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On the Marc Reviews: 1991 Royal Rumble

January 8, 2012 | Posted by Marc Elusive
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On the Marc Reviews: 1991 Royal Rumble  

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Miami Arena, Miami, Florida; January 19, 1991

Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

This is back when the “big four” used to be on different days of the week instead of every PPV on Sunday. Royal Rumble was on Saturday; Summerslam was on Monday; Survivor Series was on Thanksgiving Thursday and WrestleMania (of course) on Sunday.

This pay per view broadcast right at the height of Operation: Desert Storm two days after the actual conflict began; so they play the start off with the national anthem and a lot of red, white and blue.

Rockers vs. Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji): This is Express version 2.0 with the masked Kato (Paul Diamond) replacing Sato; they used to be a tag team called Bad Company in the AWA. The Express knock Jannetty and send Shawn into orbit with a backdrop. Jannetty returns and knocks Kato to the floor then superkicks Pat Tanaka. They double slam him and he joins Kato on the floor allowing the Rockers to hit stereo suicide dives. Marty and Kato start off. The crowd is hot chanting “USA”. Marty gets a side headlock that Kato cannot seem to break. They run a complicated series of leapfrogs and reverse rollups that sees Kato hit a hiplock into an armbar that Jannetty switches into a head scissors with his legs on the mat. They now run the bridge into a backslide spot for two; standoff. Tanaka provides a little distraction but Jannetty avoids the double team and the Express crash into one another. Marty gets an arm drag on Tanaka. Here comes Shawn off the top with a sledge onto Tanaka and works the arm. Shawn and Tanaka run the ropes with Tanaka getting his REALLY FAST off-the-ropes reverse flying cross-chop. Tanaka applies a reverse chinlock to Shawn. Kato tags in and Tanaka runs over the top of BOTH Shawn and Kato twice; the Express almost collide again but get double noggin knocked instead. Shawn hits a high knee that Triple H would use in EVERY one of his matches for two; Shawn applies a chinlock. Tanaka escapes but Shawn applies a sleeper; Kato comes in as does Marty but the referee cuts him off allowing Kato to clobber Shawn with a second-rope chop. Tanaka listens to John Kreese instead of Mr. Fuji and sweeps the leg. Tanaka measures Michaels with chops to the face. Shawn reverses in the corner and Kato and Jannetty join the fray. Ref puts Marty out again; Shawn battles on the second rope with Tanaka and moonsault presses onto Kato to prevent being nailed from behind. All hell breaks loose and the Express do-si-do to counter the Rockers; they try double atomic drops but Shawn and Marty flip over the back and hit stereo dropkicks. The Orient Express retreat again. Shawn and Marty now come off the top onto Tanaka and Kato with stereo crossbodies. Kato gets back in with Michaels who tags Marty and they double elbow him. Shawn hits a delayed vertical suplex onto Kato. Shawn tries a monkey flip in the corner but Tanaka slides along the apron and hangman clotheslines Shawn off the top rope. Fuji nails Shawn with the cane on the apron. The Express hit the AWA Special; Jannetty keeps coming in the ring allowing more double teaming. Tanaka hits a trapezius hold. Shawn comes back but gets flipped over the corner and winds up on the apron; Tanaka helps him back in over the top with a crescent kick. Shawn counters a backdrop attempt slamming Tanaka’s head onto the canvas. Kato stops a tag by attacking Jannetty on the apron. The Orient Express tosses Shawn into the ropes to try to clothesline him with their black belt but Shawn SPLASHES onto the belt sending both Kato and Tanaka into each other. Innovative spot! Shawn finally makes the tag and Marty is on fire slamming and dropkicking everyone. Big powerslam for two; Shawn recovers and takes out Tanaka. Marty and Kato fight for a backslide; Tanaka slides in just in time to kick Marty over into the backslide for two. Shawn trips Kato as he runs the ropes. All hell breaks loose for about the fifth time here and the Rockers hit double superkicks on Kato. Tanaka breaks up a rocket launcher sending Shawn off the top to the floor. Kato slingshots Marty into a Tanaka reverse knife-edge chop. They try it again but unbeknownst to Kato Shawn nails Tanaka; Kato slingshots Marty into a sunset flip on Tanaka for three. Whew, my fingers hurt. 10/10 Insane match that is one of the best opening matches for any PPV; definitely the best opening match in Royal Rumble history. This is like the Macho Man/Ricky Steamboat of tag matches. LOTS of ridiculous tandem offense in this match.

In the back “Macho King” Randy Savage has a commitment from Sgt. Slaughter that Savage is the #1 Contender for the WWF title if he wins tonight. He sends Sensational Queen Sherri to the arena floor to get the same commitment from the WWF Champion Ultimate Warrior. Sherri gets on her knees and begs the Warrior for the title shot for Savage. Warrior says “no”, as only he can, that sends Macho King into a tizzy.

Big Bossman vs. Barbarian (w/Bobby Heenan): Bossman was in the middle of running through the Heenan Family for insulting his mama; en route to his IC title match with Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania VII (full review, click here). THANK GOD Hard Time is included on the Rumble Anthology DVDs; I can only take so much of the “riot gear” Bossman theme. Barbarian gets the immediate advantage on Bossman punching; Bossman reverses and hits a big boot. Bossman prevents him from falling and flies off the ropes with a reverse elbow that sends Barbarian down and out. Bossman joins Barbarian on the floor and posts him. Heenan hides behind the ringpost; looks like Charlie Brown trying to hide behind a skinny tree. Barbarian pokes Bossman in the eye but misses a top rope sledge and Bossman Cactus clotheslines Barbarian out to the floor, again. Barbarian blocks a hiplock and lands a vertical suplex. Impressive. Short clothesline by Barbarian as Gorilla Monsoon gets his traditional “glad he retired” line in. A punch ties Bossman’s foot in the ropes upside down on the floor. Barbarian rams Bossman into the post; Heenan is brave enough now to kick Bossman in the gut. Backbreaker by Barbarian into a bearhug; Bossman breaks it but Barbarian stays on top with elbow drops. Back to the bearhug we go; Bossman head-butts but Barbarian will not break the hold so Bossman bites him. Barbarian catches Bossman’s boot so he enziguris him. Bossman misses a corner charge and Barbarian rolls him up for two. Bossman catches a charging Barbarian and hangman clotheslines him off the top rope for two; both guys down. Barbarian recovers and climbs to the top and nails a top-rope clothesline; Bossman’s foot makes the bottom rope. Bossman reverses a whip right into the Bossman Slam but Barbarian gets his FINGERTIPS on the bottom rope. Barbarian gets a thumb in the eye and delivers a JIMPING PILEDRIVER to Bossman. Barbarian climbs up again and hits a high crossbody that Bossman rolls through for three. 7/10 Bossman was on fire as a character and as a worker here; Barbarian got really good in early 1991 as well; so, what would appear to be a stinker, was actually a great match. These were two heavyweights who can wrestle like smaller guys when needed.

General Adnan babbles in Arabic and Sgt. Slaughter says puke and maggot a lot and says he will defeat the Ultimate Puke for the WWF title. That’s an order! Ultimate Warrior offers a rebuttal on Slaughter’s orders and the turmoil he speaks of. He says he will remain the Ultimate Champion and snorts a lot.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter (w/General Adnan): Slaughter turned on the United States and professed his new loyalty to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Warrior stars off hit breaking the Iraqi flag and clotheslining everyone. Slaughter bumps all over the place for Warrior, dressed in red, white and blue, as he kicks the ever loving crap out of him. Slaughter flies over the top on a corner whip. Sensational Queen Sherri joins us at ringside and she grabs Warrior’s leg. Ultimate Warrior gives chase but gets blindsided by “Macho King” Randy Savage with a studio light. Warrior beats the ring count out because Slaughter keeps interrupting the count. Slaughter stomps and kicks a significantly weakened Warrior. Backbreaker by Slaughter and he spit on him. Roddy Piper is disgusted on commentary. Double clothesline spot puts both guys down. Slaughter applies a bearhug. Warrior comes back to a MASSIVE reaction and slams Slaughter but is too beat up to capitalize; Slaughter does however with elbow drops. Slaughter applies the Camel Clutch (with Warrior’s legs CLEARLY under the bottom rope). Referee makes him break it; Slaughter thinks he won so he argues with the referee. Warrior comes back and beats on Slaughter again. Warrior shoulderblocks him but Sherri returns again distracting Warrior. Warrior presses Sherri and tosses her onto the Macho King, who just returned as well, on the floor. Slaughter knees Warrior into the ropes and distracts the referee allowing Savage to clobber Warrior with his scepter. Slaughter drops an elbow and pins Warrior to win the WWF title. They allow the match to stand to the dismay of Piper, Gorilla Monsoon and the 16,000 people in the building. 2.5/10 Terrible match but it is not about the match it is about the storyline which is both good and bad; good because it lead to Warrior/Savage at WrestleMania VII but bad because it lead to Hogan/Slaughter at WrestleMania VII.

Koko B. Ware (w/Frankie) vs. The Mountie (w/Jimmy Hart): This is the ONLY time the Birdman entrance theme survives the WWE DVD dub-overs. How did that slip through? What with the way they meticulously bleep out EVERY SINGLE “WWF” reference; yet an ENTIRE SONG survives? Jacques Rougeau just completed his “Mountie training” in the art of boredom. Koko lands a dropkick; Mountie stalls. Koko hits an arm wringer; Mountie shoots him off but does one too many leapfrogs and gets punched in the face. Koko reapplies the armbar. Koko gets backdropped to the floor; ELIMINATING him… oh, wait not yet? Koko tries to climb back in but Mountie prevents him from getting in. Jimmy Hart distracts the referee allowing Mountie to shock him with the cattle prod. Mountie applies passive control technique; passively controlling the crowd to sleep. Chicken-wing crossface turnbuckle ram by Mountie. Koko gets tossed to the floor as Jimmy Hart yells at Frankie. Koko counters a piledriver and finally makes a comeback off a telegraphed backdrop with a swinging neckbreaker. Missile dropkick by Koko; Jimmy Hart distracts but Koko counters and hits a second rope cross body for two. Koko runs the ropes but runs right into the horse-collar slam for three. 1/10 Brutally boring squash. Mountie was so boring; how he went from the entertaining Fabulous Rougeau Brothers into the boring Mountie is beyond me.

“Macho King” Randy Savage is not sorry about costing Warrior the title and says he was always the champion. Savage and Sensational Sherri vacate the premises when they hear Ultimate Warrior coming.

Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper complain about the title switch. Why are Piper’s wrists taped?

Sgt. Slaughter and General Adnan give the orders around here. He says he was “digging it” tonight and demands respect.

Roddy Piper throws out a challenge to Sgt. Slaughter.

Rumble interview carousel; Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Earthquake, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Texas Tornado, Legion of Doom, Undertaker (when he was managed by Brother Love), “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “The Model” Rick Martel, British Bulldog, Mr. Perfect and Tugboat.

Ted Dibiase explains why Virgil takes shit from Dibiase… money.

“American Dream” Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase & Virgil: After Dibiase bought Sapphire at Summerslam ‘90 Dibiase then sought fit to abuse Dusty’s son Dustin Rhodes on WWF Superstars. Dustin then fought Dibiase in a “ten minute match” and Dustin lasted the whole ten minutes with him in the ring, so this match was made. Meanwhile Dibiase had been particular nasty in his mistreatment of Virgil; Roddy Piper had been trying to convince him that he did not need Dibiase. Rhodes has lost the polka-dots in lieu of his more traditional black “D.R.” tights as he was on his way back to WCW. Dibiase and Virgil Pearl Harbor the Rhodes’ but get reversed and sent into each other and then to the floor. Dibiase yells at Virgil to take Dustin out. Virgil gets flying clotheslined by Dustin followed by a dropkick to send Virgil to the floor. Dibiase slaps Virgil on the floor and tells him to get back in there. Virgil gets the advantage on Dustin but (due to his inexperience) keeps getting countered and then sent to the floor via clothesline, again. Dibiase, having enough, berates him and tags in. Dibiase immediately takes over on Dustin, due to HIS inexperience. Dibiase hits a nice backdrop and taunts Dusty on the apron. Dustin Rhodes counters a backdrop, cardinal mistake for a pro, and pinballs Dibiase with bionic elbows with his dad. Dibiase is on the floor and Dusty chucks him back in and Dusty tags in. Dusty applies a sleeper and Virgil breaks it up. Dustin returns and hits a nice dropkick. Virgil interferes and gets the advantage back; Virgil avoids a charge and Dustin high knees the turnbuckle. Roddy Piper’s commentary is very interesting in this match as he was the main cheerleader in Virgil’s emancipation. Dustin really hurt his knee and cannot put any weight on it. Virgil floors him with a clothesline and wraps his leg around the post followed by Dibiase. Ted Dibiase enters and lands a leg stretch drop. They try a double team clothesline but Dustin moves and Virgil nails Dibiase. Dibiase beats up Virgil for his insolence and tosses him to the floor. Dusty gets a tag and whips Dibiase a few times but Ted Dibiase catches Rhodes in a roll-up with tights for three. Dusty is more concerned with Dustin than the match. Post-match Dibiase boasts about beating the Rhodes’ then DEMANDS Virgil put his Million Dollar belt around his waist. Virgil DROPS the belt in the ring. Dibiase brings up Virgil’s mother and family and the money that he pays him; Virgil then CLOBBERS Dibiase with the belt as Roddy Piper loses his mind. 7.5/10 The match is average but the aftermath is what the WWF does best. After years of abuse Virgil stands up to his boss and leaves to a HUGE ovation.

“Mean” Gene Okerlund and Hulk Hogan discuss the Royal Rumble and dedicates it to the U.S. Armed Forces. Okerlund then gets UNCONFIRMED reports that Sgt. Slaughter MAY or MAY NOT have defaced the American flag. That enrages Hogan and sets up the main event for WrestleMania VII.

The Royal Rumble: #1 Bret “Hitman” Hart and #2 Dino Bravo starts us off this year; the battle of East Canada verses West Canada. Bret hits an atomic drop and almost gets Bravo out. Bravo comes back and hits a great atomic drop and stomps. Bravo misses an elbow drop as #3 Greg “The Hammer” Valentine he clobbers Dino; the former Dream Team members go at it. Not sure where Hammer was on the heel/face scale but he did not have the Rhythm ‘n’ Blues black hair so I assume he had just dumped Jimmy Hart. Bravo blindsides him as he argues with Jimmy on the floor; Hammer blocks a charge, rams him into the corner and ELIMINATES him. Valentine nails Jimmy Hart while he was up on the apron but turns right into an atomic drop into a clothesline by the Hitman. Here comes, #4 Paul Roma during his Power and Glory days; a tag team I thought was awesome but ran into the Legion of Doom. Valentine and Roma double team the Hitman and then Roma turns on Valentine. Bret rams their heads together. They both try to toss Bret. They then start battling so Bret shrugs them off and hangs in the corner for a breather. #5 “Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich sprints down to the ring and tees off on Paul Roma. He nails the Tornado spin punch on Valentine. Bret misses the second rope elbow on Roma. Everyone battles on the ropes. Roma nails a nice dropkick on Tornado. Mr. Arrogance, #6 “The Model” Rick Martel, joins the fray. Martel tries to toss Roma as Bret and the Tornado clobber the Hammer. A lot of near eliminations occur and people turning on each other. #7 Saba Simba rumbles to the ring. Saba Simba is Tony Atlas (in kind of a racist African tribesman gimmick) but you already knew that if you saw his debut match on WWF Superstars when Roddy Piper, on commentary, blew the whole gimmick out of the water revealing his “real” name. Roma tries to take out Simba as Martel almost goes over. More elimination style brawling happens as Tornado applies the claw to Roma. #8 Bushwhacker Butch bounces to the ring and stomps around for ten seconds. Saba Simba tries to slam Martel over the top but Rick holds on and Simba shambles to the floor, ELIMINATED. Von Erich and Bret work over Martel in the corner as the Hammer and Butch battle with Roma. #9 Jake “The Snake” Roberts goes right for Martel for blinding him with Arrogance cologne. Stomach breaker then Jake rams his head into the canvas; short-clothesline but Martel escapes to the floor on the DDT attempt. Valentine catches Jake with elbow drops on his reentry. Martel lands on the apron but reenters.

Here comes #10 Hercules, Paul Roma’s tag team partner who comes to his aide and they work over Butch. A lot of people precariously dangle on the top rope; as there are a lot of guys in there. Martel ties Jake in the ropes and chokes him; Tornado to the rescue. #11 Tito Santana who goes for Martel because he has a really long memory; Roma charges Jake and gets backdropped out ELIMINATING him. Tito rams Martel into the corner. #12 Undertaker makes his Rumble debut; he walks in and ELIMINATES Bret Hart immediately. Taker fights off Tornado, Valentine and Jake and no-sells everything. Von Erich hits his Tornado punch on Undertaker to no effect and stalks him. Roberts and Martel continue their battle as #13 “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka woots to the ring. Undertaker ELIMINATES Bushwhacker Butch. Tornado keeps trying to take on the Taker; weird seeing him with no arm tattoos. Everyone in-ring just kind of brawls on the ropes; Undertaker no-sells a Valentine elbow. Now #14 British Bulldog sprints to the ring and attacks Valentine to continue WrestleMania 2 (full review, click here), I guess. Boy, there a lot of guys in there and they all start to gang up on Undertaker. Jake and Martel go at it some more. Snuka tries a head-butt on Undertaker to no avail. Here is #15 Demolition Smash who gets clotheslined by Davy Boy. Martel keeps trying to escape Roberts on the apron; Martel eventually pulls him to the floor, from the apron, ELIMINATING him. While Martel is gloating at Jake, Jimmy Snuka sneaks over with Hercules and double noggin knocks them both. Now #16 Road Warrior Hawk sprints to the ring and drills everyone in the ring so they gang up on him and beat him down. Hawk and Hercules brawl; Santana gets atomic dropped by the Undertaker. Young, fresh and not yet disenfranchised #17 Shane Douglas runs down to join the fray. Undertaker ducks another spinning tornado and ELIMINATES the Texas Tornado; Hawk follows him up immediately by ELIMINATING Jimmy Snuka. Douglas gets beaten in the corner by Smash. Tito and Douglas double clothesline Martel as Greg Valentine approaches a half hour of ring-time. More brawling on the ropes; Smash and Martel gang up on Tito, that’s a whole bunch of mish-mash storylines throughout the years. This was supposed to be #18 “Macho King” Randy Savage. He does not show up, as he and Sensational Queen Sherri have vacated the building in fear of the Ultimate Warrior’s wrath. Meanwhile back in the ring Undertaker chokes Hawk. Hammer battles with Hercules and Tito works over Smash; a bunch of guys gang up on Undertaker again. Here is #19 Road Warrior Animal, ELIMINATING Randy Savage via forfeit, and works over Undertaker saving Hawk. The Legion of Doom work over and ELIMINATE the Undertaker to a huge ovation; Martel and Hercules sneak up on Hawk as he is celebrating and ELIMINATE him. Martel almost goes out for the fiftieth or sixtieth time tonight. Martel and Tito work over each other more as Gorilla Monsoon mentions Valentine’s stamina as he is contractually obligated to do for every Hammer match. Here it actually makes sense as opposed to him saying “it takes him fifteen minutes to warm up” in match that lasts seven minutes.

Big #20 Demolition Crush runs down; he actually gets a reaction as opposed to poor Smash who got crickets. Demolition work over British Bulldog as Tito and Martel has now had their longest confrontation ever; their matches were usually ten minute matches. Martel and Valentine brawl in the corner in a battle of this Rumble’s senior members, “when I got to the ring we had to go uphill… both ways!” #21 “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan runs down and beats on Smash then goes for Martel. Animal catches the Model in a bearhug. Gorilla and Roddy Piper seem a little bored on commentary. Here comes #22 Earthquake. This should thin it out a little; yup, Quake dips his shoulder ELIMINATING a charging Animal. Duggan goes for Quake and they battle in the ropes. Next is #23 Mr. Perfect; he tosses his towel over his shoulder and Bobby Heenan makes a nice behind the back snag. Duggan goes right for him but Perfect gets the better and ELIMINATES Jim Duggan. Nice standing dropkick by Mr. Perfect on Smash. #24 Hulk Hogan runs down. He comes in on fire and immediately ELIMINATES Demolition Smash then attacks Earthquake. Hogan dangles on the top rope via Earthquake. Here comes #25 Haku as Hulk Hogan finally ELIMINATES Greg Valentine after about forty-five minutes. Mr. Perfect is in his usual giving mood; overselling for everyone. More rope brawling just as #26 Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart sprints to the ring. Quake ELIMINATES Tito Santana. #27 Bushwhacker Luke stomps down, in one side and immediately gets ELIMINATED out the other side, and then stomps away. Neidhart gets Martel in trouble on the ropes again. #28 Brian Knobbs, of the Nasty Boys, runs down and everyone gangs up on him. Everyone battles in the ring and on the ropes. Perfect and Hogan have been brawling on and off; Perfect lights him up with a chop. Knobbs ELIMINATES Hercules; #29 Warlord runs down he goes right for British Bulldog foreshadowing theirWrestleMania VII match. Crush climbs the buckle to punch Hogan in the corner, bad move, Hogan ELIMINATES him. Pretty wicked bump, there. Hogan clotheslines the Warlord over the top ELIMINATING him. More brawling as the mystery #18 man case is solved as #30 Tugboat runs down, confirming Randy Savage did not show. In the confusion Shane Douglas gets ELIMINATED. Tugboat and Earthquake engage in a battle of the planetoids in the corner. Martel works on Tugboat in the corner as the long man and the fresh man clash. There are a lot of guys in there at the #30 point. Anvil knocks Perfect down in front of Earthquake so Quake casually walks over him. Hogan and Tugboat battle in the corner; Tugboat gets him over the top but not out. Hogan comes back in, finds Tugboat and ELIMINATES him. Perfect gets crotched on the top turnbuckle by Davy Boy and then dropkicked to the floor thus ELIMINATING him. Martel reverses a whip and actually ELIMINATES Jim Neidhart. Bulldog ELIMINATES Haku. Martel for some reason goes for Hogan. Martel works over Davy Boy but stupidly ascends the buckle; Bulldog shakes the ropes, crotching Martel and then clotheslining him out, ELIMINATING him after a record setting fifty-two minutes. The final four for the 1991 Royal Rumble are; British Bulldog, Brian Knobbs, Earthquake and Hulk Hogan. Davy Boy gets tossed immediately by Jimmy Hart’s boys and then they turn their attention to Hogan. Big splash by Earthquake and Brian Knobbs drops elbows. Earthquake drops the Earthquake splash but Hogan no-sells and pops up. Double clothesline and Hogan big boots Brian Knobbs out, ELIMINATING him; Hogan clobbers Jimmy Hart on the apron and then tries to slam Earthquake but he falls on top of him. Earthquake drops deliberate elbows as the crowd rallies behind Hogan; big powerslam by Quake. Earthquake stupidly tries a pinfall but, just like last year, all that does is hulk him up. He slams Earthquake and eventually ELIMINATES him. Post-match Hogan celebrates with the American Flag. 3.5/10 A Rumble with A LOT of dead time to it. Once Hulk Hogan dedicated the match to the troops in Operation: Desert Storm, and evil Sgt. Slaughter won the WWF Title, this result was a foregone conclusion.

The 411

The Rumble was just average with a lot of slow time in the middle and too many guys in there at once. Hogan winning was also kind of obvious. I normally like a lot of participants in ring at once but it just slowed this Rumble down. The terrific undercard is what saves this show and makes it worthwhile.

Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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