For a number of years in the LOP Columns Forum, one columnist Mizfan has been chronicling the history of the legendary Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan month by month. This month he reached a special month, the legendary 1992 Royal Rumble and we thought it was about time the main page audience got a taste of this fantastic series that stands as a history of not just Bobby Heenan but wrestling through the 70s, 80s and 90s.
If you enjoy this column you can find many more where it came from in the Columns Forum which you can reach through this link here. If you want you can also sign up and try your hand at column writing too.
The Life And Times Of Bobby Heenan The Brain’s Finest Hour (Jan ’92, The Royal Rumble)
Greetings mizfan fans, and Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas while we’re at it! In case you missed it, I had to give myself a sad Christmas present this year and let go of the idea of doing MOTY dailies as I’ve done for the past few years. It’s just one thing too many this year and I can’t swing it. But once I accepted that, I realized that would give me just enough time to put out a column I’ve been looking forward to posting since the moment this series premiered! That’s right, we are at last up to 1992, and that means ROYAL RUMBLE TIME!
January ’92, WWF
Ongoing Heenan Storylines
Of course, before we get to the Rumble itself everyone has got to have their say on what’s going to happen on the big day.
Bobby Heenan (BH): I don’t know if anybody wants the title more than the Undertaker, except Ric Flair.
Gorilla Monsoon (GM): And you. You want it worse than anyone!
BH: Ok, yes! I want it worse than anyone!!
For example, Sid Justice tells the fans that he’s good friends with Hogan and Savage and would be proud to stand beside them in the match. Compare and contrast to Hogan, who carries over his 1991 insanity by claiming the children of Hulkamania have given him permission to go out and try to injure people in the Rumble. So glad he checked with the children first, right? He promises to beat up the whole WWF to get the title. Let’s remember these attitudes carefully when we get the Rumble, shall we? And of course, Heenan and Flair’s campaign for the title continues as they look for every possible advantage.
GM: Can Mr Perfect be at ringside? He’s not a manager!
BH: Executive consultants can be there, I saw it in the rules! You know, there’s a whole chapter in there about being fair to Flair.
BH: I wrote it.
The freshly reinstated Randy Savage is also keen to his hands on the title again, though he has to split his attention with Jake and with protecting Elizabeth. But everyone has Rumble fever!
GM: Macho Man, celebrating with Miss Elizabeth!
BH: He’s gonna throw her over the top rope!
GM: He is not!
BH: Well, I would.
And just to throw another huge name into the mix, Roddy Piper is looking for a chance to be champion as well!
GM: I can’t believe you’re even entertaining the idea that Piper could win the title.
BH: Well I’m trying to think like a humanoid, and I can’t do it. Of course Ric Flair is going to win!
Meanwhile, Prime Time continues with the roundtable format and there is a lot of cross talk about who will win the Rumble. One particularly memorable episode features Vince, Monsoon, babyface Slick, Perfect, and Heenan. Perfect says he is not in the Rumble because his contract doesn’t allow him to wrestle against Flair.
Perfect: Bobby, did you and Flair look over my contract before I signed it?
GM: Of course!
BH: Don’t you answer for me!!
Vince tries to stir Perfect up against Heenan by pointing out he could be costing him his best chance to be champion! Perfect actually seems upset, and Heenan pulls him aside to try to explain he’ll make more money this way. Perfect still seems upset. Heenan is frantic to keep Flair’s camp together. The babyfaces keep needling Perfect and he gets more and more angry, and Heenan actually breaks down in tears!!!
Vince: Well Mr Perfect, you can still play the Hulk Hogan phone challenge… unless your contract precludes you from that too?
BH: Will you knock it off!!
GM: You’ll never win anything else, the Weasel saw to that!
BH: I didn’t see to anything!!
At the end, Perfect reunites with Heenan and says if there’s a problem, he’ll handle it privately. Heenan is incredibly relieved. But everyone gangs up on Heenan again to end the episode!!
We finally get to the night itself, and as you might expect there are a lot of pre-match promos. Hogan once again stands out as he complains about being betrayed by his “so called friends” and craps all over Jack Tunney in the process. What a hero, right?? And it’s time for the match!
Royal Rumble Match 1/19/1992, WWF Royal Rumble
BH: The Rumble is just like any other day, you go along and try to give the other guy the shaft!
GM: Nobody wants to know your lifestyle.
Ted and Bulldog start off this one off, but this year Bulldog makes short work of DiBiase, poor guy! Heenan is distraught beyond words when Flair is #3.
BH: Flair shouldn’t even be in the Rumble. The winner should meet him later today to decide the champion. That would be fair to Flair.
GM: Don’t you start with that!
Heenan spends the whole match just yelling advice to Flair and being caught up in everything that happens to him, good and bad.
BH: I have to apologize to the people. I don’t think I can be objective in this match.
GM: When have you EVER been objective??
For the energy Heenan expends on this match you’d think he’s the one in the ring. He’s got no time for anything but Flair!
GM: Bushwhacker Luke has the record for the shortest time in the Rumble-
BH: Who cares about Bushwhackers? How long has Flair been in?!?
It’s one of my favorite performances in wrestling history and matches up perfectly with Flair’s legendary effort.
BH: Where is Mr Perfect? He needs to be here helping Flair!
GM: Managers aren’t allowed at ringside!
BH: But he’s an executive consultant!
GM: Same thing, a pest!
We get a bit of a prophetic moment between Shawn Michaels and Flair at one point, but it’s when Piper enters that it really goes to the next level. Heenan is almost crying about the way Piper is taking the fight to Flair. Jake comes in next but just sits in the corner watching them fight for a while before betraying Piper, which comes off beautifully and is a mark of the great psychology Jake is famous for.
BH: Jake saved Flair from Piper! Thank you, Jake!
GM: Now he’s going after Flair!
BH: You can’t trust a snake, I always said that!
Heenan ping pongs wildly back and forth between loving and hating everyone, depending on whether they’re helping or hurting Flair.
GM: And now Piper, saving Flair from Jake the Snake!
BH: I never thought I’d say this, but thank you Piper. It’s a kilt. It’s not a skirt, it’s a kilt.
GM: Now he’s going after both of them!
BH: You no good, skirt wearing freak!!
Savage charges the ring soon after, looking for revenge on Jake for the torture he’s put him through, but Jake hides until Savage has been beaten up by everyone else in the match. But Savage gets his hands on Jake after all, and that’s it for the snake!!
BH: I don’t think Flair can take much more, Monsoon.
GM: I know YOU can’t take much more, Brain!
At the end it’s Savage, Sid, Hogan, and Flair, which is a hell of a final four in terms of big names.
BH: Flair, weasel your way out! I never thought I’d say that but weasel your way out if you have to!
GM: Weasel your way out??
BH: Do anything!! It’s the final hour!
Savage goes out first of the bunch, and then we soon get the famous moment of Sid throwing out Hogan (which actually gets a mixed reaction from the crowd, the biggest sign yet that fans are getting tired of Hogan’s act at last).
BH: I’m sorry for everything I’ve done! I’m sorry for everything I’ve said! Please! Please let Flair win it!
GM: Stop begging!
BH: I’ll never say or do anything bad again! Please!
Hogan throws a tantrum at ringside and grabs Sid’s arm. I probably don’t have to belabor this point but seriously, Sid has been nothing but Hogan’s friend from the start and eliminated him clean as a whistle, and there’s really no way to excuse Hogan’s behavior here. While Hogan holds Sid in place, Flair jumps in and tosses the big man out! Flair did it, he gets the win!! Hogan chases the Nature Boy out of the ring after the match, but he can’t change the result! Heenan is so excited he jumps off commentary. Sid and Hogan throw a fit at each other after the match.
Spoiled babyfaces aside, I don’t think I can stress enough how much I love this match. I hit some of the big notes but everything about this match, from the huge collection of great talent to all the interweaving storylines, is so very much what I want from wrestling. Everyone had a character, everyone was over (though some, like Hogan, not the way they were meant to be), and the performances couldn’t have been more dedicated. In the end it boils down to the amazing dual 60 minute performances of Flair and Heenan, who lived and died 100 times trying to make it through this match. It’s a classic and very possibly my favorite match in all of wrestling history, and if you’ve never seen it I hope you give it a look.
Awesomeness Rating: *****
After the match we go backstage with Okerlund, who is with Jack Tunney and also Flair, Perfect, and Heenan. Heenan looks so legitimately happy. It’s one of my favorite promos ever, particularly Flair’s bit.
Flair: Let me just say, after video distorting the belt that proclaimed me the real world’s champion, I’m going to tell you all. With a tear in my eye, this is the greatest moment in my life. When you walk around this world, and you tell everybody that you’re number one, the only way that you get to stay number one is to be number one. And this is the only title in the wrestling world that makes you number one. When you are the king of the WWF, you rule the world. Think about it like that. Mr. Perfect! The Brain! Wooooo! WOOOOO!!!
BH: You did it. I was never so impressed with anything I’ve ever seen in all my life. He went out there for over 60 minutes. Never took a backstep. Took it to Hogan. Took it to the Undertaker. Took it to whoever got in that ring. That’s why we’re calling him the real World’s Heavyweight Champion.
Perfect: Hey, we’re not the guys to say we told you so. But we told you so. Haha!
Okerlund: Okay, very good. Ric Flair you – put that cigarette out – you have made World Wrestling Federation history tonight.
Flair: It’s the greatest moment of my life. I want to jump. I want to party. But, I’ve got to tell you like this. For the Hulk Hogans, and the Macho Mans, and the Pipers, and the Sids, now it’s Ric Flair. And you all pay homage to the man! WOOOOO!!!! Hahaha! I love it! I love it! I love it!
We’ve got plenty of fallout as well! On Wrestling Challenge, Heenan is over the moon about Flair being champion. He annoys Monsoon so much that he walks away during the intro, and Heenan doesn’t know what to do!
BH: Aren’t you excited about our new world champion?
GM: Doesn’t put an extra dime in my pocket!
BH: All you think about is yourself.
GM: And all you think about his how much Flair is gonna pay you!
BH: Well, I do think of myself on occasion, it’s true.
The win is big news on Prime Time as well. The next development that drops is news that Tunney is considering five contenders to challenge Flair at Wrestlemania. Hogan, Savage, Sid, Piper, and Undertaker are all in contention, and YOU can call the hotline to vote on who should go on to the biggest event of the year.
GM: Hulk Hogan thinks a lot of Sid Justice.
BH: Oh yeah, they’re real back slapping buddies.
GM: What’s wrong with that?
BH: It makes me sick.
Heenan and Perfect say they want to vote for Hogan!! So Flair can beat him, presumably, but still I’m very surprised.
Slick prefers Piper, and Monsoon was impressed by Sid but leans towards Hogan.
GM: Sid really showed me something at the Rumble, but how can you deny Hogan a chance to be a 5 time champion?
BH: Because he’s already had it four times!
Vince unexpectedly votes for Undertaker! Heenan starts calling the hotline over and over so he can vote in different voices, in classic Weasel fashion.
Vince: And you can call the hotline to vote for your favorite contender!
BH: And if I wanted to call in and change my voice 800 times, all 800 votes would count?
GM: You know, the world championship can bring a lot of misery if you’re not ready for the challengers.
BH: I haven’t been miserable yet!
GM: You will be.
As we end the month, Flair is the undisputed champion of the WWF and the #1 contender is undecided, but we’re going to find out a lot more in the month to come. But Flair is champion! Woooo!
BH: You know, when you’re champion, when you’re riding in the limo, you can tell the driver to put up the little window and you can throw peanuts at him.
Elsewhere in the WWF…
Through The Window Glass
The slow breakup of the Rockers continues, as we see a clip from Superstars where Shawn costs the Rockers a match against LOD due to some bad timing. Shawn and Marty have words after the match. Marty tries to hug Shawn but he shoves him away and seems frustrated. Marty gets mad and almost punches him. Can they get their act back together?
If you didn’t know the answer to that, you’ll know it soon because the next time we see them, they’re going to talk it out in Brutus Beefcake’s crappy interview segment, The Barbershop! Shawn speaks first and says they are still tight with each other, but also calls himself the captain and says he put everything together. Jannetty admits there IS friction, and claims there’s no captain. He talks about Shawn missing out on opportunities in the ring because he’s busy flirting. Shawn can’t help it if the ladies like him! Shawn points out Jannetty has cost them matches too and made mistakes. Jannetty says he’s made mistakes but he wants to stay together and go to the top as a team. Jannetty turns his back and says Shawn should leave or stay and shake his hand. Shawn shakes his hand but…
BH: See, one Rocker isn’t any good without the other. They need each other. [Shawn kicks Jannetty!] OH, I knew he was gonna do that!!
And the rest is history!
GM: Jannetty, right through the window!
BH: Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape! What an act of cowardice!
Shawn Michaels vs. Jimmy Snuka 1/31/92 WWF MSG
GM: For upper body strength, the advantage goes to Jimmy Snuka.
BH: But for brains, it’s Michaels. I know hubcaps that are smarter than Snuka.
Michaels jumps right into his new role as a midcard heel, first focusing on his most natural talent, which is to go into bump overdrive and bounce around the ring for anything that breathes on him. He’s the first example I was able to find of his full blown singles act, and unfortunately it’s against the past his prime, not very good in the first place Snuka. HBK does as much as possible to carry Snuka, but he can only get so far. Still, you can see he’s starting to work out his new character and making quick strides on the performer he would become. He wins with Sweet Chin Music followed up by a Teardrop Suplex, since apparently they originally thought the kick wasn’t good enough by itself.
BH: If you put the face of every woman who loved Shawn Michaels on the back of his jacket… there isn’t a jacket big enough.
GM: What a profound statement that was.
BH: Thank you.
Awesomeness Rating: **½
The Scales of Justice and Revenge
Randy Savage (w/Miss Elizabeth) vs. Jake Roberts 1/31/92 WWF MSG
Savage and Jake were both too focused on each other to win the Rumble, which is pretty understandable if you remember everything they’ve done to each other at this point. Their feud is still white hot so it only makes sense that this match starts with a wild brawl that the ref can’t keep control of! Jake slows the Macho Man down with the poke in the eyes and quickly goes back to stalking Liz, but Savage explodes on him all over again! Savage hits him in the gut with a chair! But Jake catches him coming off the top rope and gets the advantage again. Um, Monsoon says Jake literally raped Elizabeth… of her dignity. NO, Monsoon. No. Great spot where Savage is trying to get up and get at Jake, and Jake keeps kicking him down. But Savage rallies and goes on a tear against him! Jake plants a knee right in his face as he rushes in though, very nice. Jake tries a DDT but Savage holds on to the ropes! Jake does a great sell job as he crashes on the back of his head. Savage with the elbow drop to get the win to an enormous pop! Savage wants to fight more but Jake bails. One of the best feuds I watched, and it’s hard to believe they’re going to change gears so suddenly before Wrestlemania still.
Awesomeness Rating: ****
Bret Hart vs. Barry Horowitz, WWF Intercontinental Championship 1/5/92 WWF Challenge
BH: You know, if I were the Hitman-
GM: I wish you were the Hitman, then you wouldn’t be sitting here!
So a whole buttload of IC title stuff happens this month, but just to set the stage we start out with Bret still holding the title he won at Summerslam and defending it against anyone in sight. One match I found particularly memorable was a really good TV defense against none other than Barry Horowitz! We all knew Horowitz didn’t really have a chance, but still I really respect the effort he put in here, and Bret is looking masterful in his role.
GM: Bret Hart, voted wrestler of the year by his peers.
BH: He won it on the pier?
GM: What an insult to the name of journalism.
BH: You’re too hard on yourself.
Awesomeness Rating: ***½
However, the Hitman would hit an unexpected bump in his title reign. A real life illness would temporarily impair his ability to perform, and while he was still able to drag himself to the arena, he ended up dropping the title to a surprising opponent at a house show.
GM: The Hitman had a temperature of 104 degrees and still wrestled, that’s the kind of man he is.
BH: I once had a temperature of 128 degrees, and I still went skiing.
The next time we came back to TV, we learned that The Mountie, Jacques Rougeau himself, was the new Intercontinental Champion!
We see clips of Jacques beating Bret, and whipping him with the title after the match as well as threatening him with the shock stick.
GM: Something should be done about that weapon of the Mountie!
BH: You’re right, it probably needs new batteries.
Piper shows up and Jacques bails, but then the Mountie returns and smacks Piper in the head too!
BH: Maybe Piper can splurge, go out and spend $20 on some new bagpipes.
GM: Oh, please!
BH: Ok, $15? I don’t know how much they cost. And I don’t care.
Piper gets back up and they fight a bit more. In addition to being entered in the Rumble itself, Piper decided to take a shot at taking the Intercontinental Championship on the same night!
BH: Piper could lose two titles in the same day!
GM: No he couldn’t, he doesn’t have two titles.
BH: Well then he can’t win two titles either!
GM: Oh yes he could.
BH: Stop contradicting me!!
Roddy Piper vs. Jacques Rougeau (w/Jimmy Hart), WWF Intercontinental Championship 1/19/92 WWF Royal Rumble
GM: What a poor representative the Mountie is for that Intercontinental title!
BH: You want to be represented by a guy in a skirt?
GM: He’s got more integrity in his little finger than the Mountie does in his whole body!
BH: He’s got more pleats in his skirt too!
One of Piper’s best in ring tactics is to start things hot, and that’s exactly what he does here! We see some nice back and forth but Piper stays ahead and wins pretty easily with the sleeper, ending Jacques’ short reign and giving Piper his first ever title in the WWF. Piper shocks Mountie with his own stick after the match. Sorry Jacques, I love your act but it’s Piper!
BH: Piper is always wearing that little pleated skirt-
GM: It’s a kilt!
BH: Just because he’s from Scotland, it’s a kilt? If he was from Newark, it’d be a skirt!
BH: Big deal, Bret Hart wrestled with 104 degree temperature. I’ve wrestled at 113!
GM: That’s not true, you’d be dead!
BH: Well, I didn’t feel real well.
GM: You should have let Paul Bearer take care of you!
Ok, this isn’t directly related to the IC title, but Bret does soon return to the ring with an eye on regaining the title he barely lost. Thus, we get this match as Bret looks to prove that he’s back to 100%, and we get to see a preview of the future of the WWF in the process! Taker attacks Bret before he’s ready and chokes him a bunch, which is Taker’s go to move in this era. Bret makes a really good comeback and knocks Taker out of the ring, but he lands on his feet. So Bret dives wildly out on him, wow!! Bret’s final comeback is fantastic, as he counters Old School in a great way and starts hitting improbable suplexes and neckbreakers to put over how tough Taker is to grind down.
BH: The Undertaker almost came crashing down on my head!
GM: That’s part of your job!
BH: To bail out of here? I think you’re right!
The ref is bumped, and Taker is put in the Sharpshooter! Bearer holds the ref down until Bret releases the hold to swat him away. Taker pops back up and clobbers Bret with the urn! Taker gets the dirty win in a really awesome match.
Awesomeness Rating: ****¾
The Foundation Series
Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart vs. Kato & Tanaka (w/Mr Fuji) 1/19/92 WWF Royal Rumble
So here’s something controversial: I like the New Foundation more than the original, on the whole. The original peaked higher but they had way more chances to do so. And I’m such an Owen mark that y’all probably shouldn’t really be surprised! Case in point, Owen takes a face first bump into Fuji’s cane that looks totally nuts in this match. I think he broke the damn thing, and I’ll let you decide if I mean the cane or his face. Everyone does so well in this match, and none better than Owen. He does an awesome tope with Neidhart’s help!! And the Rocket Launcher for the win! There’s a lot of lov for the Rockers match with the Orient Express the year before, but I think I actually like this one even better. Really great match.
Awesomeness Rating: ****½
Scent of a Tornado
Rick Martel vs. Kerry von Erich 1/31/92 WWF MSG
Rick Martel is back!! One of my all time favorites. Granted, he was always better as a babyface, but I have a lot of love for him in any form and don’t mind the Model gimmick. Martel is right back in form here with great selling and bumping. Kerry’s got solid power, as usual, and does his thing just fine as Martel elevates the match to a higher level. Martel gets the dirty win, giving me hope that he’ll get a solid push on his return! Kerry clobbers him after the match with the perfume sprayer and chases him backstage.
Awesomeness Rating: ***¾
GM: Barbarian lost his antlers! What happened?
BH: You ask him. I’m not going near him.
BH: Barbarian doesn’t like anyone. When I managed him he barely liked me!
BH: I heard Ted DiBiase is gonna buy El Matador’s hometown, tear it down, and build a slum.
GM: Why, so Sherri can have a place to live?
GM: I thought you guys were supposed to have class. You and Perfect are wearing the same ties as last week, but switched!
BH: We both shop in the best places!
BH: Don’t touch the Bushwhackers, children. You don’t know where they’ve been.
BH: You know why Jamison’s parents never got divorced? Nobody wanted custody of him.
GM: Jamison, they can’t hurt you with words.
BH: That’s true, what bad thing could you say to him that hasn’t been said?
GM: The Genius slapped Jamison! What a despicable act!
BH: I know, disgusting to touch Jamison at all!
BH: What if I came up with a poem like the Genius does?
GM: I think even Jamison could come up with something better!
BH: Yeah, probably typhoid.
GM: Who is that in there, Beau or Blake?
GM: What gives Skinner the right to bring out that smelly alligator claw?
BH: He likes it! You like Italian food!
GM: But I don’t bring it out here!
BH: But you would if you could.
GM: Yeah, but I don’t.
GM: If you’re not careful going after those gators, you could lose a couple appendages.
BH: I really don’t think it’d be able to get your appendix.
GM: I said appendages!
BH: Yeah, that’s more than one appendix.
GM: What does Skinner chew, anyway?
BH: Stuff he finds on the highway, I guess.
GM: Jamison got some on his suit and had a hell of a time getting it out.
BH: Ah, the human spittoon.
GM: The Bushwhackers are going bananas!
BH: No, they’re going sardines. YOU go bananas.
BH: I never understood why a guy would go around and greet and make nice with the humanoids to try to gain support. Seems like a cheap way of doing it.
GM: You have to be a nice guy. You wouldn’t know anything about it.
GM: I heard Warlord is handy with a knife and fork, a big eater if someone else is picking up the tab. Kind of like you!
BH: No, I’ve never picked up a tab in my life.
BH: You’ve got one chance at life, to make as much as you can as quick as you can, and if you don’t you’re stupid.
GM: They can put that on your epitaph.
BH: That and a friend in need is a pest.
And that’s the month, folks!! One of the biggest months in one of the best creative periods in company history. We’re seeing a lot of seeds bearing fruit here, seeds that were planted as far back as Summerslam in some cases, and there’s even more build towards the biggest show of the year. I’d go so far as to say this is one of the greatest roads to Wrestlemania in the whole run of the WWF. There are so many big characters, huge storylines, stuff that you just HAVE to tune in and see what happens next. It’s the absolute best, and I hope it brings you just as much joy as it does me on this lovely holiday!
That’s it for today, humanoids. I’ll be back next year with the next entry, until then don’t let the ham-and-eggers get you down, and stay awesome!