Miami Arena – Miami, FL – Saturday, January 19, 1991
Gorilla Monsoon and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper are on commentary.
MATCH #1: The Rockers vs. Orient Express
This is the Kato and Tanaka version of the Orient Express, and they’re accompanied by Mr. Fuji. Tanaka knocks Jannetty to the floor to start the match right away. The Express tries to go to work on Michaels, but they don’t get too far before Jannetty comes back in and the Rockers send them scurrying to the floor and then wipe them out with suicide dives. The match settles down a bit and they trade control back and forth a couple of times, and the pace is very quick, especially for 1991 WWE. Michaels busts out a Moonsault. You know, he might be the first guy I ever saw do that. The Express tries to regroup on the floor but Michaels and Jannetty take them out with simultaneous cross body blocks off opposite turnbuckles. Back in the ring Kato and Tanaka use some chicanery to take over on Michaels. Fuji even gets a couple of cheap shots in behind the referee’s back. After several minutes of abuse Michaels makes the hot tag. Jannetty is on fire and so is the crowd. The Rockers try a Rocket Launcher, but Tanaka breaks it up. The Express seems to be in control until Jannetty surprises Tanaka with a sunset flip to get the pin from out of nowhere at 19:14. That was a HELL of an opener and one of the Rockers’ best matches ever, which is saying something.
MATCH #2: Big Boss Man vs. Barbarian
This was part of the awesome storyline where Boss Man was running through the Heenan Family members to get revenge on Heenan for all the mean things Heenan said about his momma. Boss Man is all fired up so Barbarian stalls on the floor to start. That proves wise, as Barbarian takes first control when he gets in the ring. Boss Man comes back with a big boot and a back elbow to send Barbarian back to the floor. This time Boss Man goes out there too and whips Barbarian into the ring post. They get back in the ring and Boss Man quickly clotheslines Barbarian right back out. Boss Man brought his working boots tonight. Barbarian fights back with a vertical suplex. He now goes to work, dissecting the Boss Man, focusing on the back. After several minutes Boss Man fights out and hits an enziguiri of all things. Boss Man follows up with a Stun Gun and Barbarian just barely gets his hand on the bottom rope. Barbarian goes up top and hits the Clothesline, but Boss Man gets his leg on the bottom rope. Moments later Boss Man hits the Boss Man Slam and once again Barbarian gets his hand on the bottom rope. Barbarian comes back with a piledriver and goes up top. He tries a cross body block, but Boss Man rolls through to get the pin at 14:16. Boss Man was on fire here and it turned out to be a good power match.
MATCH #3: WWE Championship Match – Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Warrior has been the champion since 4.1.90. He comes in a house afire as usual, clotheslining both Slaughter and Gen. Adnan to the floor, and then breaking the Iraqi flagpole over his knee and ripping up the flag. To say the crowd is in support of the Warrior would be an understatement. With Warrior firmly in control, Queen Sherri makes her way out to ringside to try and fire Slaughter up. Sherri grabs Warrior’s leg and baits him to chase her down the aisle. From out of nowhere the Macho King Randy Savage levels the champ with a clothesline and then hits him with a piece of equipment. Slaughter makes sure Warrior doesn’t g0065t counted out and goes to work on him back in the ring. After a few minutes Warrior makes the big comeback and Slaughter is in trouble. Sherri makes her way back out to distract the champion again, and he pulls her into the ring. Warrior picks Sherri up and throws her onto Savage, who had made his way back out, and they’re both down. Slaughter drives a knee into Warrior’s back and then distracts the referee, allowing Savage to blast Warrior in the face with his scepter! That gives Slaughter carte blanche to hit an elbow drop and cover Warrior for the pin at 12:45. The crowd was hot for Warrior, but the match was dull. It set up for a great match at WrestleMania VII though, so at least some good came out of it.
MATCH #4: Koko B. Ware vs. The Mountie
Mountie, who is accompanied by Jimmy Hart, stalls a lot in the opening minutes. The crowd is pretty pissed after the last match so these two have an uphill battle ahead of them. Koko gains the early advantage and Mountie fights back with punches, and then dumps Koko to the floor. Back in the ring Mountie continues slowly working Koko over and cutting off his comeback attempts. Mountie dumps Koko to the floor again and struts. Again, Koko makes his way back in the ring, and Mountie goes on offense. After an eternity Koko finally makes a comeback and lands a flurry of offense. Koko hits a missile dropkick and lands on his feet, which I think is impressive. He goes for the cover, but Hart distracts him. Koko comes back and hit a turnaround cross body block off the second rope for two. He then charges into what looks like a shitty chokeslam and Mountie gets the pin at 9:12. That felt long.
MATCH #5: Dusty & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase & Virgil
The tension had been building between DiBiase and Virgil, with Piper trying to convince Virgil that pride is worth more than money. The Rhodes family immediately sends DiBiase and Virgil to the floor, where they regroup. Back in the ring Dustin goes to work on Virgil, sending him back to the floor with a dropkick. When DiBiase finally tags in he’s able to take control on Dustin. That doesn’t last long before Dustin comes back with some of his father’s offense, and then makes the tag to the Dream. Unfortunately, when Dustin tags back in, DiBiase and Virgil isolate him and work on his knee. Virgil accidentally clotheslines DiBiase, and he receives a beating from his own partner for it. DiBiase dumps Virgil to the floor and then rolls Dusty up for the pin at 9:58. That was perfectly adequate.
The real juice is after the match, as DiBiase verbally berates Virgil, and tells him to get the Million Dollar Belt and put it around his waist. DiBiase reminds Virgil about his mother as Piper pleads with Virgil to stand up for himself. When DiBiase turns around to gloat, Virgil picks up the belt and hits DiBiase right in the face with it to one of the biggest pops I’ve ever heard in my life. One of the all-time great babyface turns, but too bad Virgil straight sucked in the ring.
MATCH #6: Royal Rumble Match
Bret “Hit Man” Hart is #1, and Dino Bravo, with Jimmy Hart, drew #2. Neither man can eliminate the other by the time Greg “The Hammer” Valentine comes out at #3. Valentine is a recent cast-off from Jimmy Hart’s crew, so he goes right after Bravo and quickly dumps him to the floor. Next up is #4, Paul Roma with Slick. Roma and Valentine double-team Hart but then quickly turn out each other. Kerry Von Erich is #5 and he gets a huge pop. Not much happens and Rick Martel is out at #6. Saba Simba is #7 as no one has been eliminated since Bravo. #8 is Bushwhacker Butch. Martel eliminates Simba. Next up is Jake “The Snake” Roberts at #9. Roberts goes right after Martel, who blinded him several months ago. Martel runs to the floor but wisely goes out under the bottom rope. Hercules is #10 and he helps his tag team partner Roma. Tito Santana is #11 and he goes right after his former partner Martel. Meanwhile, Roberts eliminates Roma. Undertaker with Brother Love is #12. He immediately eliminates Hart. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka gets lucky #13. Next is British Bulldog at #14. Smash brings us to the half-way point at #15. Martel is cleverly able to eliminate Roberts from the apron. Hawk is #16. Shane Douglas in neon orange is #17. Undertaker eliminates Von Erich and Hawk dumps Snuka. For some reason, no one comes out at #18 so we just move on. Animal is #19 and they join forces to eliminate Undertaker. Martel and Hercules then clothesline Hawk out. Crush is #20.
Former winner “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is #21. Next up is Earthquake with Jimmy Hart at #22. Earthquake eliminates Animal, and then focuses on Duggan. Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan is #23. He tosses Duggan out quickly. Hulk Hogan is #24 and everyone goes after him of course. Hogan tosses Smash first and then goes after Earthquake. Haku is #25. Next is Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart at #26. Earthquake tosses Santana. Bushwhacker Luke marches out at #27 and Earthquake immediately tosses him out to set a record for shortest time in the Rumble. Brian Knobbs is #28. He eliminates Hercules and Warlord comes out at #29. Hogan eliminates Crush. He then eliminates Warlord just as Tugboat comes out at #30. That means “Macho King” Randy Savage was the one who didn’t show. Knobbs eliminates Douglas. Hogan eliminates Tugboat and Bulldog eliminates Perfect. Martel dumps Neidhart and Bulldog dumps Haku. Then Martel foolishly goes to the top rope and Bulldog knocks him down, but not before Martel set a new longevity record at 52 minutes. Earthquake and Knobbs quickly eliminate Bulldog and focus on Hogan. After Earthquake hits the Vertical Splash, Hogan Hulks up and dumps Knobbs to the floor. Hogan hits Earthquake with the Big Boot and some punches, and then punches Hart off the apron. He then goes for the bodyslam, but he can’t hold the weight. Earthquake hits the big elbow drop and the powerslam, but Hogan Hulks Up again. Hogan hits another Big Boot and this time completes the bodyslam. He clotheslines Earthquake to the floor to win his second straight Rumble at 65:14. There was some fun stuff throughout this one, but it just felt lacking in star power and the Hogan win was even more predictable than usual with less suspense.
The Rumble match is okay but a but not at all memorable. Thankfully, the undercard picks up the slack here, with a great opener, a solid power matchup, a big WWE Title change (lousy match though), and an amazing babyface turn. That makes this a recommended show, but just.
Tags: Earthquake, Hulk Hogan, royal rumble, Ultimate Warrior, WWE