Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashback Friday: Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Courtesy:  WWE
January 24, 1988:  The Royal Rumble celebrated it's 23 birthday this week.  The original match was broadcast on the USA Network and not on pay per view.  This event featured just 20 guys.  No big superstars in that first year.

A relatively new comer, the Ultimate Warrior was in the match.  He wasn't yet the Intercontinental champion and was a midcard player at best.  But he was probably the odds on favorite to win.  At least I thought he was going to win.  He was only in the match less than 4 minutes.

Everyone else in the match was also somewhere along that mid card status.  Harley Race, One Man Gang, Jake 'the Snake' Roberts, Junkyard Dog.  You get the picture.  There was no Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Honky Tonk Man (he was the reigning IC champ), Brutus Beefcake (who was getting the IC title push at the time) involved in this match.  We did have former tag team champions the Hart Foundation in there, as well as co title holder Tito Santana.  I don't know why Rick Martel wasn't.

Other top guys like Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude battled each other on the undercard.  That match I believe went to a double disqualification, even though Wikipedia says Steamboat won by DQ.  Dino Bravo "broke" the world benchpress record that day too.  The Islanders beat the Young Stallions.  And the women's tag team titles were defended.  Hogan and Andre signed the contract for their now infamous "Main Event" match on NBC.  "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan won the Rumble, which was somewhat surprising, but he was really over in his early days in the WWF.

I remember the month leading up to the Royal Rumble on TV, there was a mini rumble match at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.  It was December 1987 and the One Man Gang won the affair.  I believe he tossed out the Junkyard Dog last to win the match.  I wonder if they were testing the waters for the RR on the house show circuit before going primetime with it.  Anyone else out there know?  I've seen some online reports that contradict my memory, but I'm positive it was December.  The main event of that show was Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff vs. Andre the Giant and Rick Rude.

Without a doubt the Rumble is my favorite pay per view right behind Wrestlemania.  I've enjoyed it through the years, even when it's been predictable.  Later this week, I'll make a prediction on who I think will win the 2011 Royal Rumble.

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