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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Royal Rumble 1990 Take Two

August 29, 2007 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Royal Rumble 1990 Take Two  

Royal Rumble 1990
by J.D. Dunn

  • January 21, 1990
  • Live from Orlando, Fla.
  • Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura.

  • Opening Match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Bushwhackers.
    Funny story about the Bushwhackers: According to Butch, the Bushwhackers were just hired because the British Bulldogs were on their way out thanks to a real-life feud with Jacques Rougeau. See, Vince wanted another team with the same accents and didn’t really think about the quality of their work. That would be roughly on par with replacing Colin Farrell with Colm Meaney. Actually, I’m not sure how serious Butch was, but given Vince’s tastes in wrestling, anything is possible. The Rougeaus have their Ramones-by-way-of-REO-Speedwagon theme song at this point. This is just before they dropped out of sight. Raymond would retire later in the year, and Jacques would become one of the most irritating men on the planet as “The Mountie.” This kind of match is a dying art thanks to egos and everyone wanting to look “cool” out there. The Rougeaus, who are the opposite of cool thanks to their ability to both suck up and condescend at the same time, spend most of the match in control, but when they take punishment, they look like total idiots. I should point out that Danny Davis, who was given a lifetime suspension by the WWF and was formerly managed by Jimmy Hart, is the referee. How is *that* not a conflict of interests? The finish sees the Rougeaus going for their Boston Crab + Kneedrop combo, but Butch trips up Jacques from the outside. That allows the Bushwhackers to finish with the Battering Ram at 13:35. The Rougeaus were in a very precarious position here. If they looked too good, the fans would start to side with them because, well, everyone knew the Bushwhackers were horrible. On the other hand, they couldn’t let the Bushwhackers get too much offense because, well, the Bushwhackers were horrible. Such is life when you have to carry someone. And before you write, I know the Whackers weren’t that bad. In fact, they were one of the top brawling teams of the 1980s as the Sheepherders. The “family-friendly” WWF watered them down significantly, though. **

  • In the back, Gene Okerlund asks Ted Dibiaseif he rigged the 1989 draw. Dibiase denies it categorically, but gets the godsmack anyway as he draws #1 this year.
  • The Genius vs. Brutus Beefcake.
    Much like the Rougeaus, the Genius had a number of good matches as a babyface but found his true calling as a heel, getting great heat and putting over the babyfaces. And, like the Rougeaus, he had to drop most of his good moves to make sure he didn’t get any face heat. If you didn’t already know, he’s Lanny Poffo, the younger brother of Randy Savage. Brutus, on the other hand, was primed for a big babyface push and, given the general formula of Hogan storylines, I wonder if they didn’t intend for him to turn on Hogan at some point. That storyline actually would go off in WCW. But I digress. Genius gets caught in the sleeper and bumps the referee. Brutus puts him out anyway and starts cutting his hair. That draws out Genius co-hort Mr. Perfect to make the save. The ref wakes up and disqualifies both guys at 11:03. Perfect lays a beatdown on Bruti, injuring his ribs and setting up their match at WrestleMania VI. 1/2*

  • Sean Mooney stirs up trouble in the Heenan Family, asking what would happen if it came down to two Heenan members in the Royal Rumble. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.
  • Submission Match: Greg Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Ronnie Garvin.
    If ever there were a wrestler who just didn’t fit in with the WWF style it was Ron Garvin. It’s not that he was a great wrestler in the NWA, but he was a rough-and-tumble sort of dude who could put a hurtin’ on people. I’ve been listening to too much Bill Watts. The problem was that no one in the WWF really wanted to take that kind of beating, so Ronnie had two feuds before departing – one with Dino Bravo and this one. Valentine, thankfully, is the one man tough enough to endure Ronnie’s stiff chops and still put on a decent offensive match. This, btw, is the last really good Valentine singles match, although a lot of people do get a kick out of him abusing Buff Bagwell. This match stems from Valentine using a medically approved leg brace to amplify his figure-four leglock. He actually put Ronnie out of action for a while by defeating him in a Retirement Match, but Ronnie was such a thorn in his side as a referee that Greg wanted him reinstated for this match. Ah, but Ronnie decided to even things out with his own leg brace. They do a good job working the stipulations because the submission aspect was still fairly exotic at this point. First Ronnie goes for a cover to show that they don’t count, and then Valentine does. Actually, you’d think Valentine would have learned from Ronnie’s mistake, but I guess old habits die hard. The slug it out in a very stiff contest for the WWF at that point. After a pair of double KO spots, Valentine gets the figure-four, but Garvin’s “Hammer Jammer” neutralizes the hold. BRILLIANT! Well, not brilliant, but a neat little storytelling device. With his bread-and-butter hold neutered, Valentine has to change strategies and go after Garvin’s back with a Canadian Backbreaker. Ronnie gets out of it and SMACKS Valentine in the chest with a chop. Garvin locks in the Indian Deathlock, but Valentine makes the ropes, and they head to the floor. Garvin tries a piledriver on the floor, but Valentine backdrops him over. Back in, Valentine ties him in the tree-of-woe, and Jimmy Hart takes off the leg brace. Valentine reapplies the figure-four. See, now that’s some great storytelling too. The only reason Garvin survived before was because he had something that neutralized the hold, and now he doesn’t have it, so now what?! I swear, if either of these guys had a charisma chromosome, this would be a Match of the Year Candidate. Valentine uses the ropes but gets caught, forcing him to break the hold. Garvin slams him off the top and takes off the Hart Breaker (Valentine’s pet name for his brace). They each swing leg braces at one another, but Garvin connects. That’s enough to knock Valentine silly, and the Sharpshooter finishes at 16:53. The more I see this match, the more I appreciate it. The storytelling is tight, and the stiffness is something the WWF just wasn’t known for in the early 1990s. ***3/4

  • In the back, Mr. Perfect draws #30, the “perfect number.”
  • The Brother Love Show:
    Brother’s guests are Queen Sherri and Sapphire. Sherri hates Saffie because she’s fat, ugly, and poor. I added the ugly, but it was implied. The damned thing turns into Springer as Sherri, Sapphire, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage all get into a big brawl. Dr Evil: I’m okay. I’m okay. YOU WERE BORN IN YOUR MOTHER’S [BEEEEP]!

  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. The Big Bossman (w/Slick).
    The Big Bossman was just coming into his own as a worker at this point, and he was a few weeks away from a face turn. Like the Genius/Rougeaus analogy, Duggan is a singles version of the Bushwhackers. In the UWF he was a big tough guy, but in the WWF, he was a comedy act. He actually makes a good point in his shoot interview about toning down his stiffness because, in those days, you’d work with the same person four nights a week, and it just didn’t pay to beat the shit out of each other that long. Duggan claps his way out of a bearhug but misses a charge and gets clotheslined. They run into each other for a double KO spot, and Slick tries to interfere. It backfires, though, so Bossman gets frustrated and hits Duggan with the nightstick for the DQ at 10:21. These guys were like two ships passing in the night as Duggan was on a descent while Bossman was about a year away from his peak as a worker. The result was just average. **

  • Royal Rumble Match.
    Ted Dibiase is #1, but he gets to keep Virgil at ringside this year. Koko B. Ware is #2, and watching this live, I was just sure he was going to go on a big run. He charges Dibiase and gets backdropped to the floor. Marty Janetty is #3 and fares much better…at scoring some ganja. Dibiase ducks a charge and throws him over too. Jake Roberts is #4, and now Dibiase is crapping in his $1,000 silk boxers. They meet in the aisle and brawl back to ringside. Dibiase tries to put him out with the Million Dollar Dream, but Jake rams him into the post. Randy Savage is #5, and he and Dibiase team up against Jake. Savage ties Jake up and gives him a little slap. Jake would have a lot less mercy when he had Savage tied in the ropes two years later.

    Roddy Piper is #6 and gets a pop usually reserved for Hogan. Piper teams up with Jake, turning it into a two-on-two. Warlord is #7 in the waning days of the Powers of Pain. He goes after Piper, allowing Dibiase and Savage to turn back to Jake. Bret Hart is #8. He goes after Dibiase. Dibiase and Savage try to team up against Bret, but it backfires. Bret and Piper team up against the Warlord. Bad News Brown is #9 and goes after Bret, renewing their various rivalries. Jake tries to DDT Dibiase, but Savage clotheslines him out. The crowd just does not like Savage at this point. Savage and Dibiase are really showing some solidarity here. I guess politics and money really do mix. Dusty Rhodes is #10. He tosses Savage immediately. Everyone pairs off.

    Andre the Giant is #11, barely able to make it to the ring (and yet he was a tag team champion here!). Andre tosses the Warlord, causing Heenan and Mr. Fuji to get into it. Andre corners Piper and Rhodes, but they’re too quick for him. The Red Rooster is #12. He goes after Dusty Rhodes for no apparent reason. The two actually did have a little heat in the mid-1980s because Taylor was a punk then, but Watts straightened him out. Piper tosses Bad News Brown, and Bad News, ever the poor sport, pulls Piper out. That forces Muay Thai expert and fledgling referee Shane McMahon to separate them and send them to the back. Andre tosses the Rooster. Ax is #13, and the two Machines go at one another. Kind of weird how things work out because I just watched a Machines match this morning. Haku is #14, and Smash is #15, which conveniently puts Demolition and the Colossal Connection in there together.

    Akeem is #16, giving Andre some competition in the size department. Demolition teams up and eliminates Andre. Bret Hart doesn’t even get the courtesy of an on-camera elimination. Jimmy Snukais #17, and he goes after Akeem. At first, I thought that was stupid, but Snuka sends him out with a flying headbutt. Dino Bravois #18. The Canadian Earthquake is #19. He eliminates Dusty Rhodes. Sadly, Akeem and Andre have already been tossed because this is the one match where Earthquake, Akeem and Andre would have been interesting. Earthquake tosses Ax and lays out an open challenge for anyone who wants to wear the daddy pants. Haku takes him up on it. Jim Neidhart is #20. Everyone but Bravo gangs up on the Earthquake and tosses him over the top. Dibiase is still in there, and this is the first time anyone really paid attention to longevity.

    The Ultimate Warrior is #20, and he goes after Bravo for the whole “setting him up to be squashed by a 400-pound plant from the crowd” thing. Warrior no-sells an atomic drop and tosses Bravo. The entirely stable team of Neidhart and Warrior go after Dibiase and then turn on each other. Rick Martel is #22. He goes right after Smash, which is actually a nice bit of continuity because Demolition put Martel out of action for a year with a Demolition Decapitation on the floor. Sadly, this is still an era of “good guys” and “bad guys,” so the announcers don’t mention any of that. Haku tosses Smash moments later. Tito Santana is #23, and he goes after Martel, of course. Virgil helps push Dibiase back in to avoid elimination. Dibiase gives Snuka a piledriver. Honky Tonk Man is #24. There goes Niedhart. Warrior gets another huge pop for clotheslining Dibiase out. Hulk Hogan is #25, and you haven’t heard pops until you’ve heard the crowd here. Hogan tosses Snuka. There goes Haku too. Santana gets eliminated in a fracas with Martel and the Warrior. Honky pairs off with Hogan while Martel and the Warrior go at it.

    Shawn Michaels is #26 and gets tossed right back out by the Ultimate Warrior. Better luck next year – or five years from now. Warrior and Hogan toss their respective rivals almost simultaneously, giving us the long-anticipated Warrior versus Hogan battle. They trade shoulderblocks, but no one budges. A criss-cross leads to a double clothesline, putting both men down. That leaves them easy pickings for The Barbarian at #27. Rick Rude seizes the opportunity to attack a defenseless Warrior and Hogan by coming in before the #28 horn sounds. Warrior makes the save for the Hulkster, but when Hogan tries the same thing, he winds up eliminating the Warrior. Funny how Hogan winds up tossing his friends out when he’s just “helping out.” Warrior gives him the gift of violence as he takes out Barbarian and Rude before running back to the locker room. I hear there are some queers in there Warrior! GET ‘EM! Hercules is #29. He goes after former Heenan Family ally Rick Rude. Mr. Perfect is #30, going after Hogan. Herc tosses Barbarian.

    That leaves Hogan, Hercules, Perfect and Rude. Rude clotheslines Hercules out quickly, leaving Hogan alone against the Minnesota Kvetching Crew. A heel doubleteam backfires, though, sending Rude to the floor and nearly eliminating Perfect. That leaves Perfect and Hogan. Perfect hits the Perfectplex, which may be the single most useless move in a battle royal outside of a wristlock. Not only does it not do any good, it’s a finisher, so Hogan gathers strength from it and Hulks up. He tosses Perfect for the anti-climactic win. Good stuff from Perfect and Dibiase, plus the crowd was on fire for the babyfaces like Jake and Piper. Fun Rumble. ****

  • The 411:  I still say Warrior should have won the Rumble to set up the whole "Hey, if this guy won and Hogan didn't maybe he's the new Hogan!" aspect of the WrestleMania match. The wrestling equivalent of the Bulls pushing the Pistons out of the way the same year. I guess that would be too much like right, though. The days of wine and roses would end a few months later as Hulkamania came to an end as far as the general public was concerned, but this was one of the last big PPVs when Hogan ruled the world. The undercard leaves a lot to be desired, but the submission match and Rumble are enough to recommend the show.

    Thumbs up for the 1990 Royal Rumble.

    Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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