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WWF Royal Rumble 1989 Review

Hello everyone. Welcome to the review of the very first PPV of 1989. This is the second ever edition of the Royal Rumble, the first to be broadcast on PPV – Rumble ’88 was televised. Considering this is a PPV with a very unique match, there will obviously be some changes to the point system. As far as all the regular preliminary matches go, I will use the regular point system, which works like this:

  • 1/2 point (0.5): a win via DQ or count-out; extra for pinfall/submission falls in stipulation matches (ie: iron man matches, elimination tag matches, steel cage match, etc)
  • 1 point: main-eventing the show; winning via pin or submission (in a tag team match, the person getting the winning fall will get an EXTRA 1/2 point); winning a stipulation match; successfully retaining a title
  • 2 points: capturing a title
  • The star rating: the exact star rating a match gets will be considered points for all the participants
  • Vice-versa for those wrestlers who get pinned or drop titles, as the exact same number of points will be TAKEN from said wrestlers
  • In case there’s a draw, those two (or more) wrestlers involved will be untied by a) number of victories; b) the overall number of main-events; c) direct confrontations between each other; and d) the number of appearances, as I will give the edge to the wrestler who appeared less times on the reviews and managed to get as many points as someone with more appearances

As far as the Rumble match itself goes, every elimination made will be worth 0.5 points. Getting eliminated will cost the wrestler 1 point. As for winning the whole thing, it will earn the victorious wrestler 5 points. Enjoy the review!

The hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura

Two Out Of Three Falls Six Men Tag Team Match: The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) & Jim Duggan vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau) & Dino Bravo(w/ Jimmy Hart & Frenchy Martin)

Neidhart starts things off with Dino for the Vince McMahon favorite – THE BATTLE OF THE BIG SWEATY MEN. Bravo briefly wins that but misses an elbow, which allows Anvil to bring in Duggan and Bravo wants none of him. Raymond tries his luck only to get slammed as Duggan tags in Bret. The Hitman goes after Raymond’s arm and the two quickly get into an exciting pinning sequences, with Bret scoring two off a small package, sunset flip and finally a crossbody. Raymond has enough of that and brings in Jacques, with the two sharing a hug for moral support. The crowd gets they’re doing this to slow down Bret for a while and it draws good heat. The Rougeaus have been a pleasure to see since their much-needed heel turn. The heels end up having a taste of their own medicine, though, as Bret stacks the three of them in the corner and Neidhart comes in running everyone down like a truck. However, the Rougeaus end up sending Bret to the floor to kill the momentum dead. Back in, Bravo with a side suplex and Le Bombe Des Rougeaus give the heels the first fall at about 5:30.

Bravo & Rougeaus 1-0 Duggan & Harts (Raymond over Bret)

Winner and loser of the previous fall have to start the next fall as per the rules, so it’s back to Raymond and Bret. Gutwrench suplex puts Bret down as Jacques gets in to add an elbow for two. Dino Bravo tags in and gets two off the classic Bret Hart turnbuckle bump. Atomic drop gets two more. Double-team knee by the Rougeaus earn the heels another nearfall. Back to Bravo for a bearhug, with the crowd cheering Bret on while chanting ‘USA’. Kinda funny considering one of Bret’s best work was as the Canadian hero who hated America. Jacques goes really old school (even for ’89) with the camel clutch, while the Rougeaus add some nice heel shenanigans behind the ref’s back. Bravo comes in for a sloppy forearm that looked really bad. The way Bravo tags out of the match is really stupid, you have to see it to understand. Back to the Rougeaus for an abdominal stretch and more cheating, as poor Bret has been playing Ricky Morton for the entire second fall so far. Bret briefly reverses a Raymond slam by landing on top of him for a nearfall, but the heels quickly cut the ring in half and bring him back to their corner for more heat. Simple and effective formula that always works in tag team wrestling. Jacques tries a monkey flip but Bret finally has the distance he needs to bring in Duggan for the hot tag. And I do mean HOT tag, as the crowd goes nuts for it. Duggan runs wild on anything and everything that moves. He slingshots Neidhart into Raymond for two, but then he does the same with Bret and that ties things up at almost 14:00.

Harts & Duggan 1-1 Bravo & Rougeaus (Duggan over Raymond)

Duggan goes after all the heels to start the third fall, only to quickly be caught and dominated by them. Choking follows and a Bravo elbowdrop gets two. Bret comes in again with a backbreaker on Bravo and he goes up only for Raymond to shove him off. That draws everyone in and it quickly is BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Bret rolls up Bravo in the middle of the confusion for two and a shot by Duggan with the 2×4 behind the referee’s back gives Bret and the babyface team the winning pin at 15:42.

Harts & Duggan 2-1 Bravo & Rougeaus (Bret over Bravo)

  • Analysis: Even though it’s arguable that they missed the peak of the match by three or four minutes, this was a very enjoyable tag team bout that was (smartly) left in the hands of the more technically sound Hart Foundation and Rougeaus for the most part. It was smartly worked with the heels doing a terrific job of cutting the ring in half while Bret played the Ricky Morton role to perfection as usual. The hot tag to Duggan at the end of the second fall is an example of how effective he was in that role. Good opener. ***

– Meanwhile, a confident Ted DiBiase picks his entry number for the main-event. His confidence dies as soon as he looks at the paper though, and he quickly calls Slick to talk some business. The Honky Tonk Man is next and he is not impressed with his number. The Bushwhackers are like whatever and switch their numbers anyway because .. being stupid is their gimmick. Bad News Brown no-sells his entry number and just says he has bad news for everyone. Finally, The Rockers are just happy to be in the match. I always enjoy these segments and I have no idea why they’re not done anymore.

WWF Women’s Championship: Rockin’ Robin(c) vs. Judy Martin

This is the first female match on PPV in the WWF since Survivor Series 1987 by the way. They are also rarely on TV. The former champ Sensational Sherri joins us on commentary for this one. Martin misses a blind charge to start and Robin quickly takes over with a slam. Robin wants to follow with a Boston crab but gets small packaged for two instead. Martin misses an elbow but ends up hitting a slam of her own for two. Backslide gets two. Robin gets her own nearfalls with a boot to the face as well as a small package. Robin fakes a flying high crossbody to distract Martin before hitting it the second time for the win to retain at 6:24.

  • Analysis: Nice little finish, but apart from that this was nothing more than a glorified bathroom break between two characters who rarely appeared on TV and were therefore not over whatsoever with the audience. Easily the least important thing on this show. 1/2*

– Meanwhile, Sean Mooney confronts Slick about the meeting with DiBiase. Slick says he hasn’t been with Ted DiBiase for over a month, but when Mooney brings up the meeting from earlier, Slick says he was talking about a different Ted DiBiase – the one who shines his shoes. Funny stuff!

Posedown: The Ultimate Warrior & Rick Rude

This is a posedown with the winner (Warrior, duh) to be decided via crowd reaction. The four rounds are: “the double bicep pose”, “best abs”, “most muscular” and “posing medley”. Warrior obviously wins all four before Rude attacks him in the back of the head with his metal workout bar. This was entertaining enough thanks to Rude and Heenan’s ridiculous antics such as Heenan putting oil on Rude’s abs before the abs round while Warrior was Warrior as usual. Plus it set up their fantastic feud over Warrior’s IC Title. Thumbs up.

– Meanwhile, Miss Elizabeth has thought about each and every possibility in the Rumble match. Except for a showdown between Savage and Hogan. She doesn’t even want to think about that. Great facials and character work by Liz, she was just awesome at it.

Battle For The Crown: King Haku(w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Harley Race(w/ Bobby Heenan)

After the then-King Harley Race took a sabbatical due to injury in early 1988, Heenan replaced him with Haku as the new King. Race returned in late 1988 with intentions of winning back his crown despite still being a heel. The big selling point here was to see who Heenan would eventually side with. A bunch of local workers carry Haku on the throne and Race brings him out of there the hard way. Race whips him into the post and hits a suplex back in for two with Heenan cheering him on. Race ends up running into the post as Heenan now cheers for Haku, but goes back to Race’s side after he hits an atomic drop. Haku dumps Race to the outside before (obviously) winning the battle of the headbutts. Rule number one in wrestling: never headbutt a Samoan. Race hits a piledriver for two. Haku with a suplex gets two. Race with a suplex of his own as he tries another piledriver, this time on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. He ends up hitting it on the floor anyway, though. Race gets two off a kneedrop back in, with Haku missing his own knee. Race follows it up by going for a flying headbutt (again, remember rule number one in wrestling…) only to miss and for Haku to finish with the thrust kick at 9:01.

  • Analysis: The whole Heenan soap opera on the outside was great, while the match itself was not. It was just kinda there. Heenan obviously left with the winner in typical Heenan fashion. *1/2

– Meanwhile, we get final comments from the participants before the Rumble match, which is up next. This time Ted DiBiase is much more confident about his number than he was before. One can only wonder why, HAHAHAHAH!

Main-event: Royal Rumble Match

Number one goes to Ax while number two goes to… Smash. They immediately go at it to get the first ever 30-man Royal Rumble match underway. A slugfest is won by Smash but he misses a charge and Ax hits a clothesline and goes to work on his partner. Ax tries to eliminate Smash but can’t to do it, and in comes Andre the Giant at #3. The tag champs obviously team up to take on Andre and proceed to choke him in the corner before Mr. Perfect comes in at #4. He goes after everyone while Andre puts Smash out for the first elimination. Now Perfect and Ax go to work on Andre, but they can’t get along as well and Ax turns on Perfect which allows Andre to take over. Ronnie Garvin is #5 to go after Andre as well. Andre ends up cleaning house anyway with Perfect standing out as he literally flies off Andre’s punches before Greg Valentine joins the gang at #6. It’s still not enough to take down Andre, however, and Garvin ends up getting eliminated by Andre instead. He proceeds to choke out Ax in the corner and Jake Roberts is finally in at #7. He ends up choking Roberts to absolute death in the corner and dumps him out like he’s nothing as a bald Ron Bass joins at #8. It’s back to Andre vs everyone while the others just kick and punch each other in the corner with Shawn Michaels entering at #9, years before being a contender. Meanwhile, Ax is finally thrown out (long after Smash) by Perfect. He dumps Michaels too, but Michaels pulls a Steamboat and skins the cat to stay in. He dropkicks Perfect out but he too gets back in and stays in the match. Bushwhacker Butch is #10 while Roberts comes back in with the snake, causing Andre to eliminate himself. L A M E. Absolutely lame. The whole point of the first third of the match was to put over how tough Andre is, only to have him run away because of his fear of snakes. Plus not to mention that Roberts (the babyface might I add) was fairly eliminated by Andre and just came back looking like a sore loser who couldn’t get the job done when it counted. I absolutely hate this feud.

With Andre gone it’s now down to nothing but midcarders kicking and punching in the corner. Honky Tonk Man joins the match with #11, forming a partnership with Valentine and Tito Santana is #12. Same thing, gets to run wild for all of fifteen seconds before it’s back to kicking and punching in the corner. Apart from that nothing is really going on. Bad News Brown joins at #13 while Tito sends Honky back to Memphis. Valentine manages to survive, though, and he teams up with Bass to choke out Tito only for Michaels to save him. Valentine almost puts him away but he hangs on as fellow Rocker Marty Jannetty enters at #14. A double dropkick by the Rockers put Bass out. Randy Savage is in at #15 and hopefully it’s time to start cleaning house. Nope, he just gets worked over in the corner like everyone else. Arn Anderson enters at #16 to eliminate Michaels alongside Savage, who then goes after Bad News. These two were in a feud over the title but I think they never had a meaningless match over it, as instead Brown lost his undefeated streak in a match to Hogan. Yeah, I’m shocked too. Tully Blanchard is #17 to join Anderson, and they get rid of Jannetty. Here comes Hulk Hogan at #18, and you better believe now it’s time to clean this house. Perfect falls victim to the power of Hulkamania and goes flying to the floor. He tries to slam Bad News out, but Bad News turns that slam into a guillotine in a pretty sweet reversal. Tito gets thrown out by the Brain Busters. Then all the heels team up to go after Hogan, but Savage is distracted fighting with the Bushwhacker in the other corner and doesn’t save him. Bushwhacker Luke is #19 but his cousin is quickly eliminated by Brown. More heat on Hogan while Savage is busy with Brown this time and Koko B. Ware is #20. Nice little story between the Mega Powers going on at this point. Arn goes to the top only to get slammed off by Hogan. Koko stays true to his Birdman name and goes flying out at the hands of Hogan. The remaining Bushwhacker is out as well. Both Brain Busters go via Hogan too. Warlord is #21 and he’s immediately clotheslined out by Hogan after two seconds. He then clears the whole ring by coming up from behind to eliminate both Brown and SAVAGE. Uh oh.. Savage, having done nothing to Hogan, comes back in and is rightfully pissed off but they end up talking and shaking hands before Savage leaves the ring. The Big Bossman is #22 and the crowd goes insane over this confrontation. Hogan drops some elbows but ends up taking a piledriver and Akeem is #23 to make this even more interesting. Now Hogan is in there alone against both Twin Towers. Don’t put your partner out from behind like a dick next time, Hulkster. The Twin Towers take advantage of their (legal) numbers advantage to eliminate Hogan, who then obviously throws a tantrum and gets back in to eliminate Bossman. This Hulk Hogan would SO not work these days. First of all the fact he ended up in a disadvantage against Akeem & Bossman was all because of his stupidity, had he not eliminated Savage it would’ve been two-on-two, plus he was cleanly eliminated and then came back just because his strategy ended up not working. How is that supposed to be anyone’s fault but his!?

We’re now down to Akeem and entrant #24 Brutus Beefcake. Akeem dominates Beefcake quite easily and Red Rooster comes in at #25 only to get slammed by Akeem. Barbarian is #26 and hopefully he does better than his partner. He’s already been there for over two seconds, mission accomplished. With the whole Mega Powers/Twin Towers storyline gone, this now goes back to midcarders kicking and punching each other in the corner while waiting for the next guy to come in. Meanwhile Akeem gives Rooster the 747. The returning Big John Studd is #27. Nothing happens and Hercules comes in next at #28. Rick Martel is #29, him too making a return after getting injured by Demolition shortly after ‘Mania IV. The crowd couldn’t care less, though, and he ALSO joins the corner slugfest. Finally, who else but Ted DiBiase comes in at #30. He immediately dumps Rooster but Hercules gets in his face. Beefcake jumps Hercules from behind with a sleeper, though, which allows DiBiase to dump both over the top rope at the same time. And we’re down to…

  • Final five: DiBiase, Akeem, Studd, Barbarian & Martel

Barbarian goes up with a flying headbutt on Martel only to then miss a charge and get eliminated by Martel with a dropkick. Martel gets all excited with his elimination and starts running wild on the heels before Akeem catches him quite easily and puts him out with a slam. DiBiase makes Akeem an offer to double-team Studd and they do, only for Studd to pull DiBiase in front of him on a corner splash by Akeem. Studd proceeds to eliminate Akeem and we’re down to Studd and DiBiase. Studd hits a double-arm suplex while DiBiase asks for mercy and gives him some money, but Studd refuses and eliminates him to win the Rumble.

  • Analysis: This is a pretty hard one to rate, so let’s go in parts. The first third of this match was all about Andre, and I absolutely hated how they finally eliminated him. His feud with Jake Roberts continues to suck and is only killing the mystique of Andre. At the prior year’s Royal Rumble, for example, Andre was having a big contract signing with Hulk Hogan for their epic rematch at The Main Event weeks later, which would be seen by 30-something MILLION people! Here, one year later, he’s afraid of snakes. The second third of this match was all about the Mega Powers storyline. Despite some of my comments earlier about how the Hogan persona wouldn’t work today, remember that I was talking about TODAY, here in 1989 it worked and the teases with Savage are only getting more and more interesting. The final third of this match was about DiBiase and his money, and it would be nice to actually see him win a big match at least once. His character work is ridiculously great anyway, but his record in big matches is basically losing to the Mega Powers and now losing the Rumble to Studd. It would help him and the company make even more money if he won important matches here and there to piss off the fans. Plus, as you probably know now, Studd’s win ended up not meaning much, as Studd quietly left and retired a few months after this anyway. Too much kicking and punching in the corner between these stories didn’t help either. This was the first 30 man Rumble match and is therefore special for that. Overall, I’d say it had its moments but it was a struggle to get through at times. I’d put this right at the middle of the scale at **1/2.


  • Final thoughts: I’d say this ended up being an enjoyable show, apart from the nothingness that was the women’s match as well as some dead spots in the Rumble match. Apart from that there was always something going on. The match of the night in my opinion is the opening six men tag match with two out of three falls rules between the teams of the Hart Foundation & Jim Duggan and the Rougeaus & Dino Bravo. I’d give the show 6/10.

The points for this show:

  • Big John Studd: 9.5 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1 for two eliminations + 5 for winning)
  • Hulk Hogan: 7.5 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 5 for ten eliminations – 1 for losing)
  • Jim Duggan: 4.5 points (3 for star rating + 1 for winning + 0.5 for winning a fall)
  • Andre the Giant: 4.5 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 2 for four eliminations – 1 for losing)
  • Bret Hart: 4 points (3 for star rating + 1 for winning + 0.5 for winning one fall – 0.5 for losing a fall)
  • Jim Neidhart: 4 points (3 for star rating + 1 for winning)
  • Savage & DiBiase: 4 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1.5 for three eliminations – 1 for losing)
  • Arn Anderson, Akeem & Barbarian: 3.5 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1 for two eliminations – 1 for losing)
  • Mr. Perfect, Michaels, Butch, Santana, Brown, Jannetty, Blanchard, Bossman & Martel: 3 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 0.5 for an elimination – 1 for losing)
  • Ax, Smash, Garvin, Valentine, Roberts, Bass, Honky , Luke, Koko, Warlord, Beefcake, Rooster & Hercules: 2.5 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for losing)
  • Rockin’ Robin: 2.5 points (1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully retaining a title + 0.5 for star rating)
  • King Haku: 2.5 points (1.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Raymond Rougeau: 2 points (3 for star rating + 0.5 for winning a fall – 1 for losing – 0.5 for losing a fall)
  • Jacques Rougeau: 2 points (3 for star rating – 1 for losing)
  • Dino Bravo: 1.5 point (3 for star rating – 1 for losing – 0.5 for losing a fall)
  • Harley Race: 0.5 points (1.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Judy Martin: -0.5 points (0.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)

As always, thank you for your time and support. Don’t miss the next review of WWF’s The Main Event II, a show in which something historic happens. Something along the lines of an explosion! Until next time.