I have to fully admit something as I start this episode of 25 Years of Royal Rumble Winners, I know virtually nothing about Big John Studd. I'm not sure I could have picked him out of a lineup of wrestlers, unless I knew who all the other wrestlers were. So this will be all new to me!
The 2nd Royal Rumble took place on January 15, 1989 at The Summit in Houston, Texas. This was the first Royal Rumble PPV and it involved thirty men who entered aproximately every two minutes after the first two participants – Ax and Smash – started the match. Smash and Ax were eliminated first and fourth, both by Andre. Hogan set the record by eliminating ten participants by himself and held that record until 1997. The Warlord also set the record for the shortest time in a Royal Rumble Match at 2 seconds. That wasn't broken until 2009! Also, Mr. Perfect broke Bret Hart's record for the longest time in a Royal Rumble Match with a time of 27:58. #27 is the entrant number that created the most Royal Rumble winners and Big John Studd was the first of those.
I started this series of articles to talk about each Royal Rumble and show how the Match winner was elevated over the following year. Well, that didn't quite work out for Big John Studd. Studd, born John William Minton, was trained by Killer Kowalski and they ended up WWF Tag Team Champs together in 1976! Studd worked in Canada as The Masked Superstar II until he was unmasked in 1980. In the WWF Studd worked with Blassie as a monster heel and had a huge feud with Andre. Later Studd was paired with with Heenan and the feud grew to monstrous levels. They had a $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge at the very first WrestleMania. Andre won the Match. After that Studd joined up with King Kong Bundy and they two of them went after Andre! Through storyline and Andre's health issues, Andre became the masked Giant Machine, who Studd was never able to unmask. Bundy and Studd feuded with other teams, but little else Studd did compared to his feud with Andre. Actually, Studd put a front facelock on Andre in a Match that lasted eight minutes. Andre actually fell asleep during the Match! Here's video of it, and I have to thank Steven for sending me this. Yes, I know Andre's foot is under the rope! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB4QOH5vsR4
Studd's last Match in the WWF, for a while, was on November 15, 1986 when he and Bundy defeated The Machines, but the Match didn't involve Giant Machine (Andre). Studd was gone for about three years, then announced his return on The Brother Love Show (Bruce Prichard's name popping up in twice in one day). While Heenan was elated, Studd rejected him and went face as the crowd wanted. He went on to again feud with Andre, who had become heel and joined Heenan. Studd won the Royal Rumble, then went on to be Special Guest Ref in a Match between Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and Andre at WrestleMania V. Studd and Duggan started tagging in a feud against Andre and Haku (who Duggan got the crown from) His last Match with the WWF was on June 4, 1989.
He went on to a few indy dates and helped train a couple wrestlers, most notably Ron Reis who debuted in WCW as Big Ron Studd. After that Studd's health started failing. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's. He died from that and liver cancer on March 20, 1995. He was posthumously inducted into the WCW and WWE Halls of Fame.
We all talk about what winning the Royal Rumble does for wrestlers these days, it obviously wasn't the same for Studd. While he did have a storied career, most of it happened before he won the Royal Rumble Match. It's very sad how his career just seemed to peter out, but it's obvious that while he was at his prime, he and Andre sure left it all out there. I knew virtually nothing about Studd before starting this, but now I want to go find more videos and read more about him. I hope anyone who knows anything more about him will post comments.
Thanks for reading,