Tuesday, June 17, 2014

WWE Network World Tour: Royal Rumble 1992


In August 1991, the WWF, Bobby Heenan, and Ric Flair made wrestling history after Flair was fired from WCW due to creative "differences" with its president, Jim Herd (can you imagine Ric Flair disagreeing with the idea of completely redesigning his character and renaming him "Spartacus?" That would have made millions!). Throughout the Hulkamania era of the WWF, hardcore wrestling fans who followed every wrestling promotion and marked out for technical wrestling contended that Hulk Hogan only kept a stranglehold on the WWF Title because he'd never wrestled Ric Flair. Whether you were a complete mark or someone who actually realized that, ya know, it was completely logical that Ric Flair in the WWF would have been booked as just another heel that would lose to the big boot and legdrop, what with Hogan being the companies golden egg-laying goose and all, it was still fun to daydream about what would happen if, someday, the two men who held the two most prestigious championships in pro wrestling in the 1980s were to collide. And in 1991, after Flair's ignoble dismissal from the company that was once Jim Crockett Promotions--the company he ruled for ten years--it was finally possible.

Not that any of us teenagers really knew the behind the scenes politics in the NWA at the time, so when this aired on WWF Wrestling Challenge, there was almost no advance warning and jaws hit the floor across North America on one Saturday morning in August:

I love how Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Neidhart act like they've never seen the Big Gold Belt in their lives, and have never heard of Ric Flair. Buncha company man babyfaces treating their employer like it's the only game in town, while the diabolical heel manager has his finger on the pulse of the wrestling underground. And yes, that is the original Big Gold NWA World Championship Belt that Heenan is holding in this video. When Flair was fired from WCW, he was the world champ, and when Jim Herd and WCW demanded it back, Flair said, "ok, fine, as long as you return the $25,000 deposit i paid when i first won the belt way back in 1981." (This was a thing that NWA champions did back in the day, apparently.) WCW didn't have the money (because it was paid to the NWA, not them), and thus Flair kept the belt to use on WWF television as the "Real World's Champion."

So Flair immediately started making life difficult for his old friend/nemesis, Roddy Piper, and eventually got onto Hogan's radar by interfering in Hulk's title defense against the young Undertaker at the 1991 Survivor Series. After tombstone piledriving Hogan onto a chair that Flair slid into the ring, 'Taker had won his first title and was headed to a WWF "President" Jack Tunney-mandated rematch at a 1st time (and only) PPV the following Tuesday, creatively called This Tuesday in Texas. There, Hogan regained his title after throwing ashes from 'Taker's urn into his face (which, EW). Because Tunney was at ringside and witnessed the flagrant cheating from the WWF's resident superhero, justice prevailed (the concept, not Sid Justice) and Hogan was stripped of the championship, which would be filled by the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble match.

Now, let's be clear here--titles being won in battle royals is some serious lame sauce, and as a young mark i initially rolled my eyes at this announcement. You win a title via pinfall or submission (or grabbing a belt hanging above the ring by using a ladder, i suppose), not simply by tossing dudes over the top rope. The idea of The Barbarian or "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan fluking their way to the title was a serious concern of mine. What i forgot was that this shit is scripted so the title win would be booked in a way that made damn sure the winner deserved it. And hoooo boy, did the winner deserve it.

Since the events here are so critical in setting up the matches for WrestleMania VIII, let's go through the card. BONUS COVERAGE!

We open with a montage of Royal Rumble combatants, with Vince McMahon growling their names over your typical WWF-style corporate stock training video music. "THE BARBARIAN! 'HACKSAW' JIM DUGGAN! REPO MAN!" Dammit, this is exactly why i thought it was a mistake to put the WWF Title on the line in the Rumble. Just letting these guys in a match where they could conceivably fluke their way into a World Championship was like suddenly deciding to give the last place AL West team a wild card shot at the World Series, just to spice things up. Unless you think this looks like the Face of the WWF:

My god, Vince goes through nearly the entire Rumble lineup and i have no idea how his voice hasn't blown out. It's exhausting. But finally after a "HUUUUULK HOGANNNNN!" We go to Gorilla Monsoon who welcomes us to Knickerbocker Arena, where he's calling the action with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, who says he's putting all his chips on Ric Flair. Well, that certainly would be consistent with the angle. Monsoon also informs us of BREAKING NEWS: Bret "Hitman" Hart, who had been Intercontinental Champion since his SummerSlam 1991 classic match against "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, dropped the title two nights ago to The Fucking Mountie, Jacques Rougeau. In reality, The Hitman's contract was under negotiation, so the belt was taken off him lest he leave the company before he was defeated (six-year foreshadowing!). But the company also knew that the Hitman's marketability would be damaged if he was cleanly beaten by The Fucking Mountie, so they made up a bullshit story about Bret wrestling the match with a 104-degree fever and still putting up a fight before losing. Personally i think it would have been more believable if Hart wrestled with a 104-degree fever, pneumonia, leprosy, and AIDS, but still only lost because the Mountie grabbed the ropes for leverage. But then, i'm a little like a Chicago Bears Superfan when it comes to Bret Hart.

Match 1: The Orient Express (Tanaka & Kato w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The New Foundation (The Rocket" Owen Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart)

Just once i would have liked to see an Asian wrestler in the WWF in this era end up with a manager that wasn't Mr. Fuji, if only because it would have set off a great string of promos and feuds where, say, Jimmy Hart wheels out the Orient Express as his new hot tag team, only for Fuji to show up during an interview and get really indignant. "Hey! I'm the Japanese stereotype here! What the fuck?!?" The New Foundation, meanwhile, was an attempt to revitalize Jim Neidhart, who had been floundering as a singles wrestler ever since the Hart Foundation broke up, by pairing him with Bret's younger brother The Blue Blazer Owen, and dressing them both in MC Hammer pants. It was 1992. I'm sure it made sense to the WWF even in the midst of the grunge explosion. (Hell, it took them until 2002 to introduce a Vanilla Ice knockoff.)

Kato is under a mask for some reason, and when i check the Orient Express Wiki to see why, i find out that "Kato" was actually Tanaka's old Badd Company partner, Paul Diamond, under a hood to conceal his white guy-ness! Ha! That's amazing! "Hmmm, we could just bill them as Badd Company and play up their credentials as former tag champs, but who the hell is gonna believe an Asian wrestler would team with a white guy? I mean, Fuji would never allow it!" (Yes, Fuji managed the Powers of Pain and they were biracial, but he dumped them, didn't he? My half-baked anti-miscegenation tag team theory holds!)

So down the aisle come the New Foundation, and as much as i love these two guys, they look like someone threw up Crayolas on a chess board.

This is actually a photo of the team. These are not action figures.

"The New Foundation, undefeated since forming this...duo," Monsoon says, pausing before "duo" probably because he had a brief mental hiccup, but it ends up sounding like he's questioning their credentials as a legit tag team. Heenan says they look like they just got up because they still have their pajamas on. "I'm gonna tell them you said that." "I don't care!" Hahaha, yes. The match commentary starts off with Heenan talking about how nervous he is for the Rumble, although he's confident Flair will come out of it with the gold. "Well, that number did he pick, Brain?" "I don't know!" "How do you not know? The drawing was done hours ago!" "Well, I've been busy!" You mean, busy calling this match? Because there's a match going on, guys! 

While Owen Hart opens the match in control of "Kato," Monsoon lets us know that Marty Jannetty and Brian Knobbs have dropped out of the Rumble (Jannetty due to being kicked through a glass window by his now-former tag partner, Shawn Michaels; Brian Knobbs due to a dislocated shoulder) and have been replaced by Nikolai Volkoff (he's still around?) and Haku. OK, i appreciate Monsoon playing this up as real news, but there's a match going on and no one really thinks either of those two dudes might win, so let's focus. 

Our announce team finally begins discussing Owen Hart just as he leaps onto the top rope (between turnbuckles, not on one) and flips into a hiptoss on Kato, following up with a leaping shoulder-rollup into a two-count. Neidhart tags in and cackles while working Kato with an armbar and then a series of Irish whips into the turnbuckles. Kato's finally had enough and tags out to Tanaka, who is wearing a black shirt while wrestling these days because, i dunno, he's getting fat? He tries to bodyslam Neidhart and, well, no. The Anvil can't be moved by puny small Asian men! "Plus he's nuts!" Heenan says about three times. A tag to Owen and a double team into a flying legdrop leads to another two-count.

While the New Foundation continue to work over Tanaka, including a brutal shoulder in the gut by The Anvil courtesy Owen's whip, Monsoon goes further into detail on the circumstances surrounding Hitman's IC title loss. After their match, Roddy Piper came to the Hitman's aid and was attacked by the Mountie, setting up their title match tonight. Well, that's convenient. There's nothing Bret Hart likes more than when fellow babyfaces come down to ringside to ostensibly "help" him right after he's dropped a title under questionable circumstances. Of course, Heenan's response is to claim that he once wrestled a match with a 113-degree temperature, so big deal. Sounds legit. So tonight, in a minor subplot, Roddy Piper has a chance to win both the IC title and the World title in the same night. Keep your dial locked right here, folks! Your cable provider's billing you for it anyway!

This match so far is basically a showcase for the New Foundation's sick double-team moves, including a double noggin-knocker on Badd Company The Express by the Anvil that leads to Owen dropping a flying cross-bodyblock on both heels for a two-count. But finally, the Orient Express takes control when Tanaka interferes from the apron by kicking Owen in the back of the head. When Anvil comes into the ring to protest, he ends up distracting the ref, who then doesn't see Fuji crack Owen in the throat with his cane. It actually looks like a pretty nasty shot right to the Adam's apple. 

As The Express now work over Owen, we go back to discussing the Rumble and Flair's potential positioning. Monsoon wants him to pick number 1, while Heenan says that if you wanna be Fair to Flair, the winner of the Rumble should then have to advance to a match with Flair to decide the champion. Man, i loved the "Fair to Flair" nonsense. Meanwhile, Owen's trying to fight back against the double-teams, countering one move into a crucifix on Diamond Kato that's good for a two-count, but Kato immediately grabs Owen and tags Tanaka, who axehandles Owen in the lower back. "Just like the Midnight Express, the Orient Express will be tough to derail," says Monsoon. I feel like he's not talking about Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton. Tanaka spreads Owens legs while the Rocket's on the mat and it's the classic falling headbutt to the batch! Maybe Owen is wearing the Hammer pants to hide the cup he's wearing? Doesn't look like it, since he's selling his new falsetto by writing in pain on the mat. But eventually Owen gets a counter than enables him to crawl toward the Anvil...oh so slowly...and he makes the tag! But of course, the ref's back was turned trying to keep Kato out of the ring. It's the ol' "ref never saw the tag" canard! D'oh! Anvil hasn't cackled or shoulder blocked anyone in about six minutes, and he's starting to have an identity crisis out on the apron. Get him in there, Owen! Let him do these things that he does before he forgets who he is! The pants are confusing him enough!

Another cane shot on Owen leads to a two-count as Hart just gets his leg over the bottom rope. He fights back with a belly-to-belly suplex on Tanaka for a two-count before Kato comes in to make the save, including punching Anvil in the face on the apron just before Owen can make a tag. They follow it up with a vicious double-clothesline as the ref yet again argues with the Anvil on whether or not babyfaces are allowed to do as much illegal double-teaming as the bad guys. 

FINALLY, Owen reverses a double-whip into a dropkick on both members of the Express, and he deliberately, authoritatively, makes the hot tag to the Anvil, who gets slingshotted over the top rope into a double shoulder tackle on both opponents. Ah, now he remembers he's the Anvil! He levels both guys with elbows and a big body drop on Tanaka, and then whips Owen out of the ring and onto Kato for a huge pop from the audience! It was rather impressive-looking, to be honest. Owen climbs the top turnbuckle as Anvil plants Tanaka, then walks over and throws Owen into a splash on Tanaka, and it's good for the win. The New Foundation come out on top in a pretty entertaining, if routine, showcase for Owen Hart's high-flyer skills. Hooray Owen!

Winners: The New Foundation in 17:18

We now go to Lord Al Hayes, who narrates some footage from the Springfield, Mass Intercontinental Title tilt where Bret Hart gets rolled up in a small package by the Mountie and loses the strap. The post-match attack on Hart is shown, as is Piper's rescue and subsequent jumping by The Fucking Mountie. Man, it's a good thing the WWF just happened to bring a camera to this house show so we could see what happened! Usually they don't videotape these house shows! They must have had a feeling something was going to happen as soon as the Hitman showed them what his rectal thermometer said. We go to Sean Mooney who's on the locker room set with the Mountie and Jimmy Hart, who are laughing at Bret's fever and questioning what Piper did to deserve a title match. "Let me ask you, Jack Tunney: what's Piper's win-loss record, huh? What gives him the right to step into the ring on two days' notice and challenge me?" Well, dude, i guess don't win a title at a house show two nights before a pay-per-view next time? Then again, for some reason, crazy stuff always happens to Jacques Rougeau at house shows, like that time he beat Hulk Hogan cleanly at a WCW show:

Roddy Piper's with Mean Gene Okerlund and starts off by calling the Mountie one of the original Village People, which is fine until he refers to Jimmy Hart as his "mate" and refers to Hart kissing the belt and getting lipstick all over it. Oh, good! We're a few years removed from Adrian Adonis and homophobia among the WWF's babyfaces is alive and well! If only there were a wrestler the company could dress up in an androgynous gold-painted gimmick to prey on the locker room's sense of gay panic! (Wait, am i four years early on that one?) He does, however, riff on the Mountie's threat to take away his integrity by pointing out that he's never had any, so that's a refreshing bit of honest humor. "I came here to win two titles! I can't do that until i win the first one! I think you're the one that's been dreamin'...and i think it's all been wet, too." Gah! Piper, stop it! 

Match 2: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie (c) (w/Jimmy Hart) for the WWF Intercontinental Title

My question is this: the WWF didn't have the Titantron screen over the entrance ramp yet, so did the Knickerbocker Arena audience get brought up to speed on what happened to Bret? Or did they just bring the Mountie out as the IC champ and let the audience stay confused? That had to be weird, right?

This match opens with some chess moves by the Mountie, who motions to Piper's kilt with his "electrified" cattle prod weapon, eventually forcing Piper onto the mat, where he finally removes his kilt, gingerly moves back into the ring, and then throws the kilt in the Mountie's face to start the match! Bell rings and Piper's already stomping a mudhole into the artist formerly known as a Fabulous Rougeau Brother. The Mountie bails out of the ring for a breather with his manager and Piper gives chase while Monsoon runs down the Mouth. "I wasn't there in Springfield but i wouldn't be surprised if that little runt was instrumental in the Hitman losing the title!" Uh, Monsoon, the video looked like a clean pin by the Mountie, dude. Small package. Should we replay the tape? Did you not have a monitor with which to see the tape?

The Mountie gets a brief advantage, but when he whips Piper into the ropes, dropping onto his back and putting his legs up to moneyflip the Scot, Piper slows up and connects with a falling fist drop, popping the crowd. He lines the Mountie up in the corner, probably calls a spot, and then hits a nice bulldog while Monsoon and Heenan argue about whether or not Piper has a chance to win two titles tonight (last i heard, that's a storyline, Heenan). Piper misses with a dropkick and it leads to a Mountie two-count, and then gets followed by turnbuckle shots and some gnawing on Piper's face? Ew. Jacques hits a nice flying elbow off an Irish whip for a two-count. Piper leaves the ring for a breather, climbs onto the apron, and surprises the Mountie with a sunset flip for a two-count as the announcers bicker over whether or not it was brave or foolish of the Hitman to wrestle against doctor's orders. Heenan continues to call Hart a wimp, which is pretty great. "I wrestled once with a 113-degree temperature." "Get out of here! With a 113-degree fever you'd be dead!" "I ate a half bottle of St. Joseph's aspirin for children. Knocked it right out of me. The orange flavored ones." Piper fights back with a back body drop and a bunch to the beadbasket, followed by an atomic drop that almost sends the Mountie out of the ring, but he holds onto the top rope and rushes after Piper, who moves and sends Jacques crashing into his manager, who jumped onto the apron to distract Piper at about the worst possible time! Piper slaps on the sleeper and that's all she wrote. "Hot Rod" wins his first WWF title ever and sells it like he just won the Super Bowl, which is what you're supposed to do when you win the Intercontinental title, dangit! Piper's been in the company at this point for seven years, and this is his first championship. It's a pretty great moment, honestly, even if the match itself was basically a lot of punching with a couple moves thrown in to keep it honest. One down and one to go for Hot Rod!

Winner: Roddy Piper in 5:22 via submission to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship

Al Hayes knocks on the door to Hulk Hogan's locker room in a "Coliseum Video exclusive interview," so, i don't know if this was on the actual PPV, or if it was just on the home release? If they used this as a selling point for the home video, a lot of people had to have been pretty disappointed, because this is just Hogan saying that he's not going to have any friends in the Rumble, and this match fits him to a T, and he knows Lord Al knows a lot about tea, but they won't be sipping any, and what the fuck is he talking about?

Speaking of nonsensical blathering, Mean Gene is with the Bushwhackers and...some dude dressed up like a greasy nerd in masking-taped glasses? What the sam hell is this? I don't remember this at ALL. Jamison? Who the fuck was Jamison? To the Google machine! ...Oh, wait, i kind of remember this guy now. Heenan used to run him down a bunch on Prime Time Wrestling, i guess. Why he's with the Bushwhackers here, i do not know, unless it's to make me rage-type about it, in which case, let's do this thing.

"Mean Gene!" Luke exclaims! "I've never been excited in all my life!" (I think he means he's never been MORE excited, but who knows.) "Beverly Sisters! This is your final fling!" (Ah, yes, the classic insult of feminizing your opponents, because women are all weak and inferior. By the way, Packer fans--calling the Vikings the "ViQueens" is horseshit sexism and probably homophobic too and you shouldn't do it, ok?)

Match 3: The Beverly Brothers (Beau & Blake w/The Genius) vs. The Bushwhackers (Butch & Luke w/Jamison)

The Beverly Brothers were the short-lived WWF gimmick of the AWA's Destruction Crew, which is about as generic a nickname as you're going to find for a tag team, so why not package them as snooty upper-crust sophisticates from...Akron, Ohio? Uh, OK? Even back in 1992 this gimmick made no sense to me. "So, ok guys, you're going to wear lavender tights with shooting stars on them and mince around a bit, but not really. I mean, you're going to get boos because you're not very manly, but keep wrestling like you're still called 'The Destruction Crew.' We'll make it make sense in post." Man, if you're going to do a gay panic angle (and i'm still not entirely sure this was one of those), either go all out or don't do it at all. You can't half-ass gay panic. It's the full ass or no ass at all. Has the WWF signed Dustin Rhodes yet? He'll show you how it's done, by god.

I'm assuming the WWF put this feud together because they thought it'd be funny to get two guys named "Bo" and "Luke" in the same ring together, even if the names aren't spelled exactly right. Well, at least we get a poem out of the Genius, one Lanny Poffo. It's pretty shitty, though, and has something to do with beating up this nerd Jamison.

I hope you guys don't mind that this match has been going on for about three minutes now, and i haven't been paying attention because i'm trying to find an image that really drives home how idiotic this Jamison character is. I just looked up and saw a Bushwhacker gnawing on a Beverly brother's ass, so i don't think i'm missing much, even though Heenan referred to it as "Greco-Roman Biting." I feel like there are multiple layers in that joke.

Looks like this is the best i'm gonna get:

What this photo doesn't show is this dude at ringside gnawing on a long sock that's hanging out of his jacket pocket. Or a tie? Is it his tie? Apparently there are a bunch of rumors online that he was played by comedian Andy Kindler, which makes no goddamn sense at all, so i ain't buying it.

So, hey, what's happening in this match? It's been like four minutes; why isn't it over yet? "Mean" Mike Enos--er, i mean Blake Beverly (or is he Beau?) just got a thumb to the eye at ringside by Butch, and now Wayne "The Train" Bloom--er, i mean Beau (Blake?) Beverly is working over Luke in the ring while Jamison is yelling at him to stop cheating. Hey, who was biting who in the ass cheek earlier? Beverly Brothers in control as Jamison whines at ringside, and seriously, why is this match not over yet? Are they giving the crowd a chance to hit the head before the hour-long main event? I'm trying to focus on Heenan's constant jabbing at Jamison, but all i can concentrate on is how absolutely nothing of any interest is happening. Oh, wait, the Genius just slapped Jamison in the face. "Wash your hand, Genius!" Heenan says.

"Match continuing at a furious pace here," lies Gorilla. The Bushwhackers manage to reverse an Irish whip attempt into a clothesline that "pops" the crowd, but i'm convinced it's audience sweetening in post, because there is no way any wrestling audience could be giving a fifth of a shit about this. Finally the Beverlys get the win with their scintillating "hold the dude while your partner hits an axehandle off the top rope" move. Jesus, they gave the Intercontinental Title match 5 minutes and gave this, what, fifteen? Are you shitting me?

Winners: The Beverly Brothers via pinfall in 14:56, no shit

Of all the matches i've recapped so far on this blog, the only one that was more boring was probably the Roberts/Martel blindfold match, and that was only because those guys were pretending to not be able to see. Ugh. There's some extra-curricular post-match activity where the Bushwhackers and Jamison gang up on the Genius, and who cares. Not only was this whole segment vaguely homophobic, but i'm pretty sure the developmentally disabled have grounds for a defamation lawsuit after this.

Hey! Mean Gene has the Legion of Doom with him, now the WWF Tag Team Champions after beating the shit out of the Nasty Boys back at SummerSlam. They have a title defense against Earthquake and Typhoon, the Natural Disasters (although since they're the size of planets, they could have called themselves the Heavenly Bodies and had a hilarious feud with Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Rey). This promo is fucking gold. Animal does the usual lead-in. "We said we wouldn't be closet champions, and we'll face anyone! The Natural Disasters have a half a ton between them. Well that's ok, because we're the champs, and we ain't gonna start losing now! Right Hawk?"

"WELL...Mean Gene, you know what makes us sick, other than everything? Typhoon and Earthquake! They wanna throw their weight around! Well that's ok! We wanna throw your weight around too! And when we're done with you, and we've still got the belts, your tongues will be hanging outta your mouths like dead deers!" Bwahahahaha!

Match 4: The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)(c) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon w/Jimmy Hart) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship

Ah, Typhoon. I'd say this was your best gimmick, but compared to Tugboat and the Shockmaster, that doesn't really say much. Heenan is protesting the huge spikes on the LOD's shoulder pads, saying you could put an eye out with 'em. Man, they look like they're made out of foam to me, but i've never researched that fully. Hawk and Earthquake are face-to-face in the ring, and 'Quake's got about three or four inches on Hawk, who is giving 'Quake a nonchalant "'Sup?" shoulder shrug which is cracking me up. Hawk gives no fucks. Jimmy Hart prowls at ringside, and the announcers speculate about whether or not he's shaken off the Mountie's loss enough to concentrate on this match. Monsoon once again speculates that Hart was responsible for the Mountie winning the title, and dammit, Gorilla, you're just making stuff up.

Hawk and Typhoon start things off and Heenan starts heeling on Hawk immediately. "C'mon, Hawk, throw him around a little! Oooh, what a rush!" After a few stalemate shoulder blocks, Hawk goes up to the head, then fells the Typhoon with a flying clothesline from the top, sending Typhoon for cover as he makes the tag to Earthquake. Hawk hits him with a dropkick and he doesn't budge, but after a staredown Earthquake tries a dropkick which Hawk dodges, sending 'Quake crashing to the mat and rolling to the ropes to regroup. But: holy shit! Earthquake can do a dropkick! Monsoon says "he wouldn't have hit Sky Low Low with that one!" but i think it's because 'Quake would have shot over Sky Low Low's head! It wasn't bad!

Animal tags in and a double clothesline knocks down both wrestlers. Animal pops the crowd when he lifts Earthquake up for a body slam, but he collapses under the weight and barely avoids a three-count, Andre/Hogan-style. Typhoon takes control after a tag with an avalanche, but he tries a second one and eats a boot to the face and a wicked clothesline from Animal, who tags to Hawk. Hawk & Typhoon proceed to stalemate on a couple clothesline attempts until Hawk tries a bodypress and gets caught, resulting in a few consecutive backbreakers by Typhoon and a wicked sling into the turnbuckle that puts Hawk on a serious defensive. Earthquake drops an elbow that pops the crowd and results in a two-count. How do you make a brawl entertaining? Get two superheavyweights in there and just let the crowd flip out over their squash moves. Works every time.

Earthquake continues to work over Hawk, and even walks over him a few times, then slapping on a bearhug. Meanwhile, Heenan calls someone over to the broadcast booth and offers him a few bucks to sneak into the locker room and ask Flair for his number in the Rumble. So great.

Hawk hits a hot tag to Animal and he lands a HIGH shoulder block on Earthquake, but Typhoon runs in and the Disasters try a double-back drop that backfires into Animal clotheslining both guys. All four men spill into the ringside area, and Typhoon manages to beat the count, giving the Natural Disasters a countout victory while Earthquake holds Hawk in a bearhug and Animal lies on the mat.

Of course, Jimmy Hart ecstatically runs into the ring with the tag belts and hands them to the Disasters, who do the ol' "act like we have no idea how titles are won" routine and pretend to think they've won the belts. Man, is every wrestler that wins a title match by countout as dumb as Donovan McNabb in an overtime game? The LOD come back into the ring with chairs and clean house, grabbing their belts back as Howard Finkel explains to the crowd how title matches work. Heenan calls 'em lucky, but they're still the champs.

Winners: The Natural Disasters via countout in 9:24; The Legion of Doom retain the Tag Team Titles, duh

Monsoon: "Let's take you now to Sean Mooney." Heenan: "Who?" Never gets old. Mooney is backstage with the challengers, who keep selling the "whaddya mean we're not the champs?" shit fit. Are they stealing plays from Republicans that stir up phony outrage about shit that educated people know is complete bullshit? But that Republican voters totally buy into just because of the conviction of the acting? Because that's what this feels like.

Back briefly to Monsoon and Heenan, who briefly discuss how the Natural Disasters don't know what the fuck they're talking about. "If Jimmy needs a lawyer, i've got a few of 'em," says Heenan. Monsoon: "Two titles already decided tonight...these two retained their titles, so let's here from them--they're with Mean Gene."

Mean Gene is standing with new Intercontinental Champion "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Oops. Piper is still absolutely giddy over winning IC gold, and it's really very cute. "ONLY IN AMERICA! Where else can a skinny 15-year-old kid come on down and become champion, and have a chance at the World champeen now?" I dunno, but aren't you Canadian Scottish? "I'm gonna get in there with 30 guys and they're all gonna fall like President Bush! Thank the good Lord, the prez got up. Them, they ain't gonna be so lucky!" Yes, thank god George Bush got back up after that collapse in Japan. Whatever would we have done had he not gotten up. Eh, i suppose then we would have had President Quayle, so yeah, ok, fine, Piper's right once again.

Sean Mooney's back on the locker room set and nudges past a pacing Barbarian as he talks about how nervous everyone is in the locker room, what with any of them having a chance to be WWF Champ and all. He then starts to discuss how some of the Royal Rumble participants are considered underdogs (really? But i thought this was Volkoff's night!), which brings him to Shawn Michaels. Michaels? An underdog? Man, he really has just gone solo, hasn't he? Mooney brings up what happened on the Barbershop (Brutus Beefcake's interview show...yyyep) and we go to a clip of the classic moment when Shawn Michaels tossed Marty Jannetty through a god damned window.

"Jannetty dove through the window to escape!" -- Bobby Heenan

Mooney tells Shawn that this was one of the most heinous things he's ever seen, but Michaels is ambivalent. "I dunno what the big deal is. Marty should be thanking me. I saved him from a beating by 29 other guys. Sure, not as bad as the beating i gave him, but 29 beatings nonetheless." Hard to argue with that point, except that i don't think anyone's allowed to bring a glass window into the Rumble. Shawn's mullet here, by the way, is still tremendous. Just watch that clip above and bask.

Lord Alfred Hayes is with RIC FUCKING FLAIR for a Coliseum Video exclusive! Now THIS is bonus material! This is actually a total spoiler, as Flair 'fesses up about drawing number 3 (something they don't reveal on the broadcast until he makes his entrance, so when we get there, we'll all pretend that we don't know yet, ok?). But he calmly explains that he's ok with it, because it means he's going to go nearly an hour and that he truly will need to go through 29 other guys, and this will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he truly is the real world's champion. Wooo.

God, more interviews. Mean Gene introduces a compilation of various wrestlers giving their thoughts regarding their chances in the Rumble. Oy, this should be good. "Macho Man" Randy Savage: "Ooh, yeah! Dig it!" Sid Vicious Justice is gritting his teeth. Repo Man: "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine too! Hahahaha i used to be a tag champion oh god shoot me!" Davey Boy Smith: "I am British and flexing!" Jake Roberts: "Savage, i'll be waiting for you! Evil!" Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect: "TO BE THE MAN YOU HAVE TO BEAT THE MAN! WOOOOO!" Paul Bearer: "OoooOOOOOOooOOooOOooOOOooo YESSSSS! 29 CASKETS!" Hulk Hogan: "Dude! Brother! Hulkamania! WHACHAGONNADO?"

Howard Finkel: "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now time for the ROYAL RUMBLE!" Fucking finally.

Match 5: 30-Man Royal Rumble for the UNDISPUTED WWF World Heavyweight Championship

Do you know the rules to the Royal Rumble? If you don't, Finkel's got you covered. Match starts with two people, and every two minutes (eh, roughly, depending on dramatic storytelling demands) a new contestant hits the ring based on the number they randomly drew from 1 to 30. You can only be eliminated by going over the top rope and having both feet touch the floor. That's pretty much it. But first, Finkel brings out "President" Jack Tunney to read a proclamation. The audience boos, hilariously. He says absolutely nothing of any interest and basically says that the winner not only gets to say he beat 29 other guys, but he also becomes WWF Champ. WAIT. THIS MATCH IS FOR THE TITLE? DID YOU GUYS KNOW ABOUT THIS? Guh. Heenan talks over the whole thing. "C'mon, c'mon. Yeah yeah yeah." I'm right there with you, Brain.

Finally, we get to find out who wrestlers #1 and #2 are. Cue up the British Bulldog's theme music and here comes Davey Boy as Heenan and Monsoon talk about some big battle royal he won in England recently which makes him a dangerous competitor in this match. No, see, that battle royal was in England, where the Bulldog's always booked to win, you guys. We're in America now, where he's just another mid-card dude. #2's music hits, and out comes "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Sensational Sherri, and Sherri's glittery, completely unfuckwithable rack. "Whoo! Look at them!" says the Brain, and he's not talking about the wrestlers.

#1: Davey Boy Smith vs. #2 Ted DiBiase at 0:00

The bell rings and they waste NO time! DiBiase takes it to Davey early with some gut shots, a clothesline, a nice vertical suplex, and a gutwrench suplex while Heenan and Monsoon discuss how Ted was in the Rumble for over thirty minutes last year, and Heenan urges both guys to take breathers by leaving the ring between the ropes. "You have to go for an hour! Take a walk!" Rick Martel has the longevity record at 53:14 according to Monsoon, so you know that's probably not accurate. Case in point: he goes on to say that Bushwhacker Luke has the record for shortest time in the Rumble at 4.8 seconds, when everyone knows it was The Warlord in 1989 with a two-second run (although Santino Marella beat him with a one-second stay in 2009!). Suddenly, the Bulldog stuns DiBiase with a clothesline that sends him over the top rope! The Million Dollar Man goes bust!

DiBiase eliminated after 1:18 (his total time) by Davey Boy

After a few seconds of celebration, we cut to the countdown to #3 early, and it's...OH MY GOD IT'S THE NATURE BOY THIS IS SUCH A SHOCK! THERE"S NO WAY HE'S GOING TO LAST TO THE END IF HE'S NUMBER THREE

#3: Ric Flair (w/Mr. Perfect)

Heenan is apoplectic. "NO! DAMMIT!" "Oh, you can kiss it goodbye, Brain! Never before in the history of the Royal Rumble has anyone with numbers one through five been there at the end!" Monsoon is a pig in shit right now, while Heenan is losing his. "Sit down, Brain, before you have a heart attack." "That's ok. I know Perfect has him ready."

As Flair and Davey Boy feel each other out, Heenan begins what is regarded as one of the all-time great calls in a wrestling pay-per-view. "I have to apologize to our viewers. I don't think i can really be objective here." "When have you ever been objective?" Davey Boy gets Flair in a gorilla press over his head! "Oh no!" Flair is slammed to the mat (but not flat on his back, because it hasn't been the same since he broke it in the 70s. Fun fact! Flair always takes his back bumps off to a side). "Take a walk!" Davey Boys flattens Flair with a clothesline, but when he goes down to pick the Nature Boy off the canvas, he gets a thumb in the eye. Bulldog rebounds with a clothesline and Flair gets on his knees and begs off. Monsoon is already gloating. "How unfortunate for the executive consultant and financial advisor that they put their money on this guy, and he won't be there at the end." Davey hoists Flair over the top rope and dumps him on the apron, which surely gives Heenan an aneurysm before both men are distracted by the count down to #4...

#4: Jerry Sags (w/Jimmy Hart)

"What great camera work," says Heenan. "I have to talk about something else to distract me." Sags and Flair start double-teaming Davey Boy as Heenan pleads with Flair to let Sags do all the work. "Will you try to be objective? You're supposed to be a broadcast journalist." "Shut up!" Monsoon and Heenan are making magic on the mic. After stunning both heels with a double clothesline, Davey Boy tosses Sags over the top and onto the apron. Sags starts taunting the crowd because he's not on the floor yet, so Davey dropkicks him to finish the job. "Oh, NO! This is not fair to Flair!"

Jerry Sags eliminated after 1:06 (his total time) by Davey Boy 

#5: Haku (Gesundheit)

Haku and Flair team up against the Bulldog, but as soon as Davey hits the mat, Haku starts throwing shots at Flair. "What the hell are you doing, Haku?" Flair begs off and eventually scoots under the bottom rope for a breather, sending the refs onto his case to get him back in the ring. So, Haku, with nothing else to do, goes back after Davey Boy with a piledriver. Flair then jumps Haku, eventually dropping a knee on his head. "Ric, take a breather! You're not gonna hurt Haku hitting him in the head!" Nice. And just as #6 is announced, Davey Boy dumps Haku over the top and onto the floor.

Haku eliminated after 1:51 by Davey Boy

#6: Shawn Michaels

Michaels takes it to Flair with chops, punches and a superkick, then gets clotheslined over the top rope by Davey Boy before slipping back into the ring and stunning the Bulldog with a superkick. Man, give a guy a new finishing move and he'll use it every five goddamn seconds. Flair tries to heave Shawn out of the ring but gets a finger in his eye for the trouble. Give it to Flair; he's not in there hiding in a corner. Michaels gets crotched on the top rope by Bulldog and we count down to #7...

#7: "El Matador"Tito Santana

Because Heenan and Ventura making Mexican food jokes on a constant basis wasn't enough, they finally slapped a cheesy Latino gimmick on poor Tito Santana. He's in like a shot and gives Heenan a scare as he goes right after Flair, but eventually Michaels breaks it up as the Brain hyperventilates. "Flair, go down! Go down!" The rest of this two-minute stretch goes by uneventfully as the eliminations start to slow. Flair gets karmic revenge for Michaels by punching the Bulldog in the nards, and Tito hits the "flying jalapeno" (thanks Brain) flying forearm on Flair as we hit #8...

#8: The Barbarian

Heenan's worried about the Barbarian, which is how i figure out that Heenan's not managing jim anymore (oh yeah, that's right--Heenan retired from managing sometime after WMVII. I forgot briefly). Barbarian and Flair team up to work over Davey Boy on the apron, but he's not out yet.

#9: "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich

Von Erich Tornado immediately goes after Flair, and the Texas wrestling nerds in the crowd get a minor thrill as their feud from 1984 is briefly rekindled. Kerry lands some haymakers and Flair does his classic step-into-face-flop. Never gets old. Tornado goes on a whirlwind (har) tear in the ring and lays some fists into Michaels, who does a backwards flop to the mat. Ha! I knew there was a reason why my old roommate Kory and i thought Flair should retire in '93 and just manage HBK. Still no eliminations in the last few minutes as Heenan and Monsoon discuss Davey Boy's longevity. 1992 was the peak of Davey Boy's singles career, and you can tell by the time they're giving him in this match to show is wares, that at one point the WWF must have really thought his physique and skills were going to take him to the top. They probably rethought things a bit when he showed up with those damn braids, though.

#10: Repo Man

Repo Man "sneaks" to the ring, because he wears a mask and a black leotard with a tire stripe on it, because repossession is no different than theft, naturally. Oh, poor Barry Darsow. You had a cool Russian gimmick, then wound up half of the greatest WWF tag team champs ever, and now you're the damn Repo Man. Milton couldn't write a fall from grace that extreme.

The booking for this Rumble (and several others) is downright goofy when you think about it. It's "every man for himself," yet you almost never see the babyfaces fight each other. Instead they team up to beat down some random heel, or the opposite happens and the bad guys gang up on the angels. Occasionally we've seen hell-on-heel action, but i guess these 'faces are just too damn honorable. It's gonna cost you guys the title! Hit a dude in the nose! It's ok!

Flair and Von Erich get a little back-and-forth going again, with Flair getting the upper hand with some loud-ass chops to the chest and make the crowd "oooh." I'm looking forward to pinpointing the moment in the 1990s when that "oooh" morphed into the crowd yelling "woooo!" for every chop delivered by any wrestler ever.

#11: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

Last year, Valentine was in the Rumble for 44:20, according to Monsoon, so based on his usual inaccuracy, let's say it was actually 33:56. He goes right after Flair, which is fun because Valentine's basically ben Ric Flair lite his entire career (save that unfortunate stretch as "Rhythm" in Rhythm & Blues. Yeesh). Lots of chops to the chest of Flair, who eventually drops to the canvas and gets a breather while Repo Man distracts Valentine. Heenan, meanwhile, resumes kvetching about how much time Flair will have to spend in the ring to win the match. Gorilla is irritated. "Will you let it go? I told you--no one in the history of the Rumble has started--" "SHUT UP! Just SHUT UP!"

Von Erich and Davey Boy have Shawn Michaels reeling, as his feet are tied in the ropes and his head is dangling below the ring apron, giving Heenan an opportunity to change the subject. But still, no more eliminations before #12 emerges.

#12 Nikolai Volkoff

Nikolai Volkoff, at some point after WrestleMania VII,  became a Lithuanian and embraced glasnost in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which is convenient since he's actually Croatian. (At least he's actually Eastern European, unlike Mr. Repo "Krusher Kruschev" Man.) Speaking of which, Volkoff goes right after Repo and lays in a few shots before immediately moving on, which i would call questionable strategy. Dude, we haven't had an elimination in minutes. Go after someone! Go after the guy who was a fake poseur Russian just a few years ago! Take him out! Please take him out! His new gimmick is garbage!

(A brief aside--a few years ago, i was down a Wikipedia wrestling rabbit hole when i looked up Nikita Koloff's page and discovered that all this time, he was a Minnesotan. It was like discovering Santa Claus doesn't exist, or that Monsoon and Heenan are actually pals.)

Davey Boy's still in there, and he's still going after Flair, and while Monsoon says "I think it's fair," Heenan responds with "not to Flair." They don't miss a beat, these two. As Valentine slaps the figure four on Flair (which is analogous to Charles Robinson doing the figure four on Valentine), Repo Man and Barbarian are now beating up on Volkoff, eventually eliminating him, which, you see, Nikolai? You gave him an opening to get back at you! A dude in a Hamburglar mask! Be ashamed!

Volkoff eliminated after 1:03 by Repo Man

#13: Big Boss Man

Boss Man storms the ring and lays into everybody, and in the middle of the fracas, Repo Man eliminates Greg Valentine, which is not quite analogous to Barry Horowitz eliminating Bob Backlund, but i'm rolling with that anyway. Immediately after Valentine's elimination, Boss Man catches Repo Man from behind and swiftly tosses him from the ring, and the man once known as Big Bubba Rogers has saved us from the possibility of WWF World Heavyweight Champion Barry Darsow! Thanks, Boss Man!

Valentine eliminated after 4:12 by Repo Man; Repo Man eliminated after 6:23 by Big Boss Man

Davey Boy continues to wail on Flair as Heenan resumes kvetching. "I gotta go down to ringside." "You're not going anywhere! Do your job!" And just as Monsoon admonishes Heenan, Flair stuns Davey Boy with a backdrop and sends him flying over the top and out to the floor! Thanks for coming, Davey Boy! Hey, keep your chin up, buddy--i hear SummerSlam may be in London this year! Aaaand Flair follows it up with a swift backdrop elimination of the Texas Tornado. Whoosh!

Davey Boy eliminated after 23:33 by Flair; Von Erich eliminated after 9:20 by Flair

#14: Hercules

Gorilla Monsoon always announces Herc's name like a superhero is approaching: "HERC-u-leees!" Guh. He goes right after Flair, but that doesn't hide the fact that his hairline is receding and that his mullet is approaching levels wholly inappropriate for the post-Grunge era. Boy, they really cleared out the ring in the past few minutes; it's down to Barbarian, Boss Man, Flair and Hercules. Wait, where the hell did Michaels and Tito go?!? *checks Wikipedia*

Michaels eliminated by Santana after 15:46; Santana eliminated by Michaels after 13:55

Barbarian delivers a press slam to Flair and Heenan predictably flips out while Ric begs off to the ropes. Barbarian gets him over the top and onto the apron and Monsoon gloats "so long, Flair!" before Herc sneaks up and unwittingly bails the Nature Boy out by tossing out Barbarian. Boss Man runs across the ring and clotheslines Herc from behind, mercifully eliminating him from our sight! We're down to two, and Boss Man is grinning at Flair like a hyena, wagging his finger and reversing a Flair Irish whip into a clothesline that sends the crowd into a frenzy. But when Boss Man winds up for a charge across the ring, Flair ducks and Mr. Man's own momentum sends him caroming out of the ring and onto the floor! Flair gets a breather!

Barbarian eliminated by Hercules after 12:55
Hercules eliminated by Boss Man after 00:56
Boss Man eliminated by Flair after 3:38

"Flair wins it! Flair's the champion of the world!" Heenan is cracking everyone's shit up right now as Flair takes a faceplant breather and the clock starts to count down. We're not even at the halfway point yet, Brain. Chill out. The buzzer hits and the look on Flair's face is absolutely priceless as who should tear ass down the aisle but:

#15: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

The new Intercontinental Champ has two minutes of one-on-one time with Flair! And if you'd ben paying attention to Piper's promos for the last six months, he would have you know that he is fairly certain that he scares Flair. Piper explodes with a flurry of punches, and Irish whip and a backdrop. Jeez, Flair's taken a lot of backdrops in this match. Good thing he keeps landing on an angle. Don't re-fuck your back up, man! (As soon as i unpause it i hear Heenan say "Flair's taken about 29 back drops today." Am i good or what?)

Flair bails under the bottom rope and Piper follows suit, making sure he's not eliminated by scooting between the ropes and connecting with a clothesline. The crowd is eating this up in generous, heaping mouthfuls. Flair scoots into the ring and as Piper climbs to the apron, Ric tries to guillotine his neck on the top rope, which Roddy no-sells to hilarious effect.

FUN FACT: When Flair entered the WWF, his angle marked the first time in the Hulkamania era that the WWF acknowledged anything about a wrestler having any sort of past outside of the WWF. Until this point, other wrestling companies didn't exist as far as Vince & co. were concerned. So when they not only presented Flair with the Big Gold Belt and claimed he was under contract to "another organization," and then actually brought up Flair and Piper having a past in order to stir their feud right from the start? This was huge. It makes the hatred Piper has for Flair completely believable even though maybe 5% of the audience has ever seen them interact outside of a WWF ring.

Meanwhile, back in the ring, Piper is on top of Flair in the corner and the fans are counting the punches, until Ric carries him to center-ring and tries to hit a reverse atomic drop, which Piper blocks and counters with a poke in the eye. Fucking hysterical. Airplane spin into a sleeper and Heenan is nearly crying. But the clock hits zero and out comes:

#16: Jake "The Snake" Roberts

But does Jake break up Piper's sleeperhold? Fuck no, he slides into the ring, sits back in a corner and makes a "by all means; continue" hand motion at Roddy. "Don't mind me. I'll be over here." This is fucking GOLD. And just as he convinces Piper to turn his back and keep cranking on the sleeper, Jake gets up and axehandles him in the back. God, what a master. "Thank you, Jake. Thank you," exclaims Heenan. He chokes out Piper with his boot for a while, walks over to Flair, helps him up, slaps him five, then stuns him with a short clothesline and signals for the DDT. "That no good snake!" yells Heenan. "You were just thanking him!" "I've always said you can't trust a snake!" This is the best Rumble ever.

Jake gets the DDT headlock on Flair, but Piper clotheslines Jake to the mat. "I never thought i'd say this, but thank you Piper! It's not a skirt; it's a kilt!" Flair slaps the figure four on Jake and Piper comes over and starts kicking both guys, breaking up the hold. "Why you skirt-wearing freak! It's not a kilt; it's a skirt!"

#17: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

Well, shit. Just when this was getting really good, here comes ol' snot-nose to shit up the joint. He goes after Flair and clotheslines him in the chest, because he's too cross-eyes to aim for the throat. Let's pay attention to what Monsoon's saying about Flair instead. "Say what you want about Flair, but even if he doesn't win, he's really shown me something here. Lots of intestinal fortitude, excellent conditioning...it's just too bad he drew #3." "We were jobbed, Monsoon! We were jobbed! It's a conspiracy! Hulk Hogan has something to do with this!" Heenan is coughing because his throat is so sore from losing his god damned mind for a half hour straight.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts just reverse atomic dropped Hacksaw and he's selling it like his nards were completely shattered. So that's comforting to see.

#18: Irwin R. Shyster

The man formerly known as Mike Rotunda is casually strolling his way to the ring, but when he gets in he immediately ties up with Hacksaw, so i'm an IRS fan now. Roberts, Piper and Flair are all tied up in the ropes and it looks even more homoerotic than regular wrestling. They get broken up by IRS and Hacksaw and Flair does his 100th faceplant into the mat. Man, he's getting all the mileage out of that spot tonight.

#19: "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka

Snuka goes right over to where Hacksaw is trying to toss out Flair, hits Hacksaw to bail Flair out, then starts punching Flair, because that makes sense. Dude, help Hacksaw toss out Flair, THEN take out Duggan. Flair's benefitting from top-shelf conditioning, championship ring instincts, and some impressively stupid decisions by his opponents.

#20: The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)

Before the match, Hogan and Undertaker were promised draws between 20 and 30 by Jack Tunney, since they were the last two men to wear the WWF Title. So, basically, this means that 'Taker drew the absolute worst possible number he could have. This doesn't really matter, though, because this is a twentysomething Undertaker, and he's going to fuck up all these fools. He basically walks into the ring, decks Superfly with one punch, and sends him flying out of the ring. Fucking awesome. He then starts choking out Flair, which is a funny way to thank the guy who helped you win the title in the first place. Still, Heenan has now reached despair. "It's over. It's over."

Snuka eliminated by Undertaker after 2:27

Undertaker continues to no-sell the entire ring, and it's awesome. Flair starts chopping him from behind, and he slowly turns around and Lurches "you rang?" at him. It's awesome. Undertaker is awesome.

#21: "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Dude is FLYING to the ring to get him some Jake Roberts. He zooms into the ring, pauses, looks around, can't find Jake (who has snuck under the ropes to the floor), and gets leveled by IRS and 'Taker. That's when Roberts heads back in and gets him some of Savage, because that's your classic canny heel booking right there. Short clothesline and Savage ducks, bounces off the ropes, hits a running elbow, then connects with the flying axehandle off the top! High energy manic Savageness! He connects to Jake's back with a running knee and Roberts is OUTTA THERE!

Roberts eliminated by Savage after 10:55

Savage goes after him by leaping over the top rope and hitting the floor, continuing the attack. Heenan goes nuts. "He just eliminated himself! He's made the mistake of a lifetime!"

Savage eliminated by Savage after 1:30

Taker slides out under the bottom rope and starts beating up on Savage, then shoves him back in under the bottom rope. Heenan starts covering for Savage, who likely completely fucked up by jumping over the top rope without thinking: "Oh, i get it! The rules saw you have to be thrown over the top! Savage wasn't thrown out! So i think he can go back in!" Good thing the commentators have the directors in their ears at all times to give 'em an out, eh?

Savage eliminated by Savage after 1:30

Flair hits Undertaker with a low blow, and it's the closest 'Taker's come to selling pain all match. Instead, he hobbles slightly and looks mildly discomforted. "Flair just tried to lift the Undertaker!" "He did not!"

#22: The Berserker

The Berserker's finishing move is throwing dudes over the top rope and winning by countout, so that apparently makes him dangerous. He's still an idiot Viking who yells "Huss!" at everyone, so he's not going to win. Take it eas', guys.

#23: Virgil

Well, this Rumble is going downhill in a hurry. Monsoon and Heenan discuss Virgil's brief "reign" as "Million Dollar Champion" as he goes after IRS, Ted DiBiase's soon-to-be tag team partner. Heenan says he stole the belt, then amazingly says, "wait, he's number 23, right? He just got out there? How many bags do you think he's gone through in the back?"

#24: Col. Mustafa (w/Gen. Adnan)

In a few years from now, The Iron Sheik will win a gimmick battle royal at a future WrestleMania. For now, as Col. Mustafa, he's a tired remnant of a shitty, exploitive Gulf War gimmick and i hope he lasts ten seconds tops. Fuck this shit.

Monsoon is starting to lose it now, as he's begun to refer to Ric Flair as "Rick Martel."

#25: Rick Martel

Hmm, think Monsoon knows what order everyone's entering in?

Col. Mustafa eliminated by Savage after 2:36

Eh, close enough.

Everyone keeps attacking each other and not much of consequence happens, as i assume they're setting up for the big finish with the last five entrants due out. The crowd counts down again to...

#26: Hulk Hogan

"OH MY GOD, NO!" Heenan's not happy. Hogan goes right after Flair and gets an eye rake from 'Taker for his trouble. Heenan's back to losing his shit. "Please let him win it! Please! I'm sorry for everything i've ever done! I'm sorry! Just let him win it!" "Will you stop begging?" 'Taker gets popped by Hogan, and as he staggers to the ropes, Hogan catches him with a clothesline and flips the dead man out of the ring, where he lands on his feet and rolls his eyes in the back of his head. Now Hogan is on fire. He follows it up with a clothesline on the Berserker, sending him out of the ring (Huss), and he rips his t-shirt off as the crowd goes nutty (so the crowd sweetening has us believe, as i've read that they goosed the crowd noise a LOT for Hogan on the video release. In reality, many in the Knickerbocker Arena are as sick of Hogan's shit in 1992 as i am).

Undertaker eliminated by Hogan after 13:51; Berserker eliminated by Hogan after 9:00

In the background we see Virgil and Duggan go flying as they eliminate each other! Apparently they were told that shit was about to get real, so they should clear out with the rest of the rabble and leave the playing to the grown ups now. Good riddance, sucknuts.

Virgil eliminated by Duggan after 7:29; Duggan eliminated by Virgil after 20:45 of his shit

#27: Skinner

No one fucking cares.

They do care, though, that Hogan just dumped Flair over the top rope and onto the apron, but he desperately clings to Hulk's leg as IRS runs interference. "NO NO NO NO! I swear i'll never do anything wrong again, just let him stay in!"

As Monsoon points out that Flair needs to stay in for only 60 more seconds to break the all-time record, the current record-holder, Rick Martel, is helping Flair try to eliminate Piper, who is upside-down and clinging to the ropes. He gets his feet around Martel's head and Martel sells the pressure like he's stuck in a vise and his brains are about to explode like Gallagher's melons. Settle down there, Model.

#28: Sgt. Slaughter


Skinner eliminated by Rick Martel after 2:13

Monsoon: "Flair has now been in in excess of 55 minutes and is the all-time record holder. Congratulations to Ric Flair." Heenan: "Just give him the title: that's good enough for me."

#29: Sid Justice

Big ol' Psycho Sid: naturally huge, tons of potential, but totally shitty and dumb as a box of rocks. Booked like a monster, though, so everyone reels in his wake as he starts taking on Flair, who tries a takedown that Sid immediately kips up from and clotheslines Flair out of. Whoops!

#30: The Warlord (w/Harvey Whippleman)

I refuse to believe that these last few entrants actually came out every two minutes. I'd sit here with a watch and time them if i wanted scientific proof, but i'm satisfied with just assuming that the WWF is speeding shit up in the late stages by getting the last few dudes out of the back ASAP, so i'm going with it.

Hogan and Flair are fighting outside the ring, Hogan connecting with a suplex onto the floor. Meanwhile, Justice starts going apeshit, dispatching Slaughter and going after some other fools as Piper (hey, remember him?) almost gets eliminated by IRS, but grabs the evil accountant's necktie while on the apron and manages to yank the taxman onto the floor! The crowd celebrates as the nerd in the shirt and tie has to hit the showers.

Slaughter eliminated by Justice after 4:37, IRS eliminated by Piper after 27:01

Shit's going quickly now. Must have less than 10 minutes left in the show. Warlord bounced by Hogan and Justice! Justice pushes Piper and Martel out over the top! The stage is set with the final four: Savage, Justice, Hogan and Flair.

Warlord eliminated by Hogan & Justice after 1:43; Martel and Piper eliminated by Justice after 12:39 (Martel) and 34:06 (Piper)

They pair off in opposite corners, not unlike a square dance--Hogan vs. Flair, Savage vs. Justice. Suddenly, Flair runs across the ring and knees Justice in the back, which sends the perches Savage flying out onto the floor. Now it's down to three.

Savage eliminated by Justice & Flair after 22:26

Flair runs back across the ring with new energy, chopping into Hogan's chest as the Hulkster no-sells, throwing Flair into the corner and giving all the fans that are sick of his nonsense a case of the Not Agains. Hogan flips Flair over the top and onto the apron, and just as he's distracted by Flair, Hogan fails to see Justice run up from behind him and toss Hogan unceremoniously to the floor. And the CROWD GOES WILD. Apparently this isn't the crowd-sweetened version, because an audible cheer goes up when Hogan is eliminated, which FUCKING RULES. I love this crowd.

Hogan eliminated by Sid Justice after 11:29

Hogan protests and plays to the crowd as Sid taunts him from the ring, leaning down and sneering at him as Hulk tries to play to the crowd. "Can you believe he snuck up on me like that?" Uh, yes we can, Hogan--it's the Royal Fucking Rumble. Every man for himself, you tool. So just like the sore loser he apparently is, Hogan grabs Justice's arm and starts trying to yank him over the top. Sid resists until Flair sneaks up from behind him and flips him over the top! Heenan goes into full orgasm as RIC FLAIR WINS THE WWF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP. "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!'

Sid Justice eliminated by Flair & Hogan after 5:55; Ric Flair wins the Royal Rumble after 1:00:02 to become WWF World Heavyweight Champion. WOOOOOOOO

"I TOLD YOU MONSOON! I TOLD YOU! YES YES YES YES!" God, Heenan is amazing here. Hogan runs into the ring--why? Who the fuck knows. To steal Flair's thunder, probably, or whine some more about how he was robbed or whatever the fuck. Mr. Perfect is at ringside raising Flair's hand as Heenan audibly bolts from the broadcast position to join his associates in celebrating with the new champ. Meanwhile, as Hogan yells at them from the ring, Sid Justice comes up from behind and starts yelling at Hogan as a load of referees and suits try to separate them. Whatever. Fuck these two dudes; they suck. What is about to happen is one of the greatest promos to ever come out of Ric Flair's mouth, and that means it's one of the best promos to come out of anyone's mouth.

Flair, Heenan and Perfect are in the back with Jack Tunney and Mean Gene. Jack Tunney congratulates Flair and presents him with the championship belt, and then magic happens. The man who for the past few months has been walking around the WWF with the NWA/WCW World Title and proclaiming himself the "real world's champion" proceeds to put over himself, the WWF, and its title by basically saying "fuck you" to Jim Herd and everyone else down south. Look, i'll just post it here, because mere typed letters have nothing on the Nature Boy.

"For the Hulk Hogans, and the Macho Mans, and the Pipers, and the Sids: now it's Ric Flair, and ya all pay homage to the man! WOOOOOOOOOO!"

The man who defined the National Wrestling alliance for a decade has one of the greatest performances of his career in a WWF ring for all the world to see, and the crowd cheers when Hogan's eliminated, to boot. Now that's pro wrestling.

NEXT: The final four entrants of the Royal Rumble pair off in a double main event at WrestleMania VIII! Obviously the WWF will be booking the classic Hogan/Flair match the wrestling world has long yearned for, because that's a license to print money and there's no possible way the WWF could fuck that up.

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