In this series, we look back on every Royal Rumble event to date. Up next: Royal Rumble 1992, featuring Ric Flair winning the WWF championship in quite possibly the best Rumble match ever.
Event: Royal Rumble 1992
Date: January 19, 1992
Location: Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, New York
Winner: Ric Flair
Last Eliminated: Sid Justice
Iron Man: Ric Flair
Quickest Out: Hercules
Most Eliminations: Ric Flair/Sid Justice
This Rumble match. Oh, this Rumble match. After 20 years and all these Rumble matches later, it's still widely regarded as the greatest Rumble match to have ever taken place. To give you an idea of its appeal, it was the only Rumble match to make it into the Cageside Seats Greatest Matches Tournament and it did so as a three seed that advanced all the way to the Elite Eight Round before a close loss sent it packing.
The match was special because the WWF championship, which had been vacated, was put up for grabs for the first and only time in a Rumble match. Jack Tunney made the announcement inside the ring as the camera panned to show the audience, who all acted like they couldn't give a shit less about the biggest title in the promotion being on the line in the greatest gimmick match ever.
That changed once they got rolling, of course.
The main focus of the match was the man who would go on to win it, Ric Flair. He did so from the number three spot, the earliest anyone had ever done so to that point, and set the new high mark for Iron Man status at 59:26. The story was that he took on all comers in what was a star-studded Rumble with most of the major players, all while Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was ringside on commentary piping in with some of the best calls he's ever delivered. His victory, giving him his first WWF championship, led to one of the most replayed promos in history when he delivered the famous line, "With a tear in my eye, this is the greatest moment in my life."
Hulk Hogan played a major part in this Rumble too, of course, because he's the "Hulkster." But he was an interesting case because by early 1992, the WWF crowd had grown tired of his act. Much like John Cena of today, he was kind of a heel at times without anyone really calling a lot of attention to it, and that was never more the case than in this match. In fact, some refer to this as the night he turned heel and no one noticed.
Hogan was part of the final three along with Flair and Sid Justice. While Hulk was working over Flair, Sid came up from behind all sneaky and tossed him over the top rope to the outside, eliminating him. The live crowd reacted with glee, cheering Hogan having been ousted. Hulk acted indignant, as though Sid had wronged him in some way despite the match stipulations and psychology. He looked to the crowd for support, didn't receive any, but still grabbed Justice's arm, holding him in place long enough for Flair to recover and rush over to dump him over the top.
After the match, Hogan chased Flair from the ring before a big confrontation with Justice ensued. It eventually led to a match at WrestleMania between the two instead of the big money match with Flair. It was the beginning of the end of Hulkamania running wild in the WWF. Flair, too, would be gone by early 1993, further adding to the importance of this match.