The Islanders and Bobby Heenan
The Royal Rumble – Hamilton, Ontario – Copps Coliseum – Jan. 24, 1988
Royal Rumble, like Survivor Series, was another great new concept that would last for decades.
The first Royal Rumble had 20 men (not 30), and it aired on USA Network (not pay-per-view). Vince McMahon used the first Rumble as counter-programming to the NWA Bunkhouse Stampede PPV.
This poor crowd had to suffer through a long, boring Dino Bravo weightlifting segment and a long, largely uneventful Hogan-Andre contract signing. However, all of the wrestling was entertaining.
1. Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude
Bobby Heenan was not at ringside, as he was on vacation in Barbados. Steamboat came off the top rope, but Rude pulled referee Dave Hebner into the line of fire for the disqualification.
2. Women’s tag team titles (best of three falls): Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls (champions, with Jimmy Hart)
The Angels won the belts in the third fall with a double-dropkick off the top rope. Too bad we didn’t see much more of them after this.
3. 20-Man Royal Rumble
To answer the trivia questions: Bret Hart and Tito Santana were the first two entrants, and Butch Reed was the first elimination. This match was mostly filled with mid-carders.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan eliminated One Man Gang to win the first Royal Rumble. This was the highlight of Duggan’s WWF career.
Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant had a contract signing for the live “Main Event” special on Feb. 5. Of course, Andre rammed Hogan into the table and flipped the table on him.
4. Best of three falls: Young Stallions vs. Islanders
It was strange to have this match go on last, but they needed the breaks between falls for commercials because the Rumble lasted 33 minutes.
Paul Roma blew out his knee, so he was counted out in the first fall and submitted in the second fall. Andre and DiBiase did an interview between falls while the medics attended to Roma.
The Islanders were the MVPs of the show. They would have made great tag team champions, but they got stuck in the same era as Demolition, The Hart Foundation, Strike Force and The British Bulldogs.
Next: WrestleMania IV