The 1988 WWF Royal Rumble Makes Television History

By Maurice D. Proffit
Photo Courtesy of


The 1988 WWF Royal Rumble may’ve been one of the biggest World Wrestling Federation programming gambles since the inception of Wrestlemania 1. The Original Royal Rumble took place on Sunday January 24th 1988. Unlike the present day program of the Rumble, the first ever Royal Rumble was essentially a house show. It was a non (live) televised event held in Hamilton, Ontario in the Coops Coliseum. This event was on tape delay and eventuality aired on the USA Network, similar to the other WWF Television programming going on at the time. This show was deemed as a “special” to be added to the side of regular programming of WWF Prime Time Wrestling and Saturday Nights Main Event. The first Royal Rumble was the brain child of non other than the first ever Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson.

Patterson had adapted this idea from a similar type match that occurred within one of the territories, in the earlier years but modified it. A piece of historic information that people don’t know is that the real first Royal Rumble took place in 1987 in St. Louis with the One Man Gang winning. However, the show was a financial disaster and WWE will not acknowledge it. However, after Pats modification, it was bound for something special. Another piece of this show that is a big difference to today, is that the Rumble was only a 20 man Battle Royal, vs the traditional 30 man.

The first two men in the first ever (official) Royal Rumble were two WWE hall of famers, Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Tito Santana. 18 men later, was the biggest melee of the year and the first winner of the inaugural Royal Rumble would be “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. The overall result of the show screamed success, as Pat Patterson’s experiment took off and set a record for the highest viewed wrestling program on cable TV at the time with an 8.2 rating. Needless to say, this show was coming back!


Maurice D. Proffit is a Writer For Rant Sports

You May Also Like