by Billy Carpenter
Welcome to technically the second edition of ‘Retro Reaction’. I say “technically” since I’ve decided to tinker with the format already and do a sort of “relaunch”. Hey, if Hollywood can remake movies every 5 years…anyhow, a quick breakdown of the new format. I’ve decided for no real reason to start with the year 1991, where I’ll be recapping both WCW Pro and whatever WWF show I can get my hands on for each week. I thought it’d be an interesting side-by-side comparison of the two biggest companies in the history of pro wrestling during an era in which no one really covers or examines. Hopefully you like the new format as much as I do, and without any further ado…
Retro Reaction: January 5, 1991
Larry Zbysko & Tony Schiavone welcome us to the show. Somehow we get to a brief banter about Tom Zenk, whom Larry called a future superstar. Hmm. With that, let’s get to the action!
“Dirty” Dutch Mantell makes his way out for action. His opponent: Terry Taylor, who says that “1991 is looking so bright he needs to wear shades”. Red Rooster be damned. Not much to the match–a few armbars, an exchange on the outside and then a sudden end after a Terry Taylor sunset flip out of the corner.
Gary Michael Cappetta runs down an upcoming card at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Representing the Horsemen, the man “from anywhere he darn well pleases” Sid Vicious is here to take on Darnell Yates. As you can expect, this was short. VERY short. Sid’s on the hunt for the WCW World title.
The Wrestling Hotline ft. Tony Schiavone, ‘Straight Up With Sting’, ‘The Ross Report’ & more! 1-900-909-9900!
We cut to the Freebirds interviewing ‘Nature Boy’ Buddy Landell. He name drops Princess Diana before they have a laugh at the Southern Boys expense. Tracy Smothers & Brad Armstrong come out to confront them and challenge them for later in the show.
Paul E. & the ‘Danger Zone’. Glorious. He tells a story about meeting a “little Stinger” before throwing us to highlights of the end of Starrcade. Back to Paul E. and he’s been joined by Sting. He let’s Ric Flair know that he might’ve had him fooled with the Black Scorpion angle for a minute, but he’d have to do better to get the best of Sting.
The State Patrol make their way out for a tag match against the team of Brett Wayne & the Italian Stallion. Brett Wayne starts out a house of fire on the troopers! In fact, Wayne & Stallion control much of the match. Wayne even hits one of them with a belly bump and I lost it. The State Patrol hit a combo suplex/cross body which Schiavone calls quite simply “the double team” to win it.
Clips of the awesome Doom vs Arn Anderson/Barry Windham street fight from Starrcade are shown. We then hear from the Horsemen, who promise to beat Doom for the tag straps.
Flyin’ Brian vs Crusher Knopf is up next. Pre-recorded comments from Pillman see him use a bunch of airline lingo. Pillman wins a pretty short affair after a (sort of) cross body from the top.
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Buddy Landell makes his way out but Rip Rogers meets him in the aisle! Winner gets to challenge Tommy Rich for the no. 10 spot in the WCW rankings. That’s actually a cool idea–one I wouldn’t mind seeing brought back. A ranking system that could determine title shots, etc.? C’mon, WWE. Back to the match, and this was actually pretty good for the time it got. They kept it moving the whole time and I thought did a good job in getting over the importance of making that top 10 list. They worked pretty hard here. Crowd wasn’t sure how to respond though, with both being heels. Landell hits a dangerous looking superplex and a corkscrew elbow for the “w”.
Did I mention the hotline also had Missy Hyatt on every Wednesday?
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“Badstreet USA” blaring through the speakers to signal the beginning of our main event today, as The Freebirds take on Tracy Smothers & ‘Candyman’ Brad Armstrong! Brad has candy canes on his boots, for those keeping score. This was the match of the show, but no surprise considering who was in there. They kept a good pace and made the most of their 6-7 minutes. Smothers was so good, I think a lot of people forget or just don’t know that. Fun tag match that could’ve been great with more time, but I won’t complain too much about what we got. The ‘Birds get the win after Hayes DDT’s Smothers & puts Garvin on top for the pin.
We get a run down of stars set for next week’s show before Tony & Larry give us their thoughts to close out this week on WCW Pro.
Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper & Honky Tonk Man make up the announce booth today. Interesting to say the least. They run down today’s show and the theme of the Texas Tornado hits!
Kerry Von Erich makes his way to the ring and Tom Stone tries to get the early upper hand, but to no avail. Kerry sends him out long enough to get his jacket off and then proceeds to dominate. A claw & a discus punch spell the end for Mr. Stone.
It’s time for “Update” with Mean Gene! He sends it to the ‘Macho King’ Randy Savage who vows to win the WWF title before the Royal Rumble. Gene then catches up with the champion, the Ultimate Warrior. He is ready for Sgt. Slaughter and their bout at the Royal Rumble!
Donny Steel awaits his opponent for the next match, and Slick brings him out–The Warlord! He manhandles Steel for a minute and finishes with a nasty looking Masterlock-style Full Nelson.
Sean Mooney is here with words from Royal Rumble participants Bret Hart, Paul Roma, Jimmy Snuka (more than likely coked out), Brother Love & The Undertaker and the British Bulldog. God damn, I miss those promos.
JT Smith is in the ring and–HOOOOOOOO!!!! Here comes ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan! Smith picks up Duggan’s 2×4 and mocks the ‘Hacksaw’ and Jim goes on the attack! Attack! Attack! HOOOOOO!!!
The 3-point stance clothesline gets Duggan the win as he prepares for the Rumble in 2 weeks.
Back to Sean Mooney with more Royal Rumble promos. Tugboat stumbles through his, promising to bring life preservers or something. The Barbarian and his deer antlers threaten the Big Boss Man while Dusty & Dustin Rhodes promise to put a whoopin’ on Ted DiBiase & Virgil.
It’s time for the Brother Love Show! His guest–‘The Immortal’ Hulk Hogan! Hogan wants to be no. 1 at the Royal Rumble so he can prove that Hulkamania is the strongest force in the world. He puts the entire field–including his best friend Tugboat–on notice for the Rumble, brother.
From last week, Gen. Adnan presents Sgt. Slaughter with a gift from Saddam Hussein–new boots. How HATED was Slaughter during this time? Jesus, the crowd is deafening in their boos. This leads into Slaughter’s match this week against Pat Armstrong. Squash, in case you had any doubts. A tune-up for Sarge as he gets ready for his WWF title match.
Next up, Mr Fuji leads the Orient Express out as they get set to take on the legendary Mulkey Brothers! Vince describes Bill Mulkey as “skeleton-like” after Roddy imitates Mr. Fuji. The Express look great and we get pre-recorded comments from The Rockers on their match coming up at the Rumble (which if you haven’t seen, you definitely should). They win in pretty quick fashion.
Sean Mooney is here again to get more comments from Rumble participants. Luke of the Bushwhackers, Mr Perfect, Dino Bravo, ‘The Model’ Rick Martel & Jim Neidhart all claim to be standing tall at the end of the Royal Rumble!
Vince McMahon previews next week, Roddy & Honky exchange words and that’s all until next week!
Certainly a vast difference in presentation from both companies during this time period, eh? WCW’s big story this week was fallout from Starrcade and the reveal of Ric Flair as the Black Scorpion. Over in McMahonland, Sgt. Slaughter was wrestling’s most hated heel and the company as a whole was making the big push towards the Royal Rumble PPV in 2 weeks time. Wrestling wise, WCW definitely had the upper hand this round, as Superstars was nothing but squashes (as per the norm). However, the WWF’s storylines leading into the Rumble were much more captivating to me around this time than the things happening in WCW (as per the norm). Make sure you come back next week for another edition of ‘Retro Reaction’ and see where WCW & the WWF go next!