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WWE Royal Rumble 1989 Match Time and Statistics

The 1989 Royal Rumble match lasted 65 minutes and 6 seconds (65m 06s).  This match featured a brief tease of the Mega Powers exploding, as well as Ted DiBiase failing to win despite buying his way into the 30th position.

Here is a text graphic that displays much of the information discussed below, including a chronological listing of who the longest lasting men were at any given point in the match. The graphic provides a quick visual way to understand which wrestlers dominated the 1989 Royal Rumble match as time progressed, as well as seeing how crowded the ring was at any given point. And if you really want to dig deeper, the graphic also includes time stamps for when each wrestler stepped foot into the ring as well as time stamps for each wrestler's elimination.

For comparison's sake, here are other versions of this graphic for Royal Rumble matches from 1988, 1992, 1999 (version 1, version 2), 2003, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Survival Times

My definition of the Survival Time for a superstar is the time that lapses between the point when a superstar steps foot into the ring and the time that the superstar's feet hit the floor to signal elimination. This does not include the time it takes for a superstar to make his way from the entrance ramp down to the actual ring.

The average superstar survival time for the 1989 Royal Rumble match was 10m 39s and the median survival time was 11m 25s.

Here is the full list of survival times for all 30 superstars:

  • 27m 59s: Mr. Perfect
  • 20m 31s: Akeem
  • 19m 54s: Greg Valentine
  • 18m 15s: Bushwhacker Butch
  • 16m 24s: Bad News Brown
  • 14m 57s: Brutus Beefcake
  • 14m 38s: Ax
  • 14m 32s: Shawn Michaels
  • 14m 16s: Big John Studd
  • 13m 57s: Andre The Giant
  • 12m 47s: Tito Santana
  • 12m 38s: Ron Bass
  • 12m 27s: Randy Savage
  • 12m 16s: Barbarian
  • 11m 33s: Hulk Hogan
  • 11m 17s: Red Rooster
  • 10m 00s: Arn Anderson
  • 8m 21s: Ted DiBiase
  • 8m 03s: Tully Blanchard
  • 7m 52s: Marty Jannetty
  • 7m 12s: Hercules
  • 7m 06s: Rick Martel
  • 4m 55s: Smash
  • 4m 19s: Big Boss Man
  • 4m 13s: Honky Tonk Man
  • 3m 18s: Bushwhacker Luke
  • 2m 39s: Ronnie Garvin
  • 2m 08s: Jake Roberts
  • 1m 07s: Koko B. Ware
  • 0m 03s: Warlord

Koko B. Ware and Warlord did not survive long enough to make it to the next buzzer.

Mr. Perfect emerged as the Iron Man of this match with a survival time of 27m 59s.

Calculating the Iron Man is a little too simple though.  What about calculating the Active Iron Man of the match?  The Active Iron Man is the wrestler in the ring with the highest current survival time. So even though Mr. Perfect was the Iron Man of this match, as soon as he was eliminated he was no longer the Active Iron Man.  That title was passed off to Bushwhacker Butch.  Yes that's right, there was a point in this match where Bushwhacker Butch had the highest survival time out of all the active wrestlers in the ring.

10 of the 30 superstars who competed in this match held the title of Active Iron Man at one point.  Here is the full list of those superstars, including how long each man lasted as the Active Iron Man:

  • 18m 05s: Akeem
  • 15m 55s: Mr. Perfect
  • 14m 38s: Ax
  • 5m 09s: Hulk Hogan
  • 4m 55s: Smash
  • 4m 05s: Bad News Brown
  • 2m 06s: Bushwhacker Butch
  • 2m 03s: Andre The Giant
  • 2m 03s: Big John Studd
  • 1m 02s: Big Boss Man

Every second of the match is accounted for in the above list of Active Iron Men, because the only time there won't be an Active Iron Man is when the ring is empty.  If you add up all of those times (excluding Smash, whose time as Active Iron Man completely coincided with Ax) you will get the overall match time of 65m 06s.

The 1989 Royal Rumble included Warlord's infamous survival time of 2 seconds, according to WWE video packages.  It's always tricky when dealing with such small numbers and an uncertain timing boundary for starting the clock on a superstar's survival time.  That's why the survival time I calculated for Warlord is actually 0m 03s.  Upon further viewings of his time in the match I lean toward thinking that his survival time is somewhere right between 2 and 3 seconds.  I decided to round up to 3 seconds and WWE decided to round down to 2 seconds.  I certainly won't argue with WWE for claiming that his survival time was 2 seconds.

There were 3 simultaneous eliminations in this match.  Hogan clotheslined the Brain Busters out of the ring at roughly the same time, Hogan simultaneously eliminated Bad News Brown and Savage shortly afterwards, and later on Hercules and Beefcake were both tossed over the top rope together when Beefcake had the sleeper hold applied to Hercules.

Damien and Elizabeth were not formal participants in this match yet they both made cameos in the ring.  Damien's 0m 33s time in the ring led to Andre The Giant's elimination, and later on Elizabeth was in the ring for 1m 23s.  That means that Elizabeth received more time in the ring than Koko B. Ware.

At one point in the match an exhausted Hulk Hogan was getting beat up by a fresh Big Boss Man.  Gorilla Monsoon then remarked, "The Hulkster's been out there for a half hour."  Ventura quickly snapped back, "Oh he has not, he got out there about five minutes ago."  In reality, Hogan's survival time at the point Gorilla started to speak was 9m 35s.  So Gorilla Monsoon's sense of time was extremely off base.

Entrance Times

Here are the entrance times for each superstar involved. This is the amount of time that passed between an entrance buzzer going off and when the superstar finally stepped foot into the actual ring. The first two entrants (Ax, Smash) are excluded because their entrances took place prior to the start of the match.

  • 0m 36s: Andre The Giant
  • 0m 32s: Big John Studd
  • 0m 27s: Mr. Perfect, Brutus Beefcake
  • 0m 25s: Warlord, Boss Man, DiBiase
  • 0m 19s: Honky Tonk Man
  • 0m 18s: Barbarian
  • 0m 17s: Valentine
  • 0m 15s: Butch, Akeem
  • 0m 13s: Luke, Garvin
  • 0m 12s: Arn Anderson
  • 0m 11s: Bad News Brown, Koko B. Ware, Hercules
  • 0m 10s: Blanchard, Hogan
  • 0m 09s: Bass, Jannetty, Rooster, Martel
  • 0m 08s: Roberts, HBK, Santana
  • 0m 07s: Savage

There is additional uncertainty in the calculation of the entrance times and survival times for Mr. Perfect, Ronnie Garvin, Koko B. Ware, and Red Rooster due to the fact that the moment when they each stepped through the ropes to enter the match was not caught on camera.  So for those 4 men I had to take my best guess as to when they probably stepped through the ropes.

Brutus Beefcake's entrance time was extended due to his decision to run around the ringside area to help Hogan, who was brawling outside the ring with the Twin Towers.

These numbers add up to about 7m 19s of entrance time out of the entire 1h 05m 06s match. That means that for about 11.2% of the match, at least one superstar was in the midst of his entrance.

Time Between Buzzers

Howard Finkel stated that there would be 2 minute waiting intervals between each entrant. How well did WWF stick to that claim? Here are the waiting times between all 28 buzzers, in chronological order:

  • 2m 08s: Buzzer 1 - Andre
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 2 - Mr. Perfect
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 3 - Garvin
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 4 - Valentine
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 5 - Roberts
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 6 - Bass
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 7 - HBK
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 8 - Butch
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 9 - Honky Tonk Man
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 10 - Santana
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 11 - Bad News Brown
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 12 - Jannetty
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 13 - Savage
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 14 - Arn Anderson
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 15 - Blanchard
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 16 - Hogan
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 17 - Luke
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 18 - Koko B. Ware
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 19 - Warlord
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 20 - Boss Man
  • 2m 03s: Buzzer 21 - Akeem
  • 1m 59s: Buzzer 22 - Beefcake
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 23 - Rooster
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 24 - Barbarian
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 25 - Studd
  • 1m 59s: Buzzer 26 - Hercules
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 27 - Martel
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 28 - DiBiase

27 of the 28 waiting periods fell within three seconds of the 2-minute goal.  That's about as good as it gets.

The median waiting period was 2m 00s, and the average time was 2m 01s.

In a perfectly timed match, the final buzzer (signaling DiBiase's entrance) would have gone off 56m 00s after the start of the match. In reality, this buzzer went off at 56m 20s.

There were multiple occasions where the buzzer rang even though WWF's on-screen countdown clock still showed some time remaining in the waiting period.  In those cases I ignored the on-screen clock and stopped the waiting period at the sound of the buzzer.

There were also a couple of instances where the buzzer rang without any accompanying on-screen countdown clock.

The waiting period of 2 minutes was enough time for Hogan and Savage to quarrel in the ring after Hogan eliminated Savage, until Elizabeth eventually played peacemaker.  Sometimes an important angle like this results in an extended waiting period so that the entire angle can be run without interruption, but that was not the case here.

Ring Crowdedness

I also wanted to take a look at how the ring filled up with superstars as the match progressed. If you add up each wrestler's survival time, it results in a total survival time of 5h 19m 37s.  Given that the match lasted a total of 1h 05m 06s, that comes out to an average of 4.9 competitors in the ring at any given second.

Here is a more accurate way to understand how many men were in the ring at any given time. This chart shows the total time that the ring was filled with an exact number of discrete superstars at once:

Active Wrestlers Total Time Percentage of Match Time Cumulative Percentage
1 1m 52s 2.9 2.9
2 8m 55s 13.7 16.6
3 8m 57s 13.7 30.3
4 6m 41s 10.3 40.6
5 11m 37s 17.8 58.4
6 7m 42s 11.8 70.3
7 12m 53s 19.8 90.0
8 6m 29s 10.0 100.0

There were always 7 or 8 men in the ring between the time stamps of 22m 23s through 33m 07s.  This span featured 6 consecutive instances of Rumble trades, where exactly one man was always eliminated before the next entrant joined the fray.  That's why the number of men in the ring kept alternating between exactly 7 and 8 during this entire time.

The distribution in the chart above is strongly related to this occurrence.  The ring never reached more than 8 men at any point, yet the ring contained exactly 7 or 8 men for 29.7% of the match.

The match remained crowded for most of the first half largely thanks to the above pattern.  However Hulk Hogan had to ruin this balance by showing up and thinning the crowd.  Partially due to Hogan's efforts, there was a span from 38m 25s through 50m 50s where the ring held no more than 4 men at any given moment.

After Hogan was eliminated from the match, he decided to go back and eliminate Big Boss Man from the match too.  There wouldn't be another elimination for the next 12m 45s, and the ring became crowded again for the final 8 men to battle it out.

End of the Match

Once the Million Dollar Man entered the ring, the match essentially turned into an 8-man Battle Royal to the finish between Akeem, Beefcake, Red Rooster, Barbarian, Studd, Hercules, Martel, and DiBiase.  This final segment of the 1989 Royal Rumble match lasted 8m 21s, and at that point Big John Studd emerged as the winner of the match.

That's all you need to know about the timing of the 1989 Royal Rumble match. Which numbers do you find to be the most interesting?


Previous Royal Rumble analyses:


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