Sunday, January 17, 2016

WWF Royal Rumble 1992

Time to hop back into the wayback playback machine for the '92 Rumble. I've seen the Rumble a bunch, but haven't seen the whole show since probably '94 when my tape got all wonky. In seeing the opening shot, this appears to be the image used for the WWF Royal Rumble game on the SNES and Genesis. It's amusing to see the octagon graphics used for this show given that UFC would be around a year later. The Orient Express is out - and it's Badd Company with Paul Diamond under the hood. They talk about the Pepper angle being a reference to Mr. Fuji doing that same thing to someone. They're against the New Foundation, who are dressed like 1992.
Lots of basic arm work to start before Owen gets a nice bridging sequence in with Diamond. Neidhart bowls him over and we get Jim vs. Tanaka. Nice bit when Owen comes in where he holds Tanaka's arm down for a cover with his knee - you don't see that often. Tanaka takes his great backdrop bump for Owen. I like Jim coming and bumping on his stomach for his shoulder tackle in the corner - makes it look more devastating. Rocket Launcher onto both Express members by Owen. Nice superkick by Diamond gets 2 on Owen. Amusing bit where Owen is in the corner with Tanaka and Fuji keeps hitting him on the ass with his cane. Crucifix gets 2. Tanaka's thrust kick looks gorgeous. AMAZING flying crosschop by him as well - he took a bigger bump for that than Neidhart has taken his whole career. Very loose bulldog facebuster by Owen gives him some hope for a tag. He gets it, but the ref didn't see - so SINCE THERE ARE RULES, Jim has to go to the apron. Owen lands his slick belly to belly, which has kind of gone out of vogue in favor of the overhead version. The red ring skirt is a nice look. They do the rope hanging body attack on Owen, who responds with a one-man double dropkick. Jim is the coldest man ever for a hot tag. Outside-in tackle by Jim. Big assisted dive to the floor by Owen and the Rocket Launcher wins.
IC Title is up next, and we see Mountie pinning Bret due to the "104 degree fever". Mountie puts the boots to him and Piper saves him. Piper is super-cut and lean and in his best cosmetic shape ever here. Mountie cuts a promo on Piper. We hear from Jim Valley about how Jacques still does shows and makes good money because he gets sponsors and they're sold shows. Piper cuts a less crazy than usual promo here, and this look is one of his best - good hair and he looks great. Piper gets a wet dream reference in here.

Apparently, Mountie's theme was inspired by Twin Peaks and we hear about the mountie controversy over this gimmick. Piper starts this off hot by just kicking the shit out of him. Mountie's bald spot is emerging here. Great bit where Mountie does two leapfrogs and drops for a monkey flip - but Piper sees him and fist drops him. Sloppy bulldog by Piper. Moe Howard eye poke. Piper misses a sloppy dropkick. Great move by the Mountie giving him a half nelson before slamming his head into the buckle. Mountie gets an outside-in sunset flip for 2. Big punch to the gut off the ropes leads to a big flip bump. MOUNTIE SKINS THE CAT! Big sleeper by Piper gets the win and his first title in the WWF. Piper gets the cattle prod and shocks him complete with wacky sound effects.
Alfred Hayes is in front of a door with "Hulk" in black text on a white sheet of paper. Hogan is ACTUALLY IN THIS DRESSING ROOM and he cuts a promo. Bushwhackers are with Jamison. Oh yay. I still can't tell Luke and Butch apart, but one of them lacks about a dozen front teeth. Beverly Brothers are out and boy does this gimmick reek of undercard team. I blame the silly capes and the giant star gear. Bushwhackers are relatively ripped here. We get the stomp, some punches, head bites, ass bites. Lots and lots of stalling. According to Jim Valley, the Beverly Brothers were inspired by the Valiant Brothers...and boy did that not work out for them at all. Well, one team was booked well and the other team is the Beverly Brothers. The heels try to outsmart them, but THE BEVERLYS GET OUTSMARTED BY THE BUSHWHACKERS. Wacky Popeye double eye poke on the floor to Beau. Top rope hanging double sledge by the Beverlys. A BUSHWHACKER TAKES A BUMP. I'm astonished. Beau gets a neckbreaker for 2. Big flip bump by a Beverly for a lariat. Flying standing headbutt gets 2. A double sledge off the top kinda wins with a 2.9 save.  The babyfaces celebrate. I love Pat's description of him as a staple of Prime Time who was around for reasons no one could fathom.
LOD promo. Animal looks like quite the badass and his book is fantastic, too. Hawk has NO MUSTACHE and looks slightly odd. Natural Disasters are out with Jimmy Hart as their manager. Quake's double bicep pose never fails to amuse me. LOD have the best version of the WWF tag title matches ever - nice rich gold coloring for them too. Dueling shoulder blocks here. Hawk takes Typhoon down with a flying one off the top. Hawk evades Tenta's dropkick. Great punch exchange by Animal and Quake. Animal is damn near sprinting around here - it's amazing. Slam on Tenta backfires on Animal and Quake tosses Typhoon into the corner onto Animal. Typhoon catches Hawk off the bodypress and lands a backbreaker. Valley says that they were going to do this match as a street fight at Mania, but Hawk was suspended for drugs. Typhoon lands the running "jumping" body attack against the ropes. Hawk jumps into a bearhug. Quake body humps Hawk in the corner and walks on his belly. Bearhug by Quake. Hawk was great as a babyface in peril here. Hawk backflips out of a sloppy double back suplex attempt and a brawl breaks out. It's bedlam and I smell a double DQ/no contest coming. Yup. Disasters grab the gold and Hawk chairshots them to death. We go to the world's smallest locker room with STEAM ROOM AND SHOWERS on a door behind them.
Piper does a great promo with Gene and talks about wanting Flair - who he just finished a feud with. Barbarian walks by Mooney, while HBK comes out of the steam room in his full getup. We get a replay of the great Rockers breakup. "Cool" HBK with the mullet kinda works. Not a bad promo either. Flair and Hayes are in a Coliseum Video exclusive interview. Mean Gene is with Savage in a really yellow and purple getup. Repo Man cuts a promo. Bulldog must be on downers, because he's cutting a lucid promo. This is fairly productive filler since it does build up the Rumble match itself. There's also a touch of each character here, which you never get now. Roberts is tan, but looks saggy and old. Flair is with Hennig, in his wacky early '90s workout gear with all the neon. Flair says he's been the Real World's Champion, and tonight, he'll be the WWF Champion. Taker and Bearer promo and we hear about how Taker did evolve, while Bearer never did. Hogan is in that awful American flag shirt of his.
Fink introduces Jack Tunney, who has the WWF Title with him. Bulldog's union jack flag gear still looks good - especially the cape. Bulldog and DiBiase start and Ted gets clotheslined out. Flair's out and then we get some great Bulldog stuff with him. Sags is out and eliminated fairly quickly. Haku makes Flair beg off to the floor. Haku has an underrated piledriver - it's a thing of beauty. Flair beats up Haku a bit with a nice kneedrop. Bulldog sloppily backdrops Haku out as HBK comes out. Great jab and hook sequence to Flair and he's in his better-looking white and black gear. HBK takes a big bump over the top for a Bulldog lariat, but he lands on the apron. Superkick to Bulldog. Flair and HBK go at it in the corner. HBK puts himself in the corner so Bulldog can kick him and then he can do a split into the ropes crotch-first.
Tito's out. The El Matador gimmick was pretty bad, but the look isn't bad for him. Tito was good hear an IC gatekeeper at this time. He's also one of the few guys in this match with a good post-wrestling life, or at least post-big league life. He's led a nice life since and still works every now and then. Flying forearm to Flair! Barbarian's out. Barbarian's Conan getup is awful. He's got GIGANTIC legs though. Kerry's out in probably his last big WWF match. Flair waits for Kerry and the crowd pops for it. He punches him in the corner and the tornado punch leads to the Flair flop. God, in a year from this, Kerry would be deceased. It's amazing how much he can do with the lost foot - which you can kinda tell when he gets up as only one boot bends. Love Repo coming in and just hanging out outside the ring. The Repo Man gimmick came about because Ned Brady sent in a gimmick as The Repossesor, and WWF just tole it and gave it to Dardow.
Flair and Barb double team Kerry. Amusing bit where we get a delayed sell from a punch. Valentine RUNS OUT. He attacks Flair immediately. CHOPFEST! Apparently, Greg was married to Madusa Micelli around this time. Great low blow to Repo by Flair. Kerry and Davey can't eliminate HBK. Volkoff slowly runs down and gets on the apron and JUMPS INTO THE RING OVER THE TOP. Holy crap - agility! Barb and Repo double team him. Bossman comes down and gets a big pop. Man can he throw a great punch. Greg's gone. Repo's gone by Bossman. Flair dumps Bulldog with a backdrop - kind of nothing here given how long Bulldog was in this. Kerry's out and Bossman gets a gorgeous big boot on Barb. Bossman was pretty darn flexible. Herc is out looking pale and bloated. He lands corner body blows that could perhaps make a paper bag go inward.
Press slam to Flair by Barbarian. Herc dumps Barbarian, and boy is Herc's hair fading. Time for Bubba vs. Flair! Bossman's yet another guy who started as a jobber and made it pretty big. Bossman jumps into the rope and eliminates himself. Flair flops from exhaustion. Piper's out and we get a couple of minutes of just fantastic action. Great bit with Piper blocking a neck snap on the ropes and getting the eye poke and sleeper until Jake comes down. Shortarm lariat to Flair. Piper prevents a DDT by clotheslining Jake. Figure four to Jake USING THE ROPES. Piper breaks that up. Duggan comes out and rains down great-looking punches to Flair. Chopfest between Flair and Piper. IRS comes down to kill things a bit.
IRS rakes the back. Piper grabs the tie and punches him. It's amazing how much he does in the formal getup - it can't be too easy to move in that. Superfly is out in long gear and rainbow boots, and juiced to the motherloving gills. More corner attacks between Flair and Piper, who have such perfect chemistry here. Taker is out as number 20. Taker tosses out Snuka, who he beat to start the historic streak. Throat thrusts to Duggan with IRS holding the arms back. Taker lariats IRS out to the floor. Randy Savage darts down to try and get at Jake, but Jake bails and Taker attacks. Randy Savage with the top on looks like a bizarre ice cream cone. Double sledge to Jake, who gets tossed out. Savage jumps over the top to attack him and that eliminates him. Or not, as Taker just tosses him back in. More fun with Piper and Flair. Taker chokes away at Piper after doing a zombie sell for Piper's offense. Piper locks on a BOSTON CRAB for the first time I can recall.

The Berserker is out as 22. Duggan atomic drops Nord down. Taker and Piper choke Flair on the mat. Taker chokes Piper instead. Sloppy tree slam to Savage by Berserker. Fuck Money Virgil is out, probably asking for money from everyone between punches. Taker tries to toss Flair over and Virgil saves Piper. Col. Mustafa lumbers out slow as could be even then. Nord just awkwardly clubbers since everyone else is doing stuff. Nothing happens, so we get a wide crowd shot. Rick Martel comes out being quite lean. His physique sure did change a ton from 1990 to 1992.
Mustafa is gone somehow. Hogan comes out at 25. Hogan rakes a couple of faces - heck of a babyface. Taker and Berserker attack him. Martel is gone somehow, while IRS, Berserker and Taker triple team him in the corner. Hogan eliminates Taker. Berserker's gone. Hogan biels Martel. Hogan and Flair go at it before Skinner comes out. Piper gets his boots around Martel's head, resulting in convulsions. Axe bomber to Flair and Skinner. Sarge is out to silence. Skinner is tossed out by Martel. Sarge and Flair go at it while we get Piper vs. Hogan briefly. Sid runs down and kicks IRS. Fliar and Hogan go at it some more. Sid's nip up rules. 30 is Warlord, who is moving about as quickly as a bus with no tires. Hogan and Flair fight on the floor and Flair eats a suplex. Sid tosses out Slaughter with the big bump. Hogan boots Flair down. IRS is tossed out by the tie. Hogan and Sid take out Warlord. Sid tosses out Piper and Martel. Sid, Flair, Savage, and Hogan are the final four. Foreshadowing. Savage is eliminated by Flair. It's the Coliseum Video version, so the crowd VISIBLY CHEERS, but it sounds like boos. Flair and Hogan work together to eliminate Sid and Flair wins! Flair would become the first person to actually win the NWA and WWF World Titles, as Rogers was just awarded the belt. Hogan and Sid argue a bit and road agents including WERZEL are in there. Love the sneakers on the suit-clad agents.
Tunney is with Flair and Hennig. WITH A TEAR IN HIS EYE, Flair is the WWF Champion. This remains one of Flair's best promos ever and easily his best WWF one. This is a great fuck you to WCW stating that he now holds the only title that matters in the sport. Also, after many years - Heenan finally manages, sorta, the World Champion.This is Flair at his '90s best, and I bet they found a way to have fun in Albany that night. Not an amazing show as a whole, but the Rumble remains a classic. We get a slideshow of the event - which is kind of amazing given the time frame. This is one of the few Rumble with history really helping the match, as you got a ton of fun WCCW, Mid-Atlantic, and a bit of historic WWF stuff.

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