What the World Was Watching: WWF Wrestling Challenge – January 14, 1990

Tony Schiavone and Gorilla Monsoon call today’s action, wrapping up the television tapings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Opening Contest:  Jake Roberts pins George South with a sunset flip at 1:18:

A second-generation talent, Roberts started his career in Louisiana in 1974 and came up through the NWA territory system, Mid-South, and World Class.  After a decade in the business he started finding his groove, feuding with Ron Garvin over the television title in Georgia, the Von Erichs in World Class, and Dick Slater in Mid-South.  He came to the WWF in 1986 and was initially booked as a heel, working against Ricky Steamboat.  Portrayed as a ruthless and cunning villain, Roberts excellent promo work, use of a quick-fire finisher (the DDT), and his handling of snakes rocketed him to a top spot in the company.  Rumors abound that Roberts was headed for a big program with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan but according to Roberts, fans cheered when he DDT’d Hogan in a Snake Pit interview segment, causing Vince McMahon to scuttle those plans.  A feud with the Honky Tonk Man officially turned Roberts face by 1987 and in 1989 he spent the year feuding with Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase, the latter of which continued into 1990.  As the squash unfolds, Roberts warns DiBiase in the split screen that he cannot buy a number in the Royal Rumble this year and the two will face off before the night is over.  Roberts stuns South with a sunset flip to win and, not to disappoint the crowd, he DDT’s South when his opponent pushes him after the bell.

Lord Alfred Hayes provides WWF Magazine’s Special Report.  The Genius says that Beefcake’s intelligence is “in his behind.”  The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers promise that 1990 will be a great year for them, with the Bushwhackers hyped for the encounter.  And Ronnie Garvin holds the Hammer Jammer, warning Greg Valentine that he has no chance in their submission match at The Royal Rumble.

Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) pins Tom Montana with the Rude Awakening at 1:50:

A former bouncer, Rude broke into the wrestling business in 1982 as a trainee of Eddie Sharkey, who also trained talents like Bob Backlund and the Road Warriors.  He spent the mid-1980s wrestling for Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW), Memphis, CWF, and WCCW before arriving in Jim Crockett Promotions in late 1986 and winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Manny Fernandez.  In April 1987, Rude jumped to the WWF and slowly worked his way into a contender for the Intercontinental Championship, which he won from the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania V.  After dropping the title, Rude feuded with Roddy Piper and after losing that it was unclear where he would go next in storylines.  But his position as a former Intercontinental titleholder made him an option for going after the WWF Championship.  Rude devastates Montana with strikes to set up the Rude Awakening as Roddy Piper appears in the split screen and discusses the two fighting in the jungle.

After the match, a woman is brought into the ring for Rude to kiss.  Before doing so, she tells Heenan that she has no interest in kissing a man wearing a skirt.

Brutus Beefcake (1-0) beats Tony Burton via submission to a sleeper hold at 2:32:

In the split screen, Rick Martel cries about Beefcake cutting up his clothes and vows revenge.  Monsoon cracks that Martel is upset about something minor, but by modern standards Beefcake seems like a jerk in the early stages of this feud by destroying someone else’s property.  Burton nearly falls after doing a leapfrog and lands some token shots before Beefcake flattens him with a high knee and clamps on the sleeper.

The Big Bossman (w/Slick) (1-0) pins Len Wagner after a spinebuster in 54 seconds:

The Bossman makes quick work of Wagner, preferring to use a spinebuster to finish.

After the match, the Bossman puts the ball and chain on Wagner and then dumps the ball on his chest.

Gene Okerlund interviews Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  Duggan calls the Bossman a disgrace to law enforcement and the WWF.  He takes that personally because his dad was the Chief of Police in Glen Falls, New York, so he vows to be the avenger for everyone the Bossman has hurt.  And he says if his match against the Bossman comes down to weapons, his is bigger than anything the Bossman has.

Okerlund does The Royal Rumble Report.  Tito Santana puts over the physical dangers of the Royal Rumble but he is coming to win anyway, Hercules puts over his power and uses that to put over why he will win, Demolition vow to get revenge on the Colossal Connection during the match, Bobby Heenan vows that a member of his family will win the Rumble match, Randy Savage promises that he will toss all the big acts in the match and win it, Dino Bravo and the Canadian Earthquake argue over who is stronger and is bound to survive because of that, and Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior says that mortals like Bravo and the Earthquake will fall.  Brother Love hypes his segment on the pay-per-view with Sensational Sherri and Sapphire, implying it will not be a fair segment because he says Sherri is a good friend of his.

Mr. Perfect (w/the Genius) (1-0) pins Mario Mancini with the Perfectplex at 1:36:

Mancini worked squash matches for the WWF from 1984 to 1991, beginning his work with the company after he turned eighteen.  His biggest claim to fame is that he would go on to the Undertaker’s first opponent.  Perfect wastes little time with Mancini, winning with the Perfectplex in ninety-six seconds.

Tune in next week to see Dusty Rhodes, the Powers of Pain, Roddy Piper, and WWF Tag Team Champions the Colossal Connection in action!  Also, Gene Okerlund interviews Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior!

The Last Word:  The Royal Rumble is being positioned as a match to settle existing scores as Jake Roberts has called out Ted DiBiase, Mr. Perfect has called out Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper has called out Rick Rude, the Ultimate Warrior has called out Dino Bravo and the Canadian Earthquake, and Demolition vow revenge against the Colossal Connection.  That provides some nice layers for the pay-per-view’s premier attraction.  The Ultimate Warrior is getting a strong push to start the year, getting more promo time than anyone else in the company to this point.

On the house show circuit the WWF went through Eastern Canada, Illinois, and the Northeast.  Here were the results of a sampling of those shows, courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com:

Montreal, Quebec, Canada – The Montreal Forum – January 8, 1990:  The Canadian Earthquake pinned Sam Houston…The Honky Tonk Man beat the Red Rooster…The Rockers beat the Powers of Pain via disqualification…Rick Martel pinned Brutus Beefcake with the Flair pin…Roddy Piper beat Rick Rude…Bret Hart pinned Richard Charland (substituting for Barry Windham)…Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior pinned Dino Bravo

Chicago, Illinois – The Rosemont Horizon – January 13, 1990 (16,000):  Rick Martel pinned Brutus Beefcake…The Red Rooster beat Tom Stone via submission to the chicken wing…Tito Santana pinned Bob Bradley (substituting for Barry Windham) with a flying forearm…The Genius beat Jim Neidhart via count out…Rick Rude defeated Roddy Piper via disqualification when Piper shoved the referee…The Powers of Pain defeated the Rockers when the Barbarian pinned Michaels with an elbow drop after Mr. Fuji interfered…Mr. Perfect beat WWF Champion Hulk Hogan via disqualification after sixteen minutes of action when Hogan used Perfect’s foreign object to knock him out.

Boston, Massachusetts – The Boston Garden – January 13, 1990 (announced as 9,200):  The Canadian Earthquake beat Paul Roma…Koko B. Ware pinned Al Perez…Bret Hart pinned Mike Sharpe (substituting for Bad News Brown)…Jimmy Snuka beat the Honky Tonk Man…WWF Tag Team Champions the Colossal Connection beat Demolition via count out…Randy Savage pinned Hacksaw Jim Duggan with the Flair pin in a match that had two referees…Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior beat Dino Bravo with a splash

Backstage News*:        The booking plan for WrestleMania VI seems to have solidified behind Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Championship against Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior.  To set up the match it is expected that the Warrior will turn heel, but if that does not happen it is a sign that Hogan will be leaving for a while since the Warrior would be positioned as the focal point of the company.  However, Dave Meltzer predicts that a babyface vs. babyface match would likely result in a draw like when Bruno Sammartino wrestled Pedro Morales in 1972.

*The WWF is booking a shot at the Tokyo Dome in April, creating greater cooperation between New Japan and All-Japan Pro Wrestling to lessen the WWF’s appeal in the country.

*Backstage news is provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for January 15.

Up Next:  WWF Prime Time Wrestling for January 15!