Smash from the Past
Subject: The 1992 Royal Rumble Match
“Ric would barely survive-barely survive-then, at the last second, avoid elimination. He knew how to do it so well. You had the drama of the perennial NWA champion trying to prove that he was really the greatest, going against everyone in the World Wrestling Federation. It was the best match I ever announced, the only time I ever felt that a match I was calling was one hundred percent real.”
It started at the 1991 Survivor Series. The clash for the championship between the immortal Hulk Hogan and the unstoppable Undertaker was coming to a head when Ric Flair appeared at ringside throwing, a chair in the ring for Taker to give Hogan the Tombstone on the steel and claim the championship. With the controversial finish, WWF President Jack Tunney ordered a rematch at the emergency pay per view Tuesday in Texas. That match was even more controversial as Hogan through ashes from Paul Bearer’s urn into the eyes of Taker and won back the title. After two controversial matches that resulted in tainted title changes, the championship was held up and declared as the prize for the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble on January 19th at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, NY. History would be made as the stakes for the Royal Rumble were raised to an all-time high, one that it has still not been matched today in terms of meaning.
“Whatever mistakes Vince had made with the Hogan series were being nullified. Not only was Vince having me win the title, I was going to defeat twenty-nine other wrestlers.”
The crowd was ready as was the pay per view audience as history was about to be made.
Howard Finkel introduces entrant # 1-Davey Boy Smith. The million dollar laugh sounds throughout the arena as Ted Dibiase enters at # 2. Both men start off right away by trading punches before Dibiase takes over with a clothesline and a series of suplexes. Gorilla Monsoon reminds the audience that the record time from the previous year’s rumble is Rick Martel at 53:14 with Bushwhacker Luke for 4.8 seconds for shortest time. Dibiase arrogantly tosses Bulldog over the ropes and turns his back before the Bulldog hits the floor. Davey stops himself and takes Dibiase out of the match with a clothesline over the top. Ric Flair enters at #3. Heenan cries in indignation at Flair’s early number. Monsoon is only too happy to let Bobby know nobody in rumble history has ever drawn numbers one through five and won the match.
“I was wrestler number three in the rumble. That gave me the entire match to show my stuff to the World Wrestling Federation fans who had never watched WCW, and the WCW fans transferring their allegiance. It was easy. The Knickerbocker Arena was alive and sold out. And just about everyone else in the ring-including Pieper, Shawn Michaels, ?British Bulldog? Davey Boy Smith, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Savage, Hogan, Kerry Von Erich-was a star, a phenomenon that I feel doesn?t exist today.”
Smith quickly overpowers Flair and press-slams him over his head, then hits a clothesline. Flair comes back with a jab to the eye, Bulldog answers with another big clothesline. Flair begs off as the clock counts down from ten. Smith tries to eliminate Flair but he holds on. Jimmy Hart leads Jerry Sags down to the ring as the 4th entrant.
Heenan tells Flair to let Sags do the dirty work as Sags and Flair gang up on Bulldog, but Davey Boy comes back with a big double-clothesline and tosses out Sags. Bulldog hits a powerslam as Haku enters at #5. Haku goes after Smith and joins forces with Flair. Heenan tells Flair to let Haku do the dirty work only for Haku to turn on Flair. Flair ducks out of the ring and Haku goes back to work on Bulldog, hitting a piledriver. Flair sneaks up on Haku and hits a knee drop, then goes back to work on Bulldog. The clock counts down and Shawn Michaels enters at # 6.
Flair and HBK trade chops and Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music. HBK turns around to receive press slam from Bulldog and a near elimination. Flair tries to eliminate Michaels. Bulldog gets HBK into the corner and crotches him on the top rope. Tito Santana comes in at # 7 and goes after Flair. Soon Tito and his prot?g? HBK are going at it. A brief tag team brawl ensues as Tito and Bulldog go against Flair and Michaels. Flair hits a low blow on Bulldog as the crowd OOOOOHHHHHS. Santana hit a flying forearm on Flair as the clock counts down. Barbarian hits the ring at # 9.
He goes after Bulldog as Flair and HBK team up on Tito. Bulldog resists the elimination. Tito fights back against all three heels until Bulldog is back in the game. # 10 is revealed to be Kerry Von Erich. He and Flair go after each other. Bulldog hits a slingshot on HBK as Barbarian tries to eliminate Tito. #11,Repo Man, enters. He sneaks around the ring with his pedophile mustache and black mask before hitting the action. Tito hits another flying forearm, this time on Barbarian. All seven men brawl as the clock counts down. Greg Valentine hits the ring and goes after Flair. They trade ferocious chops. Monsoon again reminds Heenan of the impossibility of Flair winning for Heenan to cry ?Shut up!? like a little kid.
# 13 Nikolai Vollkoff enters. He brawls with Repo Man and Barbarian. Valentine locks in a figure four on Flair as Repo Man dumps Nikolai over the top. The clock counts down and Big Boss Man enters and goes after everyone. In the meantime, Repo throws out Valentine. Boss Man lawn darts Repo out of the ring. Flair tosses out an exhausted Bulldog who is followed by Von Erich. As the clock counts down, Tito and Michaels tackles each other out of the ring. # 14, Hercules, enters and goes after Flair. Flair high-fives Barbarian only to turn on him and Flair’s receipt is a press slam. Hercules dumps out Barbarian as the brute nearly has Flair out. Boss Man then eliminates Hercules and has Flair all to himself. A big clothesline by Boss Man, who then lunges at Flair, who ducks and Boss Man goes over the top to the floor, leaving Flair alone in the ring as the clock counts down.
Roddy Piper comes out at # 15 to a huge pop.
“I took everybody’s big moves and kept going. The British Bulldog held me over his head, then pressed me up and down four times before slamming me to the mat. Shanw hit me with his Sweet Chin Music side kick, Hogan gave me a suplex. I was alone in the ring at one point, having dispatched my other opponents, when the buzzer sounded and Piper rushed down the aisle. I squeezed my eyes shut, opened my mouth and titled my head back as if to cry, ?Oh no!?
Piper delivered a backdrop and a dropkick. I rolled under the ropes?and Piper followed me to ringside, chopping me against the guardrail. Then he rolled me back into the ring, where he whipped up the crowd by giving me an airplane spin.”
Piper then gives Flair a series of punches in the corner. Flair tries to counter with an inverted atomic drop but Piper lands on his feet and jabs Flair in the eye. The crowd has comes alive and is on fire. Piper then airplane spins Flair and puts on a sleeper hold. # 16 enters and Jake Roberts relaxes in the corner as Piper works Flair. Once Piper’s back is turned, the snake attacks. Jake signals for the DDT on Flair but Piper hits a clothesline. Flair then snaps the figure four on Roberts. A triple threat brawl has ensued and the countdown for # 17 begins.
Jim Duggan enters and goes after Flair. Another tag team brawl begins as Piper and Duggan face Flair and Roberts. Heenan claims Hogan has something to do with Flair’s rumble spot. Flair and Piper trade chops. IRS enters as #18. He takes his time to the ring and then hits Flair. Duggan grabs IRS by the tie and throws a series of punches to him. As Flair and Roberts try to eliminate Piper, Duggan grabs both men by the back of their heads and rams them into each other. Flair flops face first to the mat. The match slows down and Jimmy Snuka comes in at # 19. He too goes after Flair. Piper tries to throw out Flair but he holds on. Roberts also tries to throw out Flair but to no avail. # 20 enters and it is the Undertaker, who immediately throws out Snuka only to turn and attack Flair.
# 21 is Randy Savage. The crowd comes alive as Savage tries to find Roberts, who has snuck out of the ring. Savage is beat down by Taker until Roberts comes back in and takes over. Savage comes back and hits a double-ax-handle from the top. He throws out Jake only to propel himself over the top and attack Jake. Monsoon says that Savage has eliminated himself as Taker goes outside after Savage. Savage is thrown back in the ring and the audience is told Savage is still in since he wasn?t eliminated by someone else.
# 22 is Berzerker. Piper has IRS tangled in the ropes but he stays in. Flair turns his attention to Savage as Duggan and Berzerker go at it. Flair tries to suplex Savage from the apron to the outside but Savage reverses Flair back into the ring. Monsoon lets the audience know that Flair has beaten Martel’s record from 1991 and is only a few minutes away from the overall record time in the rumble. Virgil enters at # 23 and goes after IRS. Heenan wonders aloud how many bags Virgil has gone through in the back. Taker tries to dump over Flair but fails. Mustafa enters at # 24. All participants have broken off into mini brawls throughout the ring. Piper hits ten punches in the corner and is then torn down by Taker.
Rick Martel enters at # 25 and goes after Flair. Martel tries to dump out Flair but Flair hangs tight. Out goes Mustafa at the hands of Savage. Duggan gets the crowd into a U-S-A chant. Monsoon says that Piper, who had won the I-C belt earlier in the night, could make history if he were to win the WWF title in the rumble as well.
#26 is Hulk Hogan. He rams Flair and Taker into each other then moves onto the rest of the ring. He hits a big clothesline and eliminates his nemesis Undertaker, effectively proving himself to be the better man. He then tosses out Berzerker and rips off his shirt, then wraps it around the neck of Martel. Duggan and Virgil tackle each other over the top. IRS now has Hogan’s ripped up shirt around the neck of Piper.
# 27 is Skinner. Hulk’s shirt is now around IRS’s neck. He goes after Hulk, as does Skinner. Monsoon announces Flair now is the all-time rumble record holder. Hogan hits a big clothesline on Flair and Skinner. Sgt Slaughter comes in at # 28 and goes after Flair. Skinner is eliminated by Martel.
Savage uses Hogan’s shirt on IRS. Sid Justice enters at # 29. He goes after IRS and tries to eliminate him but to no avail. Sid gets his hands on Flair to the crowd’s delight. # 30 enters and it is Warlord. Hogan hits a suplex on Flair on the arena floor. Sid eliminates Slaughter. IRS tries to throw out Piper but Piper hangs onto his tie and eliminates him. Sid and Hogan throw out Warlord. Sid tosses out both Piper and Martel.
“The final four wrestlers in the rumble were myself, Hogan, Sid Justice and Randy Savage. I kneed Sid from behind while he dangles Randy over the ropes, and Macho Man fell to the floor. Hogan then started battering me all over the ring. As he stomped me in the corner, Sid sneaked up from the rear and flipped Hogan over the top. Hogan protested from the arena floor, clutching onto Sid’s hand when he took a swipe at him. That allowed me to creep up on Sid and shove him out of the ring.
Now it was only me standing in the squared circle. The fans were leaping up and down, basking in the historic significance of the moment. ?Nature Boy? Ric Flair had become the World Wrestling Federation Champion.”
Mr. Perfect accompanies Flair to the back as Heenan applauds. Hogan and Sid begin arguing in the ring and are pulled apart by security. Hogan cups his ear to the crowd and they want to see the two men go at it. Sid leaves the ring as Flair is presented the championship belt backstage by Jack Tunney.
“I want to jump, I want to party.? I told announcer ?Mean Gene Okerlund during my postmatch interview. ?For the Hulk Hogans and the Macho Mans and the Pipers and the Sids, now it’s Ric Flair, and you all pay homage to the man! Wooooo!”
Before closing the interview, Flair had one more thing to say.
“I had one other point to make, specifically to Jim Crockett, Jim Herd, Dusty Rhodes, and everyone else who diluted the NWA Championship until it wasn?t worth a damn: ?This is the only title in the wrestling world that makes you number one!?
Order of Participants:
#1 British Bulldog
#2 Ted Dibiase
#3 Ric Flair
#4 Jerry Sags
#6 Shawn Michaels
#7 Tito Santana
#8 The Barbarian
#9 Kerry Von Erich
#10 Repo Man
#11 Greg Valentine
#12 Nikolai Vollkoff
#13 Big Boss Man
#15 Roddy Piper
#16 Jake Roberts
#17 Jim Duggan
#19 Jimmy Snuka
#21 Randy Savage
#24 Col. Mustafa
#25 Rick Martel
#26 Hulk Hogan
#28 Sgt. Slaughter
#29 Sid Justice
Winner: Ric Flair at 1:01:02
Longest Time: Ric Flair at 59:26
Shortest Time: Hercules at: 56
Most Eliminated: Sid Justice with six eliminations.
While he marched out to a huge pop, Sid Justice seemed lost once he got to the ring. He went after IRS and tried to eliminate him but could not. As the most physically imposing figure in the match he sort of had an underwhelming entrance. In between eliminations he had a hard time finding someone to fight.
While the rumble always has several combinations of matches going on inside the ring, it truly felt like Flair had a one-on-one match with most of the participants that night. Nearly every entrant went after Flair first before moving on to other competitors. It was a brilliant theme throughout the match.
Hulk Hogan’s torn shirt was the designated weapon of the night as it was used on may participants. As the match came to a close, it was lying on the apron next to the point of elimination for Hogan and Justice, almost as a piece of evidence.
Big Boss Man eliminated himself earlier, but Savage was allowed to stay in after jumping over the top rope. The problem was that Savage was supposed to be in the final four. As Undertaker went outside after him one must wonder if he went out there to tell Savage he screwed up.
As the Show came to a close Sid Justice and Hulk Hogan were in the arena being separated by security while Ric Flair was being presented backstage with the WWF Championship by Jack Tunney. It was the perfect end to the show, and demonstrated how greed and how one believes that what they are trying to attain among many deeply feel that the belt belonged to them. Hogan felt that nobody could take the title away from him and Sid felt it was his time. Their obsession to possess the championship only served for the title to possess them ad drove them apart. From a storyline point of view, there was no reason the two of them wouldn?t be able to eliminate an exhausted Flair. Instead, their conflict began a new direction for both. Even though they were the last two in the rumble with Flair, and the top two baby faces on the card, the Wrestlemania title shot went to Randy Savage as Sid and Hogan were left to fight it out in a grudge match.
From a business standpoint, Hogan vs. Flair could and should have been the biggest WM match ever. When it finally did happen two years later in WCW, it was on a much smaller scale and much less of an impact. Not putting on that match was one of the biggest mistakes WWF made at the time, but amid a steroid scandal and Hogan pursuing an acting career; it just wasn?t going to happen.
The 1992 still stands as the most important rumble in memory because of its prize to the winner-the WWF title. In 2010 the Royal Rumble still fascinates wrestling fans but has lost a bit of its luster. When the Rumble first started it was a new breed of battle royal that really didn?t reward anyone except with the Rumble winner title. After a few years it became the beginning of the road to Wrestlemania where the winner would go to the WM main event and receive a title shot. In 2003 the rumble took a different direction as two world titles now occupied respective brands with the winner getting a shot at their brand’s championship. It then turned to the winner choosing which championship they wanted to fight for. As the years have gone by with that same formula the rumble has lost its luster for that reason-the winner gets one shot at one title while some other random competitor gets the other title shot. Another reason for loss of prestige is the fact that not all Rumble winners are guaranteed the main event slot at WM. In 2006 Rey Mysterio’s record-setting time in the Rumble got him a match ? of the way through the show while Triple H got the main event Wrestlemania XXII. What is simply baffling is how WWE was handed a golden storyline for the rumble that year when Batista, the World Champion, had to vacate the title due to injury. That rumble could have been great for a championship prize that year. Build for the match could have had Raw superstars frothing at the mouth for the chance to win the other brand’s title and Smackdown stars trying to unite to keep their prized possession. Instead, a battle royal was held just weeks before the event to declare a new champion. The same non-main event scenario happened in 2007 when Undertaker’s historic win was placed on the fourth match on the card and the Raw brand’s title was fought for between John Cena and a guy who was put in their because of injuries to other superstars. The 2008 Rumble had a surprise # 30 entrant in John Cena who went on to win the match and get a title shot?at No Way Out. 2009 saw a return to the roots as Randy Orton got the main event slot at Mania and built a great feud with champion Triple H, only to be let down with a bad stipulation that caused the match to suffer greatly.
In that respect, while Rumble can stand on its own as a great show, it almost is a two-parter as the Wrestlemania match needs to deliver in order to make that Rumble win significant. If the 2010 Rumble is to succeed it needs a great story coming out. While a Shawn Michaels win would seem anticlimactic, it would fit in very nicely with the current angle HBK has going with Taker, they just have the problem of delivering a match at the very least on par with their match last year. Some of the previous Rumble winners have had very predictable winners in hindsight. This year, with the Rumble packed with main eventers and mid carders, there are limitless possibilities for how the story will begin. Despite the quality and intensity of all rumbles that have come since, none have matched 1992 for significance or excellence.