What the World Was Watching: WWF Prime Time Wrestling – January 14, 1991

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan host tonight’s program.  Before the matches begin, Monsoon tells Heenan that he will not be able to get the Barbarian to stop the Big Bossman this weekend at The Royal Rumble.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s squash from Superstars on January 5 is the first match of the evening.

Heenan argues that Duggan and Koko B. Ware will not do well in the Royal Rumble because they cannot bring their boards and birds with them.  This ignores how Ware is not an announced participant in this year’s Rumble.  Heenan adds a funny comment about how the Barbarian might use his antlers to gore someone.

Gene Okerlund’s Update segment airs a promo from Sergeant Slaughter and General Adnan supporting Saddam Hussein.

The Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji) (1-0) defeat Sonny Blaze & the Brooklyn Brawler when Tanaka pins Blaze after a superkick-German suplex combination at 4:48 shown:

The Brawler was Steve Lombardi, a trainee of Mr. Saito and Arnold Skaaland.  He started wrestling for the WWF in 1983, working as an enhancement talent on television and an opening act on house shows.  After spending six years in that role, Lombardi was repackaged as the Brooklyn Brawler and used as Bobby Heenan’s muscle in a feud against the Red Rooster in early 1989.  The Brawler lost the feud to the Rooster and with it his push as Heenan no longer worked with him on screen.  He won a few matches on Prime Time in 1990 against other enhancement talents but made no significant impact on the company.

This match comes from the London Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada, which is already a clue that is going to be bad.  It is joined in progress and is boring as Blaze takes a lot of chops and eye and back rakes.  The Brawler wrestles as a babyface and gets big spot near the end as he clears the Express out of the ring, but he is not the legal man and Blaze succumbs to the Express’ finisher.

Okerlund does The Royal Rumble Report, which replays promos from the previous week.

Heenan amuses himself by drawing a black eye on a Jake Roberts poster, but Monsoon does not find it funny.

Jake Roberts (1-0) pins Bob Bradley with a DDT at 2:26:

As the squash unfolds, Roberts warns Rick Martel in the split screen that he is coming for him at the Royal Rumble.  Bradley tries to do his awful handspring elbow into the corner, a move so slow that it allows Roberts to slip out of the corner and avoid it.  The DDT finishes and Roberts dumps Damien onto Bradley after the bout.

Heenan claims that Roberts beat up two Boy Scouts last week because they took him across the street and he did not want to go.

Promo time with Sean Mooney!  Earthquake, Hawk, and Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect hype their Rumble chances, repeating talking points they have made earlier.  The Big Bossman argues that the Barbarian will serve hard time at The Royal Rumble.

A replay of Ted DiBiase’s squash and post-match interaction with Virgil on Superstars airs.

Koko B. Ware pins Black Bart with the Ghostbuster at 4:36 shown:

Ware began his career in Tennessee in the late 1970s, earning a push in Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) and feuding with Jerry Lawler under the name Sweet Brown Sugar.  After a run in Mid-South, Ware came to the WWF and got over with younger fans due to his brief colored ring outfits and a real macaw parrot named Frankie that sat on his shoulder during promos and interviews.  However, he never moved out of a lower midcard position and one of his career highlights was headlining the 1988 Survivor Series on the Mega Powers team.  In 1990, Ware padded his win-loss record with squashes but lost nearly all of his feature matches to the likes of the Genius, Rick Martel, Sergeant Slaughter, the Warlord, Ted DiBiase, and Randy Savage.  The only exception was a match with Haku on Prime Time Wrestling on October 1 that went to a draw.  Ware entered the history books at the 1990 Survivor Series, becoming the first star to take the Tombstone from the Undertaker.  Ware’s poor position on the card was illustrated by his absence from any announced matches for The Royal Rumble.

Matches like this one, which took place on December 28 at Madison Square Garden, were a way to keep Ware relevant until he was called upon to job to a bigger name talent.  The bigger Bart tries to bully Ware, but he fights out of a chinlock and avoids a blind charge.  Bart kicks out of a schoolboy roll up and small package, but Ware tags him with a missile dropkick and ends things with the Ghostbuster, a brainbuster variation.  Overall, this was a good outing for both guys, neither of whom got much going the previous year.

A replay of Okerlund’s interview with WWF Champion the Ultimate Warrior two weeks ago on Wrestling Challenge airs.

Jimmy Snuka defeats the Warlord (w/Slick) (2-0) via disqualification at 8:31:

Snuka was at the end of a comeback with the WWF after leaving the company in the summer of 1985 and returning at WrestleMania V in 1989.  Snuka began his career in the Pacific, wrestling his first match in Hawaii in 1970 and wrestling in Portland for a few years after that.  Stops in Texas, Mid-Atlantic, and GCW allowed Snuka to fine tune his talents.  A former NWA World tag team champion and a United States titleholder, Snuka signed with the WWF in 1982, working as a heel and feuding with WWF Champion Bob Backlund.  Snuka mesmerized fans with dives off the top of cages, first to Backlund and then later against Don Muraco when he turned babyface and went after Muraco’s Intercontinental Championship.  Since he remained popular with fans, Snuka was positioned in a midcard role upon his return, never beating someone that the WWF had big plans for like Mr. Perfect or Rick Rude but defeating others the company was less invested in like Boris Zhukov and Haku.  In 1990 he only worked one on-screen program, against Rick Rude, but the two just exchanged promos in the lead up to WrestleMania VI, where Rude won to set him up for WWF title shots against the Ultimate Warrior.

On house shows, these two had a program in the summer and fall of 1990, so this serves as an insight into what those matches were like.  This particular match was taped at Madison Square Garden on December 28.  The crowd is into Snuka, but the Warlord spends a good chunk of the match slowly pounding him down.  When Snuka fights back, using his head as a weapon, the Warlord starts choking him on the ropes and does not heed the referee’s instructions for a clean break and gets disqualified, providing an awful ending to a bad match.  After the bell, the two keep fighting until Snuka gets the best of the Warlord and forces him to flee.  Since the Warlord is in a feud with the British Bulldog, this outcome made no sense.  Rating:  ½*

The Nasty Boys (w/Jimmy Hart) (1-0) defeat Pat Armstrong & Pete Sanchez when Jerry Sags pins Armstrong after the Trip to Nastyville at 2:31:

The Nasties remain motivated early in their WWF tenure, working quickly to destroy their opponents with power moves.  It is an entertaining squash that is a highlight of the show.

Hillbilly Jim visits the set and chats with Monsoon about The Royal Rumble.  Heenan is disinterested in the discussion, disgusted by Jim’s appearance.

The Texas Tornado (1-0) pins Kent Carlson after the discus punch at 1:23:

The Tornado hardly breaks a sweat in dispatching Carlson.  Going into the Royal Rumble, one would think that the Tornado was a contender because of him being a former Intercontinental champion.  However, his weak promos have made him seem like an afterthought in recent weeks.

Rick Martel (1-0) beats Rico Federico via submission to the Boston Crab at 3:20:

Federico was a Florida-based talent that worked several television squashes for the WWF and WCW in 1990.  In 1991 he would continue doing them for the WWF while appearing a few times for the UWF.

In the split screen, Martel repeats his promise to eliminate Jake Roberts from the Royal Rumble.  The squash goes on longer than needed but highlights Martel’s technical abilities.

Heenan discusses the strategy of the Royal Rumble and how wrestlers need to avoid going on the attack when they get to the ring.  Instead, he says that they need to look at the bigger picture.

The Bushwhackers defeat Dennis Allen & the Gladiator when Luke pins Allen after a double stomachbreaker at 2:07:

The Bushwhackers, cast as cousins Luke and Butch, started their careers in 1966 and did not make it to the WWF until December 1988.  Prior to their WWF debut they were better known as the Kiwis and the Sheepherders, wrestling an aggressive style across Stampede, PNW, Bill Watts’ UWF, Puerto Rico, New Japan, and Jim Crockett Promotions.  The WWF gimmicked them as a comedy act, but that worked to the team’s benefit because the hardcore, brawling style they once did was not sustainable.  The Bushwhackers were a reliable act to pop television and pay-per-view crowds and they were usually positioned as a gatekeeper for heel teams that wanted to move up the card or were on their way down.  In 1990 they sent the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers out of the company after defeating them at The Royal Rumble, and played a role in the demise of the Bolsheviks by beating them in a feud.  However, they lost a feud to Rhythm & Blues, who went on to challenge the Hart Foundation for the tag team championship and went 50/50 with the original version of the Orient Express.  The team also did poorly at Survivor Series, eliminated in short fashion by Sergeant Slaughter from the Alliance-Mercenaries match.

Allen was a Larry Sharpe trainee that freelanced as an enhancement worker in the WWF, WCW, and Florida.

The Gladiator was Charles Sprott, who also did jobs on WWF television as Ricky Hunter.  He was wrapping up his career at the time of this match, having wrestled since 1957.  That career took him to the AWA, PNW, NWA San Francisco, Central States, GCW, CWF, various Texas territories, and finally to the WWF, where he worked as an enhancement talent starting in 1985.

The Bushwhackers use very few moves to checkmate their opponents, preferring to pose and stomp around the ring to the crowd’s delight.  Allen takes the pin so the seasoned Gladiator does not have to in his final WWF bout.

Okerlund brings a small big onto the studio set, which sets Heenan off.

Non-Title Match:  Mr. Perfect (Intercontinental Champion w/Bobby Heenan) (1-0) pins Kevin Reno with the Perfectplex at 2:01:

Ever one to be generous with jobbers, Perfect takes a Reno dropkick and flies halfway across the ring and over the top rope.  After that he gets down to business, grounds his opponent, and finishes with the Perfectplex as he waits a strong challenger to the Intercontinental Championship.

The Last Word:  The banter between Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan has been excellent the last few weeks and the Nasty Boys had a fun squash match.  The Warlord’s loss, even if it was protected, shows that the company is not going to invest a lot more in his push, which is puzzling because there is a dearth of monster heels in the company.

Up Next:  WWF Superstars for January 19!