SummerSlam 1991 was the fourth annual SummerSlam professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It took place on August 26, 1991 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
The tagline for the event ("A Match Made in Heaven, A Match Made in Hell") refers to the unique card. The PPV ended with an on-screen wedding of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, dubbed "A Match Made in Heaven" by announcer Vince McMahon. It was a kayfabe wedding as Savage and Elizabeth had been married in real life since December 1984.
This was contrasted with "A Match Made in Hell", with the main event being a handicap tag-team match between WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior versus Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa. It was the final match featuring Slaughter's run as an Iraqi sympathizer, a storyline fueled by the then-finished Gulf War.
Among the other on-screen highlights of the event saw The Legion of Doom defeat The Nasty Boys to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. The team became the only tag team in wrestling history to have held the WWF Tag Team Championship, the NWA World Tag Team Championship, and the AWA World Tag Team Championship.
See also: Professional wrestling
SummerSlam featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing feuds, plots, and storylines that played out on WWF's primary television programs. Wrestlers portrayed villains or heroes as they followed a series of events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.
The Ultimate Warrior had threatens to no-show because he was owed money from the previous WrestleMania event. Reportedly Slaughter and Hogan wanted to deal with Warrior "the old fashioned way", but Vince McMahon paid the money then immediately fired Warrior after the show.
Ric Flair had recently signed to the WWF from WCW. He did not appear at this show, but a segment was featured where Heenan showed the belt to Hogan and made a challenge. Hogan responding by shutting the door.
Curt Hennig reportedly had bulging discs and a broken tailbone going into his match with Bret Hart. Which resulted in him dropping the IC title and taking a year off of wrestling. Despite his injury, he was considered to have wrestled the best match on the card.
Ricky Steamboat had been in the midst of a comeback run in the WWF following a very successful run in WCW. However he was only referred to as "The Dragon" and announcers were sure never to mention that he was a former Intercontinental champion.
At WrestleMania VII, Randy Savage lost a retirement match to The Ultimate Warrior. Sensational Sherri attacked Savage after the match until Miss Elizabeth left her seat and made the save. Savage turned face as he reunited with Miss Elizabeth. On June 17, 1991 during a taping of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Savage proposed to Elizabeth and the wedding was arranged to happen during SummerSlam.
Operation Desert Storm (the US-Iraq war of 1991) had ended in February 1991, just over a month after it began. Sgt. Slaughter had held the WWF Championship for a few months, but had been defeated by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VII and again on the UK-only PPV Rampage. SummerSlam featured the last blow-off match where Sgt. Slaughter's entire entourage faced Hogan and Warrior in a handicap match. Sid Justice, an imposing newcomer in the WWF, was announced as the special guest referee to maintain order. Slaughter initially tried to recruit Sid, but Sid promised to be only on the side of justice.
The Mountie had arrived in the WWF and promised to deliver law and order, but frequently cheated by using a cattle prod. The Big Bossman was already working the gimmick of being a former prison guard and took offense to the Mountie. The loser of their match would spend the night in jail.
Earthquake had been established as a dominant heel in the WWF having injured Hogan's ribs and attacked Jake Roberts 's snake. Jimmy Hart had been trying to recruit Andre the Giant to tag team with Earthquake, but Andre refused and humiliated Hart. This led to Earthquake attacking Andre's knee from behind. Hart would later get Tugboat to turn on the Bushwhackers during a 6-man tag team match and would form The Natural Disasters.
Virgil had been a longtime bodyguard and cornerperson for Ted DiBiase. After being subjected to humiliating requests for over a year, Virgil finally turned face and attacked DiBiase with the Million Dollar Championship at the Royal rumble. Then he defeated DiBiase by countout at WrestleMania VII.
The opening match featured three of Slick's charges (The Warlord and Power & Glory) facing off against The Dragon, The Texas Tornado, & The British Bulldog. Dragon got the pinfall victory over Hercules after hitting a flying crossbody from the top rope.
Bret Hart challenged Mr. Perfect for the WWF Intercontinental Title in a match that was regarded as one of the best of the PPV. After a slow intense build up, Hart locks in the Sharpshooter and Hennig submits.
Next, the Bushwhackers faced the Natural Disasters in a tag team match. The Bushwhackers were able to hit most of their signature spots, but the Disasters had bulk on their side and this match showcased their ability to squash their opponents. Post-match, the Natural Disasters advance on Andre the Giant, but the Legion of Doom come out to face them down.
Ted DiBiase's match against Virgil featured a false finish in the middle of it. As Virgil had DiBiase captured in a Million Dollar Dream, Sherri entered the ring and hit Virgil with a loaded purse. Referee Earl Hebner rang the bell, but decided against disqualifying DiBiase. Instead he sent Sherri back to the dressing room and restarted the match. Moments later Hebner was bumped and DiBiase took the time to berate Virgil's friend Roddy Piper on commentary in between hitting Virgil with suplexes and piledrivers. DiBiase removed the turnbuckle padding, but Virgil was able to reverse a headsmash into the exposed steel by sending DiBiase into it instead. Virgil then pinned DiBiase to win the expensive belt. The crowd gave one of the biggest pops of the night.
The Mountie faced the Big Bossman in a Jailhouse Match in which the loser would spend the night in a New York City jail. This match featured heavy brawling by both competitors. At one point the Mountie tried to use his cattle prod, but missed. Bossman got the pin following a double leg slam and NYC police officers came down to handcuff the Mountie and take him to jail.
The next match was a Street Fight for the WWF Tag Team Titlesbetween the Legion of Doom and The Nasty Boys. Despite the street fight rules, this match largely followed the format of a regular tag match. There were some exceptional moments, such as Brian Knobbs using a can of spray paint to blind Hawk and later Hawk using the Nasty Boys' motorcycle helmet to clobber Knobbs and set up the finish as they pinned after with the Doomsday Device.
Greg Valentine took on Irwin R. Schyster in a fairly unexciting cool-down match. Valentine tried to work the legs to get a figure-four leglock, but I.R.S. hooks him with a small package to win the match.
Main Event Match
Match Made in Hell
Sgt. Slaughter started the match with a belt in his hand, but Sid quickly snatched it from his hands and threw it outside. Slaughter then opens on Hogan with an eye gouge and a series of clubbing forearms but Hogan shakes it off and unleashes some right hand punches. Warrior and Hogan then execute some quick tags and pepper Slaughter with simple double team maneuvers. Hogan tries to choke Slaughter in the corner, but Sid pulls him off and as he warns him, Slaughter sneaks in an eye gouge. Slaughter's team then works over Hogan with backrakes, forearms, and a camel clutch that Warrior breaks up. At two points both Hogan and Warrior individually accidentally run into Sid, but Sid doesn't budge and stares them down. Warrior gets beaten down by Slaughter's team until Hogan gets the hot tag and down everyone. Warrior wakes up enough to grab a chair and chase Adnan and Mustafa to the back. While Sid's back is turned, Hogan throws some salt in Slaughter's eyes and hit the legdrop for the win.
Match Made in Heaven
The ring ropes are taken down. A fairly quick and traditional wedding takes place between Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage.
SummerSlam earned a reported 405,000 PPV buys. Reviews of the show are largely mixed, however most praise the storyline booking while panning the quality of the wrestling, with the exception of the Perfect/Hart match.
After the PPV, the Ultimate Warrior would disappear from WWF television until his return at WrestleMania VIII. The disappearance was strange considering that Jake Roberts had just turned heel by betraying Warrior, signaling that a feud who about to begin. WWE video The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior alleges that Warrior had demanded back pay of $500,000 before the event began and threatened to no-show if he was not paid. Vince stated that he paid the amount, then immediately fired Warrior after he stepped through the curtain chasing Mustafa and Adnan. A later WWF video (Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe) and released letters from that time period show that Warrior had made his payment requests (along with other contract changes) over 7 weeks before the PPV.
The sudden departure of the Ultimate Warrior changed the WWF's booking plans. Pre-PPV programming had Jake Roberts training Warrior for a feud with the Undertaker, only to turn on him by having a cobra bite him. After Warrior's firing, the WWF filmed a reception for Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage's wedding where Roberts and Undertaker plant a snake in a gift box, then attack upon its discovery. This segment is included in Coliseum Home Video releases of the PPV.
Bret Hart's Intercontinental title win signaled the beginning of a great singles career. He would go on to feud with the Mountie.
The Natural Disasters would feud with the Legion of Doom over the Tag Team Championship until the Disasters finally get a title shot at the Royal Rumble.
In 2006, The Ultimate Warrior had sued the WWE for defamation after the release of the video The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior. In January 2014, some of the evidence from that court case was made public, including a payroll sheet for the participants of this card. This payroll sheet was a rare glimpse into the amounts the WWE paid it's wrestlers, managers, and backstage staff for a pay-per-view performance.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Koko B. Ware defeated Kato (7:15)
- The British Bulldog, The Dragon, & The Texas Tornado defeated Power and Glory (Hercules & Paul Roma) & The Warlord (w/ Slick) in a Six Man Tag Team Match (10:43)
- Bret Hart defeated Mr. Perfect (c) (w/ The Coach) to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship (18:04)
- The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) (w/Jimmy Hart) defeated The Bushwhackers (Butch & Luke) (w/ Andre the Giant) (6:27)
- Virgil defeated Ted DiBiase (c) (w/ Sensational Sherri) to win the Million Dollar Championship (13:11)
- The Big Bossman defeated The Mountie (w/Jimmy Hart) in a Jailhouse Match (9:38)
- The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defeated The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) (c) (w/Jimmy Hart) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship (7:45)
- Irwin R. Schyster defeated Greg Valentine (7:07)
- Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior defeated Sgt. Slaughter, Gen. Adnan, & Col. Mustafa (w/ Sid Justice as Special Guest Referee) in a Handicap Match (12:40)
Other on-screen talent
DVD and Video releases
- SummerSlam 1991 (Official Site)
- SummerSlam 1991 at CAGEMATCH.net
- SummerSlam at Online World of Wrestling
- SummerSlam 1991 on WWE Network
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