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Guest TSMAdmin

1992 Royal Rumble Match

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Guest TSMAdmin

Hello everyone. My name is Joseph Mann, and for the last 15 years I have been an avid fan of professional wrestling. Despite the current state of the sport, as I look through the hundreds of hours I have on tape, I recognize so many memorable matches.


I hope to offer a unique look at some of my favorite (and not so favorite) matches. This June I will receive a B.A. in Motion Pictures, Theory History and Criticism. What follows won't be a traditional recap, but an analysis of the match's pros and cons, why I respond to it and why I feel it's memorable.


And with that out of the way, let's get to our Main Event...


The Royal Rumble Match 1992


Length: 62:02


Winner: Ric Flair


Rating: *****


Analysis: What can I say about this match? Quite simply I think it's the finest hour of wrestling/sports entertainment that the WWF/WWE has ever produced. At the center of it all stands the only man who could pull it off: Ric Flair.


Flair's entry into the WWF in the fall of '91 stands as one of the best debuts ever in WWF history. Here was a man who brought with him all his past acompliments, he wasn't repackaged or treated as some newcomer. And from the moment of his debut, Flair and his management team Bobby Heenan and Mr. Perfect made it a point to always emphasize that Ric was the best.


Now, at the time I, like probably many other WWF fans, were not familiar with NWA/WCW. I knew of Flair from PWI and occasionally catching Saturday Night or a Clash, but I didn't watch it regularly. WCW was that 'southern wrestling program' on the channel that had shows starting at 5 after the hour. What the hell kind of station starts shows at 6:05?


So for a fan like me, this was the first true glimpse of Flair. Now I didn't watch the event on PPV, I rented it a couple months later. So I knew Flair won. But it's how he won, and all the little things that make a) his victory that much sweeter and b) the event itself so fun to watch.


The first smart move was to make Flair come out early. But not the first two. Everyone watching knew Flair wanted to win (and many probably expected him to win to set up the then expected Flair/Hogan match at Wrestlemania VIII). By not making him #1 or 2, the crowd settled into the match. Flair proceeded to come out at #3 and many probably felt his chances of winning were shot to hell. Win or lose, he was in for a rough night.


There are so many little things to love in this match. Flair's constant deal making during the match, teaming up with guys and them turning on them, only to pay for it. The crowd ate it up everytime Flair was getting his ass whipped. Here was a guy who came in bragging he was the real #1 guy. But for all the WWF fans he'd proven nothing. I love the mini-matches Flair had with Shawn Michaels, Greg Valentine (the crowd knew they'd get dueling Figure 4's), Kerry Von Erich (which the smarter fans ate up, and Flair played it perfectly even if the announcers didn't mention the significance).


Once Flair made it to the halfway point, the match became centered around 2 things, a) would Flair survive to the end and b) who would walk away with the victory. For the first time there was a legitimate 5-6 possible outcomes (Hogan, Flair, Savage, Justice, Undertaker, Piper and maybe Roberts). Even in the Final 4 (Savage, Hogan, Justice, Flair) each man would've made a valid winner.


In the end though, Flair cemented his place in the WWF that night. The fans might still hate him (in fact they probably hated him more because he would be gloating even more now), but he proved he was a top dog, THE top dog in the fed. His victory speech only solidified it. Purists may be mad that Flair placed his WWF Title victory over all his other past accomplishments, but given his character in the WWF that time, it made sense. He came into the 'enemy territory', outlasted the best they had to offer with his smarts, his skills, and a little luck to stand on top. It was a memorable night and a memorable match.


Other highlights: Piper's entrance after Flair managed to get the ring cleared midway (a moment so memorable that WWE recreated at this year's Rumble with Jericho/Van Dam). The seeds being sowed for the fans to abandon Hogan after he selfishly contributed to Sid Justice's elimination. Sid may have ended up turning heel but that night the fans spoke loudly: You were wrong Hulk, and we're not going to blindly support you (sadly the WWF didn't follow up on this, deciding instead to turn Sid heel to face the heroic Hulk at Wrestlemania VIII).


And who can forget the Rumble's MVP: Bobby Heenan. Heenan's commentary elevates this match from just great to unforgettable. I hope he got a bonus for that night. Gorilla too.


Upcoming: Sting vs Cactus Jack, Beach Blast 1992


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