Royal Rumble 1991
January 19, 1991
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Rowdy Roddy Piper
We're treated to the playing of the National Anthem to start the show, seeing as how this is a patriotic time in our country, what with the Gulf War and all.
The Rockers vs. The Orient Express
Nowadays the Hardyz are announced as weighing 430 pounds, but ten years ago the real lightweight Express are billed at 478. Say what you will folks, a lot of minor aspects of wrestling have ceratinly become more realistic. The Rockers are wearing their ultra-cool blue tights that the Marty Jannetty wrestling figure had. To describe this match spot for spot would be difficult because the action is literally too fast to call and the spots are crazy. This one has to be seen to be appreciated. The crowd is into it the whole way, and both teams give it their all, usually with all four men in the ring at once. Some really unbelieavble tag team spots considering this is 1991. The thing is, it's not a spotfest because there's a really nice pace going too and a lot of nice wrestling in between the highspots. It gets slow at times in the middle, but there's plenty of hot stuff in between to make this a great match. There's sound psychology throughout, and the finish rules, as Saito slingshots Jannetty into a Tanaka chop, but when they try again, Michaels nails Tanaka in the gut, and Jannetty uses his momentum to sunset flip him in midair and score the pin at 19:17. Fantastic opener. ****1/4 So I spoke in generalities; big deal.
Sean Mooney talks with Randy Savage. Savage wants the WWF Title back more than anything.
Gene Okerlund is on the interview stage with Sensational Sherri. She reveals that Sgt. Slaughter has promised the Macho King a Title shot should he defeat the Warrior tonight, however, Warrior is yet to make the same promise to Savage, so she calls him out. She asks for a Title shot on behalf of Savage and throws herself at him in the process, but Warrior responds with a resounding "NO!"
Savage is pissed, and throws a Big Show like tantrum, throwing everything in sight and destroying the locker room.
There's a blatant edit job in my video right here; I believe they cut out the Mountie squashing the Brooklyn Brawler. How could anyone edit out the Mountie?!
The Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian
This was in the midst of Boss Man's feud with the entire Heenan Family, stemming from various derogatory comments Heenan had made about his mother. As a result, Boss Man vowed to take out every member in the Heenan Family one by one, culminating with Mr. Perfect at Wrestlemania VII. This is a surprisingly good match for two big guys, as both are agile and capable of going through a near fall sequence, which they pull off quite nicely. Each makes the ropes after the others' finisher, then Boss Man rolls through a top rope crossbody for the win at 10:06. A pleasant surprise, about **1/2
A video package is shown of fans giving their thoughts on the upcoming WWF Title Match. Everyone likes the Warrior to retain.
Mooney interviews Sgt. Slaughter & General Adnon
Mean Gene talks to the Warrior, whose belt of choice tonight is the puke lavender one.
WWF Title: The Ultimate Warrior (Champion) vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Gorilla actually offers a disclaimer prior to the match: "The thoughts of Sgt. Slaughter are not those of the World Wrestling Federation." Now this was an intense angle. Warrior goes ballistic on Slaughter at the start, wipes out Adnon as well, breaks their Iraqi flag in two and tries to shove it down Slaughter's throat. He hits a shouldertackle, but Sherri runs down to ringside and trips him up. Warrior chases her all the way back down the aisle, and just before they get to the curtain, Randy Savage comes out of nowhere (the side of the aisle) and absolutely blindsides him with a giant lightstand. That was awesome! One of my favorite spots ever for some reason. Savage beats down Warrior, then scurries away. Slaughter had the ref occupied, so he didn't see it. Slaughter breaks the count, as Warrior makes the long, slow crawl back towards ringside. Slaughter runs through some offense, but Warrior starts to hulk up. Enter Sherri again, as she and Savage rush to ringside. Sherri distracts the ref, and Savage distracts Warrior, allowing Sarge to knee him right into the ropes at which points Savage blasts him with his scepter, cracking it over his skull. Slaughter drops an elbow, hooks the leg, and becomes the second man ever to pin the Ultimate Warrior, as he captures the WWF Title to tremendous heat at 12:47. The match was only about *1/2, but it was a great story, and it was one of the most blatant instances of cheating in history, prompting Gorilla to say, "He (Slaughter) should cut that belt in half, and give half of it to the Macho King." With this one match, the events for Wrestlemania VII were set up perfectly. Years later, Slaughter would tell a story about how he tried to eat dinner at a Miami restaurant that night, but was refused service because of his gimmick as an Iraqi supporter.
Sean Mooney still can't believe there's a new WWF Champion, but takes time to talk to Ted DiBiase and Virgil anyway. DiBiase cuts a great promo which somewhat foreshadows the end of the next match.
Dusty & Dustin Rhodes vs. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase & Virgil
Dustin outwrestles the bodyguard Virgil to start, and DiBiase becomes progressively more upset with him. DiBiase tags in to show him how it's done, and the heels work on Dustin's knee until Virgil adccidentally clotheslines DiBiase. Teddy gets pissed and punches and knees Virgil to the floor. Meanwhile, Dusty gets the hot tag and goes nuts on DiBiase, but Teddy dodges a charge and scores the quick rollup pin at 9:58. **1/4 This was the end of the WWF line for Dusty, as he and his son would return to the NWA/WCW after this. Dustin would return to the WWF in 1995 as Goldust. After the match, DiBiase grabs the mic and demands that Virgil put the Million Dollar Title around his waist. After much deliberation, Virgil coldcocks him with it, much to the delight of Piper and the crowd. After three years of abuse, Virgil has had enough of DiBiase's unfair treatment, and cut his ties with the Million Dollar Man. This was a great moment when it happened.
Wrestlemania VII promo. The Coliseum, my ass.
Some of the participants in the Royal Rumble comment on their chances, including Tugboat, Smash and Crush, Dino Bravo, and Mr. Perfect.
Mean Gene talks to the Hulkster.
Royal Rumble Match: "Let us all find out who drew #1"... Why, it's one half of the Hart Foundation, Bret "Hitman" Hart. Dino Bravo, another Canadian, is #2, and the Rumble is underway. They slug it out, as Gorilla makes a shoot joke about Bravo being cheap. #3 is Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, who quickly dumps Bravo and goes at it with Bret. Paul Roma is #4, and the "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich is #5. I read a Roddy Piper interview not long ago where Piper relayed a story about himself and Von Erich ending up on a ledge in a Miami hotel. I wonder if this is around the time it happened. #6 is Rick Martel. Bret and Kerry double team the Hammer. #7 is Saba Simba, out to absolutely no reaction. Saba Simba was Tony Atlas portraying some ridiculous gimmick, and needless to say it didn't get over and was scrapped after about only a month. As he climbs in the ring, I notice that Shane McMahon is one of the outside refs again. #8 is Butch of the Bushwackers. Saba tries to dump Martel, but the Model hangs on, and ends up dumping Simba instead. #9 is Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and for the first time, the crowd goes nuts. Jake goes right after Martel, and unloads on him. #10 is Hercules, who helps out his tag partner, Roma. #11 is Tito Santana. Roma misses a crossbody on Jake and goes flying over the top rope to the floor. Tito and Martel go at it for old times' sake. There's a lot of guys in the ring, but not much is going on. Hold that thought; #12 is the Undertaker. Get ready for the ring to clear out. Undie has no problems ousting Bret and Butch, but his dominance ends there. Odd, I figured he'd eliminate a lot more guys than that. #13 is Jimmy Snuka, and the British Bulldog is #14 to replace the two that were just eliminated. Now there are still a ton of guys in there and nothing is happening. Smash of Demolition is #15.
Martel dumps Jake. Man, Jake sucked at Rumbles. #16 is Hawk of the Legion of Doom, and upon entering, everybody kicks his ass. #17 is a young Shane Douglas, who was with the WWF at this time for a brief period. Taker dumps someone, and Hawk tosses Snuka. The countdown for #18 comes and goes, but nobody enters. Valentine has been out there for over thirty minutes by this point. Animal comes out at #19, and the LOD double clotheslines the Undertaker out, though Hawk is in turn dumped by Martel and Hercules. #20 is Crush. Demolition beats on the Bulldog, but this is 1991 so there's no Dynamite around to save him. #21 is "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Hey, why not use the 2x4, Hacksaw? It's not illegal in a Rumble. Earthquake is #22, and that spells the end for Animal, as Quake easily disposes of him. #23 is the Intercontinental Champion, Mr. Perfect. Duggan immediately charges at him, but Perfect dips the shoulder, and backdrops Duggan out. #24 is Hulk Hogan, and the crowd goes bananas. Hogan dumps Smash, then slugs away at Earthquake. The heatless Haku is #25. Some things never change, I guess. Hogan eliminates Valentine, after the Hammer was able to stay in for some 46 minutes. #26 is Jim "The Anvil" Niedhart, and he's pretty damn over. Not quite like Bret, but still. Quake drops Santana out like a bad habit. #27 is Bushwacker Luke. Luke could win the Royal Rumble! Luke walks into the ring, Earthquake grabs him and eliminates him, and Luke walks right back out down the aisle. He was in the ring for about a total of three seconds. Hmph. Well, maybe next year. Brian Knobs of the Nasty Boys is #28 for God knows what reason. Knobs dumps Hercules. The Warlord draws #29, as Hogan dumps Crush out over the top in the corner. Hey, that was a pretty nice bump to the floor Crush took. Hulk clotheslines the Warlord out. #30 is Tugboat, and the announcers determine that Randy Savage must've been #18, but didn't show for some reason (most likely because the Ultimate Warrior was still chasing him around the building).
Tugboat battles with Earthquake. Piper apologizes for using the word "hell" on commentary. That's downright laughable considering what is said and done these days. Tugboat tries to get rid of Hogan, so Hogan eliminates Tugboat. No friends, only foes in the Rumble. Mr. Perfect goes up to the top rope, which is stupid, and the Bulldog dropkicks him out. Heenan chucks his towel into about the fourth row. Heh. Martel ousts Niedhart, and Bulldog tosses Haku. Martel, who apparently didn't learn from the mistakes of Mr. Perfect, goes to the top, where Bulldog crotches him and clotheslines him out. Martel lasted an incredible 53 minutes, then a record. Knobbs and Earthquake team up to eliminate the Bulldog. There we go. Now it's down to the way it should be: Hogan, Earthquake, and Knobbs. What?! Why is Brian Frigging Knobbs one of the final three men in the ring? Oh, that's right, he kisses Hogan's ass. Speaking of the devil, the Hulkster no-sells an Earthquake butt splash, and boots Knobbs over the top and to the floor. It's now down to Hogan and Quake. A Hulk bodyslam attempt fails. Quake hits an elbow and a powerslam and covers just to give Hogan an excuse to hulk up and slam him. Hogan clotheslines him out of the ring at 65:12 to win the Royal Rumble for the second year in a row. Hogan celebrates to end the show, but it should be noted that Earthquake lasted 25 minutes, no small feat for a man his size. Decent Rumble, but even a decent Rumble is really good. ***1/2
Royal Rumble 1991 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 117:20
Average Match: 23:28
Average Match Rating: **3/4
Top Moments: Some terrific tag team action, Savage's blatant cheating, Virgil's face turn, the Rumble match
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