REVIEW: This Tuesday in Texas
December 3rd, 1991
Here we are in very late 1991, at a total curiosity of a show for the World Wrestling Federation. This show was a weekday PPV, a test by WWF to see how the market reacted to a non-weekend, non-Survivor Series Pay Per View— the answer was “not well” — and we wouldn’t see the promotion attempt it again until the mid-2000s. It takes place about a week after the 1991 edition of Survivor Series, where The Undertaker, with the help of Ric Flair, defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title.
Firstly, this show reminds me of the early iteration of the IN YOUR HOUSE franchise, with only a 90-minute run time and 5 matches, making it a total breeze to watch, especially considering that the card features much more star power than those mid-90’s shows could muster. Its something that you could get through, and more importantly enjoy, during a rainy or boring afternoon.
Secondly, this PPV is historical due to the finish of the show. The controversial finishes of both the main event at this show as well as that at Survivor Series led on-screen president Jack Tunney to vacate the WWF title and put it up for grabs in one of the greatest matches of all time, the 1992 Royal Rumble. Also, this show is in the middle of the WWF taking a more serious and human turn in storylines, and the most incredible example would be the enthralling saga between Jake Roberts and Randy Savage that had been brewing since Summerslam of that year and hits a boiling point at this show.
Lastly, this show is outstanding in terms of entertainment, not only for the action taking place in the ring, but the angle advancement that occurs and the promos that go down are of a very high caliber. It makes one realize that the present day RAWS of 3+ hours and 4 hour PPVs really need more of what we see on this show- less overproduction and more simplification of storylines.
THIS TUESDAY IN TEXAS
We open with a pre-taped vignette in the bowels on the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the site of Survivor Series the previous week. “Mean” Gene Okerlund makes his way through fog and mist and comes to the Undertaker and Paul Bearer after the big title win. They speak of killing Hulkamania and now burying it in a coffin. UT opens the casket and Gene looks in, giving us a POV of them from the coffin, inferring, I guess, that we, the audience, are indeed Hulkamania. Cool open to the show that was unique at the time, and even more so today.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan welcome us, and I am immediately geeked for this show due to Gorilla’s excitement, Heenan’s great heel act, and the exuberance of the live crowd behind them. The crowd excitement, especially, sticks out.
Intercontinental Title Match
Bret Hart (c) vs. Skinner
Here we have the Hitman taking on the Alligator Man, and I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me that you knew SKINNER THE FUCKING ALLIGATOR MAN ever had a PPV title match of any kind. Off the bat, Heenan slays me by calling the teenaged girl Bret gives his shades to a “bimbo”. Watching older stuff, I must remind myself that its not pre-2007 anymore. Gorilla also gives an odd endorsement of Skinner by stating that he’s “undefeated, for all intents and purposes,” whatever the hell that means. Also, no one points out the history between Bret and referee Danny Davis. These guys teamed at Wrestlemania III, damn it!
As for this match… its ok, and I’m kind of disappointed. Skinner seemed game, but Bret totally lacked energy here, seemed to be calling it in, and knowing the history of Bret being in talks with WCW at this time, it makes sense. After a decent but completely unexciting match, Bret wins with the Sharpshooter. For all intents and purposes, Skinner is no longer undefeated.
RATING: 2 stars
Backstage, Sean Mooney is with Jake Roberts. It’s creepy, dirty, and even vaguely erotic as he talks about Elizabeth. This promo is delightfully dark.
We switch over to Gene, and he is with a coked-up Randy Savage and a frightened Elizabeth, and they are perfect in each of their respective roles. A small nitpick, and I’m a HUGE Savage mark, is that he is cutting a great, intense, and personal promo, but he is wearing a neon green cowboy hat with a ridiculous 3-foot feather sticking out of it. Oddly, it is just part of Savage’s charm.
Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts
Jake begins making his entrance and Savage rushes out and attacks him, beating him up. What we get here is about 6 or 7 minutes of good work, a Savage elbow drop, and a clean win. The match deserved a better blow off, considering Jake ruined their wedding reception, had a cobra bite Savage, and was so insane that Jack Tunney allowed Savage to come out of retirement for this. But, the match is not the focal point here….
After the match, Savage runs out for a chair, but it is wrestled away from him, so he grabs the ring bell. The ref tries to get it away and Jake snaps up and hits a DDT. He hits a second one and referee Earl Hebner gets him out of the ring. Jake, still selling the elbow drop like a pro, smirks as he goes up the aisle and goes back under the ring for a bag, presumably with a snake in it. Elizabeth runs out, trying to cover Randy, and sick SOB Jake hits another DDT with never breaking eye contact with Liz, like a legit psychopath. He fakes getting the snake while telling Liz to beg, then drags her to her feet and FUCKING SLAPS MISS ELIZABETH. Tunney, more refs, and Pat Patterson in an upsettingly tight canary yellow sweater rush out, finally chasing off Jake. The crowd heat here is positively nuclear.
This is about the angle and continuing the feud, not about the match, and it is one of the top 3 most emotionally charged, and real angles the WWF ever ran. Watching it is an experience, especially considering the era and the players. Elizabeth does an amazing acting job, Savage is wonderful as the insane man, and Jake is damn near a 1998-99 Vince McMahon-level heel. This segment is a fantastic piece of business.
RATING: 5 stars
We go to Gene backstage, and a sweaty, pleased Jake Roberts walks up and cuts another dynamite promo. Him saying that he could take Liz and “cultivate her into something even I could want,” is one of the greatest lines ever in a promo. Jake was pure fucking evil here.
Warlord vs. “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith
The Wrestlemania VII rematch we all wanted! Warlord gets the jobber entrance, and Davey gets a nice pop from the San Antonio crowd. The first half of this match is fantastic, with Warlord and Davey getting in great power moves, and Davey taking to the air with a slingshot crossbody and a missile dropkick. Might as well say it, I think Davey Boy Smith is a great wrestler, fun character, and his goofy enthusiasm is infectious.
Where this match has a problem is the Full Nelson that Warlord applies. It feels like hours as Bulldog struggles, and it ruins what was a great match. After he breaks it, finally, we get some back and forth action, the always impressive delayed suplex from Bulldog, and a crucifix pin to give Bulldog the win.
RATING: 2.5 stars
Backstage, Sean Mooney tries to talk to Savage, and he is doubling over in pain, selling the DDTs like a champ and bringing intensity you will seldom see in current wrestling. He begins legitimately hitting himself, busting himself open a bit, and whispering, “I blame myself” and “its my fault” for Roberts attacking Liz. Another fantastic promo.
Ted Dibiase and Repo Man w/Sherri Martel vs. El Matador and Virgil
Poor Tito Santana is passing himself off as a matador at this point, and Virgil and DiBiase were still hating each other. This match has 2 great workers, a very good tag team legend in Repo, and a competent guy in Virgil. What we get is a very good tag team match, with Repo and DiBiase beating down Virgil, Tito gets the hot tag and comes in the like a house of fire, he gets taken down, and we get the double tag to give us DiBiase and Virgil in a spirited fight. Match ends with Sherri distracting Virgil and Repo hitting him from behind, giving DiBiase the pin. This match may not have sounded exciting, but it was a delight without much in the way of dead spots. Sweet tag team action.
RATING: 3 stars
Backstage, Hogan is with Gene and cuts a good promo. Typical early 90s Hogan.
WWF Title Match
The Undertaker (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
Watching UT, who is still in his impervious-to-pain western mortician phase, drag the belt to the ring is an awesome visual. Jack Tunney is at ringside to watch the proceedings after the fuckery that went down at Survivor Series. Hulk storms the ring and gets double teamed. Seeing tubby Paul Bearer getting in kicks on the Hulkster is hilarious, and him selling a double headbutt to UT is even better.
A lot of choking in the match, almost equal to the previous full nelson in being unbearably long. Hulk is selling, and UT goes for a second Old School ropewalk, but Hulk yanks him down. Just as Hogan begins hulking up, Flair struts down the aisle. Hogan rolls out and smacks Flair with a chair, sending him into Tunney, and knocking him out. Flair returns to the apron with the chair and implores UT to smash Hogan into it, but Hogan reverses UT into the chair and clotheslines Flair to the floor. At the point, Bearer hits the apron for a distraction and Hogan grabs the urn, throwing ashes into UT’s face and getting the pin, and the title back. Then, consummate sportsman that he is, Hogan knocks the blinded Taker to the outside with a belt shot and poses for a few minutes. Tunney, disoriented on the outside, is trying to get his bearings and the heels retreat. This match cranks up a notch from the moment Flair comes out and the last few minutes are a fun bit of chaos, its just the previous 10 minutes that are a drag.
RATING: 2.5 stars
The ‘Lo Down: This show, for as short and compact as it is, is a certain thumbs up, and the entire middle of the show with the Jake/Savage angle and promos is MUST SEE stuff. The matches all run the gamut from fine to very good, the show carries a bunch of historic weight, and the atmosphere is fun. Definitely check this show out.