WWE Royal Rumble 1992: Retrospective and Ric Flair’s Win


We take a look back the last time the WWE Title was on the line in the Royal Rumble.

On last weeks Raw, Vince McMahon made the announcement that this years Royal Rumble match will see Roman Reigns defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against 29 other men. The 1992 Royal Rumble was the last, and only other, time that the WWE’s biggest Championship was on the line in the annual over the top rope battle royal.

In 1992 the title was on the line after a couple of controversial matches (involving interference from one Ric Flair) between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker had led to Hogan being stripped of the title. Both men would be entered into the match, with the promise that they’d get numbers between 20 and 30. Hogan had won the Rumble in the previous two years and many expected that he’d get a third victory in a row. He might have if Ric Flair hadn’t been signed a few months earlier.

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Parading the WCW title and calling himself “The Real World Champion” Flair came in as the ultimate heel. Led by his “financial adviser” Bobby Heenan and his “executive consultant” Mr. Perfect, Flair had come in to shake things up and challenge the guys at the top of the card. Despite being sued by WCW for him using the belt, Flair claimed it belonged to him as he’d not been paid back the $25,000 deposit that NWA Champions had to pay upon winning the title. Flair had come to the WWF to be the top guy, whether other people liked it or not.

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The ’92 Rumble was one of the most star-studded ever held. Nowadays it’s made pretty obvious that only a small handful of men have a chance of winning, in this match you could say that five men could easily have won it. Flair, Hogan, Undertaker, Randy Savage and Sid Justice would all have been believable winners. Throw in the likes of Roddy Piper, British Bulldog, Jimmy Snuka and Shawn Michaels and it’s easy to see why many people call this the best Rumble ever.

With the epic pairing of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan on hand for commentary duties, this was a Rumble that will forever live on. This was a time when the company was in the midst of a massive shift, with fans growing tired of the Hogan era that dominated the late 1980’s and wanting something different. Flair was that something different.

The match started with British Bulldog and Ted DiBiase in the ring as numbers 1 and 2. Bulldog quickly eliminated DiBiase and then Flair came into the match as number 3. The crowd rained down the boos on him as Bulldog waited in the ring. Heenan and Monsoon argued on commentary as Flair ran through his patented moves and began what would be one of the best runs in the Rumble match ever.

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  • A who’s who of superstars and jobbers entered (including Shawn Michaels but also Repo Man and Skinner), but it was men like Bulldog, Michaels and Flair that carried the majority of the wrestling in the match.On so many occasions it looked like Flair would be eliminated, after a while you lose count of the amount of times he hits his trademark Flair Flop or hangs on for dear life to the top rope.  When the ring began to fill up it was Hogan and Sid Justice that looked like the biggest stars, the men who could challenge Flair to win the match.

    With so many men involved who had the potential to win it would come down to Hogan (the big star), Sid (the massive monster), Savage (the flamboyant favourite) and Flair (the invading heel). Hogan paired off with Flair, whilst Savage and Sid squared off in the opposite corner. A combination of Sid and Flair would eliminate Savage, before Hogan took over on Flair.

    In the months prior to the Rumble Hogan and Sid had been the main baby faces in the company. Sid would begin his slow journey to becoming a brooding monster heel in the Rumble by sneaking up behind Hogan, and tossing him over the rope as Hogan was working over Flair. Showing the crowds growing disdain for Hogan that move received massive cheers. Hogan couldn’t believe it at ringside and his ego couldn’t let him just walk away from the situation. He grabbed Sid’s arm from outside the ring which allowed Flair to grab his legs and tip him out of the match. With that Flair had won the match and become the new champion.

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    Again Hogan couldn’t let it end like that and had to get back in the ring, which led to a stare down between him and Sid. A whole host of officials got in the ring to keep them apart and they never did lay hands on each other. It’s typical of the reputation of Hogan that he couldn’t let someone else be the star of the show. What should have been a great in ring moment was overshadowed by Hogan.

    Flair had gone backstage to receive his title from WWF President Jack Tunney, with Heenan and Perfect at hs side. Flair cut one of the best promos you’ll ever hear. The passion in his voice, the elation on his face and the fact he kept pronouncing it was the best moment of his life to win that belt.He ended the night with his customary “WOOO” as he left to celebrate.

    Flair would go on to lose the belt to Randy Savage at WrestleMania, before winning it again in September to then pass it on to Bret Hart in late October. Flair returned to WCW in 1993 and for the next few years main evented and would feud with Hogan when he washed up down south.

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    At the time it had never been thought of that someone could enter early in the match go right to the end and win it. Men like Hogan or Sid would never have been able to pull that off, Flair on the other hand was used in this way to show off his in ring ability and entrance, he truly was the “Real World Champion” and now had the biggest belt in wrestling to prove it. Whilst his reigns were short, having Flair come in and win the belt was the perfect transition from the big man who couldn’t work that well era to the era of the smaller more athletic workers who brought match quality to the fore.

    This was a monumental event for the WWF and for Flair, a lot of how we now know the Rumble stemmed from this match, it will be a seriously long time before any Royal Rumble comes close to matching this one.