The Write Off: This Tuesday in Texas

I know it has been a long time since I last had a review posted on this site. Needless to say things have been very busy for me lately, but I got a new shipment of tapes in several weeks ago so I have loads of new material to review.

Match ratings guide: penalty (bad), audit (average), deduction (good), return (excellent).

Event Details:
Location: Freeman Coliseum San Antonio, Texas
Hosts: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby “the Brain” Heenan
Reported Attendance: 8,000

Before getting carried away with the review it is important to note that this was an experimental pay-per-view for the WWF. Supposedly Vince McMahon believed that if this show was a success then the WWF would start holding regular weekly pay-per-views. To make this project an initial success the WWF delayed the first clash between “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Jake “the Snake” Roberts for this show rather than having them face off in an elimination match at the Survivor Series pay-per-view that occurred several days prior to this one. As a result of that change the fans were treated to a changed main event at that show with it being a six man tag team elimination match pitting the Big Bossman and the Legion of Doom against Irwin R. Schyster and the Natural Disasters. To say that people were pissed at this change would be understatement as the Savage-Roberts rivalry was the hottest angle going in the WWF at the time. Furthermore, the controversial finish to the Hulk Hogan-Undertaker WWF Championship match at Survivor Series prompted then-WWF President Jack Tunney to schedule a rematch between them at this show.

By the way, to get a copy of this show you need to buy Supertape 1992.

Opening Contest for the Intercontinental Championship: Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion) vs. Skinner:

Some girls go absolutely CRAAAZZZYYY when Bret gives her his shades at ringside. Imagine girls at a rock concert or something and you get the idea. Lockup starts and Bret gets an armdrag. Another lockup sees another armdrag by Bret as Monsoon rips on Skinner’s tobacco chewing. Bret gets a shoulderblock off the ropes and hits an atomic drop, inverted atomic drop, and clothesline off the ropes to send Skinner to the floor. Heenan uses the stall time to hype up Bret as a “fighting champion” who will face all comers to defend his championship.

Back in, Bret works the left arm for a while with a variety of maneuvers until Skinner gets to the ropes. Skinner stalls for a while in the corner and gets a headlock out of a lockup but has his hammerlock reversed and when he reapplies it he gets hit in the face with an elbow. Bret delivers a kick to the gut and goes back to the armbar before Skinner rakes his eyes and throws him shoulder first into the ringpost.

Bret falls to the arena floor and when he tries to re-enter he is stomped by Skinner and pushed back outside. Outside, Skinner chokes the champion and rolls back inside the ring. Back in, Skinner delivers some double axe handles to Bret’s back and applies an abdominal stretch, using the ropes for extra leverage like any good heel should. Skinner releases the hold and delivers a shoulderbreaker for two. Skinner takes Bret to the buckle and whips him to the opposite corner only to have his blind charge eat Bret’s boot. However, Bret misses an elbowdrop from the second rope and Skinner gets his tobacco chewing cup only to have it confiscated by the referee.

This only proves to be part of Skinner’s plan, though, as he uses the distraction to pick up his alligator claw and nails Bret in the throat with it. I guess that is the benefit of bringing two foreign objects to ringside. Skinner chokes Bret on the second rope and chokes him with his boat as he growls at the crowd. Skinner whips Bret chest-first into the corner and then begins to target the left leg, which is correctly criticized by Monsoon because he has done no prior damage to the leg. Skinner continues to choke Bret and throws him face-first into the canvas. Skinner rakes Bret’s eyes with his boot and delivers more double axe handles to the back. Skinner then hits his reverse DDT finisher but lazily covers and Bret kicks out at two. You can tell where Skinner ranked on the WWF food chain in that sequence because Bret could have only put his foot on the ropes which would have still lent some credibility to the move but he simply kicked out instead.

Skinner drags Bret away from the ropes and tries to his a second rope something (cannot tell because he jumped straight down with no signs of a move whatsoever) but gets met by Bret’s foot. Bret gets a second wind with a series of fists, headbutt, elbow off the ropes, fist to the gut off the ropes, and side Russian legsweep for two. Bret hits a suplex for two. Bret then hits a backbreaker and second rope elbowdrop for two.

Bret argues the call like he always does on that spot and Skinner rolls him up from behind for two. Bret’s kickout from that rollup sends Skinner to the floor and Bret follows him outside only to have his face thrown apron. Skinner rolls inside and tries to suplex Bret back in but Bret floats over and Skinner counters that with an elbow to the face. Skinner stomps away and slloooowwwllly climbs the top rope and Bret throws him off and applies the Sharpshooter to get the submission at 13:50 to end Skinner’s “undefeated” streak.

MATCH RATING: AUDIT. This match was worse than I remember. I remember it being an encounter that had a quick series of near-falls between both Bret and Skinner but I must have been living in a different universe when I made that evaluation of the match. This was another solid match from Bret, but Skinner did not bring him much to the table as an opponent when it came to exchanging moves. Also, the Sharpshooter was not set up AT ALL in the match because there was no work on the leg done by Bret.

-Sean Mooney interviews Jake “the Snake” Roberts about his upcoming encounter with “Macho Man” Randy Savage where Jake’s reptiles are barred from his corner due to the infamous snake biting incident that occurred before Survivor Series. Jake basically recants the rush he got by having his snake bite Savage and seeing Elizabeth freak out. Another awesome Jake promo.

-“Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Elizabeth and Savage delivers an incoherent promo about trust and how he is going to get a rush by crushing Roberts. These two guys were just made to feud with each other.

Jake “the Snake” Roberts vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage:

Savage attacks Roberts from behind as he makes his way to the ring and when they get inside the squared circle Savage unleashes a flurry of blows against Roberts in the corner and hits him with an elbow after he whips him into the corner and Roberts runs out. Savage hits a double axe handle off the top rope and Roberts bails as the crowd is going insane.

Savage follows Roberts outside and pounds on him some more until Roberts goes back into the ring and begs off. Roberts then delivers a shoulder thrust to Savage’s gut and tosses him outside of the ring to buy himself some breathing time. Roberts rolls out to the floor and reverses an attempt by Savage to throw him into the ringpost, making Savage take the blow on the elbow. Roberts rams Savage’s left arm into the ringpost and rolls back in. Savage wanders around in pain on the outside and nearly nails referee Earl Hebner when he tries to assess Savage’s condition. It now becomes apparent why Savage is favoring that arm so much because that is the arm that Roberts had his snake bite several days before the show.

Back in, Roberts gets a rake to the eyes when Savage tries another offensive flurry and hits an inverted atomic drop. Roberts goes back to working the arm, which must be the body part of choice to abuse tonight, and no sells several of Savage’s comeback attempts. Roberts misses his short-arm clothesline and Savage hits a running elbow off the ropes. Roberts and Savage fight over a whip into the corner, which Savage eventually wins, and Hebner has to dive out of the way of that before he gets squashed against the buckles. I hope Hebner earned some hazard pay from working this match tonight.

However, a blind charge by Savage eats knee and Roberts hits the short-arm clothesline this time. Roberts taunts the crowd and signals for the DDT on the second rope but when he tries the move Savage rams him into the corner. Roberts slumps onto the canvas selling a rib injury and Savage hits the flying elbowsmash for the pin at 6:27 as the crowd pops huge.

After the match, Savage grabs a chair but that plan is thwarted by a ringside official. Therefore, Savage goes to the next best thing, the bell, to do a Steamboatesque job to Roberts. Hebner tries to reason with Savage and succeeds in jerking the bell away, but that allows Roberts to drill Savage with a DDT. Savage eventually gets to his feet and Roberts has to use the ring ropes in the corner to prop himself back up after the move and he is pissed off that Savage got up after one DDT so he delivers a second one. Roberts taunts Savage to get up again as Hebner tries to persuade him to leave and Roberts appears to cooperate at first. However, after he is about a quarter of the way to the back he turns around, grabs a black bag that contains a cobra from underneath the ring, and taunts Savage with it as Elizabeth runs out to the ring ordering Roberts to leave Savage alone. Roberts then DDT’s Savage for a THIRD TIME in front of Elizabeth as he taunts her. Roberts continues to taunt Elizabeth and demands that she beg him not to unleash his cobra on Savage. Then, in a move deemed extreme for its time, he grabs Elizabeth and slaps her across the face. The crowd does not react with the instant heat you would normally expect. Rather, it is a shocked reaction because Elizabeth had NEVER been treated like that before. Finally, referee Danny Davis and WWF President Jack Tunney come down to ringside and Roberts leaves.

MATCH RATING: AUDIT. The match was not the best in the world but I do not believe that was the intent. This contest was more of an emotional brawl than a grade A technical encounter. I just wish it had been given more time because the match felt extremely rushed. However, the storytelling that followed the match was BRILLIANTLY executed, especially by Roberts and Elizabeth. Taken together this is very interesting stuff to watch that still stands up today.

-Okerlund interviews Roberts who proclaims victory and says that Elizabeth is not a woman he wants because he does not like those who beg. He said the best feeling he had was not DDT’ing Savage, but in slapping Elizabeth. He begs Savage to bring her back for the next match. VERY creepy interview, but again, great storyline development from one of the best interviews in the sport.

The Warlord (w/Harvey Wippleman) vs. The British Bulldog:

These two guys fought in some capacity on every pay-per-view during 1991, with the exception of the Royal Rumble, but they probably had some kind of tussle in the Rumble match that I cannot remember. The issue at hand was who was one of the stronger men in the WWF at the time and the Bulldog had won a one-on-one encounter between the two at WrestleMania VII and along with the Texas Tornado and Ricky Steamboat won a six-man tag match at SummerSlam 1991 against Warlord and Power and Glory.

Lockup to start and the Warlord pushes the Bulldog against the turnbuckles. The Warlord taunts and pushes the Bulldog again out of a lockup. A third lockup sees the Bulldog prevail and Warlord goes to get advice from Wippleman. The Warlord offers a test of strength and when the Bulldog accepts he kicks him in the gut. However, the Warlord’s boot gets caught when he attempts a big boot off the ropes and the Bulldog takes him down and delivers a headbutt to the Warlord’s gut.

The Warlord comes back and takes Bulldog to the buckle but the Bulldog goes under the Warlord’s clothesline attempt and delivers two of his own to knock the Warlord to the floor. Bulldog tries a pescado onto the Warlord and the Warlord forgets to catch the Bulldog on his way down, but covers up nicely and rams the Bulldog’s back into the ringpost. Bulldog gets up on the apron and reverses a take to the buckle and rams Warlord’s head into it ten times. Bulldog then climbs to the top rope and delivers a missile dropkick. Was probably a 4.5 on a scale of 10 but it gets the job done either way.

Bulldog delivers another clothesline to the Warlord and ties him into the ring ropes allowing him to fire away at will. However, Wippleman quickly unhooks the Warlord when the Bulldog runs the ropes and the Bulldog crotches himself on the top rope after the Warlord moves out of the way. Warlord delivers a back bodydrop as Wippleman lights a cigar at ringside. The sponsors DEFINITELY would not be appreciative of that today with the anti-smoking culture that has been established here in the States. Back to the action as the Warlord whips the Bulldog into the corner and applies a bearhug. Bulldog headbutts out but the Warlord picks him up and delivers a modified powerslam.

Warlord stalls, wasting valuable time in the process, and slows the pace of the match down as best he can with clubbing blows to the back and then a fistdrop off the ropes into the back for two. I guess Wippleman lit that cigar too soon. Bulldog delivers a kick the head when the Warlord ducks his head on a whip and attempts a piledriver. The Warlord powers out of that with a backdrop attempt and Bulldog holds on trying to get a sunset flip. However, the Warlord sits down on the Bulldog for a near-fall only to have Bulldog complete his sunset flip for two. That near-fall appears in vain, though, as the Warlord pops up off the canvas and clotheslines the Bulldog back down.

Warlord stalks the Bulldog from behind and applies his patented full-nelson finisher but as Monsoon points out, his fingers are not locked disallowing him the leverage needed to make the move more devastating. Bulldog’s hand drops once (which in WWE today would constitute a submission) and then twice but he gets it up on the third attempt. Bulldog tries to power out and initially fails making this the longest full nelson sequence I have ever seen, and the Warlord grows tired of his own boring finisher and throws the Bulldog down to the canvas.

Warlord takes Bulldog to the buckle twice and whips him into the opposite corner but blind charge eats boot and the Bulldog hits a flying clothesline off the second rope. Bulldog then drills Warlord with a vertical suplex for two with the Warlord delivering a powerful kickout. Bulldog whips Warlord into the corner and delivers a clothesline against the buckle. Bulldog tries to finish the match with the running powerslam but the Warlord falls on top of him for two. Good to see the Warlord develop a counter for that since that is the move that cost him the match at WrestleMania. Warlord whips Bulldog into the ropes and a clothesline attempt goes horribly awry as Bulldog ducks and then delivers a crucifix pinning combination for the pin at 12:55. Those are the finishes the WWE needs to go back to because it gets the fans into the little pinning sequences of the matches more.

MATCH RATING: AUDIT. This was as good a power matchup as you are going to see with several spots that played up both men’s power qualities and being a nice balance each man trying to outthink the other. It only gets the audit rating, though, because there was several periods of stalling that lasted for a minute or more. This contest was better than their WrestleMania encounter, however.

-A pissed off Savage interrupts Mooney’s recap of the Roberts-Savage match and Savage curses himself for allowing Roberts to get his hands on Elizabeth. Savage says he is going to get Roberts and no one is going to stop him. They could have just made the whole pay-per-view Savage and Roberts tearing the joint down and it would have outclassed the matches we have seen so far.

“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Repo Man (w/Sensational Sherri) vs. Virgil & “El Matador” Tito Santana:

DiBiase had regained the Million Dollar belt by this point from Virgil and this would constitute the last time he would face off with Virgil on pay-per-view so you could say this is the big culmination to their feud in a way. Santana and Repo start off by locking up and Repo pushes Santana against the ropes and hammers away. He and Santana trade arm ringers before Santana gets a hammerlock but he eventually gets an elbow to his face for his efforts. However, Santana regains the advantage with an armdrag and he and Virgil pinball Repo between them for a little while.

Santana works over the arm and then hiptosses Repo to the outside after they wrestle over the move for a little bit. Repo tries to sneak up behind Santana as he gets back into the ring only to have that thwarted and Repo then tags in DiBiase. Crowd demands Virgil be tagged in and Santana obliges as Sherri throws a fit on the floor. DiBiase begs off before outmaneuvering Virgil and hammering away. However, Virgil gets a sunset flip when DiBiase puts his head down on a whip and then atomic drops him to the arena floor. I always did like the way DiBiase sold that bump. DiBiase is forced to re-enter the ring by Santana and when he argues with Santana when he is back inside he gets clotheslined over the top rope by Virgil.

Santana rolls DiBiase back into the ring and Virgil whips DiBiase into the corner but a blind charge eats elbow and tag Repo. The heels proceed to work over Virgil with the usual cheating shenanagins and quick tags. DiBiase gets two on a gutwrench suplex but gets nailed with a swinging neckbreaker when he puts his head down a whip. DiBiase should have learned not to do that again after the opening minutes of this match.

DiBiase tags Repo and hot tag Santana and he manhandles Repo Man with fists and two dropkicks. Flying forearm connects and Santana knocks DiBiase off the apron. However, when Santana runs the ropes again he is tripped up by DiBiase and when he turns around to confront him, he gets clotheslined in the back of the head by Repo and falls to the outside. Outside, DiBiase slams Santana’s face twice into the steps and rolls him inside. Repo covers but only gets two when Santana grabs the bottom rope.

Repo gets a near-fall off a beatdown and DiBiase hits a double axe handle off the second rope as Repo holds Santana in place. False tag spot occurs and the heels use the opportunity to give Santana a double bodyslam and illegally allow Repo to come back into the ring in DiBiase’s place. Double-clothesline spot gives us a double KO.

Tag DiBiase and hot tag Virgil, who fires away on DiBiase. Clotheslines for everyone and DiBiase gets nailed with a side Russian legsweep for two before Repo interrupts. A four-way brawl breaks out and DiBiase holds Virgil in place while Sherri takes a swing at him with her shoe but Virgil moves and DiBiase takes the blow. However, Virgil chooses not to cover there and continue to harass Sherri allowing Repo to hit him in the kidneys with a kneelift while the referee escorts Santana back to the corner. DiBiase then proceeds to cover for the win at 10:24. Virgil should know better than that, he used to be a manager after all.

MATCH RATING: AUDIT. This was just your typical television tag team matchup with all the usual spots. While those spots were executed well there was nothing that made this match especially memorable or special. It is a little weird that DiBiase recovered so quickly from the blow from Sherri, but I guess he did not get hit with a loaded purse or anything to that effect.

-Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan who says he is pumped for his WWF Championship match against the Undertaker. He tells Ric Flair to get off his back and says that President Jack Tunney has his back tonight. That sounds corrupt to me.

WWF Championship Match: The Undertaker (Champion w/Paul Bearer) vs. Hulk Hogan:

Jack Tunney is sitting at ringside for this match in order to discourage interference from Ric Flair or anyone else in the locker room after the events that unfolded during the title match at the Survivor Series. Hogan tears his shirt off before he hits the ring so he must mean business! Sure enough he attacks the Undertaker immediately when he hits the ring and does a double-noggin knocker with him and Paul Bearer. Hogan gets Undertaker in the corner, shoves his red bandana down his throat, and delivers ten punches. Hogan hits an inverted atomic drop and hits a running clothesline, but the Undertaker does not go down. The Undertaker blocks a bodyslam attempt, but fails to block another.

Hogan knocks Bearer off the ring apron and then clotheslines the Undertaker to the floor, where he lands on his feet, and Bearer lets him feed off of some urn power for a while. Meanwhile, I am wondering what the hell is unfolding because Hogan is just running wild on everyone and sometimes beating up Bearer for no reason. The Undertaker is able to get Hogan outside the ring and fires away with his trademark thrusts to the throat and chokes away as the crowd cheers for Hogan.

Back in, the Undertaker chokes away some more as Heenan proclaims the death of Hulkamania for the 1,432nd time. This choking lasts for a while so I go grab a soda and I return in time to see Hogan grab the Undertaker and ram him into the turnbuckles and whip him into the opposite corner only to get a boot to the face on a blind charge. Heenan proclaims that the Undertaker is going to be around for a while and we need to get used to it. Little did he know how prophetic those words would become.

The Undertaker walks the ropes and drives an arm down onto Hogan’s back before, you guessed it, choking some more. We get another brawl on the outside of the ring and Hogan gets whipped into the ringpost before the Undertaker rolls him back in. Back in, the Undertaker delivers some type of smothering hold over Hogan’s face and gets some near-falls out of it. Monsoon does his best to add some psychology into the move while we await Hogan’s comeback, which happens before he even lets ONE HAND drop.

We get a bit of a criss-cross sequence which the Undertaker messes up badly by bouncing off the ropes awkwardly and falling down before Hogan can come across the ring and deliver a clothesline. Heenan only makes things worse on commentary by asking Monsoon what just happened on that sequence. Hogan whips the Undertaker into the corner again and AGAIN gets hit with a boot to the face on the blind charge. Undertaker hits the flying clothesline off the ropes, which I think is the spot they were trying to hit on the botched sequence, and gets a two-count off of it. If it was the botched spot they covered well by not immediately trying to do it again.

The Undertaker tries to walk the ropes again but this time Hogan is ready for it and tosses the Undertaker to the canvas. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair runs to ringside and is immediately confronted by Tunney. In the ring Hogan clotheslines the Undertaker to the floor and that gives Hogan some time to hit Flair in the back with the chair Tunney was sitting in. However, this causes Flair to fall on top of Tunney and render him unconscious. Back in, Hogan hits the Undertaker with a running forearm and a knife-edge chop off the ropes and both men then proceed to exchange striking maneuvers.

Flair suddenly pops up on the apron holding the chair and urges the Undertaker to ram Hogan into it but Hogan hurls the Undertaker towards Flair and the Undertaker takes the blow instead. Hogan hits the Undertaker with a big boot only to get a thrust in the throat when the Undertaker recovers. Paul Bearer is on the ring apron now and Flair is reviving Tunney on the floor as this whole thing has turned into a big clusterf*ck and the Undertaker holds Hogan is place so Bearer can strike him with the urn. However, that piece of interference also backfires as Hogan moves out of the way and the Undertaker takes the blow. Hogan now grabs the urn after he gives Bearer an eye rake and tosses the ashes of the urn in the Undertaker’s face and rolls him up for another title reign at 13:11. Afterward, Hogan picks up the urn and smashes the Undertaker in the face with it as Heenan begs Tunney to restart the match.

MATCH RATING: PENALTY. The crowd was into this encounter but the action in the ring was not so great. The finish had overbooking to the max with interference from Flair and Bearer (both of which backfired), having Jack Tunney be laid out and then being revived by Flair, and weapons galore. However, you could argue that all that interference made the Undertaker look stronger because he lost only after all of that interference took place. Either way, there was just not a lot of exciting offense in this match, which can be expected given the Undertaker’s limited moveset at the time due to character constraints, and that brings down its rating even though the crazy interference at the end can be entertaining.

The Inside Pulse
This show ended up being the financial success that was not meant to be for the WWF. The buyrate for the show was disappointing and scuttled any attempt by McMahon to launch a weekly pay-per-view syndication. Furthermore, the main event result eventually led to the WWF title being vacated by Tunney due to two consecutive controversial finishes between the Undertaker and Hogan and his ultimate decision was to give the vacant title to the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble. In my opinion this was the worst pay-per-view the WWF put on in 1991 (followed by Survivor Series) with the only redeeming part of the show being the storyline development between Randy Savage and Jake Roberts. Believe me, you can avoid seeing this show unless you are interested in seeing what the Savage-Roberts feud was all about during the late 1991-early 1992 period.

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