WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
June 3, 1991
- Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart are calling all the action, unless otherwise noted. That's the Wrestling Challenge team at the time, too, before someone realized how awful Jim Neidhart was at this and was put back in the ring to form an alliance with the incoming Owen Hart. Weird thing I noticed for this show: Whoever did the ring ropes put them on in reverse order. Usually it was red for the top, white for the middle, and blue for the bottom, but here the top and bottom have been switched. Little thing you notice when you've watched thousands of hours of WWF action from the late 80's through the mid 90's.
The Dragon vs. Demolition Smash:
I'm pretty sure this match was recycled for the Rampage '91 Coliseum Video. Smash is on Job Duty until being repackaged as Repo Man, and the Dragon is Ricky Steamboat, except nobody sans Monsoon calls him anything but "Dragon." No wonder he turned in his walking papers by October... opening act against a tag team worker? The Trio on commentary discuss where Parts Unknown is from, possibly somewhere in downtown Newark. Smash controls with rights and works the arm. Dragon takes over, working the arm as well. Dragon practically throws himself out just to skin the cat, and back drops Smash to the floor. Back inside, Dragon with the arm drag into an armbar. Smash escapes, but it's back to the armbar right away. Smash escapes again and drops him throat-first across the top rope. Smash with choking and a back suplex for two before going to the chinlock. Dragon fights free, only to get tossed to the floor. Smash introduces him to the post, and slams him on the arena floor. Smash with a back breaker for two, then back to the chinlock. Smash with a trio of clotheslines, then locks on a sleeper hold (a shitty one, at that). Dragon's arm drops three times, but the match continues. BLOWN SPOT! Dragon fights free with chops and lands a boot to the face, countering a back drop. Dragon with a dropkick, sending Smash to the floor. He heads to the second rope and comes down with a body press. HIGHSPOT! Smash brings him back in from the apron with a suplex, for a two count. Whip to the corner, Smash misses a charge, and the top rope body press finishes at 10:14. Here's physical proof that Ricky Steamboat could half-ass it in the ring just like anyone else. I'm not kidding when I say Barry Darsow was the better worker in this match, going by this 10-minute sample.
Koko B. Ware vs. The Warlord:
I wonder who's going to win this one. Either way, I hope it's going to be short. Lockup and Warlord shoves Koko hard to the corner. Koko responds with a thumb to the eyes, followed by a headbutt, another thumb to the eyes, and a game of cat and mouse to agitate the Warlord. Warlord no-sells being rammed to the buckle, and it actually works on Koko... shouldn't that be reversed? Koko blocks being rammed too many times and nails Warlord with a clothesline. Too bad it had no impact. Koko hits the ropes, only to run into a big boot. Just as I was about to call Warlord a cure for insomnia, he slaps on a fucking bearhug. Did these guys ever cross paths on an episode of AWF Warriors of Wrestling? Koko finally escapes with an ear smack, but a clotheslines puts him right back down. Koko offers a comeback until getting dumped over the top rope. Koko comes back in with a sunset flip, but Warlord blocks. Warlord with a slam, but an elbow drop misses. Koko with a small package for two. Whip to the corner, Warlord misses a charge, and Koko hits the missile dropkick for another two count. Koko dives off the ropes and gets hung across the top rope, and that's enough for the three count at 11:34. There's our second DUD of the night, and I have a feeling it won't be our last.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Col. Mustafa (w/ Gen. Adnan):
Third. Sorry, getting carried away before the match even happens. Did someone really think Mustafa doing the Bushwhackers march was a good idea, or just a giant rib and the Iron Sheik didn't know any better? Duggan leading the crowd in chanting USA is probably the highspot of the match. Lockup to the ropes, Duggan connects with a pair of clotheslines, sending Mustafa to the floor. Back inside, Duggan pounds away, and Mustafa heads right back out. Check out the zubaz pants on Vladimir in the front row. Mustafa with weak rights, but Duggan still flails around like he's being shot with a canon. Mustafa speeds things up, slapping on a chinlock. Duggan makes his comeback and sends him across the ring with a slam. He sets up for the clothesline, but Adnan pulls him down, and we get a rat race around the ring until Duggan gets counted-out at around the 5:40 mark. Sgt. Slaughter attacks from behind with the 2x4 while a gaggle of referees and Pat Patterson in a salmon color blazer break it up. Terrible match, but it was short.
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. The Barbarian (w/ Mr. Fuji):
It's a one-night reunion between Fuji and the Barbarian. Heenan is at ringside calling the action, so he's handed the reigns over to Fuji for this match. I almost typed up this being a title match, but forgot SummerSlam was still over two months away. Lockup to the corner, and Barbarian gives a surprisingly clean break. Lockup, and this time he grabs a headlock. Whip to the ropes, and a shoulder block sends Bret flying through the ropes. Back in the ring, Bret tries the same, but the Barbarian is too strong to simply knock over. Bret goes for a body press, but Barbarian counters with a slam. Bret rolls away from an elbow drop, and sends him to the floor following a series of rights. Back inside, Bret works the arm. Whip to the ropes and Barbarian with a boot to the chest. The action spills to the floor, with Barbarian ramming the back of the Hitman into the post.
Back inside, Barbarian chokes away and shoots Bret hard into the corner. Whip to the ropes, Bret ducks under a boot, but jumps into a bearhug. He escapes almost immediately, also using the ear smack as his means of escape. Another hard whip to the corner, and Barbarian slaps the bearhug on again, this time for a lengthier period of time. Bret with biting to break the hold this time around. Barbarian remains in control, though, and plants him with a side suplex. He heads to the second rope, and we all know he's missing that elbow drop. I don't think he's hit that move since 1988. Bret pops up to pound away with rights. He connects with an inverted atomic drop, followed by a clothesline for two. Bret with mounted punches in the corner and a side back breaker. He heads to the second turnbuckle, and does connect with the elbow, but it only gets two. Russian leg sweep gets two. Bret counters a suplex, but can't roll him up. Fuji trips Bret up, we get heel miscommunication, and Bret covers for three at 12:11. Post-match, Heenan and Fuji have words, setting up an unlikely match at the next MSG show between Fuji's Orient Express and the Barbarian and Haku. Match was OK, but it's the Barbarian, so anything longer than 5-minutes is going to feel dull.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. Bob Bradley:
Why pad out the show with a scrub match? This isn't 1986, and this isn't even the opening match! Lockup into the ropes and Bradley with a shove. Lockup and repeat. Smell the workrate! Some WBF bum is sitting in the front row, but I don't care enough to list his name. Criss-cross sequence ends with Bradley ducking out of the ropes to avoid a chop. Snuka brings him in with a slingshot and grabs a headlock. Whip to the ropes, slow motion style. Snuka with a hip toss, followed by a chop. Bradley with a knee to the midsection, but ramming him to the buckle doesn't work very well. Another criss-cross sequence ends with Bradley over-selling a chop. Snuka with a back breaker, and the Superfly Splash finishes things at 4:04. Was there a point to this?
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Earthquake:
More in the on-going angle over the destruction of Damien. Too bad we never got a blowoff to the angle, unless you're one of the people who links this into his darkside turn on the Warrior. Jimmy Hart's absence from ringside throws up a red flag for Monsoon, but he's probably doing the B-Show the same night with the Nasty Boys as a headlining act. Roberts attacks before the bell until Danny Davis creates separation. Roberts continues to target the ribs, in between moments of stalling. Lockup to the corner, and Earthquake returns the favor. Quake sends him hard to the buckle and chokes. Roberts fights free with a series of knee lifts, but the DDT attempt is blocked. Earthquake kicks Roberts to the floor and goes after the bag containing Lucifer. Roberts makes the save and Quake eats post. Back in the ring, Roberts with another knee lift and the short-arm clothesline. He calls for the DDT again, but gets rammed into the corner. Quake climbs to the top rope(!), but thinks wisely of things and climbs right back down. Another hard whip to the corner, rattling the ropes. Roberts throws a desperate right, but gets knocked right back down. Quake controls with tedious stuff. Whip to the ropes, Roberts ducks a clothesline and drops the big man with a double axehandle. Quake blocks another DDT, sweeps the leg, and drops an elbow. Quake stays down, selling the ribs while Roberts cries about his knee. Quake sets up for the vertical splash, but Roberts rolls to the floor. Quake throws the snake bag into the ring, but Roberts interrupts things in time, unleashes Lucifer and the bell rings at 11:00. Disqualification victory for... Earthquake? Whatever. Solid match, mostly for the intensity between both men, rather than stringing together a lot of chain wrestling.
- Sean Mooney is standing by for some intermission interviews with Mr. Fuji, the Big Bossman, Sgt. Slaughter and Gen. Adnan, and WWF Champion, Hulk Hogan, decked out in special fatigues for the upcoming Desert Storm Match. I guess he recycled that outfit for Fall Brawl '95 and the Wargames Match.
Tugboat vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
I guess the TV taping with Tugboat turning heel didn't take place just yet, so here he goes out there to work a crap match while everyone returns from the toilets and concession stands. Brawler with a clothesline, but it's no sold. They take it to the floor, with Brawler being introduced to the ring post. Back inside, Tugboat grabs a bearhug. Brawler escapes and unwisely goes for a slam. Tugboat easily counters with one of his own and lays him out with a clothesline. Tugboat with the avalanche, and the big splash finishes things rather quickly at 2:57. No complaints here, it's a three minute squash.
The Big Bossman vs. The Mountie:
The on-going feud between law enforcement officers continues! The Mountie, the despicable heel from Canada, taking on the beloved (but at one time despised) corrections officer from Cobb County, GA. You know, as a babyface, you won't be at the top of the card ever again when you're in specially designed feuds like this over law enforcement. Bossman pounds away to start and slams Mountie to the buckle. Choke across the middle rope, followed by the splash across the back. He sets up again, and hits it again. I expected the uppercut from the floor, but he tricked me. Bossman dedicates a powerslam to the Anvil, Don Muraco style, but it only gets two. Mountie slides out to the floor, only for Bossman to follow him out and connect with a forearm. Bossman to the top, but he hangs himself across the top rope going for... something. Whip to the ropes, Mountie with a diving elbow for two. Bossman offers a comeback with a series of rights, followed by an elbow. Bossman with a splash and more rights, knocking Mountie to the floor. The Shockstick gets involved, but the referee doesn't see it. Unfortunately, no post-production "zap" noises, either. That's enough for the three count at 5:55. Mountie with the shockstick post-match as Bossman does his best George Wells impression to get the impact of the zapper over. Decent match, but too short to really go anywhere. Seems like they went straight from Act 1 to Act 3, and skipped the middle.
Road Warrior Animal vs. Paul Roma (w/ Hercules):
Hawk is nursing an injury, so Animal gets to work solo matches on the house show circuit. Roma "wins" a coin toss to determine which member of Power & Glory gets to wrestle. Another match that was recycled for Rampage '91. Hercules with the distraction, allowing Roma to open things with the upper hand. Whip to the ropes, and a criss-cross sequence ends with Roma taking an inverted atomic drop, followed by a clothesline. Animal with mounted punches in the corner until Roma dumps him to the floor. Back inside, Roma connects with a dropkick, but poses instead of going for a cover. Roma with a trio of back breakers, because PAUL ROMA should be doing this to any one of the Legion of Doom. Animal with a back suplex, and Roma responds with a piledriver. It gets two, and NOW he decides to no-sell it. Animal meets Roma with a boot in the corner, followed by a face-clothesline. Whip to the corner takes out referee Danny Davis. Animal with a dropkick, followed by a diving shoulder tackle. Hercules comes in for illegal double-teaming, but we get heel miscommunication, and Animal finishes Roma with a powerslam at 5:01. Felt like something we would see on the syndicated shows in the weeks leading up to a PPV.
WWF Championship; Desert Storm Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. Sgt. Slaughter (w/ Gen. Adnan):
Pretty sure parts of this match made it to a cheap WWF Coliseum Video (Greatest Champions?). They also did a watered down version as a Dark Match that also made it to Coliseum Video, probably a lesser known Hogan release. A "Desert Storm" Match is fancy and somewhat offensive to the time way of saying "No Holds Barred" or "Weapons are allowed." Hogan throws a handful of baby powder in Slaughter's face to kick things off, then bops him across the head with the WWF Title. He grabs Slaughter's helmet and whacks him with that, too. He grabs the riding crop and continues to punish Slaughter with his own accessories. Really, Hulk should be wearing the camoflauge white and blue, considering the ring area is all blue. After dishing out more punishment on the floor, it's back in the ring, where the beating continues. Hogan grabs a banner from a front row fan and starts choking Slaughter with it. I can't tell, but I think Slaughter has bladed... yup, he's already left a nice stain on the canvas. Back to the floor, and Hogan jabs him on the forehead with the microphone. Hogan gives the thumbs down, shoots him to the corner, and lands a right to the cut. Whip to the ropes, and Hogan with an elbow. No cover, because the only way to win is by "unconditional surrender." Hogan with mounted punches and biting, making sure to rip that cut open some more. Slingshot into the corner, with Slaughter meeting the post.
Slaughter finally gets some offense in, ramming the riding crop into the midsection. Hogan quickly regains control, though, pounding with rights. Slaughter counters a back drop with a boot to the chest, followed by rights of his own. He takes off his belt and smacks Hogan across the face with it. Did the cantina have anything to do with that? We must know the answers! Slaughter bops him again, sending him through the ropes and to the floor. Slaughter is a disgusting mess by WWF standards, even in 1991 when blading had almost completely been phased out. Back in the ring, Slaughter whips Hogan across the back with his belt, then chokes him down in the corner. Adnan slides a chair into the ring, but it's padded, so really, even as a kid, I would know it wouldn't hurt (too badly). He winds up with it, but actually falls down with it. Hogan takes possession of the chair and actually uses the metal side of it across the back. Kudos, Hulk. Kudos. Hogan winds up with a right, but Slaughter ducks and counters with a Russian leg sweep. Slaughter with the chair, and this time it's used across the Hulkster's back. He sits down across the back and slaps on a half-assed Camel Clutch. Hogan battles back and uses his momentum to throw Slaughter shoulder-first into the post.
Slaughter maintains control, pounding the back. He makes a slow climb to the top, but sells the beating he's taken and falls off without interference. He goes up again, but this time Hogan slams him off. They both stagger to their feet, and a double clothesline puts them right back down. Slaughter whips off his boot, and Hogan throws a fireball in his face in retaliation. He rips the shirt off and lays Slaughter out with a clothesline. He takes Slaughter's boot and rams him across the face with it. Hogan turns him over and slaps on a Camel Clutch. Adnan throws in the towel, giving the victory to Hogan at 15:40. Adnan tries a sneak-attack with the powder, but Hogan kicks it back in his face and tosses him to the floor. That was a pretty fun and satisfying brawl. It's not a classic, but a definite throwback to Slaughter's infamous brawl with Pat Patterson back in the early 80's, which also took place at MSG. It's a shame this match hasn't seen a DVD release, while a stinker between the two from England somehow has.
Final Thoughts: Definitely a one match card, in terms of match quality, with the one being, of course, the main event. There's some lesser quality, yet watchable matches from Roberts/Earthquake, Bret/Barbarian, and Bossman/Mountie, but nothing that really comes across as anything worth tracking down. The card, as a whole, just shows how weak the house show circuit was for the WWF at the time. It's loaded with 10 matches, but two feature scrubs, the opener is horribly miscast with Ricky Steamboat pretending to be a real-life Dragon, Paul Roma is over-powering a Road Warrior, Warlord gets one of the longest matches of the night, and yet still was beat out by Duggan/Mustafa for worst match on the card.
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