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WWF Royal Rumble - January 15, 1989
by Scrooge McSuck

- Much like SummerSlam '88, my only real viewings of the show was the butchered to hell Coliseum Video. Unlike the SummerSlam tape though, the '89 Rumble not only butchered the matches on the tape, but removed one completely! Again, this is the Anthology DVD set, so this is only my second time watching the entire show straight through. The '89 Rumble follows the tradition of the early Rumble's not featuring much of an undercard, but saving the majority of it's star power for the Rumble match. Unlike the 1988 version, the Rumble match has expanded to 30-men, a total it would stay at until some douche thought having 40 in the match in 2011 was a good idea.

- Originally broadcasted live on January 15th, 1989, from the Summit in Houston, TX. This would mark the only time Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura would call a Royal Rumble together. In '88, Ventura paired up with Vince McMahon, then came back in '90 to join Tony Schiavone in the booth, and was gone by the time the 1991 show came around. It's too bad... Jesse Ventura was one of the best, and I would say better than Bobby Heenan, mostly for his ability to make a show seem legit, in comparison to Heenan's charisma for comedy. Heenan could call a good straight match, too, but Ventura had the "it" factor for stuff like that. Stuff like Hogan/Andre at WrestleMania III is made that much better because of the way Monsoon and Ventura put it over... wow, I'm really rambling now. Who knew I had so much respect for Ventura as a color commentator?

2 out of 3 Falls:
The Hart Foundation & Jim Duggan vs. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo (w/ Jimmy Hart & Frenchy Martin):

I'm sure this might come as a surprise, but yes, there were programs going on here between the Foundation and Rougeaus, mostly having to do with Jimmy Hart giving his portion of the Foundation's contract to his new team, and Duggan had issues with Bravo because Americans and Canadians couldn't stand each other... or whatever. What was the obsession in 1988 and 1989 to have 2 out of 3 Falls matches at the Royal Rumble shows? I know you have to fill out the show a little more, but you can just do one

Fall #1: Ventura claims the heels have an advantage because they all speak French, and thus can communicate without their opponents knowing what they're saying. Neidhart and Bravo start, which means the match can only get better... nevermind, I forgot Duggan is hanging around. They fight over who's stronger, and Neidhart gets the better of it. Duggan tags in, and Bravo quickly tags out. Duggan with a slam and knee drop on Raymond. Bret tags in, and works the arm. Bret with a series of near falls, and Jacques tags in, but not before comforting his brother. Jacques gets cocky, and Bret wipes him out with a clothesline for it. Everything goes bananas, with the heels trapped in the same corner, while being crushed by the Foundation and Duggan. Raymond pulls the ropes down on the Hitman, and he gets to play face-in-peril, at least for this fall. Bravo with the side suplex... but he tags out to Raymond? That was dumb. The Rougeaus with their double team finisher, and that gets the three count at 5:27. They got lucky.

Fall #2: Monsoon claims the fans are LITERALLY hanging from the rafters. I love his little qups. Raymond with a slam for a quick two count, and Jacques with a diving elbow for another two count. Bret works in his chest first bump, and Bravo covers for two. Bravo with an inverted atomic drop for a two count. Bret continues taking a beating, but won't stay down for another three count. Jesse Ventura proves his awesome by questioning a USA chant when Bret Hart is from Canada. THANK YOU! All three heels take turns with various submission holds, but Bret won't quit (insert Earl Hebner joke here). After what seems like an eternity, Duggan gets the REALLY hot tag (that's what I call popping the crowd), and unloads on everyone walking. Duggan with a slam on Raymond, and Neidhart slingshots in. Bret does the same, and Duggan drops an elbow for the three count at 13:55.

Fall #3: I was going to ask how often you see a team win the first two falls, but it happend at the '88 Rumble. Duggan is sweating like Mike Rotundo, despite working roughly 2 minutes of the match. Duggan stupidly attacks the opponents corner, and gets triple-teamed for it. Moron. Duggan tries for a comeback, but the power of French-Canadians is too much for him at the moment. Wait... didn't the Rougeau's team with ANOTHER French-Canadian at SummerSlam '89? It's next on the list, so we'll save that for later. Bret gets the most anti-climatic hot tag ever, and pounds away on Bravo. Bret with a back breaker, but Raymond pushes him off the top going for an elbow. The referee gets distracted, allowing Duggan to nail Bravo with the 2x4, and Bret covers for the three count at 18:43. There were a short breaks between falls, but this seemed a little longer than the Coliseum version (especially the second fall). Solid match, but a bit boring at times (again, second fall). The Foundation would move on to a program with Valentine and Honkytonk Man (I don't know, either), the Rougeau's went down the card, and Duggan and Bravo kind of just went on to do nothing for a while.

- Ted Dibiase draws his number, but he's not satisfied, so he calls over Slick, who seems VERY confident in the number he's pulled for Boss Man and Akeem. The Bushwhackers are both happy with their numbers, then swap with each other. Honkytonk Man picks next, and he doesn't seem very happy. Next is Bad News Brown, and he seems to aprove. Demolition are up, and "it's going to be a long night" for both of them. I know they do this stuff occasionally, but it was always fun to see the reactions and try to predict when everyone would come to the ring.

Next, The Posedown Challenge between Intercontinental Champion, the Ultimate Warrior, and the winner of the Jesse The Body Award, "Ravishing" Rick Rude. You know the drill... Warrior poses, the fans cheer. Rude poses, the fans boo. Warrior damn near falls over during a few poses, and thus should've been Disqualified. Rick Rude, fed up with the nonsense, attacks Warrior with a piece of workout equipment, and chokes the life out of him, setting up a title match for WrestleMania V. This sucked for one reason... it ate up 16-minutes ON A PAY PER VIEW. The entire thing made the cut for Coliseum Video, too. That's just wrong.... Why not put these two in the Rumble match? They would've been better choices than the Bushwhackers.

WWF Women's Championship Match:
Rockin' Robin vs. Judy Martin:

Ugh... WHY?! Wether I was a kid, or now as an adult, I've hated women's wrestling, especially in the WWF (except for a few rare occasions). The Women's Title was basically on life support by this time, yet somehow still got a spot on a PPV. THAT'S FILLER. Former Champion, the Sensational Sherri, is hanging around for the hell of it. Sherri would be packaged with Savage following WrestleMania, making the Women's Title more worthless without a top tier "heel" to challenge for it every night. Rockin' Robin is related to Jake Roberts and Sam Houston, but I don't give enough of a shit to know exactly how. Her only other real claim to WWF fame is the WORST singing of the National Anthem at WrestleMania V. Judy Martin looks like trailer trash... would you prefer trailer trash lesbians or part-time strippers as your Women's Champion? Sherri offers a challenge to the winner, and then we get a sucky, heatless match that sadly isn't clipped to 90-seconds like on Coliseum Video. Robin wins with a twisting crossbody press at 6:25, and no one cares. Sorry, I watched this in fast forward, and still had nothing to add to it. Just a waste of time.

King of the WWF Match: King Haku (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Harley Race:

Interesting match... some might call it heel versus heel, but I'm about 95% sure Race was doing a subtle babyface, or at least tweener, run before taking off for good. Remember, Haku was crowned the King of the WWF when Race went down with a hip injury. The WWF treated it as if Race died, randomly showing a picture of him, along with clouds, during their broadcasts of Challenge and Superstars. As mentiond before, Coliseum Video cut this one out of the show for whatever reasons. I guess they didn't know how to record in SP on an 8 hour tape, yet. VHS talk... it's got to be Nostalgia! Race hits the ring and dumps Haku off the throne. Race with a knee lift and clothesline, followed by a suplex for a two count. The crowd isn't much into this, since they have no idea who to cheer for. Heenan can be heard at ringside, switching sides from move to move. Race takes a pretty good bump to the floor, and the fans disaprove of Haku's posing. they exchange headbutts, and neither man is really hurt from them. Race connects with a piledriver, but that only gets two. They collide head first, and Race lands out of the ring. Haku brings him back in with a suplex, but misses an elbow. Race with a suplex of his own for a two count. Race tries for a piledriver on the arena floor, but Haku counters. Race goes for it again, and it connects! Back inside, and Race with a neck breaker for a two count. Race with a clothesline and knee drop for two. Haku takes control, but misses a splash from the top. Race heads to the second rope, and misses a headbutt. Haku lays Race out with a reverse thrust kick, and that's enough for a three count at 9:03. Despite being a bit of a styles clash, it was a decent match with some good, hard hitting action. Sometimes no-nonsense brawling and wrestling can be a better idea than off the wall gimmicks and a bunch of resting.

- For about ten minutes before the previous match, and ten minutes after, we get promos and interviews from damn near everyone competing in the Royal Rumble match. Notable exceptions include Tito Santana, Rick Martel, Koko B. Ware, Ronnie Garvin, the Red Rooster, and Hercules. Guess who goes last... it's not Randy Savage, the reigning WWF Champion.

30 Man Royal Rumble Match:

There's nothing on the line for winning this, except the prestige of winning the Royal Rumble Match. The "Winner Gets a Title Shot" didn't factor in until 1993, but coincidences gave Hogan a shot in 1991, Duggan was in the Title Tournament in 1988, and Ric Flair won the title in the match itself in 1992, so really, only 1989 and 1990 were worthless... oh, Hogan as Champion won in 1990... okay then, just this one (looks up spoilers) Yep, totally worthless. Ax of Demolition is #1, and Smash of Demolition is #2... and there you go with the first ever instance where partners have to beat the crap out of each other. It's a cool moment, but it's not mind-blowing. #3 is Andre The Giant, and that quickly brings an end to the Ax vs. Smash mini-match, while creating an equal opponent by himself against the Tag Team Champions. Demolition gains an early advantage, but Andre fights both off. #4 is "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, and he takes shots at everyone. Andre casually dumps Smash at 3:56, and now it's Ax and Hennig working Andre over... kinda funny, since Curt's father's nickname was "The Axe." #5 is "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin, and his hands of steel somehow get Andre tied up in the ropes. Andre fights off all three men, and it's always fun watching Hennig over-sell Andre's offense. #6 is Greg "the Hammer" Valentine, and he helps the cause on Andre. Andre fights them all off and dumps Garvin at 9:02. As a kid, I didn't have any idea about Andre's physical limitations, and found him scary as hell. #7 is Jake "the Snake" Roberts, and he goes right for Andre. Andre quickly chokes him out the entire two minutes. #8 is the Outlaw, Ron Bass, with a shaved head. Andre casually dumps Roberts at 12:28. Ax and Bass have a little match while Andre takes turns on Hennig and Valentine. #9 is Shawn Michaels, to a little girl pop. Hennig back drops Ax out at 14:37, then tries tossing Michaels, but Michaels skins the cat back in, and almost eliminates Hennig with a dropkick. #10 is Bushwhacker Butch, but the crowd pops for Jake Roberts, who's back at ringside with Damian. This scares Andre enough to eliminate himself at 16:40, a total cop out elimination if I've ever seen one. The crowd was way into it, though, and protects Andre, I guess.

#11 is The Honkytonk Man, and we get an odd exchange between Honky and Hennig. Odd, because of the heel vs. heel factor, of course. Not a whole lot is going on right now... the fans still hate Honky enough to cheer wildly while Hennig tries to toss him. #12 is Tito Santana, and I want him to go after the Hammer, but instead, he goes for Hennig. They have a pretty hot exchange before Bass interrupts things. #13 is Bad News Brown, and how suitable a number for him. Brown targets Bass, while Honky gets tossed at 22:45 by SANTANA AND BUTCH. Who could've seen that coming? Michaels with axehandles to both Bass and Brown. #14 is Marty Jannetty, and the Rockers work Bass over before knocking him out with a double dropkick at 24:57. Santana with the flying forearm on Valentine, but he holds on to the ropes for dear life. #15 is "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and he's gotta go for Bad News. Savage still has his glasses and headband on, as he lays into the man from Harlem. Savage, Tito, and Valentine end up in one corner, and that's an impressive collection of talent. Arn Anderson is #16, and Valentine gets tossed at 28:23, courtesy of the Champion. Anderson and Michaels quickly get into it, but Savage teams up with Double A to eliminate Michaels at 28:44. #17 is Tully Blanchard, and I don't like Jannetty's odds right now. There's starting to be too many people in the ring. Anderson plants Jannetty with a spinebuster to cheer me up, and the Brain Busters drop elbow afer elbow on him before tossing the remaining Rocker at 32:11. #18 is Hulk Hogan, and he needs to clear dead wood. Hennig is gone at 32:38 (that's not dead wood!). How is BUTCH still in the ring?! Santana is tossed off camera at around 33:00 mark. Bad News tries tossing Hulk, along with the Busters, while Savage concerns himself with Butch. He's STILL IN THERE! #19 is Bushwhacker Luke, to turn the tide. The Mega Powers, Brain Busters, and Bushwhackers in the ring... then Bad News tosses Butch at 34:40. Finally. Luke pounds away on Hogan (who could've guessed that would be typed?), while Bad News and Savage go at it for a while. #20 is The Birdman, Koko B. Ware, wearing red and yellow... no sucking up, Koko! Koko is gone at 37:30, courtesy of Hogan, which goes to show what sucking up gets you: NOTHING. Luke is next at 37:43. The Brain Busters double team, and BOTH get clotheslined out by Hogan at 38:33.

#21 is the Warlord, and he sets the standard for poor Rumble performances, being clotheslined out two-seconds after entering the ring, at 38:40. By who? Guess, brother. Hogan, in the excitement, then tosses Bad News out at 38:46, but also tosses Randy Savage in the process, no doubt "by accident." Savage doesn't take kindly to this, and we have a big confrontation between Hulk and Savage that only Elizabeth can calm down. #22 is the Big Boss Man, and he has issues with Hogan, naturally. They have an abreviated version of their usual, until Akeem joins as #23... what's with partners coming in after each other? Ax and Smash, Tully and Arn, now Akeem and Boss Man... someone didn't shake those numbers good enough. To my surprise, Hogan gets tossed at 43:54, but not without slamming both men, first. Brutus Beefcake is #24, and with the help of Hogan pulling the ropes down, Boss Man is gone at 44:55. That's cheap! Two of the biggest heel threats were eliminated by men that were no longer legally part of the match. #25 is the Red Rooster... the fans boo, despite turning face on SNME a few weeks earlier. Akeem and Beefcake do their thing, as Rooster plays dead almost immediately. #26 is The Barbarian... hopefully he can last longer than his partner. #27 is a recently returned Big John Studd and he settles into the match by hugging Akeem for most of the remainder of it. Studd sucked, plain and simple. The poor Rooster has been abused all match, but I'm enjoying it. #28 is The Mighty Hercules... and I still don't care anymore. This match died once Hogan and Savage were eliminated. #29 is Rick Martel, fresh back from the injury at the hands of Demolition. Martel goes for the Rooster (of course), but he's a tenacious little monkey and won't let go of the ropes. #30 is the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase, and there's your field: Akeem, Brutus Beefcake, Red Rooster, Barbarian, Big John Studd, Hercules, Rick Martel, and Ted Dibiase.

Studd and Akeem are still putting on a negative-star anti-classic mini-match, while everyone else just occupies space. I bet Dibiase goes after the Rooster... nope he goes after Hercules. Monsoon: I'm surprised the Rooster is still out there. Rooster takes his chances with Dibiase, and gets tossed at 57:40. That's a long time between eliminations, especially with a lot of midcard fodder. Hercules goes to work on Dibiase with clotheslines, but he's going to get sloppy soon. Beefcake and Hercules go at it, trading bearhugs and sleepers, but Dibiase tosses them both at 59:37. He had help from the Barbarian, but who cares? The Barbarian is gone, courtesy of Rick Martel at 1:00:48. Dibiase pounds away on Martel, but Martel is a house of fire. Martel with dropkicks to Akeem, but he gets caught going for a body press, and tossed at 1:01:27. Coliseum Video cut from the Barbarian's elimination, straight to Martel's, and I knew the edit job was obvious. Dibiase and Akeem double team Studd, but Studd fights them off, and tosses Akeem at 1:02:59. Two years in a row of solid performances: Final man tossed in '88, down to final three here. Dibiase offers some money, but Studd says no... of course not, he pocketed all those $15,000 slam challenge prize money for years! Studd with a bearhug and toss into the corner. Studd with a slam, followed by a double underhook suplex. Studd casually tosses Dibiase at 1:05:03 to win the 2nd Royal Rumble Match, then lays out Virgil for good measure. Yeah, JOHN STUDD is the Royal Rumble Winner, in a match with Hogan, Savage, Andre, Boss Man, Dibiase, and other more deserving winners. Decent Rumble that really went south once Hogan was tossed. The last twenty minutes was a real chore to sit through, just because no one in there really stood out once all the star power left.

Final Thoughts: Out of all the "early day" Rumbles (the ones with a throw-away undercard and no prize for the Rumble Winner), this is easily my least favorite. The non-Rumble matches, sans the Womens Title Match, were fine, but uninteresting to me, and the Rumble loses all it's steam at the 2/3rd mark. Add in an incredible waste of twenty minutes with the Posedown Challenge, and you have a complete throw-away of a Pay-Per-View. Seriously... Big John Studd. I'm sorry, I just can't get by that. At least Duggan in 1988 had the excuse of a midcard field, but this had everyone except Warrior and Rude in it, and JOHN STUDD WON!

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