January 19 1992. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a cold, dark, snowy Saturday evening. Normally at age 9, I'd be watching whatever my mom is watching on CBS but this was a very important night. I was heading over to my best friend's house to listen to the Royal Rumble and play NES. Listen? Yeah, you heard me! He wasn't ordering it but he was gonna have it playing on his TV and we could listen to the action through the scrambled nonsense. That's usually how we did it back then and believe it or not, didn't change our excitement!
It was time, after months of world title shenanigans, to see who would win the 30 man over the top rope Royal Rumble and became the new WWF Champion!
My money and hopes were that Macho Man would win, even if others were banking on Hulk Hogan, Sid or even the Undertaker. The majority of my friends who were wrestling fans was rather small, so we all had our favorites and honestly, Ric Flair wasn't one of them. At the time. he was the biggest loudmouth and most conniving villain who had barreled into the WWF and caused all sorts of mayhem in the world title picture. He had screwed Hogan out of the title, he had helped Undertaker lose his title by accident, and now, he was after the vacant title. In other words, his eyes were on the prize and he wasn't going to be stopped. For weeks after Jack Tunney announced the winner of the Rumble would become the champion, all you'd hear is Flair talking about how he would be the one to become the champ. Well, if anyone could stop him, it would be Macho Man. Well, at least in my opinion.
Well, didn't work out that way. After one of the greatest, most star filled Royal Rumbles EVER, Randy was one of the final 4 men standing, but...well...Sid Justice and Flair had other plans as they threw him over and eliminated him. But then the real drama started. As Flair and Hogan started going at it, Sid saw his opportunity...
And he picked up his pal Hulk Hogan and...ELIMINATED HIM.
"EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF....BIG BOY!"
Flair's the last man standing (well, somewhat, he tripped over the top rope and bounced back in) and now...THE WWF CHAMPION?!?!?! Aw crap. My 9 year old self, watching through a scrambled picture and listening to all the action in my best friend's basement was absolutely devastated. I couldn't believe it! The one guy I didn't want to win!
My best friend and I just sighed and vented our anger before I walked back home. Shock, disbelief, frustration. Where do we go from here?!?!? Who can stop Flair and win the title back?!?! Of course we knew, the next step was Wrestlemania 8, but that wasn't for months. Hopefully someone will be able to take that title off of him and quick.
That's for another time though. We'll get to that later.
Now, of course as a kid, I hated this. As an adult who understands how these storylines and the buildups for major PPV's work, I absolutely love it. In fact, I still rank it as the greatest Royal Rumble of all time. The amount of big name stars, the drama, the mini feuds and stories that were carried over such as Jake Roberts and Randy Savage, Roddy Piper and Flair, Hogan and Undertaker, Flair and Kerry Von Erich, and even continuing the bad luck of Ted DiBiase who drew the number one spot again, after a few years of getting the worst number. And of course, the commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan was absolutely pure audio bliss. Never had Heenan been so manic and anxious on commentary before tonight. His whole life and career were on the line. If Flair lost, Heenan was screwed big time and Gorilla was in absolutely happy to remind him about it and get him more riled up which resulted in some of their best banter ever. Which, helps make this match the GOAT.
"WITH A TEAR...IN MY EYE...this is the greatest moment of my LIFE."
Hard to argue with that, Ric...