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Wrestling With Kayfabe: Hulk Hogan Saves America, Dream Tournament, More

October 17, 2021 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Hulk Hogan Sgt. Slaughter

The Wrestling With Kayfabe series continues with a look at the July 1991 edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated (available at this link), which centered around Hulk Hogan saving America by defeating Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania VII, the PWI Dream Tournament, and much more.

In case you missed it, be sure to read the debut edition of the series that looked at the WWF vs. WCW in 1996.

Let’s jump in!

PWI July 1991

WWF Prime Time Wrestling….Ruined?!

The Between Falls fan mail section has a lot of spicy stuff in this edition.

Paula from Ontario has something to say about Missy Hyatt. And well, it’s not pleasant. Paula calls Hyatt’s work in WCW as “slow-witted and irrelevant style of commentary, and that Hyatt’s remark about Sid Vicious needing to wear a bag over his head wouldn’t apply to her, as Paula feels she lacks a head over which to wear a bag. Paula then makes it clear she wants to give Hyatt “multiple face slaps.”

Jeff from Wisconsin questions Jim Ross’ accuracy on commentary, and who knew that would be a top of conversation 30 years later. Our friend Jeff wants a retraction on air for JR’s recollection of the events of the Lex Luger/Nikita Koloff feud.

Patricia from England thinks the WWF commentary booth has been “boring and uninformative” since Jesse Ventura left.

Meanwhile, Brian from Pennsylvania watched the new WWF Prime Time Wrestling, and he thinks it was “one of the most disgraceful, degrading (to the wrestlers), and downright stupid shows ever.” He thinks Vince McMahon ruined it, which would become quite a theme from wrestling fans over the years.

Onellia echoes Brian’s thoughts on Prime Time Wrestling before this prophetic statement: “The show’s center used to be wrestling; now wrestling must take a sideline to terrible, inappropriate “entertainment.”

10 Years Ago in PWI

In the July 1981 edition of PWI, the featured story was on Pedro Morales getting his revenge on Sgt. Slaughter.

The centerfold was of Tommy “Wildfire” Rich, who noted the sleeper hold was his favorite maneuver, and his Ivan Koloff was his toughest opponent while Baron Von Raschke was his most hated opponent.

Elsewhere, there were stories on the dissension between Hulk Hogan and Fred Blassie, Hogan being managed by Jimmy Hart in Memphis, and Dusty Rhodes thriving on violence.

The USWA and Tennessee vs. Texas

This edition of Andy Rodriguez’s “Win, Lose, Or Draw” column looks at the USWA promoting regular shows in Memphis and Dallas, and what it could mean for the Tennessee vs. Texas rivalry involving the likes of Jerry Lawler, Jeff Jarrett, Eddie Gilbert, Eric Embry, and Tom Prichard.

Lawler thinks fans will take the dispute “mighty seriously” moving forward because of the history, and Jarrett notes that though Texas has great fans, he’s loyal to his home state of Tennessee.

Rodriguez also looks at opinions from fans from Texas who, despite not agreeing with his rule-breaking ways, weren’t thrilled with Terry Funk losing the USWA title to Lawler.

Meanwhile, USWA president Max Andrews is tired of the state vs. state BS. Funk says tough luck because the feud won’t stop.

Is the WWF Really Family Entertainment?

Craig Peters, in his “In Focus” column, questions the WWF’s emphasis on its “family-oriented audience” in its press release announcing the move from the LA Coliseum to the LA Sports Arena for WrestleMania VII.

The reason? The company letting The Ultimate Warrior “physically abuse” Sensational Sherri and strip her of her undergarments! Hard to disagree with Craig there. He also wants to know Warrior hasn’t been fined by the esteemed Jack Tunney.

Perhaps the best question is this one: “Doesn’t the WWF have any thoughts about presenting a virtual strip-show to an audience filled with pre-teens?”

Little did he know, the WWF indeed had thoughts on presenting a virtual strip-show, and that would play out around seven years later.

El Gigante a Legitimate Threat To Ric Flair?

Eddie Ellner is back at it again in “Off the Top Rope” with this hypothetical scenario: If you’ve been kidnapped by evil bookmakers and one of your kidnappers says your life depends on whether you correctly guess who wins a fight between Jimmy Garvin and Ron Simmons. He says this to note that the answer isn’t always so simple in wrestling since the Freebirds defeated Doom for the tag titles.

And then comes the good stuff, as Sandra from Texas has two questions for Eddie: Sting’s real name and age and whether he is married. Eddie notes Sting wanted to respond but she actually asked three questions instead of two, thus she gets the boot.

Joe wants to know if El Gigante is a legitimate threat to Ric Flair’s NWA title, and after running down Andre the Giant, Eddie notes he’d need a lot of help and that it would essentially be a miracle.

Valerie from Miami is tired of “pretty-boy grapplers” in wrestling, and instead, wants more Stan Hansen, Jake Roberts, and Roddy Piper-like men with scars.

Eddie promptly asks Valerie to marry him.

PWI’s Official Rankings

Here are the official PWI rankings for July 1991:

Top 10

1. Hulk Hogan
2. Ric Flair
3. Lex Luger
4. Tatsumi Fujinami
5. Sgt. Slaughter
6. Sting
7. Curt Hennig
8. Big Bossman
9. Jerry Lawler
10. Sid Vicious

Tag Teams

1. The Steiner Brothers
2. The Nasty Boys
3. The Hart Foundation
4. The Legion of Doom
5. The Young Pistols
6. The Freebirds
7. Arn Anderson and Barry Windham
8. The Texas Hangmen
9. The Rockers
10. Power and Glory

Most Popular

1. Hulk Hogan
2. Sting
3. Lex Luger
4. Roddy Piper
5. Jerry Lawler
6. El Gigante
7. The Ultimate Warrior
8. Rick Steiner
9. Randy Savage
10. Scott Steiner

Most Hated

1. Ric Flair
2. Sgt. Slaughter
3. Sid Vicious
4. The Undertaker
5. Terry Taylor
6. Curt Hennig
7. Barry Windham
8. Arn Anderson
9. Tom Prichard
10. Ted DiBiase

Hulk Hogan Saves America

The cover story is on Hogan’s win over Slaughter at WrestleMania VII, which Bob Smith thinks was the new champion’s “greatest victory” since not only did it mark his third title reign, but it rescued the title from the most disgraceful champion in history!

And for anyone who thought Slaughter was getting the title back, Bob thought differently:

“Slaughter may live on, but this war is over. The WWF belt is back where it belongs, around the waist of Hulk Hogan. And it will take a much better man than a turncoat such as Slaughter to tear it off him again.”

The Fall of Demolition

Dave Rosenbaum profiles the fall of Ax and Smash as a tag team, which has led from them being WWF Tag Team Champions to not even being ranked in the PWI tag team ratings.

In an EXCLUSIVE quote from Ax, he thinks “changing the chemistry changed the team, and it sent us towards disaster.” He then proclaims that “bringing on Crush was the worst move we ever made.”

Ax also has something to say about the WWF bringing in Legion of Doom to take their spotlight, stating that “it was a load of crap.”

The former Demolition star then took aim at the Smash and Crush duo to remind everyone that they were “Demolition in name only.” Tell ‘em, Ax!

PWI Dream Tournament

It’s time for the second annual PWI Dream Tournament, which features 16 superstars from the world of wrestling. Fan voting would decide the winner of the tournament.

Here was the bracket:

* Ricky Steamboat vs. The Ultimate Warrior
* Lex Luger vs. Vic Steamboat
* Rick Martel vs. Jerry Lawler
* Sting vs. Barry Windham
* Hulk Hogan vs. Arn Anderson
* Steve Doll vs. Curt Hennig
* Sid Vicious vs. Ric Flair
* Steve Williams vs. Nikita Koloff

Let’s have some fun: Share your pick for the final match and winner in the comments section.

Elsewhere In This Edition

Kostya Kennedy gets an EXCLUSIVE with Lex Luger, who is starting to grow more and more frustrated about El Gigante stealing his rightful title shot against Flair.

In the Press Conference segment, Bob Smith and Eddie Ellner had an EXCLUSIVE interview with Eric Embry on the ongoing chaos in USWA. Here’s the best quote ever:

“I don’t associate with losers. I’m a winner, and anyone who fails to live up to my standards gets his butt kicked.”

I miss old school wrestling heels.

Smith also looks at the Four Horsemen bamboozling Sid Vicious into thinking they would watch his back against the Steiners.

The career closeup is on Brian Pillman and his journey in wrestling.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By the Following

UWF POWERLINE – For just two dollars per minute, you could get all the inside information on the Universal Wrestling Federation stars, feuds, gossip, and more. It was boasted as the No. 1 organization in the sport today, though I’m not sure it ever reached that status. But I probably would’ve still paid two dollars to talk to Paul Orndorff, Cactus Jack, and others.

CHAMPIONS OF THE GALAXY WRESTLING GAME – This was an interesting concept that allowed you to be a promoter, and it included playing cards and different game editions you could choose from, such as Invasion 2088, War Games 2093, and more.

Your Turn

What are your favorite memories from the wrestling world in July of 1991?

Also, if you’re a fan of this wild trip down memory lane, let me know what other publications or years you’d like to see in future columns!

*For more of my thoughts on pro wrestling, subscribe to the 411 On Wrestling podcast and follow me on Twitter @wrestleblake. Thanks for reading!

article topics :

Hulk Hogan, WWE, Blake Lovell