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Retro PPV Review: WWF Royal Rumble 1988 
9th-Jun-2008 07:44 pm
I had always intended on picking up the 20th Anniversary Royal Rumble Anthology collection, but I could never justify spending $170 plus dollars on it, and that was with my staff discount. Lo and behold, there was a shocking price drop on it the other day, going down to $99.99 and I immediately scooped that puppy up. 20 years of WWF/E wrestling history, and my favourite match of all time, the Royal Rumble. All of them. In one box. Eventually I should have reviews of every Rumble that has ever taken place, and if something like that doesn't kill this community, then you all need to up your games and bring it back from the dead.

January 24, 1988
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Attendance: 18,000
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jesse "The Body" Ventura

Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
Right off the bat, I'm so very happy that this package has Jesse Ventura's commentary intact. And the first person introduced at the very first Royal Rumble is #1 in our Dead Wrestlers Counter, Rick Rude. I don't remember a time when Rude wasn't managed by Bobby Heenan, but apparently back then this was the case. Rude wasn't the guy you loved to hate yet, but he was well on his way, challenging Steamboat to a test of strength while flexing his other bicep. McMahon admonishing Ventura for advising the usage of a thumb to the eye to break a hold because "children are listening" is amusing. Some stupid cow in the front row brought a goddamn megaphone with her, making me think Jimmy Hart was Rude's manager for this match. Solid, if unspectacular match that just goes to show how much the business has changed in 20 years. Steamboat hammering on the canvas while Rude has him in a chinlock would equate to tapping out nowadays. Steamboat muscled out of that leading to Rude taking a sick looking Electric Chair bump. Rude replies with a dangerous-looking atomic drop on Steamboat, following that up with another rest hold, and Ventura berating McMahon for saying it's okay for Steamboat to pull Rude's hair. Some nice chain wrestling with a number of near-falls getting the crowd amped up. Rude ends up pulling the ref into Steamboat's flying crossbody attempt and then Rude putting Steamboat in his Canadian backbreaker submission move. The ref (one of the Hebners I believe) calls for the bell, leading everyone to believe that Steamboat submitted. Thanks to McMahon's oh-so-subtle commentating, we're already for the announcement that Rude lost by disqualification. Decently entertaining but didn't exactly set the world on fire. 2.5 / 5

Winner: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat by DQ

Mean Gene Okerlund is out to host the infamous Dino Bravo benchpress segment. This marks the second entry in our Dead Wrestler Counter in Dino Bravo. Ventura is out there to "spot" Bravo as he attempts to break the world record for benchpressing. Huzzah, Frenchie Martin is out there being French. Bravo milks his heel heat by asking the crowd for silence during his weight lifting, and warms up with some rapid-fire reps of 415 pounds. The weight goes up to 505 pounds and some more quick reps follow and let me tell you, this is exciting TV right here. Wow, now 555 pounds, let's see what happens. The same, and then 595 pounds follows and Bravo is IRATE at the crowd making noise during his warm up, yet still manages to lift the weight. For some reason the weight jumps to 655 pounds on the next warm up, and Ventura gives McMahon hell for trying to incite the crowd into booing Bravo more. Bravo lifts the 655 but looked extremely shaky and what he did lift didn't really look like it qualified as a rep. Finally we get to the 715 pounds mark and Bravo nearly walks off because he's so pissed at the crowd and Ventura gives the audience hell too. Bravo lifts the weight and then Ventura saves his life by helping Bravo lift the weight back up and gives Bravo a look of angry disappointment. Colossal waste of time by today's standards, slightly interesting by back in the day's standards.

Women's World Tag Team Championship: Champions The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) Best 2 out of 3 falls
Yes, there once was a Women's Tag Team Championship, and women wrestlers back in the day were much more bull dykey and doughy. While referee Joey Marella (Gorilla Monsoon's son) won't count in our Dead Wrestlers Counter, he's one of the wrestlers that met an untimely end on a July 4th, the worst day on the calendar to be a professional wrestler. Jimmy Hart managed The Glamour Girls and the cow in the front row isn't all loudmouthy on her megaphone anymore. By the time one of the Glamour Girls pins one of the Bomb Angels I realise that it's a 2 out of 3 falls match. Even though The Glamour Girls look like nothing more than some bingo hall ladies, they've got skills. One of the Angels somehow blow a sunset flip attempt, but the Glamour Girl does her best to cover it up by falling into the pinfall attempt and ends up losing the fall, tying the match at a fall apiece. Wow, an enziguri by one of the Bomb Angels. I tell ya, those Japanese might know one or two things about wrestling. Some good solid wrestling in this match, with the women wrestlers wrestling much more like men than the Divas of today's WWE. Wow, a butterfly suplex pinfall attempt and a senton bomb. Back in '88 these moves didn't even have names, they were just called "whatta maneuver!" Double flying dropkick by the Bomb Angels leads to them winning the tag titles and the Canadian crowd erupts! Ventura disputes the pinning maneuver as the Bomb Angel actually lifted the shoulder of the Glamour Girl she was pinning, but the WWF back in the day wasn't all that keen on plot developments like that. 3 / 5

Winners and new Women's World Tag Team Champions: The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki)

We get a rehash of the André the Giant (#3 in the Dead Wrestlers Counter) and Hulk Hogan feud from WrestleMania III's main event to Ted DiBiase attempting to buy the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. We then get to see André choking out Hogan in the middle of the ring during a Saturday Night's Main Event as "Real American" continues to play over the soundsystem. Ventura and McMahon debate the morality of DiBiase's proposal, Andre mangles the English language and then we go to the contract signing between Hulk Hogan and André the Giant (accompanied by Ted DiBiase and Virgil) for their match on February 5th, 1988 (the twin Hebners match which would see Hogan's reign as champion end). Another dead wrestling personality in the ring, as WWF President Jack Tunney is on hand to oversee this whole shebang... or is he really dead? DiBiase has some awesome hair, and I have no idea how that chair is supporting André. There's a bunch of stalling and mouthpiecing by DiBiase and eventually both Hogan and Andre sign the contract and André punks out Hogan and leaves. That's it. Hogan doesn't get on the mic, neither does André. It certainly made DiBiase look great though.

The Royal Rumble Match
The first Rumble only consisted of 20 participants, and Bret Hart (#1) and Tito Santana (#2) are the ones starting it off. This is back when Santana was part of Strike Force with Rick Martel, and they were World Tag Champions at the time. This was back in Hart's heel Hart Foundation days, so we should be expecting an appearance from a certain Vernitis-inflicted wrestler shortly. Who, you might ask... or declare. Anyways, Hart and Santana beat each other up for a bit and The Natural Butch Reed is #3, entering just after Santana hit the Flying Jalapeño on Hart. Who should show up next but... well yeah, Jim Neidhart is #4 and Santana is now getting triple-teamed by the heels. Three of these guys can't toss one Mexican.

#5 is up and Jake Roberts quickly eliminates Reed (first ever Rumble elimination!) and the fans love Jake. Roberts signals for the DDT on Hart, but Neidhart quickly steamrolls over Roberts saving his tag partner. Wow, #6 is King Harley Race and with Neidhart holding Roberts down, Race drops a series of solid elbows on Roberts. I'm surprised none of these guys are dead. #7 is Jumping Jim Brunzell of the Killer Bees and he's in there teaming up with Santana to try and eliminate Bret. Here comes a relative of Jake's, Sam Houston at #8 and words fail me when it comes to describing his mediocrity. The Hart Foundation eliminates Santana, and #9 is Dangerous Danny Davis, the evil referee. Roberts is beating the shit out of Race to comedic effect. The fans chant for the DDT at nearly every opportunity and Roberts nearly nails Davis with it.

#10 is Boris Zhukov and he goes after the most American of the wrestlers in there in poor, pathetic Sam Houston. Then Zhukov does something stupid and attacks Roberts. #11 is Don "The (First) Rock" Muraco and that idiot Nikolai Volkoff comes lumbering behind trying to save his tag partner to no avail, as Brunzell and Roberts toss Zhukov. The refs restrain Volkoff from entering the ring until it is his actual time. Everyone's paired off in the ring and finally #12 Nikolai Volkoff enters. Harley Race is tossed by Muraco, and it appears as if Race was solidly drunk as he refuses to vacate the ringside area. #13 is "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Race gets in a shot on Duggan before he finally leaves. Stupid Canadian crowd cheering for that Yankee.

#14 brings "The Outlaw" Ron Bass into the ring and it's getting a bit cluttered in there now. Brunzell gets tossed by Volkoff, and Muraco nearly follows. #15 is B. Brian Blair, which is one of the dumbest wrestler names of all time. Duggan keeps bellowing "HOOOOO" every 20 seconds or so. Future WWE Legend Hillbilly Jim is #16, and he quickly eliminates Neidhart. The World's Strongest Man (that isn't Mark Henry) Dino Bravo is #17 and he gets no love from his countrymen. Houston is eliminated by Bass in a spectacular fashion. Whoa, the Ultimate Warrior is #18 and Bret Hart finally gets eliminated by Muraco, setting the first Rumble longevity mark at 25:42. One Man Gang is in at #19 and he starts pummeling Roberts, and effortlessly tosses Blair and then shoves Roberts out too. #20 is Junkyard Dog and that's all of the participants for this Royal Rumble, half of them still in the ring.

Volkoff is tossed by Duggan, then Hillbilly Jim by One Man Gang. Duggan lariats Danny Davis over the top rope and then Warrior is gone thanks to Bravo and Gang. JYD is tossed by Bass and then Muraco quickly throws Bass out. Muraco is on fire in there, somersaulting and dropkicking and shit. Final Four is Muraco, Bravo, Gang and Duggan. Bravo and Gang team up again to get rid of Muraco, and Duggan opens up on the two dastardly heels to no avail. Heel team ups never work though and Gang accidentally eliminates Bravo, leaving Duggan and One Man Gang as the last two wrestlers left. Eventually Gang makes a mistake and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan wins the first ever Royal Rumble. An intriguing bit of wrestling history here, and you can see the seeds of many future Rumble trademarks being sown. 3 / 5

Hogan finally gets some mic time with some weird puppet-looking French-sounding annoucer guy. Thankfully Hogan RRRRRRRRRRRRRIPPPS off his shirt and you can just feel the intensity of his promo, which can best be summed up as "YOU HAVE TO BEAT EVERY HULKAMANIAC HERE AND YOU ... JUST CAN'T... do it." Which is then repeated to even greater effect. Also, Hogan posing.

The Islanders (Haku and Tama) vs. The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers) Best 2 out of 3 falls

It's so weird that this is the "main event". Ventura and McMahon spend the first few minutes of the match chatting about the Islanders kidnapping Matilda, the bulldog mascot of The British Bulldogs. Then they rehash the rest of the night. Who cares about the tag match main event. Ventura makes fun of McMahon some more and eventually they get around to actually calling the match. It's a decent enough tag match, but even before the Rumble became THE MATCH, nobody wanted to watch another match after that spectacle. Roma gets counted out after getting tossed by Tama, and it looks like his knee is destroyed. The Islanders win the first fall and we see another replay of André punking Hogan out from earlier in the evening. Now puppet-announcer guy does some interview time with André and DiBiase... in the interval between the first and second falls! FUCK the tag match. Brrr, André's face shouldn't be shown in digital close-ups. Then André gives the puppet announcer some internal injuries by punching him in the gut. We FINALLY get back to the tag match, with the Stallions coming back to ringside. Roma's knee is all taped up and since he lost the fall he has to start the next one, which leads to Tama beating the shit out of Roma's knee some more. Finally Roma gets the hot tag to Powers and he beats on the Islanders some, showcasing his amazing dropkick. Then the Islanders beat on Powers for awhile and eventually Roma gets tagged in and Haku kicks his leg out from his leg (if you don't get the reference, wait 'til Royal Rumble 1994) leading to Haku making Roma give up to a single leg crab. I have no idea what the point of this was. It wasn't offensive, just pointless. 2 / 5

McMahon and Ventura sit down and talk about the benchpress thing and the Hogan / Andre thing as the fans empty out of the arena. We're treated to André punking out Hogan for the fourth time. McMahon remarking that Hogan was knocked semi-concious is comical. They wrap it up and while it wasn't PPV-caliber, the card was decent enough quality-wise. Overall, it averages out to 2.63 / 5

Dead Wrestlers Counter: 3
Rick Rude (1958 - 99)
Dino Bravo (1949 - 93)
André the Giant (1946 - 93)

Previous Royal Rumble Reviews
2000, 2001, 2006
10th-Jun-2008 03:20 am (UTC)
What's the count of wrestlers with children currently in jail?
10th-Jun-2008 03:22 am (UTC)
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