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The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1989.

- Live from Houston, Texas.

- Your hosts are Jesse and Gorilla.

- Opening match, 2/3 falls: Hacksaw Duggan & The Hart Foundation v. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo.

Neidhart and Bravo do the feeling out process until a pier-six erupts and Bret gets decked by the heels to become face-in-peril. I think Dino Bravo does the most dramatic tag in the history of wrestling. Rougeaus get a quick fall on Hart with La Bombe Des Rougeaus. Hart gets the holy hell beat out of him as the Rougeaus and Bravo run through their entire offense on the poor guy. Jesse points out the inherent idiocy of chanting "USA" for the Canadian Hart. No wonder he got so bitter in 1997. Harts do the false tag bit. Bret takes more of a beating. This entire second fall is just non-stop Bret beatdown. Hot tag to Duggan and you'd think Steve Austin just came out from the pop. Anvil gets slingshotted (slingshotten? slungshot?) in onto Jacques for two, and Duggan drops an elbow for three to take the second fall. Now Duggan is Ricky Morton. Is it me, or does Jacques do an awful lot of moves that involve rubbing his crotch into someone's face? I take a Dorito break. It should be noted that Cool Ranch Doritos and Rolo candy are the only food products (outside of various brands of iced tea) that I would ever agree to shill were I to become a celebrity. (2012 Scott sez:  I would like to update that list to include Rockstar energy drinks and Big Turk chocolate bars.  Really gets you through the workday.)  Hart gets the hot tag, and Duggan bops Bravo with the 2x4 to give Bret the pin. It had it's moments. **1/2

- Ted Dibiase draws his number for the Rumble, and ends up seeking a trade with Slick. HTM, the Bushwhackers, Bad News Brown, Jake the Snake and the Rockers all draw as well, with varying degrees of happiness. Today, Shawn gets 20 minute interview blocks. Back then, he turns to Marty and says "Good luck".  (2012 Scott sez:  But the WAY he said it made you think he’d be a star.  OK, I’m just saying that.  But I do really miss the drawing segments where people react to their luck of the draw.) 

- WWF Women's title match: Rockin' Robin v. Judy Martin.

For those who weren't around back then, Rockin' Robin (Robin Smith, sister of Jake Roberts) beat Sherri Martel to win the Women's title and basically tank the division. Picture Sam Houston, except even skinnier. The push was a disaster, given the utterly dead crowd reaction to her. This match is pretty decent by the generally crappy standards of the time, with non-stop two counts, although myself and the crowd couldn't give shit one about it. Robin hits a bodypress off the second rope after a head-fake for the pin. **3/4

- Slick responds to the accusations of tampering with the draw. These kinds of little, non-drawn-out, character building segments are lacking today, especially in WCW.

- Super Posedown.

Today, this is the very definition of something that goes on Nitro or RAW rather than a PPV. In this case, it's out there to build to the Rude-Warrior match at Wrestlemania V. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Rude poses again. The crowd boos. Warrior poses (with Jesse actually analyzing the posing). The crowd cheers. Rude poses. The crowd boos. Warrior poses. The crowd cheers. Geez, why didn't Rude just attack him during the first pose? Rude goes through a pose medley. The crowd boos. Warrior goes through a pose medley and (duh) Rude attacks him. Bit of a waste of 15 minutes when it could have been done on Superstars. I mean, really, who DIDN'T see that coming? I know I bitch about the WCW Sledgehammer of Plot a lot, but this is really a shining example of what I mean by it. Even if it was the WWF.  (2012 Scott sez:  Weird that I gave this more play-by-play treatment than most of the matches on this show.) 

- Crown match: King Haku v. Harley Race.

The story: Race was King, but got put through a table by the Orange Goblin and basically had his career ended. This was a one-shot comeback match to "legitimize" Haku's claim to the crown. Haku controls with "martial arts" (which roughly translated means "chops while screaming") but Race wins a headbutt battle (he's got a loaded head, you know) and hits a piledriver for two. Race with more 70s offense and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Haku backdrops out of it. They fight for a bit and then Race hits the piledriver for real. Pretty weak one, though. Crowd is gone, not really caring about either guy. More kneedrops and neckbreakers from Race, but Haku fights back with "martial arts" and a headbutt off the top, which misses. Race tries the same, and misses. Double knockout, and Race is up first. He comes off the ropes and eats Haku's SWEET thrust kick finisher for the pin to retain the crown. Pretty good job of carrying the un-carryable Haku by Race, actually. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  I wouldn’t actually call Haku “un-carryable”.  I’ve seen people get a good match out of him given the right circumstances.) 

- More pre-Rumble soundbites from the participants. Big John Studd gives a horrible interview. Savage sounds pretty whacked out. The Powers of Pain breathe heavily a lot.

- Five minute intermission.

- We're back with last-minute words from Dibiase, who is now MUCH happier. But there's no shenanigans, no sir.

- The Heenan Family adds their thoughts. Andre the Giant notes that he'll toss the Brainbusters out if he has to. Then, in a spectacular moment, Arn Anderson whispers something in Tully Blanchard's ear, behind Heenan's back. Now who else would actually have the forethought to add overtones of scheming against his own stable-mates without actually having to say so?  (2012 Scott sez:  Arn Anderson was the master of “shades of grey” years before Russo ever came to power.) 

- The Orangle Goblin spouts hot air.

- The Royal Rumble:

We start with a classic moment: Ax draws #1, Smash draws #2. Then, to reinforce the idea of the Rumble, they give a quick look and then go to town on each other. The Demos demonstrate why they never fought each other, because their segment is pretty lousy. Andre the Giant gets #3. The Demos immediately drop their hostilities and go after Andre. Andre can handle himself, because he's the world's largest athlete and all. Perfect is #4. Andre casually tosses Smash. Ax turns on Perfect, who ends up doing a Bret-esque turnbuckle charge bump. Ronnie Garvin is #5. Joy. (2012 Scott sez:  The Rumble is actually the kind of match where Garvin would excel, because he can come in, do his high-impact stuff, and then leave.)  Ax, Hennig and Garvin all go after Andre. He fights them off. Hennig does the OVERSELL~! of an Andre punch, which is a situation where it works. (2012 Scott sez:  Fuck off, it always works.)  Valentine is #6. Guess who he goes right after. Poor Andre. Buh-bye, Garvin. Jake is #7, and since he was feuding with Andre, that's who he goes after. Things settle down a bit as everyone finds a partner and dances. Valentine works in a Flair flop off an Andre headbutt. Ron Bass is #8. Andre tosses Jake. It should be noted that despite the inherent tastelessness of the Ric Flair heart attack angle, the WWF did the same thing (albeit in a more cartoonish way) with the "Andre fears snakes" angle in 1989. (2012 Scott sez:  I think the “Bad News Brown fears snakes” angle was much more tasteless for the racist aspect.)  Shawn Michaels is #9, years before that meant anything. Ax gets dumped Perfectly. Michaels and Hennig start fighting and go into a series of overblown somersault sells and intricate ways to go over the top rope without getting eliminated. Show-offs. Bushwhacker Butch is #10, and Jake follows quickly with Damien, chasing Andre over the top and out of the match prematurely in cheap fashion. Honky Tonk Man is #11. We're in kind of a lull here. We now have three of the most melodramatic sellers in history in the ring at the same time. The crowd is really getting into the elimination attempts, which just underlines the brilliance of the Rumble concept: It's a battle royale for people with limited attention span, so you can concentrate on one or two battles at a time, with fresh guys in every few minutes. You know what's weird? Today we remember feuds from years ago and they're incorporated into angles all the time, but Santana (#12) was fighting Valentine here and no mention is made of their long-running feud in 1985. (2012 Scott sez:  Now we’ve swung back the other way, with guys feuding one month and then teaming up the next, with only CM Punk even remembering to acknowledge it.)  Honky gets tossed via a double-team. Bad News Brown is #13 (how fitting) and does nothing of note. Marty Jannetty gets #14 and the Rockers reunite to double-dropkick Bass out. Savage is #15 to a big pop. Arn Anderson is #16 as Valentine gets tossed by Macho. Arn and Shawn pair off. Savage joins in...on Arn's side. They toss Michaels. Tully Blanchard is #17. There's some pretty damn good workers in there right now...Bad News, Savage, Jannetty, Anderson, Blanchard, Santana, Hennig...I guess Butch is the exception that proves the rule. The Brainbusters double-team Jannetty mercilessly. Hogan is #18. Open mouth, insert dick. Hennig is the first victim of Goblin-mania. Santana gets tossed off-camera. Luke is #19. Butch gets tossed by Bad News. Wow, look, Hulk's selling for Arn. Koko B.Ware is #20. Yeah, that'll turn the tide. You'd think Arn would learn NOT TO GO TO THE TOP ROPE after 15 years of getting slammed off it. Especially in a battle royale. Hulk dumps Luke. Warlord is #21 as Hogan dumps the Brainbusters at the same time. (2012 Scott sez:  More dream matches we never got:  Brainbusters v. Megapowers.)  Bastard. Warlord in, Warlord out. Savage and Bad News are fighting on the ropes and Hogan dumps both of them. Savage freaks out. Hey, Hogan, keep that in mind in three years when the same shit would happen to you and YOU threw a temper tantrum. Hogan and Savage make up, only to have a violent breakup a month later. Bossman (#22) breaks up the Megapower love-in. Hogan and Bossman are all alone and Bossman takes over on Hulk. Gorilla: "He's been out there for half an hour!" Jesse: "You idiot, he's only been there for five minutes or so...". Akeem is #23, so the Twin Towers assualt poor Hogan. Hogan's got his working boots on tonight. The Towers continue the beatdown and unceremoniously eliminate Hogan, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan throws a tantrum and beats up Bossman. Brutus Beefcake is #24. The Towers beat on him, too, but Hogan cheats and pulls Bossman out over the top rope to eliminate him. What a role model. One thing does bother me: If Dibiase was unhappy enough with his number to trade, that would indicate he got a low number to start with. But Bossman ended up with 22 and Akeem got 23, so why would Dibiase have been unhappy with either of those? (2012 Scott sez:  Because he’s a rich white guy who would be unhappy with anything less than #30, of course.  That’s the great part about the character.)  Oh well, minor point. Terry Taylor (aka The Red You-Know-What) is #25. He's not very effective. Barbarian is #26 as Taylor and Beefcake work over Akeem. We're getting into the dregs of the draw. Akeem splashes Taylor and dances. All the girlies say he's pretty fly for a white guy, you know. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, this was written in 1999, wanna fight about it?)  John Studd is #27 and man is Taylor taking a shitkicking. Hercules is #28. Geez, the crowd sure died off once Hogan and Savage left. This is like the lost puppy section of the SPCA in terms of star power. Rick Martel is #29, a few months before his heel turn. He goes after Akeem, but Studd pushes him away, like everyone else who tries to go after Akeem. Studd wants him for himself, you see. And of course, Ted Dibiase is #30 thanks to his investment. Okay, so the final tally: Dibiase, Akeem, Studd, Taylor, Beefcake, Hercules, Barbarian and Martel. Oops, there goes Taylor via Dibiase. What a sad group of finalists. Beefcake puts Hercules in a sleeper and Dibiase pushes both of them over at once. Barbie misses a BIG BOOT OF DOOM and Martel dropkicks him out. Final four: Martel, Dibiase, Akeem, Studd. Well, 50% don't suck. Akeem casually dumps Martel off a bodypress attempt. Akeem and Dibiase double-team Studd. Well, actually, Akeem beats on Studd and Dibiase supervises. Oops, he got caught in between. Studd knocks out the stunned Akeem, leaving Studd and Dibiase. Studd dominates and tosses Dibiase to win the "first" Royal Rumble. First 2/3 was super-hot, but it died off once Hogan left. ***

The Bottom Line: Hey, wow, nothing sucked here. Seriously, this was a surprisingly solid card (albeit completely forgettable) from top to bottom. Okay, discount the Super Posedown. Everyone seemed to be making an effort tonight for once. This was pretty much nearing the end of the Golden Age, too, so it's something of an abomination.