I picked up Volume One of the Royal Rumble Anthology (1988-92) from Amazon.com. At $35 any of these sets is a great value, as each event comes out at $7 apiece. I do not know how many of you were WWF fans in the early '90s, but Coliseum Video copies of the events used to run in the neighborhood of $60. Next time your elderly neighbor complains about prices these days, remember not everything has gotten more expensive.
1988 Royal Rumble
It is harder to judge this event against the others, because it was not a standard Pay-per-view event. This show was essentially an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event with an extended battle royal attached. The Royal Rumble was not outstanding and not dull, and you got a Jumping Bomb Angels match in the deal. I still think the Islanders/Young Stallions match is poor. No crowd heat whatsoever and nearly ten minutes in-between falls. Given the show live must have run close to three hours, it has more of a vibe of "let's get this over with."
1989 Royal Rumble
The Rumble enough is solid enough but the undercard is very weak once you get past the opening tag bout. (Rougeaus and Dino Bravo against Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Hart Foundation.) Actually there are only four matches on the show, including the Royal Rumble. The Rumble itself is again fairly good, with Demolition entering one/two, the compelling Hogan/Savage angle, the Savage/Bad News Brown feud, and the Hogan/Twin Towers feud coming into play. The match dies off with Hogan's elimination, but watching DiBiase get his comeuppance makes the match watchable.
1990 Royal Rumble
As a kid I used to fast-forward through the undercards to get to the Rumble match itself. As a result, I missed the Valentine/Garvin feud. There is great stuff between those two guys, and their submission match is a great battle of psychology, with each guy sporting their own shinguards, losing them mid-match, Garvin pelting Valentine with his own shinguard to set up the finish. Up until 2000-02 gave us some good Rumbles, this was the second best of the bunch.
1991 Royal Rumble
For the first time, this disc gave me the opportunity to watch Koko B. Ware vs. The Mountie (it was cut from the CV version). It does not matter much, but it would bug people who are completists. The overriding theme here is the patriotism in the wake of the Iraqi War. Vince really mis-measured fan reaction and it caused him to set up a drastic failure in Hogan/Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII. The first hint should have been the end of the Warrior/Slaughter match. Security guards line the aisle for Sarge's return to the dressing room, and the fan hatred is lukewarm at best. As an aside, it is amusing that Slaughter stayed with the AWA until the bitter end and never held the title. Yet Vince gave him the WWF title within six months.
1992 Royal Rumble
Let me take a few moments and lay out the reasons why this Rumble match is whitout question the greatest of all time. Not only is it a great match, it links all the participants together and just about every point of the match means something in the grander scheme. The match is really split into two parts. Part one is the prologue, Ric Flair enters third, Bobby Heenan goes apoplectic, and Flair fights for survival. The first part is setting up Flair for ironman status. There comes a point where Flair eliminates the Boss Man and Flair is left alone for several seconds. Then the fun starts with Roddy Piper entering the fray. Then Jake Roberts with his heel character, alternatively turning on Piper and Flair as the situation dictates. You have the Undertaker entering, the Savage/Roberts feud, the Hogan/Flair feud, Sid Justice becoming a legitimate force, etc. It is solid action for the last 20-30 minutes, and watching 15 years later I am surprised how quickly everything unfolds after number 30 enters.
The whole set and each event is an easy thumbs up really. I will not do star ratings, but let me take a shot at ranking the matches.
1. Rockers vs. Orient Express, 1991
2. Ron Garvin vs. Greg Valentine, 1990
3. Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls, 1988
4. Jim Duggan/Hart Foundation vs. Dino Bravo/Rougeaus, 1989
5. Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie, 1992
1. Ric Flair wins WWF Title, 1992
2. Virgil turns face, 1991
3. Roddy Piper shocks the Mountie, 1992
4. Ultimate Warrior/Hulk Hogan showdown, 1990
5. Demolition enters first and second, 1989