The 1991 Survivor Series ppv was held at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Michigan on November 27. Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan lend their extraordinary talent and chemistry to the commentary desk for this year’s event.
Before anything, though, we witness a video of “Macho Man” Randy Savage being attacked by Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ snake. This version of Damien is a king cobra and there are questions about whether or not it was properly devenomized.
After the video we are greeted by Jack Tunney (WWF President) who informs us that neither Jake nor Savage will be wrestling tonight but that they will have a match at the next ppv (Tuesday in Texas on the following Tuesday after Survivor Series) and that all reptiles will be banned from ringside. With that business taken care of the commentary team throws us to the ring for the first match.
Match 1: “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, The Mountie, Warlord, and Ric Flair VS Bret “Hitman” Hart (Intercontinental Champion), Virgil, “The British Bulldog” Davey-Boy Smith, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
This match has a rather frenetic pace to it so I’ll try to describe it as best as I can. It starts with Piper gaining the advantage and all the faces cycling through while beating on Dibiase. Bret, eventually, loses the advantage and Flair comes in for the first time. Bret regains the advantage and we see our first ‘Flair flop’ of the match. Piper tags in and we get a heated exchange between him and Flair as they are the main rivalry in this match. Flair does another flop on the outside of the ring but manages to get back in and tag Warlord. Warlord and Bulldog go at it for a bit until Bret comes in. Bret ends up having some great exchanges with Dibiase that lead to a double knockout in the middle of the ring. At this point, things completely breakdown and in the confusion Flair pins Bulldog for the first elimination.
Piper comes in after the elimination hot but the heels maintain the advantage and work him over. Piper does get a figure four leg lock on Flair but Dibiase breaks it up behind the ref’s back. Piper is looking to be in real trouble before he makes the hot tag to Virgil, who throws some heavy shots but loses the advantage to Dibiase. Warlord is tagged in and things breakdown again. This time, in all the chaos, Piper manages to pin Warlord to even up the teams.
Following the elimination, Virgil is still at a disadvantage and gets worked over by the heels. Piper and Flair end up back in the ring where we get a patented Piper eye-poke and Flair is sent over the top turnbuckle and to the floor. Then all the other competitors spill into the ring and brawl. This leads to everyone but Flair getting disqualified. Flair is the winner but gets attacked after the match by Piper.
There are some really cool moments in this match. The exchanges between Dibiase and Bret are masterful and make me sad they didn’t work against each other more during this period because they could have had some great matches. Flair and Piper started out together so they’re familiar with each other and do a good job selling the intensity of their feud. I was shocked that, with exception of a few times, Bret stood on the apron for most of the match. Why you’d give one of the best workers ever a, almost, night off is beyond me. Still, this was a good match.
Match Grade: B
Following the match, we get an interview with the newly reinstated “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It’s classic Savage style stuff where he calls out Jake Roberts as the real snake in the WWF and claims that “the madness will be all over you (Roberts) like melting butter”. Like a lot of Savage’s stuff, it’s an odd line but he makes it work. They then bring out Elizabeth and she guarantees victory at the next ppv.
Match 2: Col. Mustafa (The Iron Sheik), The Berserker, Skinner, and Hercules VS The Texas Tornado (Kerry Von Erich), “El Matador” Tito Santana, “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan, and Sgt. Slaughter.
Tito gets the advantage early on Skinner and hits him with the flying forearm but it knocks Skinner out of the ring. Slaughter throws him back in but he rolls out and regroups. Both teams then commence to cycling in and out to try and get an advantage. This leads to Dugan getting worked over long enough to get a hot tag to Slaughter who comes in and pins Mustafa. Berserker comes in and works Slaughter over for bit but the tag gets made to Dugan, who swings the momentum and leads to Tito getting a pin on Hercules. Shortly after this, Slaughter pins Skinner and then Dugan hits Berserker with his three-point-stance clothesline and gets the win for his team.
This match is over before it even starts. The heel team looks awful as Sheik is broken down and can barely move, Berserker is an awful worker, Skinner is a glorified jobber, and Hercules is an over pumped shell of his former self. There’s no way we should be led to believe that they are going to win. The babyfaces do everything they can but, at the end of the day, the best thing about this match is the commentary.
Match Grade: D
Next we are sent to the interview podium where Jake “The Snake” Roberts is interviewed in what is, quite possibly, the worst sweater ever (seriously, it looks like it’s made of carpet padding and made me itch just looking at it). Despite his wardrobe, he manages to cut a great promo in which he takes no responsibility for the attack and then tells us that “I’m the snake you should be worrying about”. Jake was always a great promo but when he could be a heel and kind of a sleaze, it was a whole other level.
Speaking of good promos; the next thing we see is a replay of Flair coming out to confront Hogan. He cuts a great promo that leaves Hogan looking flat-footed for a second. Hogan starts responding to Flair as Undertaker comes up behind the distracted Hulkster and hits him in the back of the head with the urn. Savage and Piper come running in with chairs but it’s too late.
Match 3: Undertaker VS Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion) for the WWF Championship
Hogan and Taker lockup to start the match but Taker overpowers Hogan, who then rolls out of the ring. Taker does get the upper hand and proceeds to drag Hogan around the ring while stopping to choke him on various ropes. Hogan manages a comeback but can’t get Taker to go down. He knocks Taker over the top rope with a clothesline but Taker lands on his feet. He then drags Hogan outside the ring and works him over until he’s ready to put him back in. Taker continues to choke Hogan and even employs an iron claw on Hogan’s jaw that almost takes him out.
The ref does the arm raising spot and Hogan’s arm stays up on the third attempt. He begins to ‘Hulk up’ but Taker kills his momentum with a gorgeous flying forearm. Taker delivers a tombstone piledriver but Hogan no-sells it and begins his comeback. Taker gets taken down to one knee when Flair comes to ringside. He is talking to the ring announcer when Hogan forgets about Taker and attacks him. Hogan gets back in the ring but Taker has recovered. Flair slides a chair into the ring, Taker tombstone’s Hogan on the chair, and Flair pulls it back out. Taker gets the pin and becomes the new WWF Champion. Hogan lies on the mat selling the finish for quite a while. It begins to drag on but I gotta give him credit for selling like a champ.
This match, as they say several times, is the beginning of the end of Hulkamania. At this point, Hogan’s routine has gotten stale and his work is sloppy. When I was a kid, it broke my heart to see Hogan go down like that. I’d been a Hulkamaniac since he was feuding with Piper in the early 80s and it hit me hard. Looking back, it’s what needed to happen and I’m glad it was to one of the greatest of all time. As for the match; it’s not a good match. It’s really not and if it weren’t such an iconic moment in wrestling history then it’d probably get a much lower grade. However, emotional investment and making iconic moments is also a part of professional wrestling so I must consider those factors as well. Overall, it’s a decent match that proved to be a milestone and the end of an era, in a lot of ways.
Match Grade: B
Everyone is shocked that Undertaker defeated Hogan. Including Piper, who gives a great promo and is unimaginably fired up about his friend’s defeat.
Ric Flair, on the other hand, is overjoyed that Hogan is no longer champion. He, also, gives a passionate promo and claims that he’s the only world’s champion now.
We then get promos from the Natural Disasters with IRS and Legion of Doom with Big Boss Man respectively. They talk tough about their match later on in the program.
Jack Tunney, then, comes out and tells Mean Gene that although the referee’s decision stands, there will be a rematch at the Tuesday in Texas ppv the following week.
Match 4: The Beverly Brothers and The Nasty Boys VS The Bushwhackers and The Rockers
The Bushwhackers get the advantage early in this one and go through all their illegal double team moves, forcing the heels to regroup outside the ring. Once the heels return, Luke is quickly eliminated. Shawn comes in and is worked over for a while until he makes a small comeback and tags Jannetty in. He looks good but soon loses the advantage. Beau and Jannetty trade spots for a while, which is quite fun, until Butch is tagged in. The Beverly Brothers give Butch a spike slam and he is promptly eliminated. Beau and Jannetty wrestle again but Shawn is tagged in and loses what little advantage Jannetty had. The Beverly Brothers work Shawn over for a bit until Shawn catches Beau in a backslide for the pin.
After Beau’s elimination, the heels remain on top of Shawn. He manages to make a comeback and gets a hot tag to Jannetty. The heat from the tag was not enough, however, as the heels once again gain the advantage. They pound on Jannetty for a while until he gets a tag to Shawn. As they are both in the ring, Jannetty inadvertently hits Shawn with the feet of one of the Nasty Boys. Shawn gets really upset and, as Jannetty tries to explain that it was an accident, storms off to the locker room. The heels work Jannetty over and he tries to make a comeback but the numbers difference is just too much. The Nasty Boys and Blake Beverly win the match.
Two things, to me, stand out as this match goes along. The first is that Jannetty was one hell of a worker. His exchanges with Beau are the best wrestling in the whole match. The second is that this is the beginning of Shawn’s heel turn. He carries himself completely different in and out of the ring and leaving his partner to alone against three guys only solidifies it. This is yet another big moment that is underserved by a mediocre match.
Match Grade: B
Match 5: The Natural Disasters and IRS VS Legion Of Doom and Big Boss Man.
There’s a lot of confusion about who’s going to start for each team and which corner they are going to be in. They finally get it sorted and, after an awkward exchange between IRS and Boss Man, they begin cycling in and out. The faces get up for a while but IRS hits Boss Man with his briefcase and pins him for the first elimination.
The heels gain the advantage and begin to work over Animal but he ends up getting the hot tag to Hawk. IRS tries to use the briefcase again but, accidently, hits Typhoon. Earthquake gets really upset about this and after Typhoon is pinned he leaves with his partner. Earthquake showing sympathy for his partner and leaving IRS to go it alone makes me think this might have been the beginning of his and Typhoon’s babyface turn.
IRS manages to work over Hawk for a while but once Animal gets the hot tag he decides better of it and starts walking back to the locker room. He’s about halfway down the aisle when out comes Boss Man to cut him off and make sure he gets back in the ring. Hawk ends up hitting him with a flying clothesline from the top rope and that’s all she wrote. Legion of Doom wins.
This is a pretty unremarkable match. The hints at a Natural Disasters face turn and Boss Man keeping IRS from bailing on the match are the best moments.
Match Grade: B-
Before the ppv ends, we see Mean Gene in a dark part of the arena and surrounded in fog as he says he’s found Undertaker. Paul and Undertaker give a great promo about the death of Hulkamania and then show Gene the inside of a wooden coffin. Thus ends Survivor series 91.
This ppv contains some pretty big moments but they are undercut by mediocre matches. Hogan losing the title to Undertaker is a huge deal but the plodding and uninspired match takes a lot of the shine off of it. Shawn walking off to leave Jannetty in a three on one situation is another big deal that gets lost in a rather okay match. All these moments, to quote Blade Runner, get lost like tears in the rain.
PPV Grade: C