Thursday, January 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday: He's a Studd

1989 Royal Rumble
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For the last 20 years, the winner of the Royal Rumble has earned a title shot at Wrestlemania.  I think in most cases (there are a few exceptions, 1997 and 1999 come to mind) the winner went on to Mania for the shot.  In the early days of the Rumble though the champion competed in the match and you only earned bragging rights for winning.  Hacksaw Jim Duggan won the first event which only aired on TV.  In 1989, Big John Studd won the Rumble.  This was the first year it was on pay per view, making it the fourth of the "Big 4" PPVs.  (Quick history lesson: Hulk Hogan won in 1990 and 1991 and Ric Flair won the title in '92, then in '93 the title shot stipulation started with Yokozuna winning)

Anyway, to my original point, the '89 rumble happened 24 years ago this week.  The returning Big John Studd threw out the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase to win.  Studd had been gone from the WWF for a few years and came back as a face.  He was back to extract revenge on Andre the Giant who had turned his back on fans two years earlier.

Jake vs. Andre
Wrestlemania V
Photo courtesy: WWE
You'd think winning the Rumble would have lead to better things for Studd.  Maybe because this was the first year for it on PPV, they weren't sure what to do with the winner.  Studd appeared at Wrestlemania V as the special guest referee for the Andre-Jake "the Snake" Roberts match.  If you consider Duggan won in 1988 and ended up in the world title tournament at Wrestlemania IV.  Hogan was the champ when he won in '90 and then got the title shot in '91 against Sgt. Slaughter although it wasn't technically part of the Rumble stipulation.  And like I mentioned Flair won the gold in '92.  So really, Big John Studd (and Vince McMahon) are the only two Rumble winners to not WRESTLE on that year's Mania card.

Mega Powers implode
Royal Rumble 89
Photo courtesy: WWE
Other notables from that Rumble in 89 included the cracks in the foundation of the Mega Powers.  Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage nearly came to blows after Hogan dumped the champ and Bad New Brown over the top rope.  Ax and Smash of Demolition started the Rumble match off that year.  It was a surprise start to the match, as the tag team champions pounded each other in the opening minutes.  The Ultimate Warrior and "Ravishing" Rick Rude had a pose off ahead of their Wrestlemania match for the Intercontinental title.

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