“HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan has spoken out about the Royal Rumble Match and how, when it was initially introduced, it wasn’t a big deal to the WWF roster.
Conceived by the late, great, Pat Patterson, the Royal Rumble – originally twenty men instead of thirty – was shot down by Vince McMahon as an idea that wouldn’t work thanks the enormity of what was on display. Twenty men in one ring at one time was containable. But twenty men, entering at intervals with those already in the squared circle needing to be eliminated as so the bout could provide story and drama was a lot of work with a lot of variables that could do wrong.
However, when the USA Network needed a wresting special and caught wind of Patterson’s idea, a legend was born and in 1988 the inaugural Royal Rumble Match took place and was such a success that the boss altered his view and one year later the event appeared on pay-per-view.
Now, its inaugural winner, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan has joined WWE’s The Bump in order to talk about his victory and how when the idea was pitched to the locker room, everyone just considered it to be another Battle Royal:
“I don’t think anybody was more shocked in the whole building than me that I won the thing, you know. I was a black horse, especially when I was one of the last three guys in there with Dino Bravo. The odds looked pretty bad there for a while, but thank goodness it worked out.
You know, back then, it was a different business, too. We did that show, and then we all got in the car and headed to another show. We didn’t have the concept of how big it was becoming. Some of the guys did. Guys like ‘Macho Man’ [Randy Savage], they had an understanding. We were in party mode a little bit. It was just another show another day.
And that’s why it’s good as an old-timer to come back into the WWE as a talent on a talent contract because I realized how big the company is becoming. You know, you pull into the parking lot, and there are 18-wheelers, limousines, buses and satellite trucks. I mean, it’s overwhelming. As a young guy, I don’t think I comprehended that. But coming back to WWE, I had a chance to appreciate how big [it was] and what an accomplishment Vince [McMahon] had.”
After decades away from the company and the match that he will forever be famous for winning, Jim Duggan returned to the Royal Rumble in 2009. Entering at number 29, the master of the 2×4 only managed to last around three minutes before being eliminated by Big Show.
However, Duggan still has fond memories of that evening in the Joe Louis Arena and the reaction he received from those in attendance:
“The biggest memory [I have] is when I came out, I got a great pop. The folks, you know, they were happy to see me.”
While there was no prize on the line for the winner of the Royal Rumble until 1993, when it became law that the winner would receive the main event spot at WrestleMania and a shot at the WWF Championship, Duggan has the pride of knowing he was the first to have his hand raised when he entered at number 13 and last eliminated One Man Gang to make history.
Credit for the interview: WWE’s The Bump
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.