Friday, January 21, 2011

Flashback Friday: Warrior Dethroned

January 19, 1991:  Just two days before the 1991 Royal Rumble, U.S. troops had starting an aerial bombing attack on Iraq.  The Persian Gulf War was well underway.

The world title match that year saw the wildly popular and slightly crazy Ultimate Warrior defending the gold against the once popular patriot, now turned Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter.

Slaughter had been on the most popular superstars in the WWF in the mid 1980's.  He feuded with Nikolia Volkoff and the Iron Sheik on a regular basis and waved the stars and stripes proudly as he made his way to the ring.

He left the company for a few years and returned in the summer of 1990.  This time though, the Sarge was embracing the new enemy of this country, Iraq.  He wore the curled toe boots like the Iron Sheik.  He had a new manager in Gen. Adnan (formerly known as Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie).  Anyway, it was a great way to get heel heat on the guy.  Fans hated him, and he took out patriot Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the new America loving Nikolia Volkoff.

His next challenge would be the Ultimate Warrior.  The reigning WWF world champion.  Warrior had defeated Hulk Hogan (cleanly, I might add) at Wrestlmania 6, about 9 months earlier.  Going into this match, I really thought the Warrior would have no trouble defeating Slaughter. Let's face it, by 1991, Sarge was in his mid 40's and not in the shape he was during his 80's run in the WWF.  Warrior was younger, stronger, and quicker.  But he wasn't smarter. 

The Macho King Randy Savage had a beef with the Warrior leading up to this big matchup.  During the course of the action, Savage came to the ring and parted the Warrior's hair with his royal scepter.  The royal object shattered as it made contact with the Warrior's skull.  This of course lead to the pinfall win for Slaughter and one of the worst WWF title reigns in history.

It was a bold move on Vince McMahon's part to put the title on Slaughter.  Here we are at war with the country the man is defending, and now he's representing the company as its "top" performer.  This of course was all a set up to make Hulk Hogan the champion again.  The Hulkster would defeat Slaughter a couple months later at Wrestlemania 7.   It was a weak main event.

Knowing the politics in the business today, that surely existed even back then, I'm really surprised they didn't book a rematch between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 7.  It would have arguably been the biggest rematch in the history of the WWF.  The two had literally not battled it out for a year.  Why not let them lock horns again, and put the strap back on Hogan?  Personally, I think that would have been a bigger money maker and draw than the Hogan-Slaughter main event.

Courtesy: WWE (Warrior vs. Hogan)
The numbers tell the tale.  According to the figures I found, Wrestlemania 6 (Hogan vs. Warrior) had a 4.5 buyrate.  Wrestlemania 7 (Hogan vs. Slaughter) did a 2.8.

I guess they figured they wouldn't have had anything to do with Slaughter and Savage if they had the two top faces doing battle.  I suppose at some point I could do a post where I rework the card completely.

If my memory serves me correctly, this pay per view was also the last WWF appearance by Dusty and Dustin Rhodes.  The father-son duo lost to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and Virgil.  And FYI, Hulk Hogan won the Rumble match.  His second year of doing that, making him the first superstar to achieve that milestone.

Anyway, the point here is to look back on the reign of Sgt. Slaughter and how the Warrior was knocked off his throne courtesy of the Macho King.  I can't believe it's been 20 years already!

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