WWF Royal Rumble 1991 (19/1/91) – Review
Wrestling promoters have often used ‘foreigners’ to build heat and tension, which originated from past conflicts. For example, Rikidozan – who despite being Korean was presented as Japanese – built his legacy and the foundation of Japanese pro wrestling by defeating American heels in the 1950s and 1960s. Conversely, in the United States, German and Japanese heels flooded promotions across the country, as did the Russians in the 1980s at the height of the Cold War.
However, in 1990-1991, the Gulf War between The United States – and a host of coalition nations – against Iraq was happening in real time. This stirred up plenty of controversy that Vince McMahon – in bringing back Sgt. Slaughter as a Saddam Hussein sympathiser with real Iraqi manager Gen. Adnan – was cashing in while Americans – among others – were losing their lives. Indeed, on the night that The Sarge would get a shot at the WWF Title, it was just a few days removed from the ultimatum given to Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait. His refusal would lead to an escalation in the conflict, which in WWF land, meant a year of the “Stars and Stripes” being waved vigorously or defaced (allegedly, more on that later).
If you wish to hear in your own real time what we thought of Royal Rumble 1991, tune into our podcast. Otherwise, read on…
The pay-per-view opens up with a fluttering Old Glory and Howard Finkel asking that the fans rise for the national anthem. Typically, the WWF opts for “America the Beautiful,” but these are troubled times. We then go to re-dubbed audio of Mean Gene Okerlund running down the matches and participants in the Rumble, followed by the official introduction by commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Match 1 – The Rockers vs. The Orient Express
More bad dubbing from The Fink, as for some reason the WWF have to replace the original Orient Express music on the DVD and Network version. This is a relatively new Orient Express, with the masked Kato (Paul Diamond) replacing Sato. The team doesn’t miss a beat though, as Tanaka and Diamond were previously Badd Company in the AWA.
The evil Japanese jumpstart the match by shoving Marty Jannetty off the turnbuckles to the floor, and then launch Shawn Michaels up near the lights with a high back-bodydrop. Marty comes back in and dispatches Kato with a dropkick followed by a superkick (in 1991 parlance, a crescent kick) on Tanaka. They then hit a double team slam and looked to end it early with stereo top-rope moves but Kato drags Tanaka out of the ring. The Express try to regroup but get hit with stereo high-cross body’s (or in today’s parlance, suicide dives).
An inevitable “USA” chant breaks out before the match resets, even though technically nobody in the match is foreign (with the exception of Piper in the commentary booth, who is Canadian). Marty takes down Kato with a side headlock – which as Mr. Chris Man pointed out in our podcast review – Piper explains as being a wear-down hold rather than a submission. Some nice rope running and counters before Marty bridges out of a pin into a backslide for two. An attempt at a double team by the Express is foiled and Tanaka then gets taken down with a good arm-drag.
Shawn tags in but soon after almost got his head taken off with a flying forearm from Tanaka. This finally gave Mr. Fuji something to smile about, but that too is short-lived, when the Express try another double team maneuver and are foiled again. A snapmare gets a two, and Gorilla and Piper criticise the lack of a hooked leg, as apparently had Shawn done so, he might have got the pin. Piper comments as the camera gets a shot of Fuji, that Fuji has seen more ceilings than Michelangelo.
The Express didn’t appreciate the joke, as not long after Kato breaks up a sleeper (a hold that gets a good pop in 1991). The Rockers hit more aerial offense until the Express hang Shawn out to dry on the top rope. They target the affected throat with repeated chops and a cane shot by Fuji, followed by a nerve hold. Shawn tried for a much needed tag but is cut off by Kato. They then attempt to clothesline Shawn with Kato’s belt but are thwarted and Marty comes in like a house on fire.
The Rockers attempt a Rocket Launcher (probably not called that at the time) on Kato. Instead, Tanaka gave Marty a kick in the back that sent Shawn crashing to the arena floor (a drop of fifteen feet according to Piper). Kato slingshot Marty into a reverse knife edge chop from Tanaka, but when they went for it again, Shawn punched Tanaka in the stomach to double him over. When Kato unknowingly performed the slingshot, Marty went up and over into a sunset flip for the win. ~ ****
WINNER: The Rockers
We go backstage for an interview with “Macho King” Randy Savage. He opens up by calling himself the greatest WWF champion of all time, and this somehow makes him the number one contender to the title. He says he doesn’t care who wins tonight between The Ultimate Warrior and Sgt. Slaughter, the latter of which has already promised him a title shot. Sean Mooney interjects and asks plainly if he has gotten the same word from the current champion, The Ultimate Warrior. Savage replies no, but Queen Sherri is about to ‘bate, I mean, bait him into making a commitment. At that there is a commotion at the interview area in the arena, as Sherri is on location with Mean Gene.
Gene asks Sherri what she’s doing out here, and she replies that she is issuing a public challenge to The Ultimate Warrior. Sherri explains again that the right honorable Sargent has already promised The Macho King a title shot should he win. She only hopes that the Warrior is as honorable as everyone thinks he is. She goes so far as to call him yellow until the familiar beat of the Warrior’s music hits and the WWF champion comes out, resplendent in a USA leather jacket and red, white and blue face-paint.
Sherri asks if he will grant Savage a title shot to no response, so she tries a different tack. She describes how much she has admired him from afar, what it would be like to touch his chest and broad back while unzipping his jacket. She even steals a peck on the lips which Warrior seems to like, and then pleads on one knee, which drew a pop from the adult fans in the audience. Despite all this though, the Warrior still roars a resounding nooooooo! which sends Savage into hysterics.
Match 2 – Big Bossman vs. The Barbarian
Bossman clears the ring of everyone before the match begins. A feud has been going on for a time between Bossman and Bobby Heenan, who made some disparaging remarks about his mother. The corrections officer decided that he would now mow through the entire Heenan family. Loud weasel chant before the bell rings. Bossman wins the first exchange after first eating some kneelifts and uppercuts, but comes back with a big boot off the ropes and a running back elbow that sends Barb’ to the mat and scurrying to the outside.
Bossman tried to suplex Barbarian back into the ring from the apron but its blocked and gets eye gouged for his trouble. Bossman returned fire with a shot to the gut when Barbarian tried a top rope move, and sent him back out of the ring with a running clothesline. After Heenan got caught with a right hand, Barb’ got back into the match. After levelling Bossman with a rough short-arm clothesline, Gorilla remarks that he’s glad he’s retired. An uppercut sent Bossman through the ropes – almost. He gets his leg tied up and it takes a while to get loose.
Barb’ works over Bossman’s back and clamps on a bear hug. Bossman got out but then got leveled with an uppercut and took a series of elbow drops before getting trapped again. Barb’ hangs on even after repeated headbutts but finally relents when babyface Bossman bites him on the nose. It becomes a see-saw contest from this point, with big moves and pin attempts mostly thwarted by rope breaks. Barbarian goes for a cross body off the top rope but the momentum takes him over and Bossman scores the pin. ~ **
WINNER: Big Bossman
We go backstage for an interview with Sgt. Slaughter and Gen. Adnan. Adnan starts off cutting a promo in his native tongue, before Slaughter predicts victory over The Ultimate Puke to give the fans a leader they can look up to. Then, its off to chat with WWF champion The Ultimate Warrior, who says some things about only taking orders from the ‘warriors’ who ride on his back.
Match 3 – The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WWF Title)
As Sgt. Slaughter comes to the ring, Gorilla points out that the words of Slaughter and Adnan do not represent the views of the World Wrestling Federation. Pipes responds that we cannot deny them their freedom to speak their views, but we still have the right to stop him, so not sure which way he wants to go here. Warrior runs to the ring and gets a jumpstart, blasting Adnan out of the ring to send him packing back to the locker room. He then takes the Iraqi flag, tears it up and shoves the remnants down Slaughter’s gullet as he pastes him from pillar to post. It looks like being a quick victory for the champ, especially after a strong whip into the buckles sends Slaughter up and over to the floor.
However, out runs Queen Sherri to the ringside area. Back in the ring, Warrior rocks Slaughter with a couple of shoulder blocks, but when he hits the ropes for a third, he gets his ankle grabbed by Sherri. Warrior turns his attention to her, and she hightails it up the aisle with the champion in close pursuit, only to be blindsided by The Macho King. After a quick assault, Savage takes off. Warrior sells this like death as it takes a long time for him to crawl back to ringside, as Slaughter keeps stopping the referee’s count.
Slaughter gets Warrior back in the ring and works over his lower back, no doubt in preparation for the Camel Clutch. Piper lambasts Slaughter for not trying to pin Warrior a long time ago, before both men go down after hitting simultaneous clotheslines. Sarge locks in a bear hug as loud USA chants ring out. Warrior finally breaks free and hits a slam but his back is too injured to follow up. Sarge hits a backbreaker and tries for the Camel Clutch, but half of Warrior’s legs are under the bottom rope.
Referee Earl Hebner calls for the break, which Slaughter stupidly thought meant he had won. The energy starts flowing through the champion and is now impervious to pain. Warrior hits several running clotheslines and a flying shoulder tackle, when Sherri runs down again, this time with The Macho King’s scepter. She distracts Warrior again, but she gets caught and gorilla pressed over the top rope onto Savage who has just arrived.
Slaughter hits a solid knee in the Warrior’s back, which drapes him over the second rope, a prime spot for Savage to swing and crack Warrior in the cranium with the scepter. Slaughter drops an elbow for good measure and scores a huge upset to become the new WWF champion ~ *1/2
WINNER: Sgt. Slaughter (Title Change)
Match 4 – Koko B. Ware vs. The Mountie
Poor Koko and the recently returned Jacques Rougeau get a tough task of following the shock result of the WWF Title. Pipes asks the rhetorical question about how The Mountie always gets his man, well, there’s Jimmy [Hart]. Gorilla is still having difficulty moving on, but Roddy says we owe it to these two great athletes to concentrate on this match.
Koko scores early with a nice dropkick, which causes The Mountie to seek Jimmy Hart’s advice. As Koko hits a great deep arm drag into an arm bar, Gorilla and Pipes talk about how Jacques (not using his name) went up to Canada to train with The Royal Canadian Mounties, which explains how this new character came to be. He gains the advantage when he backdrops Koko over the top rope and down to the floor. Jimmy Hart distracted the referee as The Mountie assaulted Koko with his cattle prod.
Back in the ring, The Mountie begins to utilise some of his ‘passive control techniques’ as Jimmy taunts Frankie the Bird. Koko gained some very brief respite with a surprise sunset flip but Mountie used another unique hold (or in Mountie parlance, the aforementioned passive control technique) and awkwardly shoots Koko to the outside. While some Canadians – legitimately – are a bit upset with Rougeau’s portrayal of a Mountie, he then possibly angers some Germans with some kind of goose step as Jimmy furthermore riles up the RSPCA by again taunting Frankie. What a pair of heels!
Mountie tried a piledriver but Koko reversed it into a backdrop to buy a few seconds. Koko gets shot into the ropes and hits a nice swinging neckbreaker. He follows it up with a slam and a missile dropkick but gets distracted by Jimmy Hart on the apron. Mountie tried an attack from behind but Koko saw him coming, but didn’t avoid The Mountie grabbing him by the throat and dropping him while running the ropes, hooking the leg and getting the pinfall. ~ *1/2
WINNER: The Mountie
Back in the locker room, Sean Mooney gets a word with Randy Savage about his actions in the title match. Savage talks tough and says let the Warrior cry, he should have made a commitment, now he’s going after Slaughter. At that, there is some bashing on the door, and Savage and Sherri freak out and make a hasty retreat. At the commentary position, Gorilla and Roddy are still wound up about Savage and Sherri’s actions, before throwing to Mean Gene with the new champion Slaughter, and Adnan, who give a victory speech.
The first seeds are then planted for Slaughter’s first challenge as Gorilla and Piper explain that Hulk Hogan was apparently wanting to go to Saudi Arabia but was advised not to, so instead will do a tour of US army bases to lift morale. Great guy Hulk! After the obligatory Rumble promos, we’re back with Gorilla and Piper, where Gorilla ‘spills the tea’ about Piper meeting with Virgil earlier in the day. Dibiase and Virgil promo ahead of the tag match, as Dibiase explains that Virgil does his bidding for the money and predicts victory against the Rhodes’.
Match 5 – Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase & Virgil
Piper says that when he and Virgil went out for lunch, they didn’t order ‘crow,’ because they don’t want to eat crow anymore. Plentiful seeds being planted here. Dibiase and Virgil try a jumpstart but are thwarted. They powder to the outside, and Dibiase berates Virgil to get in the ring and take care of it. Virgil sucker punches Dustin but gets put down with a flying clothesline and a dropkick. Dibiase gets frustrated again as Virgil regathered on the outside, but again gets taken out with a clothesline.
Dibiase tags in to show Virgil ‘how its done.’ To his credit, The Million Dollar Man gets things back on track, until Dustin puts on the brakes and slams Dibiase’s head into the mat. He gets caught in the wrong corner and eats a bunch of bionic elbows from both Dustin and Dusty before falling to the outside. Big Dust gets in and after a series of blows gets a sleeper but Virgil makes the save, and again when Dustin tries a pin after a dropkick. The turning point occurs when Dustin misses a running knee into the turnbuckles and picks up an injury.
Virgil works on the knee, including wrapping it around the steel ringpost. Dibiase taunts Dusty into the ring and has to be held back by the official. Dibiase and Virgil then try a double team move, but Dibiase gets levelled on accident. Virgil apologises but still gets beaten up and thrown to the outside by Dibiase. In amongst the chaos, Dustin makes a tag and Dusty works over Ted. He gets too rambunctious and misses a running elbow into the corner, and gets rolled up. Dusty immediately rolls to the outside to check on his injured son. ~ **
WINNER: Ted Dibiase and Virgil
After the match, Dibiase calls for the mic. Everyone has a price, and there’s a price for crossing the Million Dollar Man. He references Dustin getting injured as the price that has to be paid, and now Virgil has to pay. He orders him to get the Million Dollar Belt and put it around his waist. Virgil glares and looks reluctant. Dibiase continues to berate his bodyguard and demands he put the belt around his waist, to which Virgil finally drops it on the mat in front of him. Ted asks if he wants him to remind him about his family, specifically his mother, which seems to effect Virgil. Reluctantly, he drops to one knee to pick up the belt, but as the crowd get a sense of what’s happening, he levels Dibiase with the belt as the fans and Piper go mental.
Right before the Rumble, we get an interview with Hulk Hogan. He’s going to fight, claw, scratch his way to victory, and with all the armed forces behind him, he’s going to win the Royal Rumble. Indeed, Hulk also dedicates the match to all the armed forces in the Persian Gulf, which now as an adult, I can see is a dead giveaway of who’s winning this match. Gene cuts in and apoligises for the interruption, but he has received a report that Sgt. Slaughter had just defaced the American flag. This flusters ‘The Hulkster’ for a moment, but goes on to say that Slaughter’s reign as WWF champion will be just like Saddam Hussein’s reign over Kuwait – it will be only temporary!
Match 6 – The Royal Rumble
It’s time for the Royal Rumble, and as the number one draw Bret Hart walks out, Gorilla laments Hart’s poor luck. Piper describes the rules and it’s real quick – there ain’t no rules, chuck ’em over the top rope. Monsoon is a little more professional in explaining the rules. Number two is fellow Canadian from the French quarter, Dino Bravo, with manager Jimmy Hart. Gorilla ribs on Dino saying to Pipes that we know Bravo would never spend ten cents to buy somebody else’s number, that cheapskate. Perhaps he’s just accepting his number and not wishing to mess with the process!
Bret uses his superior speed and quickness to nullify Dino’s strength advantage. Dino almost gets put out very early after getting hit with a clothesline from the back as Piper openly cheerleads for ‘The Hitman.’ Gorilla continues to go on about how neither one of these guys will win due to the early draw. Pipes counters by mentioning Dibiase’s effort from the previous Rumble where he went forty-five minutes. Monsoon then comes around full circle by putting over the conditioning of many of the wrestlers.
Bret and Dino go back and forth when number three arrives – Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Dino is shocked when Valentine – proving it’s every man for himself – nails him instead of Bret. Valentine – if memory serves – had not long before turned babyface. (In another lifetime, Valentine and Bravo had been the second incarnation of The Dream Team). ‘The Hammer’s’ very recently ex-manager Jimmy Hart gets on the apron to ask what he’s doing and provides a distraction for Dino to attack from behind. The offense is short-lived, and so is Dino in the Rumble as Greg deposits him pretty easily after a few turnbuckle rams. Jimmy comes up on the apron and gets shoved for good measure.
Bret tries to eliminate Valentine as number four comes in and its Paul Roma (or Romeo, as Pipes calls him). Romeo, I mean, Roma and Valentine double-team Bret as Piper tries to recite some Shakespeare. Gorilla says that this will probably be like this for the next two minutes. Piper retorts that you cant trust anyone in this match and right on cue, Roma turns on Greg. All three take turns battering each other; Bret avoids being eliminated by Roma and Valentine and decides to sit it out while Valentine punishes Roma with his trademark chops.
Next man in is ‘Texas Tornado’ Kerry Von Erich. Bret and all other babyfaces will get some respite with the Texan in town. Von Erich is a house of fire, taking down both Roma and Valentine with a discus punch. Bret slams Roma but misses an elbow off the second rope. Rick Martel is next and goes right after ‘The Hitman.’ Bret and ‘The Model’ get into it and Bret has Martel teetering but Roma makes the save. After a successful double team move by Martel and Roma, Martel prances until getting cut down by a Roma clothesline.
The former Tony Atlas – Saba Simba – runs, or whatever that was to the ring and takes a shot at everyone. Martel survives two elimination attempts, firstly from Kerry and the second from Bret. Butch bushwhacks his way in, and Gorilla comments that by the time he gets there, someone else will be on their way down. He continues to bushwhack around the ring not touching anyone until he eats a chop from Valentine. The second man eliminated is Saba Simba, when he picks up Martel and rushes him over the ropes, but the momentum takes him as well, while Martel lands on the apron and stays in. Gorilla thinks Martel should have gone as well on principle.
The fans erupt at the sight of Jake Roberts, and he and Martel go at it like wild dogs at a cat convention. ‘The Snakeman’ is still unhappy about being blinded by Martel’s perfume, ‘Arrogance,’ which put him on the shelf for some time. Jake hits the short-arm clothesline and tries for a DDT but Martel escapes to the outside. A nice split second shot of Shane McMahon working as a referee trying to get ‘The Model’ back in the ring as Jake chases him back in. ‘The Hammer’ cuts off Jake to give Martel a chance to breathe. But not for long, as Jake cuts away from Valentine and goes after Martel again, who is on the apron arguing with the officials and doesn’t want to get back in.
The other half of Power and Glory arrives in the form of the mighty Hercules, who helps his partner Roma from being eliminated by Butch. Martel gets Jake’s arms tied in the ropes momentarily until Kerry makes the save. As the next entrant Tito Santana runs out, Roma pitches himself out with a high cross body that Jake ducks and Romeo is heading back to the shower. Tito naturally dukes it out with Martel, his former Strike Force partner, a feud and storyline that ended a while ago, but they always seem to find each other in a Rumble. Long term booking!
The Undertaker emerges with manager Brother Love, which is still jarring to see to this day. He makes an immediate impact as soon as he enters, picking up Bret by the throat and putting him out to end ‘The Hitman’s’ stint of around twenty minutes. Jimmy Snuka comes in at the same time as ‘Taker throws out Butch. Kerry and Taker scrap a fair bit – perhaps an issue from their World Class days?! – and Valentine scores with two big elbows to Taker’s head.
British Bulldog is next man in, followed by Demolition Smash. Jake and Martel have continued their battle but it comes to an end at this point. Martel finds himself on the apron again after avoiding the DDT and again, the referees have a hard time getting him back in the ring. He manages to get behind Jake who was up against the ropes fighting Hercules and snaps him over the top rope to the floor. Hawk comes in with Saba Simba’s strategy hitting everyone until half the participants gang up on him.
A pre-Dean Shane Douglas makes his way out, and in quick order, Kerry misses a Discus Punch and is The Undertaker’s third elimination, right before Hawk throws out Snuka. The eighteenth entrant did not appear, and Gorilla deduces that perhaps it was someone in the back lacing up his boots, and when it came his turn, he said no thank you. More on this later. The Legion of Doom unite in the Rumble with Animal next up, and he goes around doing what Hawk did when he first arrived, and completely no-sells Smash. Animal moves to helping Hawk work over The Undertaker, and together they clothesline him out. But as Hawk celebrates, he gets shoulder-blocked from behind by Hercules and Martel and he’s out as well.
Gorilla and Pipes put over Greg’s tenacity and endurance, and sneak in a reference to Valentine’s father, the equally tough Johnny Valentine. Crush arrives and helps Smash with the crushing of Davey Boy. Martel also gets a plug from the commentary team, as Piper says that instead of modelling Arrogance, he could model Endurance. Nice one. Big pop for Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Piper talks about strategy and how much it comes into play, despite earlier in the match saying nobody probably knows the best way to approach a Rumble.
Business picks up again with the entry of The Earthquake. Animal is there to greet him and they exchange blows. Animal has Earthquake reeling until he gets too rambunctious and gets backdropped out. Intercontinental champ Mr Perfect saunters casually to the ring with Bobby Heenan, and a neat catch by Heenan of Perfect’s towel behind his back when he wasn’t expecting it. Duggan sends Perfect reeling into the buckle as soon as he gets in, but just like Animal, effectively puts himself out due to over enthusiasm.
And now here comes The Hulkster! He eats some punches from Smash until coming back with a big boot off the ropes before throwing him out with authority, and then targets Earthquake. The two war with each other when Haku arrives. Hulk breaks away from battling Quake and easily dumps out Valentine to end his run of over forty-five minutes. Gorilla says there should be a consolation prize for guys that have stuck it out that long, but Piper counters – with what would be a very un-politically correct statement nowadays – that there are no seconds or thirds. No participation trophies in 1991, dag nabbit!
In a situation that would only happen in a Rumble, Earthquake and Perfect go at it. Jim Neidhart trundles out, as Quake pitches out Tito like he was a sack of spuds. The next elimination goes down in Rumble folklore, as Earthquake throws out Bushwhacker Luke seconds after he bushwhacked in. A very trim ‘Nasty Boy’ Knobbs gets the same treatment as Hawk got trying to throw his weight around. However, he still manages to tip out Hercules. The massive Warlord is next, as Crush takes a spill off the second rope and down to the floor courtesy of ‘The Hulkster.’ Not long after, Hulk also takes out The Warlord, who despite his bulk, never fared too well in Rumbles.
The arrival of Tugboat as number thirty reveals that number eighteen was ‘The Macho King’ Randy Savage. Gorilla and Roddy deduce that The UItimate Warrior must have run him out of the building. Tuggers goes straight for The Quake (they’re not Natural Disasters just yet). Neidhart almost eliminates Perfect and off camera, Knobbs puts out Shane Douglas, who gets a nice ovation from the crowd for what was a very respectable time in the Rumble. In a great spot, two friends Hogan and Tugboat go at it, and Hogan almost gets eliminated.
Chaos ensues as we see multiple eliminations in a short period of time. Hogan puts out Tugboat, Perfect gets dropkicked off the turnbuckles by Davey Boy, new record holder Rick Martel throws out Neidhart, and Davey Boy scores another elimination with a backdrop on Haku. The final five is now Hogan, Earthquake, Davey Boy, Martel and Knobbs.
Quake and Knobbs team up on Hogan while Davey squares off with Martel. ‘The Model’ hits a double ax handle off the second rope, and delivers a scoop slam. He then takes a big risk going to the top rope and pays for it. Davey shakes the rope to put him off balance and sends him out with a running clothesline. Martel was in the Rumble for just under fifty-three minutes. Davey Boy tries to help Hogan, but instead gets beaten up and thrown out for his efforts.
Things do not look good for The Hulkster as Knobbs hits multiple elbowdrops and then Quake executes a splash. More elbows from Knobbs and then Quake ushers him aside to hit the Earthquake splash. The two celebrate and as expected, we get a Hulk Up. He levels both of them with a running clothesline and a massive boot puts out Knobbs. Hogan gets a big boot on Earthquake as well and decks Jimmy Hart before signaling for a slam. However, the immense weight is too much and Earthquake squashes him.
Quake delivers two elbowdrops and a big powerslam, and then goes for the cover. This gives the excuse for Hogan to power out and Hulk Up for a second time. He gets the slam and then eliminates Quake with a running clothesline to become the second two-time winner of the Rumble, and the first back-to-back winner. The waving of Old Glory by ‘The Hulkster’ closes out the show. ~ ***
WINNER: Hulk Hogan
The Verdict: The Rumble match itself was pretty good, and while not supported by an amazing undercard, we got the start of a few storylines heading into Wrestlemania. The Rockers and Orient Express opener was brilliant, as one would expect. This got the event off to a nice start, and was by far the best of the night. In fact, it’s one of the best matches you’ll see on this era of WWF pay-per-view. The WWF title match between Warrior and Slaughter was nothing to write home about, but the main purpose is to set-up matches for ‘Mania, that being the main event between Slaughter and Hogan for the title, and Savage versus Warrior, respectively.
While we’re traveling that way, we can also mention that the tag match with Dibiase and Virgil against The Rhodes’ was as much an angle as it was a match; again nothing amazing, but setting up a bout between Dibiase and his now former bodyguard at the biggest show on the calendar. (Both Dusty and Dustin left the WWF after the Rumble and went to WCW). Bossman and Barbarian wasn’t a bad ‘big boy’ bout, following up a similar performance from a then-heel Bossman against ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan at the previous year’s Rumble. Mountie and Koko was what it was, a filler match after the shock finish of the WWF Title match.
Overall Rating: ***