For the last WWF show of 1991, Vince McMahon moderates a panel with the usual combination of Gorilla Monsoon, Slick, Bobby Heenan, and Mr. Perfect. Heenan says that Santa Claus visited him and told him that his Christmas gift is coming on January 19 at The Royal Rumble.
Opening Contest: Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) (1-1) defeats the Barbarian (10-10-1) after the flying elbow drop at 2:26:
This match was part of the Superstar tapings in Austin, Texas on December 4. In the split screen, the Undertaker and Paul Bearer put over their chances in the Royal Rumble. It is just a short television match where the Barbarian slams Savage, missed a flying headbutt, and Savage hits his finisher. The result is a perfect illustration of how the Barbarian’s fortunes have gone throughout the year.
Slick says that the British Bulldog could win the Rumble as Heenan and Perfect yawn.
El Matador (15-2) pins Kato (1-5) after El Paso Del Muerte at 10:04:
These faced off in Madison Square Garden on November 30. Curiously, El Matador is not in favor of selling much for Kato, kicking out at zero after a flying chop and again after a backbreaker. El Matador fights out of a really long chinlock but a blind charge results in a Flair pin, which El Matador only escapes due to the referee noticing it. As Kato argues, El Matador schoolboys his opponent for two. After reversing a take to the buckle, El Matador goes through his finishing sequence and vanquishes his foe with El Paso Del Muerte. As was usual of these house show matches, the middle portion was a chore but the ending sequence was great. Rating: **
The Beverly Brothers & the Genius defeat Sonny Blaze, Larry Ludden & Brian Donahue when Beau pins Ludden after the Shaker Heights Spike at 4:29:
This six-man tag was filmed as a dark match at the This Tuesday in Texas show at the beginning of the month. The Genius needs new gear as his light blue singlet does not match up with the Beverly’s purple tights. It is the first time he has wrestled since losing to Hacksaw Jim Duggan on Prime Time Wrestling on April 23. The Genius throws a nice headscissors and the Beverlys punish Blaze with a double suplex before winning with the Shaker Heights Spike on Ludden.
Slick tells the panel that Hulk Hogan says he is ready to take out Ric Flair. Perfect argues that he hopes Flair draws number one to show everyone what he can do.
The Legion of Doom-Rockers tag team title match from Superstars is shown.
The Texas Tornado (34-1) wrestles Hercules (2-5-1) to a double count out at 6:53:
This was also a dark match at This Tuesday in Texas. It is a clash of two men in need of momentum because the last time they appeared on television was Survivor Series. That momentum is not forthcoming, though, as they aimlessly brawl for a few minutes before Hercules backdrops the Tornado out of the ring when the Tornado goes for the discus punch. While on the floor they brawl for what might be the longest ten count in history before the match is finally called off. The fact that the Tornado cannot beat someone of Hercules’ position on the card does not augur well for his chances going into the Royal Rumble and 1992 generally. Rating: ½*
A replay of Roddy Piper’s appearance on the Funeral Parlor on Superstars airs.
Rick Martel’s squash on Superstars airs.
McMahon puts over Bret Hart as a fighting Intercontinental champion, saying he has defended it more than any champion in history. Slick argues that Bret will win against the Mountie at The Royal Rumble because he does not take shortcuts. Perfect rebuts that you can get ahead taking lots of shortcuts.
A replay of the Bret Hart-Skinner Intercontinental title match from This Tuesday in Texas is shown.
Perfect feigns calling Elizabeth, who allegedly says that she will not attend The Royal Rumble because no one can protect her.
The panel discusses Roddy Piper, the Warlord, and Sid Justice’s odds of winning the Royal Rumble.
Heenan says that his New Year’s resolution is to have a good life. Perfect says his is to remain perfect. Slick vows to keep trying to be a good person and help Heenan and Perfect see the light. And Monsoon agrees with that message.
The Last Word: The panel format had lots of potential, but it is getting tiresome hearing those participating repeat the same talking points each week. Ever since Survivor Series there is a constant back and forth about Ric Flair but none of the arguments are new. And discussion of other feuds, like the Rockers potential breakup, is almost non-existent. This show was a decent way to round out the year as the WWF continued to reach into the taping bag from This Tuesday in Texas to fill time and there are worse ways to end the year than watching a Bret Hart bout.
Overall, 1991 saw the WWF lean more into an adult product. The company tried to use the Persian Gulf War as a storyline with Sergeant Slaughter but that backfired when the war ended well before WrestleMania VII. Also, the Ultimate Warrior was stripping Sensational Sherri on house shows, the Mountie electrocuted Bret Hart, and Jake Roberts was using his snake as a legitimate weapon against foes like Randy Savage. However, this more adult direction did not produce greater house show attendance or pay-per-view buys. In fact, it did the opposite. Television ratings, especially for Prime Time Wrestling, kept falling the company had no way of stopping them. The WWF also lost its television deal with NBC for Saturday Night’s Main Event. While some of the year was great creatively, especially the fall, the WWF was beset by untimely departures and injuries like the Ultimate Warrior’s firing at SummerSlam derailing a program with Roberts or Sid Justice’s injury ruining his early run as a hot newcomer. There were also questionable booking decisions like continuing the Hulk Hogan-Slaughter feud past WrestleMania and running Ric Flair-Hogan matches before Flair had been properly introduced to the WWF audience. In addition, the company was weathering bad press throughout the year because of a growing steroid scandal that would quickly engulf more of the sport in the years ahead. Combined with an economic recession, this would eventually come to hurt the company’s bottom line and signal that the boom period of the late 1980s had truly come to an end.
Now that 1991 is over, my columns shift to the WWF in 1992. Thanks again for reading about 1991, providing feedback, correcting any errors that I made, and generally reflecting on the ups and downs of this year in WWF history.
In terms of statistics, here are some numbers of note to close out 1991:
Top Twenty-Five Win/Loss Records (Overall)
1-The Dragon (28-0)
2-Ric Flair (10-0)
3-Repo Man (7-0)
4-Owen Hart (6-0)
5-Sid Justice (3-0)
T6-Genichiro Tenryu (1-0)
T6-Koji Kitao (1-0)
8-The Big Bossman (44-0-1)
11-The Undertaker (34-1)
12-The Texas Tornado (38-1-1)
T13-Hacksaw Jim Duggan (30-1-2)
T13-The Mountie (30-1-2)
15-The Berzerker (29-2)
16-Beau Beverly (21-1-1)
17-Jake Roberts (25-2)
18-Ted DiBiase (32-3-1)
19-The British Bulldog (41-3-4)
20-Blake Beverly (21-2-1)
22-Bret Hart (35-3-3)
23-Irwin R. Schyster (35-2-3)
T24-Hulk Hogan (6-1)
Top Twenty-Five Win/Loss Records (Singles)
1-The Dragon (26-0)
2-Ric Flair (9-0)
3-Repo Man (5-0)
4-Roddy Piper (4-0)
5-Sid Justice (3-0)
6-Marty Jannetty (2-0)
T7-Kevin Greeno (1-0)
12-The Big Bossman (43-0-1)
13-The Undertaker (34-1)
14-The Berzerker (29-1)
15-Hacksaw Jim Duggan (26-0-2)
T16-The Texas Tornado (34-1-1)
18-Bret Hart (29-0-3)
19-The Mountie (29-1-2)
20-Jake Roberts (25-2)
21-The British Bulldog (38-2-3)
22-Irwin R. Schyster (24-1-3)
23-Ted DiBiase (28-3-1)
24-El Matador (16-2)
Tag Team Rankings
1-The Legion of Doom (24-0)
2-The Natural Disasters (18-0)
3-The New Foundation (6-0)
4-Hacksaw Jim Duggan & Sergeant Slaughter (4-0)
5-The Beverly Brothers (18-0-1)
6-Power & Glory (10-1-1)
7-The Rockers (21-3-1)
8-The Bushwhackers (21-4)
9-The Nasty Boys (25-6)
10-The Hart Foundation (6-2)
11-The Orient Express (10-4-1)
13-Haku & the Barbarian (2-3)
Top 25 Overall Appearances
1-The British Bulldog (50)
2-The Big Bossman (46)
3-Bret Hart (42)
4-The Texas Tornado (41)
6-Brian Knobbs (38)
T7-The Warlord (37)
T9-Jerry Sags (36)
T9-Ted DiBiase (36)
T9-The Undertaker (36)
T12-Greg Valentine (35)
T12-Hacksaw Jim Duggan (35)
T14-Shawn Michaels (33)
T14-The Mountie (33)
T16-Marty Jannetty (31)
T16-The Berzerker (31)
20-Irwin R. Schyster (30)
T21-Jake Roberts (29)
T25-The Barbarian (28)
T25-The Dragon (28)
Best Matches of the Year
1-The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (Career Match, WrestleMania VII, March 24) – ****½
2-Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (Intercontinental Championship Match, SummerSlam ’91, August 26) – ****¼
3-The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (Royal Rumble 1991, January 19) – ****¼
4-The Hart Foundation vs. The Nasty Boys (WWF Tag Team Championship Match, WrestleMania VII, March 24) – ***½
5-Bret Hart vs. The Barbarian (Intercontinental Championship Match, Prime Time Wrestling, December 9) – ***½