Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: March 24, 1991
Location: Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan
It’s the Gulf War show, as Hulk Hogan is fighting to get the WWF Title back from former American hero turned Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter. If that sounds like one of the worst ideas for a Wrestlemania main event ever, you have quite the memory for these things. Other than that we have Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior in a match that actually belongs in a big spot at Wrestlemania. Let’s get to it.
The opening video is all about the stars and stripes with only Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter being shown.
Willie Nelson sings America The Beautiful.
Jim Duggan joins commentary for the first match, while saying that Hulk Hogan going after Sgt. Slaughter is like the military going after Saddam Hussein.
The Rockers know they’re ready for Haku and the Barbarian, whether they are part of the Heenan Family or not.
Rockers vs. Haku/Barbarian
Haku and Barbarian, with Bobby Heenan, are already in the ring in a move that could cut down on so much Wrestlemania time these days. Shawn and Haku start things off as the fans are already yelling about Heenan. Haku whips him into the corner a few times but a shoulder and some right hands get Shawn out of trouble. Marty comes in for the double elbow but Barbarian clotheslines both Rockers inside out.
Back up and a double superkick drops Barbarian and it’s time for pointers with the Brain (jot that down for a talk show idea). We settle back down to Marty sunset flipping Barbarian for two before working over the arm. Haku comes back in for a double headbutt and an assisted hot shot has Marty in even more trouble. The gorilla press plants Marty again and Barbarian even draws Shawn in so double choking can ensue.
A hard whip into the corner gives Barbarian two more and we hit the required bearhug (What took them so long?). Marty tries to fight back but gets caught in a heck of a powerslam to cut him off again. Barbarian misses the top rope headbutt though and there’s the tag to Shawn. House is quickly cleaned, including a middle rope crossbody to Barbarian. Everything breaks down and it’s a double clothesline to Barbarian. Marty missile Barbarian and Shawn adds a high crossbody for the pin at 10:33.
Rating: C+. The middle felt a little bit long but this was a perfectly fine power vs. speed tag match. The Rockers are one of the better speed teams from around this time and they were a great choice for an opener. Haku and Barbarian on the other hand were perfectly acceptable monsters, making this a rather nice way to get the crowd fired up. It would have been a heck of a house show match (and probably was more than once) and that worked well in this spot.
We get our celebrity interviews with Regis Philbin (scared of Earthquake), Marla Maples (future wife of Donald Trump and tonight’s guest timekeeper) and Alex Trebek (Jeopardy jokes abound). I love Jeopardy and Regis can be funny, but these are about as cringe as you can get.
Dino Bravo vs. Texas Tornado
Jimmy Hart is here with Bravo, who jumps Tornado at the bell and clotheslines him out to the floor in an early heap. Back in and Tornado slugs away but can’t get the Claw. Bravo knocks him down again and drops an elbow for two, setting up the side slam. The delayed cover gets two and there’s a middle rope elbow to the back of Tornado’s head. Bravo goes up but dives into the Claw, setting up the Tornado Punch for the pin at 3:11.
Rating: D. This is the match that I cite for why I don’t redo every Wrestlemania (or any show) very often. There are only so many ways you can talk about a nothing match like this with no build and almost no time. Tornado was past his expiration date and Bravo would be gone, save for mostly house shows, after this, so what were they supposed to do here?
Slick and the Warlord are ready to beat British Bulldog. Sweet goodness I was scared of Warlord’s half mask back then and it’s still an awesome look to this day.
Bulldog says he can powerslam Warlord.
British Bulldog vs. Warlord
Slick is here with Warlord but Bulldog has his mascot Winston (he’s no Matilda). This is power vs. power so Warlord starts with the clubbing forearm to the back. Bulldog runs him over with some shoulders and Warlord is already on the floor for a breather. Back in and Warlord counters the crucifix into something like a Samoan drop as things slow way back down. The bearhug goes on for a bit before Bulldog charges into a hot shot to cut the comeback right back off.
We hit the chinlock, with Heenan even complaining about how sloppy Warlord has it on. With that broken up, Bulldog dropkicks him into the corner and hammers away, setting up a crossbody for two. The piledriver is blocked so Bulldog settles for two off a sunset flip instead. Bulldog misses a charge though and Warlord gets most of the full nelson, minus the fingers being locked. The incomplete version is broken up and Bulldog hits the powerslam for the pin at 8:10.
Rating: C. This was another house show style match as Bulldog gets an impressive win, with that powerslam still looking great. Warlord is up there with the most generic monster villains you can get but he looked good enough that beating him still felt like something of a big deal. These two could have some nice power matches though and they made a basic story work well here.
The Nasty Boys, with Jimmy Hart, are ready to win the Tag Team Titles, even if it means beating the Hart Foundation. They destroy Gene handkerchief to warm up.
The Hart Foundation are ready for a fight but say the Nastys can’t crack, move or break the foundation.
Tag Team Titles: Hart Foundation vs. Nasty Boys
The Nastys, with Jimmy Hart (in a helmet), are challenging and Macaulay Culkin is in the audience, with Monsoon thankfully recognizing him. Sags punches away at Bret to start but Bret is back with a Thesz press and right hands (….hey). Bret cuts off a kick to the ribs and stomps Sags in the abdomen (or bread basket, whichever you prefer). Knobbs comes in to hammer on Neidhart in the corner, which of course is just fine with Neidhart.
The hard shoulders send Knobbs to the floor before it’s time to work on the arm back inside. It’s back to Sags, who gets taken down again by Neidhart, allowing Bret to hammer away as well. The Russian legsweep into the middle rope elbow connects but Bret has to cut off an interfering Knobbs. That’s enough for Sags to get in a cheap shot so the Nastys can actually take over for a change.
Bret is knocked to the floor for a breather, followed by a hard whip into the corner back inside as the pace stays slow. The reverse chinlock goes on for a good while before Knobbs comes in for one of his own. Sags grabs a third reverse chinlock, followed by Knobbs dropping elbows to the bad back.
Make that four reverse chinlocks until Bret finally avoids a charge in the corner. The tag to Neidhart isn’t seen but Knobbs runs into Sags by mistake, allowing Neidhart to come in legally. House is cleaned and a powerslam gets two on Knobbs. The Nastys collide again and the Hart Attack hits Knobbs. There’s no referee though, allowing Sags to get in a shot with Jimmy’s helmet to give Knobbs the pin and the titles at 12:00.
Rating: C. There were good sections, but how in the world can four straight reverse chinlocks be the best you have? Mixing it up at least a little big really shouldn’t be too much to ask but apparently that wasn’t going to happen here. This was a way to get some fresh blood in the tag division, which would be needed as the Harts were more or less done after this, with Bret moving into his singles career.
We recap Rick Martel vs. Jake Roberts. Martel went to spray Jake’s snake bag with cologne (because reasons) but sprayed Jake in the eyes. Roberts was blinded as a result, though he managed to DDT Brother Love at one point. His eyes were messed up for months but now he’s back for a blindfold match.
Roberts says snakes have five senses but they always do it better in the dark.
Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel
They’re both in hoods and if you ignore being able to see the eye hole when Jake puts his on, it makes for a good visual. Roberts goes smart early on by having the crowd help him find Martel. There’s no contact for the first minute until both of them stumble over the other a bit. Jake gets two off a rollup and then steps around Martel’s backdrop attempt (because that’s the kind of thing you do when you can’t see).
The pointing thing results in a collision and a pair of missed charges. Then to mix it up a bit, they miss each other again. Martel finally catches him with a slam but misses the elbow drop as Gorilla and Bobby suddenly can’t hear each other. Martel corners the referee in the corner as Jake is in another corner to start the pointing. With that not working, Jake starts clapping to get Martel to come over. This one actually works, but they crash into the ropes. Heenan: “Why doesn’t Martel lift the hood up and peak?” Gorilla: “That’s cheating!” Heenan: “SO WHAT???”
A headlock doesn’t work for Jake as Martel sends him outside. Heenan: “Excuse me. MARTEL! HE’S ON THE FLOOR!” Martel follows him out and pokes around with a chair, with the swing only hitting the post. Back in and Martel hits a backbreaker to set up the Boston crab. With that broken up in a hurry (so much for Martel’s finisher), Jake grabs the DDT for the pin at 8:31.
Rating: D. This match isn’t something that works well on second viewings, as there are so many instances where it is clear that they can see each other. Roberts getting the win is the feel good moment, but it took its sweet time getting there. Not as completely horrible as I remember it, but it doesn’t work very well if you’re paying attention.
Post match Jake busts up the Arrogance atomizer and puts Damien on Martel.
Marla Maples is in the locker room where the Nasty Boys, Jimmy Hart and the Mountie are celebrating the Tag Team Title win. Dino Bravo and Earthquake come in with more champagne and Marla is surrounded. That’s it for her, as this isn’t exactly a great celebrity cameo. What exactly was nasty about a big celebration anyway?
Jimmy Snuka vs. The Undertaker
Paul Bearer is here with Undertaker of course. Snuka stares at Undertaker as we cut to Bearer looking….well weird to everyone else, normal for him. Undertaker sends him into the corner a few times before knocking Snuka outside in a heap. A suplex brings Snuka back in but he manages a few strikes for a breather. Snuka’s missed charge only hits ropes though and it’s another crash to the floor, followed by the Tombstone to make Undertaker 1-0 at Wrestlemania at 4:20.
Rating: D+. It’s always kind of interesting that one of the most important things in the company’s history started off as such a nothing match. This was little more than a squash as Snuka had absolutely nothing. The Tombstone alone was worth a look, though Undertaker was still figuring a lot of things out at this point.
We recap Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior in a career threatening match. Savage wanted a shot at Warrior’s WWF Title but got turned down (despite Sherri’s suggestive advances). As a result, Savage cheated like crazy to cost Warrior the title to Sgt. Slaughter. Warrior wants revenge, and their careers are on the line. This is FAR more interesting than the real main event as it has a more personal story and could go either way.
Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior
Before the match, Heenan spots Miss Elizabeth in the crowd, looking a bit distraught. Savage, with Queen Sherri, gets his big throne entrance and Warrior makes it weird by walking to the ring. They take their time to get going until Warrior powers him away. Savage bounces off of him and it’s time for a breather on the floor. Back in and Warrior chokes away before hitting an atomic drop, though things are still moving fairly slowly.
Sherri’s interference fails and Warrior punches Savage down again. Savage finally comes back with that running clothesline but Warrior pulls a high crossbody out of the air (that’s always impressive). Instead of slamming Savage down though, Warrior sits him down to start up the mind games. Said games cause Savage to throw in a chair but Warrior punches him down again. Warrior finally misses a charge into the corner though and Sherri stomps away on the floor.
Savage’s top rope ax handle has a bit more impact but Warrior shoves Sherri down anyway. A posting drops Warrior and Sherri, not taking this lying down, kicks away at Warrior. As Gorilla says this is officially the largest pay per view audience in the history of pay per view, Warrior gets two off a backslide for a breather. Warrior hits the clothesline and runs the ropes a bunch, only to miss the shoulder.
Savage grabs the chinlock for a bit before Warrior fights up. A double clothesline gives us a double knockdown and they’re both rather winded. Back up and Warrior actually grabs a small package but Sherri has the referee. Savage knees Warrior in the back to send him into the referee and now things are getting going. Sherri comes in off the top with her shoe but hits Savage by mistake, meaning it’s time for Warrior to go a-stalking.
A rollup (seemingly with trunks) gives Savage two and he sends Warrior hard into the corner. Savage clotheslines him in the back of the head and drops the top rope elbow. Then he drops the top rope elbow. Then he drops the top rope elbow. Then he drops the top rope elbow. Then he drops the top rope elbow….for two, just in case you didn’t know who was winning here.
Warrior Warriors Up and hits the shoulders into the gorilla press drop. The Warrior Splash connects for two and now Warrior is stunned. Warrior looks up, then looks at his hands, and starts walking up the aisle. Instead of taking the countout, Savage jumps him from behind and goes up top, only to miss his dive onto the barricade. Back in and Warrior’s flying shoulder sends Savage outside again. They get back in and do it again, as Savage’s bumps off the shoulder here are awesome. A third running shoulder sends Savage outside again and Warrior throws him back inside. Savage is DONE and Warrior gets the pin at 20:47.
Rating: B+. This felt like an epic showdown between two top stars and that is what it was supposed to be. You don’t get this kind of a match very often around the WWF and they made it work on every front. The ending scene of Savage being completely defeated made it look like the better man won, even with Savage and Sherri cheating every chance they could. Outstanding match here and it still more than holds up.
Post match Warrior leaves and Sherri berates Savage as he still can’t get up. She even kicks him over and over….until Elizabeth jumps the barricade and chases Sherri off (the ultra rare instance of her getting physical). Savage finally gets up and sees Elizabeth, leaving him very confused. Elizabeth stretches out her arms and Savage finally hugs her to a huge roar. Savage puts her on his shoulder and then holds the ropes open for her, because things have finally changed before them.
This is the moment that can still bring a bit of a tear to the eye of fans of my generation because it was YEARS in the making and the fans were begging Savage to take her back by the end. It’s Savage FINALLY being at peace and getting his happy ending after leaving it all in the ring. This is still one of the best things that WWE has ever done and it still gets to me, even if I’ve seen it dozens of times.
And now, a debate on instant replay in wrestling, with Vince McMahon moderating the discussion between New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and NFL analyst Paul Maguire. Steinbrenner wants instant replay but if it takes more than a minute to get the call right, fire them. Vince: “What do you mean fire him? Like, from his job?” Maguire doesn’t like the idea and insults Steinbrenner over his comments. We get an instant replay, as looked at by the Bushwhackers, which results in the tape being ruined. Their ruling: the tape is inconclusive, therefore the play stands. This was bizarre to put it mildly, which might be why it isn’t on the Peacock version.
We run down what is left on the show as this feels like an intermission. Gorilla and Bobby talk about what has gone on so far, with Heenan saying if he was Savage, he would rather have some money than a skirt.
Regis Philbin interviews Undertaker and Paul Bearer, with Undertaker taking measurements for….reasons. Puns about being alive ensue.
Alex Trebek interviews Demolition, with Mr. Fuji, who yell a lot and scare Trebek a bit. Trebek tries to turn it into something Jeopardy-ish and the yelling gets has him throwing it back to Regis.
Regis tries to talk to Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitao about their match but can only use Japanese company names. They want to know where Kathy Lee (the co-host of his talk show) is and it doesn’t go well.
Jake Roberts and Damien scare Trebek off. Roberts tells Damien that he’ll have to settle for the home version of Jeopardy.
Those four segments? They were really, really bad.
Genichiro Tenryu/Koji Kitao vs. Demolition
This is Crush/Smash, with Mr. Fuji, in the very last try to push the team as meaning anything. Tenryu and Kitao are here as part of a partnership with Tenryu’s SWS promotion. Demolition jumps Kitao to start but Kitao knees Crush against the ropes. A distraction lets Smash get in a shot from behind though and Demolition takes over. Crush hits a top rope ax handle to the back as the fans aren’t exactly interested here. Kitao gets over for the tag off to Tenryu, who misses a top rope elbow. The Demolition Decapitator is loaded up but Kitao makes a save. Tenryu enziguris Smash and a powerbomb gives Tenryu the pin at 4:40.
Rating: D. Call it a style clash, call it Demolition being worthless at this point or call it the WWF not getting why this would be a bad idea, but this really did not work in any sense. The Ax/Smash version of Demolition was great, but the Crush/Smash version was Demolition in name only. This was more or less it for Demolition and based on this, that is the best thing for everyone involved.
Big Boss Man is tired of Bobby Heenan talking about his mama and has run through the Heenan Family. Now Mr. Perfect, and the Intercontinental Title, are all that’s left.
Bobby Heenan references the Rodney King beating and promises you’ll see something similar when Mr. Perfect beats up the Big Boss Man.
Intercontinental Title: Big Boss Man vs. Mr. Perfect
Boss Man is challenging after spending months beating up the rest of the Heenan Family (Rick Rude was originally going to be included but he left the company in the fall). Alfred Hayes is joining commentary to replace Heenan, who is in Perfect’s corner. Boss Man catches Perfect’s towel and cleans himself off with it, much to Perfect’s annoyance. Perfect gets knocked around as the beating is on, including Perfect charging into a boot in the corner.
There’s the big toss over the top and you know Perfect is going to take a huge bump off that one. Back in and Boss Man takes off his belt, only to have Perfect take him away and start hammering him down. Some shots to the back keep Boss Man in trouble and we hit the abdominal stretch. With that broken up, a good looking dropkick gives Perfect two and the neck snap makes it worse.
The PerfectPlex is countered into a small package for two but Perfect knocks him down again. Perfect goes up and dives onto a raised boot, setting up the ram into the buckle for another huge Perfect bump. Boss Man crotches him against the post but a Heenan distraction lets Perfect send him into the steps.
With the numbers advantage causing issues, Andre the Giant (oh boy) comes out to….well it’s not exactly even but it definitely changes things. As you might expect, Heenan panics so Perfect goes after Andre, who smacks him in the face with the Intercontinental Title. A VERY delayed cover gets two and here are Haku and Barbarian to jump Boss Man for the DQ at 10:46.
Rating: C. There was a lot going on here but I still don’t get why Boss Man didn’t win the title. That would seem to be the most obvious ending but instead it just goes nowhere, with Boss Man getting the “feel good” win. Perfect very easily could have wont he title back a month or so later, but at least we got one more Andre appearance where he looked somewhat mobile.
Gene Okerlund interviews……Donald Trump, who hopes to have Wrestlemania back in Atlantic City. Chuck Norris is here too, and thinks the wrestlers are great athletes, even name dropping Argentina Rocca of all people. Henry Winkler is happy the Ultimate Warrior won. Lou Ferrigno finds this really entertaining. I need a Christmas special where those four get together and save Santa Claus.
Earthquake vs. Greg Valentine
Jimmy Hart is here with Earthquake. This is my regular chance to ask what the heck the WWF was thinking by making Valentine a good guy around this time. Earthquake starts fast and hits an early powerslam for two as the dominance seems to be on. Valentine avoids a charge in the corner and slowly hammers away. A running elbow to the head actually puts Earthquake down on one knee and a middle rope version actually knocks him down. The Figure Four is blocked and Hart offers a distraction, allowing Earthquake to drop the elbow. The Earthquake finishes Valentine at 3:17.
Rating: D+. The match was fine enough and Valentine got in some offense, but there is only so much that you can get out of this situation. Earthquake cleaned Valentine out and beat him without much effort. I’m still not sure who saw Valentine as a good guy but to call it a flop would be too kind.
The Legion of Doom promise to make Power And Glory sour and gory. That’s a heck of a line.
Legion of Doom vs. Power And Glory
Slick is here with Power And Glory. The Doomsday Device finishes Roma at 58 seconds and the LOD wants the Tag Team Titles.
We recap Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase. Virgil had been mistreated for years and FINALLY snapped at the Royal Rumble after a tag match with DiBiase. Roddy Piper has been supporting Virgil, despite Piper being in a horrible motorcycle accident that has left him barely able to walk at the moment.
Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase
Roddy Piper is here with Virgil, who punches DiBiase outside to start. With DiBiase back inside, Virgil punches him right back to the floor. Back in again and DiBiase gets clotheslined to the floor as the frustrations continue. A slower DiBiase gets back inside and this time a few shots slow Virgil down.
The beating is on, including a piledriver for two as commentary talks about how big of a show this has been. A suplex drops Virgil again and DiBiase heads outside to deck Piper. Back in and a powerslam gives DiBiase two but Piper uses his crutch to low bridge DiBiase to the floor. DiBiase goes after Piper but gets counted out at 7:42.
Rating: C-. As has been said, the problem with Virgil is that there just wasn’t anything there in the ring. His punches were his best weapon, as other than that, he was as generic as you could get. Getting the win over DiBiase was a nice moment, but they didn’t exactly make it feel like a big deal. It would have been too much to see Virgil pin him, but this wasn’t exactly thrilling.
Post match DiBiase goes after Piper’s knee again, with Sherri running in to help with the beating. Some crutch shots to the knee have Piper in trouble but Virgil gets up for the save. Piper is in agony but Virgil tells him to get up. Then Piper gets up with Virgil’s help.
Sean Mooney sends us to a recap of Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan. Slaughter has been playing by a new set of rules, including burning a Hulk Rules shirt. Adnan and Slaughter come in, with Adnan ranting a lot before we look at Slaughter jumping Hogan recently. Slaughter threatens to get himself disqualified or counted out in the main event. It doesn’t help that Slaughter getting disqualified or counted out was his best chance to retain the title.
Mountie vs. Tito Santana
Just in case the show hasn’t gone on long enough yet. Santana knocks him outside to start and hammers away back inside but Jimmy Hart slips Mountie the shock stick. One electrocution (and a joke about bad Mexican food from Heenan) and Santana is done at 1:21. This might be the all time definition of needless filler.
Hulk Hogan promises to use secret weapons to win the WWF Title. And no, a beating from Sgt. Slaughter isn’t slowing him down.
WWF Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Slaughter, with General Adnan, is defending, Marla Maples is the guest timekeeper, Alex Trebek is the guest ring announcer and Regis Philbin is on commentary. Hogan chases Adnan and Slaughter around to start before Slaughter even takes the belt off. We then pause for Slaughter to get ready before hitting the stall button for a bit longer. They lock up (accidentally knocking the referee down) and slaughter is sent into the corner.
Back up and Hogan runs him over with a shoulder, sending the champ outside. Slaughter grabs a chair but Hogan is waiting for him. Instead they head back inside, where Slaughter pokes him in the eye to take over. Heenan has to explain some of the backstory to Regis as Hogan slugs away to put Slaughter in the corner. Some rams into the buckle keep Slaughter in trouble as this isn’t exactly thrilling so far.
There’s a backdrop to Slaughter and a running knee sends him into the corner again. A catapult into the corner sets up the raining down right hands but Slaughter knocks a diving Hogan out of the air. Hogan shrugs that off and drops a bunch of elbows before going to the top (oh dear) where Adnan’s distraction lets Slaughter slam him down. Now a chair to the back can keep Hogan down on the floor, followed by the slow beating back inside.
Slaughter complains about the speed of a two count and the referee yells right back. The Boston crab goes on, all of four inches from the rope, so Hogan tries to power out anyway. With that not working, Hogan grabs the rope to escape, which feels pretty out of character. Some knees to the back set up a top rope knee to the back but for some reason Adnan distracts the referee, allowing Hogan to kick out.
A chair to the head busts Hogan open so Slaughter pounds away on the head and grabs the camel clutch. Hogan powers up again and escapes but Slaughter sends him into the corner. Slaughter puts the Iraqi flag onto Hogan and that’s enough for the Hulk Up. Said flag is destroyed and Hogan throws the punches, setting up the big boot and leg to get the title back at 20:22. Monsoon: “The war is now officially over.”
Rating: C+. The problem here is that it isn’t a bad match, but it might be the most obvious result in the history of….well perhaps human kind. Desert Storm was already over so this was just a formality, as Slaughter was a short form champion from the second he won the belt. Hogan did his normal match here, albeit a bit longer than usual, and the Hulk Up was short even by his standards. It’s completely fine, but with the war already over, it was nowhere near the feel good, special moment they were hoping it would be.
Hogan poses and waves the American flag to end the show.
Overall Rating: C-. This is a show that has good pieces but DESPERATELY needed to be trimmed down. Would anyone have missed Earthquake vs. Valentine, Santana vs. Mountie or Von Erich vs. Bravo? The main event is on the lower end of Wrestlemania main events and the celebrity stuff is horrid. At the same time, Warrior vs. Savage is a classic and there is some other good stuff in there, but they really needed to cut this down by at least thirty minutes to get rid of some of the drag.
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