Retro Review: WWE Royal Rumble 1991

Justin C is ready to ‘Rumble’! He kicks off a huge week of RR coverage with another RR: a Retro Review.

1991 Royal Rumble

The start of 1991 is a time of going back to what was in the WWF. The Ultimate Warrior has been WWF Champion since WrestleMania 6. But he isn’t doing great as champion, and the shine is starting to wear off him. So we know what that means, we need to get the WWF title back to the main draw, brother.

But we have to get the title off Warrior first. Enter Sgt. Slaughter. At SummerSlam 1990, Sgt. Slaughter returned as a turncoat, siding with Iraq and Saddam Hussein in their conflict with the United States. The WWF took a good amount of flack for this, and rightfully so. But I always give credit to Slaughter for pulling off the gimmick so well.

Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper are on commentary. I’m really not a fan of Piper on commentary so this should be a trip.

We get the Royal Rumble intro with Vince McMahon announcing the participants. Not as good as 1992 would be but still good. We need this back every year, along with the old Rumble theme.

The Orient Express w/Mr. Fuji vs The Rockers

A rematch from WrestleMania 6, which saw the Orient Express upset the Rockers. The Orient Express knock Marty Jannetty off the ropes during their entrance and focus on Michaels, but Jannetty comes back to send the Express packing. They then hit dueling suicide dives to the outside, when those were actually rare and not done in every match.

The match slows down a bit to start. The teams exchange headlock control. Michaels switches it up with a sleeper but that is quickly broken up by Kato. By the way did you know Kato wasn’t Japanese? He was actually Paul Diamond under a mask.

We get a cool spot where the Express tries to whip the Rockers into each other. Michaels jumps over Jannetty. The Express go for double atomic drops. The Rockers escape and dropkick the Express to the outside. The Rockers tease dives again but the Express move. The Rockers then hit dives off the top to the outside on both men. Love it.

Michaels jumps into the arms of Kato and Tanaka pulls him down onto the ropes. Fuji uses the cane which gets boos from the crowd. Now the Orient Express focuses on Michaels. It is weird seeing Jannetty get the hot tag when you know Michaels goes on to become the big star.

Jannetty’s advantage doesn’t last too long as the Orient Express go back to heel control. Michaels has enough though and starts using some double team tactics as well. Michaels comes in and kicks Tanaka in the gut. As he is crouched down, Kato catapults Jannetty, who jumps over Tanaka and pins him for the win. Very fun opening match.

Sean Mooney interviews Randy Savage. Savage says he is the greatest WWF Champion of all time and is the number one contender. He already has a commitment from Sgt. Slaughter that if he wins, Savage will get a title match. But what about if Warrior wins? Savage says Sensational Sherri is taking care of that now.

Sherri comes out for an interview. She knows the honorable Sgt. Slaughter will stick to his word. But she says if Ultimate Warrior is as honorable as everyone says he is, he will come out there and accept the challenge. But Sherri thinks Warrior is yellow.

Warrior comes out and gives no answer. So Sherri starts seducing him. Warrior smiles at her. Sherri gets on her knees in front of Warrior. This is getting a bit weird. Warrior eventually spits to the side then tells Sherri no. Savage freaks out and runs out. But he ends up running out from the other side of the arena, through the crowd, to the entrance ramp. Where the hell was his locker room?

The Barbarian w/Bobby Heenan vs Big Boss Man

There must be a cut here because we go immediately to Barbarian already entering the ring. This was in the middle of Heenan’s feud with the Boss Man making fun of his mom. It was originally going to start with Rick Rude but he ended up leaving the company.

Boss Man starts off the match a house of fire until he tries lifting Barbarian and he collapses. So Barbarian slows down the match with his power offense. Barbarian is super tan for a barbarian. Shouldn’t he be a little paler?

Barbarian applies two straight bearhugs. The ultimate slow down to catch our breath move in a match between two big men. Boss Man escapes the second one by biting the face of Barbarian. Gross. He then just barely catches Barbarian with an enziguri kick.

Both men exchange near falls. Boss Man hits the Boss Man Slam but Barbarian gets his finger tips on the ropes. Barbarian hits a very loose pile driver. By that I mean he really didn’t hold Boss Man well. Barbarian goes to the top and hits a crossbody, but Boss Man uses the momentum to get on top of Barbarian and pin him for the win.

Sgt. Slaughter is interviewed. He tells the Ultimate Puke’s seconds are numbered. Warrior actually gives a competent interview for him, giving answers to Mean Gene’s questions that make sense.

WWF Championship: Ultimate Warrior (c) vs Sgt. Slaughter w/General Adnan

Uh oh. The WWF title match not even the last non Rumble match on the card? That can’t be a good sign. Slaughter and Adnan try to take out Warrior with the flag, but he ducks and clotheslines them. He then snaps the flag in half.

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Warrior beats Slaughter from post to post. He clotheslines him out of the ring as Sherri comes out. Warrior hits some shoulder tackles. Sherri grabs the leg of Warrior. He chases her up the aisle, only to get jumped by Savage. Savage hits Warrior with one of the light posts.

Warrior makes his way back to the ring where it becomes all Slaughter. And that is not good. Slaughter applies a bear hug and now we have two straight matches with these. Slaughter applies the camel clutch and thinks he won so releases it, even though Warrior never gave up.

This allows Warrior to start a comeback. Clotheslines, a shoulder tackle. Out comes Sherri. Warrior pulls her into the ring then press slams her to the outside onto Savage. Slaughter knees Warrior into the ropes. Savage hits Warrior with the scepter over the head. Slaughter pins Warrior for the win.

For some reason Gorilla and Piper think there is a DQ, despite the ref making a clear pin. That makes them sound like idiots. The crowd either chants “Bullshit” or “Hogan.” I can’t tell. Hogan will tell you they were chanting for him, brother (to some, they’re the exact same word – Ed).

Wrestlemania 7 promo for the LA Coliseum. It is amazing how they thought this show would still sell out this late into the game.

Koko B. Ware vs The Mountie w/Jimmy Hart

These poor guys have to follow that match. Did Koko ever do anything worthwhile in the WWF? Honest question because my mind is blanking right now.

Gorilla said Mountie went to Canada to train with actual mounties. That would get WWF in trouble later and they would have to say Jacques was not associated with the mounties.

Mountie applies a claw to the face of Koko and Gorilla says that is one of the Canadian mountie holds. So does that mean the Von Erich’s trained with them in Canada? Jimmy Hart taunting Frankie is the best part of this match so far.

This match is so boring I looked up to see what Koko’s career highlight would be in the WWF. Looks like it was a double countout in an Intercontinental title match against Randy Savage on an episode of Superstars in 1986. Mountie ended up winning the match.

Savage is interviewed and he hears a pounding on his locker room door. So he escapes through another door right next to that door. Wouldn’t that take him to generally the same spot? Slaughter then cuts a promo.

After some shout outs to the troops in the Middle East, we get some Rumble promos. Hawk says if life is a roller coaster, you don’t want to take a ride on either of them. Eww. Pretty sure Hacksaw says DUH instead of HOOO. Bulldog says he is glad he is a bulldog for this Rumble, keeping his string of weird Rumble promos going.

Ted DiBiase and Virgil are interviewed. DiBiase says the reason Virgil does all the things he does is because of money. They cut to an angry Virgil while DiBiase is describing everything Virgil does.

Dusty and Dustin Rhodes vs Ted DiBiase and Virgil

We are at the end of the line here for Dusty Rhodes in the WWF. How was his run? He was never going to be Champion but I would argue his run wasn’t too bad given his spot on the card.

The Rhodes clear the ring twice early. DiBiase gives Virgil some light slaps on the face to get him going. Roddy Piper apparently had lunch with Virgil the other day to talk to him about things. Dustin clotheslines Virgil back to the outside as DiBiase goes back out to Virgil again.

DiBiase comes in and says he will show Virgil how it is done. DiBiase gets some offense in, but Dustin face plants Ted then Ted eats elbow after elbow from both Rhodes. Dusty tags in and gets more elbows, then applies a sleeper but Virgil comes in to break it up.

I just realized thirty years later and Dustin is still wrestling. That’s insane. Virgil comes in and ducks a Dustin charge in the corner as Dustin sells his left knee. Virgil immediately goes after it. Both heels work over the knee until Dustin ducks a shot and Virgil accidentally hits DiBiase.

DiBiase confronts Virgil and then tosses him out of the ring. Dusty tags in but misses an elbow in the corner and DiBiase rolls him up for the win. And that would be the end of Dusty Rhodes in the WWF.

Ted DiBiase says everyone has a price and makes Virgil come in and put the Million Dollar belt around his waist. By the way, Virgil was named to rib Dusty Rhodes, whose real name was Virgil. Virgil drops the belt, but then goes to grab it. He then clocks DiBiase in the face with the belt as the crowd pops pretty big for it.

Hulk Hogan is interviewed. He has the pep of someone that knows he is getting the WWF title back soon brother. Mean Gene says we have some unconfirmed reports that Sgt. Slaughter defaced the American flag.

Royal Rumble Match

Bret Hart is #1, followed by Dino Bravo at #2. Bravo is eliminated by Greg Valentine who comes in at 3. Paul Roma is in at 4. You know, the more I watch of Roma the more I think the guy gets way too much crap. Should he have been a Horsemen? No. But his tag teams with Arn Anderson and Paul Orndorff in WCW were quite good.

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Texas Tornado is in at 5 to help Bret. I would have liked to see a Bret Hart/Tornado match at some point. Too bad by the time Bret was a singles star Tornado was pretty much a jobber. Rick Martel is 6. He’s a sneaky good competitor in the history of the Rumble when you look back at it. Saba Simba is out at 7 and no one knows who he is. Not Gorilla, not Piper, not the crowd. There is a delay from Gorilla and Piper saying who it is. It is Tony Atlas for those that don’t know.

Bushwhacker Butch is out at 8. Martel eliminates Simba in short order. Not 30 seconds later Gorilla already forgot he was eliminated. Jake Roberts is out at 9, right in the middle of his feud with Rick Martel. The crowd erupts as Jake goes after Martel. Martel bails through the ropes as Jake chases him, but Valentine goes after Jake.

Here comes Hercules at 10. He immediately goes to help his Power and Glory teammate Paul Roma. Tito Santana is in at 11. He goes right after former Strike Force partner Martel. Paul Roma was eliminated during that melee. Undertaker is out at 12, two months off his Survivor Series debut.

Taker quickly lifts Bret and throws him over the top. Jimmy Snuka comes out at 13. We can’t confirm what he was doing in the back before coming out. Taker dumps Butch. Pretty long run from a Bushwhacker perspective. The British Bulldog is out at 14. Remember he is glad that he is a Bulldog for this match, despite the fact that bulldogs are pretty slow and not agile.

Smash comes out at 15 to mark the halfway point of the match. Demolition is a shell of its former self at this point. Not even a year ago they got a huge pop at Wrestlemania 6 when they regained the tag titles. Rick Martel pulls Jake out from the apron to eliminate him. And the reason for Demolition’s downfall comes out at 16 with Hawk. Okay he himself wasn’t the main reason, but the Road Warriors coming in was.

Greg Valentine is still in there. Of course we all know this means the Hammer is just now getting warmed up. Shane Douglas comes out at 17. Taker dumps Tornado and Hawk dumps Snuka. Douglas went to go punch Hawk but he knew Hawk would no sell for him, so he went for Smash instead. No one comes out for 18. We will deduce why later on.

Animal comes out at 19 and goes to help his partner Hawk against Taker. They double clothesline Taker over the top, but Hawk is then quickly dumped by Martel and Hercules. Here comes Crush at 20. Jim Duggan is in at 21. I wonder if he is still looking for Sapphire? The ring is starting to fill up here.

Earthquake is in at 22 and now it is time to clear the ring. Animal tries clotheslining him out but Quake dumps him. Mr. Perfect is in at 23. This entrance is the great one where Perfect tosses the towel behind him and Heenan looks back and grabs it. Perfect dips his shoulder and dumps Duggan.

Hogan is out at 24 and the place goes crazy. He dumps Smash. Haku is 25 as Hogan then gets rid of Valentine, who was in there for over 45 minutes. Martel chokes Hogan with his shirt. Jim Neidhart is in at 26 and he is running in like Forrest Gump. Earthquake gets rid of Tito, who is told to go to the back by young referee Shane McMahon.

Bushwhacker Luke comes down at 27. Luke comes right in and is dumped right out by Quake. Brian Knobbs is out at 28. No Sags yet. Perfect goes to the apron to let Heenan clear his sweat with a towel. Knobbs gets rid of Hercules, who was actually in there rather long. Warlord comes out at 29, hoping he lasts longer than he did the year before. Warlord goes after Bulldog, who I am pretty sure he feuded with all of 1991. Hogan dumps Crush. Too bad Demolition never got their revenge on Hogan.

Hogan sends Warlord over the top right before Tugboat comes out at 30. Gorilla and Piper say Savage didn’t come out 18, likely because the Ultimate Warrior ran him out of the building. Douglas is dumped by Knobbs who is on an elimination spree.

Friends Hogan and Tugboat go at it. Tugboat thinks he dumped Hogan but he lands on the apron. Hogan then dumps Tugboat FROM BEHIND, which Hogan would bitch about the next year. Sid was always in the right.

Perfect, Haku and Niedhart are all dumped. We’re down to Bulldog, Martel, Knobbs, Quake and Hogan. Bulldog crotches Martel on the top rope then knocks him out. Knobbs and Quake dump Bulldog. That’s right, Brian Knobbs was in the final three of a Royal Rumble.

Quake hits the Earthquake Splash on Hogan and celebrates with Knobbs. But Hogan gets up and boots Knobbs over the top. Hogan goes to slam Quake but Quake falls on him.

Quake powerslams Hogan but Hogan no sells Quake again. Hogan boots Quake and bodyslams him this time then tosses Quake to win. Hogan poses to close the show, as is tradition.

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