Friday, August 16, 2013

Old School Wrestling Review: Royal Rumble 1991

This pay per view opens with the American anthem. The first one in a long time because it’s war time in America. Operation Desert Storm/Shield, was going on at the time. This takes place in Miami with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Gorilla Monsoon on commentating. Piper has a sweet acid denim jacket on. Welcome to the ‘90’s.

The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) vs. The Orient Express (Tanaka and Kato) (with Mr. Fuji)

My husband told me this was going to be a good match, and he doesn’t usually tell me that kind of thing before a match, so I was looking forward to it. It starts out immediately with high action and a ton of tag moves. Rockers get the advantage and Fuji beats his team with his cane, so they move onto submission moves. Both teams keep switching between submission holds and fast moves, each of them feeding off the crowd. It keeps the crowd very involved.

As the match moves, it flows easily between the Orient Express and the Rockers having the upper hand. Each time the Orient Express gets the lead, they get there by cheating, i.e. by hitting when the referee’s back is turned, and other such cheating moves.

There are so many tag team moves during the match, it’s hard to keep up. It’s by far the best use of the tag team that I’ve seen. It’s like watching a dance, almost. Shawn gets a huge submission moment and gets beaten badly near the end of the match and tension builds until he is finally able to Jannetty and is a huge moment.

It goes back to double teaming and it is very awesome. The Rockers win in what is one of the best tag team matches I’ve seen.

Promo -
Sheri has a promo for the Macho Man in the arena where she begs the Ultimate Warrior to have a match with Macho Man. She is a great manager, but you can tell she’s a little nervous at first, but gains confidence as the promo goes on. Warrior comes out and Sheri “seduces” him. He looks like a teenager getting hit on by his teacher. It’s really funny. He then goes all crazy and yells “Nooo!” thus denying Macho Man his title shot. Macho Man, from the back, gets mad and rushes out to the arena. He goes all crazy. It’s a fun segment, worth a youtube. Good times.

The Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian (with Bobby Heenan)

Heenan comes out in a pink silk shirt and Barbarian is in fake fur. It’s quite a different combination of looks. Boss Man has lost so much weight and looks great. I really like seeing Boss Man as a face.

Boss Man does a great job selling Barbarian’s strength, but Barbarian only has a limited move set. The match turns into a series of bear hugs. Boss pulls off a few impressive moves, especially for a wrestler of his size.

Barbarian does a piledriver and it’s not very pretty. Boss Man gets hit with the one over the top moves Barbarian can do, but reverses it and wins the match. Honestly, Boss Man did all the work during the match to make it look good, so I’m glad he won.

Promo -
Sgt. Slaughter makes a promo about being evil and the war, but he makes the funniest faces and he’s losing his voice. I’m sure at the time it was really stirring up trouble, but looking at it now, it’s funny. He calls us all pukes so many times.

Promo -
Warrior has a promo. There are more war allusions, but it only makes half sense, which is pretty impressive for a Warrior promo. I enjoyed it, though. Raaa!

Sgt. Slaughter (with General Adnan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Championship

Warrior is wearing red, white and blue of course, yet the Championship belt is lavender? When Warrior comes out, he immediately rips up the Iraqi flag and the crowd goes ballistic with glee. He stuffs the flag into Slaughter’s mouth and humiliates him for a while, beats him up pretty badly. It’s to be expected. The whole Desert Shield/Storm fury and anti-Saddam Hussein mentality was so strong and pervasive, they needed the match to start out like this.

Sheri comes out and distracts Warrior from further beating up Slaughter. Warrior runs after Sheri to the back, but gets ambushed by Macho Man. Macho Man hits Warrior with a huge light and hurts Warrior. Warrior crawls back to the ring while Slaughter keeps stopping the referee from counting Warrior out. Slaughter knows if Warrior is counted out he can’t win the title.

So Warrior is beaten up by Savage and Slaughter, being the good heel he is, capitalizes on this and beats up on Warrior. He eventually puts Warrior in a bear hug. Warrior tries to pump up and gets out of the hold. But, unlike Hogan, he still acts injured and has to sacrifice his pumping up moment to his injured back. Slaughter abuses his back some more. Finally Warrior manages a brief moment of powering up and kicks Slaughter's ass for a short time.

Sheri comes out and Warrior picks her up. Savage at this point was outside the ring. Warrior throws Sheri onto Savage outside the ring. Savage gets up and hits him with the scepter. It’s quite a hit and looks like it hurt a heck of a lot. The hit allows Slaughter to pin Warrior and win the title. The crowd hates this, of course, and boos and goes into full rant mode.

I think it’s a great match. For the time period, it was a good release of the hatred against Saddam Hussein, and having Slaughter win only allows the American population to hate Slaughter and get some of their rage out against him. Slaughter plays the part of a villain so well.

Promo - 
Virgil and DiBiase have a great promo about money being stronger than blood. It's DiBiase, so it's good.

Ted DiBiase and Virgil vs. Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes

Dustin Rhodes later becomes Goldust. Virgil seems like a boxer type. DiBiase does a great job making Virgil do all the dirty work and treat him like dirt, as a good heel should. It goes back and forth, but to be honest, it’s a bland match for most of the match. At some point, Virgil accidently hits DiBiase and DiBiase beats up Virgil, but still manages to pin Dusty Rhodes.

DiBiase tries to make Virgil debase himself and wrap the Million Dollar Belt around his waist, and Virgil turns on him, which is awesome. The match was pretty much there to sever ties between DiBiase and Virgil, which is fine. It’s just the match as a whole was bland.

Promo - 
Hogan botched his promo pretty badly. As usual.

Onto the Main Event! 
The Royal Rumble!

Dino Bravo and Bret Hart are the first two into the ring. Tony Atlas also is one if the first few into the ring as Saba Simba. My husband is a huge fan of Tony Atlas, who got stuck with a horrible gimmick and used to be Mr. USA. Rick Martel is in very good shape, he’s been working out.

Bret is fun to watch throughout the Rumble. Occasionally he gets all like “Oh to heck with this!” and sits in a corner, waving his hands in annoyance at the other wrestlers.

Tito and Martel still have their feud going, a couple of years going. Long term feuds that last for years and years, that show up consistently at Rumbles, just aren’t common these days. Now days they last for a month and done. Tito and Martel fight all the time and it’s awesome.

Undertaker takes out Bret. He was in for 20 minutes.

Bulldog comes back! Now he has more dreadlocks!. Hawk comes out, and by the time he gets to the ring I’m ready for Valentine, Hercules and a few others to get eliminated. The facial expressions they capture on the guys when they zoom in are hilarious, though. Undertaker specifically makes some great expressions.

Legion of Doom takes out the Undertaker. Sigh, I’ll miss his expressions. Strangely the 18th entry doesn’t show up. Then Hacksaw Jim Duggan comes out, Hooo! The crowd goes wild, of course. Earthquake comes out and immediately starts snockering and sweating buckets. Ew.

Mr. Perfect saunters out with Bobby Heenan, they make such a great pair, Heenan is the best manager for him. Perfect takes out Hacksaw. Aw.

By now the ring is really full, so of course Hogan comes out. Hogan takes out Valentine, who was in the ring for 45 minutes. It’s kind of funny to me how the crowd keeps chanting for Hogan, but absolutely do not like him and do not want him to win.

Luke the Bushwacker enters the ring, then Earthquake pulls him over the rope and eliminates him. Blam. Done. Four seconds. Finally Hercules is eliminated, unfortunately it’s by one of the Nasty Boys. Tugboat is the last man to enter the ring, so the Macho Man was the eighteenth contender that no-showed the Rumble.

Tugboat almost gets out Hogan, so Hogan gets revenge and immediately lifts Tugboat out of the ring. After this, guys start to leave the ring quickly. Bulldog gets Model out, a new record is set at 53 minutes! Model lasted forever, it seems. Bulldog gets shoved over quickly after that.

So it’s one of the Nasty Boys, Earthquake and Hogan. They do a few moves on Hogan. Hogan gets rid of the Nasty Boy, then Hogan plays the crowd a bit. He tries to lift Earthquake and fails. Honestly I’m surprised he fails.

Earthquake beats him up, then Hogan powers up. He powerslams Earthquake. Why the hell is he power slamming Earthquake during a Royal Rumble? Anyway, he wins, of course.

Afterword -
Second year in a row that Hogan has won. Obvious the “immortal” Hulk Hogan would win. It’s predictable. I would like to point out there’s a ton of empty seats by the time Hogan starts his super pose-down ending where he spends the next half hour (ok, ok, 15 minutes) posing for the crowd.

I can see why Randy Savage no-showed the Royal Rumble. Why would he want to waste all that time to job to Hogan? Backstage politics, brother, can’t let the All American Hero loose the Royal Rumble, brother.Screw up my lines, Brooothhherrrr.

All in all, the pay per view was pretty good, though. It was interesting to watch a show during a major war and to see the way the crowd got really ramped up during the segments about nationalism. The state of the country now is so different than it was back then, yet we just went through another period of ‘God Bless America!” after 9/11 and I was a lot more aware of it at that time than I was during the Desert Storm period.

It’s so much the same in many ways. Though the style and the characters have changed, now we have John Cena and Zeb Colter instead of Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter. (Zeb Colter is the modern, less extreme version who fights for the same political issue as Sgt. Slaughter, just in the complete opposite side of the spectrum. One fights for the American side, the other fights for the opposition’s side.)

I guess it just goes to prove that in every era in which there is war or conflict, wrestling will reflect it. We need wrestling to do this. I wrote another post about it.

In any case. It was a good pay per view, even if Hogan won.

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