WWF Royal Rumble 1988
January 24, 1988
Hamilton, Ontario, CA
The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Hulk Hogan (1/23/1984)
Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man (6/2/1987)
World Tag Team Champions: Strike Force (10/27/1987)
Women’s Champion: Sensational Sherri (7/24/1987)
Once again, Vince wouldn’t let JCP have a big event on the same night without him, so he uses Pat Patterson’s idea and turns it into a special cable television event on the USA network. Nevertheless, what only started out as a big “screw you” to Jim Crockett in the ongoing promotional wars, turned into an annual affair that would set up many of the main event feuds heading into WrestleMania.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura!
- Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat
Rude gets tired of the chops from Steamboat, so he tosses him out to start. OH NO HE DOESN’T! Steamboat skins-the-cat back in the ring and backdrops Rude out to the floor. Back in, Rude wants a test of strength and actually hooks up with the Dragon. Steamboat wins that and escapes into an armbar. Wait, who let that kid in the front row bring in a MEGAPHONE? Boy the security sure is keeping a SHARP eye up there in Canada, eh? Rude punches out, but Steamboat chops him down and returns to the armbar. Rude punches out again and then works over Steamboat in the corners. Rude whips Steamboat into the ropes, but the Dragon slips underneath Rude and armdrags him down back into the armbar. I tell you what; Steamboat is really showing us his elaborate move set in this match. Armdrag, armbar, chops. Don’t get me wrong, Steamboat is one of my favorites of all time – he always has, but he’s better than this. You can tell he’s not giving this his all. Rude elbows out again and tries to do a double-bicep pose, but he can’t pull it off because his arm is too sore! Steamboat comes off the ropes all awkwardly and falls out to the floor after a knee to the back from Rude. Oh man, Rude slams Steamboat out on the floor and gets back into the ring to swivel his hips. Rude suplexes Steamboat back in for 1-2-NO! Rude hits the chinlock, but Steamboat comes out of it with an electric chair drop. Steamboat goes for a splash, but as usual, he hits knees. Rude delivers an atomic drop and covers for 1-2-NO! Rude goes back to the chinlock, but Steamboat throws him off into the turnbuckle. Steamboat drives Rude’s head into the buckle a bunch and then follows up with a chop to the forehead for 1-2-NO! They do the headlock/headscissors/backslide sequence, which gets two for Steamboat. He quickly gets a few more nearfalls before Rude comes back with a clothesline for two. Rude tries a suplex, but Steamboat counters into one of his own. Steamboat heads up top for the FLYING CROSSBODY, but Rude pulls the ref in the way of the impact. Rude lifts Steamboat up in a Hangman’s Backbreaker, as the ref gets up to ring the bell. Crowd gets all ticked off because they think Rude won by submission, but then Finkel announces that Steamboat wins by DQ. (17:42) These two don’t show any signs of real money-making chemistry until 1992 in WCW. Not a terrible match by any means, but it was a little too long for what was achieved. **
It’s now time to see if Dino Bravo can break the bench-pressing record of 715 pounds! This goes on for over fifteen minutes, as Bravo goes through THREE hundred pounds of warm-up weight – meaning he started out warming up with 415 and works his way up. Jesse Ventura spots for him, and Bravo does okay until the end when Jesse “helps” Bravo lift 715 pounds to add some controversy to the segment. I think I would rather try and lift 715 pounds myself than watch that again.
- WWF Women’s Tag Champions The Glamour Girls (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels – 2/3 Falls
If there was any doubt that the WWF brought back the Women’s tag titles just to make a little money off the JBA and crown them with the belts, this is your proof. Thankfully, they took that megaphone away from that really annoying kid. The Angels deliver STEREO DROPKICKS to the Glamour Girls to start, but then Yamazaki whiffs on a dropkick to Kai. Kai drags Yamazaki from corner to corner by her hair and then tags in Martin. Yamazaki is able to MATRIX out of a pin attempt back when Elix Skipper was only ten years old and the Matrix wasn’t a movie yet. She rolls up Martin for two and then tags in Tateno, who comes in for a rolling knockdown and some kind of suplex for two. Yamazaki tags back in as Jesse questions Vince to see if he knows the names of the Angels, which he doesn’t. Martin catches Yamazaki off a crossbody, but then she misses an elbow drop and tags out. Yamazaki catches Kai with a knee on her way in the ring and then tags in Tateno. Kai gets PING-PONGED between the JBA for 1-2-NO! OCTOPUS STRETCH applied on Kai! Oh snap! Martin comes in to break it up, but somehow kicks Kai down. That’s like hitting a parked car. Yamazaki grabs Martin for STEREO FIGURE-FOURS! What is this, the NWA? After Joey Marella clears Yamazaki and Martin out of the ring, Tateno releases the hold and gives Kai a modified wishbone! Make it two. Yamazaki tags in and applies an Indian deathlock and then changes position into a bow and arrow submission hold! Awesome! Tateno and Martin each receive tags. Kai kicks Tateno in the back as she comes off the ropes to set up a REVERSE POWERBOMB for 1-2-3! The Glamour Girls take the first fall. (6:12) We come back to start the second fall with Martin taking care of Tateno for a bit. Martin misses a splash, allowing Yamazaki to get a tag. She goes CRAZY on Martin with clotheslines for 1-2-NO! Crossbody gets two. Both Glamour Girls get in the ring, but end up colliding into each other. Martin tries that Reverse Powerbomb again, but Tateno rolls through it into a sunset flip for 1-2-3! We’re now at one fall a piece! (7:05 total) The Angels milk a double-team beatdown on Kai as long as the ref would allow, but Kai comes back and tags in Martin. ENZIGURI KICK on Martin! Yamazaki tags in and tries a fisherwoman suplex, but Martin knees out of it. They screw up a backslide attempt, but then Martin tries to improvise with a catapult on Yamazaki to send her across the ring. Kai tags in and delivers a neck snap and a butterfly suplex for 1-2-NO! Martin tags in and kicks Yamazaki right into her own corner to allow a tag to Tateno. Martin immediately slings Tateno over to the Glamour Girls corner for some choking from Kai on the apron. Kai tags in just as Tateno starts firing back. Tateno delivers a pair of modified atomic drops, which is basically just Tateno lifting Kai up and dropping her down on her butt. That gets two. Yamazaki comes in with a knee drop for 1-2-NO! Bridging butterfly suplex on Martin gets two. Tateno comes in and misses a senton bomb, but Martin only gets two. Yamazaki gets another tag and delivers a clothesline from the middle rope for two. Kai makes the save and while Marella is busy getting her out of the ring, the JBA finish Martin off with STEREO MISSILE DROPKICKS! Yamazaki covers for 1-2-3! NEW CHAMPS! (12:56 total) Good match with tons of moves done that was hardly ever seen before (enziguri, octopus stretch, etc.) in WWF arenas. ***
Next, they show a recap video that spans from WrestleMania III to the present concerning the Hogan/Andre feud. Andre thought he was robbed at WrestleMania after he fell on top of Hogan and got a near-fall (which he argued was a three-count) early in the match. With some verbal assistance from Bobby Heenan (because God knows Andre needed it), he and Andre complained all year about Andre’s plight and demanded a rematch. Meanwhile, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase made a nice offer to buy the WWF Championship off of Hogan, but Hulk decided he wasn’t going to sell the little Hulksters out like that. Since he wouldn’t take the offer, DiBiase made a purchase that would change the outcome in his quest for the gold in a man named Andre the Giant. DiBiase, being a millionaire, bought Andre’s contract from Bobby Heenan for a million dollars, which proved that Heenan had his price. Andre made an agreement with DiBiase that if he beat Hogan, he would give the belt directly to Ted DiBiase. Andre finally gets his rematch on February 5th and this is where the contract signing takes place for that extremely historic match. It starts out like your typical WWF main event signing segment which has become cliché in 2007; both guys staring holes through each other, acting all reluctant to sign. You’ve also got DiBiase yelling at Hogan the whole time. It ends when Hogan takes his concentration off Andre and onto DiBiase, allowing Andre to SMASH his face into the table and turn it over on top of him! We would see a replay of this AT LEAST six more times before the show is over.
- The Rumble
The only difference in this one is that there are 20 men instead of 30 like you’ll see in all the other Rumble matches. Oh yeah, and we get a new entry every two minutes. The first two EVER to enter a Rumble match are Bret Hart and Tito Santana. Who better? Bret controls Santana to start by beating him down in the corner for a bit. Tito fires back, but Bret puts him back down with an inverted atomic drop. Bret hits the elbow off the middle rope and tries to throw out Tito as Butch Reed comes in at #3. Tito avoids elimination and nails Bret with the FLYING JALAPENO, but Reed is right there to nail him. Tito punches back at Reed and then gives the heels a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! The numbers game catches up to Tito however, and the heels take over. Tito finally gets a second chance when Reed nails Bret by accident, but then Jim Neidhart enters in at #4 to set up a triple-team! After that goes on for a while, ALL THREE try to eliminate Tito. He holds on until Jake Roberts comes in at #5 for the save. He surprises Reed by tossing him out to the floor (first man eliminated!) and then pounds on the Hart Foundation. Roberts is CRAZY over here. Tito and Roberts crash the Harts into each other to set up a DDT on Bret, but Anvil breaks it up with a HARD clothesline. Oh snap, Bret hits a piledriver on Tito as Harley Race enters in at #6. Race and Neidhart try and eliminate Roberts together while Bret nearly gets tossed out by Tito. Roberts breaks loose, but the heels outnumber him. Anvil saves Bret for more double-teaming on the faces. It’s Jim Brunzell at #7! He goes nuts on the heels and ALMOST eliminates Bret, but Anvil saves him again. Now Brunzell tries to fireman’s carry lift Race out to the floor, but Race escapes. Sam Houston runs in at #8 and immediately goes after the Harts. We’ve now got four faces and three heels in there with only one person eliminated so far. Just as I say that, the Harts get together and toss Tito out to the floor to even out the playing field. Danny Davis is our #9 entry. He goes after Sam Houston because they were having some problems at the time. Race gets caught in between the ropes by Roberts and does that see-saw thing where you punch him and he teeters back and forth. Crowd DESPERATELY wants Jake to give Davis a DDT, but then he tries it up against the ropes and Davis easily blocks that. #10 is Boris Zhukov, who makes NO impact. We get a bunch of punching and kicking for a bit with no one really in danger of being eliminated.
Nikolai Volkoff and Don Muraco get into a tiff over who is supposed to be #11, but it’s Muraco. Roberts and Brunzell eliminate Zhukov. Bret gets nailed by a nice dropkick from Brunzell with nothing much else happening. Volkoff enters in at #12 as Race gets clotheslined out by Muraco. Duggan comes in at #13 to a real nice reaction. Why would Canadians like him? Jesse puts over Bret for staying in the ring this long. We get a bunch more punch/kick stuff as Ron Bass is #14. The rules of kayfabe are really keeping this from truly being “every man for himself” when you have Volkoff saving Danny Davis from being tossed out. Brunzell pounds on Volkoff, but then he gets thrown out to the floor. B. Brian Blair enters the ring at #15. People need to start getting eliminated here. There are ten guys in there right now with just punching and kicking going on. Hillbilly Jim is #16. Yeah, like he’s REALLY going to change the pace of this match. Well, to his credit, he does eliminate Neidhart. Dino Bravo comes in at #17. Meanwhile, Houston is up on Bass’s shoulders, which is a TERRIBLE place to be in this kind of match. All Bass does is drop Houston to the floor from his shoulders and he is GONE. The Ultimate Warrior runs down to be our #18 entry while Muraco tosses Bret out the floor. For more trivia, Bret sets the first “longest time in a Rumble match” record at 25:47. One Man Gang is #19. Hopefully he’ll take some people out who are just not doing anything worth writing about. Alright! Gang sends out Blair AND Roberts! Junkyard Dog enters in at #20. It is ON now. Within the span of ten seconds, Duggan tosses out Volkoff while on the other side of the ring, Gang sends Hillbilly Jim to the showers. Duggan takes over on Davis and clotheslines him out to the floor. Unbelievable how it takes the One Man Gang AND Dino Bravo, who by the way is not nicknamed the World’s Strongest Man because of his smell, to eliminate the Warrior. It’s really silly if you ask me. Bass comes out of nowhere up behind JYD and tosses him out, so Muraco surprises Bass with a clothesline that takes him out to the floor.
Final Four: Don Muraco, Jim Duggan, One Man Gang and Dino Bravo. Gang nails Duggan in the corner with a splash and then he and Bravo try to double-team Muraco. He does okay fighting them off until Frenchie Martin (Bravo’s manager) hops up on the apron to cause a distraction. He gets nailed, but it buys Bravo just enough time to regain his composure and KICK MURACO IN THE HEAD! Bravo holds onto Muraco and lets OMG clothesline him out to the floor. So now we’re left with Duggan vs. Bravo & Gang. They give Duggan the same treatment, but when Gang goes for the assisted clothesline, Duggan ducks and Gang knocks Bravo out to the floor. Duggan fires away on Gang, but then he ducks low off a whip to turn the tide. Gang chokes Duggan up against the ropes and then charges for a clothesline, but Duggan avoids it and pulls down the top rope and makes Gang fall out to the floor. That’s right, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan wins the first-ever Royal Rumble match. (33:28) Like I said in the recap, this match has it’s fair share of noticeable problems: too many people in the ring at one time, the face/face and heel/heel alliances shine through rather than crumble since it’s supposed to be every man for himself, and obviously the time issues (20 men x 2 minutes = 40 minutes). Once the kinks are worked out, the Rumble gets better. Duh. However, this one doesn’t hold up too well in 2007. **½
- The Islanders vs. The Young Stallions – 2/3 Falls
The Islanders are just coming off a suspension since giving Matilda back to the British Bulldogs. By the way, there’s no Bobby Heenan here tonight. Jesse tells us that his sources say that Heenan’s in Barbados watching this via satellite courtesy of the Million Dollar Man. You never can tell with that Bobby Heenan guy! Back and forth match to start. Roma gets a near-fall off a crossbody and then tags in Powers for a double back elbow for two. Powers hooks an armbar, but Haku breaks loose and tags in Tama. He misses an elbow drop and tags out to Haku. The Islanders dominate Powers for a good while until we get a double-KO spot. That leads to a rather chilly tag to Roma for a couple dropkicks on Tama, but then Tama goes to the eyes and tosses Roma out over the top and to the floor. Roma injures his knee and the Islanders win the fall by countout. Islanders one, Stallions nada. (7:53) Roma evidently hurt his leg legitimately as they take a couple commercial breaks and a DiBiase/Andre interview segment while Roma gets his knee taken care of to finish the match. Roma has to start the fall as well according to WWF rules. Yeah, okay. Tama works on the leg until Roma slips away and reaches Powers for a tag. He takes over on Haku with clotheslines for two. Dropkick from Powers gets two. Vertical suplex gets two. Back elbow gets two, but then Haku punches back and the Islanders take back control. Powers gets an inside cradle on Haku for two, but he can’t follow up. Haku is right back on him with a backbreaker for two and then tags out to Tama for a nice jumping back elbow. Haku comes in for a standing dropkick and a gutwrench suplex for two. Haku then goes to an abdominal stretch, but Powers hiptosses out. Boy, never seen THAT before. Haku misses a splash and ducks low off a whip, but still manages to keep Powers under his um, control! Roma wants a tag and now he gets it. Roma punches away, but Haku kicks him in the knee. Tama splashes Roma’s knee from the top rope and then Haku hooks on a half crab for the submission win. (15:02 total) This is nothing more than filler. *
Final Thoughts: This was interesting enough to own for historical purposes with the first-ever Rumble match and the Hogan/Andre contract signing. Its also cool seeing the Angels compete more than them actually winning the belts since hindsight shows us how meaningless the Women’s tag titles were. If you can’t find this event anywhere, wait until the Royal Rumble Anthology. Thumbs up for Royal Rumble 1988.