Thursday, January 19, 2012

Royal Rumble: Woooo!

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

The Royal Rumble has always been one of my favorite "specialty" matches.  In the 25 years it's been around the WWE has done very little to mess with the formula.  That is a good thing, as the battle royal is still the focus of the pay per view event (unlike Survivor Series that has seen the traditional elimination matches die off)

Admittedly, I have not seen all 24 of the previous Royal Rumbles.  I have seen most of them.  I watched the very first one on USA as it happened.  I remember thinking this was the start of something really cool.  But in 1992, marked the best Royal Rumble in the history of the company.  Maybe it's because I'm a mark for Ric Flair, but him coming in at number 3 and winning the whole damn thing was unheard of at that time.  So not only was he an early number and won, Flair was the first heel to win the Royal Rumble (Hacksaw Duggan, Big John Studd, and Hulk Hogan had won the four previous Rumbles), and he is the only superstar to win the world title in the Royal Rumble.

Star power
Plus, keep in mind the star power that was involved in that match.  Top tier guys like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Sid, Kerry Von Erich, The British Bulldog, Jake Roberts, Tito Santana, and Ted DiBiase joined Flair in the Rumble.  Sprinkle in future legends Undertaker and Shawn Michaels and you had the makings of one star studded affair.

I've watched this Rumble a couple of times, and I plan to watch it again before I head to St. Louis for this year's event.  It's hard for me to believe it was 20 years ago that Flair won his first WWF world title and bested 29 others in the Rumble match.  Besides Flair's performance, I think the commentary team of Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon helped to make the match special too.  Sure, Heenan was Flair's cheerleader, but it was done in a way that didn't annoy the audience.  That's something else missing from today's broadcast team.

Hogan helps Flair
I had really hoped that Flair's title win would lead to a Hogan-Flair match at Wrestlemania.  But it wasn't meant to be.  Back then that always seemed to be the dream match.  However, Savage and Flair put on great match at Mania, and probably would have exceeded what Hogan could have done in the ring with Flair.  I had also hoped Flair would stick around in the WWF.  His time there the first time around was brief, but enjoyable.  I always liked the WWF over NWA/WCW, but Flair was always one of my favorite stars.

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