WWF Royal Rumble ‘89
January 15, 1989
Despite this only being the second ever Royal Rumble event and the first to ever be broadcast on pay per view, this event holds up incredibly well.
Right off the bat, the company did a great job of focusing on the Rumble match itself as an event and the primary reason for the event. Major main event superstars like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase and WWF World Heavyweight Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage were all represented in the battle royal. Plus other top B-show headliners like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Bad News Brown and The Twin Towers of Akeem and Big Boss Man were all included as well. While no tangible stakes were on the line for match, back in 1989 bragging rights of winning a match such as this on a pay per view were more than enough to sell the event.
The show also did a great job of establishing not only the “every man for himself” they wanted to push for the event, but also the “luck of draw.” To sell the “every man for himself” aspect the reigning and defending WWF World Tag Team Champions Demolition Ax and Smash drew #1 and #2 to the shock of everyone. Rather than wait it out, the two smash mouth brawlers who were precursors to the “Attitude” era’s anti-heroes, took to each other with reckless abandon.
The “luck of the draw” was played out in pre-taped vignettes where a distraught “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase was unhappy with the number he drew. Through some finagling and chatting with Slick and his men The Twin Towers, DiBiase somehow found himself in the #30 spot. It was great character building for both DiBiase and Slick and to put over the importance of the draw for such a brand new event.
In addition Hulk Hogan looked like a world-beater, eliminating nine men and coming into a collision course with his rivals The Twin Towers and accidentally eliminating his Mega Powers tag team partner “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It was great story building to set up the Mega Powers explosion at WrestleMania V.
The major surprise of the event was the winner itself was Big John Studd. Studd was a huge star in the WWF throughout the ‘80s as a villain and this was big return match to the company, only this he was now a hero, poised to battle with Andre the Giant once again. While Studd’s victory like out of left field, it re-established him as a “giant” in the company once again and gave him credibility with new fans who had not seen him in his past run. It now re-established him as a major star for an inevitable program with Andre later into 1989. Unfortunately Studd left the company again a few months later and nothing really materialized of this run.
This was sort of a one-match show, as the undercard featured bouts highlighting various mid-card house shows feuds and put a spotlight on a fading women’s division. The biggest promoted part of the undercard was not even a match, but rather a “Super Posedown” between WWF Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior and his top challenger “Ravishing” Rick Rude. It was merely build for their upcoming bout at WrestleMania V. Something would that now be featured in hour two of Monday Night RAW two weeks before WrestleMania. It is amazing how things change.
- Jim Powers beat Barry Horowitz in a dark match that happened before the pay per view went live on the air.
- Sam Houston beat The Brooklyn Brawler in a dark match that happened before the pay per view went live on the air.
- Hacksaw Jim Duggan and The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) beat Dino Bravo and Jacques & Raymond Rougeau in a 2-out-of-3 falls match.
- WWF Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin beat Judy Martin.
- King Haku beat Harley Race.
- Big John Studd won the 30-man Royal Rumble match last eliminating “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase. Other participants included Bushwacker Luke, Terry Taylor, Ron Bass, Demolition Ax, Curt Hennig, Honky Tonk Man, Akeem, Shawn Michaels, Koko B. Ware, Hercules, Andre the Giant, Greg Valentine, The Warlord, Tully Blanchard, Rick Martel, Bushwacker Butch, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Greg Valentine, Demolition Smash, Big Boss Man, The Barbarian, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Arn Anderson, Marty Jannetty, Bad News Brown, Tito Santana and Hulk Hogan.