The Royal Rumble returned in 1989, this time as a pay-per-view event. But this year it would be bigger than last year with 30 wrestlers competing. And it would have an increase in starpower, as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, and Ted DiBiase would all compete in the match.
Randy Savage was the WWF Champion, but he was constantly overshadowed by his friend and partner Hulk Hogan. They hadn’t exploded yet, but there was deifnitely some tension brewing between the two. They would both be in the match, this could be Savage’s chance to prove himself superior to Hogan. Could the Mega Powers explode at the Royal Rumble?
Also on the Card:
-The Hart Foundation defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus
-Rockin’ Robin defeated Judy Martin to retain the WWF Women’s Championship
-King Haku defeated Harley Race
We get fabulous pre-match promos featuring Randy Savage, Big John Studd, Mr. Fuji with Demolition, Mr. Perfect, and Brutus Beefcake. Ted DiBiase gets his own interview with Mean Gene. Seems he made a deal with Slick earlier. We go to Sean Mooney with the Heenan Family, and then Mean Gene with Hulk Hogan. He’s ready to get it on with The Twin Towers, Big Bossman and Akeem. He also says he’ll toss Savage if it comes down to the two of them.
The #1 entrant is Ax of Demolition, one half of the World Tag Team Champions. #2 is his partner, Smash! First time for a classic Rumble trope. The crowd goes wild as they get it on it right off the bell. They fight until Andre the Giant enters #3, at which point they team up on Andre. #4 is Mr. Perfect, looking weird wearing a speedo instead of his singlet. Although it was always odd that he wore the singlet since he had a great body. Andre dumps Smash for our first elimination.
“Rugged” Ronnie Garvin, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, is #5. All three guys go after Andre but can’t eliminate him. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine is #6 and he joins in on attacking Andre. They still can’t get him over. Andre dumps Garvin. Jake “The Snake” Roberts is #7 to a big pop. He makes a beeline for Andre but ends up getting choked. #8 is “Outlaw” Ron Bass. Andre tosses out Jake. That was an oddly short and uneventful night for him. #9 is Shawn Michaels. Him and Perfect have an appetite-whetting exchange.
#10 is Bushwhacker Butch. After he enters Jake Roberts returns and lets his python Damien out of the bag. Andre, who is terrified of snakes, climbs over the top rope and runs. And with that Andre is eliminated. Absolutely love that spot.
#11 is the Honky Tonk Man. He’s no longer the Intercontinental Champion, he lost the title to Ultimate Warrior at Summerslam. #12 is “El Matador” Tito Santana. #13 is Bad News Brown. Was always a big fan of his. Just had the look of a guy you didn’t want to mess with. Honky Tonk Man gets tossed by Butch. #14 is Marty Jannetty, so we’ve got both The Rockers in there now. Rockers team up to eliminate Bass with a Double Dropkick.
#15 is the reigning World Wrestling Federation Champion, “Macho Man” Randy Savage! Business picks up as him and Bad News Brown go toe-to-toe. Savage is still wearing his sunglasses as he pummels Bad News. #16 is Arn Anderson as Savage eliminates Valentine. Anderson and Savage team up to eliminate Shawn Michaels with a double back elbow. #17 is Tully Blanchard and we’ve got both of The Brainbusters in there. Amazing coincidence that tag team partners drew two consecutive numbers. Arn hits a beautiful Spinebuster on Marty and they toss him out.
Hulk Hogan is #18 and he immediately tosses Mr. Perfect. Santana is out too. Tully does a Flair Flop. Bad News and Tully nearly eliminate Hogan and Savage declines to save him. #19 is Bushwhacker Luke, who enters right as his tag team partner Butch is eliminated by Hogan and Bad News Brown. #20 is Koko B. Ware. Mega Powers and Brainbusters are paired off. Unfortunately that’s not a match we ever saw on TV. Hogan dumps Koko. Then Luke. The Warlord is #21. Hogan Clotheslines both Arn and Tully over the top! Warlord steps in and is immediately Clotheslined out by Hogan. No time to reflect on that as Hogan sneaks up behind and dumps out Bad News Brown and Savage!
Savage gets back in and gets into Hogan’s face. They’re about to go at it when Elizabeth runs down and gets between them. Hogan says it’s every man for himself. Remember that one for the 1992 Rumble. Savage and Hogan shake hands, but it definitely feels unresolved. Big Bossman is #22. Hogan tunes him up and hits a big Body Slam, but Bossman turns it around and pummels Hogan. Huge Piledriver by Bossman. He’s getting put over strong here. Gorilla tries to make excuses, claiming Hogan’s been out there for half an hour. Jesse rightly points out he’s been out there for five minutes or so. Akeem is #23 and Hogan is in big trouble. The Twin Towers double team and destroy Hogan. They throw his lifeless body over the top.
Hogan pulls Bossman out to the floor (eliminating him) and brawls with Bossman. Akeem goes out to help. Brutus Beefcake is #24, so Hogan gets some backup. Hogan is eventually forced to leave. #25 is The Red Rooster Terry Taylor. The announcers start talking about who hasn’t entered. Bad form, much better to just leave it as a mystery. #26 is The Barbarian. Kind of wish they’d saved the Hogan/Savage shenanigans for closer to the end, they’re not closing real strong here. Big John Studd is out #27. He’s recently turned face and dumped Bobby Heenan as his manager. #28 is Hercules. #29 is Rick Martel. And #30 is obviously The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.
So here’s the mystery: Who did DiBase switch numbers with? Slick’s guys are The Twin Towers and they came in #22 and #23. I guess one of those wasn’t good enough for him? Might have made sense for Slick to want both of his guys to come in consecutively so they could team up.
Red Rooster gets tossed by DiBiase. DiBiase sneaks up behind Beefcake and Hercules and manages to dump them both. Barbarian hits Martel with a Flying Headbutt from the top rope, but then misses a charge and gets Dropkicked over by Martel.
Final Four: Martel, DiBiase, Studd, and Akeem. Akeem grabs Martel and throws him out. DiBiase and Akeem double team Studd, but Akeem misses an Avalanche and gets dumped by Studd. DiBiase tries to buy off Studd but doesn’t have any money. Studd slams DiBiase, Suplexes him a couple times, and then throws him over. Kind of a flat finish there.
Rating: **¾. Bit of an improvement on last year, but the Rumble was still a work in progress. The final four here weren’t very interesting, the big highlight was the Hogan/Savage confrontation ⅔ of the way through the match. Still enjoyed a lot of this though: Demolition, Andre and the snake, The Brainbusters doing their thing.
The Aftermath: Savage would turn on Hogan on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event a few weeks later, setting up the huge battle of The Mega Powers for Wrestlemania V. Hogan would win to become the World Wrestling Federation Champion for the second time.