On January 24th, 1988, the WWF presented the inaugural edition of the Royal Rumble. The event took place at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. While over the years, fans have been able to watch subsequent Rumbles on closed-circuit television, pay per view, and now on the WWE Network, this event wasn’t televised at all. As part of this card, fans witnessed the official contract signing for a Wrestlemania 3 rematch between Hulk Hogan & Andre The Giant; a match between the Jumping Bomb Angels & the Glamour Girls; Dino Bravo was going to attempt to break the bench press record of 705 pounds, & The Islanders would face The Young Stallions. The main event was the 20 Man Royal Rumble in 1988.
Vince McMahon and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura are on commentary. We cut to Howard Finkle, who introduces the combatants in the first match of the evening.
Royal Rumble 1988
‘Ravishing Rick Rude vs. Ricky’ The Dragon’ Steamboat
It is unusual to see Rick Rude already in the ring, without any entrance, as he waits for Steamboat to make his way into the ring. After an initial attack by Rude, Steamboat recovers and then tosses the Ravishing one over the top rope. Rude slowly makes his way back into the ring and then attempts a test of strength with Steamboat. Both men lock up with Rude and Steamboat jockeying for position. Rude appears to have the advantage, but Steamboat recovers and breaks the lockup with his knee and then a takedown. Steamboat locks in an armbar, torquing the arm and shoulder. Rude breaks free, but eventually, Steamboat recaptures another arm after his signature arm drag takedown.
A chop on the left arm and shoulder by Steamboat on Rude then leads to a double knife edge chop. Steamboat hits another arm drag takedown. Steamboat continues to work on the arm, shoulder, and wrist of Rude. A kick to the midsection by Rude breaks up Steamboat’s advantage. Rude then starts to work over The Dragon. He lays in punches to the head. After dodging Rude with a couple of slides under his legs, Steamboat hits an arm drag takedown on Rude’s left arm and shoulder again! That limb is his primary focus.
Steamboat is Relentless In His Attack
Steamboat then begins to issue chops but is caught with a knee to the midsection, causing him to go to the outside. Rude suplexes Steamboat back into the ring and tries to cinch in a camel clutch. Steamboat tries to get up but is held down by Rude’s weight. He begins to stir once again but Rude drops down and forces The Dragon back to the mat. The referee begins to lift Steamboat’s arm, and it appeared to drop a third time, but that wasn’t the case. Steamboat makes his way back to his feet and hits an electric chair drop on Rude. He tries a splash but takes two knees in the chest.
Rude again targets his opponent’s back as he applies another camel clutch. Steamboat eventually escapes and pushes Rude into the corner. He follows up by driving The Ravishing One’s head into the turnbuckle repeatedly. A chop follows that to the face and then a couple of roll-up attempts. A series of two counts leads to a clothesline by Rude. But The Dragon blocks Rude’s suplex attempt and hits one of his own. Steamboat climbs to the top, and Rude pulls the referee in front of him. Rude has Steamboat in a backbreaker, but the referee calls for the bell.
Winner via Disqualification: Ricky’ The Dragon’ Steamboat
Dino Bravo Attempts To Break Bench Press Record
‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund and Jesse Ventura are on a platform awaiting Dino Bravo and his manager Frenchy Martin. Bravo is attempting to break the bench press record of 705-pounds. Bravo rubs down the bar and puts powder on both the bar and his hands. We are informed that Bravo will warm up by pressing 415 pounds. Bravo demands everyone to be quiet, which causes everyone to boo louder. Bravo asks for an additional 90 lbs. to be added, bringing the weight on the bar to 505. Ventura once again spots Bravo as he quickly presses the weight
Bravo and Ventura added 50 lbs., bringing the total now to 555 pounds. More weight is added, bringing it to 595 lbs. Once again, Bravo completes a full repetition. They then add another 70 lbs., bringing the total to 655 lbs. Once again, Bravo is able to press the weight. Bravo and Ventura unofficially set the mark at 715 lbs., including the bar. Dino once again resumes his position only to get up and leave momentarily. He then returns and once again attempts the press and does it. Or does he? Jesse Ventura’s spot seems to include a lot of assistance. ‘The Body’ pulls the bar up and onto the stand at the 1988 Royal Rumble.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Best 2 out of 3 Falls
The Glamour Girls (c) vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels
Right after the bell rings, the Jumping Bomb Angels attack. Judy Martin is the legal woman in the ring as the Angels switch roles. The commentary is bizarre as they don’t know the names of either of the Jumping Bomb Angels. Vince McMahon goes as far as to call one ‘the pink angel’ and the other ‘the red angel.’ We see a black widow submission attempt. Then both women come in and lock in dual figure four leg locks on the champs. Leilani Kai is being worked over. She has her legs, groin, and back worked on, including a nice transition from a lockup into a surfboard.
A tag is made, bringing in Judy Martin. This is odd because commentary said it shouldn’t have counted. Martin takes one of the Angels down to the mat. We then witness a powerbomb lift, but that results in a face plant. Martin then makes the pinfall for the three count and the first fall.
Winners of the first fall: The Glamour Girls
After a break, the second fall begins with Judy Martin working over ‘Red’ in the ring. She strikes with a clothesline and then a splash. A tag is made to ‘Pink,’ who is finally referred to by her name, Noriyo Tateno. By the way, ‘Red’ is Itsuki Yamazaki. Finally, all four women are in the ring, with the Glamour Girls telegraphing a move and taking each other out. We then get a sunset flip by Itsuki on Kai, and she pins her for the three count.
Winners of the second fall, The Jumping Bomb Angels
The third and final fall begins with Kai tagging in Martin. Itsuki hits an enzuguri, but soon after, Martin proceeds to work over Itsuki until she makes the tag to Kai. Kai hits a double under hook suplex and attempts a pinfall unsuccessfully. Noriyo is taking a beating at the hands of both of the Glamour Girls. Itsuki is tagged in, but then she is attacked and beaten down by the champions. Kai and Itsuki exchange blows, with Kai getting the worst end of it. Martin is tagged in, and soon after, Noriyo is as well and hits a knee off the top rope. Frequent tags between the challengers lead to a pinfall attempt. Itsuki misses on a senton attempt. Martin is brought back into the corner of the challengers. Both challengers hit a double dropkick and make the pin for the three count.
Winners AND NEW WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The Jumping Bomb Angels.
After the break, we get Vince McMahon recounting the events of WrestleMania III. The debate is about whether or not Andre won the match after an early pinfall attempt. We then hear about how Ted DiBiase will purchase the WWF Championship should Andre win it. We flashback to DiBiase asking The Giant if he will deliver the WWF title belt to him. Andre, Virgil, and DiBiase make their way to the ring, awaiting Hulk Hogan’s arrival. The rematch between Andre and Hogan is to take place on Friday, February 5th, 1988.
‘Mean’ Gene and WWF President Jack Tunney are in the ring as well. A table is set up, with both men expected to sit down and sign the contract. Hogan sits down first while Andre rocks against the ropes with his hands in his pockets. DiBiase is in Andre’s ear, and he slowly makes his way to the table to sit and sign the contract. Hogan looks as though he’s hesitant. Ted DiBiase is shouting about how Andre ‘beat’ him at WrestleMania III. Andre is staring at Hogan and finally proceeds to sign the contract.
Andre grabs Hogan, drives his head into the table, and then proceeds to flip it over, leaving him lying in the ring.
Royal Rumble 1988
20 Man Over the Top Rope Battle Royal
The luck of the draw is discussed. For this first-ever Rumble, a new participant enters every two minutes. Number one is Bret Hart, and number two is Tito Santana. Both men begin by jockeying for position. Bret appears to have the early advantage; Santana manages to get it but only momentarily. The countdown ends, and the third competitor is ‘The Natural’ Butch Reed. Once in the ring, he goes right after Santana. Jim’ The Anvil’ Neidhart, Hart’s tag team partner, is the next man in the ring, making it a three on one attack. It’s a complete beat down by the heels on Santana. Just as it appears as though Santana is about to be eliminated, Jake’ The Snake’ Roberts charges to the ring.
With everyone focused on eliminating Santana, Roberts flips Reed over the top rope, eliminating him. Roberts takes the fight to Hart, and Santana lays fists into Neidhart. Jake signals for the DDT, but Neidhart comes charging right at him. The Hart Foundation lay a beating on Roberts and Santana. At this point, Harley Race comes out as the next competitor. Race and Roberts exchange blows. Next, Jumping Jim Brunzell comes charging into the ring, and the entrant after him is Sam Houston. Just as he is getting to the ring, the Hart Foundation eliminates Santana.
Tito Santana is eliminated.
‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis comes down to the ring next. Race is swinging between the ropes like a pendulum from the outside but eventually makes his way back in the ring. The countdown begins again, and Boris Zhukov is the next entrant. All of the competitors are trying to eliminate each other. The countdown begins again, and Don Muraco comes down but is followed by Nikolai Volkoff. At ringside, Muraco decks Volkoff and climbs in the ring. A few moments later, his partner is eliminated.
Boris Zhukov is eliminated.
Various pairings are taking place all over the ring as Volkoff pleads his case to get into this match. Once the countdown comes to an end, Volkoff climbs in. Muraco eliminates race. As the matchup continues, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan is the next entrant. Duggan and Muraco work over Neidhart. ‘Hacksaw’ is really over with the fans on this night. The countdown continues, and the next competitor is ‘Outlaw’ Ron Bass.
Volkoff eliminates Jim Brunzell. Coincidentally, his tag team partner, B. Brian Blair is the next entrant in the matchup.
Jim Brunzell is eliminated.
Roberts and Duggan work over Davis on one side of the ring. The next entrant is Hillbilly Jim. Jim and Neidhart take the fight to one another, and The Anvil is eliminated.
Jim’ The Anvil’ Neidhart is eliminated.
The countdown begins again, and the next entrant is Dino Bravo, accompanied by Frenchy Martin. Sam Houston is on Ron Bass’ shoulders, and all Bass had to do was dump him over the top rope.
Sam Houston is eliminated.
The next entrant is The Ultimate Warrior. He comes in and goes right at Bass. On the opposite side of the ring, Muraco eliminates Bret Hart.
Bret’ Hit Man’ Hart is eliminated.
The next competitor in the ring is One Man Gang. Upon his entry, he goes right after Roberts and then proceeds to go after Blair and toss him out, and right after eliminates Roberts.
B. Brian Blair and Jake’ The Snake’ Roberts are eliminated
The Junk Yard Dog is the final competitor. Duggan eliminates Volkoff, and Hillbilly Jim is eliminated next by the One Man Gang.
Nikolai Volkoff and Hillbilly Jim are eliminated
Duggan hits Davis with a three-point stance clothesline, sending Davis over the top rope. Then Bravo and One Man Gang eliminate the Ultimate Warrior. One Man Gang eliminates the Junk Yard Dog. Muraco then eliminates Bass.
‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis, Ultimate Warrior, Junk Yard Dog, ‘Outlaw’ Ron Bass: all eliminated.
There are now four men remaining in the ring: One Man Gang, Don Muraco, Dino Bravo, and ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan. Gang eliminates Muraco. It is now three men remaining, and Duggan is ganged up on (pardon the pun) by the other two. But Gang accidentally eliminates Bravo. Gang works over Duggan, but ‘Hacksaw’ ducks a charge, and One Man Gang eliminates himself by falling over the top rope of the 1988 Royal Rumble.
Winner of the 1988 Royal Rumble: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
After another break, we hear Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura discuss what took place earlier between Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan in the ring. Hogan is interviewed and asked about the contract signing. Hogan says that every time he’s attacked, it’s a dagger in his side, but he’s been waiting for this encounter. He says that for Andre to beat him, he has to beat all of his Hulkamaniacs too.
Royal Rumble 1988
The Islanders (Haku & Tama) vs. The Young Stallions (Paul Roma & Jim Powers) Best 2 out of 3 Falls
Tama and Jim Powers begin the match. The discussion early on is about the Islanders’ past actions towards Matilda, The British Bulldogs’ mascot. Tama throws a couple of strikes, but Powers regains the advantage. Powers picks up Tama and hits a scoop and a slam. Tama then rolls out of the ring to recover and then climbs back in. He drops to his knees, extends his hand, and asks for a truce. Tama attempts a kick but gets caught. Both Roma and Powers land punches on Tama. Powers hits chest first in the corner turnbuckle. Tama and Powers then tag in their partners.
Haku gets the advantage on Roma and beats him down. Roma appears to get the edge with a crossbody. He tags in Powers, who attempts to get the better of Haku, unsuccessfully. Soon, the Islanders have the advantage here, with both men taking the fight to Powers and Roma. Powers receives a beating, but rallies and he and Haku take each other out with clotheslines. Roma and Tama both come into the ring, and Roma takes the fight to his opponent. He hits a high dropkick followed by a back body drop. But he is thrown over the top rope and is clutching his left knee after landing. The referee makes the ten count, and Roma is counted out for the first fall.
The Islanders win the first fall via countout.
Before the next fall, the Young Stallions were in the dressing room attempting to get Roma’s knee looked at. We then see Andre, DiBiase, and Virgil engage in a live interview reflecting on what took place earlier in the evening. They share their glee with what happened to Hogan earlier and how it will happen once again come February 5th. The Young Stallions make their way back to the ring, with Roma moving quite gingerly. He has to start the next fall despite already being wounded.
Tama is relentless in working on his leg. But then, Haku and Powers are both tagged in, and the latter hits a big back body drop. Powers works hard in hopes of evening the odds. It’s virtually a two-on-one matchup with Roma trying to recover on the apron. Tama is tagged in, and he works over Powers. Haku is then tagged in, and they double team their opponent. When Tama is tagged back in, he hits a leaping back elbow on Powers. Haku returns and hits a standing dropkick and attempts a pinfall but only gets a count of two. Powers is caught in an abdominal stretch but hits a hip toss.
Haku recovers and attempts a somersault onto the chest of Powers. He misses, and Powers tries to take the opportunity to tag in his partner, but to no avail. Finally, he makes the tag, and Roma tries to fight off Haku. Haku kicks his bad leg and proceeds to work it, then tags in Tama, who hits a splash. He then locks in a half crab on the bad leg, and Roma submits, giving The Islanders to win the second fall on the 1988 Royal Rumble.
The Islanders win the second fall via submission.
Winners: The Islanders in two consecutive falls.
McMahon and Ventura discussed the night’s events, including the Royal Rumble matchup, the bench press record by Dino Bravo, and the Andre/Hogan signing.