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It's Time To Rumble: A Look Back at Royal Rumble's Past (Part I)

The Royal Rumble is fast approaching, and this year there is intrigue going into the event.  Roman Reigns will defend the Championship in the Rumble match itself!  Brock Lesnar is in!  [SPOILERS] AJ Styles, muthafucka![SPOILERS]  What the hell's gonna happen next?

Well, we know one thing for sure: Twenty eight other Royal Rumbles have come and gone (officially).  Knowing the past may not necessarily help you glean the future, but...it's fun to reminisce and nerds get off on stats, so get in here and have your fill! We're going to look at who won, who was the runner-up, who was in the longest, who was in the shortest, who was first out, and how long each match was, plus I'll dip into the ol' noggin for a few tidbits (with backup from Wikipedia; I couldn't remember who won the coin toss in 1994 to face Yokozuna first, or if winning meant you got to choose or what.)

I'll be posting four of these a day, because 7x4=28 and I just thought of this on Sunday the 17th.  Here we go:



1988


Winner: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan 
(Entry: 13th | Lasted: 14:43 | Eliminations 3)



Bridesmaid: One Man Gang
 (Entry: 19th | Lasted: 6:50 | Eliminations: 6)



Iron Man: Bret "The Hitman" Hart
 (Entry: 1st | Lasted: 25:42 | Eliminations: 1 | Dumped: 8th)



Eliminator: One Man Gang (6)



First To Fall: Butch Reed
(Entry: 3rd | Lasted: 3:18 | Eliminations: 0)



Loser: Junkyard Dog 
 (Entry: 20th | Lasted: 2:08 | Eliminations: 0 | Dumped: 15th)

NOTES:

Total Match Time: 33:35
Billed Interval between Entries: 2 min.

  • This was the first Royal Rumble.
  • There were only 20 entries in this Rumble.
  • This was not on Pay Per View.  This was a special for the USA Network and remains one of the highest rated wrestling programs to ever air on cable.
  • The match itself was kind of weird, as for most of it, good guys and bad guys helped each other out like it was a team effort.  The announcers were even calling it as such.  Hey, no one had ever seen a match quite like it.  Give 'em some slack.

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Hulk Hogan.  Hogan did not wrestle, but there was perhaps the first (at least on WWF television) Televised Contract Signing between he and Andre The Giant for a Wrestlemania III rematch on the upcoming episode of The Main Event (which was Saturday Night's Main Event, but on a Friday).  Hogan would lose the title to Andre at the event in an angle involving a crooked referee paid off by Andre's new cornerman Ted DiBiasi, the debut of Earl Hebner (as said ref) and the ending of the third (in reality 2nd) longest WWF title reign in history at a little over four years.  Andre would attempt to sell the title to DiBiassi, who actually defended it on the house show circuit, but Jack Tunney famously declared this transaction "null and void" and the monstrosity that was the Wrestlemania IV tournament was born.

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

No.  Though "Hacksaw" technically got a shot, it was in a 14-man tournament to crown a new WWF Champion.  And his first round opponent was Ted Dibiasi, who let his cornerman Andre The Giant do all the heavy lifting, so...some prize this victory, eh?



1989


Winner: "Big" John Studd 
 (Entry: 27th | Lasted: 12:21 | Eliminations: 1)


Bridesmaid: "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiasi  
(Entry: 30th | Lasted: 6:27 | Eliminations: 1)


Iron Man: Mr. Perfect 
(Entry: 4th | Lasted: 27:58 | Eliminations: 1 | Dumped: 11th)


Eliminator: Hulk Hogan (10)


First To Fall: Smash 
(Entry: 2nd | Lasted: 4:55 | Eliminations: 0)


Loser: The Warlord 
(Entry: 21st | Lasted: 0:02 | Dumped: 18th)

NOTES:

Total Match Time: 65:08
Billed Interval between Entries: 2 min.

  • This was the first Royal Rumble which aired on Pay Per View.
  • Hogan's record of 10 Eliminations stood until 2001.
  • The Warlord's record of 0:02 stood as the shortest entry until 2009.
  • Mr. Perfect's new longevity record of 27:58 would only last a year.  In fact, the record was set or broken at each of the first six Royal Rumbles.  It's only been broken twice in the 22 since.
  • Andre The Giant became the first person to eliminate himself (a rule that has been done away with and reinstated almost as often as Big Show turns face or heel).
  • This Rumble, though only adding 10 competitors, was nearly twice as long as the previous one.
  • This was "Big" John Studd's only Royal Rumble appearance.  He left the company in June of 1989 and never came back.

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Randy Savage.  He was the first of two men to hold the World Championship when entering the Rumble.  His elimination by then partner/co-Mega-Power/Eskimo Bro fo life, yo/et. al. set up their clash in the Main Event of Wrestlemania V.

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

No.  "Big" John Studd is one of only two Royal Rumble winners to not even compete at the ensuing Wrestlemania.  He was a special guest referee in the Jake "The Snake" Roberts Vs Andre The Giant match.



1990


Winner: Hulk Hogan 
(Entry: 25th | Lasted: 12:49 | Eliminations: 5)


Bridesmaid: Mr. Perfect 
(Entry: 30th | Lasted: 3:32 | Eliminations: 1)


Iron Man: "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiasi 
(Entry: 1st: | Lasted: 44:47 | Eliminations: 3 | Dumped: 18th)


Eliminator: The Ultimate Warrior
(Actually, it's a tie: Hulk Hogan: 5 / The Ultimate Warrior: 5, but here's the Tie Breaker: Hogan had one elimination where he had help from two men.  Warrior has one elimination where he had help from one man.  4 & 1/2 beats 4 & 1/3.)


First To Fall: Koko B. Ware 
(Entry: 2nd | Lasted: 1:36)


Loser: Shawn Michaels 
(Entry: 26th | Lasted: 0:12 | Dumped: 23rd)

NOTES:

Total Match Time: 57:46
Billed Interval between Entries: 2 min.

  • DiBiassi's mark was almost 17 minutes longer than previous record holder Mr. Perfect.  To put that in perspective, for the record to be shattered by that much now, a competitor would have to last 80 minutes, which would make whatever Rumble that is a) Probably unwatchable, and b) the longest (completed) match in WWE/WWF/WWWF history.  (There were a few 90 minute draws because of curfew in the 60's.)  (The 2011 Rumble is the longest, in case you're wondering.)
  • Tony Schiavonne called this with Jesse Ventura.  Two years later, they'd be calling WCW matches together.


Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Hulk Hogan.  He is only the second man to enter the Royal Rumble as World Champion, and the first of only two Rumble winners to ever leave with the gold.  Roman Reigns will be the first person to do the former in 26 years come January 24th.  Will he be able to be the first since 1992 to do the latter?

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?:

No.  Hulk Hogan defended the WWF strap AND challenged for the Intercontinental Championship in a Title VS Title Main Event at Wrestlemania VI, but The Ultimate Warrior came away as double champion.



1991


Winner: Hulk Hogan 
(Entry: 24th | Lasted: 19:55 | Eliminations: 7)


Bridesmaid: Earthquake 
(Entry: 22nd | Lasted: 24:42 | Eliminations: 4)


Iron Man: "The Model" Rick Martel 
(Entry: 6th | Lasted: 52:17 | Eliminations: 4 | Dumped: 26th)


Eliminator: Hulk Hogan (7)


First To Fall: Dino Bravo 
(Entry: 2nd | Lasted: 3:06)


Loser: Bushwhacker Luke 
(Entry: 27th | Lasted: 0:04 | Dumped: 17th)


NOTES:

Total Match Time: 65:15
Billed Interval between Entries: 2 min.

  • Randy Savage was scheduled to compete, but after costing The Ultimate Warrior the title earlier in the night, Warrior chased him out of the building.  (Which is apropos for two guys famous for running around all over the place.)  Having never entered the match, he doesn't count for Loser (or you, I and e'erone else on the planet minus a few hundred would all share the record for worst Rumble time at 0:00).
  • Hulk Hogan became the first person to win the Rumble twice.  This has been accomplished by four others since then.
  • Hogan was also the first Back-To-Back winner, which has only happened on two other occasions.  (In a successive four year span, at that.)

Who Walked Out Of The Event As Champion?

Sgt. Slaughter.  This was the first time the WWF World Championship was contested at the Royal Rumble.  Thanks to an assist from the Macho King, Slaughter was able to slap the Camel Clutch on an unconscious Warrior and abscond with the belt.

Did The Winner Go On To Win The Championship?

Yes.  Though 1993 was the first year the winner of the Rumble would "officially" compete for the World Championship at Wrestlemania, by 1991 it had already happened 3 out of 4 times.  Hogan beat Sgt. Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII, which was the first PPV that transpired after I started watching this schlock at the tender age of nine.


That does it for this entry.  Check back tomorrow to read about 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995!

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