With the 2018 Royal Rumble looming and so much nostalgia being had at RAW 25, there’s no better week to look back at the classic Royal Rumble matches that made the event what it is. When talking about great Royal Rumbles, the 1992 edition will come up in the conversation every time.
The 1992 Royal Rumble was like no other, first and foremost because it was the first to have the WWE (then WWF) title at stake. In prior years, the Rumble was all about bragging rights – no WrestleMania title shots, no championships on the line, just a battle to see who the top dog was. The first year only featured 20 superstars and was won by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, the 1989 Rumble saw the returning Big John Studd get the win, and both 1990 and 1991 were won by Hulk Hogan. While those events definitely had a big feel, a 30-man battle for the WWF Championship was absolutely mind-boggling since nothing of that nature had taken place at that point.
The story that built up to this Rumble really began at Survivor Series 91 when The Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan in controversial fashion which ultimately lead to the title being held up; remember this was an era when only a handful of guys had held the WWE Championship over the years, so just the chance of someone different winning it was a really big deal.
The other big factor in this Rumble was the sheer amount of possible winners that were in the match; in previous years it was fairly obvious that only 1 or 2 guys had a legit chance of winning, but 1992 had arguably the most loaded lineup in that era, and possibly of all time. Both Hogan and The Undertaker were in, Ric Flair made his first Rumble appearance, Sid Justice was in his first WWE PPV match, add that to the likes of Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper, former champion Sgt. Slaughter, and more who seemed like they could walk away with the championship.
With wrestling fans making their picks on who would win, things got interesting really fast when Ric Flair drew number 3 in the match – undoubtedly ensuring he would not walk away with the title. It seemed like the most recent champions Hogan and Undertaker or the new hot good guy Sid Justice would all outlast Flair, but the Nature Boy put on a performance that will never be forgotten. After Flair had confrontations with Piper midway through the match that had the crowd on their feet, he continued on lasting until the very end of the match. When Sid shockingly tossed Hogan over the ropes, it was clear that he was going to take the match and be the new “man” in WWE….except for the fact that Hogan was a sore loser and assisted Flair in getting Justice over the top and giving Flair the win.
While Hogan came off bad in the story, the seeds were planted for his feud with Justice and Ric Flair walked away as the new WWF Champion; proving that he was the man in this company just as he had been in the NWA for all those years. Just writing about this event can’t do it justice. Go back and start at Survivor Series 91 and watch the story unfold if you really want to appreciate how great Royal Rumble 92 was, it was a golden era when you had no idea who would win and the term “spoiler” did not exist in the mainstream of wrestling fandom.