PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1991

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Event poster
November 27, 1991
Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan

Between The Undertaker's debut at the 1990 Survivor Series and his first WWF title shot at Survivor Series 1991,  much had changed in the landscape of the World Wrestling Federation.

In the space of a year, Macho Man Randy Savage and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts had entered into a bitter rivalry, switching places in the all-important heel/face divide.

Bret Hart had broken away from The Hart Foundation to capture the Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam 1990, leaving behind a tag team division that was once peppered by great technical and high-flying teams but which was now solely the domain of power combos and brawlers such as Legion of Doom and The Nasty Boys.

Also, man-servant Virgil had finally severed ties with The Million Dollar Man.

All of this, and much more, made for an interesting time at the fifth annual WWF (WWE) Survivor Series, which went a little bit like this:

Jack Tunney Makes an Important Announcement

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Macho Man Randy Savage gets bit by a snake

The show started with a recap of the intense angle from WWF Superstars in which Jake 'The Snake' Robert's snake took a bite out of Randy Savage's arm. 

The gripping segment, which only became even more dramatic with the arrival of a distraught Elizabeth and a helpless Rowdy Roddy Piper at ringside, was followed by an announcement from WWF President, Jack Tunney. 

Tunney declared that, due to the snake shenanigans neither Savage nor Roberts would be permitted to compete in tonight's show.

The recently reinstated Savage would, however, face Savage 'at the earliest possible convenience', which just so happened to be that coming Tuesday in Texas

From that point on, it became pretty clear that anybody who had paid money for this show had basically shelled out to view one long shill for yet another event they'd have to pay for just a few days later.

Honestly, though a couple of memorable things would ultimately happen at Survivor Series 1991, its only real purpose was apparently to promote another Pay Per View.

All that aside, it was on to the opening contest.

Four vs. Four Survivor Series Elimination Match
Ric Flair, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Warlord and The Mountie VS. Rowdy Roddy Piper, The British Bulldog, Virgil and Intercontinental Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

And so for the first time ever in the history of Survivor Series, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase was a part of A survivor Series team of which he wasn't actually the captain.

Instead, that honor went to The Nature Boy Ric Flair himself, as he led his men through a scorching hot opening contest which entertained from bell to bell.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Ric Flair backs off from The British Bulldog
Every man involved had the chance to shine in this compelling opening encounter and did so with gusto, yet it was  Flair and Davey Boy Smith who stood out the most in the early part of the match, the latter taking on all comers in some strong exchanges before finally being eliminated by Naitch.

From there, the whole thing got a bit weird, and despite the continued efforts of all involved (yes, that includes Warlord), the ending put a dampener on things when, as Flair laid low on the outside, all hell broke loose between the ropes, causing the referee to disqualify everybody except for Flair in one fell swoop.

The ending aside, Survivor Series 1991 had gotten off to a fine start with a match that must surely be regarded as highly underrated when it comes to discussing the finest moments of the annual November event.
Your Winner and sole survivor: Ric Flair

The show was then put in the command of Mean Gene Okerlund who cut a special interview with the one and only Macho Man Randy Savage.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Randy Savage is interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund

Resplendent in an outfit that was ridiculous even by the former champion's usual flamboyant standards, the master of Macho Madness declared that as much as the aforementioned snake bite had caused him pain, that was nothing compared to the torture of hearing and seeing Elizabeth crying at ringside.

Liz herself then joined Savage and Okerlund on the podium to continue the never-ending hard-sell for the Tuesday in Texas Pay Per View. Elizabeth was as bland and uncomfortable on the microphone as ever.

4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, El Matador Tito Santana, and Texas Tornado vs. Col. Mustafa, Bezkerker, Skinner, and Hercules

Featuring the oddest combination of mid-card talent perhaps ever combined in one ring, this match sucked so bad that the first time I saw it, I fell fast asleep within minutes and only awoke again halfway through the hype for the Undertaker/Hogan showdown.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Tito Santana and Texas Tornado vs. Col. Mustafa, Bezerker, Skinner and Hercules

On repeat viewing, it turned out that I hadn't really missed much.

Despite a flurry of excitement from Tito Santana in the early going, this soon disintegrated into a dull, sluggish affair in which barely anything of interest happened.

One by one, the bad guys (including everybody's favorite nut-job The Iron Shiek in his guise as Mustafa) fell victim to the good guys in a bout so boring that even your commentary team of Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon had trouble paying much attention.
Your Winners: Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Duggan, Tito Santana and Texas Tornado

Up next, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts spoke with Mean Gene Okerlund, offering a response to Randy Savage's earlier promo as the show once again went into the hard sell for Tuesday in Texas. 

With that out of the way, it was time for some last-minute hype in the build-up to our main event (you know, the main event featured in the middle of the show), as we were shown an abridged version of the following clip:

World Wrestling Federation Championship Match: 
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defends against The Underaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

And so the match around which the entire show had been built, the first ever singles match to take place on a Survivor Series card was here, slap bang in the middle of the card.

And boy did it suck.

'Taker gained the advantage over the champion in the early going, then spent 90% of the contest stalking his prey around the ring, choking Hogan out for a while before breaking up the monotony by occasionally clobbering him over the back.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - The Undertaker in his match against Hulk Hogan

Once in a while, Hogan would mount a comeback, only to be beaten by his challenger. 

Eventually, during one of The Hulkster's many identical comebacks, 'Real World's Champion' Ric Flair made his way to ringside.

Suitably distracted, Hogan went outside to beat up Flair. 

Returning to the ring, Hogan turned his attention to Undertaker but was then distracted once more by Paul Bearer. As Undertaker's manager kept the referee busy, Undertaker picked up Hogan for a tombstone and planted him right onto a steel chair laid out by Flair.

Three seconds later, we had a new WWF Champion and this abysmal match was over.
Your Winner and new World Wrestling Federation Champion: The Undertaker

In the wake of that decision, a raft of promos followed:

  • Rowdy Roddy Piper offered a bat-shit crazy promo in which he went loco on Flair, Undertaker, and the Survivor Series itself. In Piper's usual insane style, he mentioned something about Hogan having hairy teeth and otherwise lost his marbles before the eyes of the world.
  • Ric Flair gave us a similar intense promo. His was much more compelling and coherent as he talked about costing Hogan the title and eventually becoming the champion himself.
  • The Natural Disasters talked smack about The Legion of Doom and Big Boss Man
  • Jack Tunney informed us that there would be a world title rematch between Hogan and Undertaker at, yep, you guessed it, Tuesday in Texas.
  • LOD and the Boss Man gave their response to Earthquake, Typhoon, and IRS.

4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Elimination Match 
The Beverley Brothers and The Nasty Boys vs. The Bushwhackers and The Rockers

All eight men played their parts well in a match that was far more entertaining than it had any right to be given that a quarter of the participants were Bushwhackers.

Even still, Luke and Butch got the crowd firmly into an otherwise throw-away contest before being eliminated within the first ten minutes of action.

The Rockers gained a measure of retribution by taking out Beau Beverley before taking it in turns to play the babyface-in-peril against the Nasties and Blake Beverley. It was during their comeback that Jannetty scooped up one of the Nasty Boys for a slam, inadvertently catching Michaels with his opponent's boot and causing him to be pinned by Knobs.

The Beginning of the End of The Rockers was nigh. The team, who hadn't seemed to be functioning all that closely since the start of the match, became engaged in a heated argument as Michaels told his partner off for getting him taken out then stormed out of the arena towards eventual superstardom as a singles star.

Left to fend for himself, Jannety soon succumbed to his opponents and was easily defeated. All the while, Monsoon and Heenan shilled for This Tuesday In Texas as though their lives depended on it.
Your Winners and sole survivors: Jerry Saggs, Brian Knobs and Blake Beverley.

With that out of the way, it was down to probably the only instance you'll ever see of I.R.S headlining a WWE Pay Per View (at least as far as I can remember).

3 vs. 3 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Irwin R. Schyster and The Natural Disasters (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Boss Man and World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom.

Though hardly a five-star mat classic, this final match of the evening was another rare case of a contest being far more enjoyable than the wrestlers involved would have you believe it could be.

Boss Man and IRS worked a fast, hard-hitting style in the early going before the match gave way to the battle of power between the Disasters and the LOD.

As the action spiraled out of control, I.R.S drilled Boss Man with his briefcase for the first elimination of the match. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1991 - The Legion of Doom and Big Boss Man

Hawk, Animal, Earthquake, and Typhoon again took over the match with a fairly interesting exchange before I.R.S once again attempted to land a briefcase shot, this time missing a blow to Hawk and drilling Typhoon instead. Hawk covered his foe and Typhoon was gone.

Irate at the decision, Earthquake yelled at I.R.S and left the ring with his partner, getting counted out in the process.

And so it was. Despite holding his own against Legion of Doom for as long as he could, Schyster was quickly and easily pinned by the tag team champions.
Your Winners and sole survivors: The Legion of Doom

Closing the show, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed new World Wrestling Federation Champion The Undertaker in a final bit of hype for Tuesday in Texas.

If I'd paid money for that show, I'd be incredibly pissed off. 

OK, so at least three of the five matches ranged from mildly entertaining to balls-out awesome, but it didn't take too much time for the WWF to reveal that the only reason Survivor Series took place in 1991 was to further sell a second Pay Per View just several days later. 
Seriously, just when you thought the overt shilling was bad enough BEFORE the title change, in the two matches which followed Hogan and Undertaker's snoozefest, the Texas PPV was all Monsoon and Heenan could take about, distracting from the show.
As far as quality goes, this is certainly a step up from the abysmal 1990 affair, but compared to Survivor Series shows in the late 80s, this sucked a bunch.

Other 1991 pro wrestling reviews: 

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  1. Regarding the Team Duggan vs. Team Mustafa match, Jim Neidhart and Ricky Steamboat were both originally booked to team with Duggan and Von Erich, while Big Bully Busick (a street tough bully who wore a red sweater and grey bowler hat, sported an impressive handlebar mustache, popped childen's balloons with a cigar, and put his opponents in the Stump Puller, a painful submission move) was originally booked to team with Mustafa, Skinner, and Berzerker.

    However, Neidhart was injured by Flair, Steamboat left for WCW after refusing to become a jobber and be fed to Taker, and Busick was canned for unknown reasons, so Slaughter, Santana, and Hercules respectively replaced them in the match.

  2. I agree that the biggest strike against this show was the annoying way they kept hyping a different show the following week. Some of the matches were OK but I actually preferred the previous year's survivor series.

  3. I HATED Monsoon's commentary on the Rockers & Bushwhackers/Nasties & Beverlies match, as he either blatantly ignored Shawn being pinned or actually missed it (which would be even worse), and basically claims that Shawn just walked out on his team to paint him as a heel.

    When it comes to commentary, there are few things that annoy me as much as biased babyface commentators who deliberately make shit up to make the babyfaces look good or the heels look bad. Vince McMahon did that a lot throughout the 1990's, like missing legal tags by the heels, or ignoring cheating by the faces. It's OK when the heel commentators do that, because they're supposed to be the assholes who are getting under your skin by being biased, but the babyface commentators just sound like childish fanboys when they do that.

    That's why Jesse "The Body" Ventura was so good as a heel commentator, because he preferred the heels but mostly kept his commentary fair, even praising the faces when they did something well. But what made Jesse so awesome was that he would constantly call out Monsoon and Vince on their bullshit. I bet Vince hated him for it, because he probably thought Jesse was pointing out stuff that the fans were too stupid to notice on their own, as he thinks we're all morons.

  4. I was at this event with my family My Mom and dad and Me and my two sisters was There in Detroit Michigan watching the undertaker defeat hulk Hogan for the WWF heavyweight championship this inspired me to become a wrestler year's later Plus it's The first time I seen wrestling live with my parents and my sisters