What the World Was Watching: The Main Event V – February 1, 1991

Pictures of Hulk Hogan doing a USO visit are shown while “Stars & Stripes Forever” plays in the background.

Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper are in the booth and are taped from Macon, Georgia.  The broadcast drew a 6.7 rating (10.6 million viewers), a drop from the 8.6 rating and 15 million viewers the fourth Main Event telecast drew in November 1990.  It was the worst rated NBC special for the WWF to this point and would be the last Main Event show.

Opening Contest:  Hulk Hogan & Tugboat defeat Earthquake & Dino Bravo (w/Jimmy Hart) when Hogan pins Bravo with a schoolboy roll up at 8:57 shown:

Hogan started his wrestling career in Florida in 1977 after being trained by Hiro Matsuda.  He spent the 1970s working for various Southern territories and worked a prominent program against Andre the Giant for the WWF in 1980.  He went on to become a big name in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), defeating Antonio Inoki in a tournament final to become the first International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) titleholder, and became a fan favorite in the AWA.  In December 1983, he jumped to the WWF after having a contractual dispute with AWA promoter Verne Gagne and he rocketed up the card, defeating the Iron Sheik for the WWF Championship.  A centerpiece of the WWF’s programming from that point forward, Hogan made sporadic appearances in 1990 as he pursued a Hollywood career.  He won the Royal Rumble but lost the WWF Championship to the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI.  He then spent the rest of the year feuding with Earthquake, who attacked and injured him on the Brother Love Show in May.  Hogan beat Earthquake via count out at SummerSlam and his Survivor Series team defeated Earthquake’s squad that fall.

No mention is made of Hogan and Tugboat fighting at the Royal Rumble so they appear to have put their differences aside.  The match has a hot opening as Hogan destroys everything that moves and quickly slams Earthquake.  Tugboat ends up in peril after a blind charge and is kept there when Bravo hits him in the back of the head with Hart’s megaphone.  Tugboat is dead to rights after a double body slam by the heels but Hogan runs in and breaks up an Earthquake Splash, allowing Tugboat to give him a hot tag.  The ending is weird as Bravo eats the big boot and Hogan pins him with a roll up rather than using the leg drop.  This match resolved the Hogan-Earthquake feud on free television and was the last time that Tugboat and Bravo would be prominently featured as they would be sent back down to the midcard.  Rating:  **

A video package recaps how Sergeant Slaughter became WWF champion.  Afterward, Gene Okerlund interviews Slaughter and General Adnan.  Slaughter says that the ends justified the means to make him champion and he is setting new rules for the WWF to follow.

WWF Championship Match:  Hacksaw Jim Duggan (2-0) beats Sergeant Slaughter (Champion w/General Adnan) (2-0) via disqualification when Slaughter hits Duggan with a chair at 7:00:

Duggan comes to the ring to “Stars & Stripes Forever” as Hogan backs him up waving an American flag.  However, Hogan does not have a manager’s license so he does not stick around.  The match is basic, with each man trading strikes.  Slaughter does show more intelligence than other heels in using Duggan’s 2×4 against him, but that only gets a near-fall.  After taking his vicious chest-first corner bump that sends him over the top rope, Slaughter is thrown into the ring post by Duggan and out of frustration he grabs a chair, using it and getting disqualified.  So Slaughter is the new champion and he cannot earn a win to solidify his title reign?  Not even by cheating?  This was terrible booking when it came to making Slaughter a threat, something that was needed to sell tickets for WrestleMania VIIRating:  *

After the bell, Slaughter beats up Duggan with the chair and Adnan’s riding crop.  When Hogan tries to make the save, Slaughter hits him with the chair and walks to the locker room.

Okerlund interviews the Legion of Doom, who posit that they are American products that are defending their brands against Japanese competition.

The Legion of Doom (1-0) defeat the Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji) (3-1) when Hawk pins Kato after the Doomsday Device at 5:11:

After doing handicap matches around the horn, this match provided a blowoff for the one-sided Legion of Doom-Express feud that began at the end of 1990 after Demolition Ax quit the promotion.  The Legion destroy the smaller Express with power moves, showing little vulnerability.  For example, Fuji throws salt in Animal’s eyes and that puts Animal in peril for less than thirty seconds.  Any boost that the Royal Rumble opener gave to the Express was destroyed in this match.  The one-star rating was for the nice bumps that Tanaka and Kato took throughout.  Rating:  *

Okerlund does an in-ring interview with WWF President Jack Tunney.  Tunney announces that Slaughter will defend the WWF Championship at WrestleMania against Hulk Hogan.  He provides no rationale for the decision or why Hogan gets the shot over other contenders.

Sean Mooney interviews Slaughter and General Adnan.  Slaughter says that Hogan’s backers are infidels and he is out to get Hogan’s unconditional surrender.

Okerlund does another in-ring interview, this time with Hogan.  Hogan recaps his tour of U.S. military bases and puts over Hulkamania as the strongest force in the universe that will overwhelm Slaughter’s defenses.  He closes by leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Last Word:  This was a show dripping with jingoism, not just against Iraq but Japan too, and the overt messaging made many fans feel uncomfortable.  It accomplished its objective in setting up Sergeant Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan for WrestleMania but it made Hogan look unbeatable in the opener and Slaughter look weak in the second match.  The destruction of the Orient Express also weakens the tag team division whose depth continues to erode.

Up Next:  WWF Superstars for February 2!