Hulk Hogan vs. the Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) for the WWF Championship
We are now deep into the fall of 1991 and for the first time in history, Survivor Series is not the final PPV of the year as we have another show to take place less than a week after this show with This Tuesday in Texas. It was a bit weird to have two PPVs so close to each other and even weirder that most of the focus was on This Tuesday in Texas and this show almost felt like a throwaway. However, there was something big happening on this show and that was the fact that we have a WWF Title match for the first time on this show, and it was a pretty huge matchup as Hulk Hogan was defending the title against the Undertaker. Since his debut one year ago, Taker has been gaining a lot of steam as a top heel and was allied with arguably the hottest heel in Jake Roberts while Hogan was being hounded by Ric Flair as to who the true World Champion was. On the surface, it seemed like this was just another standard title defense for Hogan and he would just be on route to the big showdown with Flair, but it was going to be interesting to see if that would happen or if the company would pull a swerve and have Taker win.
Since Summerslam, Hogan was mainly building the feud with Flair as Flair was constantly calling him out while Taker was assisting Roberts in his feud with Sid Justice, and on the 10/12 Superstars it was announced Taker would challenge Hogan for the title here. On the 11/16 Superstars, Hogan appeared on the Funeral Parlor and was confronted by Flair before being attacked by Flair and Taker, and Roddy Piper and Randy Savage would make the save as Taker ripped off Hogan’s necklace and crucifix before leaving it on his chest. They did a good job giving this match a lot of build considering it came out of nowhere, and having the tagline “The Gravest Challenge” also made it feel big as this was not just another title defense for Hogan.
Hogan gets a big pop from the crowd while Taker was red hot as a heel though he did get a few cheers as well, and I have to point out the fan in the crowd that is dressed like Hogan as there is a casket with Hogan stickers on it and Hogan tips it over. The two men lock up to start with Taker shoving Hogan into the corner only to miss a charge, and they lock up again with Hogan hooking a headlock and Taker whips him off as Hogan ducks a shot only for Taker to knock him down. Hogan rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring and Taker grabs Hogan by the throat as he chokes him in the corner, and he pounds on Hogan and tears at his face before continuing to pound on him and he chokes him on the ropes. Bearer chokes Hogan from the outside and Taker pounds on him before hitting a slam only to miss the elbow, and he pounds on Taker and hits a clothesline only for Taker to block a slam attempt though Hogan rakes the eyes. He kicks at Taker and rakes the eyes again before hitting a high elbow on Taker and he pounds on him, and he rakes the eyes and rams Taker into the buckles before pounding on him and he clotheslines Taker over the top to the floor. Taker trips Hogan up and pulls him outside as he pounds on him and he rams him into the steps, and Taker grabs a cord and chokes Hogan with it as Bearer distracts the ref and both men roll back into the ring. Taker stomps on Hogan and nails him in the throat before choking him on the mat and Bearer again chokes him from the outside, and Taker pounds on Hogan and chokes him on the ropes before hooking a smother hold on as he takes Hogan to the mat. He gets a series of two counts as he continues to grind down on Hogan who fights to his feet and powers out of the hold, and Hogan kicks at Taker repeatedly and rakes the eyes as he knocks Taker back twice only for Taker to hit a flying clothesline. Taker hoists Hogan up and hits the Tombstone though Hogan no-sells it and he pounds on Taker who drops to a knee, but then Ric Flair comes down to ringside as Hogan rakes the eyes and hits a slam on Taker. Bearer tries to trip Hogan up which distracts him as Flair goes to the timekeeper’s table and takes the title, and Hogan goes outside and nails Flair before returning to the ring as he hits the big boot on Taker. Bearer grabs at Hogan’s leg and Hogan pulls him onto the apron which distracts the ref and Taker gets a shot in, and Flair lays a chair in the ring as Taker hits the Tombstone on the chair which Flair throws to the floor and he heads to the back as Taker gets the three and we have a new champion. After the match, Taker and Bearer head to the back as officials come out and help Hogan to the back, and at the end of the show it is announced that Hogan would get his rematch at This Tuesday in Texas as Taker gives a good promo proclaiming Hulkamania will be buried.
The match itself was solid as both men worked hard and put on a decent title match. Hogan was pretty much at his peak in the ring by this point while Taker was continuing to get into a groove, and it is amazing how much Taker has grown in just a year to the point that he was put in this position. Having said that, the decision to have Taker win was a pretty interesting decision as it seemed like this would be just a stopgap for Hogan and the upcoming match with Flair, but it was clear that Taker had earned this chance to be the top guy though again you wondered how long he would hold it. The crowd was into the match and Hogan, but Taker did get a pretty good pop when he won so either they were starting to get tired of Hogan or it was only a matter of time until Taker would possibly turn face. Taker gets the win over Hogan thanks to Flair and is the shockingly new WWF Champion, but this issue isn’t over yet.
Final Grade: **1/2