SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
There is so much tape library content available from WWE Network, New Japan World, traditional DVDs and tapes, and a growing list of independent promotions offering streaming content of their top matches.
At the beginning of the year, I’m starting a new Match of the Day video series looking back at a relevant match that has some interesting historical context or tie-in to current events…
Match of the Day
January 2, 2016
Saturday Night’s Main Event
April 17, 1991
20-Man Battle Royal
Available on WWE Network
It’s Royal Rumble season, so we’re going back to SNME battle royal available on WWE Network. The timing is Hulk Hogan won the 1991 Royal Rumble, won the WWF Title from Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania 7, and now had every heel in the book chasing after him.
Before the match, WWF/E highlighted Hogan and Earthquake as the two favorites to win the match. Also in there were Mr. Perfect, Jake Roberts, Kerry Von Erich as the Texas Tornado, Big Bossman, Greg “the Hammer” Valentine, Jimmy Snuka, Hacksaw Duggan, The Rockers – setting up an interesting clash between Hogan and Shawn Michaels – and many more.
Vince McMahon and Randy Savage were on commentary for this battle royal. Lots of action early on as everyone jockeyed for position. Marty Jannetty skinned the cat and eliminated Paul Roma for the first notable elimination.
It’s amazing how much bigger the wrestlers were 25 years ago compared to today’s roster. Not just the overly-muscular bodies, but these were grown men. It was definitely the land of giants. Most of them had been around since the ’70s and ’80s, so they were on the other side of the bell curve heading toward the Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels era.
Suddenly, Warlord eliminated British Bulldog. Bodies started flying at this point. Jake Roberts took a spill at the hands of Earthquake, who enjoyed his work. Jake then pulled out the snake from his bag, frightening Earthquake across the ring. They cut to break with Jake freaking out everyone.
Back from break, the focus went to Hogan and Tugboat battling against the ropes. Suddenly, Warlord got tossed from the battle royal. Texas Tornado then got tossed. Hogan thought he eliminated Quake, but he held onto the ropes. Hogan gave him an extra nudge, then Quake spilled to the floor.
Suddenly, Tugboat eliminated Hogan from behind. So, Michaels eliminated Tugboat. Hercules was out right after Tug. Yes, Michaels lasted longer than Hogan in this TV battle royal. Mr. Perfect then dropkicked Bossman out of the ring.
It was Haku, Perfect, Michaels, Barbarian, and Valentine. Michaels eliminated Haku, so the Final Four was HBK, Hennig, Greg Valentine, and Barbarian. The crowd was red-hot for Michaels with his flurry of offense. You could see the crowd starting to see Michaels as a rising star at this point. Suddenly, Michaels missed on the ring apron and Hennig back-elbowed Michaels to the floor for an elimination.
It was down to Perfect, Barbarian, and Valentine. The crowd rallied behind Valentine, who tried to eliminate Barbarian, but Perfect blocked that effort. So, Hennig and Barbarian isolated Valentine. Suddenly, Perfect missed a dropkick and sent Barbarian flying toward the ropes. So, Valentine finished off Barbarian.
It was Perfect vs. Valentine in the Final Two. The crowd was hot for the back-and-forth. Valentine delivered an atomic drop, sending Perfect flying to the corner with the big sell job. McMahon said Valentine is sure to win now, which meant he was not. Down at ringside, Bobby Heenan was eating a towel like Jerry Tarkanian selling concern for Hennig.
Perfect and Valentine battled near the ropes, flipped over, McMahon said Valentine is going to win, and Perfect reversed momentum to send both of them flying to the floor, but Perfect held onto the ropes, avoided touching the floor, swung back to the ring apron, and Valentine fell down to the floor, giving Hennig the win. Heenan jumped into the ring to celebrate with the IC champion as McMahon lamented the fan favorite, Valentine, not getting the win.
WINNER: IC champion Hennig at 13:00. That was a pretty good TV battle royal. There wasn’t too much of that dead-time with a bunch of guys standing around. Plus, it’s always interesting to hear Mr. Nice Guy Vince McMahon on commentary, especially hearing him give away the finish – a tradition that Michael Cole has carried on.