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On the Marc Reviews: 1988 Royal Rumble

January 5, 2012 | Posted by Marc Elusive
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On the Marc Reviews: 1988 Royal Rumble  

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Please follow Marc Elusive on Twitter or like Marc Elusive on Facebook or check out www.marcelusive.net for reviews and recaps (of current WWE and old WWF PPVs, DVDs and VHS tapes) and a little analysis; more of a play-by-play style, like my reviews here on 411mania.Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario; January 24, 1988

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jessie “The Body” Ventura

This was the first Royal Rumble and it aired live on the USA Network at the EXACT same time the Jim Crockett and the NWA was putting on the Bunkhouse Stampede. This was the opening salvo fired in the future “Monday Night Wars”.

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude:   No Bobby “The Brain” Heenan accompanying Rick Rude tonight as he is on vacation. Rude stars off with punches and forearms; Ricky returns the favor with the chops. Rude tosses Steamboat over the top rope, anyone who has watched the Dragon knows what happens next; Rude is on the floor. Rude tries a test of strength. Nice counter as the Dragon uses his leg to break the hold and spin it into an armbar and segues into an arm wringer. Ruse escapes but Ricky arm drags him back into the armbar. Some lady brings a megaphone to ringside and is REALLY annoying with it. Rude tries to punch his way out but gets an off-the-rope chop and back to the armbar. Dragon adds a splash or two to the arm to keep the fans awake. Rude kicks his way out. Rude comes off the ropes and punches a lot. He rams Steamboat into all four corners and punches more. Dragon slides under Rude’s legs twice and arm drags back into the armbar; Steamboat rams and grinds his knee into the point of the shoulder. Rude elbows Steamboat in the face. Steamboat runs the ropes but Rude catches him with a knee off a… something, I think Rude missed a move. Steamboat winds up on the floor where Rude slams him; Rick Rude vertical suplexes Ricky back in. Rude applies a reverse sit-down chinlock switching into a smother when the referee is not looking. Ricky powers up into “what-a maneuver”, a.k.a. an electric chair drop. Steamboat tries a splash but Rude brings up the knees. Rude applies a really bad looking atomic drop and we are back to the reverse chinlock. Ricky counters jerking Rude into the top turnbuckle; Ricky rams Rude into the buckle for a ten count. Ricky chops him in the face; they go through a bridge-up into a backslide reversal sequence. Steamboat gets another three or four nearfalls. Clothesline by Steamboat gets two; Ricky blocks and reverses a vertical suplex. Steamboat comes off the top rope with a crossbody but Rude pulls referee Dave Hebner in the way. Rick Rude hoists up the Dragon into the Canadian backbreaker for the apparent submission. The referee disqualifies Rude for interference. 2/10 Painfully long and boring; all Rude did was punch. This felt like one big long rest hold. It is almost impossible to find boring and Ricky Steamboat in the same match but Rude pulled it off.

Dino Bravo looks to set the world bench press record of 705 pounds. “Mean” Gene Okerlund is there to commentate and Jessie Ventura is there to spot and provide color commentary. Frenchy Martin demands total silence from the crowd to rile them up to keep them from falling asleep. Bravo “sets” the bench press record at 715 pounds, with help from Jessie Ventura. 1.5/10 This was incredibly tedious and boring; the aftermath was more important. It provided banter for Gorilla Monsoon and Vince McMahon with Jessie any time Bravo wrestled for the rest of his WWF career. It also provided Dino Bravo with his gimmick for the rest of the WWE tenure.

WWF Women’s Tag Team Championship Glamour Girls (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Jumping Bomb Angels two out of three falls:   The Glamour Girls are Leilani Kai and Judy Martin; The Bomb Angels are Noriyoi Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki. The Angels hit double dropkicks but Leilani Kai gets Tateno alone and she misses a dropkick. Kai whips her into Martin and slams her and goes for a cover but Tateno bridges out and rolls her up for two. Yamazaki hits a powerbomb suplex and tags Tateno back in; Martin misses an elbow. The Bomb Angels begin to quick tag. Yamazaki locks in an Octopus stretch. All hell breaks loose and the Bomb Angels hit stereo figure-four leglocks. Yamazaki split-leg drops onto Kai twice and locks in an Indian deathlock. Yamazaki and Tateno switch in and out and work Kai’s leg. For some reason they allow the tag to Judy Martin who catches Yamazaki on the top rope and slams her on the back of her head. Leilani Kai cuts off a comeback with a knee from the apron and Judy Martin nails an Alley-oop for the three count and the Glamour Girls win the first fall. Judy Martin flings Yamazaki around by her hair and a flying forearm. She keeps trying to pin her but Yamazaki keeps bridging out. Tateno gets a tag and hits a clothesline and one off the second rope. The Angels hit a double suplex. They try a double whip but the Glamour Girls reverse but the Bomb Angels are one step ahead and drop down and the Glamour Girls collide. Yamazaki collides with Martin and goes down; Judy tries the Alley-oop again but Yamazaki counters into a sunset flip for three and the Jumping Bomb Angels win the second fall. Both Bomb Angels attack Judy Martin immediately and double clothesline her twice. Kai brings in Martin to beat on Yamazaki but she brings her down with a step-up enziguri. Martin blocks a fisherman’s suplex by Tateno with a knee her to abdomen. Judy Martin slingshots Tateno into her corner face-first and tags in Leilani Kai who hits a hair-assisted neck snap. Butterfly suplex by Leilani and gets two. Martin tags in but she kicks Tateno into the corner and she tags Yamazaki; Martin no-sells the hot tag and flings Yamazaki back into her corner. A classic referee distraction, plus choke in the corner maneuver, by the Glamour Girls. Yamazaki blocks a sledge and hits a sit down atomic drop twice. Martin comes back in and gets a slam/top-rope knee strike by the Bomb Angels for two. Tateno hits a butterfly cradle suplex that referee Joey Marella is a little slow on getting to the count for, gets two; don’t think I have ever seen that type of pinning suplex before. Tateno plants Martin in the corner with a slam but she misses the senton bomb. Yamazaki tags back in and hits a second rope clothesline. The Bomb Angels each go up to the top rope and hit double missile dropkicks for three and the Jumping Bomb Angels win the third fall and win the WWF Women’s tag titles. 7.5/10 What a match; the Bomb Angels are kind of like the female Rockers.

Contract Signing for Hulk Hogan vs.André the Giant:   André the Giant claimed he had defeated Hulk Hogan early on in their WrestleMania III on a controversial count. Then André’s team beat Hogan’s team at the first Survivor Series so he got a match for the title on The Main Event on February 5th. This is the contract signing. “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase and Virgil accompany André. Hogan signs; André takes his jolly sweet time. Dibiase runs his mouth a little too much so Hogan goes after him that allows André to attack and tip the table over onto him. 2/10 Typical heel attacks face at contract signing although I think this was the first one ever.

The Royal Rumble: The rules are a teeny bit different; over the top rope only (does not matter if you hit the floor) and only twenty participants. #1 Bret “Hitman” Hart and #2 Tito Santana starts off so the Hart Foundation and Strike Force feud can continue. Bret beats him on the ropes and in the corner. Tito reverses; Bret tries a leapfrog but Santana clotheslines him. #3 “The Natural” Butch Reed runs in and works Tito over for redemption from WrestleMania. Reed gets him on the ropes but when Bret tries to help it fires up Tito and he handles both of them. Bret gets him from behind though; Bret holds Santana for Reed to come off the second-rope with a sledge. They hit double elbows as #4 Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart comes in and that spells doom for Tito who avoids a high knee from Reed and accidently nails Bret Hart. The Hart Foundation regroups and gets Tito down. They all set him up for a second rope backbreaker/decapitation move. The heels celebrate and measure Tito with selective triple team moves. They try to toss him but #5 Jake “The Snake” Roberts runs in and saves Tito by ELIMINATING Butch Reed and teeing off on the Anvil. They whip the Harts together, twice; now the sides are even. Neidhart stops a DDT on Bret by clotheslining Jake. Bret clobbers Tito with a piledriver. Now, #6 “King” Harley Race jogs down to the ring and drops elbows on the Snake. Neidhart and Race try to toss Jake as Tito works over Bret Hart on the other side; Anvil to the rescue. Jake knocks Bret down but falls to a Harley Race falling head-butt. Here comes #7 “Jumping” Jim Brunzell and goes after the Harts (obviously). Everyone in-ring leans in on an almost Bret elimination. Jake rakes Anvil’s goatee. Everyone pummels everyone. #8 Sam Houston sprints to the ring and goes for Bret Hart; Neidhart looks to help but is tired and Houston is fresh so he is able to hang with him. Too much nothing going on to recap; typical Rumble free-for-all, except faces and heel go at it only; the every man for himself did not get much play until next year. The Harts ELIMINATE Tito Santana tossing him over the top and share a hug. Here is #9 “Dangerous” Danny Davis to a huge chorus of boos he goes right for Sam Houston because all jobbers must stick together and they were feuding on WWF Superstars. Jake traps Race in the ropes for his weeble-wobble spot. Davis tries to work over Roberts but gets back suplexed.

#10 Boris Zhukov jogs to join the fray. He beats on Houston. Race works over Zhukov breaking the heel/face alliances briefly. Bret holds Houston for Davis to dropkick him. #11 Don “The Rock” Muraco followed by Nikolai Volkoff right behind him for some reason. The officials allow Muraco in so he attacks the Harts in the corner. Jake and Brunzell work over Boris on the ropes eventually ELIMINATING him. Nikolai argues with the referees on the floor as Jim Brunzell nails his dropkick on Bret Hart. The commentators do not seem to get how stupid it is for Volkoff to try to come in too early. Houston and Davis continue their battle on the ropes. Now, #12 Nikolai Volkoff can enter. Muraco clotheslines Race out, ELIMINATING him but he refuses to leave ringside; more everyone brawling on the ropes. #13 “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan comes out and brawls with Race on the floor briefly. Duggan jumps in and works over the Anvil then Bret Hart. #14 “Outlaw” Ron Bass jogs in. Volkoff body slams Jim Brunzell over the top ELIMINATING him that allows Duggan to realize there is a Russian in the ring and goes after Volkoff. #15 B. Brian Blair, funny his tag partner, Brunzell was eliminated a few second ago. Blair goes for Bret Hart; Jessie Ventura complains about him attacking the most tired one in the ring. #16 Hillbilly Jim, probably the highest ranked midcarder in this match, runs to the ring and ELIMINATES Jim Neidhart via backdrop. Blair almost goes out at the hands of Bass. Everyone brawls as #17 Dino Bravo runs in. Sam Houston is ELIMINATED by Ron Bass. Bravo and Muraco brawl in a prelude to their match at WrestleMania IV. Here comes #18 Ultimate Warrior, just after he debuted on WWF television. Muraco tosses Bret Hart over ELIMINATING the number one entrant after about thirty minutes or so. #19 One Man Gang trots to the ring, the other closest to a main event guy in this Rumble. Gang ELIMINATES Brian Blair then he ELIMINATES Jake Roberts immediately after. #20 Junkyard Dog flies to the ring. Duggan scoops his shoulders on the ropes ELIMINATING Nikolai Volkoff. One Man Gang tosses Hillbilly Jim ELIMINATING him. Davis eye rakes everyone he can to save off elimination. Duggan three-point clotheslines (ELIMINATING) Davis out. More on the ropes, elimination style brawling; a bunch of guys gang up on the Warrior ELIMINATING him. The remaining six pair off; Ron Bass sneaks up on JYD from behind ELIMINATING him. Muraco clotheslines (ELIMINATING) Ron Bass out. The final four for the 1988 Royal Rumble are; Jim Duggan, Dino Bravo, Don Muraco and One Man Gang. Gang avalanches Duggan in the corner so he and Bravo team up to ELIMINATE Don Muraco. They use the heel holds the face allowing the other heel to clothesline him spot that never works; that may be the only time ever that has actually worked. Duggan is in trouble; they surround him and work him over. The heels repeat the clothesline spot; this time it goes the way it always does with One Man Gang accidently ELIMINATING Dino Bravo. Gang beats on Duggan until he low bridges a charging Gang and ELIMINATES him to win the first Royal Rumble. 5/10 Interesting historic first Rumble. They would work out the little kinks and make (a lot of money) also making this the most loved PPV of all time; especially for me.

Craig DeGeorge talks to the champ Hulk Hogan about the previous contract signing. Hogan is mad at André and Ted Dibiase, brother!

Young Stallions vs. The Islanders two out of three falls:   Bobby Heenan is vacationing in Barbados courtesy of Ted Dibiase. This is like the after Saturday Night’s Main Event “main event” match; because it’s passed all of the kid’s bedtimes. Islanders were in the midst of their kidnap Matilda storyline with the British Bulldogs. Jim Powers and Tama start off; Powers fares well slamming Tama. Tama tries the old handshake maneuver; Powers winds up with an atomic drop. The Stallions pinball Tama and Powers locks in an arm wringer. Powers misses a charge but he tags Paul Roma. Haku comes in and Roma nicely leapfrogs over him twice but botches an arm drag reversal. Roma makes up for it by CLOBBERING Haku with a running crossbody. Powers tags in and they double elbow Haku; Tama then comes in and slams Powers but misses an elbow. Islanders keep the advantage with quick tags; Tama comes off the top-rope with a chop to the head. Double head-butt by the Islanders as they keep cutting off tags and beating on Powers. Double tags are made and Roma is in on fire; Tama takes the beat down and lightly grazes him with a dropkick. The Islanders combine on a low bridge toss over the top move that injures Paul Roma’s knee on the floor. Roma gets counted out and the Islanders win the first fall.

They take Roma to the back to check on his knee so Ted Dibiase and André the Giant come out with Craig DeGeorge to contradict Hulk Hogan. Dibiase reiterates he always gets what he wants and he wants the WWF Title and André will help him get it. André rants kind of incoherently I assume he plans on beating Hogan.

The Young Stallions return with Paul Roma’s knee heavily taped for the second fall. Roma must start the fall since he lost the previous fall. The Islanders immediately work over the knee. Tama tries a splash but Roma instinctively gets his knees up; but unfortunately that hurts him more than Tama. He is able to tag Jim Powers though and he and Haku battle. Powers gets the better of him and tries a bunch of desperate nearfalls; vertical suplex by Powers. Jim Powers makes the mistake of going after Haku’s head and gets the advantage and tags Tama. Now the Islanders work him over with quick tags and a double head-butt. Powers keeps it interesting with a rollup here and there. Haku hits a backbreaker for two and Tama adds an off-the-rope reverse elbow. Haku hits a nice standing dropkick and a gut wrench stand-up suplex. Haku locks in an abdominal stretch as Roma cheers him on; Powers hiptosses out. Tag cut off but Haku misses a running senton but recovers to cut off another tag; Haku misses a leg lariat and finally makes the tag to the injured Roma. Paul Roma gallantly fights Haku but he sweeps the leg and tags Tama who splashes the leg into a single leg crab for the submission. The Islanders win the second fall and the match. 6.5/10 Interesting tag match; do not know if the injury was legit or not as they could have quickly rebooked it during the Ted Dibiase interview. This may have been the first time I have seen anyone win two straight falls.

Vince McMahon and Jessie Ventura kill time at the end discussing and recapping the show.

The 411

The first foray into the Royal Rumble is an interesting one. It is fun seeing the beginnings of the most loved PPV of all time. It also brought the contract signing to one of the most controversial WWF Title matches of all time; also had Dino Bravo getting his WWF gimmick and his “bench press” record.

 
Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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