*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
The Main Event V – 2/1/91
February 1, 1991
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper
Fun Fact: At the time of this broadcast, the US was at war in the Middle East. Operation Desert Shield, the buildup of forces in the region had just finished and Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the conflict, had just begun.
1) Hulk Hogan & Tugboat defeat Earthquake & Dino Bravo when Hogan pins Bravo with a roll up at 8:56
Fun Fact: This feud had been building since the summer of ‘90 after Dino Bravo and Earthquake had attacked both Hulk Hogan and Tugboat and seperate occassions. In May, Earthquake attacked Hogan during a segment on the Brother Love Show and did several splashes onto Hogan’s ribs. Manager Jimmy Hart and Earthquake would go on to gloat over supposedly ending Hogan’s career, which upset Tugboat, a friend of Hogan at the time. Dino Bravo, another member of the Hart stable, began making comments about ending Tugboat’s career, just like Hogan’s. During his recovery, Hogan announced that Tugboat would be in his corner at SummerSlam as he was set to face Earthquake. In August just before SummerSlam, Tugboat was double teamed by Quake and Bravo, receiving the same splashes that Hogan had received, knocking him out of SummerSlam action. Hogan and Tugboat began teaming together and vowing revenge. This match would be the end of this feud.
Scott: Our road to Los Angeles stops in the Deep South. At this point we were about six weeks away from WrestleMania VII, and really only a week removed from the Royal Rumble where the shocking upset occurred, as Ultimate Warrior lost the WWF Title to Sergeant Slaughter. More on that later. We open this show with the final chapter of the Hulk Hogan/Earthquake feud that started back over ten months ago. That was the dramatic attack on the Brother Love show that cost Hogan a few months and set up their big match at SummerSlam. I have to say right off the bat: I’m not sure if there is a green screen or if Vince McMahon & Roddy Piper are actually there. Sometimes you can really tell but sometimes you can’t. Tugboat is still Hogan’s running buddy although that pretty much ends here. Remember, that spot was originally slated for Dusty Rhodes, but he was practically gone from the promotion by this point (or almost out the door). The heels really dominated the action early as Tugboat was really getting worked over by Bravo & Quake as Hogan kept breaking up pin attempts to the outside. There’s a great spot where Quake is about to drop the bomb on Tugboat but Hogan clotheslines him in mid-run. Tugboat finally gets the big tag to Hogan, who cleans out Bravo to win the match. It was a fun nine minutes that showed Hogan was back as clearly the man in the company again and Tugboat was the forgotten sidekick. Hogan’s night wouldn’t be done. Grade: **
JT: For the fourth straight year we have a special Friday night Main Event on NBC. We haven’t been on the peacock since Thanksgiving weekend, which was also a one hour special. Of course, we are about six weeks away from WrestleMania and lots of change is in the air, mostly stemming from Miami’s Royal Rumble. One thing that is still lingering is the issue between Hulk Hogan and Earthquake and here we get the match that didn’t happen back in October as Hogan teams with his pal Tugboat to battle Quake and Dino Bravo. The feud was really on fumes by this point and Hogan basically stomped it out in Miami when he tossed Quake to win he Rumble match. This is effectively the final TV blowoff, mainly because Hogan was already being transitioned and set up to challenge the new WWF Champion in Los Angeles, as evidenced by the opening video package that detailed his recent USO tour. Tugboat was surely over by association but it was clear he needs some sort of overhaul as a gimmick. Hogan and Bravo opened things up and go right into a big power struggle with each showing off their strength. And speaking of Bravo, pretty crazy that he is still hanging on in the same role but it is clear his allegiance to Quake has kept him in the mix. Tugboat and Hogan rattled Bravo and then settled into the Tugger working the strongman’s arm. Bravo caught Tugboat in the corner and then put him down with an inverted atomic drop. Quake came in but whiffed on an elbow drop. Tugboat tagged in Hogan and the crowd went nuts as the Hulkster peppered him with punches and then slammed him. That is how you know this feud is wrapping up as Hogan tossed him with ease. Hulk kept pouring it on and then tagged in Tugboat but Quake landed a boot and shut down the superfriends’ offense with a thud. Quake and Bravo would double team a bit and do what they could to keep Tugger trapped, including a big Quake elbow drop and bear hug. Just when it looked like Tugboat found a sliver of hope, Bravo popped him with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone, wiping him back out. Quake was ready to finish with his sit down splash but Hogan ran in and clobbered him to break that up. Tugboat tagged out a second later and within a blink, Hogan rolled up Bravo for the win. This was a template SNME style tag match but the heat was there for sure and all four hustled around the ring. It also was a good conclusion to the long standing feud they all had going on. Hogan can finally move on and Quake has to find a way to keep up his high profile. Bravo and Tugboat… well they need to hope they even stick around. Grade: **
2) Jim Duggan defeats Sgt. Slaughter by disqualification at 6:50; Slaughter retains WWF Heavyweight Title
Fun Fact: At the last Main Event in November, 1990, Sgt. Slaughter had attached Nikolai Volkoff before their match even started. Jim Duggan came out to the ring waving the American flag and swinging this 2×4 to make the save, kicking off a short feud between the two.
Scott: After the abomination that occurred at the Royal Rumble, the new hated WWF Champion defends his World Title against one of the most patriotic in the company. This is clearly a throwaway title defense as we don’t really know who he will defend the World Title against March 24 in Los Angeles. Or do we? It was pretty clear, as Hulk Hogan came out to second Jim Duggan to the ring, but then had to go back to the dressing room as he wasn’t a legal corner man. Yet why else would he second Duggan to the ring? We will get the big announcement from that fossil Jack Tunney later in the show. The bout is a sloppy back and forth power match with lots of interference from General Adnan. After doing a lot of TV work after Jesse Ventura left, Roddy Piper did settle in and do a decent job as color commentator. It’s a different dynamic that really makes Vince work as a PBP man because he wasn’t interrupted as much as he was with Jesse. As expected the match ends in a disqualification, and then Slaughter beats down on Duggan post match. That brings Hogan back out and he gets beaten down with a steel chair and left in the ring. Now we have our WrestleMania main event. Unofficially anyway. Jack Tunney seals that deal later. Grade: *1/2
JT: Well, this is quite the change from the last episode of The Main Event back in November. Then, Sgt. Slaughter was beating down the lowly Nikolai Volkoff and now he is WWF Champion. It was quite the meteoric rise out of nowhere. One constant has remained: he is still an Iraqi sympathizer and still very anti-USA. Back on that November night, Slaughter entered into a feud with Jim Duggan and despite his sudden rise up the card, they still were locked into the issue and that is on display here. It is also a rare World Title shot for the Hacksaw, so a lot was on the line. In his prematch promo, Sarge vowed that the WWF was now playing under Slaughter Rules, which are his and his only. He really upped his game in 1991, with some tremendous promo work that really made you hate him in every way. To really play up the US vs. Iraq theme of this whole thing, Duggan entered to Stars & Stripes Forever and had Hulk Hogan march out with him waving the American flag. After some early bombs from both, Sarge started to choke and punch away, slipping in some dirty tactics while Adnan tied up the referee. The crowd echoed “USA” as Duggan came back with heavy right hands that knocked Sarge right to his face. This is like a heavyweight slugfest, jeez. Duggan sent Sarge flying with a back drop but when he went for a slam, Adnan hooked his ankle and Sarge collapsed on top for a two count. Adnan got involved again but it backfired as Duggan ducked away and Sarge popped his manager in the face. We got some back and forth with more big blows by both but Sarge finally gained control and popped Duggan in his face with the 2×4. Duggan hung in and was able to chuck Slaughter over the top rope to the floor. He followed him out and shot him into the steps and post but Adnan got involved yet again. Slaughter took the chance to paste Duggan with a chair, drawing a DQ. Normally you would want the champion to go over strong here but the whole gist of the night is Slaughter igniting his “rules” and this is all part of it. He doesn’t need to win, he just needs to survive and inflict punishment on his enemies. It worked perfectly. Hogan returned make the save but Sarge clobbered him with the chair as well and then spit on both men before heading out. This was better than I expected for sure thanks to the stiff offense and wild heat plus I really dug the finish. Grade: *1/2
3) Legion of Doom defeats Orient Express at 5:11 when Hawk pins Kato after the Doomsday Device
Fun Fact: As Demolition slowly faded as a tag team, the Orient Express, another team managed by Mr. Fuji, stepped in to take over in the feud with the Legion of Doom. For the most part, the feud was very one-sided in favor of LOD.
Fun Fact II: For additional information on the reformation of the Orient Express, please see PTBN’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Volume 1, under Royal Rumble 1991.
Scott: This is merely a showcase match for the team that would eventually be the top team in the company. The Hart Foundation are the current champions, but you have the feeling that wasn’t going to last. The Orients had one of the federation’s greatest PPV matches just a week earlier at the Royal Rumble against the Rockers, but now they face a completely different team with a whole different set of moves. The Orients do a nice job of working their reversals into LOD’s power moves. Mr. Fuji throws salt in Animal’s eyes, but that doesn’t stop the force that is my Road Warriors. The match is an effective squash to keep the LOD hot leading into Mania. Grade: *
JT: As 1990 came to a close, the Orient Express underwent a bit of a shakeup when Sato was kicked to the curb and Paul Diamond was handed a mask to become Kato, reuniting his old Badd Company team with Tanaka. It was clearly an in ring upgrade but it also happened when the Express slid down the ladder into near tag jobber territory. Here they are marched out to stand off with the red hot Legion of Doom, who were looking to get into the title mix after dominating their fire six months in the promotion. Animal and Kato started things off and it didn’t go quite well for the masked one at first. He did use his speed to dodge Animal for a moment but a powerslam later and the LOD was back in control. Things broke down but it ended with the Express both on the floor trying to regroup. Things reset with Hawk and Tanaka and thanks to an assist from Fuji, the Express gained a very brief advantage that quickly flickered out. Kato tried to escape to the floor but Animal met him and pressed back into the ring. He would get dumped right back out and was met by a stiff Animal clothesline on that visit. The LOD kept dominating as the Express just couldn’t get any sustained offense. Fuji would chuck some salt in Animal’s eyes but even that didn’t get the Express much offense in. A moment later, Hawk climbed up top and crunched Kato with the Doomsday Device for the strong win. Well, nothing more than a red hot squash as the LOD keeps rolling on with their eyes dead set on the gold. Grade: *
*** Gene Okerlund interviews Jack Tunney in the ring. Gene runs through all the potential contenders to challenge Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania before Tunney officially announces that Hulk Hogan will receive the shot. Oklerlund also notes that Hogan had never received his rematch from his title loss back at WrestleMania VI. We then get reaction interviews from both Slaughter and Hogan. ***
Scott: With the patriotic theme of the show (as Operation Desert Storm was a couple of weeks old) rampant, you knew it was all about Hulk Hogan being positioned as the #1 contender. He wins the Royal Rumble, ends the feud with Earthquake and takes a beating at the hands of the evil WWF Champion. Then Jack Tunney effectively reveals the worst kept secret, and Hogan will face Slaughter March 24 in Los Angeles. The Macon crowd was hot and we were on our way. Not that Ultimate Warrior wouldn’t have been a bad pick, but he will eventually have other fish to fry. With the patriotic mood in the air, this was pretty much a no-brainer. That was pretty much the full monte of the show, with the over LOD as the finale to keep them strong. There’s not much more to say here, except that we are reaching the end of the line. It seems the NBC specials were getting less and less frequent. There hasn’t actually been a show on Saturday in over six months. We won’t worry about that now, but we will focus on extracting the WWF Title from that evil Iraqi sympathizer. Our American hero will do that, and on this show it was made official. Final Grade: B-
JT: Another breezy Main Event but unlike our November offering, this episode was lacking the in ring quality. The crowd was hot though and the matches all made sense and led to storyline closure or preparation for future angles and pushes. Sgt. Slaughter was tremendous here, both on the mic and in the ring, and has really taken his game to the next level as champion, establishing his rules and sending his confidence through the roof. The announcement at the end of the show was a big deal as well and it was neat that they held it here. This is our final Main Event special and it has been a show that was filled with big angles and WrestleMania preparation, right until the very end. Final Grade: C+