I was digging around in DVD collection and found this show, and decided that I fancied watching it again as I hadn’t seen it in a while, hence it’s the show I’m reviewing this week. I actually have it as part of the Silver Vision Video “Tagged Classics” series, where Silver Vision (The UK distributer of WWF/E videos for many years) would pack in two shows together in one box. The good thing about these is that they usually don’t bother doing any dubbing or whatnot, so you usually get the original music and they never bothered editing out the Attitude Era “scratch” logo either back when WWE had to do that.
This event took place on the usual spring European tour that the WWF used to do, with it essentially being a televised house show that they showed on Sky Movies over here as a special. There’s nothing mind blowing on the under card from a star power perspective, but we’ve got a WrestleMania VII rematch in the Main Event as Hulk Hogan defends the WWF Title against Sgt Slaughter, which is kind of a big deal.
The WWF was pretty hot in the UK at the time and they would of course run Wembley Stadium for Summer Slam the following year, so hopefully that means the crowd is jazzed for some wrestling action. I had a look at the card on CageMatch and apparently William Regal worked a dark match opener, although it didn’t lead to him getting a deal and he ended up in WCW by 1993.
Anyway, that’s enough chatter, let’s get a brew on the go and sit down to some chuffing wrestling!
The event is emanating from London, England on the 24th of April 1991
Calling the action are Vince McMahon and Rowdy Roddy Piper
Vince and Piper hype the show up to start, with Piper making a wisecrack about the poll tax, which was a controversial subject at the time over here and had actually led to Maggie Thatcher finally doing the J-O-B and stepping aside as Prime Minister for John Major.
The Warlord Vs Jim Neidhart
Mel Phillips botches Warlord’s intro by introducing Jim Neidhart instead. He manages to get it correct when Neidhart actually enters though. Neidhart gets an insanely loud reaction here, which makes me think this is going to be an easy crowd tonight if they’re that impressed. That being said, I remember the crowd having kittens over a Mr. Perfect Vs Headshriker Samu match on one of these Rampage shows once, so this isn’t an isolated case.
I’m surprised they didn’t just do Warlord Vs British Bulldog here to be honest, as that was an actual feud that was going on and they always had great matches, so being in Davey’s home country would have probably jazzed them up and we might have got a genuine classic out of it, especially as their match at Mania VII was an unexpected great match. This is your standard opening match, with them playing to the crowd and keeping the action straightforward. It works for the most part too, as the crowd is into it.
Neidhart shines on Warlord to start, but Warlord uses his power to catch him and cut him off with an inverted atomic drop. The heat is pretty basic, with Warlord mostly just clubbing away and playing to the crowd, but it’s not offensive or anything and the crowd stays with Neidhart, who does a decent job selling it to be fair. We of course get a prolonged rest hold due to both of these blokes being pretty hefty and not known for having much in the way of stamina, but the crowd continues to be super easy and sticks with the match regardless.
Things do eventually start to drag a bit, as I ponder why these two needed to go out there and work a pretty long singles match when neither of them is really known for being able to do that unless they have a good worker in there with them. Against all odds the crowd continues to remain invested though, which makes me think us British really are as polite as the stereotype suggests or this particular crowd were so desperate to see some live wrestling that they’d actually find this match interesting.
Neidhart does eventually start making the comeback, with them smartly only now letting him actually bump Warlord, and even then it takes a big clothesline after a flurry, which gets Neidhart two. We get the ten punch spot following that (Always a good choice in an opener with an easy crowd) and Neidhart follows that with an axe handle off the second rope for another two count. Wow, Anvil has his working boots on tonight! Warlord misses a charge in the corner following that and Neidhart gets a school boy for three, whilst the crowd pops like Tim Henman just beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon. This might be the best wrestling crowd ever!
WINNER: JIM NEIDHART
This was far too long at 13 minutes and they could have easily chopped at least 5 minutes. Still, it wasn’t terrible or anything, it was just a 6-8 minute match stretched out to nearly double when it didn’t need to be. The crowd liked it at any rate, so it had that going for it if nothing else
Mean Gene Okerlund is at the interview podium with Ted Dibiase and Sensational Sherri. Dibiase and Sherri are of course roundly booed by the English crowd, whilst a banner behind them is waved by some fans from Great Yarmouth saying they are there to see Hulk Hogan. Dibiase cuts a good cocky promo, making sure to get some jabs in at Piper who he was feuding with at the time. I wonder how many casual fans in attendance thought that Dibiase’s hometown was actually Crinkly Bottom?
Ted Dibiase w/ Sensational Sherri Vs Kerry Von Erich
Hopefully Tornado didn’t have too many Camberwell Carrots prior to this bout, as this has potential to be a decent match if his head is right and Dibiase is feeling motivated. Piper is on form in the commentary booth, making constant snarky comments about Sherri and openly cheering for Kerry to win. Dibiase quickly establishes himself as the heel by refusing to break clean and stalling outside, which means the crowd pops big when Kerry decides to start throwing fists at him. It’s simple but effective storytelling that anyone can follow and understand.
Dibiase bumps all over the place in the shine to make Kerry look good and the crowd loves it. Sherri even takes a bump when Kerry rams their heads together, which of course gives Piper even more room to get some verbal jabs in by suggesting it probably didn’t hurt much because she doesn’t have much in there. She gets revenge by tripping Kerry up though, which leads to Dibiase getting the cut off and working some heat. Sherri makes sure to get her shots in when the opportunity allows, as Dibiase was probably her best overall client in the WWF when it came to chemistry. Randy Savage was the biggest star of the three and Shawn Michaels was probably when Sherri did her best individual character work, but for overall package and chemistry I think Dibiase just clinches it. They just looked “right” together in my opinion. I accept that this view isn’t widely shared though.
Kerry is a bit sloppy whenever he makes sporadic comeback attempts, but Dibiase is smooth of offence and can cover for it, which keeps the heat entertaining, especially with the additional antics of Sherri at ringside. They work a chin lock for a while, but Dibiase actually works the hold rather than just sitting in it to conserve energy, so it doesn’t get too boring. Dibiase eventually misses an elbow drop from the second rope and Kerry makes the comeback, applying THE CLAW, but Dibiase manages to fight his way out of it.
Sherri gets involved once again and Kerry stalks her down the aisle, which leads to Dibiase running down to fight him. Oh man, my crappy finish sense is tingling. And indeed, Dibiase breaks the count back into the ring whilst Kerry is distracted by Sherri and that’s a count out.
WINNER BY COUNT OUT: TED DIBIASE
This was okay but the crappy finish left a sour taste in the mouth and killed some of the goodwill I had for it
Kerry chases the heels off following that.
Mean Gene is backstage with Haku, who cuts a promo on Greg Valentine in Polynesian, which leads to Gene complaining that he’s not speaking English. Don’t interrupt the Monster Meng for goodness sake Gene! He can kill you with his thumb!!
Following that we cut to Gene at the podium with The Hammer. Valentine cuts a pretty generic promo, but makes sure to throw in a cheap pop about being in London in order to get some semblance of a reaction.
Haku Vs Greg Valentine
Valentine’s promo and entrance is the first time the crowd hasn’t gone nuts for one of the babyfaces, but let’s see if he can garner more of a reaction once the actual wrestling starts. I mean, he was called “The Human Intermission” during this period, and I have to say that I always found this babyface run to be pretty odd. Yeah, being the grizzled veteran who gives the cocky young punks a good kicking is a viable gimmick when done right, but I’ve always felt Valentine was better to suited to the heel grizzled veteran who is jealous of youth and likes to do the military two-step down the nape of all the babyfaces necks.
As you would expect with these two, they slug away at one another in the early stages, with Haku eventually gaining control with some back breakers. The crowd is pretty muted in comparison to the previous two matches, and I have to say that the match is kind of boring once Haku gets the cut off, as they just sit in a camel clutch for a bit and the crowd doesn’t really care. Valentine tries to get them to care by showing fire and fighting his way up a couple of times, but it doesn’t really work and the crowd continues to sit on their hands.
Valentine keeps playing to the crowd, and eventually be sheer force of will he manages to get some of them into it. He really is working very hard here, to the point that I’m actually starting to feel a bit sorry for him. Eventually Valentine manages to get a sunset flip and that’s enough for three. The finish looked bad though as Valentine didn’t have Haku’s shoulders hooked with his feet so Haku should have been able to kick out pretty easily.
WINNER: GREG VALENTINE
The wrestling itself wasn’t bad and Valentine was working really hard, but the crowd chose this as the first match to sit on their hands due to not really caring about either man, and it left the match feeling flat as a result. Valentine stuck around as a face for another year after this before going to WCW in 92 and reverting back to his better fitting heel persona
Haku tries attacking Valentine following the match but Valentine fends him off and sends him packing.
The Rockers and backstage with Mean Gene, they are going to put The Orient Express away tonight.
The Orient Express and Mr. Fuji join Mean Gene at the podium, whilst Piper does an offensive accent on commentary. Fuji says The Rockers will suffer tonight and cackles.
The Orient Express w/ Mr. Fuji Vs The Rockers w/ Andre The Giant
This is the Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond version of the team, with Diamond under a mask as Kato. Thankfully the crowd is into The Rockers so they’re back to being excited again. Andre is of course there to offset the devious nature of Mr. Fuji. You might say that it’s unfair to just assume that Fuji is going do something untoward, but The Rockers know what he’s all about. You can read Mr. Fuji like a book, and not even a good book either. Certainly not as good as Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab, which is a book that actually improves with every read.
Andre is probably the only person in the entire building who moves worse than Fuji does, but his aura is still there, even if is dressed in stuff you’d buy for Michael in thrift stores of Los Santos. The Rockers get a shine on The Orients to start, but everyone’s timing is a bit off and the action isn’t quite to par with the excellent match the two teams had earlier in the same year at the Royal Rumble. Things do settle down a bit after that though and there’s some excellent wrestling, and the crowd enjoys watches the faces bump the heels around.
Eventually the heels get sick of being outwrestled and decide to cheat, with Tanaka attacking Shawn from the apron, which leads into Shawn getting cut off and worked over in the heel corner. He of course sells that very well and the crowd gets suitably angry whenever the heels bend the rules. Tanaka gets his fantastic flying elbow attack at one stage, which would still be one of the cooler moves today if someone still delivered it like that. It’s like he almost hangs in zero gravity whilst doing it, it’s outstanding.
Shawn eventually manages to catch The Orients with a double clothesline and makes the HOT tag to Marty, who runs wild on the heels and looks great doing so. Fuji tries to get involved though, which leads to Andre throttling him before clocking Kato for good measure. This leads to the double fist drop from The Rockers and that’s enough for three!
WINNERS: THE ROCKERS
This was a very enjoyable slice of tag team action. There was a little bit of a shaky start, but they found their groove eventually and it became a really good match. Andre didn’t do much, but what he did justified his inclusion and the match woke the crowd up again, making the match an overall success
Piper puts the fans over on commentary, and he genuinely seems to be having a good time.
Mean Gene is backstage where he states that he believes the Queen is watching. The Queen was apparently a big fan of Big Daddy back in the day and used to enjoy good old fashioned British Wrestling. Whether her enjoyment of the grapple game extended to American Wrestling is yet to be confirmed however. Mean Gene brings in WWF Champ Hulk Hogan, who says he’s just come from Buckingham Palace to attend the event today. I can only imagine what sort of chaos he’d cause there. “Ah yes Mr. Hogan, your Axe Bomber Clothesline is indeed most impressive, but I’m afraid you’ve just hospitalised my doorman”.
Following that we get a promo from Andre The Giant with Mean Gene. He was visiting family in France and decided to come over to the UK for the event. He says he’ll be on the rest of the tour looking to grab hold of Mr. Fuji again if he gets the chance. Following that, Brooklyn Brawler comes in to say he doesn’t like England. He’s not actually wrestling on the show itself, but he did work Scott Casey on the pre-show. The parade of interviews continues with Jim Neidhart coming in to say he feels lucky that he survived the match with The Warlord. Warlord storms in and says Neidhart cheated and they have a bit of brawl, so that might be continuing.
A random English lad called Marcus lad has joined the commentators because he’s dressed like Piper.
The Barbarian Vs Jimmy Snuka
Snuka was just coming off getting squished by The Undertaker at WrestleMania VII, in what was the first tick in the win column for Taker in his impressive WrestleMania winning streak. I’ve always associated the boot wearing part of Snuka’s career was the point he pretty much gave up and just started collecting the pay cheques, and as his match with Taker at Mania showed he was all but mid-card fodder at this stage.
Snuka shines on Barbarian in the early going and the crowd is into it, whilst I become transfixed with Mike Chioda’s terrible mullet. It’s not even like his hair has grown like that naturally and he’s just not gotten around to cutting it yet either, he’s made a deliberate choice to have a haircut that horrific. Barbarian eventually gets sick of getting shined on and boots Snuka over the top tope to the floor before ramming him into the ring post a couple of times for good measure. Not surprisingly Snuka is on the defensive following that and Barbarian works some heat.
This is another match that is longer than it needs to be, as they go nearly 15 minutes and they don’t have the combined move set or star power to stop it dragging. It’s not like anything they do is bad, and Barbarian in particular is solid enough in the right setting, but it’s just too long a match for these two particular guys to have and eventually we take a trip down rest-hold avenue because it’s either that or more side slams and clubbing strikes from Barbarian.
It seems like the lighting guy nods off during it too, as the lights go out at one stage, leaving both men wrestling in a spotlight whilst they try to fix it. Snuka eventually starts making a comeback, but Barbarian flings him out to the floor to seemingly put a stop to that. Snuka tries a sunset flip back into the ring, but Barbarian grabs the ropes to try and get a dirty win. The ref sees this though and kicks Barbarian’s hands away, allowing Snuka to complete the move for three, giving us the third match tonight where a babyface has won with a flash pinning move.
WINNER: JIMMY SNUKA
The crowd at least cared about Snuka, but this was another overly long match in a series of them on this show. We also didn’t even get to see the Superfly Splash either, which I thought we’d at least get as a reward for sitting through the match. It’s basically a house show that’s being shown only in the UK, at least let the faces hit their finisher if they’re going to win!
I hope that Barbarian will attack Snuka after the bell and we’ll get the Splash then, but no dice.
The Berzerker w/ Mr. Fuji Vs The British Bulldog w/ Winston The Bulldog
Bulldog is of course super over here. The Berzerker may indeed be berserk but, as we all know, Bulldog is bizarre, and should thus be more than enough of a match for him. Davey was just outrageously muscular here, but he still manages to throw a dropkick, which leads to Berzerker continuing his Bruiser Brody tribute act by refusing to sell it. Both men trade head butts Junkyard Dog style in the early going, with Bulldog getting the better of things, but he follows that up by running into a raised boot from Berzerker and that’s the cut off.
Berzerker (Thanks to OSW Review I can’t get that song out of my head now) works Bulldog over with basic stuff, whilst the crowd chants for their countryman to make a comeback. They smartly have Bulldog do the old Ricky Steamboat technique of attempting a comeback now and then to show the crowd that he’s still alive in the contest, but Berzerker always manages to regain control. Bulldog does eventually manage to shoulder block Berzerker out to the floor to pop the crowd, but his back gives out on a slam and Berzerker lands on top to continue to the heat.
This is yet another match where they go too long, which means we get a lengthy rest hold spot more than once, because Bulldog was built more for show than go at this stage in his career, which makes his incredible match with Bret Hart the following year all the more impressive. He was a solid worker, but he wasn’t in the right shape to go 15 minutes with a limited opponent like this. If he was in there with a great heel like Dibiase or Perfect then he might have managed it, but John Njord was not in that category. If they’d just done 8-10 then it would have been much better.
The crowd remains with the match due to how over Davey Boy is, and give Berzerker the business when he spikes the Englishman with a piledriver. Davey manages to dodge an attack from the second rope though and finally gets to take Berzerker off his feet with a back body drop. I get that Njord was a very big scary man by normal standards, but there isn’t really enough of a size disparity between the two that you’d think Bulldog couldn’t throw him around if he wanted to.
We of course get the big vertical suplex spot, because this is a Davey Boy Smith match at the end of the day, but the resulting pin attempt only gets two. Bulldog is able to dodge a charge in the corner though and lifts Berzerker up into the Running Power Slam for the clean three count. I’m glad they at least let Bulldog hit his finish in a night of roll ups.
WINNER: BRITISH BULLDOG
This followed the trend of going too long, but the crowd was into it and Davey at least got to win it clean. Remember when WWE used to let people win in their hometowns/countries? Those were good times…
Davey is absolutely cream crackered following that, but he still manages to find the energy to celebrate with Winston whilst the crowd cheers along.
Mean Gene is backstage with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He will be facing Earthquake next. Jake cuts an unusually meh promo by his standards, saying he and Damien don’t like cold showers.
Earthquake joins Mean Gene on the podium, and warns Jake not to bring Damien near to the ring. That would have of course have a pretty famous conclusion once they got back to America.
Earthquake Vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts w/ Damien
This was Quake’s in-between period in the WWF, where he was now in the mid-card following his feud with Hulk Hogan but he hadn’t started teaming with Typhoon yet, so they put him with Jake for a bit. I think they had plans to do Quake Vs Andre at some stage, but Andre was done physically so it never ended up happening. Quake did heat this particular feud up by squashing Damien at one stage, which led to Jake bringing in a much bigger snake called Lucifer.
We’re of course quite familiar with big blokes like Earthquake in our wrestling over here in the UK, so Quake is pretty much instantly over with those who remember the likes of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Jake is the master of in-ring psychology, so he sticks and moves in the early going, dodging Quake’s attacks and throwing punches to the kidneys in an effort to slow Quake down, which makes perfect sense as a game plan.
I like how the more cerebral Roberts would have a proper plan for dealing with a guy like Quake, and that plan becomes clear when he uses all the shots to the mid-section to put Quake down to a knee so he’s in perfect position for the DDT. Unfortunately for Jake though, Quake manages to grab the ropes to block it, but he doesn’t make it count and instead goes out looking for Damien, which gives Jake a window to get the short arm clothesline back inside the ring. Quake actually bumps from that, but counters the DDT again and then drops an elbow to take over.
Quake surprisingly works over Jake’s legs during the heat, which wasn’t a technique he often employed in his matches due to him not really being known for being a submission expert. Jake of course sells the leg fantastically, limping and collapsing when he tries to fight back. I was not expecting to watch John Tenta try and take someone to school Ric Flair style, but that’s kind of what we’re getting and it’s an interesting subversion of expectations if nothing else.
Quake does the stupid heel trope of picking Jake up at two so he can go for the Aftershock, but Jake rolls out of the ring to avoid that, so Quake grabs Damien and puts him in the ring so he can squish him. Jake manages to trip Quake up before the squishing can take place and brings Damien out of his bag, which causes the ref to call for the DQ.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: EARTHQUAKE
This was actually a solid match for the most part, although the lack of a proper finish hurt it
Jake chases both Quake and the referee off with Damien following that.
Mean Gene is backstage with British Bulldog, who says he wrestled for his family and friends tonight before challenging Mr. Perfect for the “World-Continental Championship”. That must have been a new belt they only had briefly in 1991 or something. What is it with Davey getting the names of belts wrong anyway? And he gets it wrong TWICE!!
Mean Gene is at the podium with Sgt Slaughter and General Adnan. Adnan cuts a promo in his native tongue where he puts Slaughter over. Adnan was apparently a real-life friend of Saddam Hussein. Slaughter adds that he is the fans’ new leader and that he rules the WWF. This was standard Slaughter promo, but it served its purpose in getting the fans angry at him.
Champ: Hulk Hogan Vs Sgt Slaughter w/ General Adnan
Slaughter came back to the WWF in 1990 as a heel by claiming that America had gone soft and he was there to whip it back into shape. It was a solid enough heel act, but then they decided to make it a million times more tasteless by having Slaughter become an Iraqi Sympathiser during the Gulf War, an angle which rightly got them all kinds of negative press. They decided to go the whole hog with Slaughter by having him win the WWF Title at the Royal Rumble, but he didn’t have it for long as Hogan dethroned him for ‘MURICA at WrestleMania VII in a good match. This here is the rematch.
I wonder how many casual fans thought that Sgt Slaughter was just Sonya from East Enders after going off the deep end? Hogan is hugely popular with the fans of course and I hope this means he will be jazzed up by it so that we don’t just get him doing the house show special in front of an easy crowd. Slaughter and Adnan jump Hogan to start, but he rams their heads together and then flings Slaughter out to the floor, where he chokes him with a Union Jack. British fans aren’t as precious about stuff like that as some of their American chums can be, so they cheer Hogan for doing it.
Hogan gets the big extended shine on Slaughter, with Slaughter bumping all over the place to make him look good. It’s similar to the Mania VII match in that regard, and I enjoy that one so this is just more of a good thing for me. The crowd enjoys it too, and chants for Hogan as he gives his challenger a good old fashioned shellacking. Slaughter is eventually able to get Hogan in the eyes though and throws him outside so Adnan can get some cheap shots in as well. Hogan has a bandage on his forehead from a fireball according to the commentators, and Slaughter targets that area with punches and whatnot, even ripping at with his fingernails to draw blood.
That’s a pretty gory spot for 1991 WWF I must say, but it suits the hate filled feud these two had with one another, so I’ll allow it, especially as Hogan fighting back whilst bleeding is almost always great drama. To be honest, it’s not like Hogan has a crimson mask or anything and the blood is mostly limited to a few dribbles that you wouldn’t notice without a close up shot. Hogan makes the odd attempt at a comeback, but Slaughter keeps finding ways to regain control, including a rope assisted abdominal stretch, which is at least a rest hold spot that allows a heel to work some storytelling elements in.
Slaughter eventually locks in the camel clutch, with Hogan saying he’ll never give up, and he eventually manages to fight his way out in a good spot. We get an eye rake trade off following that, which eventually goes Slaughter’s way, and he follows that up by heading up to the top rope with a stomp to the back, but Hogan kicks out and goes to the Hulk Up routine. That ends about as well as you’d expect for Slaughter, but interestingly he doesn’t bump on the big boot and that leads to a ref bump.
Slaughter tries to use a chair whilst the referee is down, but Hogan manages to dodge it a couple of times and gets the big boot for real this time, only for Adnan to come in with some powder. Hogan ducks that though and Slaughter takes it instead, leading to the Legdrop of Doom™ for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: HULK HOGAN
Good match, if not quite as good as WrestleMania due to Hogan never really getting a good bleed on
Hogan celebrates with the Union Jack as the show comes to a close.
There’s enough decent/good stuff on this show that it was an easy enough watch for the most part, although some of the matches on the under card really needed trimming. It was one of those occasions where they went for a 150 minute long show when a 120 minute one would have probably been a better choice as it would have meant they could have chopped some of the 15 minute matches down to 8 instead, which would have made them far more digestible and would have suited the guys in those matches better as well.
Overall it’s thumbs in the middle leaning up, but I wouldn’t go wildly out of your way to find it or anything. I’ve not bothered to check if it’s up on the WWE Network, but it might be (Although I doubt stuff like this is ever going up onto Peacock so those who have to rely on that for WWE content these days probably shouldn’t hold your breath).
If you’d like to get in touch to suggest shows to review, ask questions, share your love of those wonderful Royal Blue Toffees, or just generally chat the grapple game, then feel free to hit me up at [email protected]