(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
January 21, 1990
The WWF started off the year with a number of storylines unfolding. This was a time when everyone seemed to have two feuds, and there was no exception for Hulk Hogan. He was in the midst of a feud with Mr. Perfect that included Perfect stealing Hogan’s WWF Title and smashing it with a hammer. Perfect, on the other hand, also had brewing issues with Hogan’s best mate, Brutus Beefcake. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, Hogan also had The Ultimate Warrior breathing down his neck. Confused? You don’t have to be. That’s why I’m here.
The show opens with Vince McMahon listing the competitors for the Rumble Match. Video clips of each man rumble across the screen, while Vince says their names in his trademark Mr. McMahon voice. He also lists the other matches for the night and says that there will be an episode of The Brother Love Show. Oh, joy! Then, Tony Schiavone welcomes everyone to the show. I like Tony well enough, but I was disappointed to see him on commentary again. He never seemed to be a good fit for the WWF. However, this would be his last PPV. Mickey Mouse joins him. Oops, I mean he is joined by Jesse Ventura in a Mickey Mouse hat and t-shirt because they’re in Orlando. Jesse jokes that Mickey couldn’t even get into the event because it’s so packed. He then offers Tony a Goofy hat, but Tony decides not to wear it. Way to be a company man, Tony! It’s no wonder they fire you soon!
The Bushwhackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (w/ Jimmy Hart)
The Rougeaus hadn’t been on TV that much, but they’re at this PPV for one last hurrah. I’ll explain why after the match. Jimmy Hart leads them to the ring and Jacques has grown a new beard. It’s not a bad look for him. The Bushwhackers are out next, and Tony calls them a polished tag team. I’m not so sure about that. They take a moment to rile up the crowd, and I have to admit that this crowd is insanely loud all night long.
The match starts with a lot of stalling and playing to the crowd from both teams. Raymond offers a handshake, but Butch ignores it and gets attacked for his disrespect. Then, the biting begins. The Bushwhackers bite everyone. They’re like Oprah. You get a bite and you get a bite! Everyone gets a bite. They even bite the ref. Shouldn’t that be a DQ? Jacques manages to leapfrog Luke and yells, “YIPPIE!” However, the Bushwhackers knock him out of the ring. Jacques returns and calls Butch a chicken for attacking him from behind. The Rougeaus repay their actions with some double teaming and cheating off a ref distraction. They even attack Luke on the outside, which causes Butch to chase Jimmy Hart around the ring. The Rougeaus continue their double teaming and Jacques does a celebratory kip-up, while the fans try to rally Luke by stomping. It makes an amazing sound. The Rougeaus do an abdominal stretch and try to use leverage, but they have to turn it into a tag when they get caught. Jacques eventually goes for a splash, but he receives knees to his gut and Luke makes the hot tag. Butch fights off both men and the Bushwhackers whip the Rougeaus into each other. They go for the Battering Ram, but Jimmy Hart grabs Butch’s leg. The Bushwhackers answer by pulling Jimmy into the ring and attempting to wishbone him, but the Rougeaus attack. Raymond locks Butch in a Boston Crab and Jacques tries to jump on him, but Luke trips him. This opens the door for the Bushwhackers to hit the Battering Ram and pick up the win.
There was way too much stalling in this match for my taste. It became decent once they calmed down, but it never really clicked with me. Sadly, this would be the final match for the Fabulous Rougeaus. Raymond would soon retire because of back issues. He would become a backstage interviewer and a commentator. Jacques would be taken off of TV for almost a year and would be repackaged into a much different character. Apparently, he spent that time off going through Canadian law enforcement training.
Winners: The Bushwhackers (13:35)
Mean Gene is backstage with Ted DiBiase and Virgil. Gene talks about the random drawing for the Rumble Match and DiBiase looks worried. Gene brings up Ted allegedly drawing #30 last year and DiBiase claims it was legit. Gene then says that Jack Tunney ordered security to watch over the drawing this year and Ted complains about it. He says that Virgil picked his number this year and he made a mistake. Gene asks him what number he got and Ted reluctantly hands him the paper. Okerlund reveals that DiBiase got #1, which he calls the worst number. Ted says it doesn’t matter because he will be the first man in and the last man standing. He then flubs his line by calling it a “golden opportumity” to show he’s the greatest wrestler in the world.
Brutus the Barber Beefcake vs. The Genius
Beefcake’s feud with Mr. Perfect is just beginning, but Perfect is busy with the Rumble and Hogan. Therefore, they had Brutus do a mini-feud with The Genius. This is a rare opportunity to see The Genius wrestle. He became more of a manager once he switched to the Genius gimmick. Fink introduces The Genius to recite a quick poem before the match. He pretends not to know Beefcake’s name and calls him intellectually inferior. He says that Brutus wants to give his hairdo an aesthetic augmentation, which confuses Tony Schiavone. Then, he says that struttin’ and cuttin’ maybe quick enough for some, but he’s the world’s smartest man and Beefcake’s double dumb. Beefcake then enters the arena and Jesse jokes that Brutus must cut his own hair.
The Genius begins by prancing over to Brutus and offering a left-handed handshake. He then stalls and does a cartwheel on the floor before re-entering the ring. They fight into a corner for a clean break and Brutus mimes for him to kiss his butt. He also mocks The Genius’ prancing. Like Beefcake has room to talk! Beefcake gets an early advantage and we see some amusing selling by The Genius, as well as some unique ways of entering the ring. The Genius takes control with some eye rakes and some rather nice looking punches. However, Brutus reverses both 10 punches in the corner and an attempt at a flying axehandle. The Genius tries to get away, but Brutus crotches him on the ropes. The Genius is highly entertaining in his mannerisms and reactions. Brutus goes for the sleeper hold, but the Genius fights it. Beefcake shoves him away, but he sends him crashing into the ref. The ref falls out of the ring and is knocked out cold. The two men fight back and forth some more, but Beefcake locks in the sleeper and The Genius falls unconscious. Brutus signals for a haircut and Jesse complains that he hasn’t won the match yet. He grabs the scissors and starts cutting The Genius’ hair from the front, which is a jerk move. Mr. Perfect arrives and attacks him. For some reason, he hits the Perfect Plex. I guess he showed Beefcake that he potentially could have pinned him!! Perfect then grabs a chair and nails Brutus with it, but the ref sees it and calls for the bell. Perfect continues the attack and drives the edge of the chair into Beefcake’s ribs. The Fink announces that the ref has ruled it a Double DQ. I guess that’s because Beefcake shoved The Genius into the ref first.
This match was very basic, but The Genius made it entertaining. The match also did an excellent job of building the Beefcake/Perfect feud. It served its purpose well.
Winner: Double DQ (11:07)
Sean Mooney is with the Heenan Family, which consists of Rick Rude, Andre the Giant, Haku, and Bobby Heenan. Sean talks about how Heenan has the Tag Team Champs in Andre & Haku and the former Intercontinental Champ in Rude, but it’s every man for himself in the Rumble. Heenan corrects him by saying it’s every family for themselves. Mooney then asks what numbers they drew, but Rude tells him that’s none of his business. Sean decides to spread some dissension, so he asks what happens if it comes down to members of the family. Everyone starts arguing with each other and Sean tries to get a word with Andre. When he starts to talk, Sean cuts him off and sends it back to Tony and Jesse. Sean has been bad about doing that the last couple of shows.
Then, they show a quick ad for WrestleMania VI in Toronto and Jesse claims that they keep getting bigger.
Submission Match: Rugged Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg the Hammer Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)
This feud has been building for months. Garvin was reinstated as a wrestler and they were on opposite teams at Survivor Series, but now they face off in a Submission Match. Both men are already in the ring and Fink explains the rules. The match can only end in a submission. I hope these men were listening. It would be terrible if they forgot the stipulation. One of the stories going into this match is the shin guard that Valentine began wearing. He calls it the Heartbreaker and it apparently makes his Figure Four more painful. Garvin decided to counter this with his own shin guard that he calls the Hammer Jammer. Valentine sees it and complains to the ref. He gets frustrated and tries to leave, but Garvin attacks.
Garvin chops him down to the mat and goes for a cover!? They’re not even two minutes into the match and they’ve already forgotten the rules. The two men trade hard chops, punches, and headbutts and then Valentine tries a cover too! What is going on!? They get into more punch-fests and Garvin hits a jumping headbutt that dazes Ronnie as much as it does Valentine. He then tries a piledriver and it gets reversed into a sunset flip attempt. Valentine sits down and tries to pin him, but the ref has to remind him again of the rules. Even Jimmy Hart uses his megaphone to remind them it’s a Submission Match. Valentine eventually turns the Heartbreaker and locks in the Figure Four. BUT WAIT! Garvin’s Hammer Jammer prevents it from being effective. Garvin starts smiling and thumbs his nose at Valentine. He then makes silly faces and sticks out his tongue. Valentine breaks the hold in frustration and Garvin tries to roll him up, but a now exasperated ref pleads with them to stop that. Valentine tries a Canadian backbreaker, but he can’t lock his hands. Garvin fights back and tries an Indian deathlock, but Valentine makes the ropes. They get into another chop-fest and fight in and out of the ring. Garvin misses a corner dropkick and Jimmy Hart manages to remove the Hammer Jammer. He runs around ringside holding it like a trophy. Valentine tries the Figure Four again and it’s effective. The fans rally Garvin by stomping and he reverses the hold, but Valentine makes it to the ropes. The two men start forgetting again and attempt pins on each other before Garvin removes the Heartbreaker. Garvin ends up tying Valentine in the ropes and Hart tries to interfere. Ronnie fights him off and hits Valentine with the shin guard before locking in a Sharpshooter. Tony calls it a reverse Figure Four because Garvin apparently doesn’t have a name for it. Valentine finally submits to give Garvin the win.
I wanted to like this match. The action was good, but the constant pin attempts nearly ruined it. This is why you don’t call a match on the fly when you can’t remember the stipulation. I get that some wrestlers like to call things in the ring, but this one needed more planning. However, Garvin’s amusing faces did earn this match some bonus points in my eyes.
Winner: Ronnie Garvin (16:55)
Mean Gene is backstage and he talks about people being unhappy with their entrance number for the Rumble. He then brings in Mr. Perfect and brings up his interference earlier. Perfect tells him to call it what he wants but he’s sick and tired of Beefcake putting people to sleep and taking advantage of them. OH MY! Gene brings up the fact that Perfect used a chair and shows him the footage. Gene makes a startled noise when he sees it. Did he not watch it before? Perfect says that victory and the want to win were going through his mind and he calls Beefcake the reason that Perfect will go all the way to the top. He then says a great line about how hair will grow back but Beefcake’s ribs might not grow back the right way. Then, Gene asks Perfect what number he drew. He replies that he drew the perfect number, which is number 30.
Next, Brother Love is in the ring for an episode of his show. He claims that he looked up the word lady in the book of love. It said it was a woman of class, finesse, and exquisite beauty, which brings him to his guest, Queen Sherri. Tony can’t believe she’s class and beauty, but Jesse agrees with Love. Sherri joins him in the ring and Love kisses her hand. Sherri says it’s an honor to stand before a man that radiates masculinity. Brother Love then claims that he also looked up the word peasant in the book of love and it said a woman with no class, no finesse, and no beauty, which leads to his next guest, Sapphire. Sapphire is the woman who was seen cheering Dusty Rhodes at Survivor Series. She’s a former referee and wrestler from the independent scene. Vince brought her in to be Dusty’s valet because she fits his common man gimmick. Plus, she was legitimately a Dusty fan and wanted to work with him. She dances to the ring and Brother Love asks if Dusty is the common man then what does that make her? She tries to answer, but Love interrupts. Sherri berates her for not showing proper respect. Then, she asks Sapphire where she gets her clothes, so she can avoid that place. Next, Love asks her what she sees in Dusty Rhodes, but he cuts her off again before she can answer. Love and Sherri make fun of Dusty for being fat. Love also asks if she travels with Dusty and doesn’t let her answer. Sherri jokes that Dusty uses a forklift to put Sapphire in his truck, so Sapphire says she’s had enough. She slaps Sherri, which draws Randy Savage to the ring. Dusty follows him and a fight starts. Sapphire jumps on Savage’s back, but Love pulls her away. Officials finally break up the fight, but Brother Love starts talking trash. Dusty goes after him and Love tries to run, but Dusty grabs him. He slams Love and lets Sapphire slap him before tossing him to the floor. Dusty and Sapphire then dance to Dusty’s music, while Jesse pleads for the show to go to an interview instead. I usually don’t like Brother Love segments, but this one did a pretty good job of building the Savage & Sherri vs. Dusty & Sapphire feud.
Sean Mooney tries to talk about the upcoming match between Jim Duggan and The Big Boss Man, but Duggan yells, “HO,” to interrupt. Sean says that Duggan has to approach this match differently, but Duggan replies, “I don’t have to app-app-approach anything differently!” He says he does things his own way and this is the land of the free and home of the brave. He’s a man who will face Boss Man eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe. He will give him 110% and doesn’t care what Boss Man thinks. He then finishes by saying he’s coming after him, tough guy!
Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. The Big Boss Man (w/ Slick)
Boss Man and Slick make their way to the ring and Jesse claims that Tony has done some time in prison. He asks Tony if he’s ever faced a guard like Boss Man. Tony replies that he hasn’t, but he did face some women like that. That sounds like a story that we need to hear! Duggan comes out next and fires up the crowd by hammering his 2×4 on everything in sight.
The two men immediately get into a slug-fest and fight outside. They take turns sending each other into the post and end up back in the ring. Duggan goes after Boss Man’s shoulder and catches his foot on a kick, but Boss Man hits an enziguri. He follows it up with a headbutt and a running knee attack on the ropes. Duggan keeps trying to fight back, but Boss Man distracts the ref so that Slick can choke Jim. Boss Man keeps using a head vice, but Tony doesn’t seem to know what to call it. He then tries a bear hug and Duggan headbutts him. Jim fights back and clotheslines Boss Man over the ropes, but Boss Man comes back for more. They fight back and forth and Boss Man goes to the top, but he misses a flying splash. Then, they two men collide in slow motion. Slick attempts to grab Duggan, but he moves and Boss Man hits Slick by mistake. Boss Man goes to plan-b and grabs his nightstick while Slick distracts the ref. Boss Man uses the nightstick, but the ref catches him and calls for the bell.
This was just a mindless brawl. It started hot, but it slowed way down and became uninteresting. Thankfully, Boss Man is about to make a much-needed face turn before the next PPV.
Winner: Jim Duggan (by DQ) (6:13)
Boss Man tries to continue the attack, but Duggan gets his 2×4 and clears the ring. Boss Man begins throwing chairs at him, but Duggan bats them away with the board and Boss Man finally leaves.
They show another quick ad for WrestleMania VI before showing a montage of comments from Rumble participants.
Dino Bravo claims he hopes his number is close to Warrior’s because he wants to get his hands on him. Earthquake says no one is safe from him. Demolition says that lady luck is on their side and Bad News Brown tells all the beer-bellied sharecroppers to have their crying tissues ready. Next, Dusty Rhodes tells Randy Savage that he’s gonna prove himself. This is followed by The Rockers who are going to rock n’ roll and strut n’ stroll. Hercules says his destiny will be fulfilled in the “Rumble Royal”. Rick Martel wants everyone to look at both sides of his profile before he tells everyone that no one will touch his beautiful face. Tito Santana claims that he’s coming out a winner no matter who gets in his way. Then, Jimmy Snuka barks and mumbles something about fishing with sharks. Slick says that Akeem is the biggest and the baddest and finally, we get some comments from The Ultimate Warrior. He screams about the power of the Warrior spreading like a virus. Where do I get my shots for that? He also talks about the 28 other normal men in the match, but he singles out Hogan as the 29th man. He says that Hogan’s force field is similar to his own and Hogan has walked close to where he has been. He finishes by saying he will fulfill his destiny.
Jesse and Tony talk about the luck of the draw for a moment before they go to another set of promos. Randy Savage says that Dusty Rhodes wants to get even but it isn’t possible. He says that nobody should bet against the Macho King because they’ll go broke. Mr. Fuji then says anything goes with his Powers of Pain. Jake Roberts is next and he talks about which number would be the best. He says it doesn’t matter because the man who will do anything is the one with the advantage. Then, The Anvil gets way too excited and Bret Hart has to calm him before saying they will go the distance. Honky Tonk claims he will play all 29 of his hits and some mean tunes. Hogan speaks last and says to expect the unexpected. So, does that mean I shouldn’t expect him to win? He claims that no matter how prepared everyone is, they can’t compensate for his pythons. He claims he doesn’t care who he faces because he will dig deep and beat all 29 opponents. He then threatens to rumble all over everyone. That sounds horrifying.
30 Man Royal Rumble Match
We’re still a couple of years away from something being on the line in this match. That’s why the WWF Champion is competing in it again. The Fink explains the rules, as usual, and then introduces #1 and #2. Ted DiBiase is #1 and he gets booed loudly. #2 is Koko B. Ware, who brings Frankie to the ring. He hands him to an attendant, but DiBiase jumps him as he enters.
Koko tries to fight back with headbutts, but DiBiase quickly back drops him out of the ring for the first elimination. #3 is Marty Jannetty and he surprisingly gets music. They fight back and forth until Jannetty misses a cross body and falls out of the ring. #4 is Jake Roberts and the crowd explodes. Ted exits through the middle of the ropes and they fight on the floor, but DiBiase is sent into the post and back inside. Jake keeps going for the DDT, but DiBiase blocks it. #5 is Randy Savage and they finally stop playing music for the entrants. Savage and DiBiase double team Jake until Roddy Piper enters at #6. The four men break into pairs until The Warlord enters at #7. #8 is Bret Hart, who gets a great reaction from the crowd. #9 is Bad News Brown, who goes after Bret. I guess he still remembers WrestleMania IV. Jake Roberts attempts a DDT on DiBiase, but Savage clotheslines him out of the ring for an elimination. #10 is Dusty Rhodes and he goes for Savage. Randy charges him and Dusty back drops Savage out of the match.
#11 is Andre the Giant. He hip tosses The Warlord over the top rope. Fuji tries to get onto the apron to complain, but Heenan pulls him down and argues with him. It’s not often you see two heel managers go at it. #12 is The Red Rooster and this hot crowd surprisingly gives him a good reaction. Piper then back drops Bad News Brown out of the match, but Brown pulls him out from the floor. The refs allow this elimination and the two men brawl to the back. #13 is Ax and during his entrance, they almost miss Andre eliminating Rooster. #14 is Haku, who saves Andre from Ax and Dusty. However, #14 is Smash and Demolition start double teaming Andre. Akeem enters at #16, as Demolition knock Andre out of the match. The cameraman focuses on Andre, so he misses Bret Hart’s elimination. Jesse Ventura has to inform the viewers. #17 is Jimmy Snuka, who eliminates Akeem in short order. #18 is Dino Bravo and #19 is Earthquake. Quake quickly eliminates both Dusty Rhodes and Ax. #20 is Jim Neidhart and he rallies almost everyone in the ring to help him eliminate Earthquake. Jimmy Hart complains that it took 5 men to do it.
The Ultimate Warrior then enters at #21 and the crowd goes crazy. Warrior quickly dumps Bravo over the top. #22 is Rick Martel and Haku soon eliminates Smash with a back drop and a crescent kick. #23 is Tito Santana, who goes straight for Martel. Honky Tonk Man enters next at #24. Soon after that, Warrior eliminates Anvil and then DiBiase to a loud reaction from the crowd. Ted impressively lasted over 40 minutes in the match. The crowd becomes even louder when Hulk Hogan enters at #25. He wastes no time in eliminating Snuka and Haku, while Warrior eliminates Tito. Honky starts choking Hogan with Hulk’s t-shirt before Shawn Michaels enters at #26. Sadly, Shawn picked the wrong time to enter because Hogan and Warrior clear the ring. When the crowd realizes that Hogan and Warrior are left alone, they lose their minds.
The two men face each other and the crowd is standing. They try to shoulder block each other and then do some criss-cross action before going down to a double clothesline. While they’re down, The Barbarian enters at #27 and attacks both men. #28, Rick Rude, wants to take advantage too and he jumps the gun. The refs allow him to enter early and he attacks Warrior. Hogan ends up in trouble in the corner, but Warrior saves him. However, Rude and the Barbarian get Warrior in trouble. Hogan clotheslines them and ends up knocking Warrior over the top rope. That was very reminiscent of how Hogan eliminated Savage the year before. Warrior re-enters the ring and clotheslines Rude and Barbarian, but he leaves Hogan alone and runs to the back. Hercules then enters at #29 and Mr. Perfect enters at #30 to complete the field. He goes after Hogan, while Hercules back drops Barbarian out of the ring. Only the final four are left.
(Final Four: Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, & Hercules) Rude quickly clotheslines Hercules out and teams with Perfect to attack Hogan. Rude ends up hitting Perfect by mistake and knocks him to the apron. Hogan fights back and whips Rude to the ropes, but Perfect accidentally low bridges him as he re-enters the ring. That was a nice callback to Survivor Series. Now, only Perfect and Hogan are left. Perfect takes control and hits the Perfect Plex, but Hogan hulks-up and slingshots Perfect into the post. He then tosses him over the top rope to win the Rumble.
Since there’s nothing on the line, I don’t know why they didn’t have Warrior win to set-up WrestleMania. They also could have let Perfect win, which was the rumored original plan. He’s supposed to be undefeated. I’m not sure why Hogan needed to win this one. I don’t agree with the winner, but it was still the best Rumble Match they’ve done, so far. They are getting better every year.
Winner: Hulk Hogan (58:46. Hmm, I guess those supposed two-minute intervals aren’t so legit.)
Hogan celebrates and grabs a banner from a fan that says, “Hulkamania will live forever.” He holds it up for the crowd and then returns it to the fan before posing for a few minutes. Jesse claims that Hogan got lucky with his entrance number. Thankfully, he doesn’t threaten to come out of retirement again. I guess he’s given up on that idea. Jesse and Tony then plug WrestleMania VI again before Tony tells everyone goodnight.
This was a very solid show and it did a great job of building storylines for Mania. While I don’t agree with the Rumble winner, he was still a better choice than the first two Rumbles. The crowd for this event was one of the loudest I’ve heard on any show I’ve covered. I wish more crowds were like this one.
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My next review will be WCW’s WrestleWar ‘90.