Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Royal Rumble 1992
Date: January 19, 1992
Location: Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan
I’m almost curious to look at this one again as I’ve seen it more times than I can count, but I’m wondering how well it really holds up. You always hear about 1992 being the gold standard for the match but it should be interesting to see where things go. It’s a really famous show and main event with the WWF World Title on the line in the Rumble. Let’s get to it.
We open with the roll call of the Rumble participants. I miss how simple this was: the show is all about the Rumble and nothing else.
The announcers intro the show with Heenan saying he’s banking on Flair. Gee you think?
Gorilla explains the Mountie winning the Intercontinental Title over the weekend and getting to defend against Roddy Piper tonight.
New Foundation vs. Orient Express
This would be Jim Neidhart/Owen Hart vs. Tanaka/Kato. Owen (my goodness I forgot about how stupid the big pants looked) and Kato start with some arm cranking as Gorilla asks Heenan about Flair’s number. An armdrag takes Kato down and we hear about Marty Jannetty and Brian Knobbs being out of the Rumble due to Nikolai Volkoff and Haku. Heenan: “Now that’s funny.”
Owen takes Kato down with a hurricanrana for a big high spot of this era. Neidhart comes in to stay on the arm before it’s off to Tanaka, who gets thrown down with relative ease. A spinebuster sets up a middle rope elbow for two but Tanaka finally gets in a few shots in the corner. That just earns him a backdrop, which gives us a quick break from Gorilla recapping the Mountie winning the Intercontinental Title. Apparently Bret wrestled with a 104 degree temperature (not exactly) but Heenan says he’s wrestled with an 113 degree temperature so Bret had it easy.
Owen crossbodies both of them down at once and a spinwheel kick gets two on Kato. It’s actually time to go for the mask but Kato bails to the floor in a bit of a weird scene as you don’t see faces tear at a mask that often. Tanaka finally gets in a cheap shot from the apron and Fuji adds a shot to the throat with the cane so the villains can take over. Another Fuji distraction lets Tanaka choke on the ropes as Heenan starts in on being fair to Flair.
Owen reverses a whip into the corner but charges into a superkick to keep him in trouble. The chinlock goes on until Tanaka comes in for one of his own. A hard whip into the corner gets Owen out of trouble but Kato distracts the referee so the tag to Neidhart doesn’t count (it worked back then and it works today). Fuji’s cane shot (Heenan: “My monitor must be dirty because I didn’t see anything!”) gets two and Tanaka starts in on the arm.
Seems a bit late for that so Owen belly to belly suplexes him for his bad timing. Kato comes back in and works on the arm as well before Tanaka comes in for the jump over the back onto Owen’s back, ala the Beverly Brothers. Owen finally takes Tanaka down and makes the hot tag off to Neidhart for the house cleaning. A hard whip sets up a suicide dive on Kato, followed by a Rocket Launcher to finish Tanaka at 17:24.
Rating: C. The match was long, but that’s what it’s supposed to be on a show like this. They need to fill in a lot of the show as the whole thing is less than two hours and forty minutes with five matches. I miss the days when you can have these simple matches without any backstory that are perfectly watchable and feature people as talented as Owen going out there to carry things. Good enough opener and it didn’t feel long, which is always a plus.
We recap the “sick” Bret losing the Intercontinental Title to the Mountie, which translates to Bret was about to walk and take the title to WCW but Vince talked him into dropping the title just in time. Roddy Piper made a post match save, setting up the title match here.
Mountie wants to know why he’s not winning this match by forfeit because Piper doesn’t have the win/loss record to earn a title shot. He’ll treat Piper like he treated Bret.
Piper isn’t worried about Mountie taking his integrity because he doesn’t have it. Tonight, Piper is here to win two titles and he has to win the first one first. Mountie must be dreaming, and it’s probably been all wet too.
Intercontinental Title: The Mountie vs. Roddy Piper
Mountie, with Jimmy Hart in his corner, is defending and Piper charges at him with the kilt for some early blinding. The beatdown is on with Mountie being knocked outside and Piper following to hammer away even more. Some Hart interference allows Mountie to take over for all of three seconds before Piper slugs away back inside.
There’s the bulldog and Piper does the double poke in the eye. A missed dropkick gives Mountie a delayed two and he rams Piper face first into the buckle a few times. Mountie throws him to the floor but gets caught with a sunset flip for two. The comeback is on with a right hand and backdrop with Mountie not being able to do a thing. An atomic drop puts Mountie over the top but he skins the cat, only to be sent into Hart. The sleeper gives Piper the title (his first in the company) at 5:22.
Rating: D. The match was little more than an extended workout for Piper, who wasn’t going to have any trouble against a goof like the Mountie. This was more about a feel good moment and giving the fans something to cheer, which worked very well. Piper should have been WWF Champion back in the 80s so this is as much of a consolation prize as he’s getting.
Post match the fans give Piper a standing ovation, calm down a bit when he shocks Mountie with the electric stick, and then go nuts again when he’s announced as the new champion. Heck of a moment there and crazy long overdue.
Hulk Hogan says he won’t have any friends in the Rumble because it’s all about becoming WWF Champion again.
The Bushwhackers and Jamison (a comedy guy who wasn’t that funny) are ready for the Beverly Brothers (or Sisters are they’re called here) and the Genius.
Beverly Brothers vs. Bushwhackers
Genius’ poem isn’t much here, just saying that Jamison isn’t a man. We spend over a minute on the Bushwhackers’ antics, including some head rubbing. We’ll make that two minutes as the Beverlies bail to the floor. They’re finally ready to go with Blake decking Luke from behind to take over, meaning Butch has to get into some early cheerleading. Some biting gets Luke out of trouble and double forearms allow for some marching around the ring.
Back in and Beau drops to a knee and offers a handshake as the gaga continues. Butch falls for this because he’s not that bright but still manages a bulldog as everything breaks down again. They just have no idea what to do here other than brawling do they? The Beverlies get sent outside again with Beau crawling underneath the ring….and let’s go to a wide shot to show the arena for the sake of something more interesting.
Both Beverlies fail at sneak attacks and get punched in the ribs before bailing AGAIN. A cheap shot finally lets Blake take over on Luke as we get down to something resembling a match. Some ax handles keep Luke down and a running headbutt to the back makes things even worse. Heenan goes into a weird tax rant about Jamison as the slow, uninteresting beatdown continues.
Beau gets rolled up for two to no reaction but we finally get to the point as Genius slaps Jamison down. Jamison: “HE HITTED ME!” I barely remember him from when I was a kid and looking back at him, he makes me want to pummel helpless woodland creatures. Luke finally avoids a charge and the hot tag brings in Butch to clean house. A running headbutt gets two but Blake trips Butch down so an elbow can get two. With Luke being sent outside, a top rope ax handle finishes Butch at 15:01. Yeah just a top rope ax handle. That’s how little this match meant.
Rating: F. I loved the Bushwhackers as a kid but egads this was torture. It wasn’t funny and just kept going between two nothing teams. This was more about the managers and I still have no idea why Jamison was supposed to be entertaining. Was it some weird Steve Urkel kind of thing where he’s a lovable nerd? Just awful here and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Post match the Bushwhackers clean house again and Jamison gets to kick Genius in the shin. Still stupid, though Genius’ selling is always fun.
The Legion of Doom is ready for the Natural Disasters. Good timing then.
Tag Team Titles: Legion of Doom vs. Natural Disasters
The Disasters are defending and have Jimmy Hart with them. Hawk goes straight at Typhoon to start and can’t do much with the big oaf. Everything breaks down until it’s off to Hawk vs. Earthquake for a battle of dropkicks straight out of the SNES Superstars of Wrestling (still good, though it’s as primitive as you can get for the time. Hawk’s isn’t bad while Earthquake’s is easily avoided, as a 6’4 468lb guy trying a dropkick is pretty easy to see.
Animal comes in and gets splashed by Earthquake, followed by the same thing from Typhoon. Since Typhoon isn’t very good though, he charges into a boot and gets clotheslined down. Hawk comes back in to try and work on the arm but gets caught in three straight backbreakers, plus a hard whip into the corner.
The bearhug (you knew that was coming) goes on with Hawk’s comeback being cut off in a hurry. Earthquake misses a splash in the corner and the hot tag brings in Animal, who has to backflip out of a belly to back suplex (going as well as you would guess). A double clothesline drops the Disasters and everything breaks down. The fight heads to the floor and Animal gets counted out at 9:25.
Rating: D. Not a good match by any means but it was a miracle after the previous mess. They had a story here with the champs not being used to being at a power disadvantage but that doesn’t mean it was an entertaining match. This was more of a styles clash than anything else, as Hawk and Animal weren’t able to do their big power moves and aren’t at their best trying to do other stuff. It could have been much worse though, like that disaster beforehand.
Post match the champs clean house with chairs.
Jimmy and the Disasters demand a rematch.
The announcers debate things for a bit with Monsoon not thinking much of Heenan’s complaints.
A very excited Roddy Piper says he has a dream for the Rumble and is keeping his eyes on the prize. The Intercontinental Title though is dedicated to his son Colt.
After looking at a clip of the legendary split with Marty Jannetty and the throw through the Barbershop window, Shawn Michaels says he was just saving Jannetty 29 other beatings (meaning Jannetty was going to beat himself). Tonight, Shawn is leaving with the WWF Title because he’s that awesome.
Ric Flair has drawn #3 in the Rumble but he’ll wrestle an hour if he has to, and that’s the bottom line. This is a Coliseum Video exclusive so the commentators don’t hear it, which explains why Heenan doesn’t know about this when the match starts.
Randy Savage loves the idea of this much competition. Oh and he wants to get his hands on Jake Roberts too.
Sid Justice, in that whisper of his, promises to win.
Repo Man says what’s everyone elses is his too, including the win.
British Bulldog won a battle royal in the Royal Albert Hall and this win is going to be even bigger.
Jake Roberts is ready for the Rumble and is going to leave just a little bit for Savage.
Ric Flair, with Mr. Perfect as the hype man, says today he’ll prove that he’s the REAL World’s Champion.
Paul Bearer says he and the Undertaker need 29 hearses and body bags. You could just throw them out of the ring you know.
Hulk Hogan promises to use the power of Hulkamania to win the Royal Rumble (it would be three in a row) because this is his cup of tea. Even if someone who calls themselves a friend stabs them in the back. Geez Hulk stop being so paranoid. Or stop being the kind of guy who everyone wants to stab in the back.
Jack Tunney gives a quick speech about how this is for the title. I’m not sure why this needed to happen but Tunney is still awesome.
WWF World Title: Royal Rumble
The title is vacant coming in and Heenan is instantly in his glory as the nervous manager for Flair. There are two minute intervals this year, which isn’t likely to mean much as we keep going. Also of note: on Superstars leading up to this, it was made clear that some of the bigger names (Hogan, Sid and Undertaker at least) were guaranteed to be in the final ten spots. As weird as that is, it’s nice to have an explanation for why things go so favorably for them. For some reason, this isn’t mentioned on the pay per view save for a very brief reference despite being public knowledge.
British Bulldog is #1 and Ted DiBiase is #2 as Heenan panics more and more each time. Bulldog hammers away to start but gets suplexed down for his efforts. That’s about it for DiBiase’s offense though as Bulldog clotheslines him out without much trouble. Flair is #3 and Heenan is beside himself while the other person beside him is thrilled, saying that Heenan can kiss it goodbye.
Bulldog hits a gorilla press and running shoulder as Flair is already begging off (as he should be). Jerry Sags is in at #4 and gets dropkicked out in short order, leaving Flair alone with Bulldog again. Heenan: “THIS ISN’T FAIR TO FLAIR!!!” Haku is in at #5 and pounds Bulldog down, until Flair goes after him for absolutely no logical reason. That means Haku beats Flair up but Bulldog gets rid of him, leaving us with the starters again.
Shawn Michaels is in at #6 and starts hammering away, followed by the (not yet important) superkick (which hits Flair in the hands) to put him down. Bulldog gets back up and throws Shawn over, meaning we get some skinning of the cat. The three way fight continues until Tito Santana is in at #7 with Heenan losing his mind (good thing he has two of them) at the talent in there.
Tito unloads on Flair with right hands and it’s a long beating until Barbarian is in at #8. Heenan: “He doesn’t like anybody! When I managed him he barely liked me!” Shawn gets a breather as the other four turn into a pretty weird tag match in another corner as I wonder how good a long Flair vs. Santana match could have been.
Texas Tornado is in at #9 and Flair goes right for him, possibly in flashbacks to Dallas (nearly ten years before, which is rather amazing when you think about it). Shawn gets slingshotted into the corner as Flair atomic drops Tornado out of the corner. Heenan thinks a crescent wrench would be a good idea here as things start to slow down.
Repo Man is in at #10, giving us Bulldog, Flair, Michaels, Santana, Barbarian, Tornado and Repo Man for a rather eclectic group. Tito hits a running crossbody on Barbarian for the “oh yeah this is a battle royal” spot. Barbarian and Flair double up on Tornado in the corner until Greg Valentine is in at #11 and goes after Flair for old times’ sake. We get to the expected slowdown period, which had to take place at some point.
Nikolai Volkoff is in at #12 as the ring is getting way too full. Valentine puts Flair in the Figure Four to freak Heenan out all over again as Repo Man eliminates Volkoff to clear things out a bit. Big Boss Man is in at #13 and starts those fast punches at everyone he can. Repo Man gets rid of Valentine but Boss Man tosses him as well, followed by Flair dumping Tornado and Bulldog as the ring clears out in a hurry.
Santana and Michaels eliminate each other as Hercules is in at #14. Boss Man gets rid of both him and Haku, leaving us with Boss Man vs. Flair as Heenan panics all over again. A running clothesline drops Flair but he low bridges Boss Man out and is left all alone. That means a Flair Flop for a breather until Roddy Piper is in at #15.
The rights and lefts start fast so Flair bails outside for a breather. Piper isn’t having that as he throws Flair back inside for more shots to the head. An atomic drop doesn’t get Flair out of trouble as Piper is right back with the poke to the eyes. Piper throws on an airplane spin to set up a sleeper as both the fans and Heenan are losing it over the beating. Jake Roberts is in at #16 and egads I’d love a three way feud between these guys for the promos alone.
The short clothesline to Flair looks to set up the DDT, which is enough to get the mega heel Jake cheered. Piper makes the save for some reason, causing Heenan to say that it’s a kilt instead of a skirt. The Figure Four goes on but Piper breaks it up. Heenan: “YOU NO GOOD SKIRT WEARING FREAK!” That gets me every time. Jim Duggan is in at #17 as the expected tag match breaks out.
IRS is in at #18 as the pace slows down again, which you knew was coming and isn’t a bad thing. Everyone punches at everyone else until Jimmy Snuka (looking very old as well as weird in tights) is in at #19 and goes after Flair. Heenan starts to calm down until Monsoon reminds him of everyone yet to come. The Undertaker is in at #20, giving us Flair, Piper, Roberts, Duggan, IRS, Snuka and Undertaker.
A single shot to the face gets rid of Snuka and Undertaker chokes Flair down in the corner. Duggan, ever the nitwit, comes over to go after Undertaker and gets kicked very low for his efforts (Heenan: “TWO POINTS!”). IRS and Undertaker team up (what a visual) to beat on Duggan and it’s Randy Savage at a full on sprint at #21, meaning Jake bails to the floor in a trademark smart move. Jake comes back in and gets kneed out by Savage, who follows him out with a top rope ax handle, eliminating himself in the process.
Savage actually goes back in because “he has to be propelled by someone else”, setting off years of continuity issues as people had eliminated themselves both before and after with no such issue. Heenan says Piper should be credited for winning the Intercontinental Title and still coming out to fight. It was a five minute match with Piper basically just warming up.
Flair hits Undertaker low (Heenan: “He just tried to lift the Undertaker!”) and it’s Berzerker in at #22. The brawling begins again with Undertaker choking Piper who chokes Flair as Monsoon talks about Flair surpassing forty five minutes. Not bad considering the match started less than forty four minutes ago (more on this later). Virgil is in at #23 because they would take anybody for this thing. People start ganging up on Undertaker in a smart move but he shrugs them off and tries to get rid of Flair.
Colonel Mustafa (Iron Sheik) is in at #24 as the ring is getting full again. Good thing a certain red and yellow guy is coming in any minute now. Rick Martel is in at #25 and a lot of choking and kicking ensues. Savage gets rid of Mustafa in short order, which is probably best for everyone. With that going nowhere, Hulk Hogan is in at #26 and it’s time to pick up the pace. He goes right after Undertaker and Flair before getting rid of Undertaker and Berzerker. Duggan and Virgil eliminate each other and Skinner is in at #27. Now that the ring is far less full, Martel and Flair can’t get rid of Piper.
Sgt Slaughter is in at #28 as Martel gets rid of Skinner. Flair is announced as the all time record holder for time in a single Rumble at 55 minutes, which is how long the match has lasted so far and not how long he’s been in the ring. Sid Justice is in at #29 but can’t get rid of IRS. Flair slugs away at Hogan before taking Sid down by the hair, only to have Sid nip up. The Warlord is in at #30, giving us a final field of Flair, Piper, IRS, Savage, Martel, Hogan, Slaughter, Justice and Warlord.
Flair and Hogan slug it out on the floor with Hogan suplexing him to freak Heenan out even more, if that’s possible. Sid gets rid of Slaughter and Piper gets rid of IRS as Flair chops Hogan with as much success as you would expect. Hogan and Sid clothesline Warlord out, which Monsoon calls a surprise. Sid dumps Piper and Martel at the same time and we’re down to Hogan, Sid, Savage and Flair for a heck of a final four.
Flair knees Savage out to get us down to three. Hogan picks Flair up but Sid dumps him, leaving Hogan grabbing at Sid’s arm for stealing his title. Since that’s as much of a jerk move as you can get, Hogan isn’t exactly well received and Flair dumps Sid out to win the title at 1:02:00. Heenan’s celebration is legendary as he shouts YES more than Daniel Bryan could ever hope to.
Rating: A-. It’s still a classic, though I’m not sure it’s the masterpiece that it’s made out to be. There are some possible winners, but Hogan, Flair and Sid are the only real options to win the whole thing. Some of the dead spots in the middle didn’t help things, though there are very few names who feel like they’re just there for the sake of filling in spots. The few who are don’t last long and that helps things a lot.
Now on the other hand, it’s considered this good for a reason. The fans are with this thing from beginning to end with Flair’s performance in particular stealing the show. He sells the exhaustion perfectly and the whole thing works very well when mixed with Heenan’s masterful performance on commentary. They told a great story with Flair overcoming the odds and winning completely clean while looking like the biggest villain in the world. This worked very well and, aside from Hogan being a huge jerk, it worked very close to perfection.
Post match Hogan still won’t shut up and shoves Sid with the fans booing this out of the building. Referees break it up as Hogan is just completely wrong here as he got eliminated clean and can’t handle not being the best.
Flair, Perfect and Heenan celebrate in the back with Flair saying this is the greatest moment in his life. This new title is the only one that makes you the best in the world and he told them all that it was going to be true. One big group WOO and some goodbyes from Gene Okerlund wrap things up.
Overall Rating: B. This is a show where the main event is all that matters and there’s nothing wrong with that. The previous four matches are of varying quality (that’s an understatement) but the opener is fine and the title change is a feel good moment. It’s no secret that this is all about the Rumble itself though and that’s been the case several other times. It’s a good show and the Rumble is great, which is all you need on a show like this.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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