WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
April 22, 1991
- Courtesy of WWE Classics on Demand... yes, I'm still one of the six people that have subscribed to this, it's time for another random edition of the WWF at Madison Square Garden. Originally televised on April 22nd, 1991, with Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and recently "retired" (or told he was no longer useful in the ring) Jim "The Anvil" Nedhart calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Heenan and Anvil spend most of their time arguing with each other.
Opening Match: The Dragon vs. Haku:
This was fairly early in Ricky Steamboat's return, only having made his televised debut the week after WrestleMania VII. Heenan, still acting as Haku's manager, opts to stay at the announcers table. I can't wait to see this four-star classic... I'll explain later. If you're playing the Ricky Steamboat Drinking Game, you can check off "arm drag" five-seconds after the bell rings. Take another shot for him skinning the cat back in. Dragon controls the early moments with arm drags and armbars. Dragon misses a charge, allowing Haku to take over. They trade chops, but it's another decade before the crowd reacts to it, so it just comes across as heatless. Criss-cross, Haku blocks a hip toss and lays Dragon out with a clothesline. Haku chops at the neck and slaps on a chinlock. Dragon ducks another clothesline, but takes a kick to the face going for a back drop. Haku with more clotheslines, knocking him to the floor. Haku brings him back in with a delayed suplex, then goes back to the chinlock. What, no Tongan Death Grip? Haku with some stiff chops in the corner, and now the Dragon is mounting his comeback with his own chops. They continue beating the crap out of each other, but it's lost on this terrible crowd. Haku misses a charge to the corner, Dragon to the top, and the flying body press gets three at 9:47. **1/2 Solid match that really picked up during the last couple of minutes. To explain the joke earlier: A while back (I mean a WHILE back), there was a lot of online love for Ricky Steamboat and how he could carry anyone to great matches. I think Steamboat even said it himself how he would get 4-star matches out of Haku on a nightly basis because management wouldn't push him.
The Bushwhackers vs. Power & Glory:
(Butch & Luke vs. Hercules & Paul Roma)
Oh God, please let this be short. I remember a long time ago, scouring through my VHS collection, and trimming out all the good stuff from the weekly syndicated shows. In the post-WrestleMania VII shows, they had these two teams cutting promos on each other. No way did I ever expect to have to sit through a match between them, but here it is... joy. After what feels like forever, Hercules and Luke start. The Bushwhackers offer handshakes while Hercules shows off his ability to juice. It doesn't take long for some double-team ass-biting from the Bushwhackers to clear the ring. Having done detailed PBP, I'm proud to announce we're approaching the 5-minute mark of the match. Roma sucker punches Luke, temporarily making him my favorite wrestler. The Bushwhackers continue to control with comedy spots, making a young Santino Marella proud. Luke plays the moron-in-peril, selling poorly and just being a complete joke to watch. Roma does most of the work, because honestly, he's the only good wrestler within 100 feet of the damn ring (that includes Mr. Neidhart, by the way). Butch gets a hot tag, but the crowd doesn't pop, so does that mean it never happened?... is that some kind of a weird zen riddle with no answer? Butch takes an obvious dive being "tripped" running the ropes. Roma drops an elbow and covers, but Luke sneaks in and drops an elbow on him. Butch covers, and Hercules does it again while poor referee Joey Marella has to play dumb, and FINALLY Roma covers for three at 10:52, as Luke trips over nothing trying to break the cover. Thank goodness that's over. TURD should definitely replace DUD in the Star Ratings System, because that's what this match was: a steaming TURD.
Big Boss Man vs. The Mountie:
You have to love gimmicks that are created for the purpose of one program. It seems like that was basically all Boss Man was good for at this point of his WWF run: feuding with Canadian law enforcement, and then an ex-con who he allegedly treated like scum. At least Jacques Rougeau knows how lame this character was, and cuts an equally lame and over-the-top pre-match promo. I find it laughable Boss Man is billed at 357 lbs, when he's clearly nowhere near 300 anymore. Maybe 275, if that. Boss Man disarms the Mountie of his cattle prod, but Danny Davis makes sure there is no early-match zapping. Boss Man with a spinebuster, dramatically over-sold. He slaps the Mountie around for a good five-minutes before missing a charge and spilling to the floor. Mountie goes to work on the leg, using every variation of the stomp you could imagine. To remind everyone that he's the heel, he ties the knee up in the ropes and, you guessed it, stomps it some more. Really, this is the match we're getting? Boss Man bitch slapping Mountie for 5-minutes, then Mountie kicking Boss Man for another 5-minutes?! Boss Man hits a fluke sidewalk slam and covers for three at 8:00. 1/2* Post-match, Mountie goes to the leg and zaps Boss Man with his cattle prod. No ridiculous sound-effects dubbed in, though. This match was apparently good enough to extend the feud through the end of August.
WWF Championship Match:
A mid-card WWF Championship Match usually means a bullshit finish. Will Hogan actually lose to Slaughter by Count-Out or Disqualification? We'll see in about 15-minutes. I never understood why the heel's manager was allowed to physically assault Hogan, despite the bell having already rung. It's like a special rule only allowed in Hogan matches. Hogan cleans house, works Slaughter over around the outside of the ring, then resumes the beating inside the ring. As more and more time passes, I just can't imagine how smart fans reacted to the WWF digging up Slaughter's corpse and gave him the spot of top heel in the damn company, in 1991. Slaughter over-sells a clothesline and Hogan drops the elbows. Slaughter finally turns the tide, thumbing the eyes and giving Hogan's face an Indian burn. Your WrestleMania VII headliner, ladies and gentlemen. I still like him better than Miz, though. How dare Slaughter rip-off Hogan ripping off Popeye with the wind-up punch! Hogan blades for the hell of blading. At least he didn't do it in clear view of the camera this time. Slaughter whacks him with the WWF Title, in clear view of the referee I might add. I guess we're going by Tony Schiavone-SummerSlam '89 rules. If it happens on the floor, it's legal. We're in New York, I'm sure someone in the crowd has a gun Slaughter can borrow. All Slaughter has to do now is give Hogan's cut the Atomic Noogie and we'd have a new WWF Champion!
Hulk Hogan © vs. Sgt. Slaughter (w/ Gen. Adnan):
Hogan fights out of the Camel Clutch, but we don't get the typical Hulk-Up (yet). I guess Hogan wanted to trick the smart marks by changing things up. Slaughter misses the top rope knee, but Hogan sells it anyway, and NOW he starts Hulking Upô. Hogan's tights look like he blasted a bloody diarrhea fart through them. We get a ref' bump, then Slaughter clobbers him with a chair to really drive the point home this match is a total wreck. Slaughter ends up hitting himself, missing Hogan and hitting the top rope with it. Hogan rams Slaughter with the chair, the referee wakes up, sees him holding it, deduces Hogan hit him with it, and calls for the bell at 15:57. Why would you do that, Joey Marella? I thought you and Hulk were best buddies! Remember when you screwed Andre over at the WrestleMania III Screwjob? DUD Yep, we got a shitty finish to a shitty match. Afterwards, Slaughter and Adnan whip out a spoon and a lighter, but their chemical exam blows up in the face of Hogan's chair. Again, this match and this angle were so damn good (sarcasm!), it had to continue until SummerSlam, over four months later.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. Irwin R. Schyster:
This might be one of the earliest televised appearances of Mike Rotunda as I.R.S.: He's wearing a business suit not-unlike what he wore as Michael Wallstreet, and he's carrying an attache case rather than the typical big steel briefcase. He's also sporting some weird tights, but still wearing his white collar shirt tucked into them. Just incase we didn't get the joke about his name, he has "I.R.S." on the fart-chamber of his tights. Snuka wastes a couple of minutes holding onto a side headlock. Criss-cross ends with Snuka taking him over with a hip toss and a big chop, sending I.R.S. to the floor. We run the ropes some more until Snuka takes the safest bump over the top rope I've ever seen from a non-Bushwhacker. Thank you to the camera crew for getting me a lovely shot of the acne farm developing on Snuka's back. I'm going to go puke up my lunch now. I.R.S. with an abdominal stretch, and yes, he DOES use the ropes for extra leverage. Snuka counters to escape, but misses an elbow. I.R.S. misses a charge, allowing Snuka to make his comeback. Snuka with a body press, but I.R.S. rolls through and hooks the tights for the three count at 6:35. * Another in the long series of sub-par matches on this card. At least it was short.
The Texas Tornado vs. The Warlord:
Oh sweet fucking LORD, who put this card together? First we have to sit through the Bushwhackers vs. Power & Glory, and now this? A walking steroid needle and Kerry Von Erich way-past-the-point of being worth a shit in the ring? This match was featured on the Coliseum Video Rampage '91 and it sucked, but I don't have a review of that handy to copy and paste, so I'll just suffer through it, again. It's almost disgusting to see how much both these guys were juicing at the time. I was just thinking how nice it would be to die right now and not have to watch this. They lockup and that goes nowhere. Test-of-strength, obviously won by the Warlord. Neidhart insists Von Erich is a World Champion Discuss Thrower as they keep fighting over the knuckle-lock. Von Erich hits the discuss punch, but Warlord doesn't go down, and catches him off the ropes in a bearhug. Where's Pee-Wee Herman to sing the "Connect the Dots" song? It would look like a fun time on Tornado's back. Tornado manages to blow a sunset flip from the apron, but Warlord blocks it anyway. Warlord keeps working the back, moving... very... slowly the whole time. Tornado comes back with another Discuss Punch, but Warlord has his foot on the ropes. Tornado with a sleeper hold, and they end up spilling to the floor. Weak brawling ends with both men being counted-out at 9:21. Really, both these guys needed protection? -* Absolutely fucking brutal to watch. The worst part? Warlord carried the load of the match. Just think about that one for a second and try not to cry.
The Rockers & Virgil vs. The Orient Express & Mr. Fuji:
Kind of an odd choice for a Six-Man Tag. To be fair, the Rockers were never good at picking partners for these. Tito Santana at SummerSlam '89, Jim Duggan last year during their brief feud with the Powers of Pain... I wonder who would receive less attention at a Legends autograph signing: Marty Jannetty or Virgil... OK, we all know it would be Virgil. Michaels and Tanaka start. They run the ropes a bit until Tanaka connects with a crescent kick. Michaels responds with a clothesline, sending him to the floor. Kato and Jannetty join the fun, the Express fall victim to double atomic drops, and Virgil drops both of them with a double clothesline. Virgil tags in, despite not holding the tag rope. Virgil vs. Kato would Main Event anywhere in the country. Virgil avoids a cheap shot from Tanaka, but ends up being thrown into the turnbuckle by Kato. Fuji tags in to get some shots in, because we're supposed to believe Virgil, who's still built like a brick shithouse, can barely fight a 60 year old man. The Rockers and Orient Express make a show of things, showing more life in this match than anyone else on the card. Tanaka with a cheap shot from the apron to Michaels, making him our face-in-peril. Michaels offers a comeback and gets nailed with Tanaka's sweet twisting forearm smash. Michaels with a double clothesline to Tanaka and Kato, and it's a hot tag to Jannetty. The Rockers end up cleaning house, and Virgil with the Million Dollar Dream on Tanaka for the victory at 10:33. Outside of the brief bit of offense earlier in the match, Mr. Fuji was a non-factor. *** Fun action throughout, or maybe everything else on this show has been so bad, a match that would be considered average on a normal show seems so much better because of what it had to follow.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Sensational Sherri):
Final match of the night. Dibiase comes to the ring with a crutch, no doubt symbolizing the beating he gave Piper at WrestleMania VII. If you sit down and think about it, Piper's status with the WWF was something to behold. He retires in 1987, comes back in 1989, disappears from the ring during the Spring of 1990, comes back here, disappears again for most of the Summer, then comes back AGAIN before finally making, for all intents and purposes, his last appearances as a full-time worker building up WrestleMania VIII. Piper bum-rushes the ring, chokes him with his shirt, and sends Dibiase to the turnbuckle. Piper dumps Dibiase across the top rope, and already starts selling the effects on his surgically repaired knee (or so we're told). Sherri gets involved, and Piper lays a liplock on her. Piper remains in control, but that knee just keeps bothering him and it doesn't take long for Dibiase to take over. He works the leg, and that sums up the entire match. Sherri sneaks in a chair, Dibiase whacks the knee with it, and applies a Figure-Four. Piper won't submit, but the referee eventually calls for the bell at 7:33, giving the victory to Ted Dibiase. Did we really need Fink to say "Roddy Piper did NOT submit"? Isn't "the referee's consent" enough of reasoning? *1/2 Nothing to gloat about, but it was decent. Dibiase's offense was based solely on targeting Piper's injury, and he succeeded in it. I just wish the crowd was more into it, but they've been shit most of the night. Piper cleans house and strips Sherri off her dress to get face back.
Final Thoughts: This was quite a chore to sit through, but at the same time, some stuff was so bad it made for some entertaining humor to take place in my sick, twisted mind. The only two matches worth watching are the Six-Man and the opener between Haku and the Dragon, but neither match is something worth going out of your way to track down. The rest of the card ranges from really boring to absolute shit, and easily makes the list for one of the worst shows broadcasted from Madison Square Garden from this particular time period. If you subscribe to Classics on Demand, don't waste your two hours.
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