I’ve always loved reading the Wrestling Observer (I got hooked on it after being a fan of Dave Meltzer’s pro wrestling columns in the old National sports newspaper). An issue of the Observer this month gave me yet another reason to like it: The discussion of the first Royal Rumble, which I knew nothing about.
I was floored to read about it, because I consider myself pretty aware of WWF history from the 1980s. I, like many of you who were fans back then, remember that the first Royal Rumble was on the USA Network in 1988, which Hacksaw Jim Duggan won. Well, at least that’s what I thought history had written.
It turns out the first Royal Rumble was a year earlier in St. Louis and drew just under 2,000 fans. The event “was a major flop,” according to the Observer. It had been announced that the winner would get the next title shot in St. Louis against Hulk Hogan, and wouldn’t you know it that during interimission — before the Rumble — the crowd heard that the main event for the next show as Hogan vs. One Man Gang.
Yep, Gang won the Rumble later that night, after he and Junkyard Dog went over the top rope at about the same time, but JYD hit the floor first. The crowd turned on the match.
“This event has been erased from WWE history,” the Observer said.