April 12, 2008
Royal Rumble 1991, January 19, 1991, Miami Arena, Miami, FL
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Rowdy Roddy Piper
This is taking place in the midst of the Gulf War, three days after Desert Storm began I believe, so the crowd is in a very hot and patriotic mood. Also, this is the Coliseum Video version of the show so I don’t get the Koko B. Ware/Mountie match, but I don’t think anything else is cut from the matches themselves.
Opening Match: The Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers
Kato has just recently replaced Sato, thus reuniting former AWA Tag Champs, Badd Company, and allowing us to see a rematch against a team they feuded over those belts with. The Rockers may have had their WWF Tag Title win erased from history, but they were finally getting a good push. Unfortunately, with LOD’s chase for the belts on the horizon, The Rockers would never quite make it to the top. While The Rockers are posing on the ropes Tanaka knocks Marty down to the floor, and we’re underway. Irish Whip on Shawn and the Express hits a double backdrop, but Marty has made it back in and he dropkicks Kato out. Shawn hits a Superkick on Tanaka, before it meant anything, and they then set up a double press slam. The Express regroup outside, but The Rockers disrupt that by diving through the ropes on to them. Crowd is hot for this show tonight. Now we settle down with Marty and Kato starting. Side headlock by Marty, and I’ll point out now one of the reasons this is such a good match: When they’re working these holds, which some people refer to as “restholds”, they’re not just sitting there resting or killing time, they’re doing things like trying to counter, constantly switching to a different hold, ect. That’s a big difference in quality compared to guys who just sit there in these holds. Kato elbows out, tries for a rollup and can’t get it, but is able to grab an armbar. Marty counters with a headscissors. They roll in to a pin attempt for Kato, but Marty bridges out. Backslide gets 2 for Marty. Lock up and Kato gets Marty to his corner and nails a cheap shot on the break. Tag to Tanaka, but miscommunication on a double team leads to the Express colliding. Marty grabs a wristlock on Tanaka and tags Shawn. Forearm off the top on the way in gets 2. Tanaka is able to grab a headlock and tag Kato. This time they avoid running in to each other on the missed double team, but Shawn gets them with the double noggin knocker while they celebrate their intelligence. Irish whip leads to a high knee by Shawn. Snapmare takedown gets 2. Shawn is back on the headlock. Tanaka elbows out and fires Shawn off the ropes, but Shawn grabs a sleeper. The partners come in, and while the ref tries to get Marty out, Kato nails a chop from the second rope on Shawn. Tanaka controls with some shots in the corner, but Shawn reverses and climbs to deliver some shots of his own. The partners are in again, but Shawn catches Kato with a moonsault. Shawn and Marty try to whip the Express into each other, but they’re too smart for that now and catch The Rockers with a couple of shots. Rockers avoid more and nail a double atomic drop and double dropkick to send the Express out. They follow that up by both coming down off the top to the outside on the Express. Shawn and Kato are legal back in the ring, and Shawn snapmares him for 2. Tag to Marty, Irish whip and double elbow on Kato. Chinlock, but Kato escapes, and Marty tags Shawn, who holds Kato for a shot by Marty. Suplex, but Tanaka saves at 2. Corner whip by Shawn but Kato catches him on a charge and drops him throat first on the ropes. Kato kicks him to the corner and ties up the ref so Fuji can get in a cane shot. A few quick tags by the Express as they control Shawn in their corner. Nerve hold by Tanaka, and the crowd is cheering on Shawn big time. Arm only drops twice of course, so Tanaka lets go and gets a 2 count. Tag to Kato and they hit a double chop. Shawn comes back with some kicks, but his corner whip is reveres by Kato and he does a Flair Flip. Tanaka crescent kicks him back in from the apron for good measure. Tag to Tanaka, and a double clothesline gets 2. Irish whip, but Tanaka puts the head down and Shawn plants him. Shawn crawls for the tag, but Kato runs in and knocks Marty off the apron. Double team now, using Kato’s belt, but Shawn is able to avoid it and crash the Express into each other again. Now Shawn makes the hot tag and Marty’s the house of fire. Slams and dropkicks for both. He catches Kato with a powerslam for 2. Irish whip and back elbow get 1 as Tanaka saves. They fight for a backslide now, but Tanaka is in again to kick Marty over, which gets 1 for Kato. Kato comes off the ropes, and Shawn trips him from the outside, from which Marty gets 1. Shawn back in now, where a double Irish whip and double crescent kick set up a rocket launcher, but Tanaka knocks Shawn out. Kato slingshots Marty into a chop from Tanaka, but when they try it again, Shawn is back to bend Tanaka over with a shot and the slingshot allows Marty to roll over into a sunset flip for 3 at 19:14. Nice finish and overall quite a good little formula style tag match. You know they’re setting a fast pace when a nearly 20 minute match feels like less than 10. ****
Interview with Macho King Randy Savage as he details his desire for a title shot. He sends Sherri to seduce Warrior into granting Savage a title match in the future, but Warrior gives the best interview of his life: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”. Savage looks kinda pissed. I wonder if he’ll do anything about it.
The Barbarian (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Big Boss Man
Boss Man was kind of left hanging by the departure of Rick Rude, so he has to face off with the lower level of the Heenan Family. Boss Man runs in and clears the ring right off the bat. Barbarian waits him out for a while before making his way in to start the match. Lockup, but Barbarian gets him with a knee and some punches. Irish whip is reversed and Boss Man gets the boot up. Barbarian stands his ground, but another shot takes him down. Barbarian regroups for a minute. Boss Man with an Irish whip reversed, but Barbarian can’t get a hiptoss. He gets a suplex instead, followed by a backbreaker for 2. Bearhug goes on for a while before Boss Man finally breaks it. Shot to the throat and three elbowsmashes get a 2 count for Barbarian. Another bearhug, which doesn’t last quite as long as the first. Boss Man headbutts and bites the nose to escape. Irish whip and Barbarian catches the boot, but Boss Man gets an enzuiguri for 2. Boss Man gets some punches and a corner whip, but misses a charge and gets rolled up for 2. Barbarian ducks a clothesline, but Boss Man catches him with a stun gun for 2. Back off the ropes and they collide. Barbarian recovers first and goes up to nail a flying clothesline, but Boss Man just gets his foot on the ropes at 2. Irish whip by Barbarian is reversed, and Boss Man nails the Boss Man Slam, but that only gets 2 as Barbarian reaches the rope by the tip of his finger. Back up, Barbarian gets an eye rake and hits a piledriver. He goes up again, this time for a bodypress, but Boss Man rolls through and gets a 3 count at 10:06. Not bad all, except for two extended bearhugs in the middle. They did a good job of taking a low level heel and making you think he had a chance to win, therefore making it mean something when Boss Man did pull out the win. **
WWF Title Match: Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter (w/General Adnan)
Huge heat for this match and Warrior is over like crazy. Given that the war was almost over by this point I think it may have been better to call an audible, just have Warrior squash the guy, and get the title over to Hogan by some other means (Savage, maybe), but they were set on doing it this way I guess. Warrior charges in fast and the heels try to clothesline him with the flag, but Warrior ducks and knocks them both down. He destroys the flag to a huge pop as Adnan retreats to the back. Warrior is just murdering Slaughter, choking him with the flag, and stuffing it down his throat. He whips Slaughter from corner to corner hitting a backdrop and finally sending Slaughter over the top with his patented stomach bump. Still no break for Slaughter as Warrior attacks on the outside. Sherri, who has taken the time to change her dress since the interview segment earlier, is out at ringside now. Back in the ring, Warrior nails two shoulderblocks, but while going for a third Sherri grabs his leg. He chases her all the way up the aisle where Savage nails him out of nowhere and drops a lamp on him. Warrior is down and out, but Slaughter keeps breaking the count to keep the match going. Finally Warrior crawls back to the ring where Slaughter goes to work on the back with stomps and a backbreaker. Irish whip, Warrior ducks and they both clothesline each other. Slaughter grabs a bearhug, but Warrior fights out. Bodyslam, but the back is too hurt to follow up. Three elbows by Slaughter and another backbreaker set up the Camel Clutch, but Warrior’s feet are under the ropes so the hold is broken. Warrior shakes the ropes and nails three clotheslines and a shoulderblock, but Sherri runs in again. Warrior presses her on to Savage, who has also come ringside, but Slaughter comes from behind with a knee to the back. While Sarge has the ref, Savage smacks Warrior with the scepter, which looked great. That gets Slaughter the pin and the WWF Title at 12:46. Big time heel heat for that. The action was intense, heated, and very storyline oriented, and even the psychology was there. What I also love is that even though it was a screwjob finish, it all built to something rather than being a random thing to protect someone’s reputation like they do today. ***
Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase & Virgil
It just occurs to me that one week after reviewing the show featuring Ric Flair’s retirement match, I’m now reviewing the retirement match of his biggest rival, Dusty Rhodes. This one got slightly less fanfare, by which I mean it actually got none at all. Dusty did have a few more matches, I suppose, but this was it for him as a full timer. Dibiase had been riding Virgil extra hard over the past few months, which led to Roddy Piper getting involved and trying to convince Virgil he didn’t need to take that kind of abuse. The seeds were planted, but Virgil stayed with Dibiase for the time being. Dibiase and Virgil attack, but are soon caught with elbows and sent out. Dibiase orders Virgil in against Dustin. Virgil gets a cheap shot off a lockup, followed by an Irish whip, but Dustin ducks a clothesline, and then nails one of his own and a dropkick to send Virgil out. Dibiase berates him for that, so Virgil tries again, and that goes just as well as the first time. Dibiase demands the tag, and immediately takes over on Dustin with a knee and some chops. That’s followed by a clothesline and some shots in the corner. Backdrop and fistdrop lead to an Irish whip, but Dibiase puts the head down allowing Dustin to get a faceslam. Elbows from both Rhodes’ and Dusty gets the tag. Punch, chop and elbow in the corner by Dusty. Sleeper now, but Virgil saves. Tag to Dustin who gets a dropkick for 2 when Virgil saves again. Dibiase catches Dustin with a shot and tags Virgil. Corner whip by Virgil is reversed, but Virgil avoids the charge and Dustin injures his knee. Virgil works over the knee with some kicks and then he posts it. Tag to Dibiase who also posts the knee a couple of times. Dibiase keeps working on the knee while taunting Dusty. He holds Dustin for a shot from Virgil, but Dustin moves and Virgil lays out Dibiase. Virgil apologizes, but Dibiase beats him up and tosses him. Meanwhile, Dustin makes the tag to Dusty. Dusty whips Dibiase to the corner and nails an elbow, but a second try misses, and Dibiase rolls Dusty up for 3 at 9:58. Dusty and Dustin had to run and catch their flight to Atlanta, so we forget about them and go back to Virgil. Dibiase orders Virgil to grab the Million Dollar Belt, and put in around his waist. Virgil is hesitant, and the fans are behind him. He drops the belt in the ring, but Dibiase reminds him that he needs the money. Virgil disagrees and clocks Dibiase with the belt to a big positive reaction. Great angle at the time, but within a year Virgil was basically a jobber. **
Main Event: Royal Rumble Match
Bret Hart is #1, and Dino Bravo is #2. No detailed play by play here since 95% of it is just punch and kick, and for most of the match there’s too many guys to follow anyways. Bret almost has him out at one point, but no go. Greg Valentine is #3, having just turned face. He goes for Bravo and indeed eliminates him. Paul Roma is #4 and the three guys in there keep switching off who fights who to establish the “every man for himself” concept. Texas Tornado is #5, Rick Martel is #6, and Saba Simba is #7, as guys just pair off randomly and go at it, or try for eliminations. Butch is #8 and he whacks his way around the ring until Valentine chops him. Simba is eliminated by Martel. Jake Roberts is #9 and goes for Martel since they were feuding at the time, which gets the biggest reaction of anything so far. Hercules is #10 and rushes to save Roma from Butch. Tito Santana is #11, and he goes for Martel, but the announcers don’t bring up any history between them. Roma charges at Jake who ducks and sends Roma out. Undertaker is #12, still early in his career. He picks up Bret and drops him to the floor with ease. Jimmy Snuka is #13. Taker eliminates Butch next. British Bulldog is #14, and Demolition Smash is #15. Martel and Jake are still going at it, but now Martel is able to pull Jake out over the top while standing on the apron. Hawk is #16, followed by Shane Douglas at #17. Undertaker gets his third guy out by tossing Tornado, while Hawk then eliminates Snuka. Nobody shows up at #18, which we find out later is Macho King, presumably chased out of the arena by the Warrior. #19 is Animal, and the LOD teams up to eliminate Undertaker. Hawk stops to gloat however and is eliminated by Hercules and Martel. Crush is #20, and Martel has teased going out about a dozen times by now. Jim Duggan is #21, and Earthquake is #22. Quake gets Animal out by ducking a charge. Mr. Perfect is in at #23 and immediately jumps into hyper selling mode. He also gets Duggan by ducking a charge, which is a popular elimination method tonight. Hulk Hogan is #24 and Smash is his first victim, getting tossed after a big boot. He then goes after Earthquake. Haku is #25 while Hogan backdrops Valentine out after he had been there since #3. Jim Neidhart is #26. Earthquake tosses Santana. Luke is in at #27 and is immediately thrown out by Earthquake. Brian Knobbs is #28 and he gets Hercules out. Warlord is #29. Hogan dumps Crush over the top, and soon after clotheslines Warlord out to take over the lead with 4 eliminations. Tugboat is the last guy in, so our finalists are: Martel, Bulldog, Douglas, Quake, Perfect, Hogan, Haku, Neidhart, Knobbs, and Tugboat. Douglas is gone almost immediately via Knobbs. Hogan and big time Hulkamaniac Tugboat go in the corner, with Tugboat dumping Hogan, but only to the apron. Hogan comes back and shows Tugboat how to do it properly. Bulldog tosses Perfect, while Martel dumps Anvil. Bulldog then gets Haku with a backdrop. Martel slams the Bulldog and goes up, but Davey recovers to crotch Martel and clothesline him out with only the Ironman Award to console him. Bulldog is the tossed by Quake and Knobbs leaving Hogan one on two against them. Double clothesline and Knobbs drops some elbows. Quake hits a splash and Knobbs gets more elbows. The Vertical Splash allows Hogan to Hulk Up and clothesline both of them. Knobbs is out with a big boot. Big boot on Quake now, but the slam attempt fails. Two elbows and a powerslam are enough for Hogan to recover again. Big boot, slam and clothesline over the top give Hogan the win at 65:15. In 1990 most people argue against the Hogan win, but this year he had to take it, not only because they were building up to him getting the belt back, but really, there was nobody else who needed the win. Also didn’t hurt to have a “send the fans home happy” moment after the title change earlier. Not a great Rumble though, with a real lack of big names making the winner obvious from the start, and not much action at all. **
Overall, this was a good show. The matches were all given time to develop, the storylines made sense and as a result nothing falls below **. The Rumble itself was pretty lackluster, but still never boring. Only must see here is the opening tag match, but no reason not to watch the whole thing while you’re at it. Thumbs up.