In 1989, WWE brought the Royal Rumble concept to pay-per-view for the first time, and it has occupied a date on the January PPV calendar since. The titular match bloated to its would-be standard of 30 wrestlers, and boasted some of the biggest name stars in company history including Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts, and then-WWE Champion Macho Man Randy Savage. There was also a “Super Posedown” between The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude, which…was what it was.
The match featured a curious choice of winner in Big John Studd, a prolific goliath heel of the mid-eighties who departed from the company in 1986, only to return a little more than two years later as a babyface. Studd had only made his televised return three weeks prior to the Rumble, and there he was, toying around with DiBiase in the final minutes before anticlimactically throwing him out for the win.
More dramatic than the Rumble’s victor and conclusion was the boiling heat between Hogan and Savage, the Mega Powers at increasing odds with each other. Savage ended up as collateral damage in Hulk’s elimination spree, and Macho didn’t care for that one bit. Moreso than the Rumble finish, that mid-match dissent set the stage for WrestleMania 5.
10. Last Gasps
The only match from the 1989 Royal Rumble with a championship belt at stake pitted Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin against former Glamour Girl Judy Martin. Robin retained the belt in a match that went little more than six minutes and would mark the last Women’s title match of note for several years. Robin and Martin face off on house shows until late-June 1989, after which both left the company, and the belt was deactivated in 1990.
It also marked the last Women’s title match at any Royal Rumble until the 1999 event 10 years later, where then-champion Sable faced off against Luna Vachon in a strap match. Not even in the brief two-year window of 1993-95 would Alundra Blayze be involved in any such matches at the January spectacular.