The Rockers vs. The Orient Express
We start off in London, England in April 1991. This match took place on the UK-only show UK Rampage. Roddy Piper and Vince McMahon are on commentary. The crowd is big and hot for this show, because the WWF rarely ventured to the British Isles in those days. Mr. Fuji nails Jannetty with his cane before the bell, but he shrugs it off. The Rockers leave the ring and promise to bring back a surprise, and it is none other than Andre the Giant. Because of his illness, Andre is bent almost double walking to the ring, he is in a bad way, and he doesn’t look a great deal taller than the Rockers because of it. I take back what I said about the crowd being hot; they were for The Rockers’ entrance, but they have sat on their hands since. Kato and Michaels eventually start things out, and they are evenly matched as expected. Double teams from the Rockers sends the Orients to the outside. These two teams had great matches all over the world over a good few years. Kato was probably better in the ring, certainly quicker, than Saito was by this time. The Rockers have much of the early going with superior quickness and frequent tags, this time with Tanaka on the receiving end of it. Jannetty controls both Orients, going to the arm and occasionally throwing in come quick bursts and fast spots. Michaels comes in and he does the same. This has been so fast and it has been all Rockers for a long time. The speed of the Rockers was always their strong point, and they looked even better against smaller, equally quick opponents. These teams were perfect foil for each other. Michaels gets caught running the ropes by Tanaka pulling his hair, and the Express work him over, slowing things down with a chinlock. Piper and McMahon shill the show, even though this IS the show. Vince just randomly comes out with “we are having a rampage!” Piper keeps asking him questions that he clearly doesn’t want to answer and making him uncomfortable. You can see why he didn’t last too long in the announce booth; Piper was always a loose cannon. This chinlock section has gone on a little long. When Michaels does escape, Tanaka takes him down with a flying forearm press. Jannetty breaks up a pinfall attempt, but Kato goes to a camel clutch. Michaels escapes by standing up and flipping Kato off into the ropes, but Tanaka distracts the official to prevent the tag. A double clothesline from Michaels leads to the hot tag. Vince: “Marty Jannetty is having a party”. Sometimes, it is too easy! Fuji gets involved and Andre doesn’t like it, so he shakes him and knocks him out with a punch. Andre levels Kato with Fuji’s cane and the Rockers win it with a double team combo from the top. This started at an incredible speed but slowed a lot in the middle during the heat. Another good showing between these teams though.
Final Rating: ***
The Warlord vs. Jim Neidhart
This is from the same show and is thus also available on the UK Rampage video release, and it’s the battle of two big bulky guys. Neidhart was capable of decent matches, but only against opponents that could carry him. Warlord has never had a good singles match in his life. They have a power battle to start, and Anvil controls with a headlock. Tackles move no-one a few times, until a flying one sends Warlord through the ropes and to the outside. “Warlord does scratch a lot” says Piper insightfully. That gives you an indication of the quality of the match. Outside the ring, and Warlord throws Neidhart into the steps and follows it up with a bearhug. Jesus, Warlord was so one-dimensional. Generally the rule is: if a wrestler applies a bearhug, he is the shits. This has been so slow and boring, it doesn’t even really matter what they do next, they can’t save this now. Anvil escapes and hits a clothesline for two. Ten punch in the corner and a double axe off the middle get another two. Anvil goes for a splash, but Warlord gets his knees up. A sneaky O’Conner roll wins it for Anvil out of no-where. Nearly 15-minutes is an absolutely crazy amount of time to give a match featuring two such limited guys. This was all rest-holds and not a great deal else.
Final Rating: DUD
Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Rick Martel
This is quite an interesting one, because it takes place just AFTER Savage’s “retirement” match at WrestleMania VII. The reason given was that Savage had already signed up for the match and wanted to fulfil his obligation, so this is his official “last match”. This particular bout took place in March 1991 in Las Vegas, Nevada and disappointingly it is also a “fan favourites” match. I guess if any match can break the curse of bad fan favourites matches, then it is this one. Savage starts by running through his spots at speed, before missing a double axe handle from the top to the outside. Martel capitalises and the puts the moves on Elizabeth. This wastes so much time that Savage knees him in the back, but they end up spilling outside again with Martel back in control. It is rather strange to see this match, and see Savage with Elizabeth together again following the retirement angle and their emotional reunion. I genuinely had no idea that he wrestled again after Mania. Savage comes back and a suplex gets two. Big atomic drop from Savage, who clotheslines ‘the Model’ out of the ring, then follows him out and hits a piledriver (!). Talk about a risky move! The piledriver on the outside is followed by the top rope elbow from Savage (to the inside), who wins this is in short order and thus “finishes” his career with a victory. Too short unfortunately, because it was only about six minutes and they spent a lot of that on the outside. Not a bad match, but not a curse breaking one. Maybe Savage had one eye on his pension and holiday home in Boca Raton.
Final Rating: *½
Etiquette Lessons With Lord Alfred Hayes
Just what we needed! Pretentious fop Hayes tries to teach comically inappropriate characters about manners. Sensational Sherri and the Brooklyn Brawler are the lucky recipients of Hayes’ expertise. Sherri buffs her feet at the table… sexy. She then tries to put a napkin over her ample chest, and calls Hayes a perv when he tries to move it. Brawler and Sherri eventually get bored of listening to Hayes ramble on and just start throwing bread at each other. No-one cares what you have to say Alfred, just give it up already. What a balls segment this was.
Ted DiBiase vs. Roddy Piper
We continue the world tour by going to, erm, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It is April 1991. These two have been feuding for a while, with Piper involved heavily in DiBiase’s rivalry with former bodyguard Virgil. This probably could have been a good little match if it were on pay-per-view and given time. I would certainly have rather seen DiBiase work with Piper than the bland Virgil. DiBiase takes control by taking out Piper’s injured knee with a crutch, then does a number on the offending joint. DiBiase removes Piper’s protective bandage and then wraps his knee around the post, before kicking it out from under him. These guys are good foil for each other and work together well. I would expect that though, both are consummate pros. Piper catches DiBiase with a gut punch as he comes off the top, and then thwarts a crutch shot with a punch, before nailing DiBiase with the crutch himself. Piper turns the tables fully and takes out DiBiase’s leg, in much the same way as happened to him earlier. Sherri comes in with the crutch but Piper dispossesses her and lays a beating on DiBiase with it. Piper even takes out the referee in his exuberance, resulting in the usual shitty DQ non-finish one comes to expect when top tier guys work each other on these tapes. Thankfully it doesn’t detract too much from what preceded it and this was a fun match. I stand by my statement that they should have wrestled on pay-per-view.
Final Rating: **¼
We go back to the Hayes’ etiquette lessons and the gruesome twosome tie him up and chaos ensues. Sherri eats off her plate like a dog. Well, if the shoe fits… It’s wresting and there is food, so we have the inevitable food fight. Like I said earlier, awful segment.
Earthquake vs. Jake Roberts
This is from the same show as the last match, coming after the infamous snake crushing incident, because Jake is now carrying Lucifer rather than Damien. This leads me to hope that there will be some major intensity in this. They go back-and-forth to start, but a big tackle gives Quake the advantage. He pretty much dominates the match from there on in, other than a brief Roberts comeback with a short arm clothesline. I have to say, this doesn’t scream blood feud to me at all. Quake gets hold of the snake bag with Lucifer inside, threatening to crush him in the same way he did Damien, but the commentators have not once referenced the Damien incident. You would think they would, with that being a rather major angle and the crux of their feud. It just shows how incompetent Mooney and Hayes were at getting angles over. Jake saves Lucifer by tripping Quake and then gets the snake out of the bag, scaring Quake off. The official ruling is a DQ. Surprise, surprise! Not anywhere near enough intensity there for me. C’mon man, he killed your pet! Poor match, though ok by Earthquake’s low standards.
Final Rating: ½*
Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels
This is from March 1991 in Pensacola, Florida, a few weeks before WrestleMania VII and boy do I have high hopes for this! Though their match at SummerSlam 1993 a few years later was a bit of a letdown, this was before Perfect got injured so could be a classic. Shawn is colourful tonight! Holy fluorescent tights, Batman! They do some chain wrestling to start, with Perfect escaping a hammerlock with an elbow to the head, and Michaels then doing the same with a hard European uppercut. They dispense with the grappling and exchange blows, which Michaels wins, sending Perfect to the outside. Michaels then does a wild dive, but Perfect retaliates by dropping him over the rail. It’s been a good start, but then Marty Jannetty causes me to furrow my brow, as he comes out to check on Shawn. I hope this doesn’t turn into an overbooked farce. Back inside and Perfect hits a few punches and a perfect standing dropkick. Hard chops in the corner from Perfect, who then sends Michaels upside-down in the buckles and clotheslines him down. Perfect has been very aggressive here, and Shawn’s selling is great as usual. Both are the undisputed masters of that. The rolling neck snap from Perfect gets two, but he counters a back body drop with a vicious punt to the face, which sends Perfect flying. Swing and a miss from Michaels, and Perfect locks in the sleeper. Michaels escapes with a jawbreaker, but a knee lift keeps Perfect in control. Michaels does another amazing sell off that, doing about five twists in the air taking it. Jannetty gets involved, then Bobby Heenan makes his way to ringside as well. Here we go. Perfect follows Jannetty, and nails him from behind, kicking him into the post. Back in the ring, and Michaels crotches Perfect onto the post before kicking his leg away from him in Perfect’s usual spot. Atomic drop and a big clotheslines from Shawn gets two, and so does a subsequent superkick, which was of course not his finisher yet. Michaels follows up with a swinging neckbreaker and then goes up top, but gets distracted by Heenan. Perfect capitalises and hits the Perfectplex, but the Big Bossman runs in and stops the count, and it is a DQ win for Perfect. Three crappy DQ’s in a row, and it is a shame that this had to end that way. Some really amazing stuff at times, but it was too short and had too much outside involvement for it to be a true classic. Still a very good match though.
Final Rating: ***½
Shopping With Ted DiBiase
Oh goodie, another dumbass segment! What follows is a montage of DiBiase laughing with shots of money and stills of random everyday common folk street shops. Well, that’s just great. DiBiase goes to the jewellers where he got the million dollar belt made, and he buys all of the chavvy diamond rings in the store. Right, fantastic!
Kendo Nagasaki vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
We go to the Egg Dome in Japan in March 1991. The Kendo Nagasaki competing is not the former World of Sport star from the UK. This is from the WWF’s short lived affiliation with Super World of Sports. Naturally, xenophobe Duggan brings the US flag to the ring with him, because he is an ignorant moron. The crowd is polite but hardly rabid. Watching Duggan compete in a Japanese ring deeply upsets me. This match is absolutely awful. Duggan even botches getting thrown out of the ring, banging his face on the ropes. The crowd is silent and the action completely lame. Nagasaki is the shits too, he can’t take a clothesline over the top. Despite that, he still wins this clean with a kick to the face! What the hell is going on here, really? Hayes says Duggan didn’t kick out because the count was in Japanese. Well, that serves him right for being such an ignorant halfwit. Dreadful match, really offensively awful. Thankfully it was under three minutes.
Final Rating: DUD
Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan & The Undertaker
This is a handicap match and the final bout on the tape, from Las Vegas, Nevada in March 1991, just after WrestleMania VII where Hogan beat Slaughter for the WWF title, and what a bloody mish-mash of competitors we have in this one! Taker and Hogan had some really awful matches later in the year, and Warrior and Taker were already having stinkers up and down the country at this point. Hogan starts with Slaughter and they pick up where they left off at Mania. Warrior has a score to settle with him too, and takes him out with a clothesline, knocking Taker off the apron each time he gets the chance to as well. When Hogan comes back in, he gets stopped in his tracks by Slaughter before Taker comes in and chokes him out. It is a surprisingly energetic start considering the guys involved, though Taker slows it right down. The heat on Hogan is very generic though. Just paint-by-numbers stuff. Adnan comes in for the first time and he stomps away at Hogan and then chokes him. Hogan fights the heels off and makes the hot tag to Warrior, who runs through Slaughter, so Sarge goes to the eyes to slow him. Taker in with Warrior, and he hits the flying clothesline and reverts to the choke again. Taker was still all chokes and not a lot else in early 1991. People unfamiliar with him from this era will be stunned at what a completely different wrestler he was compared to in the new millennium. Slaughter misses from the top and now Warrior gets the hot tag to Hogan, who takes all three men out. Big boot to Slaughter, but the fall is broken up by Taker. There have been some lazy moves and bumps in this. Warrior earlier completely missed a clothesline, it just sailed over Slaughter’s head, and Slaughter tried the same move on Hogan but it was so slow and weak, it was pathetic. Taker and Warrior brawl to the back, leaving Hogan 2-on-1 in the ring. Slaughter accidentally nails Adnan with a clothesline, and Hogan pins him for the win. It started ok but the heat was long and uninspiring, and the execution of near enough everything was half-assed and sloppy. Not a great match at all.
Final Rating: ¾*
Summary: A pretty drab tape, saved by two strong matches, both involving Shawn Michaels. However, there’s not enough quality overall to recommend this, and the segments in between the matches were especially rough this time out. If you are ever unable to sleep, then watch the Neidhart-Warlord match because it was so awful I actually dozed off during it a few times. 1991 was a crazy year for the WWF, because it had some really shocking feuds and workers, but also by the end of the year, some of the best around. This tape showcases both, but the bad rather outweighs the good sadly.