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WWF The Main Event episode 5 review: Huk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage Mania build continues

Hulk Hogan Missle

By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com

As I type this, we're just over a day from Wrestlemania 31 and it's fitting the fifth and final edition of WWF's The Main Event kicked off the road to Wrestlemania 7.

Yep, the final TME on NBC. From here on out, NBC's relationship with the whole SNME/TME franchise began to take a downturn. After years of between four and seven episodes per calendar year, 1991 would the first of back-to-back years where just two episodes would run. Ratings were down and the product just wasn't as memorable as it was years prior. This show marked the latest attempt by the WWF to infuse Hulk Hogan at the top to boost interest. Unfortunately, it didn't work.

- Airdate: February 1, 1991
- Taped: January 28, 1991 
- Runtime: 47 minutes
- Location: Macon, GA | Macon Coliseum 

We start out with the heavily patriotic episode with stills and video from Hogan's recent USO tour. There's a lot of him flexing, shaking hands, riding in tanks, and signing missles that would eventually kill people. So, you know, 'Merican stuff.

Hulk Hogan USO Tour

We then abruptly go to the intro, which still features Ultimate Warrior in the closing still despite him not being the champion anymore. Oh, you didn't know? Sgt. Slaughter is the new WWF kingpin, but we'll get to that in a minute. Everyone is waving mini flags. Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper are live in wherever they are (no mention of Macon) and the two say they await Jack Tunney, who will announce the main event for Wrestlemania 7 on tonight's show.

Piper says of tonight's Legion of Doom vs. Orient Express match, "we'll see how rice and fish stack up against meat and potatoes." He also says of Slaughter that while there are yellow ribbons all over the place, Slaughter is also wearing yellow "right down the center of his back", a comment McMahon approves of. Again, 'Merica.

Hulk Hogan & Tugboat vs. Earthquake/Dino Bravo (w/Jimmy Hart)

McMahon says this will be "exquisite tag team action". Doubtful, Vince. ALERT! Hogan doesn’t do a backstage promo, but does enter the arena IN A FULL BANDANNA! The streak is broken, brother!

As the match starts, McMahon does math on how much the combined teams weigh. "Let's see. Quakester weighs about 460 and Bravo about 270, so if my math is right...that's 1,287 pounds." I don't know what's more ridiculous: McMahon's addition or him calling Earthquake "Quakester". On Hogan and Tugboat, he says they're both big 300 pounders so they're "close to 700 pounds".

As WWF wanted to shift to Hogan vs. Slaughter, this was definitely the blowoff to the Hogan/Quake feud that started a year prior. It’s still impressive to me how long angles and feuds were stretched out back then. How many PPVs and SNME segments did they get out of this? Four or five?

The Georgians decided to leave their NWA bias at the door and pull all of their effort into cheering Hogan, going crazy when Hogan got in there with Quake and slammed him. Hogan even does a beard pull and a forehead bite because that’s what babyfaces do, especially one American ones. As soon as Tugboat gets tagged in, Quake does a jumping front kick to the gut and the bad guys regain the advantage. WWF were keeping Hogan as strong as possible.

As Earthquake goes for his splash on Tugboat, Hogan runs in and hits what is called a clothesline but is more like a punch to the chest that drops Quake on his back. Ugh. Hogan gets back on the apron and desperately calls for Tugboat to tag him, even making swimming motions as Tugboat understands the water? Oh, boy.

Hulk Hogan Swimming

Hogan gets the hot tag and Bravo gets tagged in as well. Hogan lays in three punches, an Irish whip, a big boot and A ROLLUP on Bravo for the pin. What the what was that? This seemed completely rushed. McMahon was sure to drop a "Patriot missle" reference in there for good measure.

WWF World Champion Sgt. Slaughter (w/Gen. Adnan) vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

Before taking us to clips showing us how Slaughter won the title, McMahon explains every little detail...which kinda defeats the purpose of the videos. We get a "Coliseum Video exclusive" interview with Randy Savage who says he's got a commitment from Slaughter that if he beats Warrior at the '91 Rumble, he'll get the first shot. We then go to a clip where Queen Sherri was provocatively begging Warrior for a title shot if he won at the Rumble. Warrior's cartoonish freak out reaction was priceless.

Ultimate Warrior Queen Sherri

We then go to the Rumble match between Warrior and Slaughter. Sherri grabbed Warrior’s leg and he ran her off, leading to a Savage sneak attack in the aisle that didn't lead to any DQ. We go to the end of the match where the red, white and blue clad-Warrior was about to win when Sherri came out again with the sceptre. Warrior was distracted, pulled Sherri in, and press slammed her to the outside where Savage was back out to grab her. Slaughter kneed Warrior from behind and he dropped in 619 position. As the ref pulled Slaughter away, Savage nailed Warrior in the head with the sceptre which led to the title-winning pin for Slaughter.

To the back with "Mean" Gene Okerlund, our new champion and Gen. Adnan who is ranting in Arabic while Gene tries to get a word in edgewise. Gene says Slaughter "employed questionable tactics" in winning the title. A sweaty Slaughter says it doesn’t matter how he became the champion, and we’re playing by his rules which are “very inventive”.

There are no Iraqi flags around Slaughter and the only note that he’s not U.S. friendly is the presence of Adnan and his pointy boots which McMahon later calls "controversial foot gear". Yes, McMahon couldn't even call them boots. They were foot gear. I wonder what he calls other normal household items. Is a plate a "sustenance holder"? Is a car a "humanistic transportation device"? Is water a "liquidic substance"?

Sgt. Slaughter Boots

As Slaughter comes out (first, mind you), they reference how he’s a “deserter” and show the U.S. flags everywhere, but they are still careful to not mention Slaughter’s allegiance. Duggan brings out a flag-waving Hogan with him, but after the break, Hogan is sent to the back as he’s not an official manager. I guess he should have borrowed Slick’s manager card.

Lots of “USA” chants and plundering in this one. As Slaughter claims a hair pull, it stands out just how many white bald/balding guys they were pushing on this show: Hogan, Slaughter, and Quake. The end came as Slaughter hit Duggan on the head with a chair during Duggan’s big comeback, giving “Hacksaw” the DQ win. Slaughter laid in some light chair shots to the back and started hitting Duggan with a riding crop which brought out Hogan. As he was getting in, Hogan got hit in the back with a chair several times and both faces got spit on before the heels ran off. Hogan helped Duggan up and waved the American flag, "side to side with your fellow American" as McMahon put it.

You know, I have lot of admiration for this version of Slaughter. At 42 years old, he was bumping all over the place, playing a really great heel, and doing the best he could in a very uncomfortable situation.

Legion of Doom vs. Orient Express (Tanaka/Kato) w/Mr. Fuji

Gene is with the LOD and the theme is "Japanese imports vs. American products" as Gene puts it. Animal gives a very pro-American promo with lots of car references. Hawk says, "They’ve got 'What a feeling' and we’ve got, 'Ohhhhhhhhh, whaaaaaat a rush." Gene had to do nothing in this one other than say “What about it?”

This edition of the Express does not feature Sato, but now Kato who was a very well put together Paul Diamond under a mask. The team was previously known as Badd Company in the AWA. If you're keeping track, the Orient Express was now made up of a native Yugoslavian and a Hawaiian managed by another Hawaiian.

 Kato

This was essentially a squash. Fuji threw salt in Animal’s eyes (because he’s a sneaky Asian manager, you see) and the advantage lasted about 60 seconds before Hawk got the hot tag and ran wild on everyone including Fuji. A Doomsday Device on Kato later and this was over. The crowd was loving this. All in all, this was actually a fun match that had a lot of energy in it.

We're back from break and Gene is in the ring with WWF President Jack Tunney. Tunney alert, everyone...TUNNEY ALERT!

Jack Tunney

Gene speculates about potential challengers for Slaughter at Mania. Could it be Hogan, Warrior, or Duggan? What about Savage and Slaughter’s proclamation that he earned the shot? Tunney says that after "intense deliberations", the choice is Hogan. Gene talks to Tunney for a few seconds afterward without the mic and I'm dying to know what the conversation was about.

To the back with Sean Mooney, Slaughter, and Adnan. Slaughter doesn’t care that Hogan is the challenger and says he’ll stoop to whatever depth he has to in order to win. “Let public sentiment be damned!” he says, while calling Hogan’s fans “Puke-amaniacs”.

We go back to the ring where Gene is with Hogan. Hogan says Slaughter and Adnan can feel the “red-hot breath of Hulkamania on their necks”. Ok, then. Hogan says he’s done a USO tour and did a lot of listening to all the little Hulkamaniacs whose parents are fighting “over there”, again never mentioning Iraq. He gives a promo about free speech and that Slaughter is protected.

Finally, Hogan references Slaughter waving the Iraqi flag and desecrating the American flag. Hogan says that if we’re playing by Slaughter’s rules, he’d “probably try to take a million gallons of oil and gag all my little Hulkamaniacs” or “fire a few SCUD missiles at all my little Hulksters”. He says the word “Hulkamaniacs” about 54 times during this promo. He then leads the crowd through the Pledge of Allegiance and waves the flag to put this pro-U.S. angle completely over the top.

McMahon and Piper take us out, questioning Hogan’s pledge vs. Slaughter’s resolve.

Overall, the show was ok but further felt like the end of a really important era in wrestling. The U.S. vs. Iraq deal felt forced as times and pushed tremendously over the top so no one had any doubt what the stakes were. Surprisingly, there was no Warrior or Savage on this show, surprising considering what a major part of Mania 7 that match was.

Well, we'll see if it gets any better next week. See you next Saturday and enjoy Wrestlemania 31!