WWF Royal Rumble 1990
January 21, 1990
The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Hulk Hogan (4/2/1989)
Intercontinental Champion: Ultimate Warrior (8/28/1989)
World Tag Team Champions: Andre the Giant & Haku (12/13/1989)
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse “Would Bone Minnie Mouse In A Heartbeat” Ventura! This would be Tony’s last WWF PPV, as he would be back in the NWA by April.
- The Rougeau Brothers (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Bushwhackers
This would be the Rougeaus’ last match as a team in the WWF. Raymond would retire for good due to back troubles and become a French commentator for the WWF while Jacques would return a year later repackaged as The Mountie. Speaking of Jacques, he’s grown a beard. He’s looking like Roy from “The Office” after he got dumped by Pam; all washed up and unmotivated. This Orlando crowd is cheering the ‘Whackers like crazy. Also, these two had been feuding off and on since last year’s WrestleMania. Lots of stalling to start with the crowd making a lot of noise for the Bushwhackers. Raymond finally gets going with Butch and grabs a sleeper hold. A little early for that, don’t you think? Butch slams Raymond’s face into the corner and then bites Raymond on the keister. Even the ref Danny Davis (oops) gets bitten. The Bushwhackers clothesline Raymond out and go for the BATTERING RAM on Jacques, but he slips out of the ring just in time. Luke and Jacques tag once things settle. They trade blows, but Luke ends up biting instead. Jacques ducks a clothesline and Raymond gets knocked off the apron. Jacques thinks he’s safe enough to pose, so Butch comes up from behind with a clothesline. Boy, the Rougeaus need a hug. Back in, the Rougeaus set Luke up for a clothesline from behind and their plan pays off. Luke becomes the face-in-peril and the Rougeaus get in some cheap double-teaming. Raymond tags in and dumps Luke out to the floor to be shoved spine-first into the apron. Back in, Raymond covers for two. Luke tries to get a tag, so Raymond nails Butch on the apron to bring him in and cause another double-team opportunity. Raymond whips Luke into a Jacques forearm for two. Jacques tags in for a jumping back elbow and a kip-up to piss off the crowd. Double-hotshot to Luke follows. Raymond grabs a chinlock, but Luke bites out. He still can’t reach his corner for a tag though. Jacques is really moving slow in there. Abdominal stretch is applied near his corner and the ropes for extra leverage. Raymond tags and puts on a chinlock. Luke starts to make his way over to Butch, so Raymond nails him and brings him back to Jacques for a tag. Jacques goes for a diving splash, but Luke brings up the knees. Hot tag to Butch! It turns into a big brawl as the Rougeaus get whipped into each other. They go for the BATTERING RAM on Raymond, but Jimmy grabs Luke’s foot and gets pulled into the ring. The Rougeaus save with stereo dropkicks to the Bushwhackers. Jacques rolls up Butch for 1-2-NO! Raymond puts Butch in the Boston crab for Jacques to deliver the knee drop for the finish, but Luke trips up Jacques. Raymond goes over to help Jacques and they take the BATTERING RAM after all. Jacques gets the worse of it, so Butch covers him for the win. (13:35) Even when the Rougeaus seemed to be at their least motivated, they were still able to pull off a decent match. **
- The Genius vs. Brutus Beefcake
In case you are unaware, Genius is Lanny Poffo who also happens to be Randy Savage’s little brother. Two days after Survivor Series on the Saturday Night’s Main Event, Hogan and Beefcake moved past Savage and Zeus and into a feud with The Genius and Mr. Perfect. The Genius actually defeated Hogan by countout after Perfect ran down and nailed Hogan in the face with the WWF title belt, giving Genius without a doubt the biggest win of his career. The Genius is SO homoriffic. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. We kick this one off with a whole bunch of homoerotic stalling. Genius finally gets serious and rakes Beefcake’s face real good. Beefcake fights back with an inverted atomic drop. It hurts Genius so bad, he’s going to take a count down on the floor. Back in, Genius pounds away until he misses a charge in the corner. Genius tries to bail out over the top rope and gets crotched for it. All the same, Genius gets away and heads out to the floor again. Back in again, Genius does okay until he makes another mistake. This time, he ducks low off a whip. Genius fires back and connects with a dropkick for two. School boy rollup gets another two for Genius. He heads up top, but Beefcake turns around and catches him on the way down. Brutus wants the SLEEPER and he gets it, but Genius quickly elbows out. Genius grabs a headlock, but Beefcake shoves him off into the ref. Genius pounds away, but Beefcakes reverses a whip and puts Genius back in the SLEEPER. Genius goes down to the mat, but there’s no ref. Since Beefcake can’t win the match, he grabs some scissors from ringside to give Genius a haircut. Mr. Perfect runs down for the save. He gives him a PERFECTPLEX and tries to wake up the Genius. The ref finally wakes up and DQ’s both men. Since the match is over anyway, Perfect brings a chair in the ring and beats up Beefcake’s ribs real good with it to set up their match at WrestleMania. (11:04) Perfect beating Beefcake with the chair was the best part. ½*
- Greg Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Ron Garvin – Submission Match
This is the battle of the shin guards. Garvin chops the crap out of Valentine to start. They try and reinforce the no-pinfall rule almost to an annoying degree. They trade blows and man oh man are they stiff for the WWF. Valentine does his face-first flop sell and rolls out to regroup. Back in, Valentine controls and delivers a jumping headbutt to the groin and goes for a pin. They trade blows again, but end up knocking each other out. Garvin wants a piledriver, but Valentine backdrops out of it into a pinfall sequence. Double-KO spot ensues. Valentine adjust his leg brace (which he calls the Hart Breaker) and goes for the FIGURE-FOUR, but Garvin kicks him off into the corner. Garvin rolls him up, but pinfalls do not count. Duh. Valentine fights back and catches him with an elbow drop and then applies the FIGURE-FOUR. It doesn’t bother him though because he’s got his own shin guard on (the Hammer Jammer). Garvin mocks Valentine by making faces that three year-olds might do, so Valentine releases the hold. Garvin gets an inside cradle, but there’s no pinfalls in this match. Stupid Garvin. Since Garvin has on that shin guard, Valentine decides to apply a Canadian backbreaker instead of the Figure-Four. Garvin doesn’t submit, so Valentine dumps him off his shoulders and gives him an elbow drop. For some reason, Valentine goes for the FIGURE-FOUR again, but Garvin kicks him off. Garvin back up, chops Valentine into a corner. He goes from there and brings Valentine down into an Indian deathlock. Valentine gets to the ropes for the break. They go to the floor to chop the hide off each other (to quote JR). Garvin wants a piledriver, but Valentine backdrops out of it again. Back in, Garvin reverses a cross-corner whip, but misses a charge and gets caught in the tree of woe. With Garvin tied up in the corner, Valentine tries to pull off the Hammer Jammer. Valentine pounds away in the corner, but then brings him out for another double-KO spot. Garvin falls over near Jimmy Hart, which allows him to pull off the Hammer Jammer. Jimmy shouts to Valentine to put on the Figure-Four, and he does. Garvin lasts a while in it and turns it over on Valentine. Valentine grabs hold of the ropes to turn the hold back over in his favor, but breaks at the four count. Valentine works the leg some more and goes for the FIGURE-FOUR again, but Garvin blocks it with an inside cradle. Stop it, Garvin. Valentine punches him down and heads up top, but Garvin limps over and slams him down. Garvin can’t even stand, so he crawls over and unties Valentine’s leg brace. Valentine pulls him down with a rollup for some odd reason. Are we retarded or something? Why does they feel the need to enforce this rule over a half dozen times? Garvin fires back with some stiff blows and ties Valentine up in the ropes. Jimmy tries to untangle Valentine out of the ropes, but gets pulled into the ring by Garvin. Garvin has the Hart Breaker (Valentine’s leg brace) in hand and threatens Jimmy, but then turns around and nails Valentine with it instead. Garvin applies the SHARPSHOOTER and Valentine submits. (16:57) This was the last great match of both men’s great careers. Stiff contest, but the continuous pinfall attempts became monotonous after a while. Plus, it was a much different match than the WWF crowds are used to seeing, so they were relatively quiet until the finish. **¾
- The Brother Love Show
His guest is Queen Sherri, who’s out here to run down Dusty Rhodes and his crazy fan turned manager Sapphire. Sapphire comes down to confront Sherri, but Brother Love won’t let Sapphire speak. Sapphire finally has enough and slaps Sherri down. Randy Savage comes down to save his queen and wants to punch Sapphire, but Dusty runs in to put the kibosh on the whole thing.
- Big Bossman (w/Slick) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Bossman had already dumped Slick and turned face, but that wouldn’t air until February. Wow, how much weight did Bossman lose in 1989? I just watched Hogan/Bossman in a cage match from the March before and he looked at least fifty pounds heavier. Bossman wins a slugfest to start, but Duggan comes back and clotheslines him out to the floor. Bossman catches Duggan off guard, which doesn’t seem too difficult, and brings him to the floor. Duggan punches back, but then gets sent into the ringpost. Just when you think he’s got Duggan where he wants him, Bossman misses a charge and meets the ringpost. Back in, Duggan works some psychology and pounds on Bossman’s hurt shoulder. Bossman reverses a whip and delivers a big splash in the corner. Duggan grabs Bossman’s foot, but then gets nailed with an enziguri. Bossman punches Duggan around and follows up with the Bossman straddle. Bossman starts to smash Duggan’s head into the buckle a few times, but that’s a no-no. Duggan fires back, but then ducks too soon off a whip for two. Slick gets involved and chokes on Duggan with his tie. Next, Bossman grabs a neck vice. Duggan fights up, but runs into a knee. Bossman gets a near-fall off a knee drop and then goes to a bearhug. Duggan tries to escape with headbutts, but then Bossman just falls on top of him near the ropes. Bossman pounds on Duggan in the corner, but he fires back and clotheslines Bossman out to the floor. Back in, Duggan drives Bossman into the corner for a ten-count corner punch, but then he misses a charge in the corner and gets clotheslined down. Bossman heads up top and comes down for a splash, but Duggan moves out of the way. This leads to a double-KO spot. Slick grabs Duggan up against the ropes as Bossman charges, but Duggan breaks free as Bossman nails Slick. Slick still manages to get the nightstick to Bossman. He even tries to distract the ref too, but ref Danny Davis still sees Bossman nail with it to give Duggan the DQ win. (10:32) A WWF referee actually sees something happen. Good match from these two, but the finish is going to bring it down a notch. Duggan gets revenge with his 2×4 and knocks Bossman and Slick out of the ring with it. **¼
The Royal Rumble participants all receive interview time except for Red Rooster, Roddy Piper and Koko B. Ware.
- The Rumble
Ted DiBiase draws #1 Koko B. Ware gets #2. DiBiase stomps the bird crap out of Koko to start. DiBiase smashes Koko’s head into the buckle but that doesn’t phase him of course. Koko fights back with a dropkick, but then he charges at DiBiase when he’s up against the ropes and takes a backdrop out to the floor. Marty Jannetty is #3 and gets nailed immediately. Jannetty fires back with dropkicks, but then runs into a boot. DiBiase turns Jannetty inside out with a clothesline. DiBiase comes off the middle-rope and gets caught on the way down. Jannetty tries to roll up DiBiase off the ropes, but DiBiase holds on and then ducks a crossbody which sends Jannetty over the top rope and out to the floor. So far, so good. Jake Roberts is next at #4. By the way, these two hate each other. DiBiase actually meets Roberts on the floor and slams him down. He applies the MILLION DOLLAR DREAM, but Roberts sends him face-first into the ringpost. Back in, DiBiase begs away and the crowd explodes. Roberts connects with the Short-Arm Clothesline to set up for the DDT, but DiBiase counters with a backdrop. Roberts avoids an elbow drop and tries for another DDT, but DiBiase backs him into the corner. Roberts fights out with a knee-lift and the Macho King Randy Savage comes in at #5. Roberts nails Savage with a clothesline, but DiBiase avoids another knee-lift and sends Roberts crashing into the corner. Savage lets DiBiase have a breather and chokes Roberts down on the mat. Interesting how much history there is between these three men. All have had major feuds with each other in some sort of capacity from ’88 to ’91. Roddy Piper draws #6 and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Roberts. Piper ducks a double-clothesline and puts both DiBiase and Savage down with a clothesline of his own to a huge pop. Piper tells Roberts to give DiBiase a DDT while he pounds on Savage in the corner. Instead he gives DiBiase an inverted atomic drop. Piper tries to eliminate Savage, so Roberts comes over to help. DiBiase saves him and takes Roberts over to the side while Savage nearly clotheslines Piper out. The Warlord enters in at #7 and attacks both Roberts and Piper. He trades blows with Piper for a bit. Meanwhile, DiBiase and Savage try and eliminate Roberts. Roberts avoids elimination, but remains in the hands of Savage and DiBiase. Piper breaks free of Warlord and saves Roberts with a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! Bret Hart is #8. He comes in and goes after Warlord. Together, he and Piper give him a double-clothesline. Roberts is still being double-teamed by DiBiase & Savage. Piper tries to dump Warlord, but the guy is just too big. Bret pairs off with Savage now until Warlord comes over to help Savage. DiBiase gets double-teamed by Roberts and Piper, but Savage makes the save as Warlord tries to eliminate Bret. Bad News Brown draws #9 and proceeds to beat Bret down to the mat. Meanwhile, Roberts hits another Short-Arm Clothesline on DiBiase and goes for the DDT, but Savage saves with a clothesline that sends Roberts out to the floor. DiBiase goes after Piper, which almost appears to be a mistake as he nearly gets eliminated until Savage saves him again. Wow, DiBiase must be paying him some big bucks because he’s everywhere DiBiase needs him to be. Dusty Rhodes runs in at #10 and drills Savage with elbows. Savage is bumping like crazy here and the crowd is loving it. Bad News saves Savage temporarily, but then Savage charges at Dusty and gets dumped out to the floor.
The action starts to slow down as Andre the Giant enters the Rumble at #11 to possibly clear out some of the dead weight. Warlord goes after Andre and immediately gets dumped. Piper and Dusty fight back against Andre while Bad News and DiBiase attempt to toss out Bret on the other side. Red Rooster clucks in at #12 and pairs off with Dusty. Bad News tries to dump Piper, but fails and gets dumped out himself. That pisses Bad News off, so he flips Piper out to the floor from the apron. Now they’re both mad and end up brawling to the back, which signals another WrestleMania match. A 20 year-old referee named Shane McMahon tries to break up the fight. Demolition Ax is #13 as Andre dumps Rooster out to the floor. Ax goes to pounding on Andre while Bret and Dusty double-team DiBiase, who has been in there for 20+ minutes. Andre gets tied up in the ropes as Dusty comes over to help out Ax. Once they beat on Andre enough, they untie him to toss him out, but Andre fires back. Haku runs in at #14 to save Andre. Andre sits and steps all over Ax while Dusty punishes Haku with FLIP FLOP AND FLY. Everyone just kind of beats on each other as Demolition Smash heads down to the ring as #15. This leads to a Demolition/Colossal Connection face-off, which is another ‘Mania match. Akeem draws #16. Eight men are now in the ring, which is starting to become too much. Meanwhile, Dusty back elbows Bret out to the floor, which looked like it might’ve been an accident since the cameras weren’t really focusing on what was going on. Plus, Tony and Jesse both miss it, but that doesn’t mean much. Demolition nails Haku with a double shoulderblock and then does the same thing to Andre and eliminates him. They try to toss out Haku next, but Andre saves him from the floor. Demolition looks to finally eliminate DiBiase, but he breaks free as Jimmy Snuka enters in at #17. He meets Akeem in the ring and gets hammered. Akeem stops to pose and takes a jumping headbutt by Snuka that sends him flying out to the floor. Dino Bravo comes in at #18. Bravo and Haku attack Snuka, but he gives them a DOUBLE-NOGGIN KNOCKER while the Demos beat DiBiase down to the mat. They try and put DiBiase out again, but Bravo makes the save. Earthquake gets #19. He comes in and clotheslines Dusty out. Demolition double-teams him, but Earthquake ends up tossing Ax out to the floor. #20 Jim Neidhart makes a beeline to the ring and goes right after Earthquake. Haku and Smash join him to try and lift Earthquake out. Now DiBiase and Snuka come over to help. At this point, there’s nothing Bravo can do. Earthquake gets sent over the top rope and out the floor.
Ultimate Warrior gets #21 and goes after Dino Bravo. See ya later, Dino. Warrior nails on everybody, doesn’t matter whether you’re a face or heel. DiBiase though as remained loyal to the heel side for 40 minutes now. Rick Martel in all his model-ness enters at #22. This is just not a good environment for the Warrior. He’ll get nailed from behind and completely ignore it. Haku backdrops Smash out to the apron and then kicks him out to the floor. Neidhart almost eliminates Martel, but he holds on for dear life and slides back in under the bottom rope. Tito Santana runs in at #23 and goes right after Martel. No surprise there. He smashes Martel’s head into the buckle a bunch and tries to toss him out, but Martel rakes the eyes. Meanwhile, Haku gets leveled with a Warrior clothesline. DiBiase delivers a piledriver on Snuka as Honky Tonk Man draws #24. Martel eliminates Neidhart with Warrior sticking a hand in there as well. DiBiase attacks Warrior, but then Warrior reverses a whip and clotheslines him out to the floor. DiBiase finishes with eight seconds shy of 45 minutes, which is the longest amount of ring time in the first hour-long Rumbles. Hulk Hogan enters in at #25. There goes Snuka! There goes Haku! Santana goes to toss out Martel, but Warrior trips Santana up as Martel crawls under the bottom rope. On the other side of the ring, Honky Tonk grabs Hulk’s shirt and chokes on him with it. Shawn Michaels is #26 as Hulk dumps Honky Tonk. Warrior then grabs Michaels and throws him out to the floor. Out goes Martel, and it’s down to Hogan vs. Warrior. After a big build, they get into a shoving contest. Nobody moves. They criss-cross the ropes and then clothesline each other. They lay down in the ring as Barbarian comes in at #27, making Hogan and Warrior look like easy pickings. Barbarian levels Hulk with the KICK OF FEAR. Rick Rude shows up early as the #28 entry and goes after Warrior. Rude catches Warrior with a standing dropkick and then sees Barbarian nearly has Hulk eliminated and goes over to help him. Warrior saves Hulk and gets double-teamed by Barbarian and Rude. They almost get Warrior out over the top until Hogan runs in and clotheslines everything in that general area and sends Warrior out to the floor. Warrior slides in the ring and clotheslines through Barbarian and Rude and then runs back to the dressing room. Hercules draws #29 and saves Hulk from the double-team. He fires Barbarian and Rude into Hogan for Big Boots. Hogan and Hercules both try and eliminate the heels as Mr. Perfect sprints down to ringside at #30. The perfect number, or is it? Perfect goes after Hogan and stomps him real good into the mat. Meanwhile, Barbarian and Rude have some miscommunication problems, which leads to Herc dumping Barbarian out to the floor.
We’re now down to Hogan, Hercules, Perfect and Rude. Rude ends up giving Hercules a clothesline almost immediately after I type that. The obvious heel double-team ensues. Perfect holds Hogan for a Rude forearm, but Hogan ducks and Perfect gets sent out onto the apron. Hogan whips Rude into the ropes, but Perfect pulls down the ropes and lets Rude fly out to the floor. Hogan grabs Perfect and for some reason, flips him back into the ring. He ducks low off a whip and takes a clothesline. Perfect calls for the PERFECTPLEX and gets it, but Hogan completely NO-SELLS it. Hogan HULKS UP and catapults Perfect into the ringpost. Hogan drills him with clotheslines and then throws him out to the floor to win the whole thing. (58:47) There was absolutely no reason for Hulk Hogan to win this match. A win for Perfect or even Warrior perhaps would’ve made so much more sense, but Hogan and his ego got in the way of logic in this one. Other than that, it’s one of the better Rumbles with minimal slow periods and a star-studded match. ****
Final Thoughts: The show did what it is intended to do in the post-JCP world, and that’s set up the monster event known as WrestleMania. Nearly half of that historic card was set up at this event, which makes the Rumble in itself at least worth a look. The undercard is decent, but nothing too important. I’ll go with thumbs in the middle for Royal Rumble 1990.