Superstars recall the first Royal Rumble Match

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December 20, 2011

Tito Santana

Along with Bret Hart, Tito Santana was asked to begin the 1988 Royal Rumble. Much like the first WrestleMania, Santana handled his spot leading things off with aplomb, and went on to win 1989’s King Of The Ring the following year.

Why the Rumble works …
“For me, it was more exciting than your average Battle Royal. Everyone was anticipating who was going to come out next, and who was going to get the lucky draw at the end and be fresh. I never expected that people would get into it the way they did. But it did bring up a lot of psychology for the fans, because they were trying to figure out things.”

On veterans taking charge …
“When you’re a young guy in these matches, the first time you want to go in there and do a bunch of stuff, and it doesn’t take long for one of the veterans to make you realize whatever you do you have to be aware of your surroundings. You can’t just be thinking about yourself.”

On the match’s popularity …
“So many things that were started back then — the psychology just carried over with the fans. I personally think we had better psychology than the guys getting started. We got to wrestle and learn from guys who were teaching us every night. We were believers that you had to get the fans involved. I remember what Mr. Fuji said to me as I was really starting to understand the business. Fuji would say, ‘The people will tell you what they want; listen to the people.’ And I would think to myself, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’ But after a while, you get an ear for the crowd. They aren’t even aware you’re controlling them. That’s why they always talk about the legends, and the ‘good old days.’ ”

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