Skip to main content

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 1991

The Netcop Retro Rant for Royal Rumble 1991

(2012 Scott sez:  I find this rant a tad embarrassing at times, actually.) 

Live from Miami, Florida, bastion of Americana and/or old people.

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper.

This show is, of course, in the thick of the Gulf War and the Sgt. Slaughter storyline, and hence the crowd is in full xenophobic form.

Opening match: The Rockers v. The New Orient Express.

This is the PPV debut of Paul Diamond as the masked Kato, thus reuniting the awesome Badd Company too late to do any good. Rockers start out with a double pescado and then Jannetty and Diamond show off a wrestling sequence. Michaels tags in and wallops on Tanaka for a while, but he goes for the sleeper, which never leads to anything good this early in the match. Sure enough, Kato comes in and nails Michaels, turning the tide. Then a terrific, luchaesque sequence erupts as the four guys do a complex bit with a double whip, dosee-do, and double atomic drop. The Orients escape and the Rockers follow with stereo topes. Great stuff. Some putz yells "boring" as Shawn takes a 5 second rest with a headlock. Shawn goes for the TEN PUNCHES OF DOOM on Kato but Tanaka pulls him down from the outside and clotheslines him on the top rope, then whacks him with the cane for good measure. Big heat for that. Shawn assumes the Ricky Morton role. Neat sequence as Shawn does a Flair flip and then gets kicked by Tanaka on the outside and flips back into the ring. he works in the triple somersault clothesline sell, of course. Marty gets the hot tag and gets several two counts on Kato. Tanaka kicks Marty in the face to give Kato a backslide two-count. Kato slingshots Jannetty into a Tanaka chop, then in a spectacular ending, Kato slingshots Jannetty again, but Shawn hits Tanaka in the gut to bend him over and Jannetty goes with the momentum and sunset flips Tanaka for the pin. Has to be seen to be appreciated. **** (2012 Scott sez:  I think I may have even UNDER-rated this one, as I think it was on another Shawn Michaels DVD later and I had it about ****1/4 on second viewing.) 

Macho Man wants a title shot, so he sends Sherri out to announce that Sgt. Slaughter has agreed to give him a title shot when he wins the title. But to cover their bases, she calls out Ultimate Warrior to challenge him to a title match in case *he* wins. She proceeds to seduce him (with Terri Runnels-level acting) (2012 Scott sez:  Terri wasn’t a particularly convincing actress on RAW, you see.)  and beg for a Macho Man title match. The thought of Sherri on her knees almost makes me vomit my Rolo. (2012 Scott sez:  What is with me and Rolo in 1999?  I don’t even particularly like caramel-based chocolates anymore.)  Warrior yells "Noooooooooooo" to her request, and Savage flips out in the back. This becomes important later.

Big Bossman v. The Barbarian.

This would be the middle of Bossman's peak period in the WWF, as he systemically hunted down and destroyed all the Heenan family members (over comments made by Rick Rude about his mother) en route to an Intercontinental title match against Curt Hennig at Wrestlemania VII. (2012 Scott sez:  This was actually a tremendous storyline that I’m shocked had never been done before.  Up until then, the Heenan Family had been used as a plot device to create new challengers for Hogan and then cycle them out again, but here they were kind of a gauntlet for Bossman to run through on the way to Mr. Perfect.  Sadly, Rick Rude had exited the building in 1990, robbing us of the true payoff.)  This is a nothing match with a foregone conclusion that is about 7 minutes too long. Barbarian controls most of the match with his shitty offense and bearhugs, but inevitably makes the mistake of holding Bossman's foot, triggering the enzuigiri. Barbarian with a cradle out of nowhere for two. Bossman with a stungun for two. Double knockout. This is actually picking up. Barbarian hits the top rope clothesline for two, but Bossman has his foot on the rope. Bossman slam, but Barbarian grabs the ropes at two. Eye poke and piledriver, sold with zeal by Bossman. Barbarian goes for a cross-body off the top (!) but Bossman rolls through for the pin. This didn't suck! **1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Also better than I gave it credit for here.  Bossman was in a great groove at that point.) 

Comments from rubes about Warrior. Why, there's little kids painted like him, he *must* be over.

Sgt. Slobber offers some words of wisdom for the Ultimate Puke.

The Ulimate Puke responds.

WWF title match: The Ultimate Puke v. Sgt. Slobber(2012 Scott sez:  I don’t generally do “funny” nicknames for guys anymore, because it’s STUPID.) 

Big-time heel heat for Sarge. Warrior cleans house on Sarge and Adnan to start and then rips up the Iraqi flag for some cheap heat. Slaughter gets to eat the flag for good measure. Warrior absolutely kicks Slaughter's ass from one side of the ring to the other until Sherri comes down and the storyline kicks in. Warrior chases her down the aisle and Savage clobbers him from behind and smashes a light standard on his head. Warrior resolutely crawls back down the aisle while the fans chant "USA" extremely loudly. Slaughter keeps stopping the count. I've gotta say those pointy boots look really cheesy. The heel heat here is amazing. (2012 Scott sez:  Man, if only they had someone not totally past his prime to do the Slaughter role, because it was gigantic heel heat and would have gotten someone over for life.  Off-the-wall suggestion:  Kerry Von Erich, who came in at the same time as Slaughter.  All-American Boy turned Iraqi traitor?  That’s MONEY.  Kerry v. Hogan at Wrestlemania?  C’mon, that’s MONEY.  Yeah I know, drugs and suicide and stuff, but we’re talking a perfect world here.)  The BEARHUG OF DOOM kills the crowd pretty quick. Slaughter drops some elbows and applies the CAMEL CLUTCH OF HIDEOUS FESTERING DEATH but Warrior is in the ropes. Warrior with the supermaniac comeback and the SHITTY CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM, followed by the shoulderblock, but heeeeeeeeeeeeere's Sherri. Crowd is going bonkos. Warrior smacks Sherri around and tosses her out into Macho's arms, but Slaughter knees Warrior in the back and drapes him on the ropes. Savage nails the prone Warrior with the TIN-FOIL COVERED SCEPTRE OF DOOM and Slaughter drops an elbow for the pin and the WWF title. The announcers are in shock and the audience chants "Bullshit" as the Warrior retreats to the dressing room. Watching this match in 1991, I was in absolute disbelief that they'd actually put the title on Slaughter. Looking back, Vince should have put the belt on him sooner and then had Warrior regain it here. They could have done the money match, Hogan-Warrior II, at WM7. *  (2012 Scott sez:  At the time, this match made me legitimately ANGRY while watching it, which shows what a tremendous job of being an asshole Randy Savage could do.  The first run-in was annoying, but the second one was the one where you just wanted Warrior to kick his ass right into retirement.)

Dusty and Dustin Rhodes v. Ted Dibiase & Virgil.

After 4 years of waiting, this was the match where it finally happened. This was Dustin's PPV debut, just before he and his father retreated back to WCW a few weeks later. Dibiase slapped Dustin around (who was sitting in the front row watching his dad wrestle) on an episode of SNME to set this up. Virgil gets beat up by Dustin here to start, and Dibiase bitches him out about it. Dibiase tags in and takes Dustin to school. Dusty gets in and we get tag team bionic elbows. Dusty has ditched the polka dots by this point. Dustin comes in and blows out his knee on a missed charge. The heels work on the knee, but Virgil accidentally clotheslines Dibiase and he flips out and tosses his bodyguard out of the ring. Dusty gets the hot tag in the meantime and quickly gets rolled up by Dibiase for the pin. The Rhodes' were clearly on the JOB Squad by that point. **

Dibiase gets on the mic and kisses off the Rhodes, then tells off Virgil and orders him to retrieve his million dollar belt. In a great moment, Dibiase tries to blackmail Virgil into subservience...and turns his back on him. Oops. KA-POW! The crowd (and Roddy Piper) goes apeshit. Thus endeth the long relationship... (2012 Scott sez:  Somehow I don’t foresee quite the same reaction if Ricardo ever turns on ADR.) 

Assorted comments from the Rumble entrants, and of course the Orange Goblin. I'd do a transcript of Tugboat's ridiculous bit, but it wouldn't be fair to subject people to that. Let's just say it's really bad.

Royal Rumble:

Bret Hart gets #1, in order to showcase him in preparation for his singles push. Dino Bravo gets #2 and we're underway. Hey, there's Shane McMahon again! Not much notable here. Greg Valentine is #3, and he goes right after ex-partner Bravo, to the shock of Jimmy Hart. Valentine ends up dumping Bravo in short order. (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting to note that this was the first Rumble where the “every man for himself” thing truly came into play.)  Bret Hart plays possum while this is going on, and ambushes Greg when he turns around. Paul Roma is #4, and a three-way breaks out. Kerry Von Erich is #5 and he cleans house on the heels. Rick Martel is #6 and there's still nothing terribly notable going on. Martel and Roma seem to have an issue here for some reason. Saba Simba (Luckily Roddy Piper doesn't yell out "Hey, it's Tony Atlas" this time) is #7 and he takes out pretty much everyone in sight. If you've never heard of Simba, there's a reason.

Everyone pairs off. Butch is #8 as Simba tosses Martel...but Martel hangs onto the top rope and Simba's momentum carries HIM out. Jake Roberts is #9 and he goes after Martel, of course. This was during the infamous "blindfold match" period, another one I forgot about when compiling Netcop Busts. Martel teases falling out of the ring several times, drawing a great reaction from the crowd. Hercules is #10 and he hooks up with Roma immediately so they can work as a team. Tito Santana is #11 as Roma misses a cross-body and eliminates himself. Santana and Martel of course are at each other. (2012 Scott sez:  That was really one of the great long-running feuds with absolutely no real money payoff.  They just kept referencing it over and over but didn’t do anything other than an SNME match long after Martel had already been repackaged.)  Undertaker (still with Brother Love) is #12 and he casually dumps Hart right away. Undertaker no-sells everything as the crowd watches his every move in fascination. I think that was the sign that Vince had something special here. Jimmy Snuka is #13 as UT tosses Butch. DBS is #14. Damn, there's a lot of guys in there right now.

Smash gets #15, but the heat is gone by this point so the crowd doesn't care about him anymore. They need to clear out some deadwood -- it's getting too hard to follow. Martel teases another elimination, but gets back again...but not before pulling Roberts out. Road Warrior Hawk is #16, and everyone gangs up on him right away. Here's one for the X-Files: Shane Douglas is #17, post-Dynamic Dudes but pre-credibility. (2012 Scott sez:  Shane Douglas had credibility at some point?  Bet he’s watching RAW these days trying to think of a way to get a paycheck out of Johnny Ace.) UT tosses Snuka and Kerry Von Erich. Did you know that Douglas was actually a de facto Rocker in late 1990 during Shawn Michaels' first big knee injury? He teamed with Marty Jannetty as the "New" Rockers until Shawn came back. Irony can be so ironic sometimes.

The buzzer sounds for #18, but no one comes out. I forget if this was explained. I think it was supposed to be Randy Savage. Anyway, Animal is #19, and he does come out. The LOD double-clotheslines Undertaker out, and then Martel clotheslines Hawk out. Martel is teetering again, but rolls back in. We're down a manageable number again. Crush is #20, and the Demos go after Bulldog. Martel is hanging by a thread again. Some dipshit in a khaki shirt keeps walking past the main camera, presumably to be cool. Here's a quarter to buy a hint, guy. Hacksaw Duggan is #21 and gets a big pop. Martel teases another elimination. Earthquake is #22 and sends Animal packing. There's 11 guys in there right now, way too much. Mr. Perfect is #23, and he takes his time getting down. He dumps Duggan once he's in, however. He gets beat up by a variety of people, showcasing his selling. The Orange Goblin is #24, knocking out Smash right away. Crowd is nuts for Hogan. Haku is #25 as Valentine is finally eliminated after 45 minutes. Douglas is still in there, oddly enough, although he's not doing too well.

Neidhart is #26, to a big pop. Earthquake tosses Santana like yesterday's garbage. Luke is #27, and coincidentally he gets knocked out 2.7 seconds after he gets in. Well, it's easy money, I guess. (2012 Scott sez:  They play that one a lot on Royal Rumble video packages.)  More near-eliminations with Martel. Brian Knobs is #28 and no one cares. Everyone gangs up on him, however, for some reason. Tugboat and the Warlord are the only ones left in the draw so it must have been Randy Savage who missed his chance at #18 because of the Warrior thing earlier. Knobs dumps Hercules. Warlord is #29. Crush does the 10 PUNCHES OF DOOM on Hulk and gets dumped over the top for his troubles. That was a pretty dumb thing to do. (2012 Scott sez:  NEVER GO TO THE TOP ROPE IN A ROYAL RUMBLE!  It’s, like, the first rule!) Hulk clotheslines the Warlord out soon after. Tugboat is #30, as Douglas gets tossed. Our suspects are Hogan, Neidhart, Tugboat, Hennig, Haku, Knobs, Martel, Bulldog and Earthquake. Not a very impressive field, to be sure. Hennig is really taking a licking. Tugboat and Hogan end up fighting in the corner, and Tugboat actually dumps Hogan, but he lands on the apron, then comes back in and knocks Tugboat out. Bulldog dropkicks Hennig out. Martel bids adieu to Jim Neidhart. Bulldog backdrops Haku out.

Martel makes Dumb Mistake #1 by going to the top, and Bulldog crotches him and knocks him out after a record 53 minutes  (2012 Scott sez:  See, WHAT DID I JUST SAY?). The final four: Bulldog, Earthquake, Knobs and Hulk. There goes Bulldog. Why is Knobs in there this close to the end? (2012 Scott sez:  Gee, I wonder why, brother.)  They proceed to squash Hulk. Earthquake hits the FAT-ASSED BUTT SPLASH OF DEATH, but Hulk makes the comeback. Big Boot sends Knobs over the top, the three punches and big boot put Earthquake down. But Hogan falls back on the slam attempt and Quake drops some elbows. Powerslam, but Hulk makes comeback #2 and hulks up. Big boot, and this time the bodyslam works. A clothesline later and Hulk wins the Rumble for the second year in a row. An okay, but unspectacular, Rumble. *** Not enough star power to really draw interest of the casual viewer.  (2012 Scott sez:  Nice to see Hogan finally getting his PPV win over Earthquake.) 

The Bottom Line: It had to be done, honest. After basically butt-fucking the fans with a spiked dildo in the form of the title change earlier, the WWF had to do something to send the fans home happy, and this was as good as anything. The WWF was in a serious funk at this point, however, creatively and monetarily, and it shows with blasé shows like this. Fear not, however, The Man was on his way. (2012 Scott sez:  Sid?  Oh, wait, the other big signing of 1991, right.) 

Neutral feelings on this one.