As promised, a look into nostalgia heaven for me: the late 80s and early 90s are my favorite wrestling time, and so...
The PG Era Rant for WWF on MSG Network, June 3, 1991.
From New York City.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, and Jim Neidhart. As commentary goes, Anvil doesn't really add much, but he doesn't detract either. He's a clear third wheel, there to stir the pot.
Opening match: Smash v. The Dragon. Smash is on his own here. Dragon is a newcomer to the WWF who does the fire-breathing trick from circus sideshows and is absolutely not Ricky Steamboat no matter how much they look, talk, and wrestle alike. Smash with a knee to the gut to start and he slugs away, working the arm. Dragon reverses the arm and wrenches away, dropping an elbow on the arm repeatedly. Dragon gets the best of a tackle, but gets dumped, only to skin the cat back in. Not as well as Steamboat would, but he makes up for it by dumping Smash. Back in, Dragon hits an armdrag and works the arm some more. Gorilla wants to see Dragon take on a Heenan Family member, which causes the Brain to scoff. Dragon keeps working the arm and adds head chops, then slams Smash off of a whip and goes to the armdrag again. Heenan praises his armdrags, though they're not as good as Steamboat's. Anvil: “Weasels don't like fire, Gorilla.” Smash escapes the arm work with an inverted atomic drop and a Hotshot. Smash pounds away some more, getting a chokeslam and holding the choke. Back suplex follows for two. Neck cranking follows, but Dragon gets to his feet. Smash dumps Dragon to the outside, adding a big right and sending the Dragon into the post. A slam on the floor as Gorilla complements the cameraman. Smash slinghots Dragon back in. Backbreaker gets one. Gorilla: “That wasn't exactly a Hitman type backbreaker.” Heenan: “How much does he pay you to sing his praises?” Gorilla: “He'll be here when you're gone, Brain.” Anvil finds this hilarious. Dragon fights out of the crank with some weak chops (Steamboat's are much better), but Smash with a series of clotheslines to stop momentum. Sleeper by Smash. Gorilla notes the lower arm is wrong. They test his arm once, twice, three times... four times? See, Steamboat would never make a mistake like that. The announcers are surprised there was no bell. Dragon remembers to put the arm up on the fourth try, though. Dragon chops out in the gut area, then the head, but Smash whips him only to put his head down. Dragon with the comeback, dropkicking Smash to the outside. Dragon dives onto him from the second rope. Eh, Steamboat would've gone from the top. Smash catches Dragon and suplexes him back in for two. Smash sends Dragon into the buckle, but a blind charge misses. Dragon with the bodypress to finish at 10:15. *3/4 Okay, fine, it is Ricky Steamboat, but you'd never get Vince to admit it.
Warlord v. Koko B Ware. Anvil says “a definite size advantage for the Birdman.” This is why he didn't last long on commentary, I guess. Heenan wants nothing to do with Frankie. Koko taunts Heenan to start. Gorilla doesn't see Slick and wonders if Warlord ate him. Warlord throws Koko out of a lockup and poses. Gorilla and Anvil claim Heenan skims some money out of Barbarian's paycheck, saying he lies and cheats. Gorilla: “You forgot steal.” Koko with headbutts and he sticks and moves, with Warlord unable to keep up and losing his cool. Koko slides out of the ring before slowly returning. Warlord goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY to take control. Koko to the eyes to get in control, though. Warlord visits the turnbuckle, but Koko gets the worst of it. Gorilla and Heenan agree on something, which scares them both. Warlord tries again, but Koko blocks and fires back. Warlord no-sells a clothesline before running Koko down with a big boot. Choking on the ropes follows, then a shot to the kidneys. Bearhug follows, with Koko “picked up like a bucket of chicken”. Heenan really said that. Heenan claims that Slick is in a skybox with Diana Ross. Monsoon claims that was just Slick in drag. Every time Koko tries to headbutt out, Warlord adds a crunch. Koko avoids the KO and tries to squirm out, but to no avail. He's not allowed to choke Warlord to escape, but he rings the ears to get out only to get clotheslined hard. Warlord with more clubbing blows, but Koko cuts one off and works the head. Warlord catches Koko and dumps him, however. He drags Koko to the apron and smashes away. Koko gets a shoulder to Warlord's gut and tries a sunset flip only to get punched. Big slam follows, but an elbowdrop misses. Koko with a small package for two. Blind charge by Warlord misses, and Koko with a missile dropkick for two. Warlord with a Stun Gun to win at 10:34. *1/4
Jim Duggan v. Colonel Mustafa. Mustafa is, of coure, Sheiky Baby repackaged as an Iraqi soldier, and given the history of Iraq and Iran he could not have enjoyed that. Duggan sends General Adnan to the floor through intimidation. Mustafa stalls to start as Duggan tries to keep the crowd into it. Mustafa clubs him in the ropes, but gets run over with clotheslines and bails. Heenan wonders why people go to the fans when you're the one wrestling. Gorilla: “Nobody ever cheered for you.” Duggan wins a slugfest, complete with Popeye punch to send Mustafa bailing again. More stalling. Mustafa with a cheap shot off of a corner lockup, and he keeps pounding and choking. More shots at Duggan while he's draped on the apron, and Adnan adds a shot of his own off-camera. Mustafa with another right and into a chinlock. Duggan elbows out, but runs into an Iranian Hammer. Mustafa loads up the boot, but Duggan reverses a suplex try. Mustafa back in with throat shots, but Duggan gets a slam to counter. Football lariat time, but Adnan trips Duggan and steals the 2x4 for good measure. Duggan chases him to the back, where Sgt. Slaughter ambushes him for the countout at 5:46. Of note: Danny Davis is seen on camera waiting about 10 seconds before trying to stop the beating, but he's Danny Davis so of course he'll give the heels some leeway. Iron Sheik was more or less done at this point. -*
Barbarian v. Bret Hart. Since Heenan is stuck at commentary, Mr. Fuji manages Barbarian for this match. We have a Heenan Family member against a Hart Foundation member, so don't expect unbiased commentary or anything. Hitman has his Skull and Wings jacket. Gorilla asks what the insignia means, but Anvil says it's personal. Barbarian throws Bret into the corner on a lockup. Barbarian with a headlock, but Bret shoots him off and gets run over. Bret falls right next to commentary as Heenan shows he's staying out of it. Back in, Bret gets another lockup. Gorilla tells Anvil to keep an eye on Heenan. Barbarian nails Bret hard with some shoulder tackles. Bret ducks a back chop only to get slammed on the rebound. Elbowdrop misses and Bret fires away, causing Barbarian to bail. Back in, Bret works the arm, driving knees into the elbow. Barbarian backs Bret into the ropes, but puts his head down and Bret goes back to the arm. Big boot to the shoulder by Barbarian. Seated senton drop on Bret's back follows. Barbarian kicks away, nudging Bret to the floor. Barbarian follows him and catches him, knocking him off the apron and ramming his back into the post twice. Heenan: “I don't see too much Excellence of Execution here.” Bret slowly rolls in, so Barbarian steps on Bret's throat. Hammer Throw by Barbarian follows. Standing punches to a prone Hitman follow, but a big boot misses and Bret... runs into a bearhug. Bret escapes quickly. Barbarian with a chop, then another Hammer Throw into another bearhug. Bret avoids the KO, putting him one step up on Dragon, and bites Barbarian to escape. Heenan: “I'd expect that out of you [Anvil], but not the Hitman.” Barbarian recovers first with a sidewalk slam. Second-rope elbowdrop misses. Heenan criticizes Fuji for not telling Barbarian to go faster. Bret pops up out of nowhere to fire away on Barbarian, getting an inverted atomic drop and clothesline for two. Ten punch countalong follows in the corner, then a backbreaker. Second-rope elbow by Bret connects, getting two. Heenan desperately wants to get to the ring. Bret with a Russian legsweep for two, with the kickout sending Bret out of the ring. Bret's favoring his leg as Barbarian drags him to the apron, suplexing him back in. Bret reverses and tries a rolling cradle, but Barbarian shrugs him off and Fuji trips Bret. Fuji goes onto the apron, but a cane shot nails Barbarian and Bret gets the pin at 12:08. Heenan chews out Fuji in the ring as the two managers nearly come to blows. Barbarian takes Heenan's side on this one. Anvil loves seeing the fight. This one picked up once Bret got on offense and was pretty slow otherwise. **1/4
Jim Quinn of the World Bobybuilding Federation is at ringside. Anvil: “Look at the veins in that guy's arms!” All the better to find where to put the needle.
Bob Bradley v. Jimmy Snuka. Bradley was a WCCW alum who is just a jobber. Heenan unloads a racist tirade on Fuji. Bradley pushes Snuka into the ropes and shoves him, which annoys Snuka. Snuka gets shoved out of a second lockup. Bradley with a headlock, but Snuka gets a criss-cross and leapfrog before Bradley bails instead of getting the Island Chop. Snuka slingshots Bradley back in, then gets a hiptoss after a long whip sequence, followed by the Island Chop. Bradley gets a knee in Snuka's stomach (Anvil: “That looked low.”) before sending him into the turnbuckle... which only fires Snuka up. Bradley maintains a headlock, tackling Snuka. Snuka with his reverse leapfrog and another Island Chop, followed by a backbreaker. Superfly Splash ends it at 4:04. Just a squash. 1/2*
Earthquake v. Jake Roberts. No sign of Jimmy Hart in town. This, of course, is after Quake killed Damian on an episode of Superstars. Jake hides Lucifer – his replacement snake – under the ring and away from Quake. Neither man waits for the bell, with Roberts getting a kneelift and backing Quake into the ropes. The ref separates the two, with Roberts telling the ref to make sure the snake stays safe. Roberts dodges Quake and keeps him in the corner. A second dodge and Roberts with some shots to the gut. He keeps sticking, moving, and punching away. Quake tells the ref the fists are closed, and Roberts tells the ref he'll personally demonstrate. Quake backs Roberts into the corner and slams his shoulder into Roberts' ribs. Hammer Throw and Quake with a goozle, but Roberts breaks and gets kneelifts to double Quake over. DDT, but Quake hangs on to the top rope to stop it. Quake stomps Roberts out of the ring, and Quake finds the bag. The referee tells him to back off, which allows Roberts to get another kneelift. Quake smashes Roberts into the corner, but a running tackle misses and hits the post. Jake with a kneelift as Quake returns, then a short clothesline. Another DDT try, but Quake bulrushes Roberts into the corner. Gorilla says Jake needs to move to the center of the ring. Quake steps on Roberts to keep control. Gorilla threatens to leave and have Anvil and Heenan alone, which freaks Heenan out. Quake measures Roberts and does another shoulder ram. Hammer Throw and Jake falls to the outside. Quake goes up top as the crowd freaks out, but Roberts bails out of range before Quake can jump. Roberts rolls back in, only for another Hammer Throw to follow. Quake plays to the crowd, which allows Roberts a right hand, but Quake clubs him to knock him over. Roberts refuses to let the ref stop the match, but Quake pulls him up and rams him in the gut again. Another Hammer Throw follows. Roberts falls with his foot on the rope, which means... something. Quake begs Roberts to come to him, and Roberts slithers over and takes hold of his leg. A confused Quake asks Roberts to keep crawling up, but when he does, Roberts with a shot. Quake keeps control, but misses a clothesline and Roberts clobbers him in the back of the head, felling Quake. Jake tries another DDT, but Quake's in the ropes again. Quake with a single-leg trip and he drops the elbow on Jake's leg... but Jake gets the knee into the rib and both men are hurting. Quake is up first and keeps control with more shoulders to the ribs, and Jake can't even finish an Irish Whip with his bad leg. Quake signals for the Earthquake Splash, but Roberts bails. Roberts' leg is hurt, so the ref checks in on him. Quake takes the opportunity to drag the bag into the ring and threaten to crush it. Roberts trips Quake this time, and that's enough to get Jake to pull Lucifer out. The ref throws the match out at 10:59 as Quake bails. I know this match sounds bad, but this needs to be seen in my opinion. It was basic, but it was how they used their basic moves to build to the finish. **
Sean Mooney interviews Mr. Fuji about the events of earlier, and he challenges Heenan to a tag match. Likely he means Orient Express against Faces of Fear, but he doesn't name any names.
Mooney now interviews Big Boss Man about his upcoming match with the Mountie. Boss Man respects law, order, and justice, and that's why he hates the Mountie, who allows Hart's posse to beat up Boss Man. Boss Man's life flashes before his eyes whenever the Mountie zaps him with the cattle prod, seeing all the men he's arrested and put on Death Row. Mountie's on the Most Wanted List for his actions, and he will serve hard time. Boss Man's so furious he drops his nightstick while twirling.
Mooney is now with Sgt. Slaughter and General Adnan, who talk about the Desert Storm Match they'll be having with Hulk Hogan. He tells Hogan to be ready for an ambush, like the one he put on Duggan. Hogan is, by the way, the Immortal Slime in this promo. Mooney explains the Desert Storm Match, which is basically an I Quit match.
Mooney now is with Hulk Hogan, who is wearing a gas mask and military camo. He says he saw what happened to Duggan, and now he has the green light to break all the rules. He warns the little Hulkamaniacs that Slaughter may have put napalm in their popcorn. He really said that. He says it's all-out war between the two, and though he won the battle at WrestleMania, he's got to win the war tonight. As long as Slaughter is in the WWF, the war is still on. He has white sand from Venice Beach, and he's loaded with it and just about any weapon you can think of. He doesn't care about the title – it's all about ending Slaughter.
We look back at how Hacksaw Duggan was ambushed and left laying by Slaughter. Duggan was dazed by the attack (Heenan: “How could they tell the difference?”) but he was more shaken up than injured and very angry.
Mountie v. Big Boss Man. The Mountie is a corrupt policeman played by Jacques Rougeau who managed to do the unthinkable: get Canada upset. Heenan makes a point that both men carry weapons as their police issue items. Mountie won't let Bossman in, but the ref yanks away the cattle prod and Bossman's ready to go with uppercuts. Fifteen visits to the top buckle follow (Mountie adds two or three more in momentum) and Bossman slugs away. Jumping rope straddle follows, then a second one. Bossman with an Oklahoma Slam (dedicated to Anvil) for two. Mountie bails out, but Bossman follows with a running punch. Back in, Bossman shoves Mountie around and slaps his back as Mountie turtles up. Uppercuts by Bossman and Mountie timbers down. Bossman up top, but Mountie moves and Bossman gives himself a Hotshot. Mountie with a shot to the throat as both men are dazed, and Mountie drops an elbow on the outside. Mountie smashes Bossman against the barricade and punches him in the neck. Jumping back elbow by Mountie gets two. Slugest follows, which Bossman wins. Mountie caught with a back elbow and big splash. Bossman punches a defenseless Mountie, who falls out of the ring and grabs his cattle prod. Bossman shoves the ref aside, and Mountie jams the prod into Bossman's stomach for the pin at 5:53. *3/4 Bit of a Raw match feel to this one, and with good reason: it was setting up their SummerSlam match where the loser would spend the night in New York jail. Mountie gets another zapping in, a long one this time, as Bossman twitches and foams at the mouth.
Paul Roma v. Animal. It's supposed to be a tag match, but Hawk is absent or injured or something, so it's one on one. Roma wins the coin toss to take the match. Anvil notes it's too tag team specialists in singles competition and that they may not be comfortable. Everyone shoves everyone to start, and Roma jumps Animal and pounds away. Animal reverses the whip, but after another whip, Animal catches Roma in an inverted atomic drop and lariat. Hercules distracts the ref, so Animal drops a headbutt to Roma's groin. Ten punch countalong is stopped at six as Roma dumps Animal. Hercules adds a shot or two on the outside. Roma stomps Animal and throws him back-first into the apron. Back in, Roma fires away and gets a mile-high dropkick. Roma with three locomotion backbreakers on Animal, but he shows off instead of covering. He goes up top, landing a single axhandle. Animal fires away to regain momentum, then catches Roma in a back suplex. Roma kicks Animal to stop him cold, adding a piledriver for two. Animal hulks up off of that, and he begins the comeback. Roma reverses a whip, but the blind charge eats boot and Animal with a running punch. Animal gives Roma a merry-go-round whip... into the referee. Animal with a dropkick and shoulder tackle for nothing because the ref's out. Hercules breaks it up and a double-team begins. Hercules holds Animal, but Roman's missile dropkick hits Hercules and a powerslam ends it at 4:59. Another Raw style match. *1/2
Main event, Desert Storm match for the WWF Title: Hulk Hogan v. Sergeant Slaughter. As a reminder, Desert Storm Rules mean there are no rules, you can do whatever it takes, and there will be unconditional surrender to decide the winner (as Fink puts it). Heenan questions whether Hogan putting the belt on the line in a match like this was smart. Hogan still has his military gas mask thing on. He throws the belt in the ring, knowing Slaughter will try to hit him with it, then throws the Venice Beach sand into Sarge's face as Slaughter tries to use the belt. Beltshot follows by Hulk, then a shot with Sarge's Army helmet. Hogan uses Sarge's riding crop liberally. He headbutts Sarge with the mask. Hogan tosses Sarge out to the floor and follows, sending Sarge into the steps. Hogan chokes Sarge with a TV cable and punches away. Another stiff right, and Hogan throws Sarge back in. Hogan throws Sarge over the buckle and into the post. Sarge blades at this point, so Hogan takes a Desert Storm flag and chokes Sarge with it. Sarge slumps over by the broadcast table, so Hogan sends Sarge into Anvil's monitor. Hogan takes the house mic and clocks Sarge with it. Hogan gives the Thumbs Down, then Hammer Throws Sarge. Sarge is swinging blindly, so Hogan controls with his running elbow. Hogan kicks away as Sarge is up to .4 Muta. Hogan punches the cut in a ground and pound, then bites the cut. Even Gorilla thinks Hogan is over-the-top violent. Hogan slingshots Sarge into the post again, but Sarge finds the riding crop. Hogan is only momentarily fazed, going back to a headlock and punches. Sarge kicks Hogan off a backdrop attempt before punching away and raking the eyes. Slaughter unlocks his utility belt and smashes Hogan with it. He smashes Hogan a second time to send Hogan to the outside. Sarge sends Hogan into the barricade, first his forehead, then his back. Sarge with axhandles to Hogan's back as the crowd starts a spontaneous USA chant. Back in, Sarge finds Hogan's belt and whips Hogan with it. He chokes Hogan in the corner with the belt, putting Hogan on his back in the corner. Both men are tired as Adnan throws a chair in. Sarge gets it, winds up... and collapses from the blood loss. Hogan uses the chair on Sarge's back, then picks Sarge up and punches away. Sarge ducks a right hand and gets a Russian legsweep. Sarge pounds away on Hogan, then slams the chair into Hogan's back. Camel clutch try, but Sarge can't hook the right arm. Sarge is smothering Hogan's face, so there's that. Hogan slips out the back door and sends Sarge into the corner, where he nails his shoulder into the post. Sarge recovers and pounds away on the back, but he's exhausted. He goes up top, but he's too tired and falls off the top. Sarge tries again, but by this time Hogan's up and slams him off. Double clothesline follows for the double KO. Sarge is up faster, but he's punch drunk and falls back down. Sarge unties his boot to use that as a weapon, but Hogan throws a fireball at Sarge to stop him. Hogan rips the camo shirt and gets an Axe Bomber. He gets Sarge's boot and floors Sarge with it repeatedly. Now Hogan puts a camel clutch on Sarge – a proper one, too, almost a Steiner Recliner actually – and Adnan throws the towel in at 15:32. Hogan throws sand in Adnan's face to stop him from a sneak attack, then clears the ring of opponents before beginning the posing. Man, who doesn't love a good street fight? **3/4 Hogan poses with a little kid who may be Nick for all I know.
This was basically like watching what Raw would be in 1991. That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but there wasn't much angle advancement and no feuds (Hogan/Slaughter, Quake/Roberts, Bossman/Mountie, Animal/Roma) had what you'd call a feud ender. The wrestling was very slow in places, which is too bad. Also, commentary had a lot of kinks to work out, as Anvil really messed with the chemistry of Heenan and Monsoon.
Still, a blast from the past is fine, and it would be worth the $10 or whatever I would have paid to go live. The street fight was a great way to send the fans home happy, and although I would've liked to see more effort out of Steamboat or Warlord, the last few matches helped out quite a bit.
MATCH TIME: 80:10 over nine matches
BEST MATCH: Hogan/Slaughter
WORST MATCH: Duggan/Mustafa
NIGHT MVP: Hulk Hogan
FINAL SCORE: Meh, 4/10. No good matches, but the last few at least had good heat to them.
Okay, guys, thanks for reading and nitpicking! I'll see you on Monday for Raw from my neck of the woods, DC!