OSR: WWE Royal Rumble 1988 Review
For the next OSR, I shall be going back to the time when a WWE wrestling tradition began, almost 28 years ago as the brainchild of WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson. For its inaugural year, it was slightly different as the main match on the card only featured 20 superstars. Now, I have never watched this event before so I am going into this completely blind. So, here I go with the Royal Rumble 1988 Review, enjoy!
We go straight to the arena without a video opening package to our announcers for the evening, Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura calling the action before they discuss the various matches we will see this evening, plus the contract signing for the rematch between Andre and Hogan for the title in February on Saturday Night Main Event. The combination of McMahon and Ventura is always interesting and different, they bounce well off one another but complement each others styles well.
1. Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude
Rude appears in the ring instantly, I think his entrance occurred during the opening moments of the show before Steamboat makes his way out to a great reaction. Now, this match I am quite excited for because this should be good, very good and I sincerely hope it doesn’t disappoint.
The match is very back and forth, with lots of scientific and skillful moves being used by both men, they display an exceptionally well presented and rounded match which culminates in a disappointing finish when referee Earl Hebner (I think) is shoved/pushed by Rude causing the DQ win for Steamboat. A really enjoyable opening match with a disappointing finish but in retrospect, suited the character of Rude well.
Winner: Ricky Steamboat, via Disqualification
Match Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars
Next up, we have Dino Bravo taking part in a weight lifting competition assisted by Gene Okerlund and Jesse Ventura in a segment which seemingly lasts a lifetime, yes it was done to push Bravo’s character but it was exceptionally dull. Okerlund on the other hand, came across very heelish in this promo as he shouted at the audience to keep quite to avoid distracting Bravo. Had this being 1992 when Vince was trying to establish the WBF, then maybe I could get this segment a bit more but it is genuinely a horrible segment.
2. WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship – Two out of Three Falls Match: The Jumping Bomb Angels (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Glamour Girls
There isn’t any buildup shown for this match, considering there is a history between the two teams going back to the 1987 Survivor Series…it is almost like they are more fixated on the non-match parts of the show. Anyhow, this match is very very basic in its layout and structure but both teams and ladies put in a noble and credible effort.
The first fall is won by The Glamour Girls, whilst the latter two falls are won by The Jumping Bomb Angels to capture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship in a solid and credible match, but is instantly forgettable.
Winner: The Jumping Bomb Angels, to capture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Match Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars
Next up, we have the contract signing for the rematch between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan for a forthcoming edition of Saturday Night Main Event, before McMahon and Ventura talk at great length about the history between the two men, going back to the events of WrestleMania 3 plus a notable and almost humorous reference to when Andre nearly pinned Hogan by accident and the later involvement of Ted DiBiase in the feud. We go back to the area where Andre is making his way to the ring along with DiBiase, Virgil and Bobby Heenan, before Okerlund introduces Hogan to a thunderous reaction. In another segment which seems to last an absolute lifetime for what it is, it eventually culminates with Andre attacking Hogan and tipping a table on him before leaving the ring. We then go to McMahon and Ventura talking about the forthcoming Rumble match, and what we can potentially expect from the match but also the rules for the match.
3. The 20-Man 1988 Royal Rumble Match
We go to the ring, where Howard Finkel talks more about the rules for the Rumble match before the first two entrants, Bret Hart and Ted DiBiase appear in the ring without any fanfare to begin the match. The third entrant into this match is Butch Reed and fourth being Jim Neidhart.
Three men systematically taking down Santana in a trio effort before the fifth entrant Jake Roberts makes his entrance, and quickly eliminates Butch Reed to even the odds for Santana but before long the sixth entrant Harley Race sways the favor again for The Hart Foundation.
It is evened again with the seventh entrant Jim Brunzell making his way to the ring. The audience seem really excitable for this match, really going for the faces and really going against the heels, before the eighth entrant Sam Houston and ninth entrant Danny Davis join the match.
The second elimination is Tito Santana at the hands of The Hart Foundation, whilst the tenth entrant is Boris Zhukov and eleventh is Don Muraco, even though this is disputed by Nikolai Volkoff who is made to wait at ringside for the next entrance whilst in the meantime Zhukov is eliminated by Brunzell and Roberts, soon followed by Race being eliminated by Muraco whilst Voljoff has now entered the ring.
The thirteenth entrant in the match is Jim Duggan, who is briefly attacked by Race but Duggan makes his way into the match anyway before the fourteenth entrant, Ron Bass makes his way out to the ring. Brunzell is the fifth man eliminated by Volkoff before the fifteenth entrant B Brian Blair makes his way out to a great reaction and before long, is joined by the sixteenth entrant, Hillbilly Jim.
Neidhart is the next man eliminated, when he is eliminated by new entrant Hillbilly Jim before seventeenth entrant Dino Bravi makes his way out whilst Houston is eliminated by Bass. The eighteenth entrant is The Ultimate Warrior whilst Bret Hart is eliminated by Don Muraco. Hart set the original standard in the Royal Rumble for longevity, yes others have lasted much longer but he set the standard to be followed.
Anyhow, the nineteenth entrant to the match is The One Man Gang, who is very dominant eliminating Blair and Roberts before the twentieth and final entrant, The Junkyard Dog makes his way to the ring. Volkoff is soon the next man eliminated by Duggan, followed by Hillbilly Jim by One Man and then Danny Davis by Duggan with an almost three-point stance.
Warrior is surprisingly eliminated early by One Man and Dino Bravo, before he is quickly joined by the JYD by Ron Bass who himself is then eliminated by Don Muraco, who is then eliminated himself by One Man and Bravo. This leaves it pretty much two on one with Duggan taking a beating, before a mistake from One Man accidentally eliminates Bravo.
After a few moments of back and forth action, Duggan capitalizes on another mistake by One Man to become the winner of the inaugural Royal Rumble. This match, interesting and unique most definitely but memorable, absolutely not…if you asked someone for a moment in this match, I’d be surprised if they remembered.
Winner: Jim Duggan, last eliminating The One Man Gang
Match Rating: 1.5 out of 5.0 Stars
We are now once again joined by Hulk Hogan who responds to what Andre did to him earlier in the evening, in a typical Hogan promo before talking about what will happen at Saturday Night Main Event. He goes on about the power of the Hulkamaniacs…but he then goes onto say how he will destroy Andre and he cannot be beaten. Anyhow, we are now off to our next match of the evening.
4. Two out of Three Falls Match: The Islanders (Haku and Tama) vs. The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers)
The Islanders make their way out first to a timid reaction, along with McMahon’s reference to them sidelining the Bulldogs pug Matilda. The Young Stallions make their way out next to a good reaction and the match quickly gets underway with The Islanders dominating the action with Jim Powers taking the beating.
The first fall comes in favor of The Islanders, when Paul Roma is counted out when he seemingly injures his knee when he gets thrown outside the ring. Mid way through the match, we g0 to an interview with Ted DiBiase and Andre talking about the forthcoming rematch between Hogan and Andre, but also the goals of DiBiase.
I find it quite bad that the matches momentum has being destroyed here, because this segment could have easily being fitted in before or after the match. The action soon continues, with The Islanders remaining pretty much the dominant force in the match and taking advantage of the knee injury of Roma which eventually culminates in The Islanders gaining the second fall, to ultimately win the match. Okay match, but a little bit average for my liking and didn’t generate anything interesting.
Winner: The Islanders
Match Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars
After the match, Vince and Jesse talk about the events of this evening including Bravo’s bench press challenge and some discrepancy over whether he actually achieved the World Record before turning their attention to the forthcoming rematch between Andre and Hogan before drawing the show to a close.
Now this show, don’t get me wrong I understand the importance of it being the inaugural Rumble event but it really didn’t feel like a big match show, in all honesty it felt like a very watered down version of Saturday Night Main Event, and more focus was being paid to the forthcoming rematch between Andre and Hogan, which given its importance and the significance of the Rumble event, should have maybe occurred as the main event match on this show. You generally feel very underwhelmed watching this show, so unless it is for pure geeky purposes to see the first Rumble match, I really wouldn’t recommend watching this show, there are plenty more episodes of Saturday Morning Slam that I could recommend watching!
Show Rating: 0.5 out of 5.0 Stars
Did you enjoy our of Royal Rumble 1988 Review, what do you think went well and what didn’t – is the assumption of comparing it to Saturday Night Main Event or Saturday Morning Slam a little bit harsh…we here at WDD would love to know what you think!
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