Royal Rumble '92
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
The 1992 Royal Rumble is widely regarded as the greatest of them all for a few reasons. It was the first Rumble that featured the winner claiming the then-vacant WWF title, and of course, that was Ric Flair, who won the belt from the #3 position, unheard of at the time. The popular gimmick match wouldn't crown a new WWF/E champion for another 24 years, when Triple H outlasted the roster in the 2016 Rumble.
The legendary '92 battle royale was also a star-studded affair with the likes of former WWF champions Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa (nee Iron Sheik), Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker joining Flair, as well as future champions Shawn Michaels and Sid. This says nothing of the rest of the participants, a who's who in pro wrestling history. The British Bulldog, Kerry Von Erich, Rick Martel, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Haku, Tito Santana and Roddy Piper are just a handful of would-be Hall of Famers who were in their prime and had a chance to claim the belt.
I just rattled off half the players, and the extent of talent who didn't take part in the match is just as stunning. Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, the Legion of Doom and the Natural Disasters were all in preliminary matches. One of the all-time greats, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, wasn't even on the card. The Ultimate Warrior was in the tail end of his first exile from the company, and Papa Shango debuted a few weeks after the January 19th event. These omissions could fill a Hall of Fame wing on their own, but their absence didn't hurt the big match in the least.
This infographic highlights the wrestlers in their order of appearance, based on the graphics shown during the Event Center segments hosted by "Mean" Gene Okerlund on weekly WWF programming. For no good reason at all, the WWF moved away from those wonderful segments a few years later. Canned interviews and live event updates are a thing of the past, I guess.
Some interesting notes: Haku and Nikolai Volkoff were not advertised for the show. They replaced Marty Jannetty and Brian Knobbs. Jannetty's absence was part of the infamous (and awesome!) Barbershop Window angle. Very cool of early-90s WWF production team to not spoil Shawn Michaels' heel turn by recoloring his background octagon treatment. It's also funny that Greg "The Hammer" Valentine got the blue "face" background, too. I don't know anyone that ever earnestly cheered him on, definitely not in this era.
TANGENT: Imagine an alternate 1992 when "Hammer time" was a Greg Valentine phenomenon.
I like honing my digital design techniques on these silly for-me projects. In this case, it was a good practice to use minimal shapes and color to create the illusion of something more complex. (It's not lost on me that these don't look terribly far from something a Photoshop or Illustrator filter effect might accomplish, but these were all done "by hand", at least as much as you can say digital art is "by hand.")
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