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WWF Royal Rumble - January 21, 1990
by Scrooge McSuck

- Originally broadcasted on January 21st, 1990, from the Orlando Arena in Orlando, FL. Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura are calling all the action, and Ventura is shamelessly plugging the Disney brand, wearing Mickey Mouse ears and sweater. The 1990 Royal Rumble continues the early trend of keeping most of the high profile names in the Rumble match itself, while filling out the undercard with some of the less important wrestlers, with a few of the worthwhile ones scattered around, too. After the long diatribe to open the SummerSlam '89 recap, let's jump into our first match on the card...

The Bushwhackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/ Jimmy Hart):

(Butch & Luke vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
Remember when I mentioned using the less important people on the roster to fill out the undercard? Here you go... the Rougeaus were used rarely since Survivor Series, and this is their last match together as a team. The Bushwhackers are the Bushwhackers. They're just one big stupid joke that only three people find funny, and one of them is Vince McMahon, so we get to see them in the WWF for damn near a decade before someone stopped calling them for bookings. Worthless tidbit: Jacques is sporting a pretty thick beard. What, did the WWF find him Ice-fishing somewhere, and forced him down to Orlando for this show, without so much as a shave? As a kid, this is one of those matches I just would hit fast forward on, because this undercard really was definitely uninteresting to me. Mucho stalling to start. One fan goes WILD for Butch biting the referee (that's 2... who's the third). Luke ends up playing the moron-in-peril, after nearly 7-minutes of limited action (and that's being generous). They work Luke over for a while, and yes, Jacques does apply an abdominal stretch, and yes again, Raymond offers some leverage from the apron. Has anyone ever gave up to that move? Raymond tags back in and kills more time with a seated chinlock. Butch finally gets th hot tag, and unloads with rights on Jacques. Everyone gets in the ring, and naturally the Bushwhackers dominate. Jimmy Hart interrupts the battering ram, so he gets pulled into the ring and almost becomes a rape victim until Raymond makes the save. Someone missed their mark there, cause that was a lot of stalling for the set up. Raymond applies a Canadian Crab to Butch, but lets go for reasons unknown to help his brother up. The battering ram connects, and Butch covers Jacques for the three count at 13:35. For some reason, I remember this match being much longer, but maybe that was the boring effect... not an atrociously bad match, but still boring as hell. The Rougeaus weren't as "boring formula" as they had developed into, but anything with the Bushwhackers sucks.

- "Mean" Gene Okerlund is backstage with Ted Dibiase and Virgil. Because of last year's antics, Ted Dibiase was not allowed to draw his own number, and special circumstances were made to ensure he wouldn't pull any shenanigans. Dibiase reveals that Virgil drew #1 for him, and this is the first time someone made a big deal out of being #1, so you know he's going to be in the ring for a hwhile.

Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. The Genius:

If this were 10 years later, people would be screaming at having an upper-midcard face wrestling a mostly-non-wrestling manager on one of the biggest Pay-Per-Views of the year. Beefcake somehow shoe-horned his way into Hulk Hogan's program, who would have bigger fish to fry as the months passed. As a kid, I honestly had no interest in this one. It didn't seem like a real match to me because of how much difference there was in card placement for these two, and no, I had no idea that the Genius beat Hogan by Count-Out on an episode of SNME a couple of months prior. These days, I appreciate the character more, but this match still holds little for me to get excited about. Genius with a lot of prancing and aerobics to stall and build heat. Beefcake does a worse job that Hogan at mocking the Genius, and we get more stalling. Genius rakes the eyes, then pounds away on the midsection. Beefcake quickly retaliates with an inverted atomic drop, and Genius runs to the floor to bring a stop to the action once again. Ventura somehow works a Joe Montana reference into the match... I think the 49ers won the Super Bowl that year against Cincinnati, but I'm not 100% on that. I'd rather be watching the NFL Film of that Super Bowl than this match right now. Genius only controls the action after some heel tactics like eye rakes, but otherwise, Beefcake controls. We get a ref' bump, and it's Hebner, so you know it's a good one. Beefcake applies the sleeper hold, but here comes Mr. Perfect to stop the hair-cutting with a well-time Perfect-Plex... I'm sorry, but how is that a death move? Perfect with a chair, and Beefcake takes a few shots as a gaggle of officials (hey, it's Shane McMahon!) break it up. I like that the bell rang at 11:03 (for a DOUBLE DQ), despite the referee still being down on the arena floor. Must be the same phantom referee from the Hogan/Boss Man Cage Match. Total snoozefest.

- Sean Mooney is backstage with Bobby Heenan and his Family, consisting of Rick Rude, Andre The Giant, and Haku. Mooney stirs up shit, getting everyone to yell at each other. Where are the Tag Team Titles? Remember, Andre and Haku (the Colossal Connection) were Champions at this point, having won the belts from Demolition to close out 1989. That's a match I remember vividly watching as a youth, and I was shocked to see how badly Ax was squashed.

Submission Match: "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart):

Finally, after nearly a year of development, we get the blowoff to the hot Hammer/Garvin program everyone has been on the edge of their seats for. We covered this in the SummerSlam '89 recap, but again, in short form: Valentine forced Garvin to retire, Garvin got back at him by becoming a referee, then was reinstated so Valentine could end his career, and here we go. By 1990 standards, it's weird to see both men introduced without fanfare, but these two guys are a perfect example of no-nonsense wrestlers, not needing any kind of gimmicks. Third match in a row that bored me to sleep as a youth, but I've grown to appreciate Valentine, and Garvin... he's not so bad, I guess. Valentine is still sporting his leg brace, cleverly named "The Hart Breaker". Garvin is wearing one himself, called the "Hammer Jammer." Cute. Both men waste time going for pinfalls. Force of habit, probably. They trade chops and rights, with Garvin coming out on top of that exchange. We follow with more pin attempts, and we've yet to see a submission hold applied. Valentine goes for the figure-four, but Garvin kicks off and cradles for no count, of course. Valentine applies the Figure-Four, but Garvin's not bothered by it, because he has the Hammer Jammer. Garvin responds to it by making faces at Valentine and laughing. That was pretty funny. Valentine picks Garvin up into an overhead body vice, and Jesse Ventura of course reminds us all he used to do that move all the time. Garvin finally goes for the leg, and works the first half of an Indian deathlock/STF. Valentine regains control, and wisely strips Garvin of his shin guard. Valentine applies the Figure-Four again, and this time it's FOR REAL (okay, maybe not, but play along). Garvin makes a comeback, and now Valentine's shin-guard gets stripped away. Garvin traps Valentine in the Andre Special, then lays him out with the shin guard. Garvin with the "reverse figure four" (SharpshooteR), and Valentine submits at 16:54. Almost 20-minutes for a midcard attraction? Those were the days. Solid match, mostly straight up brawling before the submission moves came into play. Garvin's usefulness came to close here, spending the rest of his tenure as a JTTS, while Valentine was repackaged as a Roy Orbison wanna-be and teamed with the Honkytonk Man before turning face and spending the rest of his tenture as a JTTS, too.

- Mean Gene is back, this time with Mr. Perfect. Spoiler Alert! Mr. Perfect drew #30. What is with everyone revealing their numbers? Keep it to yourselves, please.

- It's time for a special PPV edition of the Brother Love Show... he has The Sensational Queen Sherri and Sapphire as his guests. Here's the lowdown: Sherri and Brother Love verbally abuse Sapphire until she's had enough. Randy Savage and Dusty Rhodes run down for their token "push the storyline without having an actual match" interaction, and Rhodes and Sapphire celebrate with dancing after clearing the ring. That's 12 minutes I'm glad I breezed through.

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Big Boss Man (w/ Slick):

This is the Anthology DVD Set I'm watching, and Jive Soul Bro is dubbed over with Boss Man's Attitude era theme music! FOR SHAME!!! Doesn't WWF own the rights to the Piledriver Album? They used "Piledriver" for Koko B. Ware countless times, and I'm sure Grab Them Cakes was used a bunch, too. I'm glad by the time the SummerSlam sets came out, those licensing issues were cleaned up... a bit. Anyway, I'm ranting about something that doesn't effect the match. Despite my usual lack of interest for Duggan, I did anticipate watching this one, probably because I loved heel Boss Man, and you didn't see this match before, or again, except maybe in a shitty WCW match from 1995-96. Slugfest to start, won by the Boss Man. Duggan retaliates with a clothesline and shoulder tackle, knocking Boss Man out of the ring. They take the brawl all around the ring before getting back inside. Boss Man busts out an enziguri, and I just noticed that the taping where Boss Man turns face was done several weeks before this... that's all I got. The only thing that really bugged me about stuff from the era of taping far in advance was people carrying titles around they already lost and anything else that contradicts what's happened at the tapings. Boss Man pounds away, and even Slick gets a few shots in. Slick to Duggan: Let that be a lesson to you, crooked eyes! Things start to drag down a bit, with choice restholds like chinlocks and bearhugs. Duggan eventually makes his comeback, but Boss Man has the nightstick, and he lays into Duggan with it to draw a Disqualification at 10:21. For some reason I remembered this match being shorter than it was... oh well. Watchable until you can see they were just killing time, and I'm not a fan of lame finishes, because that's all you ever got with Jim Duggan matches.

- Just about everyone that hasn't had time to talk yet that's a participant in the Royal Rumble Match gets promo time, except for Roddy Piper, Koko B. Ware, and the Red Rooster. Jesus, that's TWO years in a row that Koko and the Rooster were shafted for promo time. I guess Piper was on the toilet when the camera was shooting, or something, otherwise I'm baffled why a top of the card name like him was ignored in favor for everyone else.

30-Man Royal Rumble Match:

In case you missed it last year, we still don't have any reward for winning the Rumble Match. Just the honor and prestige of saying you did. I'd rather have a title shot, but you know, some people have pride or something. Ted Dibiase gets a big introduction for his entry as the 1st participant, and scrub Koko B. Ware gets #2 (and dubbed in music... ugh). Dibiase attacks Koko upon entering the ring, and works him over until going after the head. Koko no-sells it (why?), and gets some token offense before getting back dropped out at 1:37 on a dumb charge attempt. #3 is Marty Jannetty (with music?), and Dibiase uses the same strategy here. I question mark that because no one else, other than 1 and 2, came to the ring with music in years past. I'll explain my theory later. Jannetty is just as dumb as Koko, and misses a cross body that basically eliminates himself at 3:44. Jake Roberts is #4, and his music pops the crowd HUGE. That's why. And that's the last music que of the match. Dibiase attacks outside the ring, and slams Roberts on the arena floor. Million Dollar Dream applied, but Roberts rams into the post to escape. Into the ring, and Roberts with the short-arm clothesline. Roberts goes for the DDT, but Dibiase back drops out of it. Roberts rolls out of the way of an elbow drop and goes for the DDT again, but Dibiase brings it to the corner. #5 is Randy Savage, and what a trio of talent in the ring right now. Savage and Dibiase from a very unlikely alliance, double-teaming Roberts for the majority of the period. #6 is Roddy Piper, and the talent and charisma meter is off the charts. Imagine a Piper & Roberts vs. Savage & Dibiase match... that's a wrestling geek's wet dream. The Warlord is #7, ending the awesome streak. He manages to outlast his run from 1989, but doesn't do much. I should note managers are allowed at ringside this year, so right now we've got Virgil, Sherri, and Mr. Fuji hanging around ringside. #8 is Bret Hart, and he goes after Dibiase before saving Piper from the Warlord. The crowd has been hot for the entire thing so far, and it's not hard to see why. #9 is Bad News Brown, and he goes right after the Hitman. Roberts unwisely goes for the DDT on Dibiase, and Savage clotheslines him out at 14:43. #10 is the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes (with Sapphire), and guess who he goes after... Bret Hart. Just kidding, it's Savage. everyone huddles to the corners to allow Rhodes and Savage their exchange, until Rhodes backdrops Savage out at 16:35.

#11 is Andre The Giant (with Bobby Heenan), and they really are packing in the star power early. Andre goes for the Warlord and casually hip tosses him out at 18:28. Heenan yanks Fuji off the apron and they have a little exchange, until Heenan runs away. Andre crushes Dusty in the corner, then throws Piper in for some double trouble. #12 is the Red Rooster, and he's the first bottom feeder we've seen since the opening stages of the match. Bad News and Piper pair up, with Piper back dropping Bad News out at 20:15. Bad News, poor sport, pulls Piper out (illegally) at 20:21, and they brawl to the back, and kick off their program that would lead to WrestleMania VI and Piper painting half his body black. After all that, Andre sends the Rooster back to the barnyard at 21:54. Way to earn that paycheck, Mr. Taylor. #13 is Ax of Demolition, and he naturally goes after Andre. I really dug the Demolition/Colossal Connection program, even if Andre was barely mobile at this point. Ax and Dusty tie Andre up in the ropes and pound away. #14 is Haku, and it's very timely for him to make his appearance, going right after Ax. Dusty works Haku over, then randomly falls on his ass in the corner. Zuh? #15 is Smash of Demolition, and we get my desired confrontation between both teams, but Haku keeps walking away to target Dusty. Bret pairs up briefly with Andre. #16 is Akeem (with Slick), and there's a lot of beef in there. Akeem vs. Andre: Scrooge's Hasbro Intercontinental Title program. Dusty Rhodes casually tosses Bret out at 28:14. Demolition double team Andre, and eventually clothesline him out at 28:31. That gets a solid pop from the crowd. Dibiase has just surpassed 30-minutes in the ring. #17 is Superfly Jimmy Snuka, and somehow one of his headbutts is enough to make Akeem throw himself over the top at 30:28. I hate when eliminations look so scripted. So much for Akeem/Gang's impressive Rumble performance streak. #18 is Dino Bravo (with Jimmy Hart), and he goes after Ax, until HAKU makes the save. I love the random pair up's these matches give... Haku vs. Dino Bravo? That's just random as random gets. Dibiase has teased roughly 56 eliminations at this point. #19 is The CANADIAN Earthquake, and it's time clean house. Rhodes gets tossed at 34:15. Demolition try their luck, and Ax is the next casualty at 34:43. #20 is Jim Neidhart, and he goes after Earthquake. Everyone starts to gang up and pin Quake in the corner, and they, sans Bravo, manage to toss the big man out at 26:29.

#21 is THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, and he hammers away on Bravo, and back drops him out at 28:07. Warrior goes after Snuka next, but Haku makes the save. I think Warrior has had brief exchanges with everyone in the ring, but doesn't toss anyone else. #22 is Rick Martel, and he's rocking a hell of a perm. Haku knocks Smash off the apron with a thrust kick to eliminate him at 40:52. #23 is Tito Santana, and surprise surprise, he goes for Martel. Strike Force wasn't that good of a team, Tito. I guess it's a heat building period, because nothing major has happend for a while. #24 is the Honkytonk Man, and really, who cares? Warrior fightts off a double team. Neidhart gets tossed at 44:27 to little fanfare. Dibiase goes after Warrior, and that's not smart, as Warrior eliminates Dibiase with a clothesline at 44:58, setting the longevity record until Martel broke it the next year. #25 is Hulk Hogan, and it's time to clean house again. Snuka ambushes Hogan upon arrival, and gets clotheslined out of the ring for his troubles at 46:03. Hogan sets his sites on Haku next, and a big boot ends his night just moments later at 46:25. Santana tries to eliminate Martel, but Warrior ends up helping Martel eliminate Santana at 46:56. So much for the power of Arriba-derci. Shawn Michaels is #26, and in a LAUGHABLE booking decision, he gets to be in the ring for exactly 12-seconds. Hogan tosses Honky at 48:01, Warrior tosses Michaels at 48:07, and Warrior tosses Martel at 48:11, and yes... it's down to Hogan vs. Warrior for the next 90-seconds, and the crowd goes nuts for it. They do a few shoulder block spots, with no one getting the upperhand. Criss-cross time, and a double clothesline puts both men down. And that's it. Order WrestleMania VI, right fucking now. The Barbarian is #27, and he takes shots at both fallen Champions. Rick Rude jumps the gun at #28, and helps out. They double up on Hogan, and Warrior saves. They double up on Warrior, but Hogan attacks from behind, and "accidentally" eliminates the Warrior at 52:18 in the process. Accidental my ass... he did the same to Savage in 1989, and that was his best friend. For whatever reason, Warrior re-enters the ring, lays out Rude and Barbarian, then runs away. Ventura on Warrior: He's an idiot. #29 is Hercules, and no one cares. The Not-So-Mega Powers team up briefly, but no one gets tossed. #30 is Mr. Perfect, and we've got our final field: Hogan, Barbarian, Rude, Hercules, and Perfect.

It's time for wagers... who's first out, Barbarian or Hercules? Perfect goes after Hogan, which makes sense. Barbarian accidentally boots Rude, and Hercules back drops Barbarian out at 55:34. In an obvious goof, Rude totally ignores Hogan's attack so he could eliminate Hercules with a clothesline at 56:02. Perfect and Rude (future Heenan Family members... as was Barbarian, I just noticed) double team Hogan. Heel miscommunication sends Perfect to the apron, but he hangs on... a little too much, pulling the ropes down to cause Rude's elimination at 56:59. Hogan rams Perfect to the buckle, and sling shots him back in. Irish whip, and Perfect with a field goal punt, followed by a big hooking clothesline. Perfect pounds away and slaps on the Perfect-Plex, but that's just an excuse for Hogan to no-sell and Hulk Up. Hogan sweeps the legs and sling shots Perfect into the ring post. Hogan with a pair of charging clotheslines, then tosses Perfect over the corner of the ring to claim victory at 58:44. Easily the best of the pre-reward Rumble matches, and still probably in the Top 5 all time, with minimal slow periods, and a hot crowd from start to finish. Dibiase's endurance run, mini-matches between himself and Roberts, Demolition and Andre, the stuff with Hogan and Warrior... just a perfectly booked match. Some can argue why Hogan, the WWF Champion, went over, but really, who cares? The match had no reward, and Hogan/Warrior was the main event for WrestleMania VI. That's all that matters.

Final Thoughts: Other than the submission match (which is more of an NWA formula match than WWF, and personally, I skip it more often than not, too), the undercard is complete junk, with a lot filler and dead-weight undercard matches to kill an hour and a half before the only reason to watch this show: The Rumble Match, and it more than delivers, and sets the bar for future Rumble matches, too.. Get a copy, sit back, and enjoy, because it's one of my personal favorites, and worth multiple viewings.

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