1992 Royal Rumble vs 2016 Edition

For 2016 Adam Berry wants to go back through the history books, to strengthen his knowledge of the history of the WWE and to see what made the Classic PPV Events really classic. I hope you enjoy reading them, and feel free to follow Adam Berry on Twitter: @AdamBerryActor

The 1992 Royal Rumble has often been described as the Greatest Royal Rumble of all time for one very simple reason: the prize. The then WWF World Heavyweight Championship was on the line in the 30 man over the top rope competition – the last time this has ever happened. Normally the prize is a Main Event Match at Wrestlemania in April. But this Sunday they have reverted the Royal Rumble to a World Championship Match.

Turning on the 1992 event the first thing that strikes me is how like a Sega Mega Drive Game the graphics look. Watching the title sequence, it was like I was sat in my front room at 7 years old playing the worlds oldest wrestling game on the most state of the art gaming device ever created (this is 1993). Nostalgia is not a bad thing, and wrestling fans in general are very nostalgic by design. We all have our favourite era, we all have our favourite ‘old school’ wrestlers and we all fight the change that the WWE places upon us in one way or another – so these graphics had already won me over.

The second most striking element is the atmosphere. The fans screaming. The way the event looked, sounded and felt was: Main Event with huge capital letters. It felt like this was a once in a lifetime moment that you would never see again. The fans were going crazy at the start of the event they were so excited and it felt like it was a classic World Heavyweight Boxing Fight from the days of Ali and Fraser. Immediately I noticed how lacking this is in the current WWE Universe. I don’t know why, but the events never feel as pure as this one does.

The early matches were all very good, Jimmy Hart and Owen Hart are the standouts. I have never seen Owe Hart wrestle before but in this event he was truly fantastic. The way he moves for someone his size is very impressive. There is no one other than Kevin Owens who you can really compare him too – in this Tag Team Match he was so full of flair, athleticism and most importantly; selling.

The selling of the Wrestlers really makes the early matches stand out and aids their stories. For a long time the argument of ‘no selling’ has fallen on deaf ears with myself, however going back through the history books you can see how important it is to keep the viewer engaged. This is a point that runs deeper than just the in-ring work that we see today. The moment in which Jimmy Hart and The Natural Disasters gave their promo after their failed attempt to win the WWF World Tag Team Championship, it seemed to transcend any promo I have seen in recent times. It really felt that they cared and were truly wound up at the fact they lost. The three of them didn’t do this to win fans, or because they were told what to say. You believed that they truly could not believe that the chance of Championship Gold was lost. Their acting was incredible; a thought which was only cemented in my mind in by the next two minutes of the broadcast.

The match was prefaced by a series of 20 second promos from various competitors. They were the best promos I have ever seen. When the Macho Man Randy Savage or Ric Flair turned to that camera and said that they were “Going to win” I believed they believed it. The best of the bunch was Sid Justice. The camera started very tightly on his eyes and he stared you down, and made you feel like you didn’t want to get in his way. He then went on to show how much he cared about the prize on offer. This is an art that is lost in todays WWE. Whether its because the wrestlers are over scripted or the relationship between the viewer and how the whole organisation is run and built is different or if its just a message we have heard too many times from everyone, I just can’t believe wrestlers in the Social Media Era compared to back in 1992. All except Davy Boy Smith. His promo was not very good at all.

The Royal Rumble then starts, there’s 2 minutes of great story telling from The British Bulldog and Ted DiBiase. Then in comes Ric Flair with Mr. Perfect. What Ric Flair does throughout the match is fantastic – but what he does early on is what shapes the whole match. He sells his heart off. To build his journey in the whole match he laid the foundations this early on. He pleads with Davy Boy one minute, then will kick him in the stomach next. I believe that when Ric Flair starts pleading he actually creates sympathy with his opponent. He was acting his little socks off.

The match is built perfectly with big crescendos and intimate moments of glory. One moment the ring is left bare with just Ric awaiting his next opponent which gave him, and us, a lovely moment of respite until we saw who was coming down the ramp. Rowdy Roddy Piper got one of the most genuine pops I have ever heard, and the look on Ric Flair’s face just draws you back in straightaway.

I fear that on Sunday the focus of the whole match will be on the moments. It will be on the next three minutes, the next four competitors it will be phase by phase and we will not be taken on a ride for an hour being told the story of greatness. They will try to do it with Roman Reigns, but I can’t see him going the distance for the whole Rumble for a couple of reasons. The first is that the WWE Universe do not want Roman Reigns to win the Royal Rumble. The memories of last year are still very strong within WWE and despite the good work they have done with Reigns, the foundations aren’t strong enough to carry him on a 1 to 30 person victory. The second of which, is that the class between someone like Ric Flair and Roman Reigns is still huge. Ric had a much firmer grounding in his character and wrestling in total –

Having watched it through the strength of the event lies in the characters on show. These days it feels that Wrestlers are too focussed on their gimmick as oppose to their character. The difference is subtle but makes a huge difference. In modern WWE everyone moves in a very similar way, everyone uses the same formula, and everyone has a much more predictable style. In 1992 I loved watching the differences between everyone and how committed to these differences the wrestlers truly were. It makes wrestling a joy.

Come Sunday, I fear that the event will be a mass of similarity with one or two stand out performers. 1992 was a mass of differences with a multitude of stand out performances interspersed. It will be interesting to see how 2016 Royal Rumble actually measures up on Sunday.