In this series, we look back on every Royal Rumble event to date. Up next: Royal Rumble 1989, featuring the unstoppable Andre the Giant, the beginning of the end for the Mega Powers, and one big Studd.
Event: Royal Rumble 1989
Date: January 15, 1989
Location: The Summit in Houston, Texas
Winner: Big John Studd
Last Eliminated: Ted DiBiase
Iron Man: Mr. Perfect
Quickest Out: The Warlord
Most Eliminations: Hulk Hogan
The Royal Rumble hit pay-per-view (PPV) for the first time with its second event held on Jan. 15, 1989, in Houston. Unlike the first one, though, this match added 10 more participants to bring us to 30 wrestlers, which has since become the standard WWE has only deviated from one time, in 2011 when they went up to 40.
WWE really started playing around with the formula and all its infinite possibilities in this one, as the tag team champions at the time, Demolition, started the match one and two, respectively. Ax was out first with Smash coming in second. Instead of biding their time and teaming up on each newcomer, however, the champs got right to battling it out with each other.
That is until they realized number three was Andre the Giant. Then it was team psychology as the build to the next wrestler swelled.
Part of what made the early Rumble matches so interesting was the lack of entrance music. The countdown would hit and once the buzzer sounded, the entire crowd would crane their necks to look towards the entryway to see who was coming out next. On television, they simply did a picture-in-picture so we could see the action in the ring and who was up next.
For most of the time Andre was in the match, the other wrestlers focused on trying to get him out. That went double for Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who was feuding with him at the time (Roberts had caused Andre to have a kayfabe heart attack due to his fear of snakes). Except he was choked out and tossed within a matter of minutes, as Andre had little issue getting him out of the match.
So how did they get the Giant out? By having Roberts return not long after with snake in hand to scare Andre into eliminating himself. The psychology was strong in this one, folks.
One of the real highlights of this match was the entrance of the WWF champion at the time, Macho Man Randy Savage, who hit the ring with a head of steam and just started beating the shit out of Bad News Brown. Why was this so awesome?
Because he never took his glasses off.
This was also a time when the winner of the Rumble match wasn't guaranteed a title shot, so the champion at the time was able to jump in no problem, as was the case with Savage. This served their purposes well because Hulk Hogan was also in the match and this was when the two were in their elite tag team, The Mega Powers. Actually, Hogan, who eliminated more wrestlers in this match than anyone with 10 -- including Warlord in just two seconds, a record that stood until 2009 -- dumped Savage while he was battling with Brown, leading to the beginning of the break up between the two and eventual match at WrestleMania 5.
Hogan then appeared to be the favorite to win it all with Andre and Savage both gone but The Twin Towers, Big Boss Man and Akeem, were the next two men out and they double teamed and eliminated "The Hulkster." Naturally, he didn't go away immediately after, instead sticking around to eliminate Boss Man and battling with him on the outside, completely stealing the attention away from the action in the ring.
With the major storylines exhausted, Big John Studd would enter at number 27 and ultimately bring it to an admittedly unsatisfying conclusion. It's not that he won, it's how it happened. When it was down to just Studd and DiBiase, Big John decimated "The Million Dollar Man," knocking him around the ring for a bit before unceremoniously tossing him out.
And that was that.