Reviewing The Rumbles: 1992
1992: The Fairness to Flair
Here we arrive at the first truly “good” Rumble (Hulk Hogan vs Bushwhacker Luke notwithstanding), and it’s an absolute gem of a classic, this one. Late 1991 saw shenanigans-marred title matches between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker result in Jack Tunney holding the title in abeyance. The result of that decision? Royal Rumble 1992…
1. The British Bulldog
2. Ted Dibiase
3. Ric Flair
4. Jerry Sags
6. Shawn Michaels (In his first appearance as the heel Heartbreak Kid)
7. Tito Santana (HE’S A MATADOR, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! It’s all I’ve waited for since I started this.)
8. The Barbarian
9. Kerry Von Erich
10. Repo Man (at least, I think it was Repo Man. I could barely catch a glimpse of him, what with how sneaky he was and all.)
11. Greg Valentine
12. Nikolai Voloff
13. The Big Bossman
15. Roddy Piper
16. Jake Roberts (also making his first Rumble appearance as a heel)
17. Jim Duggan
18. Irwin R Schyster
19. Jimmy Snuka
20. The Undertaker
21. Randy Savage
22. The Berserker (Now he gets the “This guy is made for this match!” kiss of death commentary)
24. Colonel Mustafa (Which is, I just noticed, two letters away from being Colonel Mustard)
25. Rick Martel
26. Hulk Hogan
28. Sergeant Slaughter
29. Sid Justice
30. The Warlord (The very most professional RR jobber that ever was. If you added up all the time this guy spent in Rumbles, would it even come to 5 minutes?)
4th – Randy Savage (eliminated by Sid)
3rd – Hulk Hogan (eliminated by Sid)
2nd – Sid Justice (eliminated by Hogan and Flair)
Winner – Ric Flair
– So yes, this was the first Royal Rumble that actually meant something, and for that matter, the one that meant the most overall until 2016 repeated the idea. With the title held up, it was determined that the winner of the Rumble would be crowned WWF champion. It certainly was an unconventional way to select a titleholder, but you can’t argue with the results.
-Commentary this year is Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. I would say they are, without question, the best commentary team in professional wrestling’s history. And they REALLY shine tonight.
-So Heenan was at this point quasi-managing Flair, and he makes mention of how he had an incredible sum of money riding on the Nature Boy. Flair then entered in the third spot of the match, and that sets up the entire rest of the Royal Rumble. It becomes The Ric Flair Story from then on out. The only slight negative of the match is that it is SO entirely focused on Flair that there is little else to mention other than bits on Flair and the commentary.
-Speaking of which, Heenan is great when Flair is brought out at #3, but Monsoon might actually be better. He openly mocks Heenan over the draw and just BURIES Flair’s chances of winning. Gorilla just really lays into his broadcast partner. Heenan then apologizes that he won’t be able to remain his usual objective self due to his bet on Flair, and Monsoon laughs that off.
-It’s just absolutely impossible to catch ALL the Heenanism in this match or all of Monsson’s bites back at him. It’s a match you’ve just got to see and hear for yourself. Some of Heenan’s best moments are when he turns into a sulking teenager (“Shut up! Leave me alone!”) and when he keeps repeating throughout the match “This isn’t fair to Flair!”. In the modern era of commentary’s duty being to push social media and merchandise, it’s easy to forget that it used to be a terrific tool to further a match’s story.
-For anyone keeping track, this Rumble sees a return to the rules being that managers were barred from ringside. They really waffled on this early on in Rumble history despite managers having played absolutely no role in any previous Royal Rumbles.
-Shawn, as a mentioned, debuted as a heel here, and I don’t know if he is trying to emulate his idol or show up Flair or what, but he has some ridiculously over-the-top selling during his tenure in the match. It’s weird to think that Shawn actually toned down his selling at some point.
-After #14 comes out, the ring empties except for Flair, and in a brilliant moment, Bobby Heenan cries out “Flair wins it! Flair is the champion!”, only for Gorilla to remind him there are 16 more guys left to appear.
-Heenan has famously hilarious commentary on Roddy Piper in a stretch of a few seconds. After Piper saves Flair from a DDT (Still teasing those as a heel, Jake?), Bobby renounces every terrible thing he’s ever said about Piper and promises to call it a kilt from now on. Flair then locks in the Figure Four on Jake, Piper breaks it up, Heenan denigrates him again as a “skirt-wearing freak!”.
-For no discernible reason, Undertaker goes right after Flair when he comes out (weren’t they working together against Hogan leading up to this?), and Heenan goes apoplectic. Just more great stuff.
-Randy Savage enters, and his legendary feud with Jake The Snake continues here over Jake’s abuses of Elizabeth. Savage tosses Jake, then throws himself over the top after him. They brawl on the outside for a bit before Undertaker comes to Jake’s rescue. ‘Taker throws Savage back in the ring, and even Monsoon and Heenan are confused as to why Savage is allowed to continue. It’s written off as “Well, no one propelled him over, so he was not actually eliminated”, even though that has never been a rule before or since.
-Just a random funny moment later on as the ring is filled with guys, Jim Duggan just wanders away from all the action to go to the camera-side of the ring, look out at the fans, give a tumbs-up, and start a USA chant. God, I loved Duggan some times. Such a weirdo.
-Well, if there’s one thing this match is famous for besides Heenan’s commentary and Flair’s resilience, it’s the ending. After having dumped allies like Randy Savage (1989) and Ultimate Warrior (1990) from behind when they were in peril, Hogan gets tossed in a similar predicament by Sid Justice. Of course, Hogan views this as GRIEVOUS INJUSTICE, and then HELPS THE HEEL WIN by grabbing Sid’s arm and pulling him halfway over the top so that Flair can easily slip him over (even though Ric botches it a bit). This would lead to a Hogan/Sid feud where Hogan was somehow cast as the good guy to Sid’s malevolence, but the fans would go on to shit all over that concept and remain at least partially behind Sid.
1. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10
2. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
3. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
4. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
5. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10