Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (1990)

The 1990 Rumble offered a chance to elevate a new top heel, but they didn't take it....

Royal Rumble 1990 - Orlando Arena - 1/21/90

Here's where they started to solidify the format of the Rumble PPVs.  The 1990 edition was the first show that felt like a full PPV lineup at least.  The roster was deep enough for four undercard matches plus a pretty stacked Rumble bout.  Nothing on this show was exactly good and the ending pissed me off to no end, but at least they were ironing out the format kinks.

The opening match was a rematch from 'Mania V which wasn't any good the first time - The Bushwhackers vs. The Rougeaus.  The difference here was these two teams were given over thirteen minutes.  Yikes.  I don't think Butch and Luke ever had a good WWF match, which was a shame given their pre-WWF body of work as sadistic heels.  The Rougeaus had this match in hand as Raymond put Butch in a Boston Crab to set up Jacques' knee drop, but Luke tripped Jacques and the Bushwhackers hit their battering ram finish for the win.

Next was Brutus Beefcake vs. "The Genius" Lanny Poffo, eleven minutes of nondescript brawling ending in a wacky double disqualification after a ref bump.  Beefcake had the match won but Mr. Perfect came out to help Poffo, hitting Beefcake with a Perfect-Plex (which doesn't make sense unless you're trying to pin someone with it).  The ref woke up and threw the match out amid the chaos.  Not much to write home about here either.

The one strong undercard match was third, as Greg Valentine and Ronnie Garvin faced off in a Submission match.  This was better than it really had any right to be.  About sixteen minutes of solid work, featuring a lot of submission moves and counters, with Garvin eventually getting the win after hitting Valentine with his own shin guard and submitting him with the Scorpion Deathlock.  Strangely Garvin was gone from the company not long after.

Ah, the ol' Figure Four Rollover.

Fourth was another forgettable encounter - Jim Duggan vs. The Big Bossman.  Ten minutes of tedious brawling ending in a DQ when Slick tossed Bossman his nightstick and the referee saw him use it on Duggan.  Duggan was long since irrelevant by this point.
The 1990 Rumble match boasted the deepest field of talent thus far and featured several respectable longevity stints, with the standout being Ted Dibiase's 44-plus minutes.  This match was really all about planting the seeds for Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania, and sure enough those two came to blows for the first time ever.  After nearly 59 minutes WWF Champion Hogan eliminated Rick Rude and Mr. Perfect to win the Rumble.  This struck me as a missed opportunity to elevate a rising heel star, however.  Since Hogan and Perfect were in the midst of a mini-feud I would've given Perfect the win here (as I believe was the plan until Terry decided just being WWF Champion wasn't enough).  Having Hogan win the Rumble only solidified him as being in a different league than everyone else, which usually makes for a pretty boring Title run.  Lame ending aside this was probably the best Rumble match to date.

I mean look at his hair for Chrissake.  Why was the skullet ever acceptable?

Participants: Ted Dibiase, Koko B. Ware, Marty Janetty, Jake Roberts, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Warlord, Bret Hart, Bad News Brown, Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, Red Rooster, Ax, Haku, Smash, Akeem, Jimmy Snuka, Dino Bravo, Earthquake, Jim Neidhart, Ultimate Warrior, Rick Martel, Tito Santana, Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Barbarian, Rick Rude, Hercules, Mr. Perfect
Final FourHulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Hercules
Long Man: Ted Dibiase (44:47)

As with every 1990 WWF PPV this was far from great.  But the company was slowly figuring out the best format for a Rumble PPV, as far as presenting a decent undercard as well as a strong Rumble field.  Just like the previous year's Survivor Series, this didn't really elevate anyone except Hogan, but it set the stage for the big Hogan-Warrior match.

Best Match: Rumble match
Worst Match: Bushwhackers vs. Rougeaus
What I'd Change: As I said, Perfect should've won the Rumble to set him up as a top heel challenger for both Hogan and Warrior.
Most Disappointing Match: Just the ending of the Rumble.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Garvin vs. Valentine
Overall Rating: 4.5/10
Better than WrestleMania VI, SummerSlam '90 and/or Survivor Series 1990? - Yes, no, and probably.


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