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WWF at Madison Square Garden - December 29, 1991

by erick von erich

In late 1991, the WWF seemed to really be hitting it stride. The WWF title was vacant, after Jack Tunney had stripped Hulk Hogan of the championship due to questionable tactics in a rematch against the Undertaker at "This Tuesday in Texas". That was big news in itself-- for once, the "undefeated" monster heel had actually rolled all the way to the WWF title. Toss in a healthy dose of Ric Flair to mess with Hogan and the main event scene was fairly intriguing. Not to mention that the midcard had the first big push of Bret Hart as Intercontinental champ, while the tag division was reigned over by no less than the Legion of Doom (Road Warriors).

This show's right in the thick of it. Originally shown on the MSG network, it took place on December 29, but aired on New Year's Eve 1991. Commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan refer to that fact a few times. For my money (and since I was buying their PPVs on a reular basis back then, it was MY money. OK, my parents' money), this was probably the most exciting era the WWF had in some time. But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...

Match 1: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs. Hercules

Yes, I'm the one person who liked Valentine's 1991 babyface run. I liked that he was essentially a no-nonsense basic wrestler, who ditched a gimmick. Herc was bumped down to going solo after his Power & Glory tag partner Paul Roma went MIA with an injury or disinterest. Herc is still sporting his "POWER" tights and looks to have borrowed his hairstyle from Matuszak in "Caveman". Plodding match, with Valentine dishing out several elbowsmashes. Gorilla and the Brain start plugging the upcoming Royal Rumble, including the Brain's little "be fair to Flair" schtick. A Hercules Bearhug happens. Valentine works the legs and tries going for the figure four, but gets kicked into the turnbuckles. Both guys hit the mat following a double clothesline. Valentine goes for a belly-to-back suplex into a bridge... but it's the lame finish where Herc gets his shoulder up at the last second, allowing Valetine to ppin himself. Cheesy finish, that seemed to pop up in Hercules matches often. A little weird that Herc; who had been bumped down to the heel equivalent of Koko B. Ware; was booked to get the pin here.

Unscheduled, Colonel Mustafa and General Adnan come to the ring to run some Iraqi smack against Sgt. Slaughter. Oh, I should mention that WWF uber-fan VLADIMIR is in his usual location for this show.

Match 2: Virgil vs. Repo Man

Funny that these two first locked up in the "SummerSlam Spectacular" show, where Repo wrestled as "Ted DiBiase's Masked Man". It even works for kayfabe purposes: DiBiase just got Repo a new outfit and name. Repo "sneaks" into the ring and attacks Virgil. Virgil comes off the ropes with a Thesz press and pounds away. Repo takes over with a kneelift and whips Virgil to the ropes. Virg returns with a dropkick to send Repo out to the floor. He returns for more brawling, but Virgil manages a backslide for 2. Virgil works an armwringer until Repo jabs him in the eyes. Virgil clothesline Repo out to the floor, then leaps over to follow. Repo delivers his own clothesline on the floor, then gets a good cackle into the camera. Back in the ring, Repo works on Virgil some more with a series of punchy/kicky and a side backbreaker for 2. He tries a slam, but Virgil slips out fo the attempt and rolls him up from behind for 2. A small package gets another 2 for Virgil. Virgil keeps working in the ol' "smack the mat to get the crowd excited"...and it actually works. Giv ehim credit, Virgil was definitely over during this time period! Virgil makes a comeback with two clotheslines and Russian leg sweep for a 2.999 count. He whips Repo to the corner and climbs up top for "10! 10! 10 vonderful punches! AH-AH-AH-AH" (tm, Count Von Count). Repo grabs his two rope from the corner and smacks Virgil with it, drawing the disqualification. Repo chokes Virgil some more with the rope. Virgil seemed very lilght on his feet and could move well, so he needed a better opponent in there.

Match 3: Jim Powers vs. Skinner

Interesting, but Powers' usual "Crank It Up" music is dubbed over for this WWE Classics broadcast. That's weird-- eitehr they lost the rights to theme or, (hopefully) Powers actually had different music at this time. Skinner clubs away and bites, until Powers turns it into a criss-cross (JUMP! JUMP!) sequence. He leapfrogs, hits a hiptoss then a slam in the usual Powers offense. Surprisingly, he doesn't do his stupid "jog and say YEAH" movements. A charging clothesline connects, as Skinner bails. Skinner returns as Powers gets in more offense than usual. Another criss-cross, but this time Skinenr uses Powers' momentum to send him headfirst to the floor. Skinner takes a moment to kick back and relax on the turnbuckles in a hammock style. He snarls at the camera, as Gorilla compliments him on his "nice set of tooth". Powers tries to sunset flip his way back in, but Skinner blocks and stomps away. A chinlock happens. Skinner tries coming off the second trunbuckle, but flies right into Powers' rasied boot. Irish whip, kneelift and a dropkick score 2 for Powers. Skinner reverses a whip into the turnbuckle. Powers hits hard, then staggers right into Skinner's Gator Breaker finisher. Easy 3 count for Skinner ends the Powers portion of our card. Y'know, this match really wasn't too bad, considering it was Jim Powers and a past-his-prime Steve Keirn. Note I didn't say "good", just "not too bad".

Match 4: Bushwhackers vs. Nasty Boys

Butch & Luke vs. Knobbs & Saggs
It's the battle of "guys who used to have last names outside of the WWF" vs. "guys who used to have first names outside of the WWF". Jimmy Hart isn't around for the Nasties. Heenan claims he's up in a skybox, but Gorilla randomly mentions that Hart is a cross-dresser. Heenan brings it back to normal when he mentions that his friend Doug Rader, former manager of the California Angels, had his team doing the "Bushwhacker bounce"; which is probably why he was fired. Brawl to start with the Whackers clearing the ring with double-team New Zealand whips and clotheslines. Luke is whipped into Saggs for a quick 2. Nasties try to brawl again, but the Whackers clear the ring with their Battering Ram. Of course, Gorilla mentions how they're "so unorthodox". Y'know... I wonder if Gorilla was pals with the Whackers. He always seemed so happy to see them, even during their first appearance in late 1988. Anyways, more punchy/kicky and Knobbs even chokes Luke with the tag rope on the floor. Back inside, Luke gets a sunset flip, but the ref is distracted and can't make the count. Luke gets pummeled for a few more minutes as Butch fires up the crowd with a chant. Nasties accientally collide, allowing Butch to enter and deliver clotheslines. All four men brawl, as another Battering Ram gets 2 on Knobbs. In the mix-up, Saggs whips Butch the ropes, misses a clothesline, but Butch runs right into one from Knobbs. Knobbs covers for 3 and that's that.

Post-match, the Nasties do a beatdown. Heenan: "you can never kick a Bushwhacker enough". Suddenly, Sgt. Slaughter runs in for the save. Decent pop for Sarge.

Match 5: WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Bret "Hitman" Hart (c) vs. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (w/Sensational Sherri)

Well, here we go. These two spent a good part of 1991 wrestling each other, so this should be good. Sherri's wearing a very skimpy black cocktail dress. Aside from her days with Harlem Heat in 1995, Sherri usually looked her hottest when she was DiBiase's valet. Maybe it was the bowtie? Lockup to start as DiBiase gets in a cheaposhot hairpull, then hides in the ropes to piss off Hart. DiBiase takes a breather, but Hart follows him out and attacks. He tosses him back in, where Hart delivers an atomic drop to send DiBiase back outside. A double noggin-knocker on both DiBiase and Sherri, followed by a legdrop to score 2 for the Hitman. Hart goes to the mat with a side headlock resthold, which dominates the next five minutes or so. They hit the ropes, as Hart returns with a flying dropkick for 2, then right back into the headlock. DiBiase counters it several times, for a quick 1 count. To the ropes again, where DiBiase catches Hart with a stun-gun to take over. He snaps Hart on the ropes, then delivers a clothesline and elbowdrop for 2. Swinging neckbreaker gets another 2. For no real reason, Sherri begins screaming and distracting the ref. DiBiase whips Hart to the turnbuckle, where he takes his patented THUNK manuever and acts like he's been shot. DiBiase locks in his Million Dollar Dream finisher and appears on the way to the win... but Sherri gets excited and rings the bell. DiBiase breaks the hold and receives the IC belt from Sherri, thinking he's the new champ.

Ring announcer Howard Finkel then informs everybody that it was Sherri who rang the bell and, thus, it's not an official decision. So the match must continue. DiBiase comes off the second turnbuckle with a fistdrop. He whips Hart for a backdrop, but Hart counters with a swinging neckbreaker. Inverted atomic drop, elbowdrop and a suplex only get 2 for Hart. Small package and a Russian leg sweep each get 2. DiBiase tries a slam, but Hart jumps out of it and rolls him up from behind for another 2. Gut wrench suplex from Hart, as DiBiase gets dumped outside again. This time he mistakenly nails Sherri, who is shown comatose on the floor...with plenty of leg and buns showing. Hart slingshots himself over the top rope, to the floor, with a bodypress on DiBiase. Crowd LOVES that. Hart chases off DiBiase and a revived Sherri until the bell sounds for a time limit draw. Time was about 20 minutes, so I guess that's fairly acurate. Hart stands tall in the ring as his music plays. The final 1/2 of the match really delivered and the fake finish was fun. You can see where Hart's mid-90's formula shows. With Sherri's pre-mature bell ringing, it's no wonder DiBise let her walk away to Shawn Michaels about a month later.

Match 6: Handicap Flag Match:
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Col. Mustafa & Gen. Adnan

Part of Sarge's "I want ....my country baaaaaack" angle, as he gets to beat up his former cohorts. Mustafa tries singing the Iraqi National Anthem, but then ditches it for his usual "hack! Ptooie!" routine. Sarge comes out with a little kid holding the US Flag, whom Heenan calls "the world's smallest manager". I recapped this match in another world and identity a few years ago; from when it aired on Prime Time Wrestling in February 1992. I won't do a complete copy n' paste, but it'll be similar. So here we go: Mustafa attacks with his ammo belt to gain the advantage. Bad guys punch on Sarge for most of the match with Adnan taking intermittent breathers on the apron. Sarge makes a mini-comeback with a clothesline and sleeper on Mustafa. Adnan saves and they go back to punchy/kicky. Heels collide, allowing Sarge to deploy the Slaughter Cannon on Mustafa for 3.

Afterwards, Sarge gets to wave the US Flag, as he grabs the house mic: "It sure is good to be back in Madison Square Garden, I'll tell ya' what! I'm gonna' do something that I haven't done for awhile...and I hope you'll help me". It's 1984 all over again as Sarge leads the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm guessing this was Sarge's first MSG appearance since his face turn. Y'know, it finally dawned on me why Sarge cooled off in the late 80's/early 90's-- we often forget that a portion of his DNA was stolen by Dr. Mindbender to create Serpentor. That'll take some of the spunk out of ya'.

Match 7: British Bulldog vs. The Berzerker

Like most of this card, this match was also eventually shown on Prime Time. Ayup, another copy n' paste jobs from eons ago. Criss-cross rope bouncing to begin until Berzerker nails Bulldog with a Big Puffy Boot for a quick 2 count. Berzerker misses a dropkick, and Bulldog retaliates with the same move to send him over the top rope. Berzerker immediately returns and walks right into a Bulldog hiptoss. Berzerker takes over with a headbutt to the tummy. Chargig shoulderblock off the ropes gets 2. Berzerker stomps away and gets a standing rear chinlock/ semi-camel clutch. Pulls Bulldog up for a vertical powerslam and another 2 count. He ties Bulldog's arms into the ropes and delivers a charging kick. 'Zerker tries again, but this time Bulldog escapes the ropes and backdrops him over the top. Again, 'Zerker is immediately back in, this time walking into a Bulldog suplex. Bulldog tries for his running powerslam, but 'Zerker grabs the ropes and falls on top for 2. He whips Bulldog to the ropes and hits another Big Puffy Boot to the grill. 'Zerker uses the ropes for leverage and covers. Ref counts to 2, then sees the foot and stops the count. 'Zerker gets up, thinking he's won the thing. Bulldog quickly underhooks him with a roll-up from behind to score the pin. Whoa.. Best. Berzerker. Match. Ever. "My love for you is like a truck- BERZERKER! Do you want some making fuck- BERZERKER!!!"

Match 8: Chris Walker vs. The Brooklyn Brawler

Walker's a recently signed long-haired steroid freak, with a bit of an aerial arsenal (translation: he can do drop-kicks and leap off the top rope). He'd been working in GWF as "Conan" Chris Walker, but is without a nickname here. He seemed to simmer in the WWF for about 6 months, doing nothing, never getting a gimmick or nickname, yet I think he might've even had a squash match on "Wrestling Challenge". The crowd is deathly silenced for this match, which allows us to hear the "Co-nan" chant of two fans. Lock-up to start, as Walker gets the advantage with an arm-wringer. Brawler goes choppy/kicky until they bounce off the ropes. Walker performs two leapfrogs, blows a hip-toss, but manages a drop-kick to the grill to send Brawler bailing. Brawler returns to punch, bite and drop Walker on the top rope. He splits the legs and stomps, but Walker counters with a small package for 2. To the ropes again and this time Walker gets another drop-kick, then follows up with two big powerslams. Walker goes up to the top turnbuckle and leaps off with a flying cross-bodypress to score the 3 count. I'm guessing this was his MSG debut. p>

Match 9: Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair (w/Mr. Perfect)

This is the second straight month they ran with Hogan/Flair as the main event at MSG. Which is kinda' why I always feel the standard smark comment of "Vince should of gone with Flare-HOgan at WrestleMania 8 (sic)" to be slightly inaccurate. Flair is still "The Real World's Champion" and has a belt with him. He only shows it for a second or two as it's blurred out with a cheesy blue video effect (part of the angle, as it was an "unsanctioned WWF title"). The storyline here is that Hogan is STILL pissed at Flair, after the events of the Survivor Series and last month's match wherein Flair almost won with a set of brass knucks. So Hogan storms to the ring and just beats the tar out of Flair.

Flair is still in his robe and gets backdropped out to the floor. Hogan is right after him, choking him out with a tanktop, then smashing him to the railing. Flair is tossed back in and does his usual "noooooo" begging action. Hogan just keeps pounding away as Flair does his traditional Flips and Flops. A big boot sends Flair outside again for more punishment. Flair gets a very miniscule advantage by raking the eyes, but Hogan rams him into the ringpost. Back inside, Hogan delivers a headbutt, but gets distracted when Mr. Perfect hops up on the apron. Flair gets a charging knee to Hogan's backside to finally get the upper hand. Flair works the leg and tries going for the Figure Four. Hogan kicks him awya three separate times, so Flair goes up top for the usuall ill-fated top-rope attack. Hogan slams him, then drags him to the ringpost and works on Flair's legs. HOGAN then cinches in the Figure Four! With help from Mr.P, Flair gets the hold broken, but then walks right into a small package for 2. Perfect tosses the Brass Knucks to Flair as the ref is knocked out. Flair brains Hogan then covers for 1....2.... no! Hulk up time! Hogan does his typical comeback, but Flair falls out of the ring after the big boot. Hogan follows him out where they brawl and Flair hits the post again. Hogan rolls back in and wins the match by countout. Afterwards, they play "Real American" while Hogan pantomimes the "I want the belt" motion. Wait... you want Flair's prop belt or the vacant WWF title? Please be specific. Match really didn't settle anything, but it had good intensity. Hogan usually did his best WWF matches when he was in "Pissed-off Revenge Mode".

Despite the lack of a clean pin, I still say "no" to a potential WM8 blow-off for Hogan/Flair. Hogan probably would've been booked to go over and Flair would've been just another victim to the Strongest Force in the Universe. That might've even killed Flair's career. As it turned out, it worked well, as Flair kept his heat and Macho Man stepped in to deliver a great match and memorable angle.

Why'd You Tape This??
The crowd is amped and the hype for the Royal Rumble permeates over everything. Gorilla and the Brain get excited about all the "former World champs" in the Rumble; a class which included Hogan, Undertaker, Randy Savage, Sgt. Slaughter, plus Ric Flair, Rick Martel and Kerry Von Erich if you wanna' be technical. It's wonderful how Heenan, throughout the show, is bragging about Flair winning the Rumble...and it turned out he was right!

I think this is a decent card, yet I could see how somebody could rate it a stinker. Two decent matches (Hart/DiBiase, Bulldog/Zerker) and a hot Main Event, but the rest is filler. Looking back now, this may have been my favorite period of the WWF (even more than WM6). My enthusiasm gives me a definite bias. However, this era comes to a crashing end shortly WrestleMania 8, which allowed me to quietly walk away from the mark-ish ways of my youth.

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