My life is filled with many traditions. Of those traditions, I try and force wrestling into them as much as possible. My wife and I are theme park connoisseurs and I lethargically chanted “YES” after completing my passport for Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival last year. It was a real struggle not having wrestling themes at my wedding. My best friend in the world says good-bye to me by mocking Triple H’s “I love you, Pop” line to Vince McMahon.
However, if you are finding out about Podswoggle for the first time through this article, nothing permeates my life more than the Royal Rumble. Everyone knows about the event, the drinking game we play and record podcasts for, my insane knowledge and statistics on the event and how I’ve loved it since a small child.
So, imagine my small mind when I learned I hadn’t seen the 1988 Rumble in 1996. Imagine my excitement in 2007 when I got the Rumble box set and finally had the chance to watch it. Imagine my disappointment when I finally watched it.
Can you imagine what happens when I finally watch the whole show in 2014?
PAY PER VIEW NUMBER THIRTEEN- WWF ROYAL RUMBLE 1988
Written on 7/22/2014
THE FIRST THING YOU SEE: We are LIVE in the Copps Coliseum with the Royal Rumble title card. Rick Rude’s music plays as a Vince McMahon voiceover previews the Hulk/Andre contract signing, the Women’s Tag Title match, Dino Bravo’s bench press record attempt and The Islanders against the Blah Stallions. The only notable thing about it is Vince screwing up the rules to the Rumble.
-Vince and Jesse Ventura on camera just so we can see Jesse’s boa, tye-dye and other crap.
-Fink introduces Rude in the ring and Steamboat’s dubbed theme leads him to the ring. The crowd is really trying to touch him, but security helps out. I’m really looking forward to this.
MATCH NUMBER ONE: Rick Rude vs Ricky Steamboat
-No Heenan with Rude.
-I already miss Gorilla with Jesse. Vince is overbearing.
-Rude taunts by flexing with one hand and offering a test of strength with the other.
-Some obnoxious cunt in the front row has her own megaphone. Why was that allowed?
-Rude wins the initial test of strength. Steamboat counters with some great chain wrestling.
-Vince says “Oh my…” like George Takei.
-The lady in the front has Steamboat trying to start a “Rudey” chant. Vince sounds like he is ready to kill her.
-Steamboat lets out a WOO. Funny.
-Ricky hits a nice splash onto Rude’s arm. It is a nice change from the boring armbar he had locked in.
-After a couple minutes of Rude having the advantage, Ricky sets the armbar back in and does solid, technical work. Just like Daniel Bryan, he makes little things look agonizing.
-I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned Rude’s tame tights. They are merely red and black. I think I can see a thong starting to peak out now. Rick Rude looks like Lita now.
-Rude slams Steamboat on the floor and does his swivel taunt.
-Vince calls the Camel Clutch “a form of a maneuver” before finally calling it properly. Steamboat taps three times.
-Steamboat’s arm drops three times and everyone seems confused. Hebner checks again and Steamboat comes alive. WTF? Ricky counters with an electric chair drop.
-After every move, Rude taunts and poses.
-Jesse complains about Steamboat’s horrible rhythm of slapping on the mat to get the crowd back into it. Nice.
-Steamboat’s bridge is impressive.
-Multiple pin attempts go back and forth including a small package fish out of water spot. This is starting to resemble a poor man’s WrestleMania 3 now.
-Steamboat goes for the cross body and Rude yanks Hebner in front of him to take the brunt of it.
-Rude puts Steamboat in a backbreaker submission and the ref calls for the bell. Rude’s music plays and he begins to celebrate. The announcement that follows changes that.
WINNER: Ricky Steamboat by DQ in 17:42
-Just boring confusion follows.
FINAL WORD: I feel like that will be much better in WCW four years from now.
-Commercial break! Bullshit PPV rules on the Network. If you are going to put these under this category, you better leave the actual commercials in!
-Mean Gene is with Jesse Ventura and the bench press is set up. Jesse will be Dino Bravo’s spotter. Jesse’s zebra pants will spot Jesse’s balls. The French anthem (or something close to it) leads Dino out with Frenchy Martin. Is he offensive to French people? I never got him. Anyway, Dino adds some riveting comments about this event and Martin sounds like a frog. Dino goes a 415 pound warm up.
-There is nothing like thousands of people watching one guy bench press. Dino gets up and demands silence, naturally getting cheap heat. Dino quickly and falsely benches it while Martin blabbers.
-Now at 505 pounds. This…is…gruesome. Mean Gene is trying to be funny and unconvincingly telling the crowd not to boo.
-555 pounds. Let’s just go for 700 already.
-Dino Bravo is the LVP of the PPV at the moment. He stumbles over his word every time he is asked a question. The weight is 595 now. GOOD GRIEF! GO TO COMMERCIAL OR SOMETHING! The crowd booing is just making this run longer.
-I should have timed this. In text form, this segment isn’t going to come across as excruciatingly awful as it is. We have finally reached 655 pounds. Dino just does one rep. Wimp.
-Every time the crowd boos, Jesse yells at Vince, blaming him for it. I realize that Frenchy Martin sounds like Farmer Fran from the Waterboy.
-715 pounds is set up for the world record. The crowd claps along just out of apathy and Dino freaks out before starting to leave. He returns, sets up and struggles to lift the barbell. Jesse essentially lifts the whole thing up and Vince chimes in that it looks rigged. Jesse proclaims a new record and we finally go to commercial.
-We are back and the Women’s Tag Titles match is about to get underway. Jimmy Hart’s gold jacket is very fake looking. A dubbed theme for the Jumping Bomb Angels is a little sad to hear. They aren’t wearing their cool jackets, but kimonos. We have to up the racism on this.
MATCH NUMBER TWO: WOMENS TAG TITLE TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS-The Glamour Girls (Champions) w/Jimmy Hart vs The Jumping Bomb Angels
-Jesse and Vince start the match by arguing about weightlifting. Meanwhile, the Angels start hot with a double dropkick.
-Rolling headbutt!! What? A piledriver set up into a back slam? What!
-Jesse quizzes Vince on the names of the Angels and he admits he has no idea. Jesse says he might want to date one and Vince recommends the one in pink and red based on her gear alone. Unbelievable.
-There is something awkward about Vince saying “Cover that woman!”
-Octupus hold! The crowd buzzes.
-The wishbone-like leg drop that Jeff Hardy does is used. The Angels are the MVP of the PPV just for being so refreshing.
-Awkward moment when the referee and commentators talk about an illegal tag by Judy Martin and then it is just allowed and ignored.
-Judy Martin hits the Big Show’s Alley Oop and gets the first fall at 6:10 on the red Angel. I wasn’t expecting that move. We cut to commercial and we return to the bell for fall 2.
-Vince randomly calls the pink Angel by name now. He did his research during the break. Is it Narino? Jesse says it sounds Italian. I hope you have fun, KENTA.
-Red Angel pins Judy Martin at 8:20 with a sunset flip. Vince can’t say their names enough now. Another commercial?!?
-We are back and everyone is just standing around. The bell rings and the Angels hit a double high knee and clothesline to start fall 3 hot.
-An enziguri to the arm. Hogan can get up for it!
-Ladies love slingshots.
-Is the copious amount of butterfly suplexes in 1980s women’s wrestling the reason for the Divas Title?
-The Glamour Girls just allow the tag after having the advantage for several minutes. It is okay because they immediately beat down the fresher Angel.
-Two armless Bubba Bombs. So many moves are being created in this match.
-I keep expecting a Jay Driller whenever an underhook is set up.
-This might be the most time women get on a “PPV” ever. We will have to see. Meanwhile, a senton (?!?) attempt from the second rope misses.
-Double missile dropkick!!! The crowd pops big! They care!!!!
WINNERS: The Jumping Bomb Angels in 15:23 to win the titles 2-1 after the pink Angel pins Judy Martin following a double missile dropkick.
-And we’ll never see them again. The Angels bow to every side and the replay shows how hard they nailed Martin with those kicks. Jesse argues that Judy’s shoulder was sort of up and he appears to be right. Vince argues anyway and plays dumb.
FINAL WORD: I bet this is one of Dave Prazak’s favorite matches. It is one of my favorites through this process so far.
-Back from commercial and the “three count” from WrestleMania 3’s main event is shown. DiBiase’s promo before trying to buy the title from Hogan leads into Hogan teasing the sale and shouting “HELL NO!!!” It is funny seeing Virgil hold so much money when he currently charges for autographs at Cracker Barrel.
-More recapping as they show Andre’s headbutts and chokes from Saturday Night’s Main Event. God, Andre’s hands make Hulk’s neck look like a Tic Tac. DiBiase pitches Andre to bring him the title, who agrees.
-We are live and Andre finally enters along with DiBiase and Virgil. Immediately back from commercial and some father is about to Psycho Drive his son in the crowd. The bell rings for some reason. This feels like a crappy Raw.
-What a cheap set up for this contract signing. Hogan enters to Canadian squeals. By the way, HOGAN’S OUTFIT!!! He looks so soft. I think Jane Fonda wore that during a workout tape. Andre looks at Hogan with such amused disgust.
-An airhorn in the crowd is almost as annoying as that lay in the front from earlier. Hogan is wearing cowboy boots (Rich). Jack Tunney talks and can barely put sentences together. Mean Gene actually calls Andre “Mr. Roussimoff.” Kayfabe is in pieces!
-Andre won’t sit down and bounces/leans against the ropes. When he finally sits down, he looks like an adult at the kid’s table at Thanksgiving.
-DiBiase starts badmouthing Hogan before the contract is signed. It is a good thing he is doing all of the talking right now. Hogan signs and the contract looks like it barely has anything on it. Andre peruses it hilariously and Hogan starts to snarl. How much of this show is going to be cheap, stalling techniques? Andre finally signs it and DiBiase asks Andre to give the stamp of approval. Andre slams Hogan’s head into the table and then throws the table on top of him. I’m glad this is a precursor to every other contract signing ever.
-Back from commercial and this is an inauspicious start. The commentators quickly promote who is in the Royal Rumble and Jesse doesn’t put any importance on where your feet are supposed to land.
-Fink announces the first and second entrants in the Rumble while they are already in the ring. The camera zooms in on a child, confused as hell, as the rules are read to the audience.
-I am going to provide completely random and incredibly fictionalized facts for every entrant in every Rumble ever. They aren’t pertinent to anything; this will merely be a way to be silly.
-BRET HART is NUMBER 1 and his sunglasses make him resemble Robert Patrick in T2.
-TITO SANTANA is NUMBER 2 and I hear he makes a mean spinach dip.
MATCH NUMBER THREE: ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
-This is going to be weird writing about a Rumble and not drinking or recording.
-Bret hits his patented inverted atomic drop. The rest of his chain doesn’t follow.
-The timer starts at 12 seconds for no reason. BUTCH REED is NUMBER 3 and his favorite movie is Top Gun.
-Jesse keeps reminding Vince that he can’t complain about the double team.
-No timer as JIM NEIDHART is NUMBER 4. Neidhart collects mini-dolphin figurines.
-Jesse comments that he bought rotten enchiladas from Tito in the Navy. Oof.
-Sloppy strikes and a triple team elimination attempt leads into JAKE ROBERTS as NUMBER 5. Jake Roberts once snorted Bac-Os. Jake enters to a big pop and Jake eliminated Butch Reed at 5:24.
-Jake’s tights look like the material on a crappy couch.
-Bret Hart hits a mid-match piledriver on Tito. HARLEY RACE is NUMBER 6 and he legitimately once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
-The commentators keep talking about the trouble the faces are in even though it is every man for himself.
-The crowd shrieks whenever a face is close to being eliminated.
-Jake funnily taps Bret’s shoulder like a drum to alert him before a punch comes his way.
-JIM BRUNZELL is NUMBER 7 and he loves wearing Birkenstocks.
-Nine minutes into this match and the commentators keep talking about how winded Bret and Tito must be.
-SAM HOUSTON is NUMBER 8 and he eats green beans before every match. Why did Vince feel inclined to steal him?
-The formula of the new guy getting the spotlight upon entering hadn’t been figured out yet. At 10:44, Hart Foundation eliminate Tito Santana.
-DANNY DAVIS is NUMBER 9 and he works as an orthodontist part-time.
-Harley has done his middle rope bounce twice now.
-The DDT is so fucking over. If only Hogan could have done it…
-Twelve minutes in and we are halfway home as BORIS ZHUKOV is NUMBER 10. He can bite a nickel in half.
-Jesse smartly points out that Race and Zhukov are fighting now. That puts the every man for himself concept over finally.
-After a lot of nothing, DON MURACO is NUMBER 11. Muraco is a closet Jedi. Nikolai Volkoff follows Muraco immediately with his stupid run, trying to enter early. Fuck him so hard. LVP of the PPV again.
-Jake Roberts and Jim Brunzell eliminate Boris Zhukov at 15:20. In Soviet Russia, the Royals Rumble you!
-Jesse brings Barry Bloom up. Vince will certainly learn his name later.
-NIKOLAI VOLKOFF is NUMBER 12 and his brain was replaced at birth with a tinker toy.
-Don Muraco eliminates Harley Race at 16:55. He is admonished for two minutes to leave.
-JIM DUGGAN is NUMBER 13 and he never wins Checkers. It appears Race was still ringside to just brawl with Duggan before he gets into the ring.
-I’m glad Duggan already knows HOOOOOOOOOO is his bread and butter. He’s shouted it five times in two minutes.
-Why do so many guys have bolts on their tights?
-RON BASS is NUMBER 14 and he can’t spell umbrella.
-Nikolai Volkoff eliminates Jim Brunzell at 20:23. Muraco tried the Flair corner bump and just gets stuck.
-B. BRIAN BLAIR is NUMBER 15 and he doesn’t sleep in February.
-Duggan is either very over or HOOOOOOOOOOOO was the YES of the 1980s.
-There might be a riot if there is no DDT.
-There have been zero commercials. Vince really loves Pat Patterson to be losing money on this right now.
-HILLBILLY JIM is NUMBER 16 and he donated a large portion of his income to Milli Vanilli’s Rob Pilatus.
-Hillbilly Jim eliminates Jim Neidhart at 22:54. I haven’t been saying how these eliminations happen because they are largely uneventful.
-Bret is finally selling being very gassed.
-DINO BRAVO is NUMBER 17 and he stole Butch Reed’s hair dye.
-Ron Bass eliminated Sam Houston at 24:26. Houston took a big bump off of Bass’ shoulders and it made one loud smack on the floor.
-ULTIMATE WARRIOR is NUMBER 18 and he once ate 6000 crayons in one sitting.
-Don Muraco eliminated Bret Hart at 25:45. Man, Bret didn’t stand out at all despite his time spent in the ring.
-ONE MAN GANG is NUMBER 19 and his favorite X-Men is Toad.
-OMG eliminates Blair at 27:00 and Jake Roberts at 27:14. That looked like BS.
-JYD is NUMBER 20 and his favorite holiday is Earth Day.
-What a bunch of misfits. Danny Davis is the most athletic guy left. That says something about Vince’s vision at the time.
-Duggan eliminates Nikolai at 28:22 and OMG eliminates Hillbilly at 28:35. I’m happy about one of those.
-Jesse insinuates that Chicago is like a permanent Royal Rumble. He is probably right.
-Four eliminations in 50 seconds! Duggan clotheslines Danny Davis out at 29:11, Dino and OMG eliminate Warrior at 29:26, Bass eliminates JYD at 29:49 and Muraco eliminates Bass at 30:01. This feels like the beginning of a battle royal nowadays.
-Muraco holds his own and rolls around, avoiding Gang and Dino. He manages to hit Frenchy, who jumped on the apron. OMG and Dino eliminate Muraco at 31:12.
-Dino Bravo is once again the LVP of the PPV from his shitty selling.
-So many guys just don’t like to take back bumps.
-OMG accidentally eliminates Dino Bravo at 32:23.
-Both of these guys look so winded with such little amount of work. Choking Duggan with the ropes is all the Gang can do right now.
-Pulling the top rope down is the smartest move Duggan ever did.
WINNER: Jim Duggan at 33:27 by last eliminating the One Man Gang
-Duggan briefly celebrates and we don’t linger on his victory that long, because it is time for a commercial.
FINAL WORD: I’m glad they didn’t pull the plug on this after one shot, but I would have understood. Too many face/heel allegiances still stand and the action was largely unexciting.
-Vince and Jesse (with a phone on the commentating table for no reason) recap the contract signing from earlier. This IS Raw.
-Craig DeGeorge interviews Hulk Hogan on the mini-stage. This show is just one giant promo for The Main Event. Hogan rips his shirt in the middle of this promo and says “man” at the end of every sentence. Despite that, this was a good Hulk promo. DeGeorge had no chemistry with Hulk, though. Hogan poses on the mini-stage because you have to squeeze that in at some point.
-Back from commercial and the Islanders enter while Vince calls them ruffians. Heenan doesn’t accompany Tama and Haku and Vince keeps talking about the Islanders being the cause for Matilda’s ill health. The Young Stallions enter with their crappy 80s theme (obviously sung by Jimmy Hart) and their crappy 80s ring jackets.
MATCH NUMBER FOUR: TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS- The Islanders vs The Young Stallions
-The commentators are talking about a dog instead of this match.
-Tama exudes charisma. He talks trash about Matilda to the camera.
-Tama tried to offer Jim Powers a handshake and the dolt takes forever to do anything.
-Vince talks about the weightlifting segment being boring earlier. WBF foreshadowing much?
-I would pay money to see Haku shoot on Paul Roma for a couple hours.
-The Stallions might as well kiss babies while they wrestle.
-I just realized Powers and Roma are main-eventing a “PPV”. Thanks, WWE Network.
-They should have brought the Jumping Bomb Angels back out to wrestle the Islanders.
-WOW!!! Vince says that Tama could hang upside down from the top rope with those toes. Jesse calls him out immediately for being racist and Vince says he is just trying to talk about the man’s toes. I feel so uncomfortable.
-Roma sells a knee injury after a double team by the Islanders that send him outside. Powers checks on him before returning to his corner and the ref counts Roma out at 7:55 for the ANNOUNCED FIRST FALL. When did that happen? Legit, I know I wrote it at the top, but watching it live, this is the first mention of that rule for this crummy match.
-We return from commercial and the Stallions apparently went to the dressing room between falls to attend to Roma. The contract signing is recapped again and DeGeorge interviews Andre, DiBiase and Virgil while a “match” is still going on. DiBiase says more of the same and Andre claims to still be undefeated. DeGeorge starts to interrupt Andre and gets backhanded in the stomach! Andre looked ready to kill Craig DeGeorge. Fuck yes. Andre continues an evil sounding promo and I’m giving him the MVP of the PPV for his great attitude, demeanor and general supervillain mentality on this show.
-Back from commercial and the Stallions have returned. Roma apparently has to start the second fall with his taped knee.
-A lukewarm tag to Powers leads to him not protecting Haku on a back drop. Get rid of this guy!
-Vince asks Jesse about the potential for Giantmania after the Main Event and Jesse makes some reference to Jerry Falwell being a Hulkamaniac. Whatever.
-Haku slaps Powers in the stomach. It was so strong, I pooped.
-I think Jesse just tried to bring up his union idea to Vince in no uncertain terms. Awkward.
-Tama calls Powers “sucka.” Vince kills any chance of it sounding cool by repeating it. Thanks, Michael Cole.
-Powers hits a sloppy hip toss out of an abdominal stretch. I’m waiting for Haku to rip his heart out.
-Haku misses a flipping senton from the second rope. It was sweet to see, though.
-Powers with a phantom bump. You are really pushing it, asshole.
-Jesse calls Tama “Toma” and Vince says that is something unsavory. I tried to Google it and nothing came up.
-What a cold tag to Roma.
-Good combo of a big splash by Tama onto Roma’s leg into a Haku submission. I’m happy to see a sweep.
WINNERS: The Islanders in 16:01 2-0 after Haku made Paul Roma submit with a single leg crab.
FINAL WORD: The Islanders deserved better and the Stallions deserved to be released immediately after this, but weren’t.
-The crowd starts exiting in mass as soon as the bell rings.
-After another commercial, Vince and Jesse offer a final word with the arena almost empty already. Both men are still very intrigued by the Rumble concept and talk about Bravo’s lift again. They argue about “getting it up” without being tongue in cheek and “racks: with tongue in cheek.
-The contract signing is replayed again, in slow motion this go-around. What a hard sell for a broadcast television show. Sign off and good night.
THE LAST IMAGE: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura sign off and a wide shot of the empty arena
THE WRAP UP
FINAL MVP of PPV: The tag team work of the Angels and the Islanders was cool, but seeing a pissed Andre the Giant takes the cake for me.
FINAL LVP of PPV: Dino Bravo got so much time and did the opposite of impress me. I’m dreading future appearances of him now.
MY FAVORITE MATCH: The Jumping Bomb Angels vs The Glamour Girls
MY LEAST FAVORITE MATCH: The Islanders vs The Young Stallions
WWE HALL OF FAMERS IN ACTION: 9 (Ricky Steamboat, Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Tito Santana, Jake Roberts, Harley Race, Don Muraco, Ultimate Warrior, Junk Yard Dog)
DEARLY DEPARTED IN ACTION: 4 (Rick Rude, Dino Bravo, Ultimate Warrior, Junk Yard Dog)
FINAL THOUGHT: A two hour commercial for another show is never good, but the history of the first Rumble saves this from being completely skippable forever. That said, I wouldn’t seek it out. MULLET DOESN’T RECOMMEND.
NEXT TIME: Donald Trump throws a lot of money in front of Vince McMahon and Vince McMahon throws a lot of matches back for WrestleMania IV.