February 7, 2024

WWF Royal Rumble 1989 (1.15.89) review 

WWF Royal Rumble 1989 (1.15.89) review 


January 15, 1989  


We’re in Houston, Texas at the Summit. It shows WWF’s universal appeal across the USA that they’ve selected a location in the south for one of their biggest shows of the year. Drawing 19,000 for this second Royal Rumble. It’s the first one on PPV and they’ve drawn a 1.5 rating for it. Which is not great and far fewer people will watch this than the 1988 version, which aired on TV. Which is better; doing massive TV ratings and therefore selling mega ad space or running PPV and selling direct to your buyers? WWF ended up going the PPV route and it’s all I ever knew, before the invention of the Network.  

Hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura. Three undercard matches tonight including the returning women’s title and finally the Rumble match itself. Vince decides to reel off everyone that’s in the Rumble match. He sounds like an asshole. Oh, and we’ve also got a “Super Posedown”, which I am not watching. I’ve seen it several times. I’m not watching it again.  


Two Out of Three Falls 

Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo vs. Hart Foundation & Jim Duggan 

Hacksaw won the Rumble last year but won’t be appearing this year. The Harts have their iconic “duh, duh-duh-DUH” music, which Bret would go on to use as a singles wrestler. Dino Bravo gets big reactions for his stuff, but he sucks. He telegraphs everything. Duggan isn’t much better. In all honesty, Bret has his work cut out to make this worthwhile at all. Bret’s smooth technical work is joyous compared to the other smashmouth crap.  


Hey, I like brawling, but it must look good. Bad wrestling is bad wrestling. The good news is that even the goofy shit is over and the crowd love this match. Rougeaus whoopie cushion Bret for 1-0 after he’d already taken Bravo’s sideslam.  

Bret continues to take abuse into fall #2 but he’s more fun on offence, despite his capable selling. The crowd chants “USA” to support Bret, who is Canadian. Ventura agrees with me that they’re stupid for doing so. They run heat on Bret for waaay too long. The crowd gets bored. Joey Marella loses control and gets berated for it by his dad. Duggan gets a hot tag and a quick pin but not after slingshotting Bret in and dropping the poor bastard on his head. 1-1.  


Ventura calls out Duggan for having “a peanut for a brain” after he tries to attack everyone and gets caught in the heel corner. Bravo, equally stupid, lets Bret tag in. Duggan blindsides Dino and Bret gets the winning pin. This was long and sloppy. Bret Hart was a clear stand-out in all respects. I thought Jacques was ok, in support. ** 


Video Control gives us clips of wrestler’s drawing numbers earlier. Ted DiBiase draws a very low number and buys one off Slick.  


WWF Women’s Championship 

Rockin’ Robin (c) vs. Judy Martin 

Oh, dear lord, the Rockin’ Robin era. Sherri held the belt for over a year, but you wouldn’t know because she barely made TV and had to dress up as the Honky Tonk Man’s girlfriend “Peggy Sue”. Robin was so bad they gave up on the ENTIRE DIVISION for four years. Judy Martin has always been passable, but Robin can’t do much. Her elbow strikes in the corner are garbage. Nobody cares. They wrestle to absolute silence. Gorilla calls Martin “lethargic”, which is code for “she doesn’t give a shit”.  


Judy’s job was to try and make Robin serviceable and she tried for six months and failed. Robin is the shoot half-sister of Jake Roberts so pulls out something vaguely resembling a DDT. Robin wins with a crossbody. This was bad but I’ve seen worse. *. You can kiss this title goodbye as Robin would be reduced to the Largo Loop (or 1989 equivalent) with Judy Martin until working Fabulous Moolah in November in a 30 minute draw, which had to be some sort of rib. Rockin Robin then got released and the belt was quietly vacated and left in a cupboard somewhere in Stamford until the arrival of Alundra Blayze in 1993.  


We stop off to plug WrestleMania V, which is coming on April 2, 1989. At this point there’s no card and because it’s pre-1992 we don’t even have a title contender after tonight. Sean Mooney grasses on Slick, showing video of him selling one of the Twin Towers spots to Ted DiBiase. Seeing as Bossman and Akeem come into the Rumble in the early 20’s it’s tough to know what number DiBiase drew that was so bad he needed to buy another one.  


Super Posedown 

Yeah, no. This is fifteen minutes of Warrior and Rude posing, leading to Rude bashing Warrior with his little chest expander gimmick.  

This would set up Rude vs. Warrior at WrestleMania and beyond. Rude’s job, like Judy Martin, was to teach Warrior how to work. Warrior recovers and cleans out all the staff members who came out to help him. Nick Bockwinkel takes a sick back bump. They should have had him teach Warrior how to work.  


King Haku vs. Harley Race 

Story here; Race was “the King” but got injured and Haku won the Kingship in his absence. Now his sovereignty is in dispute.  

Race is finished in the WWF at this point, and this is, in fact, his final match before heading back to WCW by way of All Japan. Considering Race has very few matches left on his bump clock, he’s in decent shape. This is heel-heel, but the Race is defacto babyface. As with the last match no one cares either way. Haku, legit tough guy, is very rarely worth watching. He’s dull and works soft. Race isn’t happy about it and they start potatoing each other. Haku headbutts Race in the face and makes contact.  


Overall, the match plods along and the crowd struggle with the heel-heel structure. Texas needs babyfaces. Should of hired one of them Von Erich boys! We plod some more until Haku superkicks Race on the nose for the win. The crowd goes mild! The match had some decent elements where they stiffed each other but the rest of it was sluggish and drab. Race is done here, sadly, but his body had given up on him. Poor bastard. **¼ because of the stiffness.  


Royal Rumble Match 

Two big changes over last year. We’ve switched from 20 to 30 participants to beef it up a bit and we’re really pushing the “every man for himself” aspect of the Rumble. Double reinforced by putting on a heel-heel match right beforehand. Greg Valentine triple reinforces this by saying he can’t trust Jimmy Hart or Honky Tonk Man, just himself. He looks like someone put a wig on a side of gammon.  

In all we get some 6-7 minutes of promos before the match. Hogan concludes by referring to himself as “the champ”. Hey, I’m sure the perfectly sane Randy Savage will enjoy hearing that. Here comes the Ax and here’s comes the Smasher. They’re #1 and #2 in the Rumble match-ah. They fight each other because it’s EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF. Well, this is news to me. If only someone had mentioned it beforehand. #3 is Andre, which causes a lot of murmuring in the crowd. Good lord, he’s fallen apart since 1988. He’s really finished now. It’s staggering they got another year out of him. #4 is former AWA champion Mr Perfect. #5 is former NWA champion Ronnie Garvin.  


So far, the story is Andre vs everyone. #6 is Greg Valentine, which is ideal because it takes him 15 minutes to get warmed up. #7 is Jake Roberts and the rivalry between the Snake and Andre comes to the forefront. Andre beats Jake up the whole time he’s in there and hurls him out.  

#8 is Ron Bass. #9 is Shawn Michaels to one of the girliest pops I’ve ever heard. Shawn and Perfect start trying to one-up each other on the near eliminations. Shawn is clearly already an elite bumper. #10 is Bushwhacker Butch and Jake runs back out with Damian, so Andre climbs out and heads to the back. “I ain’t going near that fuckin’ snake boss”. That concludes the opening ‘Andre segment’. While Andre did ok as a focal point he was clearly broken down by 1989 and would soon be hidden away in tags.  


#11 is Honky Tonk Man. He pairs up with Perfect is a glorious display of overselling. #12 is Tito Santana. This is clearly becoming the ‘workrate segment’. #13 is Bad News Brown. Hey, it’s EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF so he’ll be in his element. #14 is Marty Jannetty. Ron Bass absolutely refuses to allow him even a second of shine. Shawn dropkicks him out as revenge. #15 is the WWF Champion Randy Savage. He’s not the only WWF champion to compete in this thing (remember Roman Reigns? Also, Hulk Hogan is in it next year) but it is a pretty exclusive list. 


Given the flat nature of the ‘workrate segment’ the arrival of Savage gives us the start of the ‘Megapowers segment’ and it is suddenly heated. #16 is Arn Anderson. The Rockers and Brainbusters had a thing in 1989, which was marvellous, and that creates an interesting dynamic where Savage helps Arn throw Shawn out. Perfect fucks up and gets in the way of an Irish whip but does a phenomenal job of selling it. #17 is Tully Blanchard. There’s a lot of really talented guys out there so they improvise a lot of good scrapping. There’s almost no rope hugging. It’s awesome watching them wait for the space to work into and then hit spots after the middle of the ring gets free. #18 is Hulk Hogan.  


Interesting they don’t play his music. He throws Perfect straight out, after Hennig had established a new record for longevity (27:58 if were interested). #19 is Bushwhacker Luke. Hogan dumps Tully on the ropes in a vicious spot, followed immediately by Bad News stiffing Savage with a clothesline. Megapowers receiving potatoes. #20 is Koko B. Ware.  


Hogan decides to clear things out a bit. Get rid of the ham and eggers. #21 is Warlord. As he enters there’s only Hogan, Brown and Savage in the and ring and Hogan swats Warlord right out. He chucks Brown out but he’s grappling Savage on the ropes and they both go out! RANDY IS HOT! THE MEGAPOWERS ABOUT TO EXPLODE!  

Gorilla manages to blame Savage for Hogan throwing him out. I don’t understand that logic.  

Savage eventually decides to be the bigger man and shakes Hogan’s hand, thus endorsing him to go on and win this thing. #22 is Big Bossman. This is Slick’s first guy so that means DiBiase was mad he drew #22? What a weirdo. Gorilla claims Hogan has been in here for 30:00. Try 10:00 you daft old fucker. #23 is Akeem, leaving Hogan on his own against the Twin Towers. Oh hey, if only he had an ally in this match who could help him out? Maybe he shouldn’t have thrown Randy out the massive egomaniac. Hogan gets dumped out and like the asshole he is, goes after Bossman, who just beat him fair and square. #24 is Brutus Beefcake, the big stooge, who goes to help Hogan out. Ventura chews him out in fabulous fashion. #25 is Terry Taylor.  


Akeem, Rooster and Beefcake. We’re into the dregs. There’s still 22 minutes left. #26 is Barbarian. We have now resorted to rope hugging because everyone sucks. #27 is John Studd, returning to the WWF after a couple of years out of the business. He enters to no reaction at all, which should have been a warning to the WWF that they’d fucked this match up. #28 is Hercules. #29 is Rick Martel and #30 is, surprise, surprise, Ted DiBiase.  


The ending of this match demonstrates the lack of star power in the WWF outside of their top stars. Hogan, Savage, Andre and, at a push, Jake Roberts, Warrior and Rude. No one else in this company is over to that standard. The end of this match is dead. No one is over. Nobody cares who wins. DiBiase does a fine job of making sure the crowd cares about him not winning. Which is why he should have won this thing. We continue to plod on aimlessly. There’s no energy. There’s no intensity.  



Ted DiBiase, Akeem, John Studd and Rick Martel. Still no excitement here. Studd and Akeem have been hugging in the corner for quarter of a fucking hour. Akeem chucks Martel out and this might be the most quiet the crowd has even been for a Royal Rumble. Maybe for a WWF main event in the entire decade.  

We finish with Studd beating up DiBiase for ages. I was always told this win was a ‘lifetime achievement’ kinda deal for Studd. Like a ‘thanks for drawing us loads of money’ win. They proceeded to do NOTHING with him and he retired again. Quite the ending to a bad match. **  


The 411: 

So, hey, this is not good. The Rumble match is still developing, and the talent/spots are not well spread out throughout the match. If you have a bad Rumble, it kills your chance of having a good show overall. There’s way too many dead spots and it’s one of my least favourite Rumbles. The Hogan-Savage stuff is gold but that’s about it. The rest of the card is completely forgettable, and you have that Super Posedown eating up time too.  

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