We are off and running.
Last time around, we took a look at some of the most memorable moments in the first year of the 1990s. Today, we are moving on to 1991, a year which certainly had some classic moments.
I hope fans are enjoying this trip through time, as it stirs up memories of a much simpler (and younger) time.
As usual, comments and feedback is always appreciated. In case you missed it, below is a link to my first chapter of this series.
While this may not be memorable in terms of a classic match, Randy Savage getting bitten by Jake the Snake’s King Cobra was an incredible sight, and will always be remembered by classic wrestling fans.
The feud between these two really kicked off at Summerslam 91, when Macho Man “married” his valet Elizabeth (the two were already married in real life). Following the wedding, a reception was thrown in a hall that Robbie Hart would be proud of, full of music, guests and gifts.
In another classic moment, Jake hid a snake in one of Savage’s wedding gifts, and when it was opened Jake, along with the Undertaker, viciously attacked the new groom. Although they were chased away by Sid Justice (if he was running at me with a chair I’d run like hell too), the impact of this attack was a perfect launching point for the feud between these two.
One of the reasons why this feud worked so well was because of the fact that Randy Savage was retired (more on that later) and was unable to get his hands on Jake in a wrestling match. Jake taunted Savage for months on the mic, playing mind games with the madness. This would lead to the moment that make the top five of the year.
On an October 21st edition of Superstars of Wrestling, Jake was cutting one of his usual demonic promos, which lured Savage into the ring. Roberts would get the upper hand, and eventually tie Savage into the ropes. The rest can be seen in the video.
Gotta love Vince repeatedly screaming “that was not supposed to happen.”
These two were absolute pros, both in terms of psychology and in-ring work. This feud was memorable for a variety of reasons, but I feel the snake bite sums it up pretty nicely.
It can be certainly be argued that Animal and Hawk, whether they were called the Road Warriors, Legion of Doom or the Hell Raisers, are the greatest tag team in the history of professional wrestling. By the time it was 1991, their legacy had been cemented. However, they had little exposure to WWF fans, spending most of their careers in the southern part of the country.
They were brought into the company a year earlier and finally got their opportunity to compete for the WWF Tag Team Championship at Summerslam 91. Their opponents: The Nasty Boys. The match was a no-DQ brawl, which fit both teams, and the Madison Square Garden crowd, perfectly. The match was also short, again attempting to hide the shortcomings of both teams to make sure the moment wasn’t diminished. The LOD were able hit the Doomsday Device and pin Saggs for the win.
The pop they got when they won the titles was amazing. Their feud with the Nastys, or anyone else they feuded with in their short stay in the WWF, wasn’t anything special, but the moment they got the three-count for the titles will be etched in time forever.
Retirement matches are always a point of contention in the wrestling world. These, along with "Loser Go Home" matches, were a way for a superstar to draw one more big crowd on their way out, usually to another territory. The wrestler that loses rarely retires (Terry Funk would be exhibit A), but is usually back in the ring sooner rather than later.
With that said, the match between the Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage was an epic affair. Retirement matches were very rare in the WWF, and this one was between two top superstars. Fans couldn't fathom not seeing either wrestle in the future. Both were near the top of their games at this time, and with the loser going home there was plenty on the line in this one.
The Macho King, as he was known at this time, cost the Ultimate Warrior his WWF title at the Royal Rumble, smashing a scepter over his head. This prompted the two to put their careers on the line, at Wrestlemania VII.
The match was simply great. Macho Man connected on five consecutive elbow drops, but couldn't hold the Warrior's shoulders down for a three count. The Warrior would turn the tide and pin the Macho King, sending him out of wrestling "forever." After the Match, Macho Man re-united with Ms. Elizabeth, and the two rode into the sunset.
This was one of the best matches of the year and perfect way to end the feud. If you forget the aftermath (Macho Man would return to ring around eight months later), the moment itself was speculator.
This one was shocking for a variety of reasons.
Ric Flair was the flagship of NWA/WCW. He almost single-handedly kept the company alive in the late 80s, selling out shows and wrestling an hour a night with just about anyone you could think of. However WCW was going through a transition in the front office, which eventually led to Jim Herd becoming the new President of the company. Flair and Herd would have creative and financial differences, and the two would collide on a seemingly daily basis.
Flair was eventually fired by Herd, and had little other choice than to sign for the WWF. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan hinted at Flairs arrival on WWF TV, and he finally appeared on an edition of Primetime Wrestling. Flair still had the NWA Belt in position, and brought it to his first few appearances.
Fans watching at home must have been in awe at seeing the king of southern wrestling appear on WWF television. Remember: this was the era of constant job matches and slow buildups. Big clashes only occurred every few months, so the concept of a top guy coming right into the company to shake things up was a pretty rare occurrence. Not to mention that it was Ric Flair, a true legend, gracing the top wrestling promotion.
This was certainly a memorable moment in the history of professional wrestling, and well-deserved of a spot on this list.
This may cause a bit of discussion.
But in terms of most memorable, this I feel belongs at the top of the list. Fans remember this moment more than any other in 1991, and for good reason. Also, most fans can point to this moment as a changing of philosophy when it comes to the WWF title.
Hulk Hogan held the title (yet again) for the majority of 1991, leading the company through thick and thin. Although Hogan was still a mega-star, there was a sense that his act was getting a little stale. The company had spent the majority of 1991 building up the Undertaker, who carried an undefeated streak and ability to not feel pain. It was only a matter of time before the Undertaker would get his shot at the big time. The two would collide at the 1991 Survivor Series, with the WWF Championship on the line.
The match was a back-and-forth affair, with the crowd on edge at each moment. With a little assistance from Ric Flair, the Undertaker would land his patented tombstone piledriver and pin Hogan in the center of the ring. The reaction from the crowd was surprisingly positive towards the dead man, who would be turned babyface a few months later as a result of this reaction becoming commonplace.
This would mark the beginning of a transition phase in WWF history. No longer would a WWF Champion hold the title for an extremely lengthy period of time, as the belt would flip flop between a number of superstars over the next few years. Fans were growing tired of Hogan and his repetitive act, and eagerly wanted new faces at the top.
With this defeat, the prime of Hulkamania was truly ended.
As you watch the match above, I'm sure you could not keep yourself from laughing at Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan as they did the commentary. Best team ever.
1991 was a pretty solid year in terms of memorable moments. There were a few that didn’t make the list, such as Bret Hart winning his first singles title, or Hulk Hogan winning the title from Iraqi turncoat Sgt. Slaughter.
However, as I’m sure you might have noticed, there isn’t that one magic moment (like Warrior winning title at WM VI) that survives the test of time. Overall, however, this was a stronger year than 90
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