Royal Rumble ’89


1. 6 Man Tag: Rougeau Brothers and Dino Bravo vs. Oh God Why Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Hart Foundation


Jesus Christ.  I am so fucking sick of Hacksuck Shit Fuckhead.  When did he finally retire from the WWE? < checks Wikipedia >.  Ah shit, not until like ’93.  Okay, let’s just get through this

The match starts – as always – with Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura arguing about whether Dino Bravo legitimately benched 700 pounds or whether Jesse helped him.  I am kind of with Jesse on this one.  Maybe Dino got a leg up from Jesse on the bench, but it doesn’t change the fact that he easily benched 400 – 600 lbs by himself a couple times.  I mean, Jesus Gorilla, cut the guy some slack.

The match features some pretty good wrestling between the Hart Foundation and the Rougeaus.  Lots of quick exchanges and reversals, some great power moves.  The match is the best 2 out of 3, so they get the first pin out of the way pretty quickly.  It’s the old Fabulous Crotch Sniff right into the face of the Hitman for the pin.

Whiff my poutine-scented balls, Hitman
Whiff my poutine-scented balls, Hitman

Fall two has the crotch-inhaled Hitman starting in the ring, so he’s pretty tired and gets beaten up for awhile.  I have to hand it to the Rougeaus.  I don’t really find them all that interesting, but they’re pretty decent wrestlers and they keep the match going at a good pace.  To keep the Hitman’s spirits up, Hacksaw starts a “USA” chant.  Jesse remarks (correctly) “I don’t understand it, why are they chanting USA when the Hitman comes from Calgary, Canada”.

Anyway, eventually Hart makes the tag to Hacksuck and Hacksuck is just fucking terrible.  Just non stop punches and “hos”.  Some moves occur and they get the pin and it’s tied at one fall apiece.  On to the third fall.

Hacksuck starts this one off and Dino Bravo gets the upper hand.  As is eternally the case when Hacksuck is being beaten, my erection could hammer the face off a sparrow.  The Rougeaus get into the action with some more weird, odd crotch stuff.   I think they have a fetish

I cannot think of one possible reason this gif would require any context
I cannot think of one possible reason this gif would require any context

Hacksuck gets a chance to nail Dino Bravo with the 2×4 and he takes it.  Hitman gets the pin and this match is over

Overall: You know, Neidhart was barely in this match.  I wonder if he was injured?

 


2. Super Pose Down: Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior


This is exactly what it sounds like.  A pose down (a super one, no less) between Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude.  Was this really the best way to use two of your top stars?

Wrestling!
                                        Wrestling!

3. Woman’s Championship Match: Rockin Robin vs.  Judy Martin


Holy shit!  It’s Rockin’ Robin!  I just looked her up on Wikipedia, she’s Sam Houston’s Sister.

Hey everyone, I was actually in this Wrestlemania!
This fucking guy

HA HAHA HAHA HAAH AAHHA HA HA HA HA HA.

Oh man.  They are just burning up the WWE.  HA!

Overall: I don’t typically watch women’s matches.   This one was no exception.

 


4. King Haku vs. Harley Race


Wow.  I could not be less interested in a match than this one.  Let’s just get this over with.  This has to be a quick match, Harley Race was 46 at this point.

Not much to say about this match, except when Haku performs a suplex on Race and Jesse remarks “That was a textbook Suplex”.  I was going to make a joke about that – after all, who would be so crazy as to write an entire fucking book about one move and… oh, never mind.  Carry on with your fancy pants, liberal, book-learning suplexes.

This match is ponderous and slow.  Harley Race moves exactly as quickly as a 46 year old man, and Haku is not that talented.  Haku wins with a textbook reverse thrust kick and gets the win

Overall: This wasn’t a retirement match, so I may have to see either of these idiots in future PPV’s.  So 0 / 10

 


 5. The Royal Rumble!


The first 10 minutes: 1. Axe / 2. Smash / 3. Andre The Giant / 4. Mr Perfect / 5. Rugged Ronnie Garvin / 6. Greg Valentine

This starts off with both Axe and Smash in the ring and they actually start fighting!  What a great little bit this was by the WWE.  They didn’t even pull any of their punches and while neither had the upper hand it was fun to see the tag champs not mailing it and putting on a show for fans.  Andre comes in next which is a great choice to not be overwhelmed by Demolition.  Mr Perfect gets added to the mix doing what he does best and slowly walks to the ring and Andre uses the confusion to surprisingly eliminate Smash.

In comes Rugged Ronnie Garvin!

a853be09-0f0d-4a34-8c72-13d0dc68c3dc

Next up is Greg Valentine who, unlike Mr. Perfect, puts a little jog into his ring approach.  They all gang up on the Giant as expected and so far this is pretty dull – just a bunch of guys trying to get the Giant out any way they can.  Garvin is eliminated abruptly by Andre via a hip toss.

Minutes 10 – 20:  7. Jake the Snake / 8. Ron Bass / 9. Shawn Michaels / 10. One of the Fucking Bushwhackers (Butch maybe?)/ 11. Honky Tonk Man

Jake comes out and goes right after Andre.  Way to pick a fight with the biggest guy in the WWE you dummy.  (Apparently Jake Roberts Snake Damian attacked Andre or something during one of the Saturday Night Main Events) Andre diverts all his energy and squashing Roberts puts him out just as Ron Bass is coming in – and the crowd goes silent.  The action grinds to a halt with a bunch of rest moves.  Mr. Perfect eliminates Axe and nearly eliminates Shawn Michaels.

Ah Jesus.  It’s the Bushwhackers.  It’s like two Hacksaw Jim Duggans.  Just 2 stupid morons who can’t wrestle but man do they pump up the crowd.

Jake grabs Damien and Andre bails over the top rope.  Good way and probably the only way to get rid of him.  Honky is in the ring next and nothing exciting happens as nothing ever exciting happens when the Honky Tonk Man is involved

Minutes 20 – 30:  12. Tito Santana / 13. Bad News Brown / 14. Marty Jannetty / 15. Macho Man / 16. Arn Anderson

In comes Tito and he goes right after Mr. Perfect for a nice pop.  More wrestling happens until Bad News comes out.  Honky gets tossed by One of the Fucking Bushwhackers.  Marty Jannetty is next and him and Shawn Michaels team up on Ron Bass to eliminate him.  Tito hits Valentine with a beautiful flying forearm and yes, I will continue to screen cap every single instance of a Tito Santana Flying Forearm because it is a thing of beauty and sooo much better than the Superman punch of Roman Reigns.

Drink it in. It always goes down smooth
Drink it in, it always goes down smooth

Macho is out next, the crowd loses their minds and he attacks Bad News Brown.  I don’t know why they’re feuding.  Arn Anderson comes in and at the same time, Macho eliminates Valentine.  Next up, Macho and Arn Anderson (which is an odd combination) eliminate Shawn Michaels.

Minutes 30 – 40:  17.  Tully Blanchard / 18. Hulk Hogan / 19. The Other Goddamn Bushwhacker

As Tully Blanchard is running in, One of the Fucking Bushwhackers runs around the ring like an idiot for 20 seconds

We trimmed about 7 extra bushwhacking seconds off this clip
I trimmed about 7 extra bushwhacking seconds off this clip

Marty Jannetty gets eliminated just as Hogan runs in.   Hogan gives a quick elimination to Mr. Perfect and somewhere off camera, Tito Santa is eliminated.  Next comes the Other Goddamn Bushwhacker just in time as One of the Fucking Bushwhackers gets eliminated.

Hogan and Macho Man do some nice Mega Power team work to beat down Bad News Brown until everyone else in the ring notices and decides they want to all gain up on the Mega Powers.

Minutes 40 – end:  20.  Koko B. Ware / 21. Warlord / 22. The Big Boss Man / 23. Akeem / 24. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake

Koko B. Ware makes his way into the ring and immediately throws a bunch of drop kicks.  While this is going on Hogan comes over, does a quick eye rake – immediately blinding Koko and then eliminates him.  Hogan isn’t finished yet and eliminates the other bushwacker.  He’s on fire and and eliminates Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson as the Warlord makes his way into the ring.  Hogan Clotheslines him right back out and we have ourselves another elimination.  Man that was great.  But the next big surprise is Hogan eliminating Savage and Bad News Brown who were battling it out in the corner – resulting in the beginning of the end for the Mega Powers.

Pictured: A calm, even headed discussion between two rational men
Pictured: A calm, even headed discussion between two rational men

Bossman shows up having just downed what seems like an extra 30 pounds of pies before the rumble and him and Hogan start going at it.  Hogan manages to slam him before Bossman recovers, drops a piledriver and a slam of his own.  Wow did Boss man really just try and spit at Hogan – I really need to read up on this feud.

So the next part of this rumble really is just focusing on Hogan getting beat down by Bossman and Akeem who actually defy the odds and eliminate Hogan.  Now we can finally focus on everything else going on in the ring.  Hogan takes issue with this and gets back on the apron and manages to pull Bossman over the top rope eliminating him as well.  They take it back to the showers to finish each other off (as Superstar Billy Graham likes to say).

Minutes 50-60:  25. Red Rooster / 26. Barbarian / 27. Big John Studd / 28. Hercules / 29. Rick Martel / 30. Ted Dibiase

So the focus now is apparently to get Akeem out and that’s a solid strategy.  The Red Rooster, Beefcake and the Barbarian and finally Big John Studd all take their turns and we are almost through all the entrants.  The action splits off a bit with Beefcake going at it with the Barbarian and Rooster taking on Big John.  Hercules joins in on the action and doesn’t do much as does Rick Martel until finally Ted Dibiase (who apparently rigged the draw) comes in as the last entrant.  Hercules immediately goes after him like a fat kid and sonic burgers and beats him up with series of clotheslines.  While this is all going on the Red Rooster is eliminated and I have no idea how he managed to stay in the Rumble (let alone the WWF) for this long.

Something, something brand synergy?
Something, something brand synergy?

Brutus stupidly puts a sleeper hold on Hercules and Barbarian dumps them both over the side.   He then goes after Martel who manages to fight him off and drop kick him over the top.  We’re down to the final four – Martel, Akeem, Studd and Dibiase.

Akeem gets rid of Martel pretty quickly and then him and Akeem go to work on Studd.  It’s a pretty great sequence to end the match, Studd ends up getting a surprise elimination on Akeem and then plays with Dibiase for awhile.  He gets on a few great power moves and throws out Dibiase like old trash.  Studd wins the Royal Rumble, presumably as a thank you for a great career.

Hooray!
                             Hooray!

That’s another one in the bag folks!

Wrestlemania I Recap


1.  Tito Santana vs. The Executioner (Buddy Rose)


I'm sad. So very, very sad.
I’m sad. So very, very sad.

And here we go.  The very first match of the very first Wrestlemania.  A very solid, standard work by both Santana and The Executioner to kick off what would would become the WWE’s signature Pay Per View event.  The match itself is nothing special, with some very standard back and forth, but there are some elements of the match that just seem very quaint and charming compared to wrestling in 2015:

  • No entrance, both competitors start in the ring.  They continued with this trend almost right through Wrestlemania 3.  It took them 4 years to get the hang of the entrance and the understanding about how that component of the match is almost as fun as the match itself
  • They dub the executioner as “parts unknown, weight unknown”.  The implication being he literally refused to participate in the weigh in and they couldn’t eyeball it.  I guess he also got paid in cash if he wouldn’t reveal where he’s from?  What does the “from” in wrestling signify anyways?  Where you born, or where you currently lived?  Why would the executioner be from parts unknown?  I’d hazard a guess that he’s American, but couldn’t they take a stab at that either?
  • “I have not seen of late this particular executioner”.  Man, Gorilla Monsoon is the best.  After The Executioner headbutts Tito, he follows up with this comment: “Might we one of his forte’s, we really can’t tell at this time”.  They are really playing up the angle that they have no idea who this wrestler is.  It’s fantastic.  How would that booking even realistically work?  Did he show up backstage in the mask, just say “I’m one of several Executioners, I want to wrestle at your signature event.”?  I guess they shrugged and said sure?  This is why wrestling is the greatest sport on Earth.
  • Absolutely no room outside the ring.  This carries through all of Wrestlemania – the action really stayed in the ring.  There is almost no outside match to speak of.
  • Tito’s Flying forearm was a great finisher and he really sold the move.  It just goes to show that you don’t need something absurdly complicated (I’m looking at you Sister Abigail) to have a great finisher.  It also shows how a great wrestler can sell a really simple move and how terrible wrestlers can’t (I’m looking at you Superman Punch)

Overall: A very good start to both WWE Replay and Wrestlemania: 16 out of 22

 


 2. Special Delivery (SD) Jones vs. King Kong Bundy


Mere seconds before my destruction
Mere seconds before my destruction

There is so little to stay about this match.  The entire thing existed to put Bundy over as an unstoppable monster.  Bundy wins in 8 seconds.

Here’s a fun fact (citation needed): after the match was over, SD Jones was so disillusioned by wrestling that he immediately quit the sport to play football as “Special Delivery” Eddie Jones – a white running back who played for the Chicago Bears in 1941.  This required him to build a functional time machine, which he fashioned out of old watch parts and a calculator.  This would eventually prove to be the inspiration for the hit show, Quantum Leap which aired just 4 years later.  SD Jones was never credited with its creation.

Edgar_Jones,_Cleveland_Browns_running_back,_in_1948
Him. He became this guy

Overall: Ultimately Quantum Leap was a brilliant series, marred by a very disappointing finale.  4 / 12


3. Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne


Sup ladies
Sup ladies

I don’t think it’s possible for Steamboat to have a bad match.  I really don’t.  What I find kind of interesting is when I was a kid watching this, I thought Steamboat was a “small” guy.  But look at him!  He’s jacked!  I think it’s just a measure of how fast he was that he could be considered as one of the smaller wrestlers.  Alternately I have a horrible memory.  Either or.

Generally, nothing wrong with this match at all.  It’s great to see some of the moves that you don’t see anymore, specifically the atomic drop.  No one does those anymore, but why?  It’s a great move!

Steamboat ends the match with what I thought was called a “high cross body” but that Jesse Ventura calls “A beautiful flying… tackle.. off the top rope, a la Jimmy Snuka” or “ABFTOTTRALJS”.

Overall: Fun fact: Matt Bourne is “Doink the Clown”!  18/21


4. Brutus Beefcake vs. David Sammartino


I'm a fat piece of shit
I’m a fat piece of shit

Wow, what a total piece of garbage this match is, that I am completely not excited for.  Here’s a question though – why did they list Brutus Beefcake as parts unknown?  I thought they only did that for guys with masks.

The only mystery here is why he thought

This match is really, really slow.  Just a lot of jockying for position, arm locks and a series of amateur takedowns.  Sammartino is a plodding, slow wrestler.  He moves with all the speed of an amateur screenwriter finishing a coffee in starbucks.  If he was continental drift, I’d be typing this from Africa.  His attacks are as gently ineffective as an occupy movement.  Philosophy majors find meaningful employment faster than he can land a headlock.

The one bright light in this otherwise horrific match is that it ends

Overall: Obviously, I hated this match.  0 / 10

 


5. Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine


Thump
Thump

Gorilla calls him “The Juker”.  Was that a thing we were ever doing in 1985?  I can’t stress enough how much I dislike the Junkyard Dog.  For example, if him and David Sammartino were forced into a kissing contest, I would not be turned on.

Here’s the challenge with JYD.  His entire in-ring persona was based on his spectacular  charisma.  The crowd absolutely loved the guy, and he rose to be an insanely popular mid-card solely on the strength of his personality.  His actual wrestling skills – at least to the extent they were displayed in the WWE – were virtually non-existent.  So to be a fan of his, you have to fine him entertaining for himself.  Which I don’t.  <Shrug>.  Different strokes I guess.

This match ends with Valentine putting his feet on the ropes for the pin.  Before the match can end, Tito Santana runs out and sets the ref straight.  The ref agrees with the random Mexican stranger who interrupts the match to explain what he saw from the dressing room 300 meters away and appropriately decides to change his own decision without going to the replay, the timekeeper, any of the photographers at ringside or the commentators.

Fun fact about Greg Valentine – this entire page of insanity

Overall: Another match bites the dust. 2 / 72

 


6. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo


Teach us, magical wrestling icons, about complicated international politics!
Teach us, magical wrestling icons, about complicated international politics!

Here are some things I apparently cannot spell.  Sheik, Nikolai, Volkoff, Windham, Rotundo.  This match is a challenge to recap for me.

Volkoff singing the Russian anthem before the match has to be one of the best heel moves in the history of wrestling, followed by the Sheik’s cutting geopolitical punditry: “Russia!  Number One!  Iran!  Number One!  USA!  Ha-phooey!”.

I love Windham and Mike Rotundo as a tag team, and I don’t know why.  While they were not the most exciting duo, they ushered in an era of –

Wait, is their entrance version of “Born in the USA” a weird, elevator-music instrumental only version?  Holy crap, it is.  Why aren’t they using the real version?  Also, why do half the pages list Mike Rotundo’s name as “Rotunda”?  A Rotunda is any ground building with a circular floor plan, not one half of the (eventual) USA Express.

The point is – this is a pretty decent match.  Sheik and Volkoff were a great heel tag team and Rotundo and Windham really did work well together.  The arm drag by Rotundo on the Sheik is gorgeous.  The crown pops through the whole match and it’s a lot of fun.

Overall: USA!  USA!


7. Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd


Spoilers in the above picture I guess
Spoilers in the above picture I guess

It’s a shame that by the time the WWE really hit the mainstream in the 80’s Andre was already a few years past his prime.  For anyone whose only impression of Andre is the Wrestlemania 3 matches, go back and watch some of his stuff from the 70’s.  He could move for a guy his size.

Sadly, by the time WM1 came around we had this Andre – a poor man nearly crippled by acromegaly.   He gives it his all in this match, but he didn’t really have many moves left at this point.  A match consisting entirely of punches and kicks.  John Studd does a great job with what he has.

The match ends with the slam and despite his condition, Andre scoops up Studd like a child.

Overall: Anybody want a peanut?


8. Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter


You wouldn't know it, but in real life Lelani Kai is not a dwarf
You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but in real life Lelani Kai is not a dwarf

I don’t normally watch women’s matches.  This one is no exception.

Overall: ??


9. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff


Obvious, fool-pitying joke here
Obvious, fool-pitying joke here

Here we go, the main event!  Hogan!  Piper!  S..Snuka?  Funny, I thought in Wrestlemania 1 Hogan was still using Eye of the Tiger as his entrance music.  For anyone who doesn’t remember this, before the days when the WWE commissioned all their songs (and thereby avoided pesky licensing fees) they used to use actual music.  Hogan originally came into Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.  While “Real American” has grown into it’s cultural significance, it really can’t compare to the pop he used to get.  Check out the difference.

Well that’s interesting.  Now thanks to Garfunkel and Oates, when I hear “Eye of the Tiger” all I can think of is “Sports, Go Sports

Hogan and Piper are just filthy with Charisma.  For the first minutes of this match it’s just Hogan and Piper posturing for the crowd and it’s literally the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.  The crowd agrees with me, they’re on their feet for basically the whole match.  The first few minutes is all heat and it’s fantastic.  Piper and Hogan were incredible in a way that wrestlers today just aren’t.

I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why Hogan works and Cena doesn’t.  Because essentially they’re the same wrestler – big, good looking guys with incredibly limited repertoires of moves who win their matches by being indestructible.  Same matches every time.  Here’s what I’ve come up with, and it boils down to sweat.  Bear with me.

In order for the Hogan / Cena match template to work, they need to create a suspension of disbelief with the crowd – namely that they might actually lose.  We know they’re not actually going to lose, but they need to sell us on the concept, and the degree they’re successful doing that is how well they sell moves.  Hogan is not necessarily better at selling moves than Cena, but within 4 minutes of any match, Hogan is just absolutely bathed in sweat.  His hair is soaking wet and he’s actually glistening.  This really helps give the impression that Hogan is struggling.  Whereas with Cena – he’s too athletic and really in shape.  He’s just a fantastic athlete who glides effortlessly through the matches.  He never feels like he’s in any danger, so it’s tough for the crowd to really get invested.  Whereas with Hogan you think “Christ, this 40 year old man might actually die of a heart attack”.

Anyway, this entire match is a fantastic end to to the show.  Hogan, Piper and Orndorff are all at the top of their game.  The match has great flow and the crowd is over the top for the whole thing.  The match ends when Bob Orton misses Hogan with the cast off the top ropes and hits Orndorff instead.   In the 80’s I would estimate that 75% of matches ended by either the heel hitting his own partner with a foreign object, or small package out of nowhere.

Overall: Sports, Go Sports!  9/5/11