Saturday, 4 January 2014

PPV REVIEW - WWF SUMMERSLAM 1991

August 26th, 1991
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

On the face of it, a wrestling pay per view headlined by a wedding shouldn't have worked. Yet, despite itself, Summerslam 1991, topped by the wedding between Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth ('A match made in heaven) with Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior teaming up for a handicap match against Sgt. Slaughter) and his goons ('A match made in hell') turned out to be one of the best wrestling shows of the year.

I'm reviewing this from a copy an old VHS tape, so now Vince McMahon growling of special introduction, instead, we go straight to our first match.

The Dragon, The British Bulldog, Texas Tornado vs. The Warlord and Power & Glory (Paul Roma and Hercules)
And so we begin with an enjoyable six man tag team match served well in setting the tone for the rest of the show.

Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat (who at this particular point in his career had been repackaged simply as The Dragon, complete with a cape made to look like a dragon and red scales on his tights) spent the bulk of the contest getting his butt handed to him thanks to the efforts of Warlord and Powers of Pain, but it was when he finally made the obligatory hot tag that things got really exciting.

Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat teamed with British Bulldog and Texas Tornado at Summerslam 1991
Texas Tornado (who remains one this writer's favorite stars of the early 1990s) stormed the ring to clean house, Davey Boy Smith beat up on Warlord (as he would do for most of 1991) all hell broke loose until Steamboat planted Paul Roma with a big splash for the win.

A fun way to kick off Summerslam 1991.
Your winners: The Dragon, The British Bulldog, Texas Tornado

Following the bout, our three-man commentary team of Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper spent some time shilling a special hotline in which callers could chat to 'Macho Man' Randy Savage and Miss. Elizabeth before they tied the proverbial not later on in the show, because nothing says romance like spending the few remaining hours before your wedding speaking to wrestling fans on the telephone.

Cutting to the back, Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect had some final words for challenger Bret 'The Hitman' Hart. The champ claimed that even though Bret was the Excellence of Execution, he wasn't perfect, and would be defeated in their upcoming match. All the while, Perfect's manager The Coach did pretty much the same thing as he would do throughout his WWF tenure; absolutely nothing.

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 - Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect had a classic match over the Intercontinental title
WWF Intercontinental Championship match
World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect (w/ The Coach) vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
For the second year in a row then, Mr. Perfect defended the IC title at Summerslam. 

Unlike his previous year's loss against Texas Tornado, Perfect went down swinging in this thrilling encounter against a Hitman on the rise.

By far the best match on the card, this was a brilliant match in which technical wrestling evolved into wild brawling and then further, into both men desperately pulling out all the stops in search of the elusive three-count.

After a dramatic, back and forth battle, Bret slapped on the sharpshooter to earn his first Intercontinental title.
Your winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

The post-match to this one was pretty hillarious. As The Hitman celebrated, Lord Alfred Hayes attempted to get an interview with Stu Hart, along with Helen, had watched his son's victory from the crowd.

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 - Bret Hart defeated Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental title
Hayes tapped Stu on the shoulder, said pestered and begged and bugged Stu, and was basically ignored. Then, just when Stu finally relented and tried to speak into Alfred's microphone, the Englishman turned his back on the Hart patriach and snubbed him. 

Trust me, that was damn funny.

More shilling followed, this time for Hulk Hogan, a Real American Story, a career retrospective on The Hulkster that could be ordered on pay per view from October. 

Andre The Bushwhacker
Up next, Mean Gene Okerlund spoke to The Bushwhackers and a barely-mobile Andre The Giant.

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 - The Natural Disasters with Jimmy Hart
The story here was that Andre had returned to the World Wrestling Federation and was seeking a manager. Jimmy Hart got in Andre's face demanding the job, only for Hart's charge Earthquake to attack the big man and break his leg. 

In a moment of madness, Andre decided that, when it came to getting revenge against Earthquake and his Natural Disasters partner, Typhoon, there was only two men for the job; Luke and Butch.

Yep, that happened.

The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch w/ Andre The Giant) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon w/ Jimmy Hart)
'There's two ways to beat the Natural Disasters,' quipped Bobby Heenan 'You get 'em down, or you don't show up.'

After witnessing this short, nothing match, your reviewer would have preffered both teams to stay at home.

Despite a fairly lively opening spot which kept the New York crowd alive, this was nothing to write home about.

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 - The Natural Disasters defeated The Bushwhackers
Half way through this match, Bobby Heenan left the commentary table to take care of soething backstage. A few moments later, Earthquake sat on his opponent and that was all she wrote.
Your winners: The Natural Disasters

Post match, the big baddies beat down on their fallen foes before stalking Andre, causing the Legion of Doom to run to the rescue and see off Earthquake and Typhoon.

The Real World's Champion is coming

Backstage, Bobby Heenan knocked on the dressing room door of one Hulk Hogan, Big Gold Belt in hand, and challenged the World Wrestling Federation Champion to a match against 'The Real World's Champion,' Ric Flair. 

Hogan slammed the door in Heenan's face. Hillariously, the Brain yelled 'Who do you think you're embarrassing!?!' 

I'll admit that I was still a year away from my own introduction wrestling in 1991, but from what I hear, seeing Heenan challenge Hogan on behalf of Ric Flair was a serious mark-out moment back then.

Money, money, money

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 - The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase lost his prized Million Dollar title to former lackey, VirgilAs Heenan composed himself, his colleagues went back on the shill for the 1-900 Attached wedding hotline before we saw a clip of Savage on the phone with a fan, insisting that the honeymoon location was a big secret that he wasn't prepared to reveal.


Next, our old friend Sean Mooney caught up with The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase and Sensational Sherri ahead of Dibiase's Million Dollar Title defense against Virgil.


Million Dollar Championship match:
Million Dollar Man (and champion) Ted Dibiase (w/ Sensational Sherri) vs. Virgil
In what would prove to be the defining moment in Virgil's otherwise lacklustre career, the future Curly Bill took it to his former boss in a wonderfully engrossing, emotional affair. 

As hot (if not hotter) than anybody in the World Wrestling Federation at the time, Virgil had his head licked by Roddy Piper (the man who, so the story went, had trained him to wrestle), then went right after Dibiase with a flurry of fists.

What followed was not a technical masterpiece, but then, it was never supposed to be. This was good old fashioned storytelling in which one of the best heels in the history of the business finally got his comeuppance at the hands of his long-suffering former charge. 

The New York fans were with this match every step of the way, errupting with outrage when Dibiase took the cheap way out and got himself disqualified thanks to a Sensational Sherri shoe-shot. Their jeers soon turned to cheers however when Howard Finkle took to the microphone to announce that, under orders from referee Earl Hebner, the match would continue with Sensational Sherri sent to the back.

The war continued until, at just over the 13 minute mark, a battered Virgil crawled over a weakened Ted Dibiase and gained the pinfall.
Your winner and NEW Million Dollar Champion

It's sad that this would be the best thing that would ever happen to Virgil. As hot as he was at Summerslam '91, when he inevitably moved on from his storyline with the Million Dollar Man, Virgil was unable to capitalize on his popularity and would never quite be the same without Dibiase. 

He's The Mountie
WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 -  The Big Boss Man and The Mountie clashed in a 'Jailhouse match'
Out in the parking lot, Mean Gene Okerlund spoke with The Mountie. Flanked by three of New York's finest, the former Rougueau Brother gloated about zapping Big Boss Man with his infamous cattleprod, before vowing to defeat his rival in their upcoming Jailhouse Match. The Mountie then yelled at the three cops and told them to be rough with the Boss Man when they threw him in the slammer.

Offering a retort, Big Boss Man promised that his enemy would serve  hard time.

'Jailhouse match'
The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Big Boss Man
The stipulation here was simple: The loser gets put in jail for the night, because apparently, losing a professional wrestling match can be considered a criminal offence.

Despite The Mountie playing such a large part of the show from this point on, his actual match against the Boss Man wasn't particularly memorable. 

Or good, for that matter.

A passable, entirely forgetable affair which saw the Big Boss Man finally extract a measure of revenge against the Canadian, putting him away at just under ten minutes.
Your winner: The Big Boss Man (The Mountie gets sent to prison)

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 -  Randy Savage and Miss. Elizabeth spent the hours before their wedding on the phone to fans
The post-match hillarity began with the three New York City cops racing to the ring, and slapping the cuffs on the loser. The Mountie sold this like a whiny little child as the Boss Man and his colleagues carted him off to the back and into a paddy wagon heading for the prison.

Interval time
As was custom at the time, the pay per view interval was filled mostly with a string of interviews. 

First, a furious Ted Dibiase and Sensational Sherri screamed at Mean Gene, bemoaning Dibiase's loss to Virgil.

Bret Hart told Sean Mooney that he'd been waiting a long time to become Intercontinental Champion and was proud of his achievement.

Jimmy Hart threatened to get his lawyers on the Big Boss Man, after which Big Boss Man yelled and spluttered at Sean Mooney, calling The Mountie a criminal (so apparently losing a match is a crime).

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 -  Randy Savage  on the phone to a fan
Finally, Mean Gene barged into Randy Savage's dressing room whilst Savage was still on the phone with his fans. Savage didn't want to talk to to Gene, but when Okerlund threatened to go off in search of Miss. Elizabeth, the Macho Man told the interviewer to stay.

Fans in the United States where then treated to five minutes of the 1-900 ATTACHED advertisement whilst Lord Alfred Hayes shilled for the UK fans.

When the show returned, it was with Monsoon, Piper and Heenan discussing the highlights of the show so far and hyping our big main event. Heenan insisted that Sid Justice, the special referee in the Match Made in Hell, was up to something.

We then caught up with an outraged Mountie, who was dragged out of the paddy wagon yelling 'Hey!  You can't do that to me! Don't you know who I am! You're lowly cops and I'M THE MOUNTIE! I'M THE MOUNTIE!'

Tag team turmoil
WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 -  The Nasty Boys defended the WWF tag team titles against Legion of Doom
Back in the arena, Sean Mooney interviewed WWF Tag Team Champions The Nasty Boys about their upcoming title defence against the Legion of Doom. 

The Nasty's manager was then shown a clip of his other charge, The Mountie, having his mugshot taken in jail. As with all the clips of Mountie in jail, it was pretty hysterical.

'You can't take pictures of The Mountie like that! That's an invasion of privacy!' bellowed Hart.

Speaking to Mean Gene Okerlund, Hawk and Animal vowed to beat The Nasty Boys for the tag team titles and turn them into The Pasty Boys (whatever that's supposed to mean).

With that done, we went once again to the New York Jail where The Mountie refused to have his fingerprints taken. 'Give me your finger, give me your finger,' insisted one cop. The Mountie did as he was told and flipped off the police man before yelling 'You can't fingerprint me, I'm The Mountie!'

Sgt. Slaughter, flanked by General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa (Iron Shiek) talked trash against Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. 

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 -  Sid Justice was the special guest referee for the show's main event
Sid Justice denied being in cahoots with Slaughter and friends, before finally it was back to the action. 

WWF Tag Team Championship Street Fight
World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal)
If you're coming at this review as a fan from the wild and violent days of the Attitude Era or later, its probably worth noting here that a street fight in 1991 WWF wasn't quite what you might expect.

Indeed, this was far from the wild, crazy, arena-wide brawls popularized in the mid to late nineties (including this awesome match pitting the Nasty Boys against Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne).

'There's no rules, no count out, no disqualification' said Bobby Heenan as The Nasty Boys made a legal tag, proving that this was nothing more than your standard tag team match with the occasional weapon brought into play.

That's not to say it was necessarily bad. It was still a fun, hard-hitting, highly-entertaining match which saw the Road Warriors land the Doomsday Device and pick up the tag team titles in the process.
Your winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: The Legion of Doom

As they raised the belts in the air, Hawk and Animal became triple-crown tag team winners,, having held the tag team titles in the NWA, AWA and now, the WWF. 

Mountie makes a friend
Heading back to jail, The Mountie was thrown in jail and yelled 'You've got the wrong guy!' as though he was actually guilty of something.

Vince McMahon's trademark growl made an appearance, growling about Survivor Series 1991.

Irwin R. Schyster vs. Greg Valentine
An entirely pointless match that wasn't even remotely entertaining. 

The only thing remotely interesting about this match was that it took place during Valentine's oft-forgotten about face run. He lost to I.R.S, nobody cared.
Your winner: I.R.S

WWF / WWE: Summerslam 1991 -  WWF Champion Hulk Hogan teamed with Ultimate Warrior to take on Sgt. Slaughter, Cl. Mustafa and General Adnan
Another ad came for Hulk Hogan - A Real American Hero, before the WWF Champion himself was joined by The Ultimate Warrior for a word with Mean Gene Okerlund. This was the usual promo from both men in which they yelled and rambled and promised to put an end to the reign of Sgt. Slaughter.

In our final trip to jail, we bid The Mountie fairwell in the company of an effeminate biker.

Handicap match:
Sgt. Slaughter, Colnel Mustafa and General Adnan vs. World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, with special guest referee, Sid Justice. 
When Sgt. Slaughter is the only guy on your team capable of doing much in the ring, you know you're in trouble. 

By this point in their careers, Slaughter's partners were limited in the ring, leading Slaughter to carry the bulk of the match for his team. 

For their part, Hogan and Warrior (and even Sid) worked hard to deliver a fun main event, yet despite their best efforts, this one sadly fell flat.

The end came when Warrior grabbed a chair and chased off Adnan and Mustafa (in the process running out of the WWF altogether due to his famous incident with Vince McMahon), allowing Hogan to leg drop Slaughter and pick up the win.
Your winners: Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior

Post-match, Hogan invited Sid back to the ring and the two closed the show with the usual posing and showboating. 

A match made in heaven
And so Summerslam 1991 ended with Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss. Elizabeth finally becoming man and wife.

That's where my copy of this event ends, but I understand that afterwards, this happened:

All in all then, a fun show. Definitely worth watching the Perfect/Hitman and Dibiase/Virgil matches, not to mention The Mountie's time in prison. OK, so some of the matches left a lot to be desired (see IRS/Valentine and the Disasters/Bushwhackers clash), but they were fairly innoffensive and did little to detract from what a generally enjoyable pay per view Summerslam 1991 really was. For early '90s WWF, this was good stuff indeed.


5 comments:

There's two things you forgot to mention:

1..Prior to destroying Andre's knee and then teaming with Tugboat/Typhoon, Earthquake had been a busy boy after WrestleMania 7, squashing Jake Roberts' pet Damien with two Earthquake splashes on the April 27th episode of Superstars, which prompted Jake to unveil his new snake called Lucifer.

On the June 15th episode of Superstars, Quake teamed with the Nasties against Tugboat and the Bushwhackers, where Tugboat betrayed the Kiwis and sided with Quake, Jimmy, and the Nasties. Two days later on the June 17th episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Jimmy announced that Tugboat was now known as Typhoon, as well as formed a new tag-team with Quake called The Natural Disasters.

After Andre's injury and Tugboat's heel turn both happened, the original planned tag match, according to WWF Magazine, was going to be Jake & Andre vs. Quake & Typhoon. But, since Andre was so damn immobile at this point in time, that wasn't going to happen.

2.After WrestleMania 7, The Ultimate Warrior was a guest on Paul Bearer's talk show segment called "The Funeral Parlor" on the April 13th episode of Superstars, where The Undertaker attacked Warrior and locked him in an air-tight casket to die. Several road agents and referees struggled to break open the impromptu tomb, and when they finally did, Earl Hebner successfully applied CPR on Warrior, who came back a changed man, and thus began a very popular house show feud between Warrior and Taker, which sold more tickets than Hogan and Slaugher.

Three months later, on the July 27th episode of Superstars, Jake Roberts came on the Funeral Parlor and told Bearer that he would help train Warrior with the secrets of the dark side in order to defeat Taker. Jake asked Warrior to "trust" him, he accepted, and we were treated to three trials Jake had set up for Warrior.

The first trial involved Warrior having to lay still in a sealed casket, returning like a dead man, his eyes serene and empty.

For the second trial, Warrior dug up a grave in a cemetery, found a skull, and spent the night being buried up to his neck to stare at the skull until morning.

The final trial required Warrior to go into a little snake pit and ask the cobra Lucifer about his fate. Warrior reluctantly opened up a little casket ornament on a pedestal, and a cobra appeared, striking and biting Warrior, who struggled and knocked down the door trying to escape! As the venom spread through his veins, Warrior passed out, but not before he saw Taker and Bearer staring above him, and Jake laughing. The Warrior was a fool to trust a snake after all!

So, as a result, Jake Roberts had officially turned heel by siding with The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. Sadly, this feud was never mentioned on this PPV.

And so, as a result, Jake is offically a killer heel. Another reason why Jake turned heel is because nobody helped him stop Earthquake from flattening his pet Damien, so Jake decided to become one with the snakes again and find solace in the dark side. Unfortunately, this feud was never mentioned on this PPV.

You see, the Jake/Earthquake and Warrior/Taker feuds never being blown off at SummerSlam 1991 was an example of why Vince had so much going on storyline-wise, that he desperately needed to add in another pay-per-view during the five-month period between WrestleMania and SummerSlam to polish off lingering feuds that didn’t have the legs to make it between shows (Jake/Earthquake and Warrior/Taker) or end feuds that had no right lasting that long (Hogan/Slaughter).

good information! you made a good point on the middle of the summer between WrestleMania 7 and SummerSlam 1991. Vince needed KOR 91 during this year. Would have been nice to end the Hogan/Slaughter fued like you said and also have a ppv match between Warrior/Taker even if it ends in DQ. As long as we get a ppv match between the 2 since we never received it!

Like another online user said - @ SS 91 too bad we couldn't have gotten LOD vs Hogan/Warrior in a tag team main event match. It doesn't even need to be for the tag belts, let the nastys defend against the Rockers.

Here is my King of the Ring 1991 card if it could have debuted then. Also, do not have Hogan and WArrior vs Slaughter and 2 jobbers @ SSlam. instead have Hogan team up with someone else at KOR 91 and beat them in a lower ppv (KOR 91)

KOR 1991

1. Hogan/Hacksaw vs Trio of Terror.
2. Warrior vs Undertaker - main event/ last match.

3. Roberts vs Earthquake - kor tournament first round. Equake wins pinfall.
4. Tugboat vs Dino Bravo. Tugboat wins pinfall.
5. Bulldog vs Perfect - first round. perfect wins via count-out.
6. Tornado vs Warlord. Tornado wins via pinfall.

7. Tugboat vs Earthquake. semi-finals. Tugboat wins via DQ!
8. Tornado vs Perfect. semi-finals. Perfect wins via pinfall.

9. Tugboat vs Perfect. Perfect wins 1991's King of the Ring!

That's a great card for the 1991 King of the Ring.

Also, the main event at SummerSlam 1991 could've easily been Hogan, Warrior, & Sid vs. Slaughter, Jake, & Taker, and you could still have the same finish with Hogan pinning Slaughter, thus protecting Jake and Taker to build them up for their respective feuds against Savage and Hogan.

Also, have the Disasters battle the Rockers instead of the Kiwi's, and have IRS battle Koko B Ware instead of Valentine.

Interesting line ups here, another PPV between 'Mania and Summerslam could have really worked back then.

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