Retro Review: WWE Survivor Series 1991

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of The Undertaker’s debut at a Survivor Series, Justin C looks back at his maiden world title win.

Undertaker Vs Hulk Hogan

It’s officially Survivor Series season. So I think it is time for me to jump in and review some Survivor Series shows starting this week.

I’m starting with one of my personal favorite Survivor Series shows form 1991. Why is it one of my favorite shows? I’ll leave that for the end. It isn’t a great wrestling show. But for what it will lead to I think it sets things up fantastically.

We start with a recap of the Jake Roberts/Randy Savage incident from this past weekend. For those that don’t remember, Jake Roberts tied Randy Savage up in the ropes and had his king cobra bite Savage on the arm.

This was a pretty big angle back in the day. It scared me as a kid. Hell, as a 32 year old adult who is still freaked out by snakes it scares me a bit. You couldn’t pay me enough to have a snake bite me on the arm like that. We do get the classic “That snake better be devenomized!” line from Vince. Pretty sure we once brought a sign that said that to a wrestling show once.

Savage does a pretty good job selling that the poison is running through him and he has no idea where he is. Piper finally gets Savage onto the gurney and gets Savage out of there.

Jack Tunney says he takes responsibility for what happened, and takes Jake’s word that he thought the snake was devenomized. I mean, really Jack? Tunney says Randy Savage is reinstated (remember he retired at Wrestlemania 7) and will fight Jake Roberts at Tuesday in Texas. Reptiles are also barred from ringside.

Ted DiBiase, The Mountie, The Warlord and Ric Flair vs Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, The British Bulldog and Virgil

By this point, WCW had stopped Ric Flair and the WWF from having the big gold belt on TV. Jack Tunney’s office is now distorting the belt on TV. They do it here, but it is pretty obvious when they move the belt around that it is a tag title belt. Also, am I the only person who likes Ric Flair’s WWF theme more than his WCW theme?

That face team is stacked. And then there is Virgil. But I don’t think even Virgil could bring down that team. FYI I was really mad when Cam eliminated this team from the “Best 90s Survivor Series team” on this week’s Hot Tag Wrestling Podcast.

Managers are apparently barred from ringside this year. That was never the case before this year. Is Jack Tunney drunk with power? It doesn’t matter though because Sherri is still out there. So someone forgot the rules. Dibiase reaches to her for help and she gets dragged into the ring. Piper grabs her and kisses her. Heenan says now she is going to get a tetanus shot since Piper kissed her.

The faces take turns working over DiBiase in the corner. For those that don’t know, Bret Hart and DiBiase had a great little five minute mini match at the end of their tag match at the 1990 Survivor Series. They have a shorter but still good exchange here, until Ric Flair gets tagged in and he gets a pretty good pop.

But his advantage is short lived as Piper gets tagged in and he just goes nuts on Flair and the crowd loves it. We get a classic Flair flop to the outside until he quickly gets back in the ring and tags the Warlord. Piper tags in the Bulldog. I’m pretty sure the Bulldog and Warlord fought each other 2587 times in 1991. They fought against each other on every PPV (I’m sure they exchanged blows in the Rumble).

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All hell breaks loose and Bulldog powerslams the Mountie, but he isn’t the legal man. Flair comes off the top and hits a knee on the back of Bulldog’s neck and pins Bulldog to eliminate him. Virgil lasted longer than Bulldog? Wouldn’t have seen that coming.

I guess it was because the heels needed to beat someone down and that ends up being Virgil. Warlord ends up applying a full nelson but Piper breaks it up, and Warlord gets pinned and eliminated. I’m sure Warlord and Bulldog have already started fighting another match at this point.

The heels quickly go right back to work on Virgil. Virgil finally hits a swinging neckbreaker on DiBiase and makes the tag to Piper. Piper and Flair go at it as everyone else from the teams get in the ring and fight. The ref calls for the bell. Heenan says he heard Piper give up. I believe him.

The ref DQs everyone fighting in the ring. The only person not fighting in the ring? Ric Flair. So he is the winner and sole survivor. Odd finish as the face clear the ring to give the crowd a pop.

We get a rare PPV interview. Randy Savage comes out and says he will be all over Jake Roberts this Tuesday in Texas like a knife on butter. Elizabeth thanks the fans for getting Savage reinstated and says she will be there this Tuesday in Texas.

Berzerker, Col. Mustafa, Skinner and Hercules vs Texas Tornado, Tito Santana, Sgt. Slaughter and Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Talk about the low end of the totem poll. This match would be on the preshow nowadays. At this point, Sgt. Slaughter was trying to get his country back after ripping on the USA for a year. Monsoon has the audacity to call Slaughter a great American. I don’t care if he wants his country back or not, you aren’t a great American if you once supported Iraq!

Really disappointed we didn’t get a Texas Tornado promo before this match. I always enjoy trying to guess how coked out of his mind he is. He’s actually moving around rather well in there so far. Duggan is actually in there and selling for the heels. That’s a rarity.

The most entertaining part of this match so far is the commentary of Gorilla and Heenan. Gorilla asks for more security and Heenan asks if it is because Gorilla needs to go get another hot dog.

Slaughter gets the hot tag and he hits an atomic drop and clothesline to eliminate Mustafa. Poor Sheiky baby probably couldn’t take any more bumps than that at this point. Boy is this match ugly. Tito Santana hits the Flying Jalapeno on Hercules to eliminate him. Heenan says the Taco King rang Hercules bell.

Are the Skinner and Berzerker long lost brothers? It might be possible. Tito makes a blind tag to Slaughter and he rolls up Skinner to eliminate him. So it is all the faces against the Berzerker. Duggan eventually hits the 3 point stance charge as the faces win. And that is thankfully over.

Jake Roberts interview. He is wearing the most 90s sweatshirt you could imagine. He sounds like he is slurring his words a bit. Okerlund calls Jake a sick man and Roberts thanks him for it. He blames everyone but himself for the snake bite to Savage.

They replay the Funeral Parlor segment with Hogan, Undertaker, Ric Flair and Paul Bearer that lead to the title match.

WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan (c) vs The Undertaker

We get a handful of shots of kids scared in the audience. I was never really scared of the Undertaker as a kid. Now Papa Shango? Definitely. But not Taker.

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Hogan is surprised that he can’t take down Taker and that his offense isn’t phasing Taker early on. If Hogan had watched any of Taker’s matches before hand he would know this. Taker chokes Hogan with a camera cord on the outside as Bearer distracts the ref.

We go back into the ring and Taker wears down Hogan with the longest choke hold/vice grip ever. I mean come on. Hogan fights out of it and hits some shoulder blocks but Taker bounces off the ropes and hits his flying clothesline and the crowd pops.

Taker hits a Tombstone but Hogan pops up, because of course. The adult that always dressed like Hogan in the 90s is there and freaking out. Hogan gets Taker down to one knee then bodyslams him. Hogan goes for a leg drop but it looks like Bearer tried to grab Hogan’s leg?

Out comes Flair to ringside. Hogan decks him. This time Bearer actually grabs Hogan’s leg. I think Hogan was too early on the first spot. Flair grabs a chair and Taker tombstones Hogan on it, though it is quite clear Hogan landed on Taker’s knees. Taker gets the pin and becomes WWF Champion to another big pop.

Bobby Heenan freaks out and proclaims Hulkamania dead. In a recent Undertaker interview, he mentioned Hogan had said he felt legitimately hurt after this. Apparently Hulk told Taker he left no room for Hogan’s neck and he jammed it into Taker’s legs. Whatever Hulk.

My favorite part of all of this is Heenan’s gloating after the match. And guess what? There are a good amount of boos heard in the background when the cheers start for Hogan getting up. The cheers outweigh the boos, but the boos are noticeable.

We get a handful of interviews. They cut out the five minute intermission again which just takes away from the whole 90s PPV experience if you ask me. The last one is with Jack Tunney, who says the referee’s decision is final and there will be a rematch for the title this Tuesday in Texas.

The Beverly Brothers and Nasty Boys vs The Rockers and Bushwhackers

We unfortunately do not get the awesome Beverlys theme that we would get later on down the line. I notice a sign in the crowd that says “Turn Shawn Turn” in the aisle way. Look at that guy being Nostradamus over there.

I really dread watching any Bushwhackers match. They are just so bad. Their match is my least favorite part of the 92 Rumble. But I’ll watch it and get through it. Just like I will for this match. Imagine how much Covid the Bushwhackers would be spreading nowadays if they were still licking everyone’s heads. The faces clear the ring as the heels regroup on the outside.

Knobs hits an awful shoulder tackle off the middle rope to eliminate Luke. Boy was that bad. Michaels and Jannetty get in the ring and actually put together some competent wrestling. The crowd still seems somewhat deflated from Hogan’s loss to the Undertaker. Or they just don’t care too much about any of these teams.

Butch gets the hot tag and goes nuts for a bit, but he eventually eats the Beverly’s spike slam and gets eliminated. At least now we have some actual workers left on the face side. The problem is we get a prolonged beatdown of both Rockers by the heels which completely kills the crowd. But Michaels catches Beau with a quick backslide and eliminates him.

Michaels gets some offense in and hits a running dive off the apron onto Sags. That was considered innovative in 1991. Michaels finally makes the hot tag to Jannetty who goes nuts on the heels. The problem? It is short lived again as now the heels destroy Jannetty for minutes. This is way too prolonged and kills the crowd.

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Shawn Michaels gets tagged in and all five guys end up in the ring. Jannetty picks up Sags for a bodyslam but Sags leg accidentally hits Michaels in the eye and Knobs rolls up Michaels to eliminate him. Michaels and Jannetty argue. Apparently there was an article in WWF Magazine about dissention between the Rockers. So maybe that guy with the sign was not Nostradamus.

Apparently Gorilla and Heenan missed Michaels getting pinned even though I swear I just saw it with my own eyes. Jannetty eventually gets pinned as the heels take the victory. The replay shows Michaels clearly getting pinned.

I.R.S and the Natural Disasters vs Big Boss Man and the Legion of Doom

I used to always forget Irwin was around in the WWF by 1991. Earthquake wants Animal and he immediately regrets it. Animal dropkicks him and takes him down with a shoulder tackle. Quake begs off and tags in Irwin.

Hey look at this, the faces double team Typhoon in the corner while the ref is distracted by the heels. Smart faces? That’s a rarity. It is shortly lived though. LOD gets off the apron to go after the Disasters. With the ref distracted, Irwin gets the briefcase from Typhoon who hits Boss Man with it and eliminates him.

Irwin tries doing the same thing a bit later on, but Hawk ducks the briefcase shot and hits Typhoon. Hawk pins Typhoon and Earthquake is not happy about it. Quake looks ready to hit Irwin but instead he just leaves, leaving Irwin to take on LOD alone.

I’m surprised Hawk actually gives this much offense to Irwin. I’m always surprised when LOD gives offense to anyone. We get an ugly double collision and Animal tags in. Irwin gets double clotheslined then tries leaving. But the Boss Man comes back down the aisle and forces Irwin back to the ring. Animal hits a suplex then Hawk hits a clothesline off the top for the win.

Sean Mooney says Hogan is ready for this Tuesday in Texas. He didn’t want to go on camera and said he will do his talking in the ring. Hogan not wanting to be on camera? Shocking.

Mean Gene has found the Undertaker in the catacombs of the arena. Paul Bearer says Hulkamania died tonight, but they won’t hold the services until Tuesday. Undertaker asks Mr. Okerlund to look into the coffin and see what is in store for Hulkamania this Tuesday. Taker says this Tuesday is the burial, and clothes the casket as the show ends.

So why is this one of my favorite shows ever? Well to me, it sets up one of my favorite WWF years ever: 1992. First off, as I said during the WWF title match, there are signs of people turning on Hogan. Taker gets cheers throughout the match and gets a pop when he wins. And Hogan gets some boos leaving the ring. This sets up the Royal Rumble where Hogan is heavily booed after the Rumble match.

Undertaker gets turned face and is positioned as a top act going forward after this program with Hogan. Ric Flair is positioned as the top heel in the WWF going forward after this show. Macho Man is reinstated and has a great year of matches in 1992. Shawn Michaels sets up his heel turn and amazing run as one of the best ever. The show sets up the following year perfectly.

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