Heading into the Royal Rumble, with This Tuesday in Texas just having finished, it was time for Hulk Hogan to be stripped of the WWF Championship after the bogus way he defeated the Undertaker to win it back. That actually created quite a lot of excitement in the WWF at the time, and the aura that something real big was going to go down at the Royal Rumble. That something real big was no exaggeration, but first we have the matches and goings on that took us into the show. The WWF sadly did not do their best houses at this time, and many of these matches were actually taped in December. Let’s get to it.
– December 2nd, 1991, from Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, Texas
The Beverly Brothers (w/the Genius) vs. Legion of Doom for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: This seems like as good a way to start the action as any. I’ve never actually seen many Beverly Brothers matches, just the ones they did on PPV. That’s not a lot at all. So, it’s a good chance to exposed to the team more. LOD on the other hand, I haven’t seen them defend these particular titles very much. They needed to defend them more, right? The Genius had a poem for us all!
Match Review: Animal will start with Blake, and Blake shoves Animal only to get pushed right out of the ring. When he gets back in there, Animal picks him up and throws him across the ring. Not going too well for Blake Beverly. Blake comes back with a nice powerslam, but Animal gives him his own. Beau runs in and gets clotheslined, which clears the ring. Hawk and Beau make legal tags in, and Hawk dropkicks him to the outside. Hawk follows this time, chases, and Beau kicks him when they get back in the ring. Good heel tactic. Hawk comes back with a neckbreaker, then press slams him. They trade chops for a bit, then Hawk misses a charge to the corner and flies out of the ring. Blake tags in and tosses Hawk back in the ring, where he drops him throat-first on the top rope. Blake drops a leg and tags out of there, so Beau comes in with a backbreaker for 2. Blake tags back in, and Beau jumps onto Hawk’s back on the way out. Blake and Hawk then collide with each other, and Beau cuts Hawk off from the tag. The two guys clothesline each other, and make tags out. Animal comes in with shoulderblocks, and gives Blake a backdrop. He follows with a belly to belly suplex, and now everyone’s in there. Blake slams Animal and heads up to the second rope, but his flying headbutt misses. DOOMSDAY DEVICE, Hawk covers, and that’s it for the Beverly Brothers at 8:58.
My Thoughts: These two teams actually worked pretty well together and didn’t phone it in at all. I enjoyed this, even though it followed a quick formula of a 9 minute tag match. The bumps were all good, and it finished clean. No problem with this at all. **1/4.
Typhoon (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Hulk Hogan
Pre-Match Thoughts: TUGBOAT AND HOGAN EXPLODE, THE TRUE MEGAPOWERS! Maybe I shouldn’t be watching this, but the chance to see this version of Hogan without a title belt, and not in a title match or important feud, is a little hard to pass up. I also need to fill space if I’m being honest.
Match Review: They lock up, and do the usual Hogan bit where he gets shoved into the corner and has to resort to other tactics. He shoves Typhoon hard into the corner, and does his posing. He then dodges a charge, and goes to work with right hands. Hogan clotheslines Typhoon in the corner, knocks Jimmy Hart off the apron, and tries to knock Typhoon down with clotheslines. Hart trips Hogan, so Typhoon goes to work. He throws Hogan from corner to corner, and puts him in a bear hug. That’s great. That hold is kept on forever, until Hogan punches his way out of it. Typhoon shoulderblocks Hogan, then splashes him in the corner for 2. HULK UP, BIG BOOT, AND THE LEG DROP for the victory at 5:50.
My Thoughts: Total waste of time, given that Typhoon was terrible even in comparison to many of Hogan’s other regular opponents. Hogan’s formula match was definitely becoming an unwanted thing of the past. DUD.
Ric Flair (w/Mr. Perfect) vs. Shawn Michaels
Pre-Match Thoughts: This match also aired on Prime Time Wrestling and is an essential watch to form further understanding of this era. I’d consider this the start of Shawn’s singles career, something that was well overdue considering what the Rockers were given to work with in 1991. That’s to say they weren’t given much. Flair’s distorted belt is obviously one of the tag championships. Based on the darkened arena, I think nobody showed up at this taping.
Match Review: Michaels and Flair lock up for the first time, and Flair goes into his routine pretty quickly. WOOOOOOO! Michaels takes him down with a headlock, but Flair gets out of that. Michaels hip tosses Flair, and goes back to the headlock. Flair chops away, but misses a charge to the corner and Michaels flies off the top with a sunset flip that gets 2. Another headlock takeover gets 2 for Michaels, and Flair’s mad. They trade chops, and Michaels beats Flair up in the corner. Flair winds up on the apron, and Michaels suplexes him in. Flair begs, but goes to the eyes instead of continuing that act. They trade shots again, and this time Michaels gives Flair a backdrop. Michaels throws Flair over the top, and sadly we go to a commercial.
Back from that commercial, Michaels sunset flips his way back into the ring, only to have it blocked by Flair. Flair goes for a back suplex, but Michaels flips out and dropkicks him. Perfect trips Michaels, so Flair drops a knee on the guy. Michaels gets up and works Flair over, but runs into a boot. Flair heads up top, but Michaels pops up and slams him down. Michaels drops an elbow for 2, then superkicks Flair. Now Michaels heads up top himself, and drops a fist on Flair for 2. Michaels clotheslines Flair over the top after that, and goes for a plancha only to wipe out and hit the rail. Perfect gets in some stomps, and here comes Marty Jannetty to ringside. Jannetty puts Michaels back in the ring, so Flair puts his feet on the ropes and covers Michaels for 3 at 10:11. He didn’t need to cheat, so that was strange.
After the match, Michaels was very upset about losing and wanted Marty to hit him. He didn’t. Boy, I wonder where that’s heading.
My Thoughts: This was going very well until the angle, which was good, although it detracted from the match. The match was similar to Flair’s matches with Pillman, and was done at a white-hot pace. As everyone knows, these two would go on to have matches later, but for a long time this was the only match between the two. It was also a good test for Shawn’s singles career. Given that it was quite obvious he had what it took to become a star, I wonder how it was decided that he’d go heel instead of Marty. ***1/4.
– December 4th, 1991, from Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas
The Undertaker & Jake Roberts (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Randy Savage & Jim Duggan
Pre-Match Thoughts: This sounds fun, and a chance to watch Roberts and Taker team up will not be passed up. Their evil alliance was quite interesting, and I suppose Duggan is the only partner that fit with Savage. Hogan, for obvious reasons, could never team up again with Savage in the WWF. Would make no sense. I love the evil version of Jake’s theme, by the way. Everyone should.
Match Review: Savage wanted to chase Roberts around the ring, but Roberts was a little too quick for that. Eventually Savage clocks him, but the stall resumes. So, Taker and Hacksaw will face off, and Taker goes right to a choke. Taker throws Hacksaw across the ring and misses a charge, so Hacksaw beats him up and clotheslines him over the top. Taker clotheslines Hacksaw with the top rope on his way back in, and gets in more choking. Roberts finally tags in, and so does Savage. He’s angry, and goes to work with face rakes of his own. Savage pops Roberts with a back elbow, then heads up top for a double axehandle. Taker tags in, grabs Savage, and belts him. After more choking, Taker picks Savage up for a bodyslam and misses an elbow drop. Hacksaw tags in and beats up both heels, but Taker goes to the throat and stops it. Roberts tags in, and hits Duggan with a short clothesline. Roberts goes for the DDT, but Savage runs in with a clothesline. Savage goes to get a chair, and he hammers Taker with it for a disqualification at 7:09. Hacksaw knocks Taker over the top with his 2×4, and that’s it.
My Thoughts: I bet fans felt robbed by that. To go to a taping and get this kind of match instead of a singles match between Savage and Roberts had to be annoying at the least and infuriating at the worst. Maybe that’s why attendance was so low, just like every other show at this time. The WWF definitely had problems due to the steroid investigation and their own booking turning fans off. 1/4*, absolutely meaningless match.
The Nasty Boys (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The New Foundation
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’m happy they found a way to get Jim Neidhart and Owen Hart on TV in a decent role, but this outfit is not exactly what I’d consider marketable. Nor is it likely to garner fan interest. I only know of a few matches where they were able to team up, so I’m checking this one out.
Match Review: Neidhart and Knobbs get things started, and Knobbs dishes out some big punches that are returned. Neidhart shoulderblocks Knobbs and Sags to the canvas, and clotheslines Knobbs too. Nice dive by Owen to the outside after that! Owen takes Knobbs down with a wristlock, but Knobbs makes the tag out of there. Owen arm drags Sags twice, and slaps the armbar on him until it’s time for something else. Sags slams Owen, and misses the elbow drop. Owen brings in Neidhart, who puts the wristlock on too. Owen gets back in there and heads up top, coming down with a double axehandle. Sags slaps Owen in return, and Owen chases him around the ring. Knobbs makes a blind tag, attacks Owen from behind, and now the Boys are in control. Knobbs gets in a lot of double axehandles, and makes his way out. Sags elbows Owen a few times, then goes to a chinlock. Owen tries a sunset flip when he gets out, but Sags blocks that and gets out of there. Knobbs drops elbows on Owen’s back, they get a 2 count. Knobbs uses the chinlock too, but Owen eventually powers out. Sags tags in as a result, and Neidhart makes a blind tag in. Owen slingshots him in for a flying shoulderblock, and a pair of bodyslams. He destroys the Nasty Boys for a little bit, but only gets 2 on his cover, because Sags grabbed the referee and threw him out of the way. Obviously, that’s a disqualification at 7:29.
My Thoughts: Lots of phoned in performances in these more minor matches, which makes no sense to me given that these guys were fighting for position on the card. In the case of a few of them, they’d wind up with no position at all going forward. Not a fan of this one and perhaps I should watch less of these. *.
– Taped to air December 28th, 1991, on Superstars, from Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas
The Rockers vs. Legion of Doom for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is quite a big TV match, and I’m not just hyping it up. Matches like these weren’t exactly common on television, regardless of what the content of them turned out to be. I don’t know why the announcers always called the Rockers tag team specialists. Don’t recall any other team being referred to in that fashion.
Match Review: Michaels and Animal start this one, and Michaels takes a big bump off a shove. He then goes to a headlock, and makes a blind tag to Marty, who takes Animal down with a victory roll. Animal picks Marty up and press slams him, then brings in Hawk. Hawk hits Marty with a double axehandle from the top, and drops a fist on him as well. An elbow drop misses, so Michaels tags in, only for Hawk to press slam him too. Or not, as Michaels reverses to a flying head-scissors. Hawk clotheslines Michaels in response, and decides to head up top. He misses a flying clothesline, so Michaels goes for a sunset flip, only for Hawk to block it. Animal tags in now, and powerslams Michaels. A big splash misses, so Michaels tags out of there. Marty comes in with a sunset flip, assisted by a superkick, and it gets 2. All four guys are in the ring, and the Rockers hit Hawk with a double superkick! Marty then leaps onto Animal with a cross body that gets caught, and Animal turns around so that Michaels dropkicks him on top instead of Marty. As such, LOD picks up the pinfall at 3:39.
After the match, the Rockers argue AGAIN. This time, Michaels calls Jannetty a fool, and Shawn shoves him too. He also slaps him! So, it’s clear which one was chosen to be a heel at this point. After another slap, Jannetty goes to punch Michaels, only to leave.
My Thoughts: I’m convinced these guys could have torn the house down if given 10-12 minutes. Even though this was only 3 and a half minutes, it was also very good. Both teams seemed to click with each other and they were able to carry the right pace. **, and like I said, I know they could have done more. This would be the last time the Rockers would team for 13 years.
– December 29th, 1991, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York
Ted DiBiase (w/Sensational Sherri) vs. Bret Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Their match on Saturday Night’s Main Event was so good that this can’t possibly match up to that, but this should still be a very strong match. This is the best opponent Bret was given for an MSG match as Intercontinental Champion so I certainly can’t complain about this. DiBiase was in a groove too, putting on some really nice matches.
Match Review: These two lock up, and go into the ropes quickly. Bret shoves DiBiase, which is quite heelish of him. He also told Sherri to shut her mouth. DiBiase trips Bret on a break, and plays to the crowd for a little bit. When they lock up the next time, DiBiase hits Bret on the break with an elbow. Bret’s angry now. He chases Dibiase to the outside, and follows to start beating him up. Back in they go, and Bret sends DiBiase over the top with an atomic drop. He gives Sherri and DiBiase a noggin-knocker too! That got some boos, and buzzed the crowd. Bret brings DiBiase in, drops a leg on him, and covers for 2. Bret takes DiBiase down with a headlock next, and follows with a hip toss when they get up. Back to the headlock again, and when DiBiase gets out this time, Bret dropkicks him for 2. To the headlock once more, and when they release this time, DiBiase gives Bret a great looking hotshot into the ropes. DiBiase chokes Bret for a while, and follows that with a clothesline and elbow drop for 2. DiBiase gives Bret a swinging neckbreaker for another 2 count, then goes to a chinlock. Sherri was showing a lot of butt during her forays onto the ring apron, by the way. The chinlock gets released, so Bret rams DiBiase into the buckle a few times. DiBiase shoots Bret across the ring at full speed, which gets some nice heat. DiBiase locks on the MILLION DOLLAR DREAM, and Sherri rings the bell like an idiot. DiBiase gets the belt and celebrates with it, but Howard Finkel announces that Sherri rang the bell and the match is not over.
DiBiase clotheslines Bret for 2, but Bret comes back with his own swinging neckbreaker. Bret gives him an inverted atomic drop, and follows with his elbow smash. Bret stomps on DiBiase in the corner, and dishes out a suplex that gets 2. Bret tries a small package, and that gets 2 as well. Bret uses the Russian leg sweep for another 2 count, and there’s the backbreaker. Elbow smash from the second rope follows that, but it only gets 2. This crowd is heated. DiBiase gets up and goes for a bodyslam, but Bret cradles him for 2. He then knocks Sherri off the apron with a slap, getting booed again! Bret then gives DiBiase a gutwrench suplex, and clotheslines him over the top, nearly onto Sherri. Bret follows that with a big plancha, so after the headlock and chinlock, we really have something good here. Right after that, the bell rings, and we have a 20 minute draw. Sherri pulls Bret out of the ring and he starts chasing her, but she rolls through the ring and makes her escape. Bret then clears DiBiase from the ring with a clothesline, and celebrates with his title belt.
My Thoughts: Maybe they went too far in having Bret deal with Sherri’s tactics. That’s the impression I got from this, given that the crowd was coming a little close to making Bret a heel at points. Maybe it was a testing of the waters, or however you’d phrase it. In any case, this was a pretty good match. The pace really picked up after the chinlock, and that was good considering they worked that and the headlock for too long. They didn’t sell either hold, so it was just a matter of killing time. I did like the match very much and was surprised by the pace of the things they were doing on a house show. ***. Sadly, I could not find the Flair/Hogan match that was on this, and didn’t have the WWE DVD it was on. To 1992!
– Taped to air January 12th, 1992, on Wrestling Challenge, from Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas
THE BARBER SHOP WITH THE ROCKERS
This is the standard for heel turns, as far as I’m concerned. This was built up so well, much like the Mega Powers exploding, although given far less consideration by the WWF. One thing I’d say is that the WWF knew how to do heel turns right. The symbolism with Michaels wearing all-black, it’s just perfect isn’t it? There were times during the whole of this breakup where it seemed like Jannetty would go heel. Not here, though. In Shawn’s own hometown, this is where it went down. Jannetty told Shawn that when he turned around, if Shawn was still there, they’d stay a team. So, Michaels turns Jannetty around and shakes hands with him. There’s the hug, and THERE’S THE SUPERKICK. HE PICKS MARTY UP, AND THERE HE GOES THROUGH THE BARBER SHOP WINDOW! Jannetty then bleeds all over the place, and once again we have the WWF doing an angle where they took things to the limit. I LOVE ALL OF THEM.
I’m actually glad that’s it even though the matches and angles here were really strong. I really wanted to get to the Royal Rumble and check that out again, it was one of my goals when starting this. This was also one of the spots where I thought I’d be burned out on reviewing things, but I’m not stopping. At this time, there was a big hitpiece being put out on Hulk Hogan’s lying about using steroids. Superstar Billy Graham and others were all over it, and Inside Edition also talked about Vince McMahon knowing. Of course, that was not good. I’d say it couldn’t have possibly gotten any worse, but it did get a hell of a lot worse. There was also an incident where Brian Knobbs got stabbed by some fans who were idiots. The WON also says that Bret Hart had agreed to a deal with WCW to debut at Clash of the Champions and take the Intercontinental Championship with him, but as we know that didn’t happen. Then it was reported that Bret would join WCW later, because Bret had to give his notice before making the jump. That also never happened.
Best: The Rockers breaking up. Unquestionably.
Worst: The outfits the New Foundation were wearing. Awful stuff.