Royal Rumble 1988 was the first annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It took place on January 24, 1988 at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. Unlike the subsequent Royal Rumble events, this event was not shown on pay-per-view and was instead a television special shown on the USA Network. However, on 2014 this event was presented as pay-per-view by WWE Network.

The main event was a two out of three falls match where The Islanders (Haku and Tama) defeated The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers). The undercard featured the first-ever Royal Rumble match which was won by Jim Duggan, Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) defeated The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) in a two out of three falls match for the WWF Women's Tag Team Championship and Ricky Steamboat defeated Rick Rude by disqualification.


Pat Patterson contrived the idea of the Royal Rumble Match. The rules were that each SuperStar had to choose a number between 1 and 20. The # 1 and # 2 entrants would begin the match while the other participants would join the match every two minutes thereafter. Participants had to eliminate their opponents by tossing them over the top rope with both feet then touching the floor. The winner would be the last wrestler remaining after all others had been eliminated. It was similar to a battle royal. It was originally a television special shown on USA Network.


The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) feuded with The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin) over the WWF Women's Tag Team Championship. Kai and Martin were awarded the titles in August 1985 in Egypt. On television it was noted they had defeated Velvet McIntyre and Desiree Peterson. This claim was fictitious, however, as the match never occurred. Kai and Martin feuded with many tag teams and held onto the titles for over two and a half years. In November 1987, they began calling themselves "The Glamour Girls". At Survivor Series 1987, The Glamour Girls were part of WWF Women's Champion Sensational Sherri's team in a Survivor Series Match against Fabulous Moolah's team. The Jumping Bomb Angels, part of Moolah's team defeated the champions to become the survivors for the match. After pinning the champions, The Jumping Bomb Angels signed a contract for the Royal Rumble challenging The Glamour Girls for the titles.


The first match was between Rick Rude and Ricky Steamboat. At the conclusion of the match, Steamboat attempted a diving crossbody but Rude pulled referee Dave Hebner in front of him to avoid any contact unto himself. Rude placed Steamboat in a Canadian backbreaker rack but Hebner signaled for the bell. Rude reacted as if Hebner was awarding him the match via a submission, but in fact, Hebner instead, awarded the bout to Steamboat via a disqualification.

Dino Bravo made a world record attempt to bench press 715 pounds. He was successful, but with help from spotter Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

The second match was a women's tag team two out of three falls match for the WWF Women's Tag Team Championship, as the champions The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) defended the titles against The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki). The challengers secured victory in the third and decisive fall after executing a double dropkick on Martin.

André the Giant and Hulk Hogan signed a contract for a WrestleMania III rematch that took place on the February 5, 1988 edition of The Main Event. Tied into this was that Ted DiBiase had previously purchased André's contract from Bobby Heenan and promised André, should he defeated Hogan for the WWF Championship and then "deliver it" to him, that he would reward André with a large sum of money.

Next was the match the event was based on - the Royal Rumble match. Pat Patterson had invented this idea just weeks before. The first two wrestlers ever to enter a Royal Rumble match were Bret Hart of The Hart Foundation and one half of WWF Tag Team Champions Strike Force, Tito Santana. Hart hit Santana in the corner. Santana fired back but Hart hit him an inverted atomic drop, followed by a middle rope axe handle elbow drop. Butch Reed entered at #3 while Santana hit a flying forearm smash on Hart. Reed began nailing Santana until Santana dropkicked both Hart and Reed. However, the two men got the better of Santana. Reed tried to hit Santana who sidestepped, and Hart was accidentally nailed until Hart's tag team partner Jim Neidhart entered at #4. He helped Reed and his tag team partner Hart in eliminating Santana. Santana held on to ropes until Jake Roberts entered at #5, making the save for Santana. He tossed Reed out of the ring and eliminated him which would be the first elimination of first-ever Royal Rumble match and the first elimination in the history of the Royal Rumble ever. He began pounding on Hart Foundation. Santana and Roberts tried to hit a Double DDT on Hart, but Neidhart attacked both men, saving his partner. Hart hit a jumping piledriver on Santana while Harley Race entered at #6. Neidhart and Race tried to eliminate Roberts while Santana nearly tossed Hart. Jim Brunzell entered at #7 and almost eliminated Hart before Neidhart attacked Brunzell, saving Hart again. Sam Houston entered at #8 and went after Hart Foundation. They tossed Santana out of the ring to even the score 3-3.

Danny Davis entered at #9 and began attacking Houston. Race attacked Roberts through the ropes. Roberts tried to hit a DDT on Davis but Davis blocked it. Boris Zhukov entered at #10. Zhukov's The Bolsheviks tag team partner Nikolai Volkoff and Don Muraco were quarrelling over who was #11. The referees informed them that Muraco was #11 and Volkoff was #12. Zhukov was eliminated by Roberts and Brunzell. Brunzell dropkicked Hart but it had no great effect on Hart. Volkoff entered at #12 as Muraco clotheslined Race. Jim Duggan entered at #13 and received a nice reaction by the Canadian fans. All the wrestlers continued to beat each other until Ron Bass entered at #14. Volkoff prevented from Brunzell eliminating Davis. Brunzell pounded on Volkoff but was thrown out by Volkoff. B. Brian Blair entered at #15 and Hillbilly Jim entered at #16. He eliminated Neidhart and Reed. Dino Bravo entered at #17. Bass had Houston on his shoulders and he threw Houston over the top rope, thus eliminating Houston in the process. The Ultimate Warrior entered at #18 as Duggan eliminated Bret Hart. Though, Hart did not win the match, he set the first Royal Rumble longevity record for being eliminated at 25:42. One Man Gang entered at #19 and he eliminated Blair and then Roberts. The final participant entering at #20 was Junkyard Dog. Duggan tossed Volkoff out of the ring while on the other side of the ring, OMG eliminated Hillbilly Jim and later Ultimate Warrior. Bass surprisingly attacked JYD and eliminated him from behind while Muraco surprisingly clotheslined Bass over the top rope as the final four left - Muraco, Duggan, Bravo and OMG. OMG nailed Duggan with a big splash in the corner and then OMG and Bravo began double-teaming on Muraco. Muraco managed to control both men until Frenchy Martin came out and distracted Muraco. Bravo and OMG were able to eliminate him. They went to do the same on Duggan. OMG attacked him but Duggan ducked and OMG accidentally eliminated Bravo. After a brawl with Duggan, he was eliminated by Duggan as Duggan won the first-ever Royal Rumble.

A two out of three falls match between The Islanders (Haku and Tama) and The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers) would close the broadcast. The first fall concluded when Roma was tossed over the top rope by Tama---the ropes were low bridged by Haku---resulting in Roma injuring his knee. Roma was unable to return to the ring and got counted-out, giving the first fall to The Islanders. Powers worked much of the second fall, with Roma ailing on the ring apron, but eventually gave way to Roma after a taking a lengthy beating. Roma reluctantly tagged himself in but became an immediate victim to a Tama splash onto his injured knee. Haku then forced Roma to submit with a half crab to win the match in two straight falls.


Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
(c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
  • Martin defeated Yamazaki after a Alley Oop (6:06)
  • Yamazaki defeated Kai with a Sunset Flip counter out of a Alley Oop attempt (8:21)
  • Tateno defeated Martin after a Double Missile Dropkick (15:21)
  • Roma was counted out. (7:00)
  • Haku forced Roma to submit with a Single Leg Boston Crab. (14:00)


  • Andre attacked Hogan after the signing, putting his "Official Stamp" on it.

Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations

Entrant Eliminated by Time
1 Bret Hart 8 Muraco 25:42
2 Tito Santana 2 Hart and Neidhart 10:41
3 Butch Reed 1 Roberts 14:55
4 Jim Neidhart 6 Hillbilly Jim 19:06
5 Jake Roberts 10 One Man Gang 21:52
6 Harley Race 4 Muraco 10:03
7 Jim Brunzell 5 Volkoff 12:06
8 Sam Houston 7 Bass 14:39
9 Danny Davis 13 Duggan 17:51
10 Boris Zhukov 3 Roberts and Brunzell 2:33
11 Don Muraco 17 Bravo and One Man Gang 4:12
12 Nikolai Volkoff 11 Duggan 11:40
13 Jim Duggan - WINNER 14:43
14 Ron Bass 14 Muraco 10:14
15 B. Brian Blair 9 One Man Gang 5:50
16 Hillbilly Jim 12 One Man Gang 5:55
17 Dino Bravo 18 One Man Gang 8:12
18 The Ultimate Warrior 16 Bravo and One Man Gang 3:51
19 One Man Gang 19 Duggan 6:50
20 Junkyard Dog 15 Bravo 2:08

One Man Gang had the most eliminations with 4. He eliminated: B. Brian Blair, Jake Roberts, Hillbilly Jim and Dino Bravo.

Other on-screen talent

Ring announcer

See also

DVD & Video Releases

External links

Royal Rumble
1988 World Wrestling Federation pay-per-views
Royal RumbleWrestleManiaSummerSlamSurvivor Series
1987 World Wrestling Federation pay-per-views

WrestleManiaSurvivor Series

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