Straight Shoot Retro: Royal Rumble 1988

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Now things are getting interesting! After covering Starrcades, WrestleManias, a Survivor Series and even a Bunkhouse Stampede, STRAIGHT SHOOT RETRO is finally ready to take on the first-ever Royal Rumble this Wednesday, June 18 at 6pmET!

As always, myself and co-host Jeff Schiller will bring the historical background, the who’s who and copious amounts of jokes, so all you need to do is watch Royal Rumble 1988 on the WWE Network before Wednesday, then RSVP and start submitting questions on the official event page.

Ways to watch/listen are below. Scroll down for more information on Royal Rumble 1988.

STRAIGHT SHOOT is completely free for you to enjoy, but to keep the show free and independent, we need your support…

On January 24, 1988, it was deja vu all over again, as Vince McMahon and WWF once again scheduled a big event against a Jim Crockett Promotions pay-per-view. A couple months prior, McMahon scheduled the inaugural Survivor Series event to run simultaneously with Starrcade 1987, and even told cable providers that if they ran the JCP/NWA show, they wouldn’t have access to the sure-to-be-a-hit WrestleMania IV.

After Starrcade 1987 was completely squashed though, the cable providers went back to McMahon, asking him not to pull such strong armed PPV counter programming in the future. McMahon agreed, so instead of running a pay-per-view event against Bunkhouse Stampede, he ran a completely free PPV-quality show on the USA Network: The first-ever Royal Rumble.

The Royal Rumble was significant in terms of concept, as it took the big draw of the Bunkhouse Stampede – a Battle Royal match – and added staggered entrances. Said to have been invented by Pat Patterson, the Royal Rumble match updated an old format by creating a myriad of opportunities for additional drama within the match while also cutting down on the worst parts of Battle Royals: The initial clusterfuck when there are so many wrestlers in the ring they can barely move around.

While the first Royal Rumble is commonly acknowledged to have featured the first Royal Rumble match, that isn’t actually the case, as a kind of test-run occurred in St. Louis back on October 4, 1987. The event didn’t draw very well, despite having One Man Gang win by eliminating the Junkyard Dog – two UWF-bred superstars.

As you can probably guess, the Royal Rumble was far, far more successful than the Bunkhouse Stampede, drawing triple the live crowd, and getting far more eyes on the product through the use of free television, as it became the highest viewed wrestling program on cable up to that point, garnering an 8.2 rating. While it was almost certainly not as profitable as a pay-per-view event, it was an important shot at JCP and the NWA, showing that the WWF had enough resources to take a short term financial hit with an eye toward winning the eventual war.

The main draw for the event was, naturally, the Royal Rumble match itself, but that wasn’t the only reason to tune in, as the card also included the following:

  • Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude
  • WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai) vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno & Itsuki Yamazaki)
  • The Young Stallions (Paul Roma & Jim Powers) vs. The Islanders (Haku & Tama)

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