the shock of Jimmy Hart. Valentine ends up dumping Bravo in short order. (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting to note that this was the first Rumble where the “every man for himself” thing truly came into play.)  Bret Hart plays possum while this is going on, and ambushes Greg when he turns around. Paul Roma is #4, and a three-way breaks out. Kerry Von Erich is #5 and he cleans house on the heels. Rick Martel is #6 and there’s still nothing terribly notable going on. Martel and Roma seem to have an issue here for some reason. Saba Simba (Luckily Roddy Piper doesn’t yell out “Hey, it’s Tony Atlas” this time) is #7 and he takes out pretty much everyone in sight. If you’ve never heard of Simba, there’s a reason. Everyone pairs off. Butch is #8 as Simba tosses Martel…but Martel hangs onto the top rope and Simba’s momentum carries HIM out. Jake Roberts is #9 and he goes after Martel, of course. This was during the infamous “blindfold match” period, another one I forgot about when compiling Netcop Busts. Martel teases falling out of the ring several times, drawing a great reaction from the crowd. Hercules is #10 and he hooks up with Roma immediately so they can work as a team. Tito Santana is #11 as Roma misses a cross-body and eliminates himself. Santana and Martel of course are at each other. (2012 Scott sez:  That was really one of the great long-running feuds with absolutely no real money payoff.  They just kept referencing it over and over but didn’t do anything other than an SNME match long after Martel had already been repackaged.)  Undertaker (still with Brother Love) is #12 and he casually dumps Hart right away. Undertaker no-sells everything as the crowd watches his every move in fascination. I think that was the sign that Vince had something special here. Jimmy Snuka is #13 as UT tosses Butch. DBS is #14. Damn, there’s a lot of guys in there right now. Smash gets #15, but the heat is gone by this point so the crowd doesn’t care about him anymore. They need to clear out some deadwood — it’s getting too hard to follow. Martel teases another elimination, but gets back again…but not before pulling Roberts out. Road Warrior Hawk is #16, and everyone gangs up on him right away. Here’s one for the X-Files: Shane Douglas is #17, post-Dynamic Dudes but pre-credibility. (2012 Scott sez:  Shane Douglas had credibility at some point?  Bet he’s watching RAW these days trying to think of a way to get a paycheck out of Johnny Ace.) UT tosses Snuka and Kerry Von Erich. Did you know that Douglas was actually a de facto Rocker in late 1990 during Shawn Michaels’ first big knee injury? He teamed with Marty Jannetty as the “New” Rockers until Shawn came back. Irony can be so ironic sometimes. The buzzer sounds for #18, but no one comes out. I forget if this was explained. I think it was supposed to be Randy Savage. Anyway, Animal is #19, and he does come out. The LOD double-clotheslines Undertaker out, and then Martel clotheslines Hawk out. Martel is teetering again, but rolls back in. We’re down a manageable number again. Crush is #20, and the Demos go after Bulldog. Martel is hanging by a thread again. Some dipshit in a khaki shirt keeps walking past the main camera, presumably to be cool. Here’s a quarter to buy a hint, guy. Hacksaw Duggan is #21 and gets a big pop. Martel teases another elimination. Earthquake is #22 and sends Animal packing. There’s 11 guys in there right now, way too much. Mr. Perfect is #23, and he takes his time getting down. He dumps Duggan once he’s in, however. He gets beat up by a variety of people, showcasing his selling. The Orange Goblin is #24, knocking out Smash right away. Crowd is nuts for Hogan. Haku is #25 as Valentine is finally eliminated after 45 minutes. Douglas is still in there, oddly enough, although he’s not doing too well. Neidhart is #26, to a big pop. Earthquake tosses Santana like yesterday’s garbage. Luke is #27, and coincidentally he gets knocked out 2.7 seconds after he gets in. Well, it’s easy money, I guess. (2012 Scott sez:  They play that one a lot on Royal Rumble video packages.)  More near-eliminations with Martel. Brian Knobs is #28 and no one cares. Everyone gangs up on him, however, for some reason. Tugboat and the Warlord are the only ones left in the draw so it must have been Randy Savage who missed his chance at #18 because of the Warrior thing earlier. Knobs dumps Hercules. Warlord is #29. Crush does the 10 PUNCHES OF DOOM on Hulk and gets dumped over the top for his troubles. That was a pretty dumb thing to do. (2012 Scott sez:  NEVER GO TO THE TOP ROPE IN A ROYAL RUMBLE!  It’s, like, the first rule!) Hulk clotheslines the Warlord out soon after. Tugboat is #30, as Douglas gets tossed. Our suspects are Hogan, Neidhart, Tugboat, Hennig, Haku, Knobs, Martel, Bulldog and Earthquake. Not a very impressive field, to be sure. Hennig is really taking a licking. Tugboat and Hogan end up fighting in the corner, and Tugboat actually dumps Hogan, but he lands on the apron, then comes back in and knocks Tugboat out. Bulldog dropkicks Hennig out. Martel bids adieu to Jim Neidhart. Bulldog backdrops Haku out. Martel makes Dumb Mistake #1 by going to the top, and Bulldog crotches him and knocks him out after a record 53 minutes  (2012 Scott sez:  See, WHAT DID I JUST SAY?). The final four: Bulldog, Earthquake, Knobs and Hulk. There goes Bulldog. Why is Knobs in there this close to the end? (2012 Scott sez:  Gee, I wonder why, brother.)  They proceed to squash Hulk. Earthquake hits the FAT-ASSED BUTT SPLASH OF DEATH, but Hulk makes the comeback. Big Boot sends Knobs over the top, the three punches and big boot put Earthquake down. But Hogan falls back on the slam attempt and Quake drops some elbows. Powerslam, but Hulk makes comeback #2 and hulks up. Big boot, and this time the bodyslam works. A clothesline later and Hulk wins the Rumble for the second year in a row. An okay, but unspectacular, Rumble. *** Not enough star power to really draw interest of the casual viewer.  (2012 Scott sez:  Nice to see Hogan finally getting his PPV win over Earthquake.)  The Bottom Line: It had to be done, honest. After basically butt-fucking the fans with a spiked dildo in the form of the title change earlier, the WWF had to do something to send the fans home happy, and this was as good as anything. The WWF was in a serious funk at this point, however, creatively and monetarily, and it shows with blasé shows like this. Fear not, however, The Man was on his way. (2012 Scott sez:  Sid?  Oh, wait, the other big signing of 1991, right.)  Neutral feelings on this one.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1990

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1990. – Live from Orlando, Florida. – Your hosts are Tony Skee-A-Vone and the Governor of Minnesota.Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwhackers. Jacques is sporting a beard here. The Rougeaus were basically retired at this point and this is a one-shot comeback to put over the Sheepwhackers. We get the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM to start, then a comedy segment as the Rougeau’s tactics backfire and the ‘Whackers start biting people in the ass. That beard really doesn’t work on Jacques. And the Rougeaus are being made to look like idiots, with all the heel tactics going wrong. More stalling. But alas, Luke gets caught in the corner and choked out. More stalling. Sadly, I can tell that the Rougeaus are dogging it, but I can’t tell if the Sheepwhackers are trying or if they just suck that bad. (2012 Scott sez:  They suck that bad.)  Luke takes a couple of decent bumps to bring it out of negative stars. You know the heels have it in neutral when Raymond forgoes the savate kick-abdominal stretch double-team in favor of simply punching the guy. Luke makes the hot tag to Butch, and Jacques bumps like a madman (hoping to win a singles push, I’d guess). Jimmy Hart gets involved and allows the Rougeaus a comeback. But while Raymond comforts Jacques after a bump, the Bushwhackers hit the battering ram and get the pin. Ugly comedy match. DUD – Mean Gene accuses Dibiase of rigging the draw in 1989, and then the hand of irony interjects itself as Dibiase reveals that he drew #1 this year. Wow, continuity and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  These days I can barely remember who WON the Rumble the year before.)  The Genius v. Brutus Beefcake. Someone should really publish a book of Poffo’s poetry. This is a couple of weeks after Poffo’s glorious victory over Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Stalling a go-go. The sad thing is that Poffo is one of the most talented guys in the business and he doesn’t need to resort to that sort of thing. This match, of course, was meant to transfer the heat on Mr. Perfect from Hogan to Beefcake. Poffo does the most melodramatic atomic drop sell I’ve ever seen, working in three rolls. I kid you not. Poffo has to play it gay to stay in character, which means lots of eye-scratching, back-scratching, and cartwheels. More stalling from Poffo. I wonder if Lanny Poffo was the inspiration for Johnny B Badd? Genius gets about an 8 on the Fag-O-Meter at any given time, so it’s not out of the question. Poffo gets a long stretch of token jobber offense in (kick, punch, slam) but Beefcake catches him coming off the top rope and quickly hooks a the sleeper…but Poffo escapes and causes a ref bump. A ref bump in a LANNY POFFO MATCH? I’d be flattered if I was Poffo. And now of course Beefcake gets the sleeper, but the ref is out. Beefcake gets his scissors and starts cutting, but Mr. Perfect saves his manager from a haircut. Referee wakes up and calls a no-contest, I guess. Genius and Perfect brutalize Beefcake with a chair. Yeesh, talk about needless overbooking. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  This of course would never make it past Smackdown today.  Like, a midcarder against a manager on PPV?  Different times, indeed.)  – Sean Mooney has words with the Heenan Family, and stirs up shit. – Submission match: Rugged Ronnie Garvin v. Greg Valentine. Both guys have LOADED SHIN-GUARDS OF DEATH! Stiff shots from both guys in the opening slugfest. We get the inevitable “Pinfall attempt but it’s a submission match” bits to establish the stips for the REALLY dumb people in the audience. (2012 Scott sez:  And I bet some of those people went on to book TNA.)  More slugging and a Garvin headbutt leads to a double-KO. They go through a pinning combo sequence that means nothing because IT’S A SUBMISSION MATCH. The Sledgehammer of Plot is in full effect tonight. Another double knockout. Hammer goes for the figure-four but Garvin pushes him off and cradles him. Duh. Did they forget the stips or something? Hammer takes him down again and slaps on the figure-four (with help from the evil shin-brace) but see, Garvin has his own shin-brace, which counter-acts the evil mojo of Valentine’s, and as a result the figure-four has no effect. Garvin makes faces at Valentine to reinforce the point. Somebody hook me up the guy who delivered the drugs for the bookers for this show, because I’ve GOT to try them. Garvin makes a comeback and applies an Indian deathlock. Jesse makes SKINNY jokes about Tony. About TONY! (2012 Scott sez:  Tony was pretty fat at the point when I was writing this review.)  They fight outside the ring and Valentine backdrops out of a piledriver. Have I mentioned how stupid and AWA-ish it is for Garvin to try to get a submission with a fucking INDIAN DEATHLOCK? Why not try for a pin with a bodyslam, like in the 50s, while we’re at it. Another double KO, and Jimmy Hart slips something into Valentine’s shin-guard, and this time the dreaded SHIN-GUARD OF DOOM is able to overcome Garvin’s Hammer Jammer shin-guard. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, the shin-guard had a name, and it was MOTHERFUCKING HAMMER JAMMER, bitch.)  But Ronnie is Rugged, so he reverses the figure-four. Garvin’s shin-guard seems to have disappeared along the way. Garvin keeps trying for the pin. Oh, I see, Hart stole it. Garvin is selling the knee injury well, I’ll give him that. Jimmy Hart gets involved (and beat up) and Garvin is able to whack Valentine with his own shin-guard and apply a sharpshooter for the submission. Silliness of the angle behind it aside, it wasn’t bad for a Garvin match. **1/4 – Curt Hennig gloats about beating up Beefcake, and then gloats because he drew #30 in the Rumble. – Brother Love gets 20 minutes of PPV time to waste. Special guests: Sapphire and Sherri. Love and Sherri verbally abuse Sapphire until she hauls off and smacks Sherri, and a big brawl with the women, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage erupts. Rhodes beats up Brother Love and tosses him. Nice bump from Pritchard. – Big Bossman v. Hacksaw Duggan. Slick, nearing the end of his WWF run, doesn’t even get funky. Everything else after this was lame stuff like the Warlord and Power and Glory. (2012 Scott sez:  Power & Glory was pretty awesome, though.)  Bossman shows his improvement by selling like a champ for Duggan’s offense and bumping like a madman. Good for him. I forget the angle behind this, but it probably involves something stolen and a nightstick beating. Bossman pulls out an enzuigiri. Whoa! Bossman lays a beating on Duggan with his usual weak offense. Duggan keeps getting up and Bossman keeps putting him down. Duggan comes back again, clotheslining Bossman over the top rope in another nice bump for Bossman. Duggan comeback stalls again as he misses a blind charge and gets clotheslined. Bossman’s top rope splash misses, however, and we get a double knockout spot. Miscommunication spot between Slick and Bossman, but Bossman still ends up with the nightstick and beats on Duggan for the DQ. Weak ending to a Duggan match that DIDN’T SUCK! Go fig. Duggan cleans house with the 2×4. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Face turn ahoy for Big Bossman!)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley. Earthquake! Bravo! Ax! Smash! Bad News! Dusty! Shawn! Marty! Hercules! Martel! Santana! Snuka! Akeem! Warrior! – 5 minute intermission! Oops, got caught up in the excitement there. And why did they take those intermissions, anyway?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think people weren’t really used to a 3 hour show at that point, and the intermission served the same basic purpose as the Divas match today:  Cooling down the crowd before the main event.  Can’t imagine what they’d made of ROH iPPVs today.  4 hours is way too long for a show that’s not Wrestlemania.)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley: The Sequel. Savage! Warlord! Barbarian! Roberts! Bret! Anvil! Honky Tonk! Hogan! Lessee, with Dibiase, Hennig, Rude, Haku and Andre, that’s still only 27 guys accounted for. Oh, and Piper didn’t get an interview, so that’s 28. – Royal Rumble: Dibiase gets #1 of course. Ah, there we go, Koko B Ware got #2. That’s 29 accounted for. Managers are allowed at ringside this year for some reason. Koko has ugly painted on sideburns. Koko does a blind charge and gets backdropped out in short order. Well that was a quick night. Marty Jannetty is #3. He works in the triple somersault clothesline sell 30 seconds in. Dibiase works in his own somersault sell coming off the second rope soon after. Jannetty goes for a cross-body…and goes over the top rope. Two down, 27 to go for Dibiase. Jake Roberts is #4, and I’m pretty sure he’ll last longer. They have an issue, so they fight on the floor and Dibiase gets taken to the post. Dibiase and Roberts get a pretty good little match going as Randy Savage is #5. A three-way between Savage, Dibiase and Roberts? Works for me. Savage and Dibiase pair off against Roberts. Roddy Piper (#6) makes the save and blows the roof off. Piper and Snake clean house. Warlord is #7. Not much of note happens. Bret Hart is #8 and he turns the tide for the faces…and why are they working together, anyway? The “good guys and bad guys” spirit was still very much in effect, even in the every-man-for-himself event. Everyone pairs off. Bret gets Warlord. Bad News Brown is #9 and he goes right after Bret Hart. Roberts goes for a DDT on Dibiase and Savage clotheslines him over the top. Roberts isn’t very good at these things. Dusty Rhodes is #10 and of course he immediately goes after Savage, and tosses him a few seconds later. If you look fast, you can see referee Shane McMahon telling Savage to go back to the dressing room. Andre the Giant is #11. He knocks Warlord out with one hand. Heenan and Fuji get into a yelling match about it. Andre beats on Piper and Dusty. Terry Taylor (not that other name) is #12. Piper backdrops Bad News out, and Brown pulls Piper out in retaliation. You get a better view of young Shane as they fight back to the dressing room. Andre is whomping Taylor. Demolition Ax is #13. Andre dumps Taylor. Ax and Dusty double-team him. Haku is #14, which puts the tag champs in there together. Dibiase and Bret Hart are having a dandy little match-let over in the corner. And of course, Smash is #15 to give us the Demolition v. Colossal Connection matchup. Nothing noteworthy going on. Akeem is #16. The Demos actually manage to put Andre out! (2012 Scott sez:  That’s pretty awesome, actually, given Andre’s propensity for battle royales.  Of course, his short stay had more to do with not being able to move, but still, way to go Demolition.)  Bret gets knocked out off-camera. Jimmy Snuka is #17. He knocks out the dancing Akeem in short order. Dino Bravo is #18. Man, we need Warrior to clear out some of this deadwood. The Demos work over Dibiase, who’s been in for more than half an hour. Earthquake is #19 and he gets on my good list by tossing Big Dust. Then Ax. Jim Neidhart is #20 and goes right after Earthquake. Everyone helps out and they alley-oop him over the top. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s some smart booking tonight, with everyone going after the big threats.)  More people beat on Dibiase. Warrior is #21 and watch the bodies fly now. Bravo is gone. Warrior beats on everyone, showing no favorites. Rick Martel is #22. Haku backdrops Smash to the apron, then thrust kicks him to the floor to knock him out. Tito Santana is #23 and goes after Martel, of course. Honky Tonk Man is #24. We’re just lining up the targets for Hogan at this point. Neidhart is knocked out by a double-team effort. Warrior finally knocks Dibiase out after 48 minutes+. And here I thought the Orange Goblin would get the honors. Hogan is #25 and Snuka is right on him. Buh bye, Superfly. Buh bye, Haku. Have a seat, Santana. Shawn Michaels is #26 as Honky is sacrificed to Hogan. Michaels goes bye-bye. Martel is gone via the Warrior, and we’re left with Hogan v. Warrior and 4 guys to go. Shoving match and they do the CRISS-CROSS OF DOOM and damned if the entire arena isn’t standing on their seats. (2012 Scott sez:  I was almost literally pooping my pants in 1990.  POOPING MY PANTS.)  Double KO, which is rudely interrupted by Barbarian at #27. Rude enters prematurely at #28. Barbarian takes Hulk and Rude takes Warrior. Barbarian and Rude work over Warrior, and Hulk crashes into them, knocking Warrior out. Hercules is #29. Hulk and Herc work over the heels until Hennig’s entrance at #30 to complete the entrants. Herc backdrops Barbarian out. Final four: Hennig, Hogan, Herc and Rude. Rude clotheslines Herc out, leaving Rude and Hennig against Hogan. Hennig ends up on the apron, and as he climbs to his feet, he pulls down the top rope, sending Rude over and out by accident. Hennig beats on Hogan and applies the Perfectplex, which does no good in the context of a battle royale, but Hulk hulks up. Hennig takes his contractually obligated slingshot to the post and Hogan clotheslines the shit out of him and dumps him over the top to win the match. Good Rumble. **** The Bottom Line: Interesting story: Curt Hennig was booked to win the Rumble for months prior to this, but Hogan vetoed it as usual, because god forbid he should put a worker over. So instead he had to take “last man out” as consolation. And the Intercontinental title later on. At any rate, fast forward through the undercard and catch a great performance from Dibiase, even if the ending does suck. Mildly recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1990

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1990. – Live from Orlando, Florida. – Your hosts are Tony Skee-A-Vone and the Governor of Minnesota.Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwhackers. Jacques is sporting a beard here. The Rougeaus were basically retired at this point and this is a one-shot comeback to put over the Sheepwhackers. We get the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM to start, then a comedy segment as the Rougeau’s tactics backfire and the ‘Whackers start biting people in the ass. That beard really doesn’t work on Jacques. And the Rougeaus are being made to look like idiots, with all the heel tactics going wrong. More stalling. But alas, Luke gets caught in the corner and choked out. More stalling. Sadly, I can tell that the Rougeaus are dogging it, but I can’t tell if the Sheepwhackers are trying or if they just suck that bad. (2012 Scott sez:  They suck that bad.)  Luke takes a couple of decent bumps to bring it out of negative stars. You know the heels have it in neutral when Raymond forgoes the savate kick-abdominal stretch double-team in favor of simply punching the guy. Luke makes the hot tag to Butch, and Jacques bumps like a madman (hoping to win a singles push, I’d guess). Jimmy Hart gets involved and allows the Rougeaus a comeback. But while Raymond comforts Jacques after a bump, the Bushwhackers hit the battering ram and get the pin. Ugly comedy match. DUD – Mean Gene accuses Dibiase of rigging the draw in 1989, and then the hand of irony interjects itself as Dibiase reveals that he drew #1 this year. Wow, continuity and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  These days I can barely remember who WON the Rumble the year before.)  The Genius v. Brutus Beefcake. Someone should really publish a book of Poffo’s poetry. This is a couple of weeks after Poffo’s glorious victory over Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Stalling a go-go. The sad thing is that Poffo is one of the most talented guys in the business and he doesn’t need to resort to that sort of thing. This match, of course, was meant to transfer the heat on Mr. Perfect from Hogan to Beefcake. Poffo does the most melodramatic atomic drop sell I’ve ever seen, working in three rolls. I kid you not. Poffo has to play it gay to stay in character, which means lots of eye-scratching, back-scratching, and cartwheels. More stalling from Poffo. I wonder if Lanny Poffo was the inspiration for Johnny B Badd? Genius gets about an 8 on the Fag-O-Meter at any given time, so it’s not out of the question. Poffo gets a long stretch of token jobber offense in (kick, punch, slam) but Beefcake catches him coming off the top rope and quickly hooks a the sleeper…but Poffo escapes and causes a ref bump. A ref bump in a LANNY POFFO MATCH? I’d be flattered if I was Poffo. And now of course Beefcake gets the sleeper, but the ref is out. Beefcake gets his scissors and starts cutting, but Mr. Perfect saves his manager from a haircut. Referee wakes up and calls a no-contest, I guess. Genius and Perfect brutalize Beefcake with a chair. Yeesh, talk about needless overbooking. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  This of course would never make it past Smackdown today.  Like, a midcarder against a manager on PPV?  Different times, indeed.)  – Sean Mooney has words with the Heenan Family, and stirs up shit. – Submission match: Rugged Ronnie Garvin v. Greg Valentine. Both guys have LOADED SHIN-GUARDS OF DEATH! Stiff shots from both guys in the opening slugfest. We get the inevitable “Pinfall attempt but it’s a submission match” bits to establish the stips for the REALLY dumb people in the audience. (2012 Scott sez:  And I bet some of those people went on to book TNA.)  More slugging and a Garvin headbutt leads to a double-KO. They go through a pinning combo sequence that means nothing because IT’S A SUBMISSION MATCH. The Sledgehammer of Plot is in full effect tonight. Another double knockout. Hammer goes for the figure-four but Garvin pushes him off and cradles him. Duh. Did they forget the stips or something? Hammer takes him down again and slaps on the figure-four (with help from the evil shin-brace) but see, Garvin has his own shin-brace, which counter-acts the evil mojo of Valentine’s, and as a result the figure-four has no effect. Garvin makes faces at Valentine to reinforce the point. Somebody hook me up the guy who delivered the drugs for the bookers for this show, because I’ve GOT to try them. Garvin makes a comeback and applies an Indian deathlock. Jesse makes SKINNY jokes about Tony. About TONY! (2012 Scott sez:  Tony was pretty fat at the point when I was writing this review.)  They fight outside the ring and Valentine backdrops out of a piledriver. Have I mentioned how stupid and AWA-ish it is for Garvin to try to get a submission with a fucking INDIAN DEATHLOCK? Why not try for a pin with a bodyslam, like in the 50s, while we’re at it. Another double KO, and Jimmy Hart slips something into Valentine’s shin-guard, and this time the dreaded SHIN-GUARD OF DOOM is able to overcome Garvin’s Hammer Jammer shin-guard. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, the shin-guard had a name, and it was MOTHERFUCKING HAMMER JAMMER, bitch.)  But Ronnie is Rugged, so he reverses the figure-four. Garvin’s shin-guard seems to have disappeared along the way. Garvin keeps trying for the pin. Oh, I see, Hart stole it. Garvin is selling the knee injury well, I’ll give him that. Jimmy Hart gets involved (and beat up) and Garvin is able to whack Valentine with his own shin-guard and apply a sharpshooter for the submission. Silliness of the angle behind it aside, it wasn’t bad for a Garvin match. **1/4 – Curt Hennig gloats about beating up Beefcake, and then gloats because he drew #30 in the Rumble. – Brother Love gets 20 minutes of PPV time to waste. Special guests: Sapphire and Sherri. Love and Sherri verbally abuse Sapphire until she hauls off and smacks Sherri, and a big brawl with the women, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage erupts. Rhodes beats up Brother Love and tosses him. Nice bump from Pritchard. – Big Bossman v. Hacksaw Duggan. Slick, nearing the end of his WWF run, doesn’t even get funky. Everything else after this was lame stuff like the Warlord and Power and Glory. (2012 Scott sez:  Power & Glory was pretty awesome, though.)  Bossman shows his improvement by selling like a champ for Duggan’s offense and bumping like a madman. Good for him. I forget the angle behind this, but it probably involves something stolen and a nightstick beating. Bossman pulls out an enzuigiri. Whoa! Bossman lays a beating on Duggan with his usual weak offense. Duggan keeps getting up and Bossman keeps putting him down. Duggan comes back again, clotheslining Bossman over the top rope in another nice bump for Bossman. Duggan comeback stalls again as he misses a blind charge and gets clotheslined. Bossman’s top rope splash misses, however, and we get a double knockout spot. Miscommunication spot between Slick and Bossman, but Bossman still ends up with the nightstick and beats on Duggan for the DQ. Weak ending to a Duggan match that DIDN’T SUCK! Go fig. Duggan cleans house with the 2×4. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Face turn ahoy for Big Bossman!)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley. Earthquake! Bravo! Ax! Smash! Bad News! Dusty! Shawn! Marty! Hercules! Martel! Santana! Snuka! Akeem! Warrior! – 5 minute intermission! Oops, got caught up in the excitement there. And why did they take those intermissions, anyway?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think people weren’t really used to a 3 hour show at that point, and the intermission served the same basic purpose as the Divas match today:  Cooling down the crowd before the main event.  Can’t imagine what they’d made of ROH iPPVs today.  4 hours is way too long for a show that’s not Wrestlemania.)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley: The Sequel. Savage! Warlord! Barbarian! Roberts! Bret! Anvil! Honky Tonk! Hogan! Lessee, with Dibiase, Hennig, Rude, Haku and Andre, that’s still only 27 guys accounted for. Oh, and Piper didn’t get an interview, so that’s 28. – Royal Rumble: Dibiase gets #1 of course. Ah, there we go, Koko B Ware got #2. That’s 29 accounted for. Managers are allowed at ringside this year for some reason. Koko has ugly painted on sideburns. Koko does a blind charge and gets backdropped out in short order. Well that was a quick night. Marty Jannetty is #3. He works in the triple somersault clothesline sell 30 seconds in. Dibiase works in his own somersault sell coming off the second rope soon after. Jannetty goes for a cross-body…and goes over the top rope. Two down, 27 to go for Dibiase. Jake Roberts is #4, and I’m pretty sure he’ll last longer. They have an issue, so they fight on the floor and Dibiase gets taken to the post. Dibiase and Roberts get a pretty good little match going as Randy Savage is #5. A three-way between Savage, Dibiase and Roberts? Works for me. Savage and Dibiase pair off against Roberts. Roddy Piper (#6) makes the save and blows the roof off. Piper and Snake clean house. Warlord is #7. Not much of note happens. Bret Hart is #8 and he turns the tide for the faces…and why are they working together, anyway? The “good guys and bad guys” spirit was still very much in effect, even in the every-man-for-himself event. Everyone pairs off. Bret gets Warlord. Bad News Brown is #9 and he goes right after Bret Hart. Roberts goes for a DDT on Dibiase and Savage clotheslines him over the top. Roberts isn’t very good at these things. Dusty Rhodes is #10 and of course he immediately goes after Savage, and tosses him a few seconds later. If you look fast, you can see referee Shane McMahon telling Savage to go back to the dressing room. Andre the Giant is #11. He knocks Warlord out with one hand. Heenan and Fuji get into a yelling match about it. Andre beats on Piper and Dusty. Terry Taylor (not that other name) is #12. Piper backdrops Bad News out, and Brown pulls Piper out in retaliation. You get a better view of young Shane as they fight back to the dressing room. Andre is whomping Taylor. Demolition Ax is #13. Andre dumps Taylor. Ax and Dusty double-team him. Haku is #14, which puts the tag champs in there together. Dibiase and Bret Hart are having a dandy little match-let over in the corner. And of course, Smash is #15 to give us the Demolition v. Colossal Connection matchup. Nothing noteworthy going on. Akeem is #16. The Demos actually manage to put Andre out! (2012 Scott sez:  That’s pretty awesome, actually, given Andre’s propensity for battle royales.  Of course, his short stay had more to do with not being able to move, but still, way to go Demolition.)  Bret gets knocked out off-camera. Jimmy Snuka is #17. He knocks out the dancing Akeem in short order. Dino Bravo is #18. Man, we need Warrior to clear out some of this deadwood. The Demos work over Dibiase, who’s been in for more than half an hour. Earthquake is #19 and he gets on my good list by tossing Big Dust. Then Ax. Jim Neidhart is #20 and goes right after Earthquake. Everyone helps out and they alley-oop him over the top. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s some smart booking tonight, with everyone going after the big threats.)  More people beat on Dibiase. Warrior is #21 and watch the bodies fly now. Bravo is gone. Warrior beats on everyone, showing no favorites. Rick Martel is #22. Haku backdrops Smash to the apron, then thrust kicks him to the floor to knock him out. Tito Santana is #23 and goes after Martel, of course. Honky Tonk Man is #24. We’re just lining up the targets for Hogan at this point. Neidhart is knocked out by a double-team effort. Warrior finally knocks Dibiase out after 48 minutes+. And here I thought the Orange Goblin would get the honors. Hogan is #25 and Snuka is right on him. Buh bye, Superfly. Buh bye, Haku. Have a seat, Santana. Shawn Michaels is #26 as Honky is sacrificed to Hogan. Michaels goes bye-bye. Martel is gone via the Warrior, and we’re left with Hogan v. Warrior and 4 guys to go. Shoving match and they do the CRISS-CROSS OF DOOM and damned if the entire arena isn’t standing on their seats. (2012 Scott sez:  I was almost literally pooping my pants in 1990.  POOPING MY PANTS.)  Double KO, which is rudely interrupted by Barbarian at #27. Rude enters prematurely at #28. Barbarian takes Hulk and Rude takes Warrior. Barbarian and Rude work over Warrior, and Hulk crashes into them, knocking Warrior out. Hercules is #29. Hulk and Herc work over the heels until Hennig’s entrance at #30 to complete the entrants. Herc backdrops Barbarian out. Final four: Hennig, Hogan, Herc and Rude. Rude clotheslines Herc out, leaving Rude and Hennig against Hogan. Hennig ends up on the apron, and as he climbs to his feet, he pulls down the top rope, sending Rude over and out by accident. Hennig beats on Hogan and applies the Perfectplex, which does no good in the context of a battle royale, but Hulk hulks up. Hennig takes his contractually obligated slingshot to the post and Hogan clotheslines the shit out of him and dumps him over the top to win the match. Good Rumble. **** The Bottom Line: Interesting story: Curt Hennig was booked to win the Rumble for months prior to this, but Hogan vetoed it as usual, because god forbid he should put a worker over. So instead he had to take “last man out” as consolation. And the Intercontinental title later on. At any rate, fast forward through the undercard and catch a great performance from Dibiase, even if the ending does suck. Mildly recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1990

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1990. – Live from Orlando, Florida. – Your hosts are Tony Skee-A-Vone and the Governor of Minnesota.Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwhackers. Jacques is sporting a beard here. The Rougeaus were basically retired at this point and this is a one-shot comeback to put over the Sheepwhackers. We get the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM to start, then a comedy segment as the Rougeau’s tactics backfire and the ‘Whackers start biting people in the ass. That beard really doesn’t work on Jacques. And the Rougeaus are being made to look like idiots, with all the heel tactics going wrong. More stalling. But alas, Luke gets caught in the corner and choked out. More stalling. Sadly, I can tell that the Rougeaus are dogging it, but I can’t tell if the Sheepwhackers are trying or if they just suck that bad. (2012 Scott sez:  They suck that bad.)  Luke takes a couple of decent bumps to bring it out of negative stars. You know the heels have it in neutral when Raymond forgoes the savate kick-abdominal stretch double-team in favor of simply punching the guy. Luke makes the hot tag to Butch, and Jacques bumps like a madman (hoping to win a singles push, I’d guess). Jimmy Hart gets involved and allows the Rougeaus a comeback. But while Raymond comforts Jacques after a bump, the Bushwhackers hit the battering ram and get the pin. Ugly comedy match. DUD – Mean Gene accuses Dibiase of rigging the draw in 1989, and then the hand of irony interjects itself as Dibiase reveals that he drew #1 this year. Wow, continuity and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  These days I can barely remember who WON the Rumble the year before.)  The Genius v. Brutus Beefcake. Someone should really publish a book of Poffo’s poetry. This is a couple of weeks after Poffo’s glorious victory over Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Stalling a go-go. The sad thing is that Poffo is one of the most talented guys in the business and he doesn’t need to resort to that sort of thing. This match, of course, was meant to transfer the heat on Mr. Perfect from Hogan to Beefcake. Poffo does the most melodramatic atomic drop sell I’ve ever seen, working in three rolls. I kid you not. Poffo has to play it gay to stay in character, which means lots of eye-scratching, back-scratching, and cartwheels. More stalling from Poffo. I wonder if Lanny Poffo was the inspiration for Johnny B Badd? Genius gets about an 8 on the Fag-O-Meter at any given time, so it’s not out of the question. Poffo gets a long stretch of token jobber offense in (kick, punch, slam) but Beefcake catches him coming off the top rope and quickly hooks a the sleeper…but Poffo escapes and causes a ref bump. A ref bump in a LANNY POFFO MATCH? I’d be flattered if I was Poffo. And now of course Beefcake gets the sleeper, but the ref is out. Beefcake gets his scissors and starts cutting, but Mr. Perfect saves his manager from a haircut. Referee wakes up and calls a no-contest, I guess. Genius and Perfect brutalize Beefcake with a chair. Yeesh, talk about needless overbooking. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  This of course would never make it past Smackdown today.  Like, a midcarder against a manager on PPV?  Different times, indeed.)  – Sean Mooney has words with the Heenan Family, and stirs up shit. – Submission match: Rugged Ronnie Garvin v. Greg Valentine. Both guys have LOADED SHIN-GUARDS OF DEATH! Stiff shots from both guys in the opening slugfest. We get the inevitable “Pinfall attempt but it’s a submission match” bits to establish the stips for the REALLY dumb people in the audience. (2012 Scott sez:  And I bet some of those people went on to book TNA.)  More slugging and a Garvin headbutt leads to a double-KO. They go through a pinning combo sequence that means nothing because IT’S A SUBMISSION MATCH. The Sledgehammer of Plot is in full effect tonight. Another double knockout. Hammer goes for the figure-four but Garvin pushes him off and cradles him. Duh. Did they forget the stips or something? Hammer takes him down again and slaps on the figure-four (with help from the evil shin-brace) but see, Garvin has his own shin-brace, which counter-acts the evil mojo of Valentine’s, and as a result the figure-four has no effect. Garvin makes faces at Valentine to reinforce the point. Somebody hook me up the guy who delivered the drugs for the bookers for this show, because I’ve GOT to try them. Garvin makes a comeback and applies an Indian deathlock. Jesse makes SKINNY jokes about Tony. About TONY! (2012 Scott sez:  Tony was pretty fat at the point when I was writing this review.)  They fight outside the ring and Valentine backdrops out of a piledriver. Have I mentioned how stupid and AWA-ish it is for Garvin to try to get a submission with a fucking INDIAN DEATHLOCK? Why not try for a pin with a bodyslam, like in the 50s, while we’re at it. Another double KO, and Jimmy Hart slips something into Valentine’s shin-guard, and this time the dreaded SHIN-GUARD OF DOOM is able to overcome Garvin’s Hammer Jammer shin-guard. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, the shin-guard had a name, and it was MOTHERFUCKING HAMMER JAMMER, bitch.)  But Ronnie is Rugged, so he reverses the figure-four. Garvin’s shin-guard seems to have disappeared along the way. Garvin keeps trying for the pin. Oh, I see, Hart stole it. Garvin is selling the knee injury well, I’ll give him that. Jimmy Hart gets involved (and beat up) and Garvin is able to whack Valentine with his own shin-guard and apply a sharpshooter for the submission. Silliness of the angle behind it aside, it wasn’t bad for a Garvin match. **1/4 – Curt Hennig gloats about beating up Beefcake, and then gloats because he drew #30 in the Rumble. – Brother Love gets 20 minutes of PPV time to waste. Special guests: Sapphire and Sherri. Love and Sherri verbally abuse Sapphire until she hauls off and smacks Sherri, and a big brawl with the women, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage erupts. Rhodes beats up Brother Love and tosses him. Nice bump from Pritchard. – Big Bossman v. Hacksaw Duggan. Slick, nearing the end of his WWF run, doesn’t even get funky. Everything else after this was lame stuff like the Warlord and Power and Glory. (2012 Scott sez:  Power & Glory was pretty awesome, though.)  Bossman shows his improvement by selling like a champ for Duggan’s offense and bumping like a madman. Good for him. I forget the angle behind this, but it probably involves something stolen and a nightstick beating. Bossman pulls out an enzuigiri. Whoa! Bossman lays a beating on Duggan with his usual weak offense. Duggan keeps getting up and Bossman keeps putting him down. Duggan comes back again, clotheslining Bossman over the top rope in another nice bump for Bossman. Duggan comeback stalls again as he misses a blind charge and gets clotheslined. Bossman’s top rope splash misses, however, and we get a double knockout spot. Miscommunication spot between Slick and Bossman, but Bossman still ends up with the nightstick and beats on Duggan for the DQ. Weak ending to a Duggan match that DIDN’T SUCK! Go fig. Duggan cleans house with the 2×4. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Face turn ahoy for Big Bossman!)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley. Earthquake! Bravo! Ax! Smash! Bad News! Dusty! Shawn! Marty! Hercules! Martel! Santana! Snuka! Akeem! Warrior! – 5 minute intermission! Oops, got caught up in the excitement there. And why did they take those intermissions, anyway?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think people weren’t really used to a 3 hour show at that point, and the intermission served the same basic purpose as the Divas match today:  Cooling down the crowd before the main event.  Can’t imagine what they’d made of ROH iPPVs today.  4 hours is way too long for a show that’s not Wrestlemania.)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley: The Sequel. Savage! Warlord! Barbarian! Roberts! Bret! Anvil! Honky Tonk! Hogan! Lessee, with Dibiase, Hennig, Rude, Haku and Andre, that’s still only 27 guys accounted for. Oh, and Piper didn’t get an interview, so that’s 28. – Royal Rumble: Dibiase gets #1 of course. Ah, there we go, Koko B Ware got #2. That’s 29 accounted for. Managers are allowed at ringside this year for some reason. Koko has ugly painted on sideburns. Koko does a blind charge and gets backdropped out in short order. Well that was a quick night. Marty Jannetty is #3. He works in the triple somersault clothesline sell 30 seconds in. Dibiase works in his own somersault sell coming off the second rope soon after. Jannetty goes for a cross-body…and goes over the top rope. Two down, 27 to go for Dibiase. Jake Roberts is #4, and I’m pretty sure he’ll last longer. They have an issue, so they fight on the floor and Dibiase gets taken to the post. Dibiase and Roberts get a pretty good little match going as Randy Savage is #5. A three-way between Savage, Dibiase and Roberts? Works for me. Savage and Dibiase pair off against Roberts. Roddy Piper (#6) makes the save and blows the roof off. Piper and Snake clean house. Warlord is #7. Not much of note happens. Bret Hart is #8 and he turns the tide for the faces…and why are they working together, anyway? The “good guys and bad guys” spirit was still very much in effect, even in the every-man-for-himself event. Everyone pairs off. Bret gets Warlord. Bad News Brown is #9 and he goes right after Bret Hart. Roberts goes for a DDT on Dibiase and Savage clotheslines him over the top. Roberts isn’t very good at these things. Dusty Rhodes is #10 and of course he immediately goes after Savage, and tosses him a few seconds later. If you look fast, you can see referee Shane McMahon telling Savage to go back to the dressing room. Andre the Giant is #11. He knocks Warlord out with one hand. Heenan and Fuji get into a yelling match about it. Andre beats on Piper and Dusty. Terry Taylor (not that other name) is #12. Piper backdrops Bad News out, and Brown pulls Piper out in retaliation. You get a better view of young Shane as they fight back to the dressing room. Andre is whomping Taylor. Demolition Ax is #13. Andre dumps Taylor. Ax and Dusty double-team him. Haku is #14, which puts the tag champs in there together. Dibiase and Bret Hart are having a dandy little match-let over in the corner. And of course, Smash is #15 to give us the Demolition v. Colossal Connection matchup. Nothing noteworthy going on. Akeem is #16. The Demos actually manage to put Andre out! (2012 Scott sez:  That’s pretty awesome, actually, given Andre’s propensity for battle royales.  Of course, his short stay had more to do with not being able to move, but still, way to go Demolition.)  Bret gets knocked out off-camera. Jimmy Snuka is #17. He knocks out the dancing Akeem in short order. Dino Bravo is #18. Man, we need Warrior to clear out some of this deadwood. The Demos work over Dibiase, who’s been in for more than half an hour. Earthquake is #19 and he gets on my good list by tossing Big Dust. Then Ax. Jim Neidhart is #20 and goes right after Earthquake. Everyone helps out and they alley-oop him over the top. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s some smart booking tonight, with everyone going after the big threats.)  More people beat on Dibiase. Warrior is #21 and watch the bodies fly now. Bravo is gone. Warrior beats on everyone, showing no favorites. Rick Martel is #22. Haku backdrops Smash to the apron, then thrust kicks him to the floor to knock him out. Tito Santana is #23 and goes after Martel, of course. Honky Tonk Man is #24. We’re just lining up the targets for Hogan at this point. Neidhart is knocked out by a double-team effort. Warrior finally knocks Dibiase out after 48 minutes+. And here I thought the Orange Goblin would get the honors. Hogan is #25 and Snuka is right on him. Buh bye, Superfly. Buh bye, Haku. Have a seat, Santana. Shawn Michaels is #26 as Honky is sacrificed to Hogan. Michaels goes bye-bye. Martel is gone via the Warrior, and we’re left with Hogan v. Warrior and 4 guys to go. Shoving match and they do the CRISS-CROSS OF DOOM and damned if the entire arena isn’t standing on their seats. (2012 Scott sez:  I was almost literally pooping my pants in 1990.  POOPING MY PANTS.)  Double KO, which is rudely interrupted by Barbarian at #27. Rude enters prematurely at #28. Barbarian takes Hulk and Rude takes Warrior. Barbarian and Rude work over Warrior, and Hulk crashes into them, knocking Warrior out. Hercules is #29. Hulk and Herc work over the heels until Hennig’s entrance at #30 to complete the entrants. Herc backdrops Barbarian out. Final four: Hennig, Hogan, Herc and Rude. Rude clotheslines Herc out, leaving Rude and Hennig against Hogan. Hennig ends up on the apron, and as he climbs to his feet, he pulls down the top rope, sending Rude over and out by accident. Hennig beats on Hogan and applies the Perfectplex, which does no good in the context of a battle royale, but Hulk hulks up. Hennig takes his contractually obligated slingshot to the post and Hogan clotheslines the shit out of him and dumps him over the top to win the match. Good Rumble. **** The Bottom Line: Interesting story: Curt Hennig was booked to win the Rumble for months prior to this, but Hogan vetoed it as usual, because god forbid he should put a worker over. So instead he had to take “last man out” as consolation. And the Intercontinental title later on. At any rate, fast forward through the undercard and catch a great performance from Dibiase, even if the ending does suck. Mildly recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1990

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1990. – Live from Orlando, Florida. – Your hosts are Tony Skee-A-Vone and the Governor of Minnesota.Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwhackers. Jacques is sporting a beard here. The Rougeaus were basically retired at this point and this is a one-shot comeback to put over the Sheepwhackers. We get the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM to start, then a comedy segment as the Rougeau’s tactics backfire and the ‘Whackers start biting people in the ass. That beard really doesn’t work on Jacques. And the Rougeaus are being made to look like idiots, with all the heel tactics going wrong. More stalling. But alas, Luke gets caught in the corner and choked out. More stalling. Sadly, I can tell that the Rougeaus are dogging it, but I can’t tell if the Sheepwhackers are trying or if they just suck that bad. (2012 Scott sez:  They suck that bad.)  Luke takes a couple of decent bumps to bring it out of negative stars. You know the heels have it in neutral when Raymond forgoes the savate kick-abdominal stretch double-team in favor of simply punching the guy. Luke makes the hot tag to Butch, and Jacques bumps like a madman (hoping to win a singles push, I’d guess). Jimmy Hart gets involved and allows the Rougeaus a comeback. But while Raymond comforts Jacques after a bump, the Bushwhackers hit the battering ram and get the pin. Ugly comedy match. DUD – Mean Gene accuses Dibiase of rigging the draw in 1989, and then the hand of irony interjects itself as Dibiase reveals that he drew #1 this year. Wow, continuity and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  These days I can barely remember who WON the Rumble the year before.)  The Genius v. Brutus Beefcake. Someone should really publish a book of Poffo’s poetry. This is a couple of weeks after Poffo’s glorious victory over Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Stalling a go-go. The sad thing is that Poffo is one of the most talented guys in the business and he doesn’t need to resort to that sort of thing. This match, of course, was meant to transfer the heat on Mr. Perfect from Hogan to Beefcake. Poffo does the most melodramatic atomic drop sell I’ve ever seen, working in three rolls. I kid you not. Poffo has to play it gay to stay in character, which means lots of eye-scratching, back-scratching, and cartwheels. More stalling from Poffo. I wonder if Lanny Poffo was the inspiration for Johnny B Badd? Genius gets about an 8 on the Fag-O-Meter at any given time, so it’s not out of the question. Poffo gets a long stretch of token jobber offense in (kick, punch, slam) but Beefcake catches him coming off the top rope and quickly hooks a the sleeper…but Poffo escapes and causes a ref bump. A ref bump in a LANNY POFFO MATCH? I’d be flattered if I was Poffo. And now of course Beefcake gets the sleeper, but the ref is out. Beefcake gets his scissors and starts cutting, but Mr. Perfect saves his manager from a haircut. Referee wakes up and calls a no-contest, I guess. Genius and Perfect brutalize Beefcake with a chair. Yeesh, talk about needless overbooking. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  This of course would never make it past Smackdown today.  Like, a midcarder against a manager on PPV?  Different times, indeed.)  – Sean Mooney has words with the Heenan Family, and stirs up shit. – Submission match: Rugged Ronnie Garvin v. Greg Valentine. Both guys have LOADED SHIN-GUARDS OF DEATH! Stiff shots from both guys in the opening slugfest. We get the inevitable “Pinfall attempt but it’s a submission match” bits to establish the stips for the REALLY dumb people in the audience. (2012 Scott sez:  And I bet some of those people went on to book TNA.)  More slugging and a Garvin headbutt leads to a double-KO. They go through a pinning combo sequence that means nothing because IT’S A SUBMISSION MATCH. The Sledgehammer of Plot is in full effect tonight. Another double knockout. Hammer goes for the figure-four but Garvin pushes him off and cradles him. Duh. Did they forget the stips or something? Hammer takes him down again and slaps on the figure-four (with help from the evil shin-brace) but see, Garvin has his own shin-brace, which counter-acts the evil mojo of Valentine’s, and as a result the figure-four has no effect. Garvin makes faces at Valentine to reinforce the point. Somebody hook me up the guy who delivered the drugs for the bookers for this show, because I’ve GOT to try them. Garvin makes a comeback and applies an Indian deathlock. Jesse makes SKINNY jokes about Tony. About TONY! (2012 Scott sez:  Tony was pretty fat at the point when I was writing this review.)  They fight outside the ring and Valentine backdrops out of a piledriver. Have I mentioned how stupid and AWA-ish it is for Garvin to try to get a submission with a fucking INDIAN DEATHLOCK? Why not try for a pin with a bodyslam, like in the 50s, while we’re at it. Another double KO, and Jimmy Hart slips something into Valentine’s shin-guard, and this time the dreaded SHIN-GUARD OF DOOM is able to overcome Garvin’s Hammer Jammer shin-guard. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, the shin-guard had a name, and it was MOTHERFUCKING HAMMER JAMMER, bitch.)  But Ronnie is Rugged, so he reverses the figure-four. Garvin’s shin-guard seems to have disappeared along the way. Garvin keeps trying for the pin. Oh, I see, Hart stole it. Garvin is selling the knee injury well, I’ll give him that. Jimmy Hart gets involved (and beat up) and Garvin is able to whack Valentine with his own shin-guard and apply a sharpshooter for the submission. Silliness of the angle behind it aside, it wasn’t bad for a Garvin match. **1/4 – Curt Hennig gloats about beating up Beefcake, and then gloats because he drew #30 in the Rumble. – Brother Love gets 20 minutes of PPV time to waste. Special guests: Sapphire and Sherri. Love and Sherri verbally abuse Sapphire until she hauls off and smacks Sherri, and a big brawl with the women, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage erupts. Rhodes beats up Brother Love and tosses him. Nice bump from Pritchard. – Big Bossman v. Hacksaw Duggan. Slick, nearing the end of his WWF run, doesn’t even get funky. Everything else after this was lame stuff like the Warlord and Power and Glory. (2012 Scott sez:  Power & Glory was pretty awesome, though.)  Bossman shows his improvement by selling like a champ for Duggan’s offense and bumping like a madman. Good for him. I forget the angle behind this, but it probably involves something stolen and a nightstick beating. Bossman pulls out an enzuigiri. Whoa! Bossman lays a beating on Duggan with his usual weak offense. Duggan keeps getting up and Bossman keeps putting him down. Duggan comes back again, clotheslining Bossman over the top rope in another nice bump for Bossman. Duggan comeback stalls again as he misses a blind charge and gets clotheslined. Bossman’s top rope splash misses, however, and we get a double knockout spot. Miscommunication spot between Slick and Bossman, but Bossman still ends up with the nightstick and beats on Duggan for the DQ. Weak ending to a Duggan match that DIDN’T SUCK! Go fig. Duggan cleans house with the 2×4. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Face turn ahoy for Big Bossman!)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley. Earthquake! Bravo! Ax! Smash! Bad News! Dusty! Shawn! Marty! Hercules! Martel! Santana! Snuka! Akeem! Warrior! – 5 minute intermission! Oops, got caught up in the excitement there. And why did they take those intermissions, anyway?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think people weren’t really used to a 3 hour show at that point, and the intermission served the same basic purpose as the Divas match today:  Cooling down the crowd before the main event.  Can’t imagine what they’d made of ROH iPPVs today.  4 hours is way too long for a show that’s not Wrestlemania.)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley: The Sequel. Savage! Warlord! Barbarian! Roberts! Bret! Anvil! Honky Tonk! Hogan! Lessee, with Dibiase, Hennig, Rude, Haku and Andre, that’s still only 27 guys accounted for. Oh, and Piper didn’t get an interview, so that’s 28. – Royal Rumble: Dibiase gets #1 of course. Ah, there we go, Koko B Ware got #2. That’s 29 accounted for. Managers are allowed at ringside this year for some reason. Koko has ugly painted on sideburns. Koko does a blind charge and gets backdropped out in short order. Well that was a quick night. Marty Jannetty is #3. He works in the triple somersault clothesline sell 30 seconds in. Dibiase works in his own somersault sell coming off the second rope soon after. Jannetty goes for a cross-body…and goes over the top rope. Two down, 27 to go for Dibiase. Jake Roberts is #4, and I’m pretty sure he’ll last longer. They have an issue, so they fight on the floor and Dibiase gets taken to the post. Dibiase and Roberts get a pretty good little match going as Randy Savage is #5. A three-way between Savage, Dibiase and Roberts? Works for me. Savage and Dibiase pair off against Roberts. Roddy Piper (#6) makes the save and blows the roof off. Piper and Snake clean house. Warlord is #7. Not much of note happens. Bret Hart is #8 and he turns the tide for the faces…and why are they working together, anyway? The “good guys and bad guys” spirit was still very much in effect, even in the every-man-for-himself event. Everyone pairs off. Bret gets Warlord. Bad News Brown is #9 and he goes right after Bret Hart. Roberts goes for a DDT on Dibiase and Savage clotheslines him over the top. Roberts isn’t very good at these things. Dusty Rhodes is #10 and of course he immediately goes after Savage, and tosses him a few seconds later. If you look fast, you can see referee Shane McMahon telling Savage to go back to the dressing room. Andre the Giant is #11. He knocks Warlord out with one hand. Heenan and Fuji get into a yelling match about it. Andre beats on Piper and Dusty. Terry Taylor (not that other name) is #12. Piper backdrops Bad News out, and Brown pulls Piper out in retaliation. You get a better view of young Shane as they fight back to the dressing room. Andre is whomping Taylor. Demolition Ax is #13. Andre dumps Taylor. Ax and Dusty double-team him. Haku is #14, which puts the tag champs in there together. Dibiase and Bret Hart are having a dandy little match-let over in the corner. And of course, Smash is #15 to give us the Demolition v. Colossal Connection matchup. Nothing noteworthy going on. Akeem is #16. The Demos actually manage to put Andre out! (2012 Scott sez:  That’s pretty awesome, actually, given Andre’s propensity for battle royales.  Of course, his short stay had more to do with not being able to move, but still, way to go Demolition.)  Bret gets knocked out off-camera. Jimmy Snuka is #17. He knocks out the dancing Akeem in short order. Dino Bravo is #18. Man, we need Warrior to clear out some of this deadwood. The Demos work over Dibiase, who’s been in for more than half an hour. Earthquake is #19 and he gets on my good list by tossing Big Dust. Then Ax. Jim Neidhart is #20 and goes right after Earthquake. Everyone helps out and they alley-oop him over the top. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s some smart booking tonight, with everyone going after the big threats.)  More people beat on Dibiase. Warrior is #21 and watch the bodies fly now. Bravo is gone. Warrior beats on everyone, showing no favorites. Rick Martel is #22. Haku backdrops Smash to the apron, then thrust kicks him to the floor to knock him out. Tito Santana is #23 and goes after Martel, of course. Honky Tonk Man is #24. We’re just lining up the targets for Hogan at this point. Neidhart is knocked out by a double-team effort. Warrior finally knocks Dibiase out after 48 minutes+. And here I thought the Orange Goblin would get the honors. Hogan is #25 and Snuka is right on him. Buh bye, Superfly. Buh bye, Haku. Have a seat, Santana. Shawn Michaels is #26 as Honky is sacrificed to Hogan. Michaels goes bye-bye. Martel is gone via the Warrior, and we’re left with Hogan v. Warrior and 4 guys to go. Shoving match and they do the CRISS-CROSS OF DOOM and damned if the entire arena isn’t standing on their seats. (2012 Scott sez:  I was almost literally pooping my pants in 1990.  POOPING MY PANTS.)  Double KO, which is rudely interrupted by Barbarian at #27. Rude enters prematurely at #28. Barbarian takes Hulk and Rude takes Warrior. Barbarian and Rude work over Warrior, and Hulk crashes into them, knocking Warrior out. Hercules is #29. Hulk and Herc work over the heels until Hennig’s entrance at #30 to complete the entrants. Herc backdrops Barbarian out. Final four: Hennig, Hogan, Herc and Rude. Rude clotheslines Herc out, leaving Rude and Hennig against Hogan. Hennig ends up on the apron, and as he climbs to his feet, he pulls down the top rope, sending Rude over and out by accident. Hennig beats on Hogan and applies the Perfectplex, which does no good in the context of a battle royale, but Hulk hulks up. Hennig takes his contractually obligated slingshot to the post and Hogan clotheslines the shit out of him and dumps him over the top to win the match. Good Rumble. **** The Bottom Line: Interesting story: Curt Hennig was booked to win the Rumble for months prior to this, but Hogan vetoed it as usual, because god forbid he should put a worker over. So instead he had to take “last man out” as consolation. And the Intercontinental title later on. At any rate, fast forward through the undercard and catch a great performance from Dibiase, even if the ending does suck. Mildly recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1990

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1990. – Live from Orlando, Florida. – Your hosts are Tony Skee-A-Vone and the Governor of Minnesota.Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwhackers. Jacques is sporting a beard here. The Rougeaus were basically retired at this point and this is a one-shot comeback to put over the Sheepwhackers. We get the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM to start, then a comedy segment as the Rougeau’s tactics backfire and the ‘Whackers start biting people in the ass. That beard really doesn’t work on Jacques. And the Rougeaus are being made to look like idiots, with all the heel tactics going wrong. More stalling. But alas, Luke gets caught in the corner and choked out. More stalling. Sadly, I can tell that the Rougeaus are dogging it, but I can’t tell if the Sheepwhackers are trying or if they just suck that bad. (2012 Scott sez:  They suck that bad.)  Luke takes a couple of decent bumps to bring it out of negative stars. You know the heels have it in neutral when Raymond forgoes the savate kick-abdominal stretch double-team in favor of simply punching the guy. Luke makes the hot tag to Butch, and Jacques bumps like a madman (hoping to win a singles push, I’d guess). Jimmy Hart gets involved and allows the Rougeaus a comeback. But while Raymond comforts Jacques after a bump, the Bushwhackers hit the battering ram and get the pin. Ugly comedy match. DUD – Mean Gene accuses Dibiase of rigging the draw in 1989, and then the hand of irony interjects itself as Dibiase reveals that he drew #1 this year. Wow, continuity and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  These days I can barely remember who WON the Rumble the year before.)  The Genius v. Brutus Beefcake. Someone should really publish a book of Poffo’s poetry. This is a couple of weeks after Poffo’s glorious victory over Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Stalling a go-go. The sad thing is that Poffo is one of the most talented guys in the business and he doesn’t need to resort to that sort of thing. This match, of course, was meant to transfer the heat on Mr. Perfect from Hogan to Beefcake. Poffo does the most melodramatic atomic drop sell I’ve ever seen, working in three rolls. I kid you not. Poffo has to play it gay to stay in character, which means lots of eye-scratching, back-scratching, and cartwheels. More stalling from Poffo. I wonder if Lanny Poffo was the inspiration for Johnny B Badd? Genius gets about an 8 on the Fag-O-Meter at any given time, so it’s not out of the question. Poffo gets a long stretch of token jobber offense in (kick, punch, slam) but Beefcake catches him coming off the top rope and quickly hooks a the sleeper…but Poffo escapes and causes a ref bump. A ref bump in a LANNY POFFO MATCH? I’d be flattered if I was Poffo. And now of course Beefcake gets the sleeper, but the ref is out. Beefcake gets his scissors and starts cutting, but Mr. Perfect saves his manager from a haircut. Referee wakes up and calls a no-contest, I guess. Genius and Perfect brutalize Beefcake with a chair. Yeesh, talk about needless overbooking. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  This of course would never make it past Smackdown today.  Like, a midcarder against a manager on PPV?  Different times, indeed.)  – Sean Mooney has words with the Heenan Family, and stirs up shit. – Submission match: Rugged Ronnie Garvin v. Greg Valentine. Both guys have LOADED SHIN-GUARDS OF DEATH! Stiff shots from both guys in the opening slugfest. We get the inevitable “Pinfall attempt but it’s a submission match” bits to establish the stips for the REALLY dumb people in the audience. (2012 Scott sez:  And I bet some of those people went on to book TNA.)  More slugging and a Garvin headbutt leads to a double-KO. They go through a pinning combo sequence that means nothing because IT’S A SUBMISSION MATCH. The Sledgehammer of Plot is in full effect tonight. Another double knockout. Hammer goes for the figure-four but Garvin pushes him off and cradles him. Duh. Did they forget the stips or something? Hammer takes him down again and slaps on the figure-four (with help from the evil shin-brace) but see, Garvin has his own shin-brace, which counter-acts the evil mojo of Valentine’s, and as a result the figure-four has no effect. Garvin makes faces at Valentine to reinforce the point. Somebody hook me up the guy who delivered the drugs for the bookers for this show, because I’ve GOT to try them. Garvin makes a comeback and applies an Indian deathlock. Jesse makes SKINNY jokes about Tony. About TONY! (2012 Scott sez:  Tony was pretty fat at the point when I was writing this review.)  They fight outside the ring and Valentine backdrops out of a piledriver. Have I mentioned how stupid and AWA-ish it is for Garvin to try to get a submission with a fucking INDIAN DEATHLOCK? Why not try for a pin with a bodyslam, like in the 50s, while we’re at it. Another double KO, and Jimmy Hart slips something into Valentine’s shin-guard, and this time the dreaded SHIN-GUARD OF DOOM is able to overcome Garvin’s Hammer Jammer shin-guard. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, the shin-guard had a name, and it was MOTHERFUCKING HAMMER JAMMER, bitch.)  But Ronnie is Rugged, so he reverses the figure-four. Garvin’s shin-guard seems to have disappeared along the way. Garvin keeps trying for the pin. Oh, I see, Hart stole it. Garvin is selling the knee injury well, I’ll give him that. Jimmy Hart gets involved (and beat up) and Garvin is able to whack Valentine with his own shin-guard and apply a sharpshooter for the submission. Silliness of the angle behind it aside, it wasn’t bad for a Garvin match. **1/4 – Curt Hennig gloats about beating up Beefcake, and then gloats because he drew #30 in the Rumble. – Brother Love gets 20 minutes of PPV time to waste. Special guests: Sapphire and Sherri. Love and Sherri verbally abuse Sapphire until she hauls off and smacks Sherri, and a big brawl with the women, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage erupts. Rhodes beats up Brother Love and tosses him. Nice bump from Pritchard. – Big Bossman v. Hacksaw Duggan. Slick, nearing the end of his WWF run, doesn’t even get funky. Everything else after this was lame stuff like the Warlord and Power and Glory. (2012 Scott sez:  Power & Glory was pretty awesome, though.)  Bossman shows his improvement by selling like a champ for Duggan’s offense and bumping like a madman. Good for him. I forget the angle behind this, but it probably involves something stolen and a nightstick beating. Bossman pulls out an enzuigiri. Whoa! Bossman lays a beating on Duggan with his usual weak offense. Duggan keeps getting up and Bossman keeps putting him down. Duggan comes back again, clotheslining Bossman over the top rope in another nice bump for Bossman. Duggan comeback stalls again as he misses a blind charge and gets clotheslined. Bossman’s top rope splash misses, however, and we get a double knockout spot. Miscommunication spot between Slick and Bossman, but Bossman still ends up with the nightstick and beats on Duggan for the DQ. Weak ending to a Duggan match that DIDN’T SUCK! Go fig. Duggan cleans house with the 2×4. **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Face turn ahoy for Big Bossman!)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley. Earthquake! Bravo! Ax! Smash! Bad News! Dusty! Shawn! Marty! Hercules! Martel! Santana! Snuka! Akeem! Warrior! – 5 minute intermission! Oops, got caught up in the excitement there. And why did they take those intermissions, anyway?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think people weren’t really used to a 3 hour show at that point, and the intermission served the same basic purpose as the Divas match today:  Cooling down the crowd before the main event.  Can’t imagine what they’d made of ROH iPPVs today.  4 hours is way too long for a show that’s not Wrestlemania.)  – Pre-Rumble interview medley: The Sequel. Savage! Warlord! Barbarian! Roberts! Bret! Anvil! Honky Tonk! Hogan! Lessee, with Dibiase, Hennig, Rude, Haku and Andre, that’s still only 27 guys accounted for. Oh, and Piper didn’t get an interview, so that’s 28. – Royal Rumble: Dibiase gets #1 of course. Ah, there we go, Koko B Ware got #2. That’s 29 accounted for. Managers are allowed at ringside this year for some reason. Koko has ugly painted on sideburns. Koko does a blind charge and gets backdropped out in short order. Well that was a quick night. Marty Jannetty is #3. He works in the triple somersault clothesline sell 30 seconds in. Dibiase works in his own somersault sell coming off the second rope soon after. Jannetty goes for a cross-body…and goes over the top rope. Two down, 27 to go for Dibiase. Jake Roberts is #4, and I’m pretty sure he’ll last longer. They have an issue, so they fight on the floor and Dibiase gets taken to the post. Dibiase and Roberts get a pretty good little match going as Randy Savage is #5. A three-way between Savage, Dibiase and Roberts? Works for me. Savage and Dibiase pair off against Roberts. Roddy Piper (#6) makes the save and blows the roof off. Piper and Snake clean house. Warlord is #7. Not much of note happens. Bret Hart is #8 and he turns the tide for the faces…and why are they working together, anyway? The “good guys and bad guys” spirit was still very much in effect, even in the every-man-for-himself event. Everyone pairs off. Bret gets Warlord. Bad News Brown is #9 and he goes right after Bret Hart. Roberts goes for a DDT on Dibiase and Savage clotheslines him over the top. Roberts isn’t very good at these things. Dusty Rhodes is #10 and of course he immediately goes after Savage, and tosses him a few seconds later. If you look fast, you can see referee Shane McMahon telling Savage to go back to the dressing room. Andre the Giant is #11. He knocks Warlord out with one hand. Heenan and Fuji get into a yelling match about it. Andre beats on Piper and Dusty. Terry Taylor (not that other name) is #12. Piper backdrops Bad News out, and Brown pulls Piper out in retaliation. You get a better view of young Shane as they fight back to the dressing room. Andre is whomping Taylor. Demolition Ax is #13. Andre dumps Taylor. Ax and Dusty double-team him. Haku is #14, which puts the tag champs in there together. Dibiase and Bret Hart are having a dandy little match-let over in the corner. And of course, Smash is #15 to give us the Demolition v. Colossal Connection matchup. Nothing noteworthy going on. Akeem is #16. The Demos actually manage to put Andre out! (2012 Scott sez:  That’s pretty awesome, actually, given Andre’s propensity for battle royales.  Of course, his short stay had more to do with not being able to move, but still, way to go Demolition.)  Bret gets knocked out off-camera. Jimmy Snuka is #17. He knocks out the dancing Akeem in short order. Dino Bravo is #18. Man, we need Warrior to clear out some of this deadwood. The Demos work over Dibiase, who’s been in for more than half an hour. Earthquake is #19 and he gets on my good list by tossing Big Dust. Then Ax. Jim Neidhart is #20 and goes right after Earthquake. Everyone helps out and they alley-oop him over the top. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s some smart booking tonight, with everyone going after the big threats.)  More people beat on Dibiase. Warrior is #21 and watch the bodies fly now. Bravo is gone. Warrior beats on everyone, showing no favorites. Rick Martel is #22. Haku backdrops Smash to the apron, then thrust kicks him to the floor to knock him out. Tito Santana is #23 and goes after Martel, of course. Honky Tonk Man is #24. We’re just lining up the targets for Hogan at this point. Neidhart is knocked out by a double-team effort. Warrior finally knocks Dibiase out after 48 minutes+. And here I thought the Orange Goblin would get the honors. Hogan is #25 and Snuka is right on him. Buh bye, Superfly. Buh bye, Haku. Have a seat, Santana. Shawn Michaels is #26 as Honky is sacrificed to Hogan. Michaels goes bye-bye. Martel is gone via the Warrior, and we’re left with Hogan v. Warrior and 4 guys to go. Shoving match and they do the CRISS-CROSS OF DOOM and damned if the entire arena isn’t standing on their seats. (2012 Scott sez:  I was almost literally pooping my pants in 1990.  POOPING MY PANTS.)  Double KO, which is rudely interrupted by Barbarian at #27. Rude enters prematurely at #28. Barbarian takes Hulk and Rude takes Warrior. Barbarian and Rude work over Warrior, and Hulk crashes into them, knocking Warrior out. Hercules is #29. Hulk and Herc work over the heels until Hennig’s entrance at #30 to complete the entrants. Herc backdrops Barbarian out. Final four: Hennig, Hogan, Herc and Rude. Rude clotheslines Herc out, leaving Rude and Hennig against Hogan. Hennig ends up on the apron, and as he climbs to his feet, he pulls down the top rope, sending Rude over and out by accident. Hennig beats on Hogan and applies the Perfectplex, which does no good in the context of a battle royale, but Hulk hulks up. Hennig takes his contractually obligated slingshot to the post and Hogan clotheslines the shit out of him and dumps him over the top to win the match. Good Rumble. **** The Bottom Line: Interesting story: Curt Hennig was booked to win the Rumble for months prior to this, but Hogan vetoed it as usual, because god forbid he should put a worker over. So instead he had to take “last man out” as consolation. And the Intercontinental title later on. At any rate, fast forward through the undercard and catch a great performance from Dibiase, even if the ending does suck. Mildly recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1989. – Live from Houston, Texas. – Your hosts are Jesse and Gorilla.Opening match, 2/3 falls: Hacksaw Duggan & The Hart Foundation v. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo. Neidhart and Bravo do the feeling out process until a pier-six erupts and Bret gets decked by the heels to become face-in-peril. I think Dino Bravo does the most dramatic tag in the history of wrestling. Rougeaus get a quick fall on Hart with La Bombe Des Rougeaus. Hart gets the holy hell beat out of him as the Rougeaus and Bravo run through their entire offense on the poor guy. Jesse points out the inherent idiocy of chanting “USA” for the Canadian Hart. No wonder he got so bitter in 1997. Harts do the false tag bit. Bret takes more of a beating. This entire second fall is just non-stop Bret beatdown. Hot tag to Duggan and you’d think Steve Austin just came out from the pop. Anvil gets slingshotted (slingshotten? slungshot?) in onto Jacques for two, and Duggan drops an elbow for three to take the second fall. Now Duggan is Ricky Morton. Is it me, or does Jacques do an awful lot of moves that involve rubbing his crotch into someone’s face? I take a Dorito break. It should be noted that Cool Ranch Doritos and Rolo candy are the only food products (outside of various brands of iced tea) that I would ever agree to shill were I to become a celebrity. (2012 Scott sez:  I would like to update that list to include Rockstar energy drinks and Big Turk chocolate bars.  Really gets you through the workday.)  Hart gets the hot tag, and Duggan bops Bravo with the 2×4 to give Bret the pin. It had it’s moments. **1/2 – Ted Dibiase draws his number for the Rumble, and ends up seeking a trade with Slick. HTM, the Bushwhackers, Bad News Brown, Jake the Snake and the Rockers all draw as well, with varying degrees of happiness. Today, Shawn gets 20 minute interview blocks. Back then, he turns to Marty and says “Good luck”.  (2012 Scott sez:  But the WAY he said it made you think he’d be a star.  OK, I’m just saying that.  But I do really miss the drawing segments where people react to their luck of the draw.)  WWF Women’s title match: Rockin’ Robin v. Judy Martin. For those who weren’t around back then, Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith, sister of Jake Roberts) beat Sherri Martel to win the Women’s title and basically tank the division. Picture Sam Houston, except even skinnier. The push was a disaster, given the utterly dead crowd reaction to her. This match is pretty decent by the generally crappy standards of the time, with non-stop two counts, although myself and the crowd couldn’t give shit one about it. Robin hits a bodypress off the second rope after a head-fake for the pin. **3/4 – Slick responds to the accusations of tampering with the draw. These kinds of little, non-drawn-out, character building segments are lacking today, especially in WCW. – Super Posedown. Today, this is the very definition of something that goes on Nitro or RAW rather than a PPV. In this case, it’s out there to build to the Rude-Warrior match at Wrestlemania V. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Rude poses again. The crowd boos. Warrior poses (with Jesse actually analyzing the posing). The crowd cheers. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Geez, why didn’t Rude just attack him during the first pose? Rude goes through a pose medley. The crowd boos. Warrior goes through a pose medley and (duh) Rude attacks him. Bit of a waste of 15 minutes when it could have been done on Superstars. I mean, really, who DIDN’T see that coming? I know I bitch about the WCW Sledgehammer of Plot a lot, but this is really a shining example of what I mean by it. Even if it was the WWF.  (2012 Scott sez:  Weird that I gave this more play-by-play treatment than most of the matches on this show.)  Crown match: King Haku v. Harley Race. The story: Race was King, but got put through a table by the Orange Goblin and basically had his career ended. This was a one-shot comeback match to “legitimize” Haku’s claim to the crown. Haku controls with “martial arts” (which roughly translated means “chops while screaming”) but Race wins a headbutt battle (he’s got a loaded head, you know) and hits a piledriver for two. Race with more 70s offense and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. They fight for a bit and then Race hits the piledriver for real. Pretty weak one, though. Crowd is gone, not really caring about either guy. More kneedrops and neckbreakers from Race, but Haku fights back with “martial arts” and a headbutt off the top, which misses. Race tries the same, and misses. Double knockout, and Race is up first. He comes off the ropes and eats Haku’s SWEET thrust kick finisher for the pin to retain the crown. Pretty good job of carrying the un-carryable Haku by Race, actually. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  I wouldn’t actually call Haku “un-carryable”.  I’ve seen people get a good match out of him given the right circumstances.)  – More pre-Rumble soundbites from the participants. Big John Studd gives a horrible interview. Savage sounds pretty whacked out. The Powers of Pain breathe heavily a lot. – Five minute intermission. – We’re back with last-minute words from Dibiase, who is now MUCH happier. But there’s no shenanigans, no sir. – The Heenan Family adds their thoughts. Andre the Giant notes that he’ll toss the Brainbusters out if he has to. Then, in a spectacular moment, Arn Anderson whispers something in Tully Blanchard’s ear, behind Heenan’s back. Now who else would actually have the forethought to add overtones of scheming against his own stable-mates without actually having to say so?  (2012 Scott sez:  Arn Anderson was the master of “shades of grey” years before Russo ever came to power.)  – The Orangle Goblin spouts hot air. – The Royal Rumble: We start with a classic moment: Ax draws #1, Smash draws #2. Then, to reinforce the idea of the Rumble, they give a quick look and then go to town on each other. The Demos demonstrate why they never fought each other, because their segment is pretty lousy. Andre the Giant gets #3. The Demos immediately drop their hostilities and go after Andre. Andre can handle himself, because he’s the world’s largest athlete and all. Perfect is #4. Andre casually tosses Smash. Ax turns on Perfect, who ends up doing a Bret-esque turnbuckle charge bump. Ronnie Garvin is #5. Joy. (2012 Scott sez:  The Rumble is actually the kind of match where Garvin would excel, because he can come in, do his high-impact stuff, and then leave.)  Ax, Hennig and Garvin all go after Andre. He fights them off. Hennig does the OVERSELL~! of an Andre punch, which is a situation where it works. (2012 Scott sez:  Fuck off, it always works.)  Valentine is #6. Guess who he goes right after. Poor Andre. Buh-bye, Garvin. Jake is #7, and since he was feuding with Andre, that’s who he goes after. Things settle down a bit as everyone finds a partner and dances. Valentine works in a Flair flop off an Andre headbutt. Ron Bass is #8. Andre tosses Jake. It should be noted that despite the inherent tastelessness of the Ric Flair heart attack angle, the WWF did the same thing (albeit in a more cartoonish way) with the “Andre fears snakes” angle in 1989. (2012 Scott sez:  I think the “Bad News Brown fears snakes” angle was much more tasteless for the racist aspect.)  Shawn Michaels is #9, years before that meant anything. Ax gets dumped Perfectly. Michaels and Hennig start fighting and go into a series of overblown somersault sells and intricate ways to go over the top rope without getting eliminated. Show-offs. Bushwhacker Butch is #10, and Jake follows quickly with Damien, chasing Andre over the top and out of the match prematurely in cheap fashion. Honky Tonk Man is #11. We’re in kind of a lull here. We now have three of the most melodramatic sellers in history in the ring at the same time. The crowd is really getting into the elimination attempts, which just underlines the brilliance of the Rumble concept: It’s a battle royale for people with limited attention span, so you can concentrate on one or two battles at a time, with fresh guys in every few minutes. You know what’s weird? Today we remember feuds from years ago and they’re incorporated into angles all the time, but Santana (#12) was fighting Valentine here and no mention is made of their long-running feud in 1985. (2012 Scott sez:  Now we’ve swung back the other way, with guys feuding one month and then teaming up the next, with only CM Punk even remembering to acknowledge it.)  Honky gets tossed via a double-team. Bad News Brown is #13 (how fitting) and does nothing of note. Marty Jannetty gets #14 and the Rockers reunite to double-dropkick Bass out. Savage is #15 to a big pop. Arn Anderson is #16 as Valentine gets tossed by Macho. Arn and Shawn pair off. Savage joins in…on Arn’s side. They toss Michaels. Tully Blanchard is #17. There’s some pretty damn good workers in there right now…Bad News, Savage, Jannetty, Anderson, Blanchard, Santana, Hennig…I guess Butch is the exception that proves the rule. The Brainbusters double-team Jannetty mercilessly. Hogan is #18. Open mouth, insert dick. Hennig is the first victim of Goblin-mania. Santana gets tossed off-camera. Luke is #19. Butch gets tossed by Bad News. Wow, look, Hulk’s selling for Arn. Koko B.Ware is #20. Yeah, that’ll turn the tide. You’d think Arn would learn NOT TO GO TO THE TOP ROPE after 15 years of getting slammed off it. Especially in a battle royale. Hulk dumps Luke. Warlord is #21 as Hogan dumps the Brainbusters at the same time. (2012 Scott sez:  More dream matches we never got:  Brainbusters v. Megapowers.)  Bastard. Warlord in, Warlord out. Savage and Bad News are fighting on the ropes and Hogan dumps both of them. Savage freaks out. Hey, Hogan, keep that in mind in three years when the same shit would happen to you and YOU threw a temper tantrum. Hogan and Savage make up, only to have a violent breakup a month later. Bossman (#22) breaks up the Megapower love-in. Hogan and Bossman are all alone and Bossman takes over on Hulk. Gorilla: “He’s been out there for half an hour!” Jesse: “You idiot, he’s only been there for five minutes or so…”. Akeem is #23, so the Twin Towers assualt poor Hogan. Hogan’s got his working boots on tonight. The Towers continue the beatdown and unceremoniously eliminate Hogan, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan throws a tantrum and beats up Bossman. Brutus Beefcake is #24. The Towers beat on him, too, but Hogan cheats and pulls Bossman out over the top rope to eliminate him. What a role model. One thing does bother me: If Dibiase was unhappy enough with his number to trade, that would indicate he got a low number to start with. But Bossman ended up with 22 and Akeem got 23, so why would Dibiase have been unhappy with either of those? (2012 Scott sez:  Because he’s a rich white guy who would be unhappy with anything less than #30, of course.  That’s the great part about the character.)  Oh well, minor point. Terry Taylor (aka The Red You-Know-What) is #25. He’s not very effective. Barbarian is #26 as Taylor and Beefcake work over Akeem. We’re getting into the dregs of the draw. Akeem splashes Taylor and dances. All the girlies say he’s pretty fly for a white guy, you know. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, this was written in 1999, wanna fight about it?)  John Studd is #27 and man is Taylor taking a shitkicking. Hercules is #28. Geez, the crowd sure died off once Hogan and Savage left. This is like the lost puppy section of the SPCA in terms of star power. Rick Martel is #29, a few months before his heel turn. He goes after Akeem, but Studd pushes him away, like everyone else who tries to go after Akeem. Studd wants him for himself, you see. And of course, Ted Dibiase is #30 thanks to his investment. Okay, so the final tally: Dibiase, Akeem, Studd, Taylor, Beefcake, Hercules, Barbarian and Martel. Oops, there goes Taylor via Dibiase. What a sad group of finalists. Beefcake puts Hercules in a sleeper and Dibiase pushes both of them over at once. Barbie misses a BIG BOOT OF DOOM and Martel dropkicks him out. Final four: Martel, Dibiase, Akeem, Studd. Well, 50% don’t suck. Akeem casually dumps Martel off a bodypress attempt. Akeem and Dibiase double-team Studd. Well, actually, Akeem beats on Studd and Dibiase supervises. Oops, he got caught in between. Studd knocks out the stunned Akeem, leaving Studd and Dibiase. Studd dominates and tosses Dibiase to win the “first” Royal Rumble. First 2/3 was super-hot, but it died off once Hogan left. *** The Bottom Line: Hey, wow, nothing sucked here. Seriously, this was a surprisingly solid card (albeit completely forgettable) from top to bottom. Okay, discount the Super Posedown. Everyone seemed to be making an effort tonight for once. This was pretty much nearing the end of the Golden Age, too, so it’s something of an abomination. Recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1989. – Live from Houston, Texas. – Your hosts are Jesse and Gorilla.Opening match, 2/3 falls: Hacksaw Duggan & The Hart Foundation v. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo. Neidhart and Bravo do the feeling out process until a pier-six erupts and Bret gets decked by the heels to become face-in-peril. I think Dino Bravo does the most dramatic tag in the history of wrestling. Rougeaus get a quick fall on Hart with La Bombe Des Rougeaus. Hart gets the holy hell beat out of him as the Rougeaus and Bravo run through their entire offense on the poor guy. Jesse points out the inherent idiocy of chanting “USA” for the Canadian Hart. No wonder he got so bitter in 1997. Harts do the false tag bit. Bret takes more of a beating. This entire second fall is just non-stop Bret beatdown. Hot tag to Duggan and you’d think Steve Austin just came out from the pop. Anvil gets slingshotted (slingshotten? slungshot?) in onto Jacques for two, and Duggan drops an elbow for three to take the second fall. Now Duggan is Ricky Morton. Is it me, or does Jacques do an awful lot of moves that involve rubbing his crotch into someone’s face? I take a Dorito break. It should be noted that Cool Ranch Doritos and Rolo candy are the only food products (outside of various brands of iced tea) that I would ever agree to shill were I to become a celebrity. (2012 Scott sez:  I would like to update that list to include Rockstar energy drinks and Big Turk chocolate bars.  Really gets you through the workday.)  Hart gets the hot tag, and Duggan bops Bravo with the 2×4 to give Bret the pin. It had it’s moments. **1/2 – Ted Dibiase draws his number for the Rumble, and ends up seeking a trade with Slick. HTM, the Bushwhackers, Bad News Brown, Jake the Snake and the Rockers all draw as well, with varying degrees of happiness. Today, Shawn gets 20 minute interview blocks. Back then, he turns to Marty and says “Good luck”.  (2012 Scott sez:  But the WAY he said it made you think he’d be a star.  OK, I’m just saying that.  But I do really miss the drawing segments where people react to their luck of the draw.)  WWF Women’s title match: Rockin’ Robin v. Judy Martin. For those who weren’t around back then, Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith, sister of Jake Roberts) beat Sherri Martel to win the Women’s title and basically tank the division. Picture Sam Houston, except even skinnier. The push was a disaster, given the utterly dead crowd reaction to her. This match is pretty decent by the generally crappy standards of the time, with non-stop two counts, although myself and the crowd couldn’t give shit one about it. Robin hits a bodypress off the second rope after a head-fake for the pin. **3/4 – Slick responds to the accusations of tampering with the draw. These kinds of little, non-drawn-out, character building segments are lacking today, especially in WCW. – Super Posedown. Today, this is the very definition of something that goes on Nitro or RAW rather than a PPV. In this case, it’s out there to build to the Rude-Warrior match at Wrestlemania V. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Rude poses again. The crowd boos. Warrior poses (with Jesse actually analyzing the posing). The crowd cheers. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Geez, why didn’t Rude just attack him during the first pose? Rude goes through a pose medley. The crowd boos. Warrior goes through a pose medley and (duh) Rude attacks him. Bit of a waste of 15 minutes when it could have been done on Superstars. I mean, really, who DIDN’T see that coming? I know I bitch about the WCW Sledgehammer of Plot a lot, but this is really a shining example of what I mean by it. Even if it was the WWF.  (2012 Scott sez:  Weird that I gave this more play-by-play treatment than most of the matches on this show.)  Crown match: King Haku v. Harley Race. The story: Race was King, but got put through a table by the Orange Goblin and basically had his career ended. This was a one-shot comeback match to “legitimize” Haku’s claim to the crown. Haku controls with “martial arts” (which roughly translated means “chops while screaming”) but Race wins a headbutt battle (he’s got a loaded head, you know) and hits a piledriver for two. Race with more 70s offense and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. They fight for a bit and then Race hits the piledriver for real. Pretty weak one, though. Crowd is gone, not really caring about either guy. More kneedrops and neckbreakers from Race, but Haku fights back with “martial arts” and a headbutt off the top, which misses. Race tries the same, and misses. Double knockout, and Race is up first. He comes off the ropes and eats Haku’s SWEET thrust kick finisher for the pin to retain the crown. Pretty good job of carrying the un-carryable Haku by Race, actually. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  I wouldn’t actually call Haku “un-carryable”.  I’ve seen people get a good match out of him given the right circumstances.)  – More pre-Rumble soundbites from the participants. Big John Studd gives a horrible interview. Savage sounds pretty whacked out. The Powers of Pain breathe heavily a lot. – Five minute intermission. – We’re back with last-minute words from Dibiase, who is now MUCH happier. But there’s no shenanigans, no sir. – The Heenan Family adds their thoughts. Andre the Giant notes that he’ll toss the Brainbusters out if he has to. Then, in a spectacular moment, Arn Anderson whispers something in Tully Blanchard’s ear, behind Heenan’s back. Now who else would actually have the forethought to add overtones of scheming against his own stable-mates without actually having to say so?  (2012 Scott sez:  Arn Anderson was the master of “shades of grey” years before Russo ever came to power.)  – The Orangle Goblin spouts hot air. – The Royal Rumble: We start with a classic moment: Ax draws #1, Smash draws #2. Then, to reinforce the idea of the Rumble, they give a quick look and then go to town on each other. The Demos demonstrate why they never fought each other, because their segment is pretty lousy. Andre the Giant gets #3. The Demos immediately drop their hostilities and go after Andre. Andre can handle himself, because he’s the world’s largest athlete and all. Perfect is #4. Andre casually tosses Smash. Ax turns on Perfect, who ends up doing a Bret-esque turnbuckle charge bump. Ronnie Garvin is #5. Joy. (2012 Scott sez:  The Rumble is actually the kind of match where Garvin would excel, because he can come in, do his high-impact stuff, and then leave.)  Ax, Hennig and Garvin all go after Andre. He fights them off. Hennig does the OVERSELL~! of an Andre punch, which is a situation where it works. (2012 Scott sez:  Fuck off, it always works.)  Valentine is #6. Guess who he goes right after. Poor Andre. Buh-bye, Garvin. Jake is #7, and since he was feuding with Andre, that’s who he goes after. Things settle down a bit as everyone finds a partner and dances. Valentine works in a Flair flop off an Andre headbutt. Ron Bass is #8. Andre tosses Jake. It should be noted that despite the inherent tastelessness of the Ric Flair heart attack angle, the WWF did the same thing (albeit in a more cartoonish way) with the “Andre fears snakes” angle in 1989. (2012 Scott sez:  I think the “Bad News Brown fears snakes” angle was much more tasteless for the racist aspect.)  Shawn Michaels is #9, years before that meant anything. Ax gets dumped Perfectly. Michaels and Hennig start fighting and go into a series of overblown somersault sells and intricate ways to go over the top rope without getting eliminated. Show-offs. Bushwhacker Butch is #10, and Jake follows quickly with Damien, chasing Andre over the top and out of the match prematurely in cheap fashion. Honky Tonk Man is #11. We’re in kind of a lull here. We now have three of the most melodramatic sellers in history in the ring at the same time. The crowd is really getting into the elimination attempts, which just underlines the brilliance of the Rumble concept: It’s a battle royale for people with limited attention span, so you can concentrate on one or two battles at a time, with fresh guys in every few minutes. You know what’s weird? Today we remember feuds from years ago and they’re incorporated into angles all the time, but Santana (#12) was fighting Valentine here and no mention is made of their long-running feud in 1985. (2012 Scott sez:  Now we’ve swung back the other way, with guys feuding one month and then teaming up the next, with only CM Punk even remembering to acknowledge it.)  Honky gets tossed via a double-team. Bad News Brown is #13 (how fitting) and does nothing of note. Marty Jannetty gets #14 and the Rockers reunite to double-dropkick Bass out. Savage is #15 to a big pop. Arn Anderson is #16 as Valentine gets tossed by Macho. Arn and Shawn pair off. Savage joins in…on Arn’s side. They toss Michaels. Tully Blanchard is #17. There’s some pretty damn good workers in there right now…Bad News, Savage, Jannetty, Anderson, Blanchard, Santana, Hennig…I guess Butch is the exception that proves the rule. The Brainbusters double-team Jannetty mercilessly. Hogan is #18. Open mouth, insert dick. Hennig is the first victim of Goblin-mania. Santana gets tossed off-camera. Luke is #19. Butch gets tossed by Bad News. Wow, look, Hulk’s selling for Arn. Koko B.Ware is #20. Yeah, that’ll turn the tide. You’d think Arn would learn NOT TO GO TO THE TOP ROPE after 15 years of getting slammed off it. Especially in a battle royale. Hulk dumps Luke. Warlord is #21 as Hogan dumps the Brainbusters at the same time. (2012 Scott sez:  More dream matches we never got:  Brainbusters v. Megapowers.)  Bastard. Warlord in, Warlord out. Savage and Bad News are fighting on the ropes and Hogan dumps both of them. Savage freaks out. Hey, Hogan, keep that in mind in three years when the same shit would happen to you and YOU threw a temper tantrum. Hogan and Savage make up, only to have a violent breakup a month later. Bossman (#22) breaks up the Megapower love-in. Hogan and Bossman are all alone and Bossman takes over on Hulk. Gorilla: “He’s been out there for half an hour!” Jesse: “You idiot, he’s only been there for five minutes or so…”. Akeem is #23, so the Twin Towers assualt poor Hogan. Hogan’s got his working boots on tonight. The Towers continue the beatdown and unceremoniously eliminate Hogan, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan throws a tantrum and beats up Bossman. Brutus Beefcake is #24. The Towers beat on him, too, but Hogan cheats and pulls Bossman out over the top rope to eliminate him. What a role model. One thing does bother me: If Dibiase was unhappy enough with his number to trade, that would indicate he got a low number to start with. But Bossman ended up with 22 and Akeem got 23, so why would Dibiase have been unhappy with either of those? (2012 Scott sez:  Because he’s a rich white guy who would be unhappy with anything less than #30, of course.  That’s the great part about the character.)  Oh well, minor point. Terry Taylor (aka The Red You-Know-What) is #25. He’s not very effective. Barbarian is #26 as Taylor and Beefcake work over Akeem. We’re getting into the dregs of the draw. Akeem splashes Taylor and dances. All the girlies say he’s pretty fly for a white guy, you know. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, this was written in 1999, wanna fight about it?)  John Studd is #27 and man is Taylor taking a shitkicking. Hercules is #28. Geez, the crowd sure died off once Hogan and Savage left. This is like the lost puppy section of the SPCA in terms of star power. Rick Martel is #29, a few months before his heel turn. He goes after Akeem, but Studd pushes him away, like everyone else who tries to go after Akeem. Studd wants him for himself, you see. And of course, Ted Dibiase is #30 thanks to his investment. Okay, so the final tally: Dibiase, Akeem, Studd, Taylor, Beefcake, Hercules, Barbarian and Martel. Oops, there goes Taylor via Dibiase. What a sad group of finalists. Beefcake puts Hercules in a sleeper and Dibiase pushes both of them over at once. Barbie misses a BIG BOOT OF DOOM and Martel dropkicks him out. Final four: Martel, Dibiase, Akeem, Studd. Well, 50% don’t suck. Akeem casually dumps Martel off a bodypress attempt. Akeem and Dibiase double-team Studd. Well, actually, Akeem beats on Studd and Dibiase supervises. Oops, he got caught in between. Studd knocks out the stunned Akeem, leaving Studd and Dibiase. Studd dominates and tosses Dibiase to win the “first” Royal Rumble. First 2/3 was super-hot, but it died off once Hogan left. *** The Bottom Line: Hey, wow, nothing sucked here. Seriously, this was a surprisingly solid card (albeit completely forgettable) from top to bottom. Okay, discount the Super Posedown. Everyone seemed to be making an effort tonight for once. This was pretty much nearing the end of the Golden Age, too, so it’s something of an abomination. Recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1989. – Live from Houston, Texas. – Your hosts are Jesse and Gorilla.Opening match, 2/3 falls: Hacksaw Duggan & The Hart Foundation v. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo. Neidhart and Bravo do the feeling out process until a pier-six erupts and Bret gets decked by the heels to become face-in-peril. I think Dino Bravo does the most dramatic tag in the history of wrestling. Rougeaus get a quick fall on Hart with La Bombe Des Rougeaus. Hart gets the holy hell beat out of him as the Rougeaus and Bravo run through their entire offense on the poor guy. Jesse points out the inherent idiocy of chanting “USA” for the Canadian Hart. No wonder he got so bitter in 1997. Harts do the false tag bit. Bret takes more of a beating. This entire second fall is just non-stop Bret beatdown. Hot tag to Duggan and you’d think Steve Austin just came out from the pop. Anvil gets slingshotted (slingshotten? slungshot?) in onto Jacques for two, and Duggan drops an elbow for three to take the second fall. Now Duggan is Ricky Morton. Is it me, or does Jacques do an awful lot of moves that involve rubbing his crotch into someone’s face? I take a Dorito break. It should be noted that Cool Ranch Doritos and Rolo candy are the only food products (outside of various brands of iced tea) that I would ever agree to shill were I to become a celebrity. (2012 Scott sez:  I would like to update that list to include Rockstar energy drinks and Big Turk chocolate bars.  Really gets you through the workday.)  Hart gets the hot tag, and Duggan bops Bravo with the 2×4 to give Bret the pin. It had it’s moments. **1/2 – Ted Dibiase draws his number for the Rumble, and ends up seeking a trade with Slick. HTM, the Bushwhackers, Bad News Brown, Jake the Snake and the Rockers all draw as well, with varying degrees of happiness. Today, Shawn gets 20 minute interview blocks. Back then, he turns to Marty and says “Good luck”.  (2012 Scott sez:  But the WAY he said it made you think he’d be a star.  OK, I’m just saying that.  But I do really miss the drawing segments where people react to their luck of the draw.)  WWF Women’s title match: Rockin’ Robin v. Judy Martin. For those who weren’t around back then, Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith, sister of Jake Roberts) beat Sherri Martel to win the Women’s title and basically tank the division. Picture Sam Houston, except even skinnier. The push was a disaster, given the utterly dead crowd reaction to her. This match is pretty decent by the generally crappy standards of the time, with non-stop two counts, although myself and the crowd couldn’t give shit one about it. Robin hits a bodypress off the second rope after a head-fake for the pin. **3/4 – Slick responds to the accusations of tampering with the draw. These kinds of little, non-drawn-out, character building segments are lacking today, especially in WCW. – Super Posedown. Today, this is the very definition of something that goes on Nitro or RAW rather than a PPV. In this case, it’s out there to build to the Rude-Warrior match at Wrestlemania V. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Rude poses again. The crowd boos. Warrior poses (with Jesse actually analyzing the posing). The crowd cheers. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Geez, why didn’t Rude just attack him during the first pose? Rude goes through a pose medley. The crowd boos. Warrior goes through a pose medley and (duh) Rude attacks him. Bit of a waste of 15 minutes when it could have been done on Superstars. I mean, really, who DIDN’T see that coming? I know I bitch about the WCW Sledgehammer of Plot a lot, but this is really a shining example of what I mean by it. Even if it was the WWF.  (2012 Scott sez:  Weird that I gave this more play-by-play treatment than most of the matches on this show.)  Crown match: King Haku v. Harley Race. The story: Race was King, but got put through a table by the Orange Goblin and basically had his career ended. This was a one-shot comeback match to “legitimize” Haku’s claim to the crown. Haku controls with “martial arts” (which roughly translated means “chops while screaming”) but Race wins a headbutt battle (he’s got a loaded head, you know) and hits a piledriver for two. Race with more 70s offense and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. They fight for a bit and then Race hits the piledriver for real. Pretty weak one, though. Crowd is gone, not really caring about either guy. More kneedrops and neckbreakers from Race, but Haku fights back with “martial arts” and a headbutt off the top, which misses. Race tries the same, and misses. Double knockout, and Race is up first. He comes off the ropes and eats Haku’s SWEET thrust kick finisher for the pin to retain the crown. Pretty good job of carrying the un-carryable Haku by Race, actually. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  I wouldn’t actually call Haku “un-carryable”.  I’ve seen people get a good match out of him given the right circumstances.)  – More pre-Rumble soundbites from the participants. Big John Studd gives a horrible interview. Savage sounds pretty whacked out. The Powers of Pain breathe heavily a lot. – Five minute intermission. – We’re back with last-minute words from Dibiase, who is now MUCH happier. But there’s no shenanigans, no sir. – The Heenan Family adds their thoughts. Andre the Giant notes that he’ll toss the Brainbusters out if he has to. Then, in a spectacular moment, Arn Anderson whispers something in Tully Blanchard’s ear, behind Heenan’s back. Now who else would actually have the forethought to add overtones of scheming against his own stable-mates without actually having to say so?  (2012 Scott sez:  Arn Anderson was the master of “shades of grey” years before Russo ever came to power.)  – The Orangle Goblin spouts hot air. – The Royal Rumble: We start with a classic moment: Ax draws #1, Smash draws #2. Then, to reinforce the idea of the Rumble, they give a quick look and then go to town on each other. The Demos demonstrate why they never fought each other, because their segment is pretty lousy. Andre the Giant gets #3. The Demos immediately drop their hostilities and go after Andre. Andre can handle himself, because he’s the world’s largest athlete and all. Perfect is #4. Andre casually tosses Smash. Ax turns on Perfect, who ends up doing a Bret-esque turnbuckle charge bump. Ronnie Garvin is #5. Joy. (2012 Scott sez:  The Rumble is actually the kind of match where Garvin would excel, because he can come in, do his high-impact stuff, and then leave.)  Ax, Hennig and Garvin all go after Andre. He fights them off. Hennig does the OVERSELL~! of an Andre punch, which is a situation where it works. (2012 Scott sez:  Fuck off, it always works.)  Valentine is #6. Guess who he goes right after. Poor Andre. Buh-bye, Garvin. Jake is #7, and since he was feuding with Andre, that’s who he goes after. Things settle down a bit as everyone finds a partner and dances. Valentine works in a Flair flop off an Andre headbutt. Ron Bass is #8. Andre tosses Jake. It should be noted that despite the inherent tastelessness of the Ric Flair heart attack angle, the WWF did the same thing (albeit in a more cartoonish way) with the “Andre fears snakes” angle in 1989. (2012 Scott sez:  I think the “Bad News Brown fears snakes” angle was much more tasteless for the racist aspect.)  Shawn Michaels is #9, years before that meant anything. Ax gets dumped Perfectly. Michaels and Hennig start fighting and go into a series of overblown somersault sells and intricate ways to go over the top rope without getting eliminated. Show-offs. Bushwhacker Butch is #10, and Jake follows quickly with Damien, chasing Andre over the top and out of the match prematurely in cheap fashion. Honky Tonk Man is #11. We’re in kind of a lull here. We now have three of the most melodramatic sellers in history in the ring at the same time. The crowd is really getting into the elimination attempts, which just underlines the brilliance of the Rumble concept: It’s a battle royale for people with limited attention span, so you can concentrate on one or two battles at a time, with fresh guys in every few minutes. You know what’s weird? Today we remember feuds from years ago and they’re incorporated into angles all the time, but Santana (#12) was fighting Valentine here and no mention is made of their long-running feud in 1985. (2012 Scott sez:  Now we’ve swung back the other way, with guys feuding one month and then teaming up the next, with only CM Punk even remembering to acknowledge it.)  Honky gets tossed via a double-team. Bad News Brown is #13 (how fitting) and does nothing of note. Marty Jannetty gets #14 and the Rockers reunite to double-dropkick Bass out. Savage is #15 to a big pop. Arn Anderson is #16 as Valentine gets tossed by Macho. Arn and Shawn pair off. Savage joins in…on Arn’s side. They toss Michaels. Tully Blanchard is #17. There’s some pretty damn good workers in there right now…Bad News, Savage, Jannetty, Anderson, Blanchard, Santana, Hennig…I guess Butch is the exception that proves the rule. The Brainbusters double-team Jannetty mercilessly. Hogan is #18. Open mouth, insert dick. Hennig is the first victim of Goblin-mania. Santana gets tossed off-camera. Luke is #19. Butch gets tossed by Bad News. Wow, look, Hulk’s selling for Arn. Koko B.Ware is #20. Yeah, that’ll turn the tide. You’d think Arn would learn NOT TO GO TO THE TOP ROPE after 15 years of getting slammed off it. Especially in a battle royale. Hulk dumps Luke. Warlord is #21 as Hogan dumps the Brainbusters at the same time. (2012 Scott sez:  More dream matches we never got:  Brainbusters v. Megapowers.)  Bastard. Warlord in, Warlord out. Savage and Bad News are fighting on the ropes and Hogan dumps both of them. Savage freaks out. Hey, Hogan, keep that in mind in three years when the same shit would happen to you and YOU threw a temper tantrum. Hogan and Savage make up, only to have a violent breakup a month later. Bossman (#22) breaks up the Megapower love-in. Hogan and Bossman are all alone and Bossman takes over on Hulk. Gorilla: “He’s been out there for half an hour!” Jesse: “You idiot, he’s only been there for five minutes or so…”. Akeem is #23, so the Twin Towers assualt poor Hogan. Hogan’s got his working boots on tonight. The Towers continue the beatdown and unceremoniously eliminate Hogan, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan throws a tantrum and beats up Bossman. Brutus Beefcake is #24. The Towers beat on him, too, but Hogan cheats and pulls Bossman out over the top rope to eliminate him. What a role model. One thing does bother me: If Dibiase was unhappy enough with his number to trade, that would indicate he got a low number to start with. But Bossman ended up with 22 and Akeem got 23, so why would Dibiase have been unhappy with either of those? (2012 Scott sez:  Because he’s a rich white guy who would be unhappy with anything less than #30, of course.  That’s the great part about the character.)  Oh well, minor point. Terry Taylor (aka The Red You-Know-What) is #25. He’s not very effective. Barbarian is #26 as Taylor and Beefcake work over Akeem. We’re getting into the dregs of the draw. Akeem splashes Taylor and dances. All the girlies say he’s pretty fly for a white guy, you know. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, this was written in 1999, wanna fight about it?)  John Studd is #27 and man is Taylor taking a shitkicking. Hercules is #28. Geez, the crowd sure died off once Hogan and Savage left. This is like the lost puppy section of the SPCA in terms of star power. Rick Martel is #29, a few months before his heel turn. He goes after Akeem, but Studd pushes him away, like everyone else who tries to go after Akeem. Studd wants him for himself, you see. And of course, Ted Dibiase is #30 thanks to his investment. Okay, so the final tally: Dibiase, Akeem, Studd, Taylor, Beefcake, Hercules, Barbarian and Martel. Oops, there goes Taylor via Dibiase. What a sad group of finalists. Beefcake puts Hercules in a sleeper and Dibiase pushes both of them over at once. Barbie misses a BIG BOOT OF DOOM and Martel dropkicks him out. Final four: Martel, Dibiase, Akeem, Studd. Well, 50% don’t suck. Akeem casually dumps Martel off a bodypress attempt. Akeem and Dibiase double-team Studd. Well, actually, Akeem beats on Studd and Dibiase supervises. Oops, he got caught in between. Studd knocks out the stunned Akeem, leaving Studd and Dibiase. Studd dominates and tosses Dibiase to win the “first” Royal Rumble. First 2/3 was super-hot, but it died off once Hogan left. *** The Bottom Line: Hey, wow, nothing sucked here. Seriously, this was a surprisingly solid card (albeit completely forgettable) from top to bottom. Okay, discount the Super Posedown. Everyone seemed to be making an effort tonight for once. This was pretty much nearing the end of the Golden Age, too, so it’s something of an abomination. Recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1989. – Live from Houston, Texas. – Your hosts are Jesse and Gorilla.Opening match, 2/3 falls: Hacksaw Duggan & The Hart Foundation v. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo. Neidhart and Bravo do the feeling out process until a pier-six erupts and Bret gets decked by the heels to become face-in-peril. I think Dino Bravo does the most dramatic tag in the history of wrestling. Rougeaus get a quick fall on Hart with La Bombe Des Rougeaus. Hart gets the holy hell beat out of him as the Rougeaus and Bravo run through their entire offense on the poor guy. Jesse points out the inherent idiocy of chanting “USA” for the Canadian Hart. No wonder he got so bitter in 1997. Harts do the false tag bit. Bret takes more of a beating. This entire second fall is just non-stop Bret beatdown. Hot tag to Duggan and you’d think Steve Austin just came out from the pop. Anvil gets slingshotted (slingshotten? slungshot?) in onto Jacques for two, and Duggan drops an elbow for three to take the second fall. Now Duggan is Ricky Morton. Is it me, or does Jacques do an awful lot of moves that involve rubbing his crotch into someone’s face? I take a Dorito break. It should be noted that Cool Ranch Doritos and Rolo candy are the only food products (outside of various brands of iced tea) that I would ever agree to shill were I to become a celebrity. (2012 Scott sez:  I would like to update that list to include Rockstar energy drinks and Big Turk chocolate bars.  Really gets you through the workday.)  Hart gets the hot tag, and Duggan bops Bravo with the 2×4 to give Bret the pin. It had it’s moments. **1/2 – Ted Dibiase draws his number for the Rumble, and ends up seeking a trade with Slick. HTM, the Bushwhackers, Bad News Brown, Jake the Snake and the Rockers all draw as well, with varying degrees of happiness. Today, Shawn gets 20 minute interview blocks. Back then, he turns to Marty and says “Good luck”.  (2012 Scott sez:  But the WAY he said it made you think he’d be a star.  OK, I’m just saying that.  But I do really miss the drawing segments where people react to their luck of the draw.)  WWF Women’s title match: Rockin’ Robin v. Judy Martin. For those who weren’t around back then, Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith, sister of Jake Roberts) beat Sherri Martel to win the Women’s title and basically tank the division. Picture Sam Houston, except even skinnier. The push was a disaster, given the utterly dead crowd reaction to her. This match is pretty decent by the generally crappy standards of the time, with non-stop two counts, although myself and the crowd couldn’t give shit one about it. Robin hits a bodypress off the second rope after a head-fake for the pin. **3/4 – Slick responds to the accusations of tampering with the draw. These kinds of little, non-drawn-out, character building segments are lacking today, especially in WCW. – Super Posedown. Today, this is the very definition of something that goes on Nitro or RAW rather than a PPV. In this case, it’s out there to build to the Rude-Warrior match at Wrestlemania V. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Rude poses again. The crowd boos. Warrior poses (with Jesse actually analyzing the posing). The crowd cheers. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Geez, why didn’t Rude just attack him during the first pose? Rude goes through a pose medley. The crowd boos. Warrior goes through a pose medley and (duh) Rude attacks him. Bit of a waste of 15 minutes when it could have been done on Superstars. I mean, really, who DIDN’T see that coming? I know I bitch about the WCW Sledgehammer of Plot a lot, but this is really a shining example of what I mean by it. Even if it was the WWF.  (2012 Scott sez:  Weird that I gave this more play-by-play treatment than most of the matches on this show.)  Crown match: King Haku v. Harley Race. The story: Race was King, but got put through a table by the Orange Goblin and basically had his career ended. This was a one-shot comeback match to “legitimize” Haku’s claim to the crown. Haku controls with “martial arts” (which roughly translated means “chops while screaming”) but Race wins a headbutt battle (he’s got a loaded head, you know) and hits a piledriver for two. Race with more 70s offense and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. They fight for a bit and then Race hits the piledriver for real. Pretty weak one, though. Crowd is gone, not really caring about either guy. More kneedrops and neckbreakers from Race, but Haku fights back with “martial arts” and a headbutt off the top, which misses. Race tries the same, and misses. Double knockout, and Race is up first. He comes off the ropes and eats Haku’s SWEET thrust kick finisher for the pin to retain the crown. Pretty good job of carrying the un-carryable Haku by Race, actually. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  I wouldn’t actually call Haku “un-carryable”.  I’ve seen people get a good match out of him given the right circumstances.)  – More pre-Rumble soundbites from the participants. Big John Studd gives a horrible interview. Savage sounds pretty whacked out. The Powers of Pain breathe heavily a lot. – Five minute intermission. – We’re back with last-minute words from Dibiase, who is now MUCH happier. But there’s no shenanigans, no sir. – The Heenan Family adds their thoughts. Andre the Giant notes that he’ll toss the Brainbusters out if he has to. Then, in a spectacular moment, Arn Anderson whispers something in Tully Blanchard’s ear, behind Heenan’s back. Now who else would actually have the forethought to add overtones of scheming against his own stable-mates without actually having to say so?  (2012 Scott sez:  Arn Anderson was the master of “shades of grey” years before Russo ever came to power.)  – The Orangle Goblin spouts hot air. – The Royal Rumble: We start with a classic moment: Ax draws #1, Smash draws #2. Then, to reinforce the idea of the Rumble, they give a quick look and then go to town on each other. The Demos demonstrate why they never fought each other, because their segment is pretty lousy. Andre the Giant gets #3. The Demos immediately drop their hostilities and go after Andre. Andre can handle himself, because he’s the world’s largest athlete and all. Perfect is #4. Andre casually tosses Smash. Ax turns on Perfect, who ends up doing a Bret-esque turnbuckle charge bump. Ronnie Garvin is #5. Joy. (2012 Scott sez:  The Rumble is actually the kind of match where Garvin would excel, because he can come in, do his high-impact stuff, and then leave.)  Ax, Hennig and Garvin all go after Andre. He fights them off. Hennig does the OVERSELL~! of an Andre punch, which is a situation where it works. (2012 Scott sez:  Fuck off, it always works.)  Valentine is #6. Guess who he goes right after. Poor Andre. Buh-bye, Garvin. Jake is #7, and since he was feuding with Andre, that’s who he goes after. Things settle down a bit as everyone finds a partner and dances. Valentine works in a Flair flop off an Andre headbutt. Ron Bass is #8. Andre tosses Jake. It should be noted that despite the inherent tastelessness of the Ric Flair heart attack angle, the WWF did the same thing (albeit in a more cartoonish way) with the “Andre fears snakes” angle in 1989. (2012 Scott sez:  I think the “Bad News Brown fears snakes” angle was much more tasteless for the racist aspect.)  Shawn Michaels is #9, years before that meant anything. Ax gets dumped Perfectly. Michaels and Hennig start fighting and go into a series of overblown somersault sells and intricate ways to go over the top rope without getting eliminated. Show-offs. Bushwhacker Butch is #10, and Jake follows quickly with Damien, chasing Andre over the top and out of the match prematurely in cheap fashion. Honky Tonk Man is #11. We’re in kind of a lull here. We now have three of the most melodramatic sellers in history in the ring at the same time. The crowd is really getting into the elimination attempts, which just underlines the brilliance of the Rumble concept: It’s a battle royale for people with limited attention span, so you can concentrate on one or two battles at a time, with fresh guys in every few minutes. You know what’s weird? Today we remember feuds from years ago and they’re incorporated into angles all the time, but Santana (#12) was fighting Valentine here and no mention is made of their long-running feud in 1985. (2012 Scott sez:  Now we’ve swung back the other way, with guys feuding one month and then teaming up the next, with only CM Punk even remembering to acknowledge it.)  Honky gets tossed via a double-team. Bad News Brown is #13 (how fitting) and does nothing of note. Marty Jannetty gets #14 and the Rockers reunite to double-dropkick Bass out. Savage is #15 to a big pop. Arn Anderson is #16 as Valentine gets tossed by Macho. Arn and Shawn pair off. Savage joins in…on Arn’s side. They toss Michaels. Tully Blanchard is #17. There’s some pretty damn good workers in there right now…Bad News, Savage, Jannetty, Anderson, Blanchard, Santana, Hennig…I guess Butch is the exception that proves the rule. The Brainbusters double-team Jannetty mercilessly. Hogan is #18. Open mouth, insert dick. Hennig is the first victim of Goblin-mania. Santana gets tossed off-camera. Luke is #19. Butch gets tossed by Bad News. Wow, look, Hulk’s selling for Arn. Koko B.Ware is #20. Yeah, that’ll turn the tide. You’d think Arn would learn NOT TO GO TO THE TOP ROPE after 15 years of getting slammed off it. Especially in a battle royale. Hulk dumps Luke. Warlord is #21 as Hogan dumps the Brainbusters at the same time. (2012 Scott sez:  More dream matches we never got:  Brainbusters v. Megapowers.)  Bastard. Warlord in, Warlord out. Savage and Bad News are fighting on the ropes and Hogan dumps both of them. Savage freaks out. Hey, Hogan, keep that in mind in three years when the same shit would happen to you and YOU threw a temper tantrum. Hogan and Savage make up, only to have a violent breakup a month later. Bossman (#22) breaks up the Megapower love-in. Hogan and Bossman are all alone and Bossman takes over on Hulk. Gorilla: “He’s been out there for half an hour!” Jesse: “You idiot, he’s only been there for five minutes or so…”. Akeem is #23, so the Twin Towers assualt poor Hogan. Hogan’s got his working boots on tonight. The Towers continue the beatdown and unceremoniously eliminate Hogan, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan throws a tantrum and beats up Bossman. Brutus Beefcake is #24. The Towers beat on him, too, but Hogan cheats and pulls Bossman out over the top rope to eliminate him. What a role model. One thing does bother me: If Dibiase was unhappy enough with his number to trade, that would indicate he got a low number to start with. But Bossman ended up with 22 and Akeem got 23, so why would Dibiase have been unhappy with either of those? (2012 Scott sez:  Because he’s a rich white guy who would be unhappy with anything less than #30, of course.  That’s the great part about the character.)  Oh well, minor point. Terry Taylor (aka The Red You-Know-What) is #25. He’s not very effective. Barbarian is #26 as Taylor and Beefcake work over Akeem. We’re getting into the dregs of the draw. Akeem splashes Taylor and dances. All the girlies say he’s pretty fly for a white guy, you know. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, this was written in 1999, wanna fight about it?)  John Studd is #27 and man is Taylor taking a shitkicking. Hercules is #28. Geez, the crowd sure died off once Hogan and Savage left. This is like the lost puppy section of the SPCA in terms of star power. Rick Martel is #29, a few months before his heel turn. He goes after Akeem, but Studd pushes him away, like everyone else who tries to go after Akeem. Studd wants him for himself, you see. And of course, Ted Dibiase is #30 thanks to his investment. Okay, so the final tally: Dibiase, Akeem, Studd, Taylor, Beefcake, Hercules, Barbarian and Martel. Oops, there goes Taylor via Dibiase. What a sad group of finalists. Beefcake puts Hercules in a sleeper and Dibiase pushes both of them over at once. Barbie misses a BIG BOOT OF DOOM and Martel dropkicks him out. Final four: Martel, Dibiase, Akeem, Studd. Well, 50% don’t suck. Akeem casually dumps Martel off a bodypress attempt. Akeem and Dibiase double-team Studd. Well, actually, Akeem beats on Studd and Dibiase supervises. Oops, he got caught in between. Studd knocks out the stunned Akeem, leaving Studd and Dibiase. Studd dominates and tosses Dibiase to win the “first” Royal Rumble. First 2/3 was super-hot, but it died off once Hogan left. *** The Bottom Line: Hey, wow, nothing sucked here. Seriously, this was a surprisingly solid card (albeit completely forgettable) from top to bottom. Okay, discount the Super Posedown. Everyone seemed to be making an effort tonight for once. This was pretty much nearing the end of the Golden Age, too, so it’s something of an abomination. Recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1989. – Live from Houston, Texas. – Your hosts are Jesse and Gorilla.Opening match, 2/3 falls: Hacksaw Duggan & The Hart Foundation v. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo. Neidhart and Bravo do the feeling out process until a pier-six erupts and Bret gets decked by the heels to become face-in-peril. I think Dino Bravo does the most dramatic tag in the history of wrestling. Rougeaus get a quick fall on Hart with La Bombe Des Rougeaus. Hart gets the holy hell beat out of him as the Rougeaus and Bravo run through their entire offense on the poor guy. Jesse points out the inherent idiocy of chanting “USA” for the Canadian Hart. No wonder he got so bitter in 1997. Harts do the false tag bit. Bret takes more of a beating. This entire second fall is just non-stop Bret beatdown. Hot tag to Duggan and you’d think Steve Austin just came out from the pop. Anvil gets slingshotted (slingshotten? slungshot?) in onto Jacques for two, and Duggan drops an elbow for three to take the second fall. Now Duggan is Ricky Morton. Is it me, or does Jacques do an awful lot of moves that involve rubbing his crotch into someone’s face? I take a Dorito break. It should be noted that Cool Ranch Doritos and Rolo candy are the only food products (outside of various brands of iced tea) that I would ever agree to shill were I to become a celebrity. (2012 Scott sez:  I would like to update that list to include Rockstar energy drinks and Big Turk chocolate bars.  Really gets you through the workday.)  Hart gets the hot tag, and Duggan bops Bravo with the 2×4 to give Bret the pin. It had it’s moments. **1/2 – Ted Dibiase draws his number for the Rumble, and ends up seeking a trade with Slick. HTM, the Bushwhackers, Bad News Brown, Jake the Snake and the Rockers all draw as well, with varying degrees of happiness. Today, Shawn gets 20 minute interview blocks. Back then, he turns to Marty and says “Good luck”.  (2012 Scott sez:  But the WAY he said it made you think he’d be a star.  OK, I’m just saying that.  But I do really miss the drawing segments where people react to their luck of the draw.)  WWF Women’s title match: Rockin’ Robin v. Judy Martin. For those who weren’t around back then, Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith, sister of Jake Roberts) beat Sherri Martel to win the Women’s title and basically tank the division. Picture Sam Houston, except even skinnier. The push was a disaster, given the utterly dead crowd reaction to her. This match is pretty decent by the generally crappy standards of the time, with non-stop two counts, although myself and the crowd couldn’t give shit one about it. Robin hits a bodypress off the second rope after a head-fake for the pin. **3/4 – Slick responds to the accusations of tampering with the draw. These kinds of little, non-drawn-out, character building segments are lacking today, especially in WCW. – Super Posedown. Today, this is the very definition of something that goes on Nitro or RAW rather than a PPV. In this case, it’s out there to build to the Rude-Warrior match at Wrestlemania V. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Rude poses again. The crowd boos. Warrior poses (with Jesse actually analyzing the posing). The crowd cheers. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Geez, why didn’t Rude just attack him during the first pose? Rude goes through a pose medley. The crowd boos. Warrior goes through a pose medley and (duh) Rude attacks him. Bit of a waste of 15 minutes when it could have been done on Superstars. I mean, really, who DIDN’T see that coming? I know I bitch about the WCW Sledgehammer of Plot a lot, but this is really a shining example of what I mean by it. Even if it was the WWF.  (2012 Scott sez:  Weird that I gave this more play-by-play treatment than most of the matches on this show.)  Crown match: King Haku v. Harley Race. The story: Race was King, but got put through a table by the Orange Goblin and basically had his career ended. This was a one-shot comeback match to “legitimize” Haku’s claim to the crown. Haku controls with “martial arts” (which roughly translated means “chops while screaming”) but Race wins a headbutt battle (he’s got a loaded head, you know) and hits a piledriver for two. Race with more 70s offense and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. They fight for a bit and then Race hits the piledriver for real. Pretty weak one, though. Crowd is gone, not really caring about either guy. More kneedrops and neckbreakers from Race, but Haku fights back with “martial arts” and a headbutt off the top, which misses. Race tries the same, and misses. Double knockout, and Race is up first. He comes off the ropes and eats Haku’s SWEET thrust kick finisher for the pin to retain the crown. Pretty good job of carrying the un-carryable Haku by Race, actually. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  I wouldn’t actually call Haku “un-carryable”.  I’ve seen people get a good match out of him given the right circumstances.)  – More pre-Rumble soundbites from the participants. Big John Studd gives a horrible interview. Savage sounds pretty whacked out. The Powers of Pain breathe heavily a lot. – Five minute intermission. – We’re back with last-minute words from Dibiase, who is now MUCH happier. But there’s no shenanigans, no sir. – The Heenan Family adds their thoughts. Andre the Giant notes that he’ll toss the Brainbusters out if he has to. Then, in a spectacular moment, Arn Anderson whispers something in Tully Blanchard’s ear, behind Heenan’s back. Now who else would actually have the forethought to add overtones of scheming against his own stable-mates without actually having to say so?  (2012 Scott sez:  Arn Anderson was the master of “shades of grey” years before Russo ever came to power.)  – The Orangle Goblin spouts hot air. – The Royal Rumble: We start with a classic moment: Ax draws #1, Smash draws #2. Then, to reinforce the idea of the Rumble, they give a quick look and then go to town on each other. The Demos demonstrate why they never fought each other, because their segment is pretty lousy. Andre the Giant gets #3. The Demos immediately drop their hostilities and go after Andre. Andre can handle himself, because he’s the world’s largest athlete and all. Perfect is #4. Andre casually tosses Smash. Ax turns on Perfect, who ends up doing a Bret-esque turnbuckle charge bump. Ronnie Garvin is #5. Joy. (2012 Scott sez:  The Rumble is actually the kind of match where Garvin would excel, because he can come in, do his high-impact stuff, and then leave.)  Ax, Hennig and Garvin all go after Andre. He fights them off. Hennig does the OVERSELL~! of an Andre punch, which is a situation where it works. (2012 Scott sez:  Fuck off, it always works.)  Valentine is #6. Guess who he goes right after. Poor Andre. Buh-bye, Garvin. Jake is #7, and since he was feuding with Andre, that’s who he goes after. Things settle down a bit as everyone finds a partner and dances. Valentine works in a Flair flop off an Andre headbutt. Ron Bass is #8. Andre tosses Jake. It should be noted that despite the inherent tastelessness of the Ric Flair heart attack angle, the WWF did the same thing (albeit in a more cartoonish way) with the “Andre fears snakes” angle in 1989. (2012 Scott sez:  I think the “Bad News Brown fears snakes” angle was much more tasteless for the racist aspect.)  Shawn Michaels is #9, years before that meant anything. Ax gets dumped Perfectly. Michaels and Hennig start fighting and go into a series of overblown somersault sells and intricate ways to go over the top rope without getting eliminated. Show-offs. Bushwhacker Butch is #10, and Jake follows quickly with Damien, chasing Andre over the top and out of the match prematurely in cheap fashion. Honky Tonk Man is #11. We’re in kind of a lull here. We now have three of the most melodramatic sellers in history in the ring at the same time. The crowd is really getting into the elimination attempts, which just underlines the brilliance of the Rumble concept: It’s a battle royale for people with limited attention span, so you can concentrate on one or two battles at a time, with fresh guys in every few minutes. You know what’s weird? Today we remember feuds from years ago and they’re incorporated into angles all the time, but Santana (#12) was fighting Valentine here and no mention is made of their long-running feud in 1985. (2012 Scott sez:  Now we’ve swung back the other way, with guys feuding one month and then teaming up the next, with only CM Punk even remembering to acknowledge it.)  Honky gets tossed via a double-team. Bad News Brown is #13 (how fitting) and does nothing of note. Marty Jannetty gets #14 and the Rockers reunite to double-dropkick Bass out. Savage is #15 to a big pop. Arn Anderson is #16 as Valentine gets tossed by Macho. Arn and Shawn pair off. Savage joins in…on Arn’s side. They toss Michaels. Tully Blanchard is #17. There’s some pretty damn good workers in there right now…Bad News, Savage, Jannetty, Anderson, Blanchard, Santana, Hennig…I guess Butch is the exception that proves the rule. The Brainbusters double-team Jannetty mercilessly. Hogan is #18. Open mouth, insert dick. Hennig is the first victim of Goblin-mania. Santana gets tossed off-camera. Luke is #19. Butch gets tossed by Bad News. Wow, look, Hulk’s selling for Arn. Koko B.Ware is #20. Yeah, that’ll turn the tide. You’d think Arn would learn NOT TO GO TO THE TOP ROPE after 15 years of getting slammed off it. Especially in a battle royale. Hulk dumps Luke. Warlord is #21 as Hogan dumps the Brainbusters at the same time. (2012 Scott sez:  More dream matches we never got:  Brainbusters v. Megapowers.)  Bastard. Warlord in, Warlord out. Savage and Bad News are fighting on the ropes and Hogan dumps both of them. Savage freaks out. Hey, Hogan, keep that in mind in three years when the same shit would happen to you and YOU threw a temper tantrum. Hogan and Savage make up, only to have a violent breakup a month later. Bossman (#22) breaks up the Megapower love-in. Hogan and Bossman are all alone and Bossman takes over on Hulk. Gorilla: “He’s been out there for half an hour!” Jesse: “You idiot, he’s only been there for five minutes or so…”. Akeem is #23, so the Twin Towers assualt poor Hogan. Hogan’s got his working boots on tonight. The Towers continue the beatdown and unceremoniously eliminate Hogan, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan throws a tantrum and beats up Bossman. Brutus Beefcake is #24. The Towers beat on him, too, but Hogan cheats and pulls Bossman out over the top rope to eliminate him. What a role model. One thing does bother me: If Dibiase was unhappy enough with his number to trade, that would indicate he got a low number to start with. But Bossman ended up with 22 and Akeem got 23, so why would Dibiase have been unhappy with either of those? (2012 Scott sez:  Because he’s a rich white guy who would be unhappy with anything less than #30, of course.  That’s the great part about the character.)  Oh well, minor point. Terry Taylor (aka The Red You-Know-What) is #25. He’s not very effective. Barbarian is #26 as Taylor and Beefcake work over Akeem. We’re getting into the dregs of the draw. Akeem splashes Taylor and dances. All the girlies say he’s pretty fly for a white guy, you know. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, this was written in 1999, wanna fight about it?)  John Studd is #27 and man is Taylor taking a shitkicking. Hercules is #28. Geez, the crowd sure died off once Hogan and Savage left. This is like the lost puppy section of the SPCA in terms of star power. Rick Martel is #29, a few months before his heel turn. He goes after Akeem, but Studd pushes him away, like everyone else who tries to go after Akeem. Studd wants him for himself, you see. And of course, Ted Dibiase is #30 thanks to his investment. Okay, so the final tally: Dibiase, Akeem, Studd, Taylor, Beefcake, Hercules, Barbarian and Martel. Oops, there goes Taylor via Dibiase. What a sad group of finalists. Beefcake puts Hercules in a sleeper and Dibiase pushes both of them over at once. Barbie misses a BIG BOOT OF DOOM and Martel dropkicks him out. Final four: Martel, Dibiase, Akeem, Studd. Well, 50% don’t suck. Akeem casually dumps Martel off a bodypress attempt. Akeem and Dibiase double-team Studd. Well, actually, Akeem beats on Studd and Dibiase supervises. Oops, he got caught in between. Studd knocks out the stunned Akeem, leaving Studd and Dibiase. Studd dominates and tosses Dibiase to win the “first” Royal Rumble. First 2/3 was super-hot, but it died off once Hogan left. *** The Bottom Line: Hey, wow, nothing sucked here. Seriously, this was a surprisingly solid card (albeit completely forgettable) from top to bottom. Okay, discount the Super Posedown. Everyone seemed to be making an effort tonight for once. This was pretty much nearing the end of the Golden Age, too, so it’s something of an abomination. Recommended.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1988

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1988 – Live (on the USA network) from Hamilton, Ontario. – Your hosts are Vince and Jesse.  – Okay, so the story here is thus: The NWA decided to put on a PPV, unopposed this time, in the form of the god-awful Bunkhouse Stampede show. It ended up being so bad that the only remnant of the show on videotape is the actual Bunkhouse finals, which is wedged into the Crockett Cup video for that year. Anyway, just to be an asshole, Vince decided to run a three-hour show on the USA network at the same time, with a cool gimmick and everything. And thus was born the Royal Rumble. – Opening match: Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ricky Steamboat. Rude was fairly new to the WWF at this point. Slugfest to start, and Steamboat works the skin-the-cat move in in short order. Test of strength goes Ricky’s way, and he works on the arm of Rude. It’s his POSING arm, which is reinforced because he later has trouble doing the muscle poses. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the kind of easy, subtle heel heat that no one does anymore because no one outside of a few guys are allowed to have a sense of humor.)  There’s a fan at ringside with a megaphone who gets REALLY annoying REALLY quick, and thankfully some of the security nazis confiscated it after this match. Vince counters Jesse’s “thumb to the eye” speech by nothing that “youngsters are watching”. AHA! I knew he’d admit it if we went back in time far enough. (2012 Scott sez:  And now the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side, with nothing but kids watching.)  Still working that there arm. It’s Arm-Dragon mode tonight, I see. A criss-cross gone horribly, horribly wrong (Tonight on FOX: When meaningless wrestling sequences GO BAD!) sends Ricky to the floor, where Rude takes over. Chinlock, whoo-hoo! Steamboat screws up and forgets to lift his arm on the third drop, so Hebner ignores it and gives him a fourth try. You KNOW Steamboat is just phoning it in here with that kind of error. They go through a tacked-on wrestling sequence that wakes up the crowd and trade several two-counts. Steamboat goes to the top, but the ref gets bumped. Rude gets the hanging body vice (3rd or 4th stupidest finisher of the 80s) (2012 Scott sez:  Say what?  The over-the-shoulder backbreaker was badass!)  and the ref revives to call for the bell. Could the dastardly Rude have made Steamboat submit? Of course not, it’s just a lame DQ win for Steamboat at 17:40. Way too long here. * (2012 Scott sez:  I`m pretty sure it was better than that, actually.)  – And you think TODAY’S RAW segments are a bit on the long side? Up next here, it’s the Dino Bravo bench-press record attempt. The WWF TV people later (mercifully) cut it down to the final attempt, but the entire thing runs TWENTY MINUTES, as he goes step-by-step up to 700-and-some odd pounds and then cheats with Jesse Ventura’s help to set the “record”. See, his gimmick was that he was really really strong. Yeah, I’m stumped as to why that didn’t draw money, too.  (2012 Scott sez:  See also:  Chris Masters, Mark Henry)Women’s tag team title: Judy Martin & Leilani Kai v. The Jumping Bomb Angels. Stuff related to this: The Women’s tag team titles were basically a flavor-of-the-week thing occasionally defended and basically brought out of mothballs specifically to showcase the Angels – Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno. The champs, The Glamour Girls, had “won” the titles in Egypt (no city ever given, just “Egypt”, which is somewhere near Rio DeJaneiro, I guess).   I don’t really know why Vince signed the Angels in the first place, since they basically blew away everyone in the entire promotion, wrestling-wise. The whole lineage of the women’s tag title is one of those weird, murky things that leads into arguments over who had rights to it when and whether certain claims are legitimate, but since no one in North American gives a crap about women’s wrestling as a rule I’ll just skip most of it. Suffice to say that the WWF bought the belts from the NWA in 1983 and abandoned them 6 years later. Thank god they weren’t resurrected with the recent Women’s title in the WWF, because lord knows I couldn’t take watching Mae & Moolah v. Ivory & her partner for a major title without trying to hang myself with my own keyboard cord. Anyway, TO THE MATCH, which is 2/3 falls, by the way. Leilani tosses Yamazaki around to start. She comes back with a Konnan rolling clothesline and a piledriver. Vince is in his prime here, not only ignorant of the names of the moves being performed, but completely unaware of the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels until a producer fills him in during a commercial break. What a pro. (2012 Scott sez:  Still better than Michael Cole.) The Angels are just flying all over the place, even working the elusive Octopus variant of the abdominal stretch, a move only performed by Owen Hart and Dynamite Kid in America prior to this. The Angels work the leg of Kai with some lucha-esque submission stuff. They work in stuff that I don’t even see guys doing TODAY. Judy Martin manages to tag in and hit the over-the-shoulder variant of the powerbomb for the first fall at 6:10. I should point out that Sid Vicious didn’t even introduce the REGULAR powerbomb to US audiences until 1989, and here are these women doing variations on it. – Second fall: Martin destroys Yamazaki, but misses a splash and Tateno gets the hot tag. Pier-six leads to a slickly done miscommunication bit from the Glams, and when Martin tries that powerbomb again, Tateno reverses it to a sunset flip for the second fall at 1:50. See, not only did they introduce that move in the first fall, but then the Angels introduced the COUNTER for this move that no one in the audience has ever seen in the NEXT FALL. Talk about state of the art wrestling. I’m surprised Vince didn’t fire them on the spot for daring to have actual skill while still getting over. – Third fall: Angels double-team Kai, who overpowers Yamazaki in turn. She comes back with an enzuigiri (a friggin’ enzuigiri in 1988!) but Tateno tags in and gets dominated. Kai gets a double-underhook suplex for two on Yamazaki. Angels are getting nowhere fast. Yamazaki drops Kai on her tailbone (picture an atomic drop where the attacker doesn’t use the knee, but rather just drops the opponent to the mat) twice and gets a two count. Hot tag to Tateno, who comes in off the top for a two count. She then one-ups Leilani Kai by doing a double-underhook suplex of her own, but bridging after doing it. That gets two. Bodypress gets two. Senton bomb misses and Kai gets two. Double-team clothesline gets two for the Angels, and a double missile dropkick finishes it at 5:47 and gives them the tag titles. Slowed down a bit in the middle, but this was still light-years ahead of what everyone else was doing. ***1/2 – Hogan-Andre review. Hogan cleanly pinned Andre at Wrestlemania III, but Andre spent the next 8 months pissing and moaning because he thought he got the win on a failed bodyslam attempt early in the match. At the same time, Ted Dibiase launched an ambitious attempt at purchasing the WWF title from Hogan outright after a failed title shot. When Hogan refused, Dibiase decided to try the next best thing, and purchased the contract of the angry Giant off of Bobby Heenan for $1,000,000, with the idea being that Andre would win the title from Hogan on his behalf. Sidenote: When that plan ultimately failed, Heenan bought the contract BACK for $100,000, thus giving himself a tidy $900,000 profit and Dibiase nothing. And people wonder why he was the Brain? Anyway, all this led to the big Hogan-Andre rematch on prime time TV, and on this show we get the contract signing. I’m sure you all, as wrestling fans, are well aware of what happens 99% of the time at contract signings (it falls under the Birthday Cake rule) and indeed this is no exception, as Hogan is left laying by the heels. (2012 Scott sez:  CM Punk was lying when he said that this was the last contract signing to go off without a brawl)  If you’re curious about how that title match actually turned out, keep reading after the Bottom Line for a special surprise. – Royal Rumble match: Howard Finkel has to explain the rules because this is the first one and all. Oh, and there’s only 20 guys because of time constraints. Bret Hart gets #1, and Tito Santana gets #2, so for you trivia buffs, they were the first two entrants ever. Please use that knowledge only for good. Bret goes flying right into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Butch Reed gets #3, and a double-team results. See, the whole “Every man for himself” thing didn’t become an issue until 1989’s PPV debut for the Rumble. In fact, the first real double-cross in a battle royale seen by casual fans of the time was the one that opened Wrestlemania IV, where Bad News Brown did the deed to Bret Hart to get the win. Up until then, everyone just assumed that faces would fight heels and vice-versa. Of course, now thanks to Vince Russo’s “characterization” techniques, partners turning on each other is not only common, it’s expected. Ah, for the days of kayfabe. Anyway, Bret & Butch work Chico over, then Neidhart gets #4 and joins the fun. Santana is about to go out, but Jake Roberts saves the day at #5. Crowd eats it up. Harley Race is #6. The faces hang tough under the assault. Jim Brunzell of the Killer Bees is #7 and helps out for the face cause. Sam Houston is #8, and he CLEARS THE ENTIRE RING BY HIMSELF. In other news, hell freezes over. (2012 Scott sez:  Sam Houston humor.  Now that`s cutting edge.  This is, however, the only time I know of with Snake and Houston in the ring together.)  Santana goes flying out of the ring as I start to complain about deadwood. Danny Davis is #9, and he’s pretty useless but he has an issue with fellow jobbing boy Sam Houston so they tussle. Boris Zhukov is #10. Not much of note from that one. Don Muraco is #11, and Nikolai Volkoff follows him out and a big argument with the refs ensues. Boris goes bye-bye right about then. Pretty funny to hear Vince constantly referring to Muraco as “The Rock”. Volkoff waits out the argument long enough to be #12. Race gets crowned by Muraco and goes over the top. Hacksaw Duggan is #13. He gets into an altercation with Race on the way by, and that ended up setting the table for their really hilarious brawl that lasted for most of the 34th Annual Slammy Awards that year. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, believe me. The faces gain control. Outlaw Ron Bass is #14. Not much impact there. Volkoff casually dumps Brunzell. B. Brian Blair gets #15 too late to help his partner. Holy god, is Duggan over or what? More chaos. Hillbilly Jim is #16 and gets rid of Anvil right away. Dino Bravo is #17. This ring is desperately in need of someone to thin it out, there’s just too many guys doing nothing. Sam Houston does his part by bumping to the floor. Ultimate Warrior is #18, before he was over. Bret Hart goes tumbling out, thus giving him the first-ever longevity record at 25 minutes. One Man Gang is #19, and he’s on Jake like fat on himself. Blair is gone, Jake Roberts is gone, both via OMG. JYD is the final entrant, with 10 guys left in the ring. Duggan sends Volkoff to the showers. Gang rids us of Hillbilly Jim. Duggan blasts Davis out. OMG dumps Warrior. Dog takes an absolutely wussy bump out. Ditto Bass. Final four: Muraco, Gang, Bravo and Duggan. Gang & Bravo work together, ‘natch, and manage to double-team Muraco out with a running clothesline, the only time I’ve ever seen the “I’d hold him and you run at him” strategy work. It’s Duggan 2-on-1 now, and much punishment follows. They try the double-team trick again, and this time it backfires, bye-bye Bravo. Duggan ducks one last desperate Gang charge, and gets the win in the first Rumble at 33:23. Geez, talk about a super-accelerated timer – at two minutes each, it should have been at least 40 minutes. Oh well, good first effort for the venerated Rumble. ***1/2 – 2/3 falls: The Islanders v. The Young Stallions. Just a filler match to have something on to end the show. The Islanders were in the middle of that captivating kidnapping angle where they stole the British Bulldogs’ mascot, an angle so utterly lame that the WWF not only recycled it 11 years later, but gave it Attitude™ by having Bossman actually cook the dog in question this time around. Dull wristlock sequence to start. The arena was RAPIDLY emptying, so fast in fact that the lights dropped to near total darkness by about two minutes into this match. It’s like watching Nitro. Total nothing match here. Powers gets beat on for about 5 minutes, Roma gets the hot tag and dropkicks Tama for two. He takes a bad fall out of the ring and hurts his knee, getting counted out at 7:50 for the first fall. The Stallions head back to the dressing room for medical attention, which gives us an excuse to show the contract signing again and gives Andre some promo time. Stallions come back again for the second fall. – Second fall: Islanders go right after the knee, duh. Powers comes in and takes a beating for a long while, after getting some token offense in. Powers finally has no choice but to tag Roma in, which is basically a lose-lose situation because Roma’s knee is being sold as severely damaged. Islanders go right back for the knee, and the ref stops just stops the thing at 7:27 out of mercy on Roma. Eh. ** The Bottom Line: This show was more of a trivia question (“Who was the REAL first winner of the Royal Rumble?”) and a snarky attempt to undermine Jim Crockett than any kind of serious promotional move. Still, it produced a gimmick match so inspired that it lives on today as an annual tradition, so that’s something.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1988

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1988 – Live (on the USA network) from Hamilton, Ontario. – Your hosts are Vince and Jesse.  – Okay, so the story here is thus: The NWA decided to put on a PPV, unopposed this time, in the form of the god-awful Bunkhouse Stampede show. It ended up being so bad that the only remnant of the show on videotape is the actual Bunkhouse finals, which is wedged into the Crockett Cup video for that year. Anyway, just to be an asshole, Vince decided to run a three-hour show on the USA network at the same time, with a cool gimmick and everything. And thus was born the Royal Rumble. – Opening match: Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ricky Steamboat. Rude was fairly new to the WWF at this point. Slugfest to start, and Steamboat works the skin-the-cat move in in short order. Test of strength goes Ricky’s way, and he works on the arm of Rude. It’s his POSING arm, which is reinforced because he later has trouble doing the muscle poses. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the kind of easy, subtle heel heat that no one does anymore because no one outside of a few guys are allowed to have a sense of humor.)  There’s a fan at ringside with a megaphone who gets REALLY annoying REALLY quick, and thankfully some of the security nazis confiscated it after this match. Vince counters Jesse’s “thumb to the eye” speech by nothing that “youngsters are watching”. AHA! I knew he’d admit it if we went back in time far enough. (2012 Scott sez:  And now the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side, with nothing but kids watching.)  Still working that there arm. It’s Arm-Dragon mode tonight, I see. A criss-cross gone horribly, horribly wrong (Tonight on FOX: When meaningless wrestling sequences GO BAD!) sends Ricky to the floor, where Rude takes over. Chinlock, whoo-hoo! Steamboat screws up and forgets to lift his arm on the third drop, so Hebner ignores it and gives him a fourth try. You KNOW Steamboat is just phoning it in here with that kind of error. They go through a tacked-on wrestling sequence that wakes up the crowd and trade several two-counts. Steamboat goes to the top, but the ref gets bumped. Rude gets the hanging body vice (3rd or 4th stupidest finisher of the 80s) (2012 Scott sez:  Say what?  The over-the-shoulder backbreaker was badass!)  and the ref revives to call for the bell. Could the dastardly Rude have made Steamboat submit? Of course not, it’s just a lame DQ win for Steamboat at 17:40. Way too long here. * (2012 Scott sez:  I`m pretty sure it was better than that, actually.)  – And you think TODAY’S RAW segments are a bit on the long side? Up next here, it’s the Dino Bravo bench-press record attempt. The WWF TV people later (mercifully) cut it down to the final attempt, but the entire thing runs TWENTY MINUTES, as he goes step-by-step up to 700-and-some odd pounds and then cheats with Jesse Ventura’s help to set the “record”. See, his gimmick was that he was really really strong. Yeah, I’m stumped as to why that didn’t draw money, too.  (2012 Scott sez:  See also:  Chris Masters, Mark Henry)Women’s tag team title: Judy Martin & Leilani Kai v. The Jumping Bomb Angels. Stuff related to this: The Women’s tag team titles were basically a flavor-of-the-week thing occasionally defended and basically brought out of mothballs specifically to showcase the Angels – Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno. The champs, The Glamour Girls, had “won” the titles in Egypt (no city ever given, just “Egypt”, which is somewhere near Rio DeJaneiro, I guess).   I don’t really know why Vince signed the Angels in the first place, since they basically blew away everyone in the entire promotion, wrestling-wise. The whole lineage of the women’s tag title is one of those weird, murky things that leads into arguments over who had rights to it when and whether certain claims are legitimate, but since no one in North American gives a crap about women’s wrestling as a rule I’ll just skip most of it. Suffice to say that the WWF bought the belts from the NWA in 1983 and abandoned them 6 years later. Thank god they weren’t resurrected with the recent Women’s title in the WWF, because lord knows I couldn’t take watching Mae & Moolah v. Ivory & her partner for a major title without trying to hang myself with my own keyboard cord. Anyway, TO THE MATCH, which is 2/3 falls, by the way. Leilani tosses Yamazaki around to start. She comes back with a Konnan rolling clothesline and a piledriver. Vince is in his prime here, not only ignorant of the names of the moves being performed, but completely unaware of the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels until a producer fills him in during a commercial break. What a pro. (2012 Scott sez:  Still better than Michael Cole.) The Angels are just flying all over the place, even working the elusive Octopus variant of the abdominal stretch, a move only performed by Owen Hart and Dynamite Kid in America prior to this. The Angels work the leg of Kai with some lucha-esque submission stuff. They work in stuff that I don’t even see guys doing TODAY. Judy Martin manages to tag in and hit the over-the-shoulder variant of the powerbomb for the first fall at 6:10. I should point out that Sid Vicious didn’t even introduce the REGULAR powerbomb to US audiences until 1989, and here are these women doing variations on it. – Second fall: Martin destroys Yamazaki, but misses a splash and Tateno gets the hot tag. Pier-six leads to a slickly done miscommunication bit from the Glams, and when Martin tries that powerbomb again, Tateno reverses it to a sunset flip for the second fall at 1:50. See, not only did they introduce that move in the first fall, but then the Angels introduced the COUNTER for this move that no one in the audience has ever seen in the NEXT FALL. Talk about state of the art wrestling. I’m surprised Vince didn’t fire them on the spot for daring to have actual skill while still getting over. – Third fall: Angels double-team Kai, who overpowers Yamazaki in turn. She comes back with an enzuigiri (a friggin’ enzuigiri in 1988!) but Tateno tags in and gets dominated. Kai gets a double-underhook suplex for two on Yamazaki. Angels are getting nowhere fast. Yamazaki drops Kai on her tailbone (picture an atomic drop where the attacker doesn’t use the knee, but rather just drops the opponent to the mat) twice and gets a two count. Hot tag to Tateno, who comes in off the top for a two count. She then one-ups Leilani Kai by doing a double-underhook suplex of her own, but bridging after doing it. That gets two. Bodypress gets two. Senton bomb misses and Kai gets two. Double-team clothesline gets two for the Angels, and a double missile dropkick finishes it at 5:47 and gives them the tag titles. Slowed down a bit in the middle, but this was still light-years ahead of what everyone else was doing. ***1/2 – Hogan-Andre review. Hogan cleanly pinned Andre at Wrestlemania III, but Andre spent the next 8 months pissing and moaning because he thought he got the win on a failed bodyslam attempt early in the match. At the same time, Ted Dibiase launched an ambitious attempt at purchasing the WWF title from Hogan outright after a failed title shot. When Hogan refused, Dibiase decided to try the next best thing, and purchased the contract of the angry Giant off of Bobby Heenan for $1,000,000, with the idea being that Andre would win the title from Hogan on his behalf. Sidenote: When that plan ultimately failed, Heenan bought the contract BACK for $100,000, thus giving himself a tidy $900,000 profit and Dibiase nothing. And people wonder why he was the Brain? Anyway, all this led to the big Hogan-Andre rematch on prime time TV, and on this show we get the contract signing. I’m sure you all, as wrestling fans, are well aware of what happens 99% of the time at contract signings (it falls under the Birthday Cake rule) and indeed this is no exception, as Hogan is left laying by the heels. (2012 Scott sez:  CM Punk was lying when he said that this was the last contract signing to go off without a brawl)  If you’re curious about how that title match actually turned out, keep reading after the Bottom Line for a special surprise. – Royal Rumble match: Howard Finkel has to explain the rules because this is the first one and all. Oh, and there’s only 20 guys because of time constraints. Bret Hart gets #1, and Tito Santana gets #2, so for you trivia buffs, they were the first two entrants ever. Please use that knowledge only for good. Bret goes flying right into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Butch Reed gets #3, and a double-team results. See, the whole “Every man for himself” thing didn’t become an issue until 1989’s PPV debut for the Rumble. In fact, the first real double-cross in a battle royale seen by casual fans of the time was the one that opened Wrestlemania IV, where Bad News Brown did the deed to Bret Hart to get the win. Up until then, everyone just assumed that faces would fight heels and vice-versa. Of course, now thanks to Vince Russo’s “characterization” techniques, partners turning on each other is not only common, it’s expected. Ah, for the days of kayfabe. Anyway, Bret & Butch work Chico over, then Neidhart gets #4 and joins the fun. Santana is about to go out, but Jake Roberts saves the day at #5. Crowd eats it up. Harley Race is #6. The faces hang tough under the assault. Jim Brunzell of the Killer Bees is #7 and helps out for the face cause. Sam Houston is #8, and he CLEARS THE ENTIRE RING BY HIMSELF. In other news, hell freezes over. (2012 Scott sez:  Sam Houston humor.  Now that`s cutting edge.  This is, however, the only time I know of with Snake and Houston in the ring together.)  Santana goes flying out of the ring as I start to complain about deadwood. Danny Davis is #9, and he’s pretty useless but he has an issue with fellow jobbing boy Sam Houston so they tussle. Boris Zhukov is #10. Not much of note from that one. Don Muraco is #11, and Nikolai Volkoff follows him out and a big argument with the refs ensues. Boris goes bye-bye right about then. Pretty funny to hear Vince constantly referring to Muraco as “The Rock”. Volkoff waits out the argument long enough to be #12. Race gets crowned by Muraco and goes over the top. Hacksaw Duggan is #13. He gets into an altercation with Race on the way by, and that ended up setting the table for their really hilarious brawl that lasted for most of the 34th Annual Slammy Awards that year. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, believe me. The faces gain control. Outlaw Ron Bass is #14. Not much impact there. Volkoff casually dumps Brunzell. B. Brian Blair gets #15 too late to help his partner. Holy god, is Duggan over or what? More chaos. Hillbilly Jim is #16 and gets rid of Anvil right away. Dino Bravo is #17. This ring is desperately in need of someone to thin it out, there’s just too many guys doing nothing. Sam Houston does his part by bumping to the floor. Ultimate Warrior is #18, before he was over. Bret Hart goes tumbling out, thus giving him the first-ever longevity record at 25 minutes. One Man Gang is #19, and he’s on Jake like fat on himself. Blair is gone, Jake Roberts is gone, both via OMG. JYD is the final entrant, with 10 guys left in the ring. Duggan sends Volkoff to the showers. Gang rids us of Hillbilly Jim. Duggan blasts Davis out. OMG dumps Warrior. Dog takes an absolutely wussy bump out. Ditto Bass. Final four: Muraco, Gang, Bravo and Duggan. Gang & Bravo work together, ‘natch, and manage to double-team Muraco out with a running clothesline, the only time I’ve ever seen the “I’d hold him and you run at him” strategy work. It’s Duggan 2-on-1 now, and much punishment follows. They try the double-team trick again, and this time it backfires, bye-bye Bravo. Duggan ducks one last desperate Gang charge, and gets the win in the first Rumble at 33:23. Geez, talk about a super-accelerated timer – at two minutes each, it should have been at least 40 minutes. Oh well, good first effort for the venerated Rumble. ***1/2 – 2/3 falls: The Islanders v. The Young Stallions. Just a filler match to have something on to end the show. The Islanders were in the middle of that captivating kidnapping angle where they stole the British Bulldogs’ mascot, an angle so utterly lame that the WWF not only recycled it 11 years later, but gave it Attitude™ by having Bossman actually cook the dog in question this time around. Dull wristlock sequence to start. The arena was RAPIDLY emptying, so fast in fact that the lights dropped to near total darkness by about two minutes into this match. It’s like watching Nitro. Total nothing match here. Powers gets beat on for about 5 minutes, Roma gets the hot tag and dropkicks Tama for two. He takes a bad fall out of the ring and hurts his knee, getting counted out at 7:50 for the first fall. The Stallions head back to the dressing room for medical attention, which gives us an excuse to show the contract signing again and gives Andre some promo time. Stallions come back again for the second fall. – Second fall: Islanders go right after the knee, duh. Powers comes in and takes a beating for a long while, after getting some token offense in. Powers finally has no choice but to tag Roma in, which is basically a lose-lose situation because Roma’s knee is being sold as severely damaged. Islanders go right back for the knee, and the ref stops just stops the thing at 7:27 out of mercy on Roma. Eh. ** The Bottom Line: This show was more of a trivia question (“Who was the REAL first winner of the Royal Rumble?”) and a snarky attempt to undermine Jim Crockett than any kind of serious promotional move. Still, it produced a gimmick match so inspired that it lives on today as an annual tradition, so that’s something.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1988

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1988 – Live (on the USA network) from Hamilton, Ontario. – Your hosts are Vince and Jesse.  – Okay, so the story here is thus: The NWA decided to put on a PPV, unopposed this time, in the form of the god-awful Bunkhouse Stampede show. It ended up being so bad that the only remnant of the show on videotape is the actual Bunkhouse finals, which is wedged into the Crockett Cup video for that year. Anyway, just to be an asshole, Vince decided to run a three-hour show on the USA network at the same time, with a cool gimmick and everything. And thus was born the Royal Rumble. – Opening match: Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ricky Steamboat. Rude was fairly new to the WWF at this point. Slugfest to start, and Steamboat works the skin-the-cat move in in short order. Test of strength goes Ricky’s way, and he works on the arm of Rude. It’s his POSING arm, which is reinforced because he later has trouble doing the muscle poses. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the kind of easy, subtle heel heat that no one does anymore because no one outside of a few guys are allowed to have a sense of humor.)  There’s a fan at ringside with a megaphone who gets REALLY annoying REALLY quick, and thankfully some of the security nazis confiscated it after this match. Vince counters Jesse’s “thumb to the eye” speech by nothing that “youngsters are watching”. AHA! I knew he’d admit it if we went back in time far enough. (2012 Scott sez:  And now the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side, with nothing but kids watching.)  Still working that there arm. It’s Arm-Dragon mode tonight, I see. A criss-cross gone horribly, horribly wrong (Tonight on FOX: When meaningless wrestling sequences GO BAD!) sends Ricky to the floor, where Rude takes over. Chinlock, whoo-hoo! Steamboat screws up and forgets to lift his arm on the third drop, so Hebner ignores it and gives him a fourth try. You KNOW Steamboat is just phoning it in here with that kind of error. They go through a tacked-on wrestling sequence that wakes up the crowd and trade several two-counts. Steamboat goes to the top, but the ref gets bumped. Rude gets the hanging body vice (3rd or 4th stupidest finisher of the 80s) (2012 Scott sez:  Say what?  The over-the-shoulder backbreaker was badass!)  and the ref revives to call for the bell. Could the dastardly Rude have made Steamboat submit? Of course not, it’s just a lame DQ win for Steamboat at 17:40. Way too long here. * (2012 Scott sez:  I`m pretty sure it was better than that, actually.)  – And you think TODAY’S RAW segments are a bit on the long side? Up next here, it’s the Dino Bravo bench-press record attempt. The WWF TV people later (mercifully) cut it down to the final attempt, but the entire thing runs TWENTY MINUTES, as he goes step-by-step up to 700-and-some odd pounds and then cheats with Jesse Ventura’s help to set the “record”. See, his gimmick was that he was really really strong. Yeah, I’m stumped as to why that didn’t draw money, too.  (2012 Scott sez:  See also:  Chris Masters, Mark Henry)Women’s tag team title: Judy Martin & Leilani Kai v. The Jumping Bomb Angels. Stuff related to this: The Women’s tag team titles were basically a flavor-of-the-week thing occasionally defended and basically brought out of mothballs specifically to showcase the Angels – Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno. The champs, The Glamour Girls, had “won” the titles in Egypt (no city ever given, just “Egypt”, which is somewhere near Rio DeJaneiro, I guess).   I don’t really know why Vince signed the Angels in the first place, since they basically blew away everyone in the entire promotion, wrestling-wise. The whole lineage of the women’s tag title is one of those weird, murky things that leads into arguments over who had rights to it when and whether certain claims are legitimate, but since no one in North American gives a crap about women’s wrestling as a rule I’ll just skip most of it. Suffice to say that the WWF bought the belts from the NWA in 1983 and abandoned them 6 years later. Thank god they weren’t resurrected with the recent Women’s title in the WWF, because lord knows I couldn’t take watching Mae & Moolah v. Ivory & her partner for a major title without trying to hang myself with my own keyboard cord. Anyway, TO THE MATCH, which is 2/3 falls, by the way. Leilani tosses Yamazaki around to start. She comes back with a Konnan rolling clothesline and a piledriver. Vince is in his prime here, not only ignorant of the names of the moves being performed, but completely unaware of the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels until a producer fills him in during a commercial break. What a pro. (2012 Scott sez:  Still better than Michael Cole.) The Angels are just flying all over the place, even working the elusive Octopus variant of the abdominal stretch, a move only performed by Owen Hart and Dynamite Kid in America prior to this. The Angels work the leg of Kai with some lucha-esque submission stuff. They work in stuff that I don’t even see guys doing TODAY. Judy Martin manages to tag in and hit the over-the-shoulder variant of the powerbomb for the first fall at 6:10. I should point out that Sid Vicious didn’t even introduce the REGULAR powerbomb to US audiences until 1989, and here are these women doing variations on it. – Second fall: Martin destroys Yamazaki, but misses a splash and Tateno gets the hot tag. Pier-six leads to a slickly done miscommunication bit from the Glams, and when Martin tries that powerbomb again, Tateno reverses it to a sunset flip for the second fall at 1:50. See, not only did they introduce that move in the first fall, but then the Angels introduced the COUNTER for this move that no one in the audience has ever seen in the NEXT FALL. Talk about state of the art wrestling. I’m surprised Vince didn’t fire them on the spot for daring to have actual skill while still getting over. – Third fall: Angels double-team Kai, who overpowers Yamazaki in turn. She comes back with an enzuigiri (a friggin’ enzuigiri in 1988!) but Tateno tags in and gets dominated. Kai gets a double-underhook suplex for two on Yamazaki. Angels are getting nowhere fast. Yamazaki drops Kai on her tailbone (picture an atomic drop where the attacker doesn’t use the knee, but rather just drops the opponent to the mat) twice and gets a two count. Hot tag to Tateno, who comes in off the top for a two count. She then one-ups Leilani Kai by doing a double-underhook suplex of her own, but bridging after doing it. That gets two. Bodypress gets two. Senton bomb misses and Kai gets two. Double-team clothesline gets two for the Angels, and a double missile dropkick finishes it at 5:47 and gives them the tag titles. Slowed down a bit in the middle, but this was still light-years ahead of what everyone else was doing. ***1/2 – Hogan-Andre review. Hogan cleanly pinned Andre at Wrestlemania III, but Andre spent the next 8 months pissing and moaning because he thought he got the win on a failed bodyslam attempt early in the match. At the same time, Ted Dibiase launched an ambitious attempt at purchasing the WWF title from Hogan outright after a failed title shot. When Hogan refused, Dibiase decided to try the next best thing, and purchased the contract of the angry Giant off of Bobby Heenan for $1,000,000, with the idea being that Andre would win the title from Hogan on his behalf. Sidenote: When that plan ultimately failed, Heenan bought the contract BACK for $100,000, thus giving himself a tidy $900,000 profit and Dibiase nothing. And people wonder why he was the Brain? Anyway, all this led to the big Hogan-Andre rematch on prime time TV, and on this show we get the contract signing. I’m sure you all, as wrestling fans, are well aware of what happens 99% of the time at contract signings (it falls under the Birthday Cake rule) and indeed this is no exception, as Hogan is left laying by the heels. (2012 Scott sez:  CM Punk was lying when he said that this was the last contract signing to go off without a brawl)  If you’re curious about how that title match actually turned out, keep reading after the Bottom Line for a special surprise. – Royal Rumble match: Howard Finkel has to explain the rules because this is the first one and all. Oh, and there’s only 20 guys because of time constraints. Bret Hart gets #1, and Tito Santana gets #2, so for you trivia buffs, they were the first two entrants ever. Please use that knowledge only for good. Bret goes flying right into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Butch Reed gets #3, and a double-team results. See, the whole “Every man for himself” thing didn’t become an issue until 1989’s PPV debut for the Rumble. In fact, the first real double-cross in a battle royale seen by casual fans of the time was the one that opened Wrestlemania IV, where Bad News Brown did the deed to Bret Hart to get the win. Up until then, everyone just assumed that faces would fight heels and vice-versa. Of course, now thanks to Vince Russo’s “characterization” techniques, partners turning on each other is not only common, it’s expected. Ah, for the days of kayfabe. Anyway, Bret & Butch work Chico over, then Neidhart gets #4 and joins the fun. Santana is about to go out, but Jake Roberts saves the day at #5. Crowd eats it up. Harley Race is #6. The faces hang tough under the assault. Jim Brunzell of the Killer Bees is #7 and helps out for the face cause. Sam Houston is #8, and he CLEARS THE ENTIRE RING BY HIMSELF. In other news, hell freezes over. (2012 Scott sez:  Sam Houston humor.  Now that`s cutting edge.  This is, however, the only time I know of with Snake and Houston in the ring together.)  Santana goes flying out of the ring as I start to complain about deadwood. Danny Davis is #9, and he’s pretty useless but he has an issue with fellow jobbing boy Sam Houston so they tussle. Boris Zhukov is #10. Not much of note from that one. Don Muraco is #11, and Nikolai Volkoff follows him out and a big argument with the refs ensues. Boris goes bye-bye right about then. Pretty funny to hear Vince constantly referring to Muraco as “The Rock”. Volkoff waits out the argument long enough to be #12. Race gets crowned by Muraco and goes over the top. Hacksaw Duggan is #13. He gets into an altercation with Race on the way by, and that ended up setting the table for their really hilarious brawl that lasted for most of the 34th Annual Slammy Awards that year. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, believe me. The faces gain control. Outlaw Ron Bass is #14. Not much impact there. Volkoff casually dumps Brunzell. B. Brian Blair gets #15 too late to help his partner. Holy god, is Duggan over or what? More chaos. Hillbilly Jim is #16 and gets rid of Anvil right away. Dino Bravo is #17. This ring is desperately in need of someone to thin it out, there’s just too many guys doing nothing. Sam Houston does his part by bumping to the floor. Ultimate Warrior is #18, before he was over. Bret Hart goes tumbling out, thus giving him the first-ever longevity record at 25 minutes. One Man Gang is #19, and he’s on Jake like fat on himself. Blair is gone, Jake Roberts is gone, both via OMG. JYD is the final entrant, with 10 guys left in the ring. Duggan sends Volkoff to the showers. Gang rids us of Hillbilly Jim. Duggan blasts Davis out. OMG dumps Warrior. Dog takes an absolutely wussy bump out. Ditto Bass. Final four: Muraco, Gang, Bravo and Duggan. Gang & Bravo work together, ‘natch, and manage to double-team Muraco out with a running clothesline, the only time I’ve ever seen the “I’d hold him and you run at him” strategy work. It’s Duggan 2-on-1 now, and much punishment follows. They try the double-team trick again, and this time it backfires, bye-bye Bravo. Duggan ducks one last desperate Gang charge, and gets the win in the first Rumble at 33:23. Geez, talk about a super-accelerated timer – at two minutes each, it should have been at least 40 minutes. Oh well, good first effort for the venerated Rumble. ***1/2 – 2/3 falls: The Islanders v. The Young Stallions. Just a filler match to have something on to end the show. The Islanders were in the middle of that captivating kidnapping angle where they stole the British Bulldogs’ mascot, an angle so utterly lame that the WWF not only recycled it 11 years later, but gave it Attitude™ by having Bossman actually cook the dog in question this time around. Dull wristlock sequence to start. The arena was RAPIDLY emptying, so fast in fact that the lights dropped to near total darkness by about two minutes into this match. It’s like watching Nitro. Total nothing match here. Powers gets beat on for about 5 minutes, Roma gets the hot tag and dropkicks Tama for two. He takes a bad fall out of the ring and hurts his knee, getting counted out at 7:50 for the first fall. The Stallions head back to the dressing room for medical attention, which gives us an excuse to show the contract signing again and gives Andre some promo time. Stallions come back again for the second fall. – Second fall: Islanders go right after the knee, duh. Powers comes in and takes a beating for a long while, after getting some token offense in. Powers finally has no choice but to tag Roma in, which is basically a lose-lose situation because Roma’s knee is being sold as severely damaged. Islanders go right back for the knee, and the ref stops just stops the thing at 7:27 out of mercy on Roma. Eh. ** The Bottom Line: This show was more of a trivia question (“Who was the REAL first winner of the Royal Rumble?”) and a snarky attempt to undermine Jim Crockett than any kind of serious promotional move. Still, it produced a gimmick match so inspired that it lives on today as an annual tradition, so that’s something.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1988

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1988 – Live (on the USA network) from Hamilton, Ontario. – Your hosts are Vince and Jesse.  – Okay, so the story here is thus: The NWA decided to put on a PPV, unopposed this time, in the form of the god-awful Bunkhouse Stampede show. It ended up being so bad that the only remnant of the show on videotape is the actual Bunkhouse finals, which is wedged into the Crockett Cup video for that year. Anyway, just to be an asshole, Vince decided to run a three-hour show on the USA network at the same time, with a cool gimmick and everything. And thus was born the Royal Rumble. – Opening match: Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ricky Steamboat. Rude was fairly new to the WWF at this point. Slugfest to start, and Steamboat works the skin-the-cat move in in short order. Test of strength goes Ricky’s way, and he works on the arm of Rude. It’s his POSING arm, which is reinforced because he later has trouble doing the muscle poses. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the kind of easy, subtle heel heat that no one does anymore because no one outside of a few guys are allowed to have a sense of humor.)  There’s a fan at ringside with a megaphone who gets REALLY annoying REALLY quick, and thankfully some of the security nazis confiscated it after this match. Vince counters Jesse’s “thumb to the eye” speech by nothing that “youngsters are watching”. AHA! I knew he’d admit it if we went back in time far enough. (2012 Scott sez:  And now the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side, with nothing but kids watching.)  Still working that there arm. It’s Arm-Dragon mode tonight, I see. A criss-cross gone horribly, horribly wrong (Tonight on FOX: When meaningless wrestling sequences GO BAD!) sends Ricky to the floor, where Rude takes over. Chinlock, whoo-hoo! Steamboat screws up and forgets to lift his arm on the third drop, so Hebner ignores it and gives him a fourth try. You KNOW Steamboat is just phoning it in here with that kind of error. They go through a tacked-on wrestling sequence that wakes up the crowd and trade several two-counts. Steamboat goes to the top, but the ref gets bumped. Rude gets the hanging body vice (3rd or 4th stupidest finisher of the 80s) (2012 Scott sez:  Say what?  The over-the-shoulder backbreaker was badass!)  and the ref revives to call for the bell. Could the dastardly Rude have made Steamboat submit? Of course not, it’s just a lame DQ win for Steamboat at 17:40. Way too long here. * (2012 Scott sez:  I`m pretty sure it was better than that, actually.)  – And you think TODAY’S RAW segments are a bit on the long side? Up next here, it’s the Dino Bravo bench-press record attempt. The WWF TV people later (mercifully) cut it down to the final attempt, but the entire thing runs TWENTY MINUTES, as he goes step-by-step up to 700-and-some odd pounds and then cheats with Jesse Ventura’s help to set the “record”. See, his gimmick was that he was really really strong. Yeah, I’m stumped as to why that didn’t draw money, too.  (2012 Scott sez:  See also:  Chris Masters, Mark Henry)Women’s tag team title: Judy Martin & Leilani Kai v. The Jumping Bomb Angels. Stuff related to this: The Women’s tag team titles were basically a flavor-of-the-week thing occasionally defended and basically brought out of mothballs specifically to showcase the Angels – Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno. The champs, The Glamour Girls, had “won” the titles in Egypt (no city ever given, just “Egypt”, which is somewhere near Rio DeJaneiro, I guess).   I don’t really know why Vince signed the Angels in the first place, since they basically blew away everyone in the entire promotion, wrestling-wise. The whole lineage of the women’s tag title is one of those weird, murky things that leads into arguments over who had rights to it when and whether certain claims are legitimate, but since no one in North American gives a crap about women’s wrestling as a rule I’ll just skip most of it. Suffice to say that the WWF bought the belts from the NWA in 1983 and abandoned them 6 years later. Thank god they weren’t resurrected with the recent Women’s title in the WWF, because lord knows I couldn’t take watching Mae & Moolah v. Ivory & her partner for a major title without trying to hang myself with my own keyboard cord. Anyway, TO THE MATCH, which is 2/3 falls, by the way. Leilani tosses Yamazaki around to start. She comes back with a Konnan rolling clothesline and a piledriver. Vince is in his prime here, not only ignorant of the names of the moves being performed, but completely unaware of the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels until a producer fills him in during a commercial break. What a pro. (2012 Scott sez:  Still better than Michael Cole.) The Angels are just flying all over the place, even working the elusive Octopus variant of the abdominal stretch, a move only performed by Owen Hart and Dynamite Kid in America prior to this. The Angels work the leg of Kai with some lucha-esque submission stuff. They work in stuff that I don’t even see guys doing TODAY. Judy Martin manages to tag in and hit the over-the-shoulder variant of the powerbomb for the first fall at 6:10. I should point out that Sid Vicious didn’t even introduce the REGULAR powerbomb to US audiences until 1989, and here are these women doing variations on it. – Second fall: Martin destroys Yamazaki, but misses a splash and Tateno gets the hot tag. Pier-six leads to a slickly done miscommunication bit from the Glams, and when Martin tries that powerbomb again, Tateno reverses it to a sunset flip for the second fall at 1:50. See, not only did they introduce that move in the first fall, but then the Angels introduced the COUNTER for this move that no one in the audience has ever seen in the NEXT FALL. Talk about state of the art wrestling. I’m surprised Vince didn’t fire them on the spot for daring to have actual skill while still getting over. – Third fall: Angels double-team Kai, who overpowers Yamazaki in turn. She comes back with an enzuigiri (a friggin’ enzuigiri in 1988!) but Tateno tags in and gets dominated. Kai gets a double-underhook suplex for two on Yamazaki. Angels are getting nowhere fast. Yamazaki drops Kai on her tailbone (picture an atomic drop where the attacker doesn’t use the knee, but rather just drops the opponent to the mat) twice and gets a two count. Hot tag to Tateno, who comes in off the top for a two count. She then one-ups Leilani Kai by doing a double-underhook suplex of her own, but bridging after doing it. That gets two. Bodypress gets two. Senton bomb misses and Kai gets two. Double-team clothesline gets two for the Angels, and a double missile dropkick finishes it at 5:47 and gives them the tag titles. Slowed down a bit in the middle, but this was still light-years ahead of what everyone else was doing. ***1/2 – Hogan-Andre review. Hogan cleanly pinned Andre at Wrestlemania III, but Andre spent the next 8 months pissing and moaning because he thought he got the win on a failed bodyslam attempt early in the match. At the same time, Ted Dibiase launched an ambitious attempt at purchasing the WWF title from Hogan outright after a failed title shot. When Hogan refused, Dibiase decided to try the next best thing, and purchased the contract of the angry Giant off of Bobby Heenan for $1,000,000, with the idea being that Andre would win the title from Hogan on his behalf. Sidenote: When that plan ultimately failed, Heenan bought the contract BACK for $100,000, thus giving himself a tidy $900,000 profit and Dibiase nothing. And people wonder why he was the Brain? Anyway, all this led to the big Hogan-Andre rematch on prime time TV, and on this show we get the contract signing. I’m sure you all, as wrestling fans, are well aware of what happens 99% of the time at contract signings (it falls under the Birthday Cake rule) and indeed this is no exception, as Hogan is left laying by the heels. (2012 Scott sez:  CM Punk was lying when he said that this was the last contract signing to go off without a brawl)  If you’re curious about how that title match actually turned out, keep reading after the Bottom Line for a special surprise. – Royal Rumble match: Howard Finkel has to explain the rules because this is the first one and all. Oh, and there’s only 20 guys because of time constraints. Bret Hart gets #1, and Tito Santana gets #2, so for you trivia buffs, they were the first two entrants ever. Please use that knowledge only for good. Bret goes flying right into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Butch Reed gets #3, and a double-team results. See, the whole “Every man for himself” thing didn’t become an issue until 1989’s PPV debut for the Rumble. In fact, the first real double-cross in a battle royale seen by casual fans of the time was the one that opened Wrestlemania IV, where Bad News Brown did the deed to Bret Hart to get the win. Up until then, everyone just assumed that faces would fight heels and vice-versa. Of course, now thanks to Vince Russo’s “characterization” techniques, partners turning on each other is not only common, it’s expected. Ah, for the days of kayfabe. Anyway, Bret & Butch work Chico over, then Neidhart gets #4 and joins the fun. Santana is about to go out, but Jake Roberts saves the day at #5. Crowd eats it up. Harley Race is #6. The faces hang tough under the assault. Jim Brunzell of the Killer Bees is #7 and helps out for the face cause. Sam Houston is #8, and he CLEARS THE ENTIRE RING BY HIMSELF. In other news, hell freezes over. (2012 Scott sez:  Sam Houston humor.  Now that`s cutting edge.  This is, however, the only time I know of with Snake and Houston in the ring together.)  Santana goes flying out of the ring as I start to complain about deadwood. Danny Davis is #9, and he’s pretty useless but he has an issue with fellow jobbing boy Sam Houston so they tussle. Boris Zhukov is #10. Not much of note from that one. Don Muraco is #11, and Nikolai Volkoff follows him out and a big argument with the refs ensues. Boris goes bye-bye right about then. Pretty funny to hear Vince constantly referring to Muraco as “The Rock”. Volkoff waits out the argument long enough to be #12. Race gets crowned by Muraco and goes over the top. Hacksaw Duggan is #13. He gets into an altercation with Race on the way by, and that ended up setting the table for their really hilarious brawl that lasted for most of the 34th Annual Slammy Awards that year. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, believe me. The faces gain control. Outlaw Ron Bass is #14. Not much impact there. Volkoff casually dumps Brunzell. B. Brian Blair gets #15 too late to help his partner. Holy god, is Duggan over or what? More chaos. Hillbilly Jim is #16 and gets rid of Anvil right away. Dino Bravo is #17. This ring is desperately in need of someone to thin it out, there’s just too many guys doing nothing. Sam Houston does his part by bumping to the floor. Ultimate Warrior is #18, before he was over. Bret Hart goes tumbling out, thus giving him the first-ever longevity record at 25 minutes. One Man Gang is #19, and he’s on Jake like fat on himself. Blair is gone, Jake Roberts is gone, both via OMG. JYD is the final entrant, with 10 guys left in the ring. Duggan sends Volkoff to the showers. Gang rids us of Hillbilly Jim. Duggan blasts Davis out. OMG dumps Warrior. Dog takes an absolutely wussy bump out. Ditto Bass. Final four: Muraco, Gang, Bravo and Duggan. Gang & Bravo work together, ‘natch, and manage to double-team Muraco out with a running clothesline, the only time I’ve ever seen the “I’d hold him and you run at him” strategy work. It’s Duggan 2-on-1 now, and much punishment follows. They try the double-team trick again, and this time it backfires, bye-bye Bravo. Duggan ducks one last desperate Gang charge, and gets the win in the first Rumble at 33:23. Geez, talk about a super-accelerated timer – at two minutes each, it should have been at least 40 minutes. Oh well, good first effort for the venerated Rumble. ***1/2 – 2/3 falls: The Islanders v. The Young Stallions. Just a filler match to have something on to end the show. The Islanders were in the middle of that captivating kidnapping angle where they stole the British Bulldogs’ mascot, an angle so utterly lame that the WWF not only recycled it 11 years later, but gave it Attitude™ by having Bossman actually cook the dog in question this time around. Dull wristlock sequence to start. The arena was RAPIDLY emptying, so fast in fact that the lights dropped to near total darkness by about two minutes into this match. It’s like watching Nitro. Total nothing match here. Powers gets beat on for about 5 minutes, Roma gets the hot tag and dropkicks Tama for two. He takes a bad fall out of the ring and hurts his knee, getting counted out at 7:50 for the first fall. The Stallions head back to the dressing room for medical attention, which gives us an excuse to show the contract signing again and gives Andre some promo time. Stallions come back again for the second fall. – Second fall: Islanders go right after the knee, duh. Powers comes in and takes a beating for a long while, after getting some token offense in. Powers finally has no choice but to tag Roma in, which is basically a lose-lose situation because Roma’s knee is being sold as severely damaged. Islanders go right back for the knee, and the ref stops just stops the thing at 7:27 out of mercy on Roma. Eh. ** The Bottom Line: This show was more of a trivia question (“Who was the REAL first winner of the Royal Rumble?”) and a snarky attempt to undermine Jim Crockett than any kind of serious promotional move. Still, it produced a gimmick match so inspired that it lives on today as an annual tradition, so that’s something.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1988

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1988 – Live (on the USA network) from Hamilton, Ontario. – Your hosts are Vince and Jesse.  – Okay, so the story here is thus: The NWA decided to put on a PPV, unopposed this time, in the form of the god-awful Bunkhouse Stampede show. It ended up being so bad that the only remnant of the show on videotape is the actual Bunkhouse finals, which is wedged into the Crockett Cup video for that year. Anyway, just to be an asshole, Vince decided to run a three-hour show on the USA network at the same time, with a cool gimmick and everything. And thus was born the Royal Rumble. – Opening match: Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ricky Steamboat. Rude was fairly new to the WWF at this point. Slugfest to start, and Steamboat works the skin-the-cat move in in short order. Test of strength goes Ricky’s way, and he works on the arm of Rude. It’s his POSING arm, which is reinforced because he later has trouble doing the muscle poses. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the kind of easy, subtle heel heat that no one does anymore because no one outside of a few guys are allowed to have a sense of humor.)  There’s a fan at ringside with a megaphone who gets REALLY annoying REALLY quick, and thankfully some of the security nazis confiscated it after this match. Vince counters Jesse’s “thumb to the eye” speech by nothing that “youngsters are watching”. AHA! I knew he’d admit it if we went back in time far enough. (2012 Scott sez:  And now the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side, with nothing but kids watching.)  Still working that there arm. It’s Arm-Dragon mode tonight, I see. A criss-cross gone horribly, horribly wrong (Tonight on FOX: When meaningless wrestling sequences GO BAD!) sends Ricky to the floor, where Rude takes over. Chinlock, whoo-hoo! Steamboat screws up and forgets to lift his arm on the third drop, so Hebner ignores it and gives him a fourth try. You KNOW Steamboat is just phoning it in here with that kind of error. They go through a tacked-on wrestling sequence that wakes up the crowd and trade several two-counts. Steamboat goes to the top, but the ref gets bumped. Rude gets the hanging body vice (3rd or 4th stupidest finisher of the 80s) (2012 Scott sez:  Say what?  The over-the-shoulder backbreaker was badass!)  and the ref revives to call for the bell. Could the dastardly Rude have made Steamboat submit? Of course not, it’s just a lame DQ win for Steamboat at 17:40. Way too long here. * (2012 Scott sez:  I`m pretty sure it was better than that, actually.)  – And you think TODAY’S RAW segments are a bit on the long side? Up next here, it’s the Dino Bravo bench-press record attempt. The WWF TV people later (mercifully) cut it down to the final attempt, but the entire thing runs TWENTY MINUTES, as he goes step-by-step up to 700-and-some odd pounds and then cheats with Jesse Ventura’s help to set the “record”. See, his gimmick was that he was really really strong. Yeah, I’m stumped as to why that didn’t draw money, too.  (2012 Scott sez:  See also:  Chris Masters, Mark Henry)Women’s tag team title: Judy Martin & Leilani Kai v. The Jumping Bomb Angels. Stuff related to this: The Women’s tag team titles were basically a flavor-of-the-week thing occasionally defended and basically brought out of mothballs specifically to showcase the Angels – Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno. The champs, The Glamour Girls, had “won” the titles in Egypt (no city ever given, just “Egypt”, which is somewhere near Rio DeJaneiro, I guess).   I don’t really know why Vince signed the Angels in the first place, since they basically blew away everyone in the entire promotion, wrestling-wise. The whole lineage of the women’s tag title is one of those weird, murky things that leads into arguments over who had rights to it when and whether certain claims are legitimate, but since no one in North American gives a crap about women’s wrestling as a rule I’ll just skip most of it. Suffice to say that the WWF bought the belts from the NWA in 1983 and abandoned them 6 years later. Thank god they weren’t resurrected with the recent Women’s title in the WWF, because lord knows I couldn’t take watching Mae & Moolah v. Ivory & her partner for a major title without trying to hang myself with my own keyboard cord. Anyway, TO THE MATCH, which is 2/3 falls, by the way. Leilani tosses Yamazaki around to start. She comes back with a Konnan rolling clothesline and a piledriver. Vince is in his prime here, not only ignorant of the names of the moves being performed, but completely unaware of the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels until a producer fills him in during a commercial break. What a pro. (2012 Scott sez:  Still better than Michael Cole.) The Angels are just flying all over the place, even working the elusive Octopus variant of the abdominal stretch, a move only performed by Owen Hart and Dynamite Kid in America prior to this. The Angels work the leg of Kai with some lucha-esque submission stuff. They work in stuff that I don’t even see guys doing TODAY. Judy Martin manages to tag in and hit the over-the-shoulder variant of the powerbomb for the first fall at 6:10. I should point out that Sid Vicious didn’t even introduce the REGULAR powerbomb to US audiences until 1989, and here are these women doing variations on it. – Second fall: Martin destroys Yamazaki, but misses a splash and Tateno gets the hot tag. Pier-six leads to a slickly done miscommunication bit from the Glams, and when Martin tries that powerbomb again, Tateno reverses it to a sunset flip for the second fall at 1:50. See, not only did they introduce that move in the first fall, but then the Angels introduced the COUNTER for this move that no one in the audience has ever seen in the NEXT FALL. Talk about state of the art wrestling. I’m surprised Vince didn’t fire them on the spot for daring to have actual skill while still getting over. – Third fall: Angels double-team Kai, who overpowers Yamazaki in turn. She comes back with an enzuigiri (a friggin’ enzuigiri in 1988!) but Tateno tags in and gets dominated. Kai gets a double-underhook suplex for two on Yamazaki. Angels are getting nowhere fast. Yamazaki drops Kai on her tailbone (picture an atomic drop where the attacker doesn’t use the knee, but rather just drops the opponent to the mat) twice and gets a two count. Hot tag to Tateno, who comes in off the top for a two count. She then one-ups Leilani Kai by doing a double-underhook suplex of her own, but bridging after doing it. That gets two. Bodypress gets two. Senton bomb misses and Kai gets two. Double-team clothesline gets two for the Angels, and a double missile dropkick finishes it at 5:47 and gives them the tag titles. Slowed down a bit in the middle, but this was still light-years ahead of what everyone else was doing. ***1/2 – Hogan-Andre review. Hogan cleanly pinned Andre at Wrestlemania III, but Andre spent the next 8 months pissing and moaning because he thought he got the win on a failed bodyslam attempt early in the match. At the same time, Ted Dibiase launched an ambitious attempt at purchasing the WWF title from Hogan outright after a failed title shot. When Hogan refused, Dibiase decided to try the next best thing, and purchased the contract of the angry Giant off of Bobby Heenan for $1,000,000, with the idea being that Andre would win the title from Hogan on his behalf. Sidenote: When that plan ultimately failed, Heenan bought the contract BACK for $100,000, thus giving himself a tidy $900,000 profit and Dibiase nothing. And people wonder why he was the Brain? Anyway, all this led to the big Hogan-Andre rematch on prime time TV, and on this show we get the contract signing. I’m sure you all, as wrestling fans, are well aware of what happens 99% of the time at contract signings (it falls under the Birthday Cake rule) and indeed this is no exception, as Hogan is left laying by the heels. (2012 Scott sez:  CM Punk was lying when he said that this was the last contract signing to go off without a brawl)  If you’re curious about how that title match actually turned out, keep reading after the Bottom Line for a special surprise. – Royal Rumble match: Howard Finkel has to explain the rules because this is the first one and all. Oh, and there’s only 20 guys because of time constraints. Bret Hart gets #1, and Tito Santana gets #2, so for you trivia buffs, they were the first two entrants ever. Please use that knowledge only for good. Bret goes flying right into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Butch Reed gets #3, and a double-team results. See, the whole “Every man for himself” thing didn’t become an issue until 1989’s PPV debut for the Rumble. In fact, the first real double-cross in a battle royale seen by casual fans of the time was the one that opened Wrestlemania IV, where Bad News Brown did the deed to Bret Hart to get the win. Up until then, everyone just assumed that faces would fight heels and vice-versa. Of course, now thanks to Vince Russo’s “characterization” techniques, partners turning on each other is not only common, it’s expected. Ah, for the days of kayfabe. Anyway, Bret & Butch work Chico over, then Neidhart gets #4 and joins the fun. Santana is about to go out, but Jake Roberts saves the day at #5. Crowd eats it up. Harley Race is #6. The faces hang tough under the assault. Jim Brunzell of the Killer Bees is #7 and helps out for the face cause. Sam Houston is #8, and he CLEARS THE ENTIRE RING BY HIMSELF. In other news, hell freezes over. (2012 Scott sez:  Sam Houston humor.  Now that`s cutting edge.  This is, however, the only time I know of with Snake and Houston in the ring together.)  Santana goes flying out of the ring as I start to complain about deadwood. Danny Davis is #9, and he’s pretty useless but he has an issue with fellow jobbing boy Sam Houston so they tussle. Boris Zhukov is #10. Not much of note from that one. Don Muraco is #11, and Nikolai Volkoff follows him out and a big argument with the refs ensues. Boris goes bye-bye right about then. Pretty funny to hear Vince constantly referring to Muraco as “The Rock”. Volkoff waits out the argument long enough to be #12. Race gets crowned by Muraco and goes over the top. Hacksaw Duggan is #13. He gets into an altercation with Race on the way by, and that ended up setting the table for their really hilarious brawl that lasted for most of the 34th Annual Slammy Awards that year. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, believe me. The faces gain control. Outlaw Ron Bass is #14. Not much impact there. Volkoff casually dumps Brunzell. B. Brian Blair gets #15 too late to help his partner. Holy god, is Duggan over or what? More chaos. Hillbilly Jim is #16 and gets rid of Anvil right away. Dino Bravo is #17. This ring is desperately in need of someone to thin it out, there’s just too many guys doing nothing. Sam Houston does his part by bumping to the floor. Ultimate Warrior is #18, before he was over. Bret Hart goes tumbling out, thus giving him the first-ever longevity record at 25 minutes. One Man Gang is #19, and he’s on Jake like fat on himself. Blair is gone, Jake Roberts is gone, both via OMG. JYD is the final entrant, with 10 guys left in the ring. Duggan sends Volkoff to the showers. Gang rids us of Hillbilly Jim. Duggan blasts Davis out. OMG dumps Warrior. Dog takes an absolutely wussy bump out. Ditto Bass. Final four: Muraco, Gang, Bravo and Duggan. Gang & Bravo work together, ‘natch, and manage to double-team Muraco out with a running clothesline, the only time I’ve ever seen the “I’d hold him and you run at him” strategy work. It’s Duggan 2-on-1 now, and much punishment follows. They try the double-team trick again, and this time it backfires, bye-bye Bravo. Duggan ducks one last desperate Gang charge, and gets the win in the first Rumble at 33:23. Geez, talk about a super-accelerated timer – at two minutes each, it should have been at least 40 minutes. Oh well, good first effort for the venerated Rumble. ***1/2 – 2/3 falls: The Islanders v. The Young Stallions. Just a filler match to have something on to end the show. The Islanders were in the middle of that captivating kidnapping angle where they stole the British Bulldogs’ mascot, an angle so utterly lame that the WWF not only recycled it 11 years later, but gave it Attitude™ by having Bossman actually cook the dog in question this time around. Dull wristlock sequence to start. The arena was RAPIDLY emptying, so fast in fact that the lights dropped to near total darkness by about two minutes into this match. It’s like watching Nitro. Total nothing match here. Powers gets beat on for about 5 minutes, Roma gets the hot tag and dropkicks Tama for two. He takes a bad fall out of the ring and hurts his knee, getting counted out at 7:50 for the first fall. The Stallions head back to the dressing room for medical attention, which gives us an excuse to show the contract signing again and gives Andre some promo time. Stallions come back again for the second fall. – Second fall: Islanders go right after the knee, duh. Powers comes in and takes a beating for a long while, after getting some token offense in. Powers finally has no choice but to tag Roma in, which is basically a lose-lose situation because Roma’s knee is being sold as severely damaged. Islanders go right back for the knee, and the ref stops just stops the thing at 7:27 out of mercy on Roma. Eh. ** The Bottom Line: This show was more of a trivia question (“Who was the REAL first winner of the Royal Rumble?”) and a snarky attempt to undermine Jim Crockett than any kind of serious promotional move. Still, it produced a gimmick match so inspired that it lives on today as an annual tradition, so that’s something.