Royal Rumble Count-Up: 1990

Royal Rumble 1990
Date: January 21, 1990
Location: Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16,000
Commentators: Jesse Ventura, Tony Schiavone

Yes, that Tony Schiavone, not the other Tony Schiavone. He was around for a cup of coffee around this time and it’s more or less completely forgotten. Anyway, we’re at the third Rumble now and the look of the show has completely changed. It’s not the old and for lack of a better term tired looking ring and logo, but rather the bright and colorful one that is more commonly known. Naturally Hogan is world champion here and is looking for an opponent at Mania 6.

At this time, no one knew who that was going to be. There were rumors ranging from Warrior to Mr. Perfect (more on that later) to Zeus of all people. There were even rumors that Vince was going to have Hogan drop the belt back to Savage to have Savage vs. Warrior for the main event.

Vince was in real financial trouble at this time and Mania absolutely had to be huge or he very well could have gone bankrupt. Other than the Rumble, there’s not a lot here. Correction: there’s nothing else here. On that note, let’s get to the drivel that is the non main event matches before we get to the real reason this show exists.

The opening is just Vince listing the card and a lot of people in the Rumble. Oh and there’s a Brother Love show tonight. Jesse is wearing Mickey Mouse ears. That’s just awesome. There needs to be another character like Jesse on commentary. He’s just so awesome at it.

Fabulous Rougeaus vs. Bushwackers

All American Boys is just an awesome song. Jimmy Hart was awesome. This whole era just completely rocks. I love me some Marching Morons. Jacques has a big old beard here so maybe Jesse can finally tell their unsimilar faces apart. Jesse says that Mickey and Goofy didn’t have tickets. That’s so stupid yet Jesse makes me chuckle with it. It’s good because they’re killing time in the ring so Jesse at least gives us something to enjoy.

This is I guess you would say a rematch from Wrestlemania 5. We’re a minute in and Ramon uses a sleeper. Butch bites the referee’s pants. There was just something slightly homosexual about these teams. Watch their matches and you’ll sense it too. Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that we have a comedy match here. After about 4-5 instances of the same exact stuff over and over again, the Bushwackers are in trouble.

Luke gets beaten on for a good while as this is running too long. Naturally Luke gets the tag to Butch. If nothing else the crowd is on fire here. If they’re like this for Luke and Butch, what are they going to be like for Hogan? Anyway, after some interference by Jimmy, the Battering Ram ends this.

Rating: D+. This just went on too long. If they cut about 3 minutes in the middle of it, this would have gone much better. It was a comedy match which is ok, but not for nearly 15 minutes. That’s just way too long. These two had some shall we say interesting matches over the years and this was no exception. There’s not a lot going on here, but the crowd liked it so take that for what it’s worth.

DiBiase and Virgil are with Gene, who suggests that DiBiase rigged last year’s drawing. Either way, he has #1 this year. DiBiase was just a masterful heel. His line of “Let me tell you something little man” is just awesome stuff.

Genius vs. Brutus Beefcake

Genius’ brother is the far more famous but possibly less talented Randy Savage. Yeah I said it. Beefcake’s music is just sweet and always has been. For like the 12th time tonight we see the capacity crowd. We get it already. Genius offers a left-handed handshake. Why don’t more people do that? Genius is doing a semi-gay gimmick here, complete with cartwheels and various things that apparently equate to homosexuality.

Sorry if that comes off as derogatory, but it’s simply the case. An atomic drop by Brutus makes Genius roll around the ring three full times. That’s quite impressive. This is really a glorified squash, despite Genius being the lackey of one of the bigger heels in the company in Mr. Perfect. He also beat Hogan (count out) on SNME a few weeks prior to this. Brutus is a power guy, but you very rarely see him portrayed as such.

For such a long match (run time of about 12 minutes) not a lot is happening here. It’s not really bad and it’s kind of interesting, but nothing of note is really happening. After the sleeper doesn’t get put on, the referee is bumped and the lack of a clean ending becomes obvious. WOW. The crowd popped like a cherry for the sleeper. That’s saying a lot. Somehow inside of about 12 seconds the Genius is sound asleep.

That never ceases to amaze me. Here’s a haircut for the Genius because the referee is still out cold. Perfect runs in and beats up Beefcake though. It’s thrown out in case you were wondering. Oh and in this beatdown, Perfect uses a Perfectplex. I won’t even touch on why that’s stupid. Perfect hits a few chair shots to the ribs as it’s announced as a double DQ, I guess for the haircut. Or some reason we have a slow motion replay of basic strikes.

Rating: C+. Like I said, for such a long match, nothing really happened. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad though. It wasn’t bad at all, but it just kind of came and went. Beefcake had a very short feud with Perfect and then got injured I think, putting his career on the shelf for a good many years. Perfect would become IC Champion after Warrior had to vacate it, and the rest of his career is well known. Either way, this wasn’t bad at all, but certainly not memorable.

Mooney is with the Heenan Family. He mentions that they might wind up fighting each other. Hilarity ensues.

Mania 6 will be in Toronto.

BLAST IT ALL! Ronnie freaking Garvin is on this show. In case I haven’t mentioned it, I want him to be shot.

Submission Match: Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg Valentine

Let’s get this over with. Both guys use submissions occasionally, so that’s validation of a gimmick match. Since this is a submission match, they both take boxing stances and pound on each other. Well if nothing else it’s physical. The boxing makes a bit of sense as it’s wearing the other guy down. That at least makes some sense. They keep going for pins here, which makes sense as it’s instinct to go for a pin in a wrestling match for these guys.

If that’s fake or legit, I’m fine either way. If it’s legit, that’s just instinct. If it’s fake, it’s a nice addition to a match. Jesse implies these two are top level talent. Not in the WWF at least they’re not. They’re really building this slowly which is something good. It’s not done anymore and it should be. Oh I forgot: both guys have shin guards on which allegedly stops the submissions from hurting.

To further my hatred of him, Ronnie Garvin is in the figure four and makes “funny” faces at Valentine. Who in the world thought that would be a good idea? No wonder Vince was running out of money. He spent a ton of it on high quality cocaine apparently. Garvin uses an Indian Deathlock. Other than Terry Funk losing to Harley Race with it, I don’t think anyone has ever won anything with it.

If nothing else, these guys are beating the tar out of each other. That’s not bad at all. After a double collision, Hart steals Garvin’s leg brace which is called the Hammer Jammer. Now the figure four works. I think that almost comes close to making sense, but it’s just overdone. After reversing the figure four, we slug it out some more. This has been a very Attitude Era style match. Garvin steals the Valentine leg brace. Hart gets beaten up and a bad Sharpshooter from Garvin gets him the win.

Rating: F. Any match that Ronnie Garvin is featured in automatically is awful, no questions asked. For an unbiased grade let’s go with a B-. This was very intense and all kinds of brutal without weapons use. I still hate Garvin, but this was his best match to date that I’ve seen.

Sean is with Hacksaw, who says that Boss Man won’t be a problem for him. Duggan just looks WEIRD here. His eyes are mostly closed so I’m guessing stoned and or drunk. The end of his board is green for some reason too.

Big Bossman vs. Jim Duggan

Duggan still has no music here. Oh and Slick is Boss Man’s manager. Surprising no one, this starts as a big brawl. Almost immediately we’re on the floor. Boss Man misses a charge and his arm hits the post, and in something that stuns me, Duggan actually follows up on it! That lasts all of 3 seconds as Boss Man goes back on offense, with a FREAKING ENZIGURI! What in the world??? Where did he learn that?

Tony says the Boss Man shouldn’t have the nightstick. Jesse counters with why should Duggen have the 2×4? Tony says it’s his trademark. Wow and I thought Vince was biased towards faces. From a wrestling standpoint, this is crap. From a brawling standpoint it’s pretty good. I’m not sure what Duggan has done other than punch, but that’s ok I suppose. No actually it isn’t. I know he’s a brawler but there’s other stuff you can do too.

Clotheslines, shoulders, maybe a suplex or something? That would at least add some variety. There’s a real similarity in styles here which means that it’s going to be very hard to have a good match between these two. It can work with guys like Bret and Shawn, but with guys like Duggan who are kind of limited in their offense, this isn’t going to go well. Also, this isn’t the Boss Man that you’re familiar with. He’s about 40-50 pounds heavier at this stage of his career.

He’s not nearly as fat as he was last year, but he’s still a big old guy. You can really tell here by the end that they’re both just completely spent. Considering we’re about eight minutes in, that’s not saying a lot. For some reason that I’ll never get, Boss Man goes for a top rope splash that naturally misses.

It’s a shame that two guys are this spent this fast. Ok maybe not fast but it shouldn’t be this bad period. Boss Man nails Duggan with the stick but gets caught for the very cheap DQ. Dang man can we please get a clean pin in a match tonight? Is that too much to ask for? The 2×4 doesn’t hit anyone but it gets rid of the heels.

Rating: C+. This was fine for what it was, which is a big brawl. Neither guy is going to light the world on fire or anything like that, so this was about as good as it was ever going to get. Boss Man had slimmed down a bit here and was getting close to the weight that he would be most famous at. That enziguri was kind of preview of the great stuff that was coming from him in the next year or so. Anyway, this was good enough and they kept it kind of short which was the best thing possible.

Nothing has change in the last half hour as Mania 6 is STILL in Toronto!

Perfect is proud of what he did, and that he got #30.

Brother Love Show

Love is talking about the definition of a lady. He brings out the definition of a lady: Sensational Sherri. Jesse actually says she looks hot. I don’t remember hearing that term in 1990. In what takes about 10 minutes, they say that Sapphire is the definition of a peasant which brings her out.

Love keeps cutting her off over and over again which gets her more and more angry. She hits Sherri, leading to Savage coming out. Dusty of course comes out and the faces run off the heels and beat up Love. That took 12 minutes somehow. What was the point of Sapphire? Does anyone have an answer to that for me? That was long and rather pointless.

A lot of people say their thoughts on their Rumble numbers.

Dino Bravo wants his to be close to Warrior’s.

Earthquake will crush everyone.

Demolition say they won’t have to fight each other this year, so they’re lucky.

Bad News Brown says that people will be crying when their favorite wrestlers lose.

Dusty says that he wants to get his hands on Savage. Sapphire joins him to incomprehensibly yell.

The Rockers say they’ll be fine and they want the Powers of Pain.

Hercules says that he’s ready.

Rick Martel says no one will touch his beautiful face.

Tito Santana says he has no friends today. ARRIBA!

Jimmy Snuka says something about sharks.

Slick and Akeem (who over the last two years has had by far the best run in the two Rumbles) is the baddest guy in there.

Warrior is his general insane self, saying something about a virus, then mentioning Hogan’s name.

Tony and Jesse say some generic stuff before the next batch talk. This must have been an intermission.

Savage says he’s the person you shouldn’t bet against.

The Powers of Pain say they’ll win, which makes no sense but whatever.

Jake says the man that will do anything will win, which is him.

The Harts say they’re ready to go the distance. Those two had scary chemistry together.

Honky says he’s going to play 29 hits.

Finally, Hogan says that he’s ready.

Royal Rumble

We already know that DiBiase got #1, so the big question is who got #2? The answer would be none other than the joke of the Hall of Fame, Koko B. Ware. Seriously, what’s wrong with this picture? DiBiase, who still doesn’t have music here but would get it by Mania, isn’t in the Hall of Fame but Ware is. That’s just inexcusable. Ted jumps him on the way into the ring which is smart.

Koko is blonde here for no apparent reason. He gets slammed head first into the buckle and for some reason that wakes him up. Koko goes into jobber offense 101 but a charge at the ropes leaves DiBiase alone in the ring. 3 is Marty Jannetty, who I’m currently debating about in the spam zones. After some more jobber offense including that signature punch of his, Jannetty tries a cross body near the ropes and goes out to leave DiBiase alone again.

Jake Roberts is in fourth. These two would go at it again at Mania. DiBiase jumps to the floor to go after him including putting on the Million Dollar Dream. Back in the ring Jake naturally takes over and goes for the DDT, which fails. Sorry for the play by play aspect here, but this early on it’s really just one liners until we get something significant going on, which may take a little time.

They beat on each other for awhile until Savage comes in at 5. He’s rocking bright blue tights trimmed with black and nearly pink gloves. I’ll give him this: he was unique. They double team Jake as we’re finally getting something going here. Far less than two minutes later, Roddy freaking Piper is in at 6. The fans pop loudly for him too. That’s a pretty good collection of talent in there, but very few titles in the company.

Savage had three, DiBiase had three, Piper had one and Roberts had zero. That’s quite surprising. That’s quite a tag match also. There are some insane feuds in there, some of which never happened. Savage vs. Piper anyone? Can you imagine the promos those two would have on each other? All four of these guys could work and talk with the best of them. We mess that up with the Warlord coming in at seven.

He’s still a Power of Pain here so he’s about as generic of a monster heel as you could imagine. In something that’s both surprising and cool, Piper just flat out beats Warlord up. That’s awesome. Piper can really fight when he has to. Sherri shouting to break Jake’s neck is creepy. The eighth guy is Bret Hart. DANG there’s some talent out there! You have Bret, Savage, Roberts, Piper and DiBiase out there.

Just how awesome of a collection of talent is that? Bret got a very good pop by the way, so people knew that he was something special. Since he’s Bret Hart he goes after the biggest man in the match. This is a smark’s dream match here. Piper and Hart work together. Is there a bad combination in there that doesn’t include Warlord? With this many great guys in there, nine has to suck.

It’s Bad News Brown, who somehow is the sixth most talented guy in the ring out of seven? That can’t be something that would happen a lot. Brown was so far ahead of his time it’s scary. Think of Brown and then think of Austin. How many similarities are there in there? Jake sets for the DDT but Savage knocks him out instead. Dang I guess it couldn’t last forever. Piper almost puts DiBiase out but Savage makes the save.

Tony suggests that Savage has been paid off. That’s an interesting thought. We hit double digits with Dusty, who skips to the ring. That was just a wrong image. Naturally he goes after Savage with a bunch of elbows that miss by about two or three inches each. Dusty takes out Savage in what might have been the only thing Dusty ever got over Savage in their very long feud. There’s a fan in a red shirt in the front row that is as energetic of a fan as I’ve ever seen at a wrestling show.

Andre is eleven, moving so slowly that it’s flat out sad to watch. He can’t even stand up straight since his back is so messed up. Within seconds he tosses the Warlord as Heenan and Fuji are going at it on the floor. I’d pay to not have to see that. Dusty gets crushed by the epic weight of Andre in the corner. There’s some great comedy there that a guy as lazy as Dusty is getting crushed by the biggest guy in the company.

Speaking of annoying wrestlers, Red Rooster is 12. I know I wasn’t talking about annoying wrestlers but I had nothing better for a transition there. Piper throws out Brown but Brown comes back and pulls Piper out. They fight to the back with a huge Roddy chant accompanying them. This led to the weird match where Piper was painted half black.

According to his DVD, Andre and someone else ribbed him by getting rid of the stuff that got the paint off of him so he was stuck like that for 2-3 weeks afterwards. That’s just amusing. Just to recap, in the ring we have Andre, Rooster, Hart, DiBiase, Rhodes, and at 13 we have Axe of Demolition. As he gets in, Andre throws out Rooster, thank goodness. Dusty and Axe get Andre tied in the ropes but before they can try to throw him out, Haku, Andre’s partner, comes in at 14 to make the save.

DiBiase looks spent one second and the next he looks great. That’s impressive. Dusty does his weird Hulking Up thing with the dancing that I always got annoyed with. His Twinkie reserves get low though and he gets knocked back down. We get to halfway with Smash, putting the tag champions and the former champions in there at the same time. What a coincidence!

Akeem the African Dream and by far the most successful Rumble guy ever starts the second half by going after Andre of all people. Demolition take out Andre with a simple double clothesline. That gets a massive pop. Bret is thrown out during the hullabaloo over Andre. Your current lineup is Demolition, DiBiase, Rhodes, Akeem and Haku. Snuka is in at 17. This thing is going by quickly.

He and Akeem go at it in the house show match from a nightmare. Snuka wins, putting Akeem out early, at least by his standards. Schiavone says the battle rages on, which he used to say all the time in the World War 3 matches. Bravo gets up to 18. You can tell that the guys are starting to get a bit tired out there. There’s a ton of power guys in there also. Earthquake is 19 and he nearly immediately puts out Dusty.

He tosses Axe as well so you can see how big of a deal they were going to make this guy, at least in the short term. Neidhart is 20, giving us him, Earthquake, Haku, DiBiase, Smash, Bravo and Snuka. All of them other than Bravo combine to get rid of Earthquake. Hart is panicking over this of course. Granted I think he panics ordering dinner. I mean think about it: chicken or pasta. HE CAN’T TAKE THAT KIND OF PRESSURE!!!

We start the final ten with Ultimate Warrior who is the IC Champion at the time. He takes out Bravo, who is as pale as humanly possible while still being alive. Only DiBiase and Snuka aren’t power guys out there, and Jimmy is debatable.

Martel is 22nd, and somehow he’s the only former world champion in this match at the moment. How creepy does that sound? Haku takes out Smash with a backdrop and a superkick that was always awesome. We get a Strike Force reunion as Tito Santana is in at Michael Jordan’s number.

We’re in need of some fresh jobbers in there to replace the tired ones that we have. Hey it’s Honky at 24. He certainly fits that description at this time period. Warrior and Martel take out Anvil followed by Warrior putting out DiBiase to a big pop. That man has earned a ham sandwich if anyone ever has. We’ve got Warrior, Snuka, Honky, Haku, Santana and Martel in there at the moment and they’re joined by Hogan at 25.

He stumbles coming to the ring. That’s just funny. He takes out Snuka and Haku before taking the shirt off. Warrior gets rid of Tito and you can see it coming a mile away, but the awesomeness of it isn’t diminished at all. As if there wasn’t enough ego in the ring, Shawn Michaels is out next, 26th to be exact. There goes Honky so we have Hogan, Warrior…and as I was typing the other names they were thrown out, leaving us with the showdown of showdowns.

To say the crowd popped hard is an understatement. Heenan, who has no one in the ring at the moment, is standing out there watching. That’s just cool. They hit some shoulders and no one goes back that far. A criss cross leads to a double clothesline. From an unbiased perspective, that was really boring. From a pure 80s mark, the world just exploded from the sheer levels of awesome in those few seconds.

Both guys stay down for about 15 seconds until Barbarian is out at 27. That guy has been around forever with very little change to his gimmick, but he kept getting work. That’s quite interesting. Think about it. He was in WWF in the late 80s through early 90s, then in WCW for a bit then a quick run in WWF again and then was in WCW forever. That’s saying a lot. Rude I guess jumps the gun as he’s in maybe 20 seconds after Barbarian.

Even Jesse makes a point about it. Rude hits a pretty good dropkick to put Warrior down. For some reason Warrior saves Hogan. Jesse of course hates it but Tony has no issue with it. Rude and Warrior just always had scary good chemistry together. I’ve never gotten that. Hogan tries to return the favor and save Warrior but knocks Warrior out instead. Warrior of course jumps back in and then more or less dances out.

29 is Hercules leaving just Perfect for 30. What is the deal with pale guys wearing powder blue? Both Hercules and Bravo do that. If what’s said about Hogan and Big Show is true, Hogan has bigger boots than Show. I find that unlikely. I love how Jesse and Heenan were right about Hogan being crooked for years. I wonder if those were semi-shoot comments. Perfect finishes us at 30.

He was actually more or less set in stone to win this thing, but Hogan said no, giving us this ending. Barbarian is put out by Hercules. Yeah Perfect was supposed to be the top heel to challenge Hogan, probably even fighting him at Mania but due to Hogan saying no and Perfect vs. Hogan tanking house shows, Vince went with Warrior. That explains the big showdown from earlier.

We get down to Rude and Perfect against Hogan, which was the original ending but with Perfect winning though. Perfect accidentally puts out Rude, leaving us with Perfect and Hogan. Can you imagine if Perfect had actually won this? How awesome would that have been? It’s not like Hogan would have been crushed by it or anything. Perfect gets the suplex on Hogan but Hogan pops up.

You mean he got up from a generic not exactly snapping suplex? NO WAY! Even I have to give that one to Hogan. After smacking the post, Perfect is gone and Hogan wins…of course. I would have loved to see Perfect win there to set up that match on SNME or something. It wouldn’t have worked at Mania, but it would have rocketed Perfect to the top heel spot which was vacant at the time. I guess it was him, but not by much at all. Massive posing ends the show.

Rating: A-. This was good all around. It had cool moments like Demolition beating Andre and the showdown, but it also had the great battle royal stuff like odd alliances and interesting matchups. This was the Rumble getting it right for the first time. Earthquake looked like a big deal because of this which was the main point. This certainly was a success and went by FAST, which to me says it was interesting.

Overall Rating: C-. Let’s see: first match sucked, second match was a long glorified squash, third was a Garvin match, and fourth was a decent brawl. You add in a good Rumble and to me that’s right in the middle. It’s not a terrible show, but once again this is all about the main event with a horrible midcard. This was all about setting up Mania though and it did just that. Hogan vs. Warrior was the dream match that people wanted to see and they got a preview here.

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