Written by: Alexander Settee
MSG House Show, December 29, 1991, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan
So this Monday, March 8, 2010, TNA Impact will be headlined by a match involving Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair facing off on opposite teams. Once upon a time, when Hogan was the top star and perennial champion of the WWF, while Flair was the top star and perennial champion of the NWA, this was a bona fide dream match. It seemed like their paths would just never cross though until Flair had his dispute with Jim Herd in WCW and got released to go to the WWF. Flair and Hogan could now have that dream match, which is the topic of today’s review as I go back and look at what they could do together back when they were slightly past their primes, but still close enough that it wasn’t yet the Senior’s Tour. This isn’t their first match together as they had been facing each other at the house shows since October. In a match last month here at MSG, Flair had gotten the pin with a foreign object only to have the decision reversed so this is a rematch coming off of that. Besides our main event, the rest of the card doesn’t look too promising outside of an IC Title match with Bret Hart defending against Ted Dibiase. So let’s get on with it and see what we get.
Opening Match: Hercules vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Hercules (who’s not looking that good here by the way, as he’s all bloated and has a rapidly receding hairline) starts off with some stalling. They finally lock up and Herc shoves Valentine off. They trade wristlocks, but Herc just punches him. Ram to the buckle is blocked and Valentine rams him ten times and then follows with a chop. Corner whip is reversed and they seem to have a miscommunication as Herc stops short of running into a boot, so then Valentine moves and Herc misses a charge to the corner. Valentine rolls him up for 2. Herc slides out of the ring for more stalling and when he gets back in he wants a test of strength. Valentine ponders this for quite a while which actually forces Monsoon to note that there’s just nothing going on here. He finally goes for it only for Herc to drop him with an obvious low blow right in front of the referee. And obviously he really wanted that test of strength, because that’s what he hooks here, holding it from the dominant position. Valentine fires up and they start trading kicks with Valentine then nailing a clothesline. He sets up the figure four, but ends up getting kicked off to the post and sent to the floor. Herc stomps him from the apron and then continues pounding him back in the ring. To a bearhug now, with Valentine ringing Herc’s bell to break it. They go through a sequence of missing moves on each other until Valentine stomps him down and drops an elbow for 2. Irish whip leads to a double clothesline. When they get up, Herc misses a swing allowing Valentine to hit a German suplex, but Herc gets the shoulder up and Valentine pins himself at 9:08. This was a pretty brutal opener with a lot of standing around doing nothing and a cheap crappy finish to boot. -*
Next we’re joined by Colonel Mustafa and General Adnan who have words for Sgt. Slaughter. Mr. No Nonsense Gorilla Monsoon grabs the mic away and orders them out though because they’re not scheduled at this time.
Repo Man vs. Virgil
These guys have a bit of a backstory as Ted Dibiase hired Repo Man to repossess the Million Dollar Belt that Virgil had won from Dibiase at Summerslam, so now they have a feud going. Repo tries a sneak attack, but Virgil sees it coming and gets him with a quick crossbody for 1. He then ducks a clothesline and hits a dropkick before trying the Million Dollar Dream, but Repo slips out and bails. Repo tries the sneak attack again, but Virgil is once again smart to it, nailing him and getting a backslide for 2. They trade holds until Repo gets a cheapshot on a break in the corner. His corner whip sees Virgil go over top and nail a clothesline, but when he goes for a bodypress, Repo ducks and Virgil goes crashing out to the floor. As Virgil gets back in, Repo steps on his throat, then he gets him up and nails a clothesline for 2. Backbreaker gets another 2 and then he goes to a rear chinlock. Virgil fires up, but runs into a knee and is tossed to the floor again. Back in, Virgil escapes a slam and gets a rollup for 2. Repo clotheslines him, but misses an elbow and Virgil gets a small package for 2. Repo is still on him, but puts his head down on a whip and gets planted. Virgil goes off on him now with a couple of clotheslines and a Russian legsweep for 2. He gets the ten punches in the corner, but as he dismounts, Repo grabs him rope and starts choking him with it. This eventually draws the DQ at 9:29. Not much going on here. ½*
Jim Powers vs. Skinner
And the stars just keep shining brighter, don’t they? Skinner cheapshots him off a break, then rakes the eyes and bites him. Irish whip is reversed and Powers gets a hiptoss, followed by a slam and clothesline to cause Skinner to bail. Back in, Skinner knees him, but misses a charge and gets taken down. Powers starts working over the arm. He then comes off the ropes, but ends up getting tossed. Skinner keeps kneeing him off the apron as he tries to get back in. Finally Powers catches him with a shoulder and tries a sunset flip, but Skinner holds on to the ropes and nails him. Skinner then hooks a rear chinlock. Powers fights out, but gets rammed to the buckle and slammed. Skinner goes to the 2nd rope, but Powers gets the boot up and then rams Skinner to the buckle ten times. He follows up with a kneelift and a dropkick, but Skinner makes the ropes at 2 on the cover. Corner whip is reversed so Powers hits, and then Skinner hits the Gatorbreaker for the 3 count at 6:51. This was just a basic prelim match to put over a relative newcomer. ½*
The Nasty Boys vs. The Bushwhackers
This match starts with a lot of playing to the crowd, as Bushwhacker matches usually did. The Nasty Boys are so annoyed by this that they consider taking a walk, but when the ref’s count reaches 9 they charge back in and attack. The Whackers end up reversing positions and whip the Nastys into each other, then nail a double clothesline and the Nastys bail again. We finally settle down into a tag match here with Butch and Sags in the ring. Sags waits until the inevitable playing to the crowd and then attacks. He works him over for a bit until a whip is reversed and Butch catches him with a knee. Tag to Luke with Butch whipping him into Sage for a 2 count. All four guys end up in the ring and the Whackers use the Battering Ram on both guys to send them to the floor. The Nastys return, and as the ref is putting Butch out, they double team Luke and take over. Butch keeps distracting the referee by trying to come in, which just allows more double teaming. Luke makes a comeback with a sunset flip on Sags, but now the ref is with Knobbs and by the time he gets there to count it only gets 1. Tag to Knobbs, who rams Luke to the buckle and drops an elbow for 2. The Nastys trade him off a couple more times until a double team move finally backfires and the Nastys wipe each other out. Butch gets the hot tag and runs wild with clotheslines. He knocks Sags to the floor and then they hit the Battering Ram on Knobbs, but Sags just makes it back in to save at 2. The ref then tries to put Luke out, but that allows the Nastys the chance to hit a double clothesline on Butch and that gets the 3 count 10:21. There was a lot of stalling here, and a real lame finish, but the formula part of the match wasn’t terrible. * After the match, the Nastys continue beating down the Whackers until Sgt. Slaughter makes the save. I guess between this and the earlier segment with Mustafa and Adnan, they may have been worried that Slaughter wouldn’t be accepted as a face and wanted to give him all the help he could get.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Ted Dibiase (w/Sensational Sherri)
Now this is the match that really stands out by just looking at the lineup. I think it’s a shame that they never got to work a full program during this period because it could have been great. They lockup and break which turns into a shoving match. The next lockup sees Dibiase take a cheapshot on the break. On the third try, Bret protects himself, but Dibiase still finds a way to nail him as the ref gets in between them. Bret chases him to the floor and gets some shots in. Back in, Dibiase begs off, but Bret goes rigt fro him, hitting an atomic drop to send him to the floor. Sherri is over to console Dibiase, but Bret gets them with a double noggin knocker. He then gets Dibiase in, takes him down with a snapmare and drops a leg for 2. Bret goes to a side headlock with Dibiase rolling him over for a few 2 counts. Monsoon completely ruins the effectiveness of that by saying that it’s impossible to be pinned like that. Sure, maybe no one would ever be booked to be pinned in that way, but he should still be selling that it could happen instead of making it seem like a waste of time. They get to their feet with Bret getting sent off, but he nails a shoulderblock. He comes off again, then blocks a hiptoss and gets one of his own. Back to the side headlock with still more rollup tries from Dibiase. Back up, Bret gets sent off and nails another shoulderblock. He then comes off again with a dropkick for 2 and goes to the side headlock again. Dibiase makes it up and sends Bret off again, and again falls victim to a shoulderblock. But this time when Bret comes off the ropes, Dibiase outsmarts him and catches him with a stungun. Now Dibiase goes to work with stomps and choking. He then nails a clothesline and drops an elbow for 2. Swinging neckbreaker gets another 2. He goes to a rear chinlock, which quickly turns into a choke when Sherri distracts the referee. Now the ref checks Bret’s arm, which drops twice, but he can’t escape and Dibiase keeps working it. Again the arm drops twice, but this time Dibiase lets go and covers for 2. He rams Bret to the buckle, but the second try is blocked and Bret fires back. His corner whip is reversed though and he hits the buckle chest first. Dibiase then hooks the Million Dollar Dream. Bret goes out and the ref starts checking the arm, but the camera cuts away to Sherri and shows her ringing the bell. We never actually saw if Bret’s arm dropped three times legit or not and the announcers never mentioned anything. Dibiase lets go of the hold and starts celebrating, but the announcement is made that because Sherri rang the bell and not the timekeeper, the match must continue. Dibiase covers, but only gets 2. He then puts his head down on a whip and takes a swinging neckbreaker. Bret fires away, then hits an inverted atomic drop and an elbow. Suplex gets a 2 count, as does a small package. He nails Dibiase coming off the ropes and then gets a Russian legsweep for another 2. Backbreaker sets up the 2nd rope elbow, which he hits and then he covers for 2 again. Dibiase nails him, but Bret slips out of a slam and rolls him up for yet another 2. Sherri gets on the apron, so Bret shoves her off to the floor. Bret then drops an elbow and hits a gutwrench suplex for 2. He then clotheslines Dibiase to the floor and follows with a pescado. Bret rolls him back in, but the bell rings as the 20:00 time limit has expired at 19:06 and the match is declared a draw. I wouldn’t call it an all time classic or anything, but with the rest of the undercard consisting mostly of guys sleepwalking their way through their matches, this one really stands out. ***1/2, and I reiterate that I wish I could have seen a full fledged feud with these guys culminating with a match on a major PPV.
Handicap Flag Match: Col. Mustafa & General Adnan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Mustafa goes for the cheap heat right off the bat by singing the “Iraqi National Anthem”. Being the attention to details person that I am, I looked up the Iraqi anthem of this period for the sake of comparison and reached the conclusion that he was just spouting gibberish. I’ll grant that I don’t know Arabic, and that Sheiky is tough to understand at the best of times, but the fact that it lasted all of ten seconds kind of gives it away too. By the way, Vladimir is here wearing a WCW Ric Flair shirt. I thought that guy was a Hulkamaniac. So Mustafa and Adnan attack and double team Slaughter. Monsoon lets us know that this is ok because it’s Tornado rules, but then Adnan goes to the apron and everyone is confused about what the rules are. The match mainly consists of Mustafa beating on Slaughter in the ring, while Adnan takes his shots from the outside. Slaughter comes back and hooks a sleeper with Adnan attacking, but Slaughter just no sells that. Mustafa then misses a shot and nails Adnan, so Slaughter puts Mustafa down with a clothesline and pins him at 3:28. Slaughter then leads the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. -*
The Berzerker vs. The British Bulldog
It’s the Wrestlemania VIII match that never was, three months before it would have been! They start out brawling, and then criss cross until Bulldog runs into a boot for 2. Berzerker then misses a boot and a dropkick with Bulldog dropkicking him to the floor. Back in, Berzerker takes a hiptoss. He then comes back and sends Bulldog off the ropes and connects with a bodyblock for 2. He stomps Bulldog down and goes to a rear chinlock. Bulldog elbows out, but runs into a knee. Berzerker powerslams him for 2 then ties Bulldog in the ropes. He charges and kind of connects with a boot as Bulldog struggles to free himself. He then charges again and gets backdropped out which I presume was intended to happen on the first try. Back in, Bulldog hits the delayed suplex for 2, and then sets up the running powerslam, but Berzerker holds on to the ropes and then falls on top for 2. Corner whip is reversed and Berzerker gets the boot up. He then tires pinning Bulldog with his feet on the ropes, but the ref sees it at 2 and stops counting. Berzerker thinks he’s won for some reason, so Bulldog sneaks up from behind and rolls him up for 3 at 5:07. This wasn’t good or anything, but they get points for keeping the action going at pretty much all times. *
The Brooklyn Brawler vs. Chris Walker
Walker is a newcomer who had the look they liked, but didn’t last long for whatever reason. The fans are yelling “boring” before they even lockup, which is a bad sign for the match. They trade holds for a bit until Brawler takes control. His whip is reversed with Walker leapfrogging him, then getting a hiptoss and dropkick to put Brawler on the floor. Back in the ring, Brawler bites him and nails a clothesline. He then drops him on the ropes and stomps away until Walker comes back with a small package for 2. Brawler is back on him, but then Walker leapfrogs him on a whip and hits a dropkick. He follows with a powerslam and a crossbody off the top rope for the 3 count at 4:04. DUD
Main Event: Ric Flair (w/Mr. Perfect) vs. Hulk Hogan
There’s no Title on the line here as it’s obviously vacant here in the lead up to the Royal Rumble. Flair does have a belt with him, representing the Real World’s Heavyweight Championship, but they make a point of not showing it on camera except for a brief moment where it’s covered with a big blue dot. Hogan charges into the ring, right into a double team, but ends up ducking a clothesline and hitting Flair with one of his own. He rams Flair to the buckle, hits a backdrop, and then knocks Flair to the floor. Flair, still wearing his robe, flees to the floor, but Hogan follows and starts choking him with the shirt. He then rams Flair to the rail. Back in, Flair finally gets out of the robe and begs off, but Hogan is right on him. He even starts choking Flair with his wrist tape. Flair flops off a corner clothesline which leads to more choking with the tape. Another corner whip sees Flair flip to the floor where Hogan chops him and sends him to the post. Flair tries some chops of his own, but Hogan just no sells them. He gets Flair in, and then uses a big boot to send him right back to the floor. Hogan gets him with a back suplex out there, which has Flair begging off again back in the ring. Hogan mounts him for punches, then whips him to the buckle and Flair again flips to the outside. Flair goes to the eyes and tries to send Hogan to the post, but it’s blocked and Flair takes it instead. Back in, Flair flops from a headbutt and Hogan keeps working him over. It’s just been all Hogan so far as Flair has gotten nothing. Finally, Perfect draws Hogan over to the corner, and that allows Flair to attack the leg and get some sustained offence. He works the leg for a bit, and then distracts the referee so that Perfect can nail it with a chair. Flair tries going for the figure four, but Hogan keeps kicking him off. Flair then tries going to the top for no conceivable reason other than it’s time for him to get slammed off, and sure enough that’s exactly what happens. Now Hogan goes to work on Flair’s leg and hooks his own version of the figure four. Flair hangs on, but eventually has to thumb the referee in the eye so that Perfect can come in and make the save. Perfect tries, but ends up getting small packaged, I guess so that Hogan can claim victory over both of them. This does eventually result in the hold being broken though so it worked in a sense. The ref is still selling the eye, so Perfect tosses the brass knux to Flair as Hogan is threatening him. Perfect escapes, so Hogan turns back to Flair and gets nailed with the knux. Flair covers and the ref is finally back, but Hogan kicks out at 2. Now Hogan starts Hulking Up, hitting the punches and the big boot, but Flair goes to the floor. Hogan follows and sends Flair to the post, then gets back in the ring while Flair remains outside and is counted out at 10:09. This was a pretty decent match as they kept up a good pace and the crowd was pretty hot for it too. The non finish kind of sucks, especially considering that they weren’t coming back with the match again and the feud never really got a proper decisive match until they rekindled it in WCW in 1994. **1/2
Well, outside of two matches, this show was pretty much a waste of time. Bret/Dibiase is a really good match in a period where that was not the norm, while Hogan/Flair is a fun match that’s good in its own way, but neither are really classics that you need to go that far out of your way to see. The rest of the card is crap with two matches falling into negative stars while nothing else even gets above *. It’s a Thumbs Down overall for Madison Square Garden, December 29, 1991.