Monday Night Raw’s angle with WWE Unified Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Triple H arguing about who would win the 2010 Royal Rumble reminded me of another title-holding tag team that got off on the wrong foot during the Rumble.
In 1989 — the first year that the Royal Rumble was on pay-per-view — entrants 1 and 2 were Ax and Smash, collectively known as Demolition and the current WWF tag team champions at the time. Demolition was Vince McMahon’s middle finger to the Road Warriors, who had torn up rings in the NWA and AWA but hadn’t yet made it to the WWF. Ax was longtime wrestler Bill Eadie, who wrestled as the Masked Superstar for many years and also had a forgettable run as Super Machine when the Machines were around in the mid-1980s.
As the ’89 Rumble started, Ax and Smash beat the bejesus out of each other for the first two minutes, which got the crowd going since the match idea was still fresh enough that any plot twist was a good one. Then, when No. 3 entrant Andre the Giant came in, Demolition turned their attention on him.
Ax and Smash fighting was one of the more memorable early moments in Rumble history. If Triple H and Michaels follow in their footsteps in this year’s Royal Rumble, it just won’t be quite the same, partially because those two have fought before, but more importantly, the swerves come too fast these days. When Demolition locked up for that brief moment in 1989, it wasn’t hackneyed.