The Audit man returns one more time for yet another Royal Rumble review. I know, you thought I was burned out after that last book I wrote called Royal Rumble 1990, but I’ve managed to get another little gem done. I still have to add some images into this review, but I wanted to make sure it made the deadline. So enjoy reading now, and I’ll be adding pictures in the next few days.
Continuing down the road in chronological order the next Rumble up on deck is the 1991 edition of the event. Let’s get to it.
THE 1991 ROYAL RUMBLE!
It’s Rumble time again. It’s the final Rumble before the World Title / WrestleMania stips were starting to be added.
The full card is listed below.
* The 30 Man Royal Rumble Match
* WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter
* The Rockers vs. The (new) Orient Express
* The Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian
* Dusty & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase & Virgil
* The Mountie vs. Koko B. Ware
And now ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the 1991 Royal Rumble, the LIVE edition!
– And it’s Sean Mooney hosting once again from the old “Event Center” room.
– A run down of the card. Warrior defends the title against Sgt. Slaughter, front and center. Slaughter is eeeeee-vil.
– It’s time to hype the Rhodes/DiBiase feud. The Brother Love Show is shown with Dustin Rhodes as his guest. This leads to DiBiase and Virgil beating down young Dustin. Kerry Von Erich would actually make the save to sort of set up a future Tornado/DiBiase feud, but it fizzled out fast and they made sure to edit it out of the video here. This is followed by video clips of the recent DiBiase promos that hinted at Virgil’s turn. This portion ends with a Dusty and Dustin promo.
– Boss Man vs. Barbarian hype. Replays of several of Bobby Heenan’s jokes about Boss Man’s mother are shown. Also shown is Boss Man handcuffing Bobby to the guard rail during an episode of Superstars. This is followed by a forced apology Heenan had to make about his comments and behavior. BUT the cameras keep rolling and we see Heenan laugh off his apology afterwards. This storyline shouldn’t even have gotten over but Bobby Heenan got this shit over like gold. I loved it then, and still laugh at it now. Barbarian/Heenan and Boss Man promos follow.
– Now it’s time to talk the Rumble match. Mooney runs down the participants and we get random promos from Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Earthquake, Undertaker, Demolition Smash, Jim Duggan, The Model, LOD Hawk, Jake Roberts, and the Macho King. I told you it was random.
The Rumble Countdown ends 2:30 early and we get to listen to the awesome Rumble music we’d all come to know and love over the next several years.
(Trivia note: Jerry Sags of the Nasty Boys defeated Sam Houston in a dark match prior to the event. Sags was given this spot while Knobbs would replace Honky Tonk Man in the actual Rumble match.)
The U.S. is in the middle of their turmoil with Iraq, and Vince is taking every advantage that he can of the situation. The patriotic McMahon has the Rumble event open with a video of the U.S. flag waving in the air along with an instrumental version of the Star Spangled Banner playing for the crowd. Once that’s over with……
IIIIIIIIIT’S TIME TO RUMBLE!!!
We get an opening Rumble video with Vince announcing the 30 participants. This is where we learn that Knobbs has replaced the Honky Tonk Man, and Tito Santana gets Andre’s spot. Let that soak in. Vince also runs down the undercard (no mention of the Mountie/Koko) match.
And now, it’s time for the Royal Rumble!
It’s January 19th, 1991 and we’re live from Miami, Florida and the Miami Arena. So we move from the Orlando Arena in 1990 to the Miami Arena in 1991. Big jump.
Your announcers are Gorilla Monsoon & “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. This is post Jesse Ventura and just short of Bobby Heenan taking over the PPV color commentary spot. This isn’t Piper’s last PPV on commentary, but it’s his last as a two man team. They hype the show as a GONG blares in the background, signaling the start of the show. The gong is not for the Undertaker, but for the Orient Express. Ah, so!
(Rockers vs. Orients notes going in: Akio Sato had recently left as an active competitor following Survivor Series ’90 and he was replaced in the Orient Express team by Canadian Paul Diamond, hence the mask. Diamond would be renamed “Kato”. For those who only follow WWF/WWE history, Tanaka and Diamond had a solid run as a tag team named “Badd Company” in the late 80’s in both Memphis and the AWA. Further, Badd Company would have many great matches against the Rockers in those companies, even defeating the Rockers for the AWA Tag Team Titles in 1988 shortly before the Rockers came to the WWF. Fast forward a few years later and these two teams meet again under different circumstances. With years of knowing each other inside the ring you can expect a good match here. I haven’t watched this match in quite some time, but I can tell you to expect a spot fest with lots of writing.)
The Rockers vs. The (new) Orient Express (w/ Mr. Fuji)
As the Rockers hop up to the middle buckles to play to the crowd, Tanaka attacks Marty from behind and sends him tumbling over the top to the floor. The Express double team Shawn and land an insanely high backdrop. The Orients set up for their Thrust Kick / German Suplex finisher, but Marty breaks it up with a dropkick on Kato and a Superkick on Tanaka. Rockers with a double press slam on Tanaka and go up top for the double fist drop, but Kato pulls Tanaka to the floor. While the Orients are regrouping the Rockers nail stereo suicide dives. The crowd is loving the shit out of this, as am I.
Referee Joey Marella finally gets control of things and we get Kato and Marty in the ring. Marty works a side headlock and the two eventually wind up doing the Flair/Steamboat bridge up into a backslide spot for 2, which gets a huge reaction. Tanaka distracts Marty and Kato lands a cheap shot. Tanaka tags in as Kato comes off the ropes, Jannetty leap frogs Kato who runs into Tanaka, his own partner. Great comedy spot. The Rockers briefly work the arm of Tanaka as Shawn tags in. Tanaka winds up catching Michaels coming off the ropes with a spinning forearm smash which always looked bad ass. Another great comedy spot soon follows as the Orients almost run into each other a second time but put on the brakes. Shawn rams their heads together anyway. The timing of this spot has to be seen to be really appreciated.
Michaels busts out the high knee for a 2 count on Tanaka. Shawn locks in a sleeper but Kato lures Jannetty in, and while the ref gets Marty out of the ring, Kato comes off the middle rope into the back of Michaels. Tanaka takes Shawn down with a back leg sweep and chops him into the corner. Shawn exposes Tanaka’s size when he picks him up like a midget and tosses him into the corner. Shaw mounts Tanaka in the corner and begins to land right hands. Kato sneaks in from behind but Shawn catches Kato with a top rope MOONSAULT body press! Another four way ensues, the Orients whip the Rockers into each other but they turn things around and somehow wind up dropkicking the Express. The Orients bail to the floor, the Rockers fake them out with suicide dive attempts, the Express duck out of the way but in reality the Rockers are already on the top rope, TOP ROPE PLANCHAS by the Rockers to the floor! Damn, these guys are on the money tonight. F’n amazing.
Shawn with a delayed vertical suplex on Kato, Tanaka breaks the count. Michaels goes for a monkey flip in the corner on Kato, but Tanaka runs over and grabs Shawn by the head dropping him throat first across the top rope! Shawn is taking some awesome bumps. Kato distracts the ref while Tanaka holds Michaels down on the apron and Fuji cracks the cane across Shawn’s chest. Double team spot as Kato holds Shawn’s legs up while Michaels throat hangs across the top rope. Tanaka comes running and leap frogs Kato to come down hard on Michaels back. A great spot that very few have done right. Mr Fuji loves it, but Jannetty breaks the count. Tanaka applies the dreaded NERVE HOLD. I can hear Fuji now: “Make opponent suffah!!!”.
Shawn eventually breaks free but Kato sends him into the corner where Shawn flips upside down and falls to the apron where Tanaka is waiting with a thrust kick to the face which sends Shawn back flipping back into the ring on his face. Another fucking awesome series of bumps. Orient Express double clothesline turns Shawn inside out. Tanaka finally telegraphs a backdrop and Shawn gives him a face slam, but Kato knocks Marty off the apron to prevent a hot tag.
The Orients grab Kato’s karate belt and whip Shawn into the ropes. They try to clothesline Michaels with the belt, but Shawn ducks it and then comes back and DIVES ONTO THE BELT causing the Orients to slam into each other. Creative spot, great shit, and this crowd has been hot for the entire match. NOW we get the hot tag to Marty. Jannetty has slams and dropkicks and shit for both of the Express. Marty with a powerslam on Kato for 2. Marty spinning elbow but Tanaka breaks the cover.
All four men back involved. Marty with some kind of insane spinning counter shit as he winds up in a backslide position. That was pimp. Kato and Marty fight for the backslide, but Tanaka catches Marty in the face with a thrust kick and Kato wins the backslide battle but only gets 2. Michaels trips Kato from the floor and the Rockers land a double Superkick. Shawn goes to the top rope for the Rocket Launcher Splash, but Tanaka charges and nails Marty, which causes Shawn to fall off the top rope to the floor. Yowch.
The Orients double team Marty. Kato catapults a prone Marty into a knife edge chop from Tanaka. They set up the move to perform it again, but Michaels slides in and nails Tanaka in the gut. As Kato catapults Marty up this time, Jannetty leaps over the keeled over Tanaka and turns it into a sunset flip. Michaels also takes out Kato with a shot to the face and pins him down as Jannetty executes the move and gets the pin in 19:15. Another well timed spot to end the match. Again, has to be seen to really be appreciated.
Winners: The Rockers
(Post Match Thoughts: This proves that you don’t always need a storyline to have a great match in the ring. I try my best not to sit here and type a match move for move, hold for hold, but this was nonstop action from beginning to end. Outside of a few short rest holds to separate each group of spots, this match was fast, filled with great action, well-timed spots, creative double team maneuvers, Michaels selling was off the charts, this match is a gem. I knew it 26 years ago (wow, I’m old) when I saw it live and it still holds up today. The Orients were good here to keep up with the Rockers, and even more specifically Michaels, but the Rockers were off the charts. To know how good they really were all you have to do is watch this match. I’d say they were ahead of their time, but you really don’t see a team this good very often even today. The Orients really only ever got a chance to be competitive against the Rockers, though they’d get another opportunity to shine at Rumble 92 against the New Foundation. The Rockers would continue as a team for 1991, putting on another really good match at Mania VII with Haku & Barbarian. By this time next year, Marty would be getting the boot due to substance abuse issues, and Shawn Michaels would be starting his historied run as a singles competitor. Shows you how much things can change in one year. This is one of my most favorite tag team matches, not just of the “Hogan Era”, but probably ever. ****1/4)
(Warrior / Savage angle, Notes going in: The Warrior had spent the past ten months as the WWF Champion. Savage started making his plans known to come after the title back at the Survivor Series. Then, airing one day later on NBC’s “The Main Event”, Savage would attack the Warrior during a title defense against Ted DiBiase. While the Warrior would begin to focus on his title match with Sgt. Slaughter here at the Rumble, the Macho King would continue to make his intent known in interview form as he repeatedly stated he wanted a title shot and was coming for UW.)
– Sean Mooney is in the back with “Macho King” Randy Savage. The Macho King proclaims himself the #1 contender for the WWF Title and says he doesn’t care who wins the title tonight because he will win the title. Savage says he’s already gotten Slaughter’s word that the Sarge will give Macho the title shot, now all he needs is Warrior’s commitment. Silly me, I thought it was up to Jack Tunney, not the champion. Mooney wonders why Savage is so confident that Warrior will agree to the title shot. Savage says that Sensational Sherri is getting ready to “bait” the Warrior. Maybe you shouldn’t like, you know, TELL somebody you’re about to bait them before you actually do it? That’s just me.
Savage points to a TV monitor in the locker room which shows Sherri walking to the interview stage with Mean Gene along with her.
– Mean Gene Interview with Sensational Sherri. Sherri is less hookered up than usual, boo. Sherri explains to the fans what Macho has already explained, Slaughter has promised a title shot, now it’s Warriors turn. Sherri calls out UW. He isn’t biting so she says he isn’t brave, he isn’t honorable, he’s yellow and afraid of Savage. Warrior’s music finally hits and out comes the Warrior. Sherri goes face to face with UW, and asks him for the title shot for Savage. Warrior makes faces throughout as if he smells some rotten pussy.
Sherri then abruptly changes her approach. She begins hitting on the Warrior, unzipping his jacket, bragging about his chest and hair, rubbing on his shoulders. As Sherri continues to seduce the Warrior, she sneaks in a kiss. The Warrior wipes it off with his fingers but then sells it with a smile while Sherri claims it was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to her. Sherri drops to her knees with her face at his cock begging him for a title shot. Warrior begins smelling his fingers and does the smelly rotten pussy face again. Jeeeeeze.
Sherri tells Warrior “Just say yes to me, that’s all I want from you”. The Warrior continues to contemplate while he smells the stank. WARRIOR SPITS IT OUT. It’s too stanky! Warrior trembles as he shouts a hearty, long “N-N-N-N-N-N-NNNNNNNOOOOOOOO” in Sherri’s face. Sherri screams in terror on her knees. Warrior beats his chest and leaves.
The camera cuts back to a fucking enraged Macho King in the locker room and he starts throwing shit. “HE SAID NO!”. Savage is fucking MADNESS right now. He tears off out of the dressing room and down the hall. For some reasons, Savage’s locker room comes out into the crowd? Macho comes running through the crowd out to the stage but the Warrior is long gone. Sherri is still screaming in rage on her knees. And while you’re down there….
– It looks like the WWE Network version might have edited something out here. Not sure what it was?
(Boss Man vs. Barbarian, notes going in: This entire situation started shortly after SummerSlam ’90. Bobby Heenan began telling “Boss Man’s Mother” jokes on Prime Time Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge. This would lead to the Boss Man getting pissed off and verbally warning Heenan, but the jokes continued. Boss Man would eventually make it on an episode of Superstars that Heenan just happened to be commentating on. Boss Man dragged Henan to ringside and handcuffed him to the railing for the duration of the show. This was all to set up a feud between Boss Man and the Heenan Family, specifically Rick Rude. However, Rude would abruptly leave the WWF in October of 1990 and Boss Man would subsequently begin working the rest of the Heenan family to get his hands on the Brain and eventually IC Champion Mr. Perfect. Haku had already been laid to rest by the Boss Man and now it was the Barbarian’s turn in line. I suspect BBM will find out the Barbarian is no pushover.)
The Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian (w/ Bobby Heenan)
The bell sounds after Barbarian and Heenan bail the ring. Boss Man taunts them by holding up Barb’s fur cape. We finally get things started and Boss Man drills Barb with a big boot right at the start, Barbarian staggers and Boss Man drops him with a back elbow. Barbarian back to the floor and Boss Man unloads with sweet ass punches and sends Barbarian into the steps. Barbarian with a cheap shot as he reenters the ring, but Boss Man comes back with the CACTUS CLOTHESLINE and they both go out to the floor. Then Heenan gets a shot from BBM for good measure.
Barbarian takes over with a vertical suplex and a short arm clothesline. Boss Man gets his leg tied in the ropes and falls to the floor. Barb drives Boss Man into the steel post and Heenan takes some cheap shots. Back inside a backbreaker gets 2 on the Boss Man. Bear Hug time. Boss Man breaks out but Barb stays on him. Bear hug, redux. This time Boss Man breaks with a bite on the nose. hah. Barb catches a boot, but Boss Man turns it into an ENZUIGIRI! Boss Man slowly creeps over and gets a 2 count. BBM misses a splash in the corner and Barb rolls him up for 2. Barbarian comes flying at BBM, but Boss Man catches him in mid-air and turns it into a STUN GUN! 1……2…..Barbarian gets his hand on the bottom rope!
Barbarian comes off the top FLYING CLOTHESLINE! 1…2…Boss Man foot on the rope!
BOSS MAN SLAM! That’s it! 1…2… Barbarian gets the ropes again!
JUMPING PILEDRIVER by Barbarian. Barb goes back to the top rope. HIGH CROSS BODY from the 300 pounder! But the momentum carries Boss Man over on top. 1…2….3!
Boss Man picks up the duke in 14:15.
Winner: Big Boss Man
Bobby Heenan is gone as soon as he sees the three count. Boss Man will have to wait until another day to get his hands back on the Brain.
(Post Match Thoughts: Boss Man continues to mow through the Heenan Family, leading to the blow-off at WrestleMania VII against lead Heenan Family member and IC Champion Mr. Perfect. This was a very solid match. Boss Man busted out some nice moves and I’ve always felt that the Barbarian was underrated as a wrestler. Barb was extremely agile on top of his power. Some good back and forth stuff here, several near finishes, and the bear hug spots weren’t very long. The average person with a short attention span may skip a mid-card match between two big guys like this but I’d encourage you to watch this match if you have this PPV on play. This is a good ***)
– Sean Mooney is standing by with Sgt. Slaughter and Gen. Adnan. Adnan speaks Iraqi. Slaughter’s chin protrudes. Sean Mooney is puke and we’re all maggots. Slaughter is taking the title from the Ultimate Puke. The Sarge has integrity and he will be our new leader. And that’s….. an order. Dissssmissed.
– And now Mean Gene is with WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior is rocking red, white, and blue gear tonight. Proving once and for all that Parts Unknown IS located in the States. USA USA USA. The Warriors will never look up to Slaughter, Warrior will be the Ultimate victor.
(Warrior vs. Slaughter, notes going in: Back in the summer of 1990 Slaughter came returned, guns a’blazing. Literally. He proclaimed America to be weak in making friends with countries and people we should be at war with. Slaughter was disgusted with the fans accepting Russian Nikolai Volkoff as an American citizen. After disposing of Volkoff at the Survivor Series, and having some battles with Jim Duggan, Slaughter would turn his attention towards the WWF Championship. There’s no better way to take over America and do President Saddam Hussein proud than to bring the World Championship back to Slaughter’s new homeland of Iraq. In the recent weeks Slaughter went from alluding collusion with Iraq to presenting brand new wrestling boots (curl toed) that he claimed to receive from Saddan Hussein to garner more heat. This character had gotten so much heat at this point both by Americans and Arab-Americans, the WWF was forced to insert a “Special Bulletin” into the January 19th episode of Superstars (the morning of this Rumble event). They had figurehead WWF President Jack Tunney go on TV and proclaim that Slaughter’s actions were the views of Slaughter and Adnan alone, and did not reflect the views of any other Arabs or Arab-Americans, nor anyone else within the WWF. I guess writing the segments doesn’t count. Cover that ass, Vince.)
WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter (w/Gen. Adnan)
Warrior hits the ring fast, Adnan and Slaughter try to clothesline Warrior with the flag pole, but Warrior ducks and hits a double clothesline. Warrior sends both men out of the ring and Adnan goes retreating to the back in shame for some reason. Warrior rips up the Iraqi flag and starts ramming it down Sarge’s throat. UW chokes Slaughter with the flag and referee Earl Hebner ain’t doing shit. Slaughter takes his patented chest bump into the corner and flies out of the ring.
Sensational Sherri then makes her way down. Warrior starts going into his finishing clotheslines when Sherri grabs his ankle. Warrior begins chasing up the aisle when MACHO KING attacks out of the shadows! Savage mauls over Warrior and smashes a lighting rig on top of him. The referee misses all of this. Warrior begins crawling back to the ring, Slaughter keeps breaking the ref’s count because he wants to win the title. Makes sense.
Now Slaughter takes over, lots of stomping and punching, a backbreaker gets 2. The wind up both down from a double clothesline. Slaughter hooks a bear hug which is just silly. I might buy the GI Joe cartoon roided out Sgt. Slaughter using a bear hug, but not fat, shitty, bald early 90’s WWF Slaughter — especially on someone built like the Warrior. UW eventually escapes but Slaughter continues to work over his back. Another backbreaker, and then Slaughter applies the CAMEL CLUTCH with Warrior’s legs hanging out of the ring. Somehow the ref doesn’t see Warrior’s ass and legs completely sticking out under the ropes even though he was watching the hold be applied. Sam goes for Slaughter. King of a shitty way to cause a break.
Anyway, the hold is broken, Slaughter thinks he’s won’. The ref informs him Warrior was under the ropes. How Sarge didn’t see that I’ll never know. Warrior starts to “WARRIOR UP”. Clothesline to Sarge. UW calls for the press but Sherri comes running back down! That bitch. Warrior grabs Sherri by the tits and puss he smelled earlier. Randy Savage comes running down to ringside, Warrior presses Sherri out of the ring onto Macho at ringside! Savage gets hit in the face by Sherri’s goods. F’n awesome.
With Warrior distracted, Slaughter drives a knee into his back and Warrior falls to his knees. With UW’s head hanging over the middle rope, Savage picks himself up and BUSTS the scepter of Warriors head, breaking the glass over UW’s skull. Warrior goes down, Slaughter drop an elbow at 12:47, and the rest is history.
Winner: And Newwwww WWF Champion, Sgt. Slaughter
Warrior rolls out of the ring and shakes off the cobwebs. Warrior begins running to the back in search of the Macho King. Slaughter is announced the new champion. The crowd is in disbelief as was I at the time. Talk about taking advantage of the current world issues.
(Post Match Thoughts: By way of a match, there wasn’t much here. The dog and pony show put on throughout the match masqueraded both men’s weaknesses and Slaughter was solid in his parts. The Warrior came in like a rocket ship and the opening offense had the crowd on fire. I hate to say it, but the title match felt like a backdrop to get the belt on Slaughter and get the Warrior / Savage feud heated up. The match wasn’t bad because they kept it short and basically went from one segment of the match to the next without all the crap in between. Might be the first WWF title change that was more about the storylines than the quality of the match itself. *1/2)
– WrestleMania VII is coming. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, over 100,000 fans! California, HERE WE COME! Keep dreaming, Vince. Maybe you’ll crack 100,000 fans in 25 years. 😉
(Koko vs. Mountie, Notes Going In: This is Jacques Rougeau’s in ring debut on TV as the Mountie character. Vignettes had started several weeks earlier with the Mountie hyping his debut and this match was an added attraction as part of the PPV, and not advertised in the opening video run down of the card. I do recall this match was announced in passing just once on a “Royal Rumble Report” and then never hyped or mentioned again. So while this match was thrown on the show out of nowhere, there was a small mention of it at one point on TV.)
The Mountie vs. “Birdman” Koko B. Ware
Koko tries to work the arm early on but the Mountie takes over with a long beat down. Highlights include Mountie hitting Koko with the shock stick, Jimmy Hart talking to Frankie the bird, and Mountie trying to use weird moves he pulled out of his ass that looked anywhere from bad to dangerous. Crowd is pretty dead throughout this match. Koko counters a piledriver attempt with a backdrop. Koko makes the comeback, dropkick off the top on Mountie but Jimmy Hart distracts the ref. Ware with a near fall but soon after falls to that shitty ass Carotid Control Technique (a fucking nerve hold) in 9:12. How the fuck do you drop someone running at you with a nerve hold?
Winner: The Mountie
(Post Match Thoughts: This match was entirely too long for what it was. I remember watching this match live and being pumped both because it was somewhat an added match, and also we got a debut on a PPV. When the match was edited out of Coliseum Video I went years without having seen this match. Now that I have, I realize it was no big loss. Maybe even a favor. This wasn’t good by any stretch. Even the usually fired up Koko seemed a little less enthused than usual. Finish came out of nowhere, and his finisher was a fucking nerve hold to the traps. Crowd was dead for most of the match, or taking a piss, or getting food/beer, whatever. I wish I had that luxury. The best part of the match was Jimmy Hart talking to Frankie. I won’t go DUD but not much higher. 1/4* BORING)
It must be intermission time in the arena because the interviews start rolling in.
– Sean Mooney is with a pissed off “Macho King” Randy Savage. Macho is fucking going crazy. F-U WARRIOR, you got yours. Savage says he’s always been champ. Apparently the last two years don’t count. I’m not sure what Sherri is doing in this promo. Looks like she’s somewhere between being possessed and having an orgasm. Warrior comes banging on the door. He’s pissed off. Savage and Sherri go running off. I guess there’s two doors to the locker room?
– Mean Gene interviews the new WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter. He’s your new champion. We now have a champion we can respect, a champion that does what he says. IRAQ RULES. F THE USA. Sarge is the champ and that’s an order.
– Fans send their appreciation, thoughts, and prayers for the men and women overseas fighting in the Persian Gulf.
– Comments from some of the Rumble participants including Jake “The Snake” Roberts, The Earthquake & Jimmy Hart, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Texas Tornado, Legion of Doom, Undertaker & Brother Love, Hacksaw Duggan, “The Model”, Mr. Perfect & Heenan, Tugboat, and the British Bulldog. Bulldog’s promo: “30 men in the Royal Rumble, I’m glad I’m a Bulldog.” WTF? This would be the first, but not the last time the Bulldog would make an odd comment in a Rumble promo, because he’s “bizarre”.
For some reason, the Coliseum Video version has completely different promos from the original broadcast. The CV version promos are shot in locker rooms. The promos above are from the original broadcast.
– Sean Mooney is with Ted DiBiase and Virgil. Ted is coming to teach the peasant Rhodes Family a final lesson. For no reason he brings up Virgil wiping cow shit off his boot. Virgil doesn’t look pleased. DiBiase says Virgil does anything he says for one reason… MONEY. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. This promo focuses more on Virgil than the Rhodes family.
(The Rhodes Family vs. DiBiase/Virgil Notes Going in: Dusty’s feud with DiBiase started back in the summer of 1990 when Dusty’s manager Sapphire had been receiving luxurious gifts from a mysterious benefactor. The gift giver would reveal himself at SummerSlam ’90 as the Million Dollar Man. DiBiase had decided to purchase the services of Sapphire to prove to the American Dream that EVERYONE has a prive. It broke Dusty’s heart and Sapphire was soon phased out. Enter Dusty’s son, Dustin Rhodes, at the October ’90 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Dustin had purchased a ringside seat to watch his father battle the Macho King. During the match Ted DiBiase and Virgil came to ringside to purchase the entire row of front row seats. Every fan sold out to Ted DiBiase….. except Dustin Rhodes. This enraged DiBiase, and Ted and Virgil put a beating on young Dustin. This led to a match between “rookie” Dustin vs. DiBiase where if Dustin could last 10 minutes with Ted then he would win the match. Dustin would indeed last the entire 10 minutes, pissing DiBiase off further. This led to the second beat down on Dustin on the Brother Love Show, mentioned on the preshow countdown. All the while this is going on, the WWF had been teasing Virgil growing tired of DiBiase treating him like shit, more so recently than ever. DiBiase had also recently made Virgil wipe cow shit off his boots. This seemed to disgust Virgil, but hey you pay me a grand and I’ll wipe shit off your boots no problem. Anyway, they have played up dissention between DiBiase and Virgil to the point where Virgil almost left Ted until he was reminded he needed the money. There were comments made on TV by commentator Roddy Piper that he had had a private conversation with Virgil explaining to him that there comes a time where a man just has to take a stand. Let’s see how this all plays out.)
“American Dream” Dusty & Dustin Rhodes vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Virgil
This is a pretty formulaic match. Nothing fancy. They tell the story early of Virgil not being a wrestler and this having his troubles in the ring. But he’s a bodyguard! Speaking of which, what bodyguard do you know that wipes shit off people? Or what bodyguard even has a job when they suck this badly at their job? Anyway, Virgil has his troubles early getting sent to the floor twice. DiBiase orders his servant to get back in the ring. Dustin isn’t polished yet but he does fine here. DiBiase eventually tags in to show Virgil how to get shit done, and he gets the better of young Dustin. Dustin fires back using some of his father’s patented offense and tags in the Dream. Dusty on the offense and locks in a sleeper on Ted. Virgil makes the save and forces the break.
Virgil and Dustin are back in and Dustin misses a charging knee in the corner. Dustin appears to have hurt his knee and the heels immediately go to work on it. They try some double teaming but Dustin ducks a clothesline and Virgil nails DiBiase instead. Oh shit! DiBiase is HOT! He’s pissed! DiBiase beats Virgil down like a bitch and flings him to the floor like a sack of shit. Damn.
Dusty comes after DiBiase and whips him around before missing a charge into the corner. DiBiase rolls Dusty up in a school boy and a hand full of tights to get the win in 9:57.
Winnes: DiBiase & Virgil
After the match Dusty immediately gets up and doesn’t seem to give a shit about the match and goes to check on Dustin.
After the Rhodes family leaves the WWF ring for the final time together for a couple of decades, DiBiase has the microphone. Ted boasts about beating the Rhodes’ before turning his attention to Virgil, you know the guy he just beat the shit out of and flung to the floor like a turd. Virgil reenters the ring and DiBiase insists Virgil put the Million Dollar Title around Ted’s waist. Virgil seems reluctant. Piper is great on commentary here, stating that there comes a point where you have to stand up for yourself.
VIRGIL TOSSES THE TITLE ONTO THE MAT! The crowd loves it. DiBiase isn’t amused. In fact he’s pissed. Ted reminds Virgil of his poor family and poor mother. Virgil needs the money. He better pick the belt up and wrap it around Ted’s waist NOW. Virgil looks pissed but he slowly drops to one knee and picks up the belt. Piper is saddened by Virgil’s decision to obey DiBiase.
Ted turns away and comments “THAT’S RIGHT….HAHAHA…. THAT’S RIGHT. LIKE I ALWAYS SAID. EVERYBODY’S GOT A PRICE!”
Ted turns back to Virgil and WHAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
Virgil blasts DiBiase with the Million Dollar Belt!
The crowd absolutely erupts and Piper goes insane with pride on commentary.
Virgil drops the title on the chest of the KO’d DiBiase and looks down at him disgust before leaving his own new man.
(Post Match Thoughts: The match – An anticlimactic finish to an adequate match. As I said above, nothing fancy. Dustin tried his best at the time, DiBiase did what he could do, Dusty seemed like he was just phoning it in, and Virgil was just terrible in the ring here. Luckily, the storyline at the end saved this entire segment. With everyone knowing this was Dusty and Dustin’s last night with the company (WCW had already started hyping Dusty’s return prior to the Rumble) the end of the match was hardly surprising. The stuff afterwards was money. DiBiase played that heel character so well and everyone got behind the Virgil story. Roddy Piper did a great job getting it over on commentary. This angle would lead to the two men feuding for basically the entire year of 1991. ** mostly for the angle)
– Mean Gene is standing by with Hulk Hogan. Typical Hogan promo. He seems confident he’s winning the Rumble, again. Hmmmm. Mean Gene is randomly informed that Sgt. Slaughter has “defaced” the American flag. Hogan’s pissed off now BROTHER. Hulk forgets his line and Saddam Hussein’s name and fucks up the promo. LMAO. Hogan finally remembers his lines as they’re closing the promo. They don’t seem as meaningful that way. lol. What an ass.
IT IS NOW TIME FOR THE ROYAL RUMBLE!!!
(Rumble Notes Going In: You know the drill, 30 men, every 2 minutes, friend against friend, foe against foe, only one winner. This is the final Rumble before the winner would become the New WWF Champion in 92 and thereafter would get a title shot at Mania. This is the last Rumble where theoretically ANYONE could win. Two names originally announced for this match that would not participate were Andre the Giant and the Honky Tonk Man. They had announced the cancellation of Andre several weeks earlier due to a “leg injury in Japan”, so his disappearance from the match was announced in advance. Honky Tonk Man was replaced last minute by Nasty Boy Knobbs. While Honky had stopped working in the ring after Survivor Series ’90, he’d join McMahon and Piper soon after as a third announcer on Superstars. Honky’s last TV appearance was actually the morning of the Rumble show as a color commentator on “Superstars” which had been taped several weeks earlier. Honky had announced as late as the morning of the PPV that he’d be in the match, but in reality he had left the company after the prior TV tapings.)
THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
#1 this year is again Bret “Hitman” Hart. Bret becomes the first wrestler to draw #1 twice, first in 1988, and now again here in 1991. #2 is “Canadian Strongman” Dino Bravo with Jimmy Hart by his side.
Vince loved him some Bravo. Bret on the offense early forcing Dino to take those uncomfortable bumps where it looks like he’s falling while trying to hold a turd in. Hart clothesline Bravo from behind and Dino hangs over the top rope. Bravo manages to take control. Lots of stomping. Bravo misses an elbow and Hart takes back over as #3 Greg “The Hammer” Valentine hits the ring. Hammer goes right after Bravo! Dino looks shocked and the two men begin trading shots. Valentine had turned face at Madison Square Garden a few weeks earlier but that hadn’t been common knowledge to many fans yet. Jimmy Hart is on the apron yelling at Valentine and Bravo attacks Greg from behind and works him over. Valentine comes back and eliminates Bravo. Jimmy Hart jumps onto the apron but Greg knocks him off this time, putting an exclamation point on his face turn. Bret and Greg go at it until..
#4 Paul Roma (with Slick) hits the ring. Valentine and Roma take down Bret and then Roma immediately turns on the Hammer. It turns into a three way as all 3 men take turns beating on each other. #5 is “Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich who picks the pace of the match up. Tornado Punch on Roma! Tornado Punch on Valentine! #6 is “The Model” Rick Martel and he goes right after Bret. Paul Roma continues to go after everyone, heel and face. Bret and Tornado double team the Hammer. Bret almost has Martel eliminated but Roma puts a stop to it. The Model gloats and Roma attacks him as well. #7 Saba Simba waddles to the ring. Tornado almost eliminates Martel with an atomic drop. Roma doesn’t seem like he wants to sell for Simba. Roma ducks a Tornado Punch but gets the CLAW as #8 Bushwhacker Butch heads in. Butch marches around the ring for a while before anyone even touches him. lol. Martel and Saba Simba fall over the top rope together, but Martel lands on the apron and Simba is eliminated.
#9 is Jake “the Snake” Roberts and he comes right after the man who blinded him, the Model. Jake jabs Martel to death and nails a gubuster. Short clothesline! Fans calls for the DDT! Jake signals. But Martel rolls out of the ring. Jake chases Martel around and Roberts runs into the Hammer. REFEREE SHANE MCMAHON orders Martel to get back in the ring. Jake bites the Model’s hands to get him to let go of the ropes and be eliminated but Rick still hangs on once again. #10 is HERCULES and now we have both members of Power & Glory in the ring together. Martel ties Jake up in the ropes. #11 is Tito Santana and we have 9 guys in the ring. Wait, I take that back, Roma misses a lunge at Jake and the Glory of Paul Roma is eliminated. Just like old times Tito goes right after the Model, Tito’s last relevant feud. Tornado with the CLAW on Jake.
#12 is The Undertaker (with Brother Love). Taker’s still rocking the no sleeve look here. Taker picks Bret up in a choke and Undertaker dumps the Hitman from the match. Tornado punch on Taker, but he only rocks back. Taker chokes Tornado down. #13 is “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. Undertaker tosses Butch out next. Taker claws at Valentine’s face drawing Piper to remark “a handful of boogers”. Valentine rocks Taker with a big elbow. #14 “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith rushes to the ring. Jake and Bulldog take turns atomic dropping Martel. Taker continues to dominate. Snuka rocks Taker with some headbutts. Out comes #15 Demolition Smash. I think we have 11 guys in there right now. Bulldog runs Smash over with a clothesline. Rick Martel tries to hide outside the ring again and this time Martel pulls Jake Roberts out from the apron. #16 is Hawk from LOD. Hawk starts hitting EVERYONE in the ring and then all the heels gang up on Hawk to settle him down. Tito mounts Taker in the corner for punches. Hawk sends Taker to the corner but runs into a boot.
#17 is Shane Douglas. As Douglas hits the ring we have a couple of eliminations. Undertaker ducks a Tornado punch and eliminates Kerry Von Erich. And immediately following that, LOD Hawk then sends out the Superfly. Smash very audibly threatens to break someone’s stinkin’ neck. Up next is #18, and it’s???? It’s???? It’s??? Nobody comes out??? Well, actually you see the boot of LOD Animal start to come out but he clearly wasn’t next so he never fully came out. Piper and Gorilla question the whereabouts of #18. NOW here comes #19 Animal of LOD. Gorilla informs us that #18 has forfeited their spot in the lineup and is eliminated. LOD start double teaming the Undertaker! Taker grabs them both in chokes. LOD break the chokes and eliminate the Undertaker with a double clothesline. And while they celebrate both LOD are attacked. Smash attacks Animal, while Martel and Hercules double clothesline Hawk from behind and eliminate Hawk from the match.
#20 is Demolition Crush. The Demos go right to work on the Bulldog and hit him with a double clothesline. Bulldog with a shitty looking neckbreaker on Smash. Piper says Martel should model “Endurance” over Arrogance as both he and the Hammer have been in there quite a while. #21 is “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Duggan goes to work on Smash. The Model comes off the middle rope but is caught by Animal in a bear hug. #22 is Earthquake. Animal and Quake begin to hammer on each other. Animal rocks Quake back to the ropes with a pair of clothesline. Quake ducks a third one and eliminates Animal. #23 is Mr. Perfect with Bobby Heenan. Perfect takes his time getting to the ring. Perfect immediately starts bumping like a madman for Hacksaw. Duggan charges at Perfect and Hennig backdrops Duggan out.
Here comes #24, and it’s HULK HOGAN. A kid actually screams his name a second before he comes running out. Hogan with a big boot on Smash, and Hulk sends Smash out. Hogan goes after Quake but the other heels attack Hogan. Quake takes over on Hulk, who still has his shirt on. Bulldog and Perfect slug at it in a corner. #25 is Haku. As Haku enters, Hogan tosses out Greg Valentine. Valentine was in there around 45 minutes, but with his elimination Rick Martel is the new iron man. Quake goes after Perfect which could be fun, but Haku makes the save for his Family member. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart is #26. Earthquake dumps Tito Santana. Some heels gang up on Hogan to no avail. Oh here comes trouble now, #27 is Bushwhacker Luke. Yes, this is the infamous match where Luke “Whacks his way in, and Whacks his way out” in 4.8 seconds. Luke comes marching into the ring, Quake dumps Luke out the other side, and he just keeps marching to the back. Crowd enjoyed it. So stupid it’s funny.
#28 is Brian Knobbs (subbing for a fire Honky Tonk). Knobbs comes in swinging on everyone, and all the heels gang up on Knobbs for being an ass. Wouldn’t be the last time. Piper and Gorilla discuss who could have been #18, they know Savage and Tugboat are remaining names. Perect goes after Hogan. Knobbs backdrops Hercules out. Slick’s guys are gone. Oh no they’re not either. #29 is the Warlord! Now we know #18 was either Tugboat or Randy Savage. Crush mounts Hogan in the corner, but Hulk dumps Crush out. Hulk ducks a Warlord clothesline, and Hogan clotheslines the Warlord out. #30 is Tugboat. Tugger goes right after Quake. Anvil almost eliminates Perfect. We now learn #18 was Randy Savage, who apparently left the building while running away from the Warrior. Knobbs eliminates Shane Douglas, who was quiet but had a long stint in the match. Anvil flattens Perfect and Quake walks across his chest. TUGBOAT WORKS OVER HULK HOGAN IN THE CORNER! Tugboat dumps Hogan out, but Hulk lands on the apron! Tugger thinks Hogan is out but Hogan comes back in and dumps Tugboat from behind. IT’S EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF DAMMIT!
Bulldog catches Mr. Perfect on the top rope and crotches him. Standing dropkick from Bulldog knocks Hennig off the top rope and out of the match! Shortly after that, the Model eliminates Jim Neidhart. Then the Bulldog backdrops Haku out. Now Rick Martel goes to the top rope and he too gets crotches by Davey Boy! Smith clotheslines Martel off the top and out of the match. The final four are Bulldog, Hogan, Quake and Knobbs. An odd group. Quake and Knobbs work over and eliminate Davey Boy Smith in quick fashion.
Now the heels go after Hoga. Earthquake buttdrop! Hogan is dead. No, wait. HE’S HULKING UP! Double clothesline on the heels. Big Boot eliminates Knobbs. Down to two. Hogan nails Jimmy Hart. Hulk tries to slam Quake but the weight is too much and Hogan falls with Quaker on top. Big elbow drops from Earthquake. Big powerslam by Quake. Quake pretends to cover? Why the fuck would you do that???? Oh, I see. So Hogan can HULK UP AGAIN. It’s FULL BLOWN HULK UP. He no sells the blows, he does the point, three big right hands, the big boot, THE SLAM CONNECTS THIS TIME, with ease. Quake staggers to his feet and is Quake is clotheslined out from behind after 1:05:17.
#HoganMustPose , with the American flag this time. Because, USA.
Winner: Hulk Hogan, again, brother.
(Post Match Thoughts: While there was nothing “wrong” with the match, it just seemed like there was no real thought put into the story telling this year. After 89 had the big Hogan/Savage showdown and the Jake/Andre segment, and DiBiase buying #30. Then in 1990 the entire damn match was one angle after another. They regress here on story telling in the match as this was more of just a basic Battle Royal feel with no real stories being told throughout the match. Rick Martel becomes the new iron man of the Rumble, going over 52 minutes and beating DiBiase’s record by more than 7 minutes. Hogan plays the monster here, throwing out a good 7 people. We did get to see Valentine do the face turn, Jake try to get at Martel, things like that. And we did witness the first Rumble no show (Savage), though I’m not sure that’s a good thing as when this first happened I felt gypped that one of the main stars involved skipped out. I think one of the reasons this one had no big angles or spots was because it stayed pretty full throughout, they never weeded down the field to give anyone room to do anything or show much. Nothing in this Rumble really effected anything heading out of the PPV. That said, there was nothing really wrong with the wrestling itself it was just very… ordinary. Nothing really sticks out. And while anyone could have technically won this thing, they throw it to Hogan again to send the mass fans home happy because #HoganMustPose. Honestly, after the Warrior loss earlier this was probably the only way they could salvage the show as far as making the fans happy. Hogan wins his second Rumble in a row, and wins here in order to give him the momentum going into WrestleMania VII where he would challenge Sgt. Slaughter for the belt, oh yeah and save America from Iraq and shit. The match gets *** on the Rumble Meter)
THE FINAL AUDIT
This particular Rumble was the reverse of the Rumbles before it. Prior, the Rumble match was relied on to sell the show and the undercard seemed thrown together. In this instance it seemed like they spent a lot of time using the undercard matches to put on solid matches and set things up heading into WrestleMania, and the Rumble match was more or less just “there”. We saw the send off of the Rhodes Family, and the starts of the DiBiase/Virgil feud. We saw the Boss Man lay out the next Heenan Family member on his way to top star Mr. Perfect. We also saw the first WWF Title change on a PPV not called WrestleMania. The Slaughter/Hogan and Warrior/Savage double main event for Mania VII is set up. And while it wasn’t all that good, we did see the debut of the Mountie character who would go on to be IC Champion at this time next year. Not to mention the 4+ star classic between the Rockers and Orient Express. Lots of good to decent stuff throughout the show. Again, nothing was wrong with the Rumble match but it just felt lackluster after watching everything going on in 1990, and even 1989 for that matter. At the end of the day there’s a lot of stuff worth watching here. The Rockers/Orients match is MUST SEE, the Barbarian/Boss Man match is decent, then you have the surprise title switch, the Savage/Warrior stuff, the Virgil turn, and the Rumble match was average.
This is the first Rumble PPV where the undercard really boosts the show as a whole. While I’d rank this Rumble match a little lower than some others because of it’s underwhelming story telling, you really can’t deny this show as a whole. On a scale of 1-10, I’m comfortable giving this a 7, which loosely falls in the B to B- range. While not the most explosive Rumble match, Royal Rumble ’91 the PPV passes the Audit.