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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2016 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: The 1992 Royal Rumble Match
By Mazza
Mar 31, 2016 - 7:32:16 AM

The 1992 Royal Rumble Match
Class of 2016

When I was a kid there were a handful of matches and events that I would watch time and time again. There were two VHS tapes in particular that would get worn out from the amount of time they spent in the video recorder. The first of these was WrestleMania III, and that was primarily due to the first match to get inducted into the Lords of Pain Hall of Fame. The second is what I like to refer to as the greatest hour in wrestling history. The 1992 Royal Rumble match. As a youngster, I think there is a natural attraction to watching a battle royal and that is supersized when it comes to the Royal Rumble. Despite some highly questionable editions of the January classic in recent years, it is still the match I most look forward to. This has been true since the very beginning of my fandom and those early years were all packed full of moments that I loved to watch again and again. 1992 changed the game though and it did that before The Fink could even announce that the match. For the first time ever, the WWF Championship would be on the line in the match following hot potato shenanigans between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. Just like this year, that immediately added a big match feel to proceedings. In fact, prior to 1992 the only thing that winning the rumble would give you was kudos. The prize of a title match at WrestleMania would come into force the next year. So the ingredients were all there before the bell begun. The two previous champions. The man who had interfered in those matches to cause controversy. New stars making a name for themselves as well as former champions and veterans who would love to hold the gold.

1992 was a funny time for the WWE. The Golden Era was in decline. The New Generation were only just starting to establish themselves and the company had acquired the top name their competition had to offer in Ric Flair. It made for an interesting mix of talent in the match. Whilst I don’t necessarily subscribe to the fact that it was the greatest line up for a rumble ever, it was certainly a strong one with names like Flair, Hogan, Taker, Savage, Slaughter, Michaels, Piper, Roberts and DiBiase. It lead to a lot of intriguing interaction during the match. Some of it drawing off history, some off feuds at the time and other things that would be a glimpse into the future. All rumble matches need a strong anchor however and the job in 1992 went to Flair. Naitch was something of a foreign concept to me in 1992. I’d seen bits and bobs of the guy from WCW but not a great deal. This was the match that sold me on his claims upon his arrival “up north” that he could very well have been the real world champion. His interaction with pretty much everybody else in the match made for compelling viewing. The fact that he continued to take it to whoever came through that curtain made me an immediate huge fan. I saw a heel that would take every shortcut that he could yet wouldn’t back down when it was gut check time. It was a relatively new concept for me and I loved it.

As awesome as Ric was on the night though, it still wasn’t enough for him to take the MVP honours. That accolade belonged to his Financial Adviser, Bobby Heenan. The Brain delivered an absolute masterclass in heel announcing as he threw any thinly veiled attempts at impartiality directly out of the window to get behind his client. “It’s not fair to Flair” quickly became a key part of any wrestling fan’s vocabulary. His desperation and eventual joy actually makes it a match you could close your eyes and enjoy almost as much. It was an hour that was full of classic Heenanisms, but my favourite of all had to be this one.

“The Barbarian doesn't like anybody. When I managed him he barely liked me! Why do you think they call him the Barbarian? He's not a hairdresser on his day off!”

Naitch and The Brain may have taken top billing during this classic however there was plenty more to latch onto. Jake Roberts reached into his extensive sack of snakes and psychology to pull off a great cameo, showing paranoia with every countdown as we all waited for the Macho Man’s entry. The two were embroiled in a blood feud and when Savage’s number eventually did come up, it was an excellent explosion. Roddy Piper also played an entertaining supporting role, fresh of winning the Intercontinental title earlier in the night. The Hot Rod played a bit of a template for Dean Ambrose’s rumble this year. The British Bulldog had one of his many impressive Rumble match outings, being the perfect foil to Flair during the first third of the match. We had the Hulkster get his heat back following the title controversy by eliminating The Undertaker. This was not going to be Hogan’s night however.

The match had an intriguing final four as Flair and Hogan were joined by Sid Justice and Savage. Naitch and Sid would combine to eliminate Macho Man before Justice would throw Hogan out as he went after Ric. As the big man gloated Hulk tried to eliminate him from the outside, giving Flair a huge assist in picking up the win. As the new champion went to the back to cut one of my favourite promos of all time, the first big cracks in Hulkamania begun to show. As the bridesmaids of the evening argued in the ring, the crowd were clearly on Sid’s side. And why wouldn’t they be really? Justice had legally sent the Hulkster packing and Hogan played the sore loser. We were three years removed from Hogan questionably making a move on his best friend’s girl but this time he wasn’t really getting the benefit of the doubt from the fans. That was a huge move away from the biggest babyface in the business throughout the 80s and a guy that could seemingly do no wrong. I see it as a big moment in the WWF landscape historically and it played a part in just how intriguing this match is.

I am sure most of you reading this will have watched it but for any youngsters out there who haven’t, it’s time to make use of the WWE Network and go and check it out. Undoubtedly a Hall of Fame worth match and it is an honour to induct into the Lords of Pain Hall of Fame.