“You know the Texas Tornado’s the only guy I know who can hide his own Easter eggs?”.
-Bobby Heenan on Kerry Von Erich
WWF SUMMERSLAM SPECTACULAR 1991:
* Did you ever know that the Orient Express once had ALL THREE members fighting in a match at the same time? I sure didn’t! Yet here it is tonight! I’m oddly more excited for that than anything else on here- another prelude to a big PPV, in this case being SummerSlam ’91. Also up: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter for the WWF Title! Hawk vs. Brian Knobbs! Bret Hart vs. The Barbarian! Virgil versus a mystery man of Ted DiBiase’s choosing!
Vince makes a timely Annette Funnicello reference (who in their target audience would get THAT?) and Bobby Heenan’s in a ridiculous early ’90s “beach bum” get-up. Some douchebag fan has a whistle and they blow that sucker REPEATEDLY at certain points during the show.
The Nasty Boys: The Rocksteady & Bebop of the wrestling industry.
HAWK vs. BRIAN KNOBBS (w/ Jimmy Hart):
* The LOD are going up against the Nasty Boys for the Tag Titles at SummerSlam. As a kid, I hated the Nasties, and as a workrate snob, I hated them even more, but hindsight and age have made me appreciate them much more these days- they’re amazing characters, even if they suck in the ring.
Hawk kicks Knobbs’s ass to start, sending him out with a cartoon bump. He slams Knobbs’s head into the mat and adds a fistdrop, then a further beating, but he charges and hits the post. Jimmy distracts the ref while Knobbs just CHARGES in with a chair like this total asshole delinquent, and that’s great. Knobbs comes off the apron and hits a back elbow, then rests in a Boston Crab, but Hawk powers him out of the ring. Hawk’s still too hurt and takes more shots, but Knobbs starts resting in camel clutches. Hawk finally hoists him up, hits a boot, jumping shoulderblock and weak powerslam, but takes an eyerake. Knobbs slugs away, but runs into a boot and the Flying Clothesline finishes (7:42). SummerSlam looks like a foregone conclusion at this point.
It’s weird- these are two very limited guys, but they made it work here, since Hawk was selling a ton compared to his usual self, and Knobbs being a butthead is pretty amusing. His elbows are notorious but actually kind of fit him perfectly- why would this idiot throw ANYTHING well? He’s a big, dumpy, ugly brawler- dude should be hitting big, dumpy, ugly moves- just launching his body at the opponent with reckless abandon. But yeah, seven minutes is too much for Knobbs, as he starts resting a bunch, and Hawk only hits a couple of weak comebacks for the ending.
Rating: *3/4 (almost had a good match going, but cardio is not Knobbs’s friend)
We get a recap of the amazingly cartoony heel turn of Jake Roberts, as the Ultimate Warrior (with white jorts and NEON YELLOW cowboy boots) makes the mistake of trusting Roberts to show him the “dark side” and face the Undertaker. But Jake merely tricks him into entering a room of snakes and being bitten by a cobra, and reveals he’s been working with Paul Bearer & the Taker all along! This of course all got tossed out pretty quickly, as Warrior was gone right away and Jake was segued into the Savage feud that’s probably more responsible for his legacy today than any of his other work.
BRET “HITMAN” HART vs. THE BARBARIAN:
* An interesting match, as these guys had been going around the horn on house shows for a while- Barbie had his run as a powerhouse midcarder starting last year, but was cycling down the card here, as Bret’s gearing up for his IC Title match.
Bret tries to lock up and run around, but Barbarian knocks him over twice. Bret comes in and works the arm slowly, knocks Barbarian out of the ring with dropkicks, and jumps off the apron- Barbarian catches him and rams him into the apron. Perfect’s manager Coach comes out to scout things as Bret goes into the post and Barbarian slowly pounds on him. Front turnbuckle bump! Backbreaker, clothesline and LONG hanging vertical suplex keep it up, but the pace is verrrrrrrrrrry methodical. Bearhug spot, but Bret bites out and hits a clothesline off “Bret’s Rope” (thanks, OSW) after taking some more shots. Inverted atomic drop, punches & Russian leg sweep get two, then a backbreaker & Bret’s Rope Elbow get the same. He gets hot with the ref and earns a boot to the face that he sells big-time, hitting the floor! Barbarian tries to powerslam him back in, but in a very “Bret” kind of ending, he small packages Barbarian on the follow-through and gets the three (12:05).
Very, VERY slow pace here, as Barbarian suuuuuuuuuper methodically wears down the Hitman with a lot of plodding punches- this is probably why the occasional good Barb match was such a shock to workrate snobs.
Rating: *3/4 (Ending was okay and Bret’s stuff looked good, but neither guy was really working that hard. This mighta been part of why Barbarian slid down the card so badly and was gone early next year)
Sid Justice is with Mean Gene to cut a pretty basic promo about remaining impartial (“You don’t know what Sid Justice stands for!”) as guest referee at SummerSlam. I’d say its nonsensical, but that’s redundant with Sid. Slaughter, Adnan & Mustafa do an “in the back” promo to talk smack on Hogan. I can’t believe they kept this feud going for eight months- no wonder business was in the shitter. Though Macho Man’s bachelor party looks fun, with Mean Gene being a perv, Roddy Piper doing the greatest sell-job of a striptease I’ve ever seen, and Bobby Heenan being sexually assaulted by a morbidly obese woman.
IRWIN R. SCHYSTER vs. MARK THOMAS:
* Basic jobber match with the new character- Mike Rotunda reimagined as a guy so in love with the abdominal stretch he wants to marry it. He’s fighting babyface (!!) Greg Valentine at SummerSlam. Thomas is SUPER roided for a job guy.
I.R.S. pounces immediately, hitting punches, elbowdrops, a big clothesline and of course that abdominal stretch. They actually fall out of it while some fans chant “Irwinnnnnn” to bug him. The Write-Off (Samoan Drop) for the finish (2:00). As a kid I had NO IDEA what his finisher actually was.
Rating: DUD (basic jobber squash- ZERO offense for Thomas)
The Orient Express existed in both good (Kato/Tanaka) and lame (Sato/Tanaka) forms, but tonight, we get the full trio!
THE DRAGON, “THE TEXAS TORNADO” KERRY VON ERICH & “THE BRITISH BULLDOG” DAVEY-BOY SMITH vs. THE ORIENT EXPRESS (Sato, Tanaka & Kato, w/ Mr. Fuji):
* Yes, ALL THREE members of the Orient Express are here! This is apparently the only time that ever happened on TV, as Sato was long-gone by this point, but was active in SWS/WAR, which was friendly with the WWF. The babyface trio is facing the Warlord and Power & Glory at SummerSlam. Tornado’s in purple (don’t think I’ve seen that before), Dragon’s in red tights, and Bulldog’s in the usual flashy tights, while the Orients are all in jobberific black pants. And HOLY SHIT are the babyfaces on a ton of steroids here. They’re practically bursting at the seams- especially Davey.
Tanaka & Dragon do a fast sequence ending in a Skin-the-Cat back in, while Von Erich either misses his cue or just glitches out and repeatedly yanks the top rope down to “assist” him. Back body drop, chop & armdrag, and Davey-Boy spins Tanaka around with a clothesline. Kato distracts Davey, but gets a dropkick. Kerry works Kato’s wrist and punches down Sato as this is really one-sided. Tanaka scores a cheap shot and Sato works on Dragon as Bobby lands the all-time dig “You know the Texas Tornado’s the only guy I now who can hide his own Easter eggs?”. Dragon tries a piledriver but Tanaka hammers him out of it, and Fuji adds a cane shot as Dragon is just FLAILING with his dramatic sell-job. Dragon gets triple-teamed repeatedly and takes a big kick from Sato, then a double-chop, just getting his ASS kicked but still fighting back.
Kato lands a superkick as Kerry keeps coming in like a dumbass and helping the Orients cheat, just looking SO far out of it at this point. Heenan cracks “wasn’t he a discus catcher in college?”. False tag to Bulldog and it’s ANOTHER triple-beating, Japanese Vegomatic & superkick from Tanaka! A cover so shitty I can practically hear Monsoon bitching about it only gets two, so Dragon hits a monster swinging neckbreaker to come back. Kato cuts off the tag as Heenan remarks again how terrible the face team is as a squad (he’s not wrong), but Dragon FINALLY tags out after hitting a superkick of his own. Bulldog press-slams Tanaka into Kato (but falls short so he just whacks him) and slams Sato- Kato does the “jump up and over them from a corner charge” dodge, but lands RIGHT onto the Running Powerslam! Even Heenan marks out (“What a move!”), but Tanaka stops the pin immediately. Tornado comes in with THE CLAW to hurt him, and Davey hits a powerslam on Sato, then tags in Dragon, who hits the Flying Cross-Body for the pin on Kato (10:28).
Hey, this “Dragon” guy is pretty good at selling- has anyone else ever noticed that? Dude was just doing the BEST facial expressions, making like the “Tragedy” face in Greek theatre, and contorting his body in all these agonizing positions. This match, by the way, was OUTSTANDING at points, and a great look at double-teaming, selling and babyface comebacks. The Orients’ beating went on a bit too long and Tornado looked hopelessly lost out there (just waving his arms around at random or sporting a thousand-yard stare), and Davey was barely in it, but there was some great stuff.
Rating: ***1/4 (great selling and a very good babyface comeback)
WWF WORLD TITLE:
HULK HOGAN vs. SGT. SLAUGHTER (w/ Col. Mustafa & General Adnan):
* Heenan drops the bomb right away by holding up the friggin’ NWA WORLD TITLE as he challenges the winner tonight to face “The real World’s Champion” Ric Flair, as I constantly forget that SummerSlam wasn’t the start of that angle after all. Slaughter, now beyond washed-up and his push over, is just a lame-duck challenger now.
Stallfest to start, then Slaughter pounces until Hogan makes an easy comeback with generic brawling. Hogan no-sells a boot but Slaughter just keeps away until he does. Hogan’s dumped and Adnan & Mustafa go to work on him immediately. Slaughter adds a chair on a bleeding Hulkster when we’re back from break, getting two. He goes up, and appears to hit whatever that thing is where guys jump off the top and land on the opponent’s foot! I think it’s supposed to be a single-foot stomp! 1…2… Hulk Up! Fans are… wow, this is bad. They were more into the last match. Here, they’re like “oh yeah” and already familiar with the routine. Big Boot, but Adnan throws powder and Mustafa beats him down as the ref is paying attention to Slaughter, but finally all three pile on and Hebner’s tossed for the DQ (6:00). Hogan takes the Camel Clutch, but Sid Justice hits the ring to stall the heels- Hogan goes for a chair, but Sid TAKES IT AWAY, playing up the “calling it down the middle” thing they’re running here.
Rating: 1/4* (P.O.S. match, almost all punches and almost no bumping)
Sensational Sherri- I remember thinking she was ugly when I was a kid because of the act and the makeup. Then you watch a show as an adult and are like “!!!!”.
THE BARBER SHOP: And now, Sensational Sherri, drunk as a fuckin’ skunk, comes on Beefcake’s show to rant about the “Match Made in Heaven” and how much she hates Miss Elizabeth.
Sherri walks by in a VERY short skirt, with the camera in a close-up of her legs:
Bobby: “Move the camera a little!”
Vince: *disgusted* “You’re a lecherous sort, aren’t you?”
Bobby: “oh, thank you.”
Vince: “I never knew that.”
Bobby: “Stick around.”
She rambles on a bit, stating she wants to puke all over Liz, repeating herself a couple of times (again, she is WASTED) until Beefcake offers her a ride to the wedding- he hands her a broom and she immediately tries to decapitate him with it. Sherri rules.
THE NATURAL DISASTERS (Earthquake & Typhoon, w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. RAY GARCIA & ROSS GREENBERG:
* This is a very weird period for Earthquake, as he murders Damien, but Jake Roberts promptly goes heel, then Quake attacks Andre the Giant’s knee to justify him appearing on crutches, but he’s suddenly thrown into a “Clone Buddy” tag team with Typhoon at the same time. Kind of a busy period as they were kinda changing plans all the time, I guess. Greenberg has a good physique and is in pink trunks, while Garcia’s in a black Jobber Singlet.
The Disasters crush Garcia with glorious ease, Typhoon hitting an awesome “casual clothesline”, just stomping forward with a mean look on his face like it ain’t no thing, avalanche him, then toss Greenberg for fun, ending it with the Tidal Wave/Earthquake Splash at (1:56).
Rating: 1/4* (I love “Big Fat Heel” squashes- sue me)
It’s easy to sass on Virgil these days, but this was a legitimately HUGE match for the time. They got like ten months out of this feud, easy.
VIRGIL vs. A MYSTERY MAN WITH SMASH’S EXACT PHYSIQUE & ARM TATTOO (w/ Ted DiBiase & Sherri):
* Yes, VIRGIL Main Events, coming in to his years-in-the-making match with DiBiase at SummerSlam. In retrospect, this seems like it was to both blow things off for the story-arc, and set Virgil up for the next few years as the new “Koko B. Ware” first babyface for new heels to beat (Virgil would only be Million Dollar Champ a short while). The deal here is Ted has hired a masked Mystery Man to soften Virgil up for their match.
Not-Smash (soon named “Murray” by Heenan) controls with cheap heel tactics and brawling to start, but Virgil fires back with boxing-style punches and a hiptoss. He takes an elbow, but schoolboys Murray for two and boxes away before going to the arm. A whip sees Virgil dropped neck-first over the ropes, and Murray does it again and stomps him before a sleeper gets reversed, and he hits a clothesline and the Million Dollar Dream. DiBiase grabs his leg to break it, and Virgil gets clotheslined over the top! DiBiase adds a boot and Virgil’s suplexed back into the ring. Another suplex and Murray goes for a splash, but Virgil gets a quick punch on him, and rolls over for the pin while Ted laughs uproariously, thinking his guy won in a great visual (4:53).
Not a great match, as the Mystery Man threw out only the basics instead of even his regular offense (not even the Jumping Demolition Axehandles!), and Virgil himself was pretty limited to just smooth jumping around and his boxing. He got better then next year (ironically as his push was ending), but this was kinda nothing. The finish was weak, too- you needed a replay to even see what happened, and the guy still should have landed the splash even if he’d been punched from that position.
Rating: *1/4 (just a nothing kinda filler match)
Finally, DA MOUNTIE talks shit in the jail where the loser of his “Jailhouse Match” with the Boss Man will spend the night.
Overall, it has a really solid match in the middle, but the rest of the show is very bad, struggling to even break **, and Heenan/Vince is a poor excuse for Heenan/Gorilla. But yeah, seeing all three Orient Express members in the ring at once is great, and you don’t get to see Hawk/Knobs or Bret/Barbarian very often.