Seeing as we’re just one day away from January 2019, I thought I’d look back at one of the classic Royal Rumble events. The Rumble has always been a big part of every wrestling fans January, with even lapsed fans still showing an interest in it sometimes. This is ultimately because the Rumble match itself is such a great match concept, being a battle royal where you don’t know who the next person out will be.
I decided to go back and look at this one because I’ve always found it to be a pleasant easy watch, with some good matches on offer and a very notable collision in the Rumble itself that had a long lasting effect on the WWF as a whole.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the 1990 Royal Rumble event!
The event is emanating from the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida on the 21st of January 1990
Calling the action Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura in their final and penultimate WWF pay per view events respectively
The Fabulous Rougeaus Brothers (Jacques et Raymond) w/ Jimmy Hart Vs The Bushwhackers (Luke and Butch)
We were getting near the end of the Rougeaus as a tag team here, as Raymond would soon be stepping away from the ring, which would lead to Jacques coming in as a single under The Mountie gimmick. Jacques has a bizarre beard that makes him look like a drunk off the street, and possibly suggests that he wasn’t massively motivated for this particular contest. I’ll have “All American Boys” in my head for days now as well.
Lots of stalling to start by both teams, before Raymond and Butch finally start out. Raymond goes to a sleeper but Butch sends him into the corner and then sinks his incisors into poor Jacque’s derriere. The Battering Ram sends both heels scampering away, and it looks this is going to be one of those matches. Luke and Jacques go next, with Luke getting some more biting, before mixing things up with some punching.
The Rougeaus actually have de Gaulle to put a genuinely funny spot into the match, with Jacques daring Luke to hit him, only for him to duck and leave Raymond to take the punch instead. Luke eventually ends up getting cut off and worked over in the heel corner for a while. Jacques sends him spine first into the apron a few times, drawing Butch over, to no avail.
The Rougeaus continue double teaming Luke back inside the ring, getting a nice flapjack at one point. Butch finally gets the hot tag and takes out The Rougeaus with some…interesting offence to say the least. Jimmy Hart comes into the ring to try and help his men, but ends up on the wrong end of a Bushwhacker double team attack. The Rougeaus save their manager and go for their Quebec Grab finisher on Luke, but Butch makes the save and The Battering Ram ends things soon after.
WINNERS: THE BUSHWACKERS
This was about 90 seconds of comedy stretched out to 13 minutes.
Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage is with Ted Dibiase and his bodyguard Virgil. Due to shenanigans from the previous year, Dibiase is not allowed to draw his own number this year, and he’s not happy about it. His unhappiness only increases when the number drawn for him ends up being #1!
The Genius Vs Brutus Beefcake
This match came about as a result of Hulk Hogan’s feud with Mr. Perfect, as their two lackeys are now doing battle in their bosses’ honour. Beefcake really was super over during this period, and was competent enough in the ring at this stage to have a good match with the right person. I’m not sure The Genius is that person, but we’ll see. The Genius was actually a pretty decent worker and an excellent bump machine, but his ring style was based mostly around mincing and cheap heat during this period of his career, which didn’t help the match quality of his bouts most of the time.
Genius offers a handshake to start but then pulls his hand away when Beefcake goes to shake it. What a cad! Following this horrendous display of poor manners, Genius goes to his best Larry Zybzko impression by stalling outside to annoy the crowd. Back inside, Genius finally decides to lock up with Beefcake, but he gets over powered into the corner and mocked by The Beefer. Another lock up leads to Genius raking the eyes.
He tries to follow up his advantage with a monkey flip, but Beefcake reverses it into a reverse atomic drop, which leads to Genius bailing once again. Beefcake continues to control things, with Genius running away every time things get dicey. Genius finally manages to get a dropkick and follows that up with some axe handle blows. The Genius gets two from a roll up, which is The Beefer’s cue to make a comeback.
Beefcake goes for the sleeper hold, but Genius counters it and the referee gets bumped in the process. Beefcake now gets the sleeper bang in the middle of the ring, but there is no referee to call for the bell. Beefcake isn’t bothered about this however, and heads out to get his scissors for the big haircut, but Mr. Perfect runs down to save his manager, which earns a DQ from the now awakened ref.
WINNER: DOUBLE DISQUALIFICATION
This wasn’t much of a technical wrestling battle, but the fans were into both men and were looking forward to a possible haircut for The Genius. The ending was super lame, but it at least built to a pay off at WrestleMania VI, which saw Beefcake defeat Perfect and finally take some of Genius’ hair. Perfect and The Genius team up to beat down Beefcake with a chair post-match. How nice of Hulk Hogan to leave his friend to fight the wolves on his own. What a great friend…
Sean Mooney is with The Heenan Family stable of Bobby Heenan, Rick Rude, Andre The Giant and Haku. Bobby Heenan says everyone is happy with their numbers and they’ll be working together. Everyone else seemingly disagrees.
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/ Jimmy Hart Vs “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin
Valentine had defeated Garvin in a loser leaves town match back in 1989, which had seen Garvin comeback as a ring announcer and guest referee to annoy him, which eventually led to Valentine demanding his rival be reinstated for this bout. Valentine’s big gimmick was that he had a shin guard that made his Figure Four Leg Lock all the more devastating, so Garvin is wearing a shin guard of his own here to counter act it. I’m surprised it took so long for someone to think of that honestly.
Valentine tries to bail early on, but Garvin drags him back in and then sends him into the turnbuckle face first. Valentine gets some big chops in the corner, but Garvin fights back with some stiff open hand slaps, as this is already coming across more as an NWA styled match than a WWF one. Valentine bails periodically to try and avoid Garvin’s vicious strikes, and finally manages to get in a jab to the face to buy him some respite from Garvin’s assault.
Valentine dazes Garvin with some more shots, but Garvin is able to fight back and they end up going to a series of pin fall attempts, none of which count due to this being a submission match. I think the point of that was to establish to the crowd that pins don’t count, but the point was made the first couple of times and going back to it over and over just made both men look silly. Valentine sets up his dreaded shin guard and goes for the Figure Four, but Garvin’s shin guard offsets it and he no sells the hold, making silly faces for additional effect.
Valentine goes to a Canadian Back Breaker next, but Garvin doesn’t tap, so he releases the hold and drops and elbow instead. Garvin kicks Valentine away on another Figure Four attempt and unloads with some stinging open hand slaps to the chest. My word, some of these strikes from Garvin are absolutely brutal. After slapping Valentine silly, Garvin goes to an Indian Deathlock for the submission attempt, but Valentine makes the ropes to break the hold.
Both men brawl to the outside, where they chop the life force out of one another in yet another brutal display of manly toughness. Garvin actually goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Valentine back body drops his way out of that, possibly saving his very life in the process. Back inside, Garvin finds himself tied up in the Tree of Woe, which allows Valentine to get some free shots in.
Both men eventually knock heads for the double down, which allows Jimmy Hart to steal Garvin’s shin guard. With the shin guard now removed, Valentine is able to lock in the Figure Four for real this time, but Garvin bravely holds on and is able to roll over to switch the pressure, which causes Valentine to grab the ropes. Valentine kicks away at Garvin’s leg and goes for another Figure Four, but Garvin is able to fight him off this time.
Valentine decides to uncharacteristically head up top, but Garvin throws him off, before removing his dastardly shin guard to a huge pop from the crowd. And now, because we have a level playing field, Garvin can finally get his revenge, because wrestling is the ultimate morality play. Garvin hits Valentine with his own shin guard and then locks in a Scorpion Deathlock to pick up the win.
WINNER VIA SUBMISSION: RONNIE GARVIN
This was an ultra-stiff fight between two men who weren’t afraid to lay it in, and it was very enjoyable as consequence. The storyline of the shin guards was well told and it got the expected reaction from the crowd when Valentine’s evil schemes were finally vanquished. The stuff with the pin fall attempts got a bit silly, but that’s the only criticism I’d have for this.
Mr. Perfect is with Mean Gene. He says that Brutus Beefcake got what he deserved and that he’ll win the Rumble tonight as he pulled the “Perfect number”.
Next we get the Brother Love Show with Sensational Sherri and Sapphire.
“Queen” Sherri was currently “Macho King” Randy Savages valet at the time of this show, so she teams up with fellow heel Brother Love to make fun of Sapphire and just generally stroke each other’s egos’. Sapphire, Dusty Rhodes’s spunky working class valet, joins the show, and promptly gets insulted further by the nasty heels. They call her a “peasant” and won’t even let her speak. They also make fun of her man Dusty Rhodes, with the usual jabs at his size. Sapphire finally snaps and slaps Sherri in the face. Savage and Dusty both run down and start brawling, which brings down a host of officials to come and split them up. Dusty starts slowly stalking Brother Love and then finally gives him a beating to a great reaction from the crowd. This was a decent segment that popped the crowd and also set up the feud between Savage and Rhodes for WrestleMania season.
Meanwhile, Sean Mooney is with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who says that he isn’t afraid of the Big Bossman.
Big Bossman w/ Slick Vs “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
Bossman was still a heel at this stage, but he would eventually turn face in time for a WrestleMania VI match with former tag team partner Akeem. Both men lock up to start, but it soon descends into a total slugfest, which Duggan gains the better of by sending Bossman outside. The brawl continues outside, with Bossman sending Duggan into the ring post. Bossman gets sent into the ring steps, at which point the fight spills back into the ring.
Bossman slugs away and floors Duggan with an enzuiguri, as you can tell both have got their working boots on tonight. Bossman takes over for a bit, but Duggan no sells some offence and starts fighting back. Bossman catches him with an Axe Handle though and takes over again. Slick gets some cheap shots in and Bossman goes to a neck wrench. Duggan attempts another comeback, but Bossman gets a knee to the gut to put a stop to that.
Bossman tries to wear his opponent down with a bear hug, but Duggan fights out with some head butts and then grabs the ropes to break. Bossman has been demolishing Duggan here with little difficulty. Duggan finally gets back in the match with some right hands and sends Bossman outside with a clothesline. Duggan gets a 10 punch in the corner, but misses a clothesline and ends up on the receiving end of one from Bossman. Bossman heads up top for a big splash, but Duggan moves. Slick tries to get involved to help his client, but that goes awry so Bossman just uses the nightstick for a DQ instead.
WINNER: JIM DUGGAN BY DISQUALIFICATION
I was really getting into the brawl there, so it’s a shame they had to go to such a cheap ending. However, with a face turn just around the corner, I can see why they didn’t want Bossman to take a clean loss here. Duggan goes to the Crocodile Dundee technique of scaring his weapon wielding foe away with an even bigger one of his own by grabbing his 2X4. Bossman and Slick decide to flee rather than deal with a fully tooled up Hacksaw.
We get the usual Royal Rumble medley of interviews from the competitors, whilst Sean Mooney ventures amongst the great unwashed to ask them who they think will win the match tonight.
Royal Rumble Match
Competitors to be listed as the match progresses
Entrant #1 is Ted Dibiase
Entrant #2 is Koko B Ware
So Dibiase’s displeasure was well merited, as he’s gone from being #30 last year to being #1 this year. Oh the cruel hands of fate!! Dibiase dominates Koko to start but Koko no sells being sent face first into the turnbuckle and mounts a comeback. However, this all ends up being for nought, as Dibiase rallies to send him out.
Dibiase dumps Koko (1)
Entrant #3 is Marty Jannetty
Marty takes it to Dibiase but runs into a raised boot. Marty of course works in the back flip sell on a clothesline, because no Marty Jannetty match is official without it. Marty mounts a comeback on Dibiase, but he misses a cross body and tumbles out to leave Dibiase alone again
Marty Jannetty eliminates himself
Entrant #4 is Jake Roberts
Jake and Dibiase were feuding at the time, so the crowd is pumped for this showdown. The fight quickly spills outside where, Dibiase slams Jake on the floor. Jake sends Dibiase face first into the ring post and then puts him back inside for the DDT, but Dibiase is able to counter it.
Entrant #5 is Randy Savage
Savage and Dibiase start double teaming Roberts, tying him up in the ropes and peppering him with shots.
Entrant #6 is Roddy Piper
Piper is a casa del feugo, as he annihilates both of the heels before untying Jake. Why the devious Piper wouldn’t use this opportunity to also stick it to a helpless Jake is never explained, especially as it is every man for himself. Everyone pairs off, with Roberts and Dibiase fighting in one corner whilst Piper and Savage fight in the other. Savage nearly dumps Piper, which causes the crowd to gasp in horror.
Entrant #7 is The Warlord
Warlord hammers away on everyone but Piper is able to somehow fend him off. Savage and Dibiase team up to try and dump Jake, who desperately hangs on until Piper can make the save again.
Entrant #8 is Bret Hart
We get a 3 on 3 battle now, as the faces and heels team up together. Piper and Bret team up for a double clothesline on Warlord to a big pop from the crowd. Piper tries to dump the big man, but that ends up being a lost cause. Bret tries dumping Savage but he hangs on. Jake tries to dump Dibiase, but to no avail.
Entrant #9 is Bad News Brown
Bad News goes right for Bret, as Jake attempts a DDT on Dibiase once again. However, going for the DDT on Dibiase leaves Jake wide open to a clothesline from Savage, which sends him tumbling over the top for the elimination. I remember that happening a lot to Jake in Rumble’s actually.
Savage dumps Roberts (1)
Entrant #10 is Dusty Rhodes
Dusty heads right for Savage following their scrap from earlier and hammers away on him, but Bad News jumps in to stop the attack. Savage uses the chance to charge at Dusty, but the common man sees him coming and back drops him out.
Savage is eliminated by Dusty (1)
Piper and Dusty now team up to try and dump The Warlord, but he manages to hold on. Dibiase and Dusty start fighting in the corner as Piper keeps trying to get Warlord out. He just will not let that go will he?
Entrant #11 is Andre The Giant
Andre goes right for Warlord and dumps him with ease. Poor Piper must be heartbroken. He’s spent the better part of 8 minutes trying to get Warlord out and Andre does it with zero effort the minute he comes in. You monster Andre, Piper has feelings too you know!!
Andre dumps Warlord (1)
Mr. Fuji (Warlord) and Bobby Heenan (Andre) argue at ringside over their men battling, whilst Andre flattens Dusty and Piper in the corner. Dusty and Piper team up on Andre, but he swats them away to put a stop to that. Meanwhile, Bad News and Dibiase team up on Bret.
Entrant #12 is The Red Rooster
Piper and Bad News fight with Piper managing to eliminate Brown. Ever the sore loser however, Bad News pulls Piper out to start that WrestleMania instafeud and the two men brawl to the back.
Piper eliminates Bad News (1), only for Bad News to pull him out in turn (1)
Dusty tries to dump Dibiase, but Virgil earns his pay for the evening by making the save.
Entrant #13 is Demolition Ax
Andre gets another elimination to his name by ending Rooster’s night.
Andre dumps Red Rooster (2)
Ax goes right for Andre and beats him down in revenge for Andre and Haku winning the tag team titles from Demolition. Bret and Dusty try to throw Dibiase out, but manages to desperately cling on. Dusty and Ax tie Andre up in the ropes and club away on him.
Entrant #14 is Haku
Haku’s first port of call is to come in and assist his partner Andre. Dibiase and Bret are having a great scuffle in the corner during all of this. Hey, maybe they should let those two have a singles match at some point and put it on a Bret Hart compilation in the mid 00’s? That would be awesome. Everyone pairs off, with Dusty fighting Haku whilst Ax and Andre go at it, with Ax holding his own quite well.
Entrant #15 is Demolition Smash
Demolition team up and take it to The Colossal Connection, whilst Dusty and Bret team up on Dibiase. No one is eliminated.
Entrant #16 is Akeem
I still don’t get why they had to do away with the perfectly serviceable One Man Gang gimmick, especially as he actually looked menacing as OMG. As Akeem, he looked like a giant Faberge Egg doing battle in there. It wasn’t an especially intimidating look. Anyway, Akeem goes right for Andre, obviously wanting to be the only big guy in the match, but then changes his mind and starts attacking Bret. Andre has been weakened however, and this allows Demolition eliminate him to a big pop. Well, that set up WrestleMania VI’s tag title match nicely! It’s amazing to see such tight booking on display here, as you just don’t get this sort of clear and reasonable storytelling in WWE any more.
Demolition dump Andre (1 and 1)
During the commotion, Bret Hart also gets eliminated, but I couldn’t see who did the deed due to the camera focusing on Andre and the commentators never care to mention who it was. *Insert joke about Julie here*
Entrant #17 is Jimmy Snuka
Demolition try to dump Haku for Colossal Connection bingo, whilst Snuka throws out Akeem. Pretty lousy showing from Akeem there, as you could start to sense that he wasn’t long for the promotion. Indeed, once his feud with Bossman was over, he was pretty much gone.
Snuka eliminates Akeem (1)
Everyone sort of wanders around at this point hitting random people. Every Rumble has a slow portion I guess.
Entrant #18 is Dino Bravo
Dino attacks Haku and tries to dump him, but Snuka decides to save his island brethren, despite them being on opposite sides of the Face/Heel divide. Deary me, Snuka should have hung em up after 87 shouldn’t he? The man was practically useless after the Piper run. Demolition try to get Dibiase out but he bites, kicks and scratches his way to safety in an excellent bit of heel chicanery.
Entrant #19 is Earthquake
Earthquake goes right for Dusty and flings him over the top
Earthquake eliminates Dusty (1)
Ax goes after Earthquake next, but that goes badly for him
Earthquake dumps Ax (2)
Earthquake hammers away on anyone stupid enough to go near him, as you could see the seeds being sown for his eventual monster heel push later in the year.
Entrant #20 is Jim Neidhart
Neidhart, Smash and Haku try to triple team Earthquake, but he holds on so everyone else in the ring helps as well and they finally manage to eliminate him.
Earthquake is eliminated by Neidhart, Smash, Haku, Dibiase and Snuka (1, 2, 1, 2, 1)
Entrant #21 is Ultimate Warrior
BIG reaction for Warrior, as he hammers away on Bravo and dumps him with ease
Warrior eliminates Bravo (1)
Haku and Snuka double team Warrior next, but he swats them aside before teeing off on Smash in the corner.
Entrant #22 is Rick Martel
Smash goes right to work on Martel, but gets sent into the turnbuckle by The Model. Meanwhile, Haku sends Smash out to continue the build for WrestleMania.
Haku eliminates Smash (2)
Warrior and Dibiase start fighting, with Warrior gaining the upper hand.
Entrant #23 is Tito Santana
Tito and Martel renew their old rivalry, with Tito getting the better of things. Martel begins a Rumble tradition by finding as many ways to look like he’s going out without actually being eliminated. He’s probably still my favourite person to do that spot actually, he was excellent at it. Dibiase, who must be gasping for a pint now considering how long he’s been in this, drops Snuka with a piledriver.
Entrant #24 is Honky Tonk Man
Honky and Dibiase double team Warrior but he fights them off, only to then team up with Dibiase to send Neidhart to the showers
Neidhart is eliminated by Dibiase and Warrior (3 and 2)
Soon after that Warrior finally ends Dibiase’s night, after a very commendable 45 minutes from the Million Dollar Man.
Warrior (3) eliminates Dibiase
Haku and Martel try to dump Tito but he fights back and tries to dump Martel.
Entrant #25 is Hulk Hogan
Hogan quickly sends the island boys out in record time.
Hogan (2) dumps Snuka and Haku
Martel and Tito continue fighting but Warrior sneaks up and dumps Tito out
Warrior eliminates Tito (4)
Warrior and Martel fight whilst Hogan and Honky pair up.
Entrant #26 is Shawn Michaels to a huge reaction
Hogan dumps Honky Tonk (3)
Warrior dumps Michaels and Martel (6)
So this leaves us with just Hogan and Warrior, and the whole crowd is just losing their minds at the possibility of these two babyface titans locking horns. After a brief skirmish, a double clothesline sends both men to the mat, as the crowd is torn over who to root for. Thus, the ground was laid for WrestleMania VI, as the WWF saw the reaction for this minor scrap and decided to go with it as the main event.
Entrant #27 is Barbarian
Barbarian clubs away on both Hogan and Warrior as Rick Rude also comes down to the ring before he is officially entered in the match.
Entrant #28 is Rick Rude
Rude and Barbarian try to dump Hogan, but Warrior makes the save and pounds away on Rude. I guess Rude is officially in now as the referees are allowing him to compete. Rude and Barbarian try to dump Warrior but Hogan comes over with a double clothesline. However, the force of the clothesline causes Warrior to fly out of the ring, thus bringing an end to the battle with Hogan. For now…
Hogan eliminates Warrior (4)
Warrior takes out Rude and Barbarian before leaving
Entrant #29 is Hercules
Third Mega Power Hercules teams up with Hogan to even the odds and pair up with Rude and Barbarian respectively. Hogan gets the Axe Bomber on Barbarian and walks over to start pounding on Rude.
Entrant #30 is Mr. Perfect
Hey, he really did have the perfect number! Perfect goes straight for Hogan, who he was feuding with at the time, whilst Hercules puts Barbarian out.
Hercules dumps Barbarian (1)
This leaves us with a Final Four of Hercules, Hogan, Perfect and Rude. Hercules seems a big out of place in that company, and indeed Perfect sends him out pretty quickly with a dropkick
Perfect dropkicks Hercules over the top to eliminate him (1)
So Hogan is now left 1 against 2 with the naughty villains, and he gets worked over as the fans try to get behind him. Heel miscommunication leads to Rude hitting Perfect, but Perfect only goes through the ropes as opposed to over them. Hogan whips Rude to the ropes, but Perfect pulls the ropes down, which sends Rude tumbling out.
Mr. Perfect eliminates Rick Rude (2)
Hogan brings Perfect into the ring and starts pummelling him from pillar to post. However, Perfect fights back and actually manages to hit Hogan with the Perfect Plex. This ends up being a bad idea however, as Hogan pops up and begins the Hulk Up™ routine. Hogan sends Perfect into the ring post and unloads with some clotheslines, before finally putting Perfect out of his misery to win the match
Hogan eliminates Perfect (5)
WINNER: HULK HOGAN
I know a few people are generally annoyed that Hogan won this instead of Perfect, but considering the Mania main event was going to be Hogan Vs Warrior, one of them realistically had to win here. Perfect was already clearly on his way to a feud with Beefcake anyway, so winning the Rumble wouldn’t have really made sense. Why would you waste the Rumble winner on a mid card feud when you could have him in the main event? You could argue that Perfect could have won and faced Hogan for the title at Mania, but considering how great Hogan/Warrior ended up being, that wouldn’t have been the best idea. The Rumble match itself was really good and set up a lot of the programs for WrestleMania VI, whilst also providing fun action along the way. Definitely one of the better Rumble matches overall.
I would personally say that I enjoy the 1991 and 1992 Rumble shows more than this one, just because the cards are generally better overall. That being said, this was an enjoyable watch overall, thanks to a solid undercard and an excellent main event. Only really the opener was actively bad, with the rest of the card being passable to excellent. Duggan Vs Bossman in particular was WAY better than I ever imagined it could be, with both men being motivated and leaving it all in the ring.
I would definitely recommend this show. The Rumble match is in the top tier of Rumble matches, and it does an excellent job of setting the table for WrestleMania VI, which is one of my favourite early Mania events.
Looking for other great content here on the site? Well then why not take the goosey gander at the following?
Head honcho Scott Keith has reviewed another classic edition of WWF Smackdown from 2000, this one featuring Rikishi’s first foray into the top of the card with a match with Triple H. You can read what he thought by clicking right HERE.
The Blog of Doom’s local gregarious Geordie, Maffew, has looked at another episode of ECW on Sci-Fi. Witty banter and joyful GIFs are just a click away right HERE.
And finally, Thomas Hall has continued the long slog through 2004 era Smackdown. You can read his recap of the show from the 29th of July 2004 by clicking right HERE.
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a safe and pleasant New Year!