Thursday, January 16, 2014
From The Musty Yellowed Pages--Royal Rumble 1989 Program
On January 15, 1989, the Rumble made its pay-per-view debut. Emanating from The Summit in Houston, Texas (now home megachurch to televangelist Joel Osteen), the pay-per-view seemed to be almost experimental in nature. In addition to the Royal Rumble match itself, the show hosted a variety of events that were not normally part of the WWF's offerings at the time.
The program for the event is yet another that featured both the Rumble lineup itself as well as portions from the standard WWF program of the time. These pages featured articles on recent happenings in the WWF, spotlights on talent, and of course the great color photography that the WWF publications were becoming known for. Early in the program we're treated to a photo from a then-recent Saturday Night's Main Event match. Mr. Fuji had hired a masked assassin named Super Ninja to take out the Ultimate Warrior. Though the match didn't last very long, the masked man was none other than Rip Oliver. I know that I'm not the only fan who misses when this sort of wrestling randomness was commonplace.
In the program, it's the Royal Rumble match itself that comes first. This is the Rumble where Ax and Smash of Demolition are the first two competitors and go at it much to the delight of the crowd. There are many great moments in this Rumble, until the point where both Hogan and then-WWF Champion Randy "Macho Man" Savage are both eliminated. The spot is integral to the growing explosion of the "Mega Powers," but the crowd simply does not buy Brutus Beefcake, Akeem, Ted DiBiase, and Big John Studd as the biggest names of the second half.
The next two events of the show are where the Rumble strays from normal territory. First up is a "Super Posedown" that featured then-Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior against Ravishing Rick Rude. This was obviously done to set up the WrestleMania V match, but I'm not the only fan who would have rather seen a short "teaser" match here instead of a posedown. Notably, Nick Bockwinkel makes an appearance as a WWF agent and even feels a bit of the power of the Warrior.
Last but not least, we have my favorite match of the event. Two of my favorites, Harley Race and Haku, collide in what was billed as a "King's Crown" match. Race had been "The King" of the WWF until being injured going through a ringside table. Haku was then "crowned" by Bobby Heenan which Race took offense to upon his return. The match is under five minutes, but features nonstop action from both men and a humorous performance by Heenan who continuously switches sides depending on who has the in-ring advantage. This match was omitted from the Coliseum Video release, but thankfully lives on in the WWE Home Video Royal Rumble Complete Anthology. On the program photo of Race you are able to see the stomach scar that was a result of his surgery from the injury.