AG Reviews

Yeah, probably the cocaine

Royal Rumble 1992

A battle royal is a match where everyone piles into the ring and tries to throw everyone else out.  Like kids playing king of the hill.  I don’t know when it was invented but it used to be hot shit.  Now a battle royal is 100% filler.  A lot of indy shows have a battle royal with everyone who was on the show, except maybe a couple guys who actually got a decent payday, as the last match of the night.  It kills time and nobody has to do much.

Pro tip if you ever end up working as a wrestler, don’t try hard in a battle royal.  It makes you look like a rube.

At some point in the 80s Pat Patterson invented the Royal Rumble, which is a battle royal with a twist.  Pat knew that wrestlings fans like wrestling okay fine but what they really like is entrances.  And also counting to ten.  The royal rumble is a battle royal where instead of everyone being in the ring to start 2 dudes kick things off and then every 2 minutes another dude comes in.  The fans get to see a bunch of entrances and they get to count down when it’s time for a new guy.  People love it.  The wrestling is the non-marshmallow part of the cereal in the rumble. 

The 92 Royal Rumble is said to be one of the best.  Backstory.  Previous rumbles were just for the glory of winning, nothing was on the line.  In the 92 rumble the winner would become WWF world champion.  OMG right?!  Due to wrestling shenanigans between Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker, and Ric Flair the president of the WWE had vacated the title and the 92 rumble would determine the new champion. 

This is just a review of the rumble match, not the whole show, which to me is made awesome because there’s a match involving a cattle prod.  Those were the good old days where you could electrocute people as part of a supposed legitimate sports competition.

Part of the reason some people love the 92 rumble is Bobby Heenan’s commentary.  The schtick is that he’s Ric Flair’s manager and is frantic for him to win.  I watch a lot of old wrestling for someone who doesn’t really like wrestling.  I’m not in love with Heenan on commentary as most.  As a heel manager?  Top of the class.  On commentary?  Mixed bag.

I don’t love the idea of the heel commentator bit to begin with.  That’s probably because so many people suck at it.  Heenan is good at it when he’s good at it.  I’d put his comments into one of four categories – bad jokes that suck, bad jokes that are so bad they’re funny, good heel commentary, shitty heel commentary.  Heenan constantly running down Hogan the #1 babyface in the company with blatant lies to rile people up is good heel commentary.  Tearing down babyfaces that are having trouble getting over is shitty heel commentary.  That doesn’t help anyone.

This isn’t a review of Bobby Heenan though.  His 92 rumble commentary is great.  I was dubious because so many people are high on it, but they’re right.  Any time Flair is in trouble Heenan sounds like he’s having a heart attack.  The way it’s presented it’s like there’s an unspoken backstory where the mob is going to bury him in the desert if Flair doesn’t win.  It’s a masterpiece of biased commentary.  At one point he’s bargaining with God for Flair to win. 

The match is good for what is it, there’s no way to have a set-up like this without a lot of it being filler.  Did anyone give a shit when the Big Bossman eliminated the Rep Man to further their feud?  Or when Jim Duggan dumped Virgil?  Fuck no.  But they packed in action when they could and gave the stars of the time moments.  When Piper came down and went nuts on Flair the crowd lost their minds.  I’m not a booker but I assume when you put together a match like this you have tentpoles like that to rest the general brawling between nobodies on. 

We get to a final four of Sid Vicious/Justice, Flair, Hogan, and Randy Savage, which is nice because they all could legit be the champ.  A lot of times when they the final four of a battle royal they toss in one guy who you know has no chance of winning.  I wonder why. 

Sid eliminates Savage and then watches Hogan beating the shit out of Flair.  When there’s an opening Sid catches Hogan off guard and chucks him out of the ring.  They’ve adjusted the audio because Hogan is still supposed to be the super babyface of the world but you can tell that the crowd is cheering him getting eliminated.  After what, almost 9 continue years of a balding blonde hot dog man as champ people were starting to be over it. 

Hogan, who remember, is a “good guy” offers Sid a handshake and then pulls him out of the ring like an asshole.  I know that there’s no points left to score by shitting on Hogan but he did a lot of shit like that for someone who was supposed to be the gold standard good guy.  This makes Ric Flair the winner and new champ.  Heenan goes berserk.  He starts chanting “yes” repeatedly like he’s watching Brian Danielson kick someone. 

A lot of people consider Flair to be if not the bet wrestler ever one of the best.  I’m not 100% there with them.  I guess I just can’t get over having a signature bump at all, and specifically one that is a Looney Toons pratfall.  It bumps me when someone has a set move that always gets countered the same way.  I realize that me criticizing Flair over wrestling ability is like a drunk mom at a wine and painting class farting on Picasso but here we are. 

That said, I have to give it to Flair in this match.  His performance is every bit as good as people have been saying.  The evil underdog is a hard color to pull off and he nails it.  Watching this you see Flair just as he wants, a desperate man taking desperate measures.  He was the first person to go over an hour in the rumble and he was up and doing shit the entire time.  These days when someone does a long rumble stretch they spend 75% of the time laying on the mat or they do that bullshit where they get “injured” and leave the fucking match but then are allowed to come back at the end.  I hate that wet turd of a spot. 

One of the mysteries of wrestling to me is how in the territories days dudes who never heard of leg day and smoked a pack a day with a case of cheap beer could go an hour no problem and in modern wrestling these health food obsessed Crossfit champions with kinesiology degrees need a lot of stalling and rest holds in a 20-minute match. 

Maybe it was the cocaine. 

5 stars

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