In this multi-part series, the staff members of Place to Be Nation have to come together to argue who the true Real World Champion of North American wrestling was in each year from 1983 through 2014. We factored in workrate, drawing ability, influence and general overall presentation, acceptance and cache. After intense debates, we chose our Champions for each year and submitted a writeup explaining the choice and also offering up the top matches each Champion competed in that year. On with the roll call!
It was an interesting year in the grappling game, with both major companies trying new things at the top to varying results and numerous booking overhauls coming about thanks to a decided decline in business. With so much turmoil at the top, it’s natural that the talents that shined most were in the midcard and upper-midcard – Lex Luger in WCW and 1990’s Wrestler of the Year and the man who dominated the WWF Intercontinental Championship: Mr. Perfect.
Arguably no wrestler, short of the Ultimate Warrior, had more momentum coming into 1990 than Mr. Perfect. He was riding an unbeaten streak on TV, engaged in entertaining feuds with top stars Warrior and Hulk Hogan, and seemed bound for a feud with whoever came out on top at WrestleMania VI. While that never really came to fruition, he did wrap up a fun run with those two before capturing the vacant IC title in a stellar bout with veteran Tito Santana. Jettisoning the Genius for far superior manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan only added to Perfect’s star power, allowing him to maintain a virtual stranglehold on the belt for more than a year.
While it can be argued that Hennig’s best matches didn’t come from this year, there are few suitable candidates who had more consistently good bouts. Matched with his promos and his incredible selling that made the worst opponents look credible, Perfect was PTBN’s Real World Champion of 1990.
Mr. Perfect vs. Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior – Saturday Night’s Main Event 1/27/90
Mr. Perfect vs. Ultimate Warrior – New York City. NY 3/19/90
Mr. Perfect vs. Hulk Hogan – Saturday Night’s Main Event 4/28/90
Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana – WWF Superstars 5/19/90
Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana – Saturday Night’s Main Event 7/28/90
Mr. Perfect vs. Kerry Von Erich – SummerSlam 1990
Mr. Perfect vs. The Big Boss Man – The Main Event 10/30/90
In an overall putrid year for United States wrestling, utilizing a “devil you know” philosophy became a benchmark for selecting a candidate for 1991. Hulk Hogan was certainly hotter in other years in the 1980s, but it is tough to argue against the fact that after the failed Ultimate Warrior experiment of 1990, he regained his role as the undisputed #1 focal point of WWF in 1991. Regardless of your opinion on the Gulf War angle with Sgt. Slaughter, it was the most focused and well established feud of the first eight months of the calendar year in the WWF. After the Gulf War angle was blown off at SummerSlam, more emphasis became placed on angles and feuds such as Jake Roberts vs. Randy Savage. However, Hogan still had a lot going on with his interactions with Sid Justice, the debuting Ric Flair and fending off newcomer the Undertaker. Hogan turned in one of his best in ring years of 1991 wrestling a variety of different matches. The WrestleMania VII main event was a long brawl featuring weapons and blood, the house show series vs. Flair displayed Hogan being an alpha-babyface defending his territory, and the series of matches vs. Taker showed Hogan in a more vulnerable state than the viewer was used to seeing since he became the ace of the promotion. Hogan may have not have had as many career highlights in 1991 compared to other years, but he did sustain a consistency from a popularity, push and in ring standpoint that few others had throughout the entire year.
Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter – WrestleMania VII 3/24/91
Hulk Hogan & Genichiro Tenryu vs. Legion of Doom – WWF/SWS 3/30/91
Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter – New York, NY 6/3/91
Hulk Hogan vs. Undertaker – This Tuesday in Texas 12/3/91
Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan – New York, NY 12/29/91