Classic Era Network w/ Kace: WWF Royal Rumble (1989)

The Summit in Houston is the host for the Royal Rumble as it makes its PPV debut. The previous year, the card was held on USA Network in Hamilton, Ontario, making this RR to also be the first held in the United States. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura once again team up for commentary.

For the Summit and Houston in general this was a fun time as this building was still a place worth visiting. Less than a month after this event, the Summit would host NBA All-Star Saturday with the Astrodome hosting the All-Star game itself.

The PPV card starts off with a Best of 3 falls 6-man tag bout between the team of the Rougeau Brothers and Dino Bravo and the team of the Hart Foundation and Jim Duggan. Duggan won last year’s inaugural Rumble and Hart was that Rumble’s #1 entry. For the Rougeaus, futility on the big stage continues as the HF and Duggan get the win.

Rockin’ Robin is able to successfully defend her WWF Ladies’ Championship against Judy Martin with “Sensational” Sherri Martel on hand to challenge the winner. Robin will continue to hold on to the title before departing the WWF and the title itself, along with the WWF Ladies’ Tag Team Championship being deactivated in 1990. It’ll be 10 years before the next WWF Women’s Division title match at this event.

The battle for the King’s Crown is between King Haku and the former King who was uncrowned while injured, Harley Race. Bobby Heenan, manager of both cheers both on until there’s a winner and that winner is Haku. Haku will remain King until being usurped by Jim Duggan later in the year. As for Race, this is practically his exit from the WWF. His next PPV appearance will be the NWA’s WCW Great American Bash in 1990, a win over Tommy Rich.

The main event of the card is the Rumble match itself. Last year, it was 20 competitors and starting this year and for the remainder of the Classic Era, it will be billed as 30 competitors.

There is a heavy implication that Ted DiBiase drew a low number and bought his way to #30. Part of the implication insists that the payoff went to Slick, manager of the Big Bossman and Akeem, both participants in this match. The Twin Towers however enter at #22 and 23 respectively which isn’t that bad of a draw. The likeliest candidate to receive a payoff trade goes to Bobby Heenan and Andre the Giant with Andre entering in at #3, which would be as low a number one can have without starting the match outright.

While the luck of the draw favored the Twin Towers, it did not favor another tag team, Demolition as Ax draws #1 and Smash draws #2. They’ll fight one another until Andre arrives.

Ron Garvin enters at #5 and this is the culmination of a strange journey for him, starting with his departure from JCP in 1988 which according to commentators was due to losing a fight off camera to Dusty Rhodes. From there, Garvin would find himself in the AWA, winning the International Television Championship from Greg Gagne before losing it back to him in December at Garvin’s most recent PPV appearance, AWA SuperClash III. After that, Garvin landed in the WWF just in time for the Rumble. His time in this match is short.

Randy Savage, entering at #15 becomes the first current WWF Heavyweight Champion to participate in the Rumble. He’ll go on to be eliminated by his Megapowers teammate, Hulk Hogan, furthering the eventual split between the two.

Managers aren’t allowed at ringside, but a loophole in this stipulation is exploited by DiBiase who enters at #30. The loophole is that DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil isn’t a manager, therefore he stays at ringside. The following year, what I called the Virgil Amendment will allow managers to stay at ringside as long as one of their clients is still in contention.

Last year, Duggan drew #13 before winning the Rumble. #13 this year is Bad News Brown, who scores an elimination before being ousted by Hogan.

This marks the second year in a row in which One Man Gang/Akeem is ousted by way of momentum. The previous year, it was by Duggan. This year it’s by the returning John Studd. Next year, Akeem will suffer the same fate again, this time by Jimmy Snuka.

John Studd, entry #27 (Weird Al Yankovic’s favorite number) and the eventual winner of this Rumble last eliminates DiBiase. For Studd, this marks his return to the WWF after a lengthy absence. It’s his first PPV appearance since the WrestleMania 2 battle royale in 1986. His entrance music will eventually be remixed a few years later and used for Jim Duggan.

Other fun stuff.

Duggan won’t compete in the Rumble itself again until 1991. This also marks the second straight year in which the winner of the Rumble will not compete in the following year’s match as Studd would leave the WWF later in the year.

Jake Roberts’ inability to land a DDT during the Rumble continues.

Roberts also inspires the first ever self-elimination, Andre who would remove himself from the match upon Roberts returning to the ring with his snake, Damien. This also sets up a match between the two at WrestleMania V.

Former and current World Heavyweight level Champions competing in the Rumble include Mr. Perfect (AWA), Ron Garvin (NWA), Randy Savage (WWF), Hulk Hogan (WWF), Big Bossman (UWF), Akeem (UWF), and Rick Martel (AWA), which is 7 in total.

Former World Television Champions competing in this Rumble include Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (NWA), and the Red Rooster (UWF).

WCW’s New World Order is represented in the Rumble by 6 participants, Perfect, Savage, Hogan, Bossman, Brutus Beefcake, and DiBiase. There’s also DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil on the outside which would bump the number up to 7 and Miss Elizabeth, manager of the Megapowers would bump the number up to 8. A 9th future member, Bret Hart competed in an earlier bout on the card.

One of the non-wrestling events during this broadcast was a super posedown between the Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude. Rude, who bumps the WCW’s NWO participation number up to 10, ends the festivities by assaulting Warrior and setting up a match for the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship at WestleMania V.

Prior to the PPV, there were a pair of dark matches that took place. The first saw Jim Powers of the Young Stallions tag team defeat Barry Horowitz. The second saw Sam Houston defeat Steve “not quite Brooklyn Brawler yet” Lombardi. Houston will take part in another RR dark match, a loss to Jerry Sags of the Nasty Boys in 1991 before leaving back for the former JCP, WCW.

Hogan destroys One Man Gang/Akeem’s previous record of 6 eliminations, scoring 10, one of which was with the help of Bad News Brown, Butch Miller of the Bushwhackers. Hogan also eliminates Savage, helping set up the Megapowers exploding and facing off at WrestleMania V for the WWF Heavyweight Championship.

One year before this event, the lovable Bushwhackers were the very much disliked Sheepherders in JCP. So far as I can tell, their anti-American stance veered into suddenly loving the States once they realized how much coin they’d be making in the WWF. Just like that, they loved this country.

For the Brain Busters, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, this will be their only Rumble appearance. Dusty Rhodes, who had warred with both over the NWA World TV Championship will make his only Rumble match appearance (and first of 2 appearances overall) the following year.

The longevity record goes to Perfect, able to last just shy of 28 minutes. On the other hand, the quickest exit from the Rumble belongs to the Warlord who was ousted by Hogan in just 2 seconds.

Next up, WrestleMania V as we return to Atlantic City.

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