1992 was the fifth Royal Rumble (the fourth on pay-per-view) but it’s the coming out party for the show. The previous Royal Rumbles were really just filler, bridging the gap between Survivor Series and Wrestlemania. The match was fun, but they were still perfecting the booking. And while winning did feel important, the winner didn’t get anything other than bragging rights.
1992 was different. This time, everything was on the line. The winner would be awarded the World Wrestling Federation Championship. The belt was vacated after Hulk Hogan cheated to defeat Undertaker (who had cheated to beat Hogan at Survivor Series) at Tuesday in Texas. The title was held up, and the announcement was made that the title would be on the line in the Royal Rumble. 30 will men enter. One will be champion.
The Rest of the Card:
-Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart defeated The Orient Express
-Roddy Piper defeated The Mountie to win the Intercontinental Championship
-The Beverly Brothers defeated The Bushwhackers
-The Natural Disasters defeated The Legion of Doom by countout (LOD retained the World Tag Team Championship)
After some commentary from Monsoon and Heenan Gene interviews Piper, who is jacked up to have a chance to win two titles in the same night.
Sean Mooney interviews Shawn Michaels, who has recently turned heel by slamming Marty Jannetty through a barbershop window.
Rumble promos! We hear from Savage, Sid, Bulldog, Jake the Snake, Taker, and Hogan.
The Royal Rumble Match
As always, Howard Finkel explains the rules.
#1 is “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, who won a Battle Royal in London a few months ago. #2 is “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Hell of a pair to start with, and just wait until you see who’s number three. DiBiase has had several long runs in the Rumble in the previous few years. DiBiase tosses Davey Boy, but the Bulldog skins the cat, sneaks up behind the celebrating DiBiase, and tosses the Million Dollar Man! Huge pop for that.
#3 is Ric Flair. Sadly, this was before they started having the guys enter with their music and the entrances just aren’t the same. Heenan is apoplectic on commentary, and Monsoon keeps rubbing it in. Flair gets tossed around by Bulldog. #4 is Nasty Boy Jerry Sags. Sags and Flair team up on Bulldog until Bulldog throws Sags to the apron and Dropkicks him out to the floor. Haku is #5. It looks like Haku and Flair are going to team up, but Haku hits Flair with a Side Kick. Haku hits Bulldog with a sick Piledriver. Bulldog recovers to eliminate Haku as #6, Shawn Michaels, enters.
Shawn and Flair, two of the best bumpers ever, make Bulldog look like an absolute beast. #7 is “El Matador” Tito Santana. #8 is The Barbarian. He and Bulldog had a long-running rivalry, so they go at it. #9 is Texas Tornado. That’s another rival of Flair’s. Tornado hits a Discus Punch and we get our first Flair Flop of the evening. #10 is Repo Man. First real filler entrant of the match. #11 is Greg Valentine, who lasted 44 minutes in 1990. #12 is Nikolai Volkoff. Match is slowing down as the ring fills up. Valentine locks Flair in the Figure Four as Repo Man eliminates Volkoff. #13 is Big Boss Man. Everybody starts getting eliminated: Valentine, Bulldog (by Flair), Texas Tornado (also by Flair), and then Michaels and Tito eliminate each other.
#14 is Hercules. We’re down to him, Flair, Boss Man, and Barbarian. Flair and Barbarian team up and high five, but then Flair takes a cheap shot. Hercules and Barbarian eliminate each other, and Boss Man skins the cat. Boss Man goes to work on Flair, who drops down and manages to eliminate him! Flair has cleared the ring halfway through the match.
Crowd is counting down for the next entrant…#15 is RODDY PIPER! Flair is in agony and begs for mercy. He gets none from Hot Rod. The crowd is absolutely on fire as Piper tunes up Flair. Piper locks on the Sleeper and puts Flair down. Jake Roberts is #16 and he takes his time getting in the ring. He waits until Piper turns his back before going after him. Jake goes for the DDT on Flair, but the Nature Boy blocks and goes to the Figure Four. Piper stomps them both. All three guys are going at it and it’s absolutely tremendous.
#17 is Jim Duggan. IRS is #18, Jimmy Snuka #19. #20 is Undertaker. Business about to pick up. He immediately throws Snuka out and then strangles Flair. #21 is Randy Savage! He makes a beeline for Jake Roberts. Savage manages to toss Jake, then goes over the top to go after him. He should be out, but for unclear reasons he ends up being allowed to stay in the match. Would have been perfect for him to have eliminated himself to go after Roberts. Flair hits Taker with a low blow, and we finally have found something that hurts the Deadman. The Berzerker is #22. #23 is Virgil. Coming down the stretch now, still no Hogan or Sid.
#24 is Col. Mustafa. #25 is Rick Martel, who lasted 52 minutes last year. Flair is only two minutes from breaking that record. Hogan is #26. He goes after Flair and Undertaker. Hogan Clotheslines Undertaker out! Then he Backdrops Berserker out. Virgil and Duggan eliminate each other. #27 is Skinner. No response for him. Flair surpasses Martel’s record for longest run. #28 is Sgt. Slaughter. Martel eliminates Skinner. Sid is #29 as the crowd goes crazy. The Warlord is our final entrant at #30.
Slaughter is eliminated by Sid. Piper tosses IRS. Sid dumps Piper and Martel and we’re down to our final four: Sid, Hogan, Flair, and Savage. Flair hits Sid with a knee to the back, knocking him into Savage, who falls over the top rope. Looking back he should have been eliminated with Roberts, he was invisible for everything after that.
Hogan tries to eliminate Flair, but Sid sneaks up behind him and dumps him out! Hogan’s gone! Monsoon praises Sid, saying it’s every man for himself. And the crowd cheers. Then Hogan, being a garbage human being, grabs Sid’s arm and tries to pull him over. That allows Flair to take advantage and eliminate Sid to win the Royal Rumble and become WWF Champion.
Analysis: *****. Best Rumble ever. Has stood the test of time. There are only a few down spots throughout the entire match. Flair’s performance is amazing, he spent an hour in the ring and was active the entire time. There have been guys in there for ⅓ of that time (like Reigns last year) who spent twice as much time on the ground.
Hogan and Sid get into it in the post-match and have to be separated. No question this was designed to set-up Hogan vs. Sid for Wrestlemania. They would announce Hogan vs. Flair a few weeks after this, but that was just an angle to make Sid snap. Notably, the crowd was behind Sid all night here. Maybe he really could have been the new Hogan if he had wanted.
Finally, we have Mean Gene in the back with Flair, Perfect, and Heenan. WWF President Jack Tunney presents Flair with the WWF Championship belt. Flair cuts a great promo, proclaiming that “with a tear in my eye…this is the greatest moment of my life.”
Hogan was initially named as the #1 contender for Flair’s WWF Championship, but he forfeited his shot to get a piece of Sid Justice after Sid abandoned him in a tag match on Saturday Night’s Main Event. The replacement for the title match was Randy Savage, who would defeat Flair in a classic match to become champion. Hogan and Sid went to a disqualification when Papa Shango interfered, at which point Ultimate Warrior returned to save Hogan. Spoiler Alert: Warrior is fired again by the next Royal Rumble.