WWF SURVIVOR SERIES SHOWDOWN 1991:
-Hey look! I finally found another one of these shows! Though… this got uploaded in 2018, so I should have been able to find it then! Oh well. We’ve got a big batch of Dream Matches here, with Boss Man vs. Earthquake (same as last year), Roddy Piper vs. Hercules, and even the Million Dollar Title rematch between Ted DiBiase & Virgil- the actual end of their feud that nobody remembers or talks about! And somehow this company was insane enough to give away BLAKE BEVERLY vs. BUSHWHACKER LUKE on free TV! No wonder business bit the dust in 1992!
So this is the go-home show for the Hogan/Taker Survivor Series: “The Gravest Challenge”, which is also the first one with Ric Flair in it, but turned out to be an advertisement for “This Tuesday in Texas”, a failed experiment to put a PPV on a different date.
Your hosts: Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan
EARTHQUAKE (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. THE BIG BOSS MAN:
* A rematch from last year’s Showdown. The scheduled PPV match is supposed to be Jake Roberts, The Natural Disasters & Irwin R. Schyster vs. Randy Savage, The Big Boss Man & The Legion of Doom, but both Savage & Roberts were taken off after Savage was bitten by the king cobra on a famous segment of TV, leading to a trios match as the final bout of the show instead.
Boss Man charges the ring immediately, but Earthquake easily pummels him down and hits the bearhug, slams him into the corner, and drops the elbow to work the back big-time. But he misses an elbow and Boss Man throws shots until Quake is so wobbly that one final push brings him down (great subtle selling by Quake, flinging his arms just a bit and moving his head in the direction of each punch- not over-selling it, but doing just enough to act like he’s being worn down). Boss Man hauls ass around the ring and then slides out to chase Jimmy Hart, but sneaks back into the ring and catches Quake from behind, slugging away until Quake comes back, only to end up in Andre Position in the ropes. Boss Man slaps him around until IRS comes out, and that gives Quake the distraction he needs to return fire.
Boss Man’s hand gets stuck in the ropes and Quake ends up standing on it (Heenan: “Aw no- don’t! That’s the hand he takes BRIBES with!”). IRS prepares to pounce on the floor, but Boss Man spins around and decks him, then lights up Quake back in the ring- he gets the ten corner punches, but Quake comes back with a headbutt and works the wrist again- Boss Man charges and gets dumped over the top and Quake destroys his arm some more (even SPLASHING it), stifling comebacks until Boss Man hits his enzuigiri (they have to switch legs as Quake grabbed the wrong one first) for two. IRS drags him to the floor and they brawl, which should be a DQ but isn’t, and Boss Man runs back in for a clothesline. And finally Typhoon & Jake Roberts hit the ring, the ref calling for the bell (10:13) as Boss Man gets his nightstick and the LOD runs in.
Kind of not what I was expecting, as instead of a power match it’s Boss Man doing rapid-fire brawling and Quake slowly working over the arm with wristlocks and headbutts. And it was a LONG match, too, especially for two such big dudes (you don’t have to ask if Boss Man’s shirt was soaked with sweat in cases like this).
Rating: ** (perfectly okay, if a bit too plodding and full of the same moves, plus the ending stank)
That’s a lotta f*ckin’ Hall of Famers, right there.
We get a recap of the classic first big Hulk Hogan/Ric Flair confrontation at the Funeral Parlor, with Ric Flair going “You know HOW LONG I’ve been waiting for this moment? You know HOW LONG I’ve been hearing the name Hulk Hogan?”, really selling the impact of the moment, especially with the WWF and NWA World Heavyweight Titles right next to each other. Unfortunately it’s kinda hampered by Paul Bearer doing cartoon faces and Flair having to constantly wear his signature robes (Ric almost never wore his trademark suits for some reason in the WWF- like they wanted him to have a visual signature and it could only be his pre-match robe). But the Undertaker comes out of a standing coffin and blasts Hogan with the urn from behind.
Taker & Flair go to work on Hogan, but this sends Roddy Piper & Macho Man down from the interview booth with chairs, knocking Flair over just as he brandishes BOTH World Titles (which has to be the first time anyone ever grabbed both at once)- Taker doesn’t even flinch as Savage whacks him on the side (and this was back when a chairshot was a HUGE deal), but he takes Hogan’s crucifix necklace off and sells it like it actually causes him pain. Man, try to find a segment with five bigger all-time stars in it at once than these guys- it’s tough.
I’ve been on a big “Mike Enos” kick on the Dream Matches column for ages- speaking the truth about a truly underrated strongman wrestler… but yeah, this was not a good time for him.
BUSHWHACKER LUKE vs. BLAKE BEVERLY (w/ The Genius):
* Oh hell, they’re subjecting us to THIS, lol? One of those “Four Tag Teams” SS matches was set for the show, with the Bushwhackers & Rockers facing the Nasty Boys & Beverly Brothers. Which kinda shows you how weak the tag team division was getting in 1991.
Blake attacks from behind, but gets his ass bit and lands on his head on a clothesline bump and bails. Luke finally follows him out there and bashes his & the Genius’s heads together. Blake tries to charge in but gets bitten again and bails and oh my god this entire match is just posing and taunting. Blake lures Luke in by allowing himself to be headlocked, and that sets up the Genius to grab his leg from a criss-cross, and Luke gives chase. For some reason the ref doesn’t count him out, despite Luke chasing him all the way to the back, but Luke returns… with the Genius’s cap on! He beats on Blake some more, but goes flying into the corner off a whip, then eats a backbreaker and a release Oklahoma Stampede of sorts for two. Blake measures him with a clothesline, but gets cocky and misses a headbutt off the second rope and trips over Luke’s body, getting pinned at (5:43). And THESE GUYS were supposed to be threats to the Natural Disasters at SummerSlam ’92 the next year.
Rating: DUD (The whole match was posing and Luke easily embarrassing Blake until the heel got a tiny smattering of offense. Barely even a contest)
Mean Gene is joined by the Big Boss Man & Legion of Doom (who are CRAZY over here), who implore the fans to pay money to call in and get Randy Savage reinstated. Sadly he wouldn’t make the Series and we’d have to settle for This Tuesday In Texas. Hawk suggests that the easy way out for the heels would be to spontaneously combust rather than “get the bile kicked out of your bladder” by their team.
Ted DiBiase, re: this segment: “… There’s not enough money.”
Then we re-air an all-time segment- Jake Roberts pulls out a goddamn KING COBRA and has it gnaw the sh*t out of the Macho Man while he’s tied in the ropes. Absolutely horrifying and I don’t think anyone else in wrestling history has the balls or insanity to take that. People are SCREAMING in the stands, children are averting their gaze, and Macho sells the sh*t out of it, flailing around and gunning for Jake but collapsing. And not only does Jake do the big supervillain pose in the ring while they FINALLY get Savage onto the stretcher and take him away (Randy, master babyface, of course falls off of it while seizing up), but then we get an all-time shot of the snake F*CKING LOOKING RIGHT AT JAKE while he laughs like a maniac. Absolutely tremendous.
Mean Gene now brings in Jake Roberts, Earthquake, Typhoon & IRS. “Jake- PLEASE leave the snake in the bag!” “Say PLEASE one more time, Mean Gene!”. They mostly just talk generic smack, though Jake suggests “We all know Elizabeth wears the pants in that family” (causing Heenan to chuckle uncontrollably). The continuity in feuds is pretty funny here, as Earthquake & Jake were mortal enemies for the summer because Earthquake friggin’ murdered Damien, but then they segued Quake right into the Natural Disasters and Jake soon did a heel turn anyways.
Virgil, the proud Million Dollar Champion and ultimate “Little Guy” story… for all of about three months, actually.
MILLION DOLLAR TITLE MATCH:
VIRGIL vs. “THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN” TED DiBIASE (w/ Sensational Sherri):
* This is the true culmination of the famous Virgil/DiBiase feud, though the only part everyone seems to have forgotten. Virgil turned on DiBiase in a classic angle at the ’91 Rumble, and was trained by Virgil, wrestling Ted to a non-spectacular ending at WrestleMania VI, then drawing an all-time pop beating him at SummerSlam and taking his Million Dollar Title! Ted eventually got Sherri as a manager and has kept trying to regain his trophy belt. They’re also on opposite Survivor Series teams, as it’s Ric Flair, DiBiase, The Mountie & The Warlord vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Virgil & The British Bulldog. Virgil’s got white shorts with red trim, not having adopted his odd lined tights yet.
Virgil does his boxing shuffle for a while, but DiBiase scores a snap armdrag. Ted takes him down a few more times, laughing as he has an easy go of it, but Virgil wins a criss-cross with his own hiptosses and points to his head to indicate intelligence, which bodes ill. He scores a rollup and then a small package (actually botching it by failing to hook the leg) and Ted bails, putting over Virgil “catching him” with all this stuff. Virgil reverses an armbar to a headlock and works that, DiBiase using the tights to try and get a three-count, but ending up back in it while Heenan suggests that “That’s Virgil- you’re allowed to do that!” and how it doesn’t matter how you beat him as long as you do. Ted lands a cheapshot on a corner break and gets his elbow up on a charge, then dumps Virgil so Sherri can lay in a beating, gouging the eye with her high heel and everything!
Back from break with Ted laying in a beating and hitting a vertical suplex for two, into the chinlock. Vince suggests DiBiase’s pulling the hair, and thankfully Bobby takes care of that one for me (“of WHAT- his ears?!”), but Virgil fights up from the third hand-drop and is immediately on his feet, but runs into Ted’s kneelift. His fistdrop gets two, and DiBiase plods away with some basic stuff, but misses his elbow off the second rope to cue the comeback. Virgil lands his boxing jab combo and nails a pair of clotheslines into the Russian legsweep for two. He manages the ten punches in the corner, but this cues the newly-debuted REPO MAN to come down to ringside, where he “repossesses” the Million Dollar Belt. Virgil grabs at him while Sherri distracts the ref, and Repo blasts him with the belt- Ted lays on top for the pin, winning his title back at (9:57)! DiBiase cuts a promo that absolutely buries an apparently-dead Virgil, saying he’s back in the gutter, penniless, but this provokes El Matador to come down and start a fistfight. This likely sets off a new feud for Ted, as well as one for Virgil, ending the year-long story.
The match was a real showcase for DiBiase’s carrying abilities, as he’s fighting an athletic guy with not so many skills, so Ted makes sure to feed the comebacks and sell for everything like it’s SO hard to get out of, and that he just keeps getting caught with things. Largely turned into a chinlock-fest by the end as they pad for time, though
Rating: **1/4 (Okay enough, but clearly padded a bunch for Virgil’s benefit by an increasingly worn-down DiBiase)
This match leads to a variety of things happening in the WWF- the year-long Virgil/DiBiase story actually ends with TED as the winner, getting his title back only to retire it, and then he drops Sherri for Jimmy H art and forms a tag team with IRS, swiftly becoming Tag Champions in the next year. Poor Virgil ends up feuding with the Repo Man after this, first winning by DQ on house shows, but actually doing the job thereafter. And that ends up being his role for the rest of his WWF career- a Jobber To The Stars (he seems to pin the Warlord on some house shows, but is a straight jobber on others). So this entire “Feel-Good Story” and the triumphant angle and all that… really just leads to the company having another Koko B. Ware out there to job to a debuting Bam Bam Bigelow or Narcissist Lex Luger or whatever. And I mean, that’s an important role in the company… but you do this big angle for THAT? It’s very odd. Granted, Virgil wasn’t the most well-rounded wrestler, but he was a decent enough act I feel they could have gone somewhere besides making him a loser as of 1992. But really, all anyone remembers 30 years later is the Virgil turn and him eventually getting the belt- one of wrestling’s all-time best payoffs. So it’s funny we all forget about this lame-duck “true” ending. It occurs to me now that a better use of the belt would be for Virgil to melt it down and give it to THE POOR, which would have enraged DiBiase a thousand times more.
Back to interviews, as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan joins Mean Gene on the podium, reintroducing Sgt. Slaughter, now a babyface as his career winds down, all “I want my country back!”. He replaces Jim Neidhart (who was probably cocained out) on their team, which also has El Matador & Kerry Von Erich on it, against the lamest heels in the company- Col. Mustafa, The Berzerker, Skinner & Hercules (replacing Big Bully Busick). Nobody really bought that, though. Slaughter was largely non-essential to the company by this point, but lasted for WAY longer than I remember, apparently sticking around until next October.
Hulk Hogan is next up for a Mean Gene interview, defying the notion that Hulkamania will die against “The Gravest Challenge”, saying that people have been saying it’ll die for the past eight years. Standard Hogan stuff, but he’s still pretty over.
“ROWDY” RODDY PIPER vs. HERCULES:
* A weird one, as both guys are in different matches on the PPV. Roddy’s part of the aforementioned Flair match, while Hercules is part of a job squad of loser heels. Hercules is in the long black tights, and nearly gone from the company, with no mention of Paul Roma or their manager, Slick, while Piper’s in the usual blue trunks.
Piper quickly does his usual thing, gobbling up offense and throwing punches, actually no-selling Herc’s own, which is ludicrous given the size difference. Hercules tries to escape (pointing to his head to indicate intelligence), but Piper drags him back in by the tights and Herc has to elbow out. Piper gets out of a forced test of strength and wins a sunset flip war (dodging Herc’s punch), then goes to the eyes and slugs away, but Piper starts no-selling AGAIN and lights him up. Hercules dumps him, but Piper sunset flips in for two (the ref has to repeatedly force Herc’s hands off the ropes). Hercules gets a knee, but puts his head down and eats a running bulldog of all things for the three (5:08), Piper doing the “lay back on him” jobber pin.
Wow, just a one-sided ass-kicking, as Hercules was on the way out and Piper gave him NOTHING, both outsmarting him (yeah, sure) and no-selling against him (… REALLY? Given their size difference?), then beating him with a bulldog (was he using that as a finisher, even?). No wonder Hercules no-sold Sid’s powerbomb and LOLed out of the WWF on that house show.
Rating: *1/4 (ultra-short and simple match)
And one final interview, with Mean Gene interviewing Bobby Heenan, Ric Flair, The Mountie, Ted DiBiase & The Warlord. Lots of yelling & Mountie and Warlord don’t even SAY anything, but Flair is at his manic best, ranting about how great they all are. Ted draws big heat (possibly canned) via bragging about how Virgil is now a penniless loser again, and revels in his regained Million Dollar Title.
And that’s the show! Overall it felt mostly like “filler” with not a lot of legit finishes, but it was still Star vs. Star (I mean, Bushwhacker Luke vs. Blake Beverly on free TV? Who could ask for more?). The most important note is that the DiBiase/Virgil feud, which lasted for ten solid months, actually ends with TED’S victory, not Virgil’s, as both are transitioned to other things thereafter. The Million Dollar Title changes hands, which seems like it should be a big deal to “cement” this show in fans’ minds, but the title is gone so quickly afterwards that it almost doesn’t matter.