Shawn Michaels Goes Solo & Mike Tyson Challenges Hulk Hogan: The Cultaholic Time Capsule - December 1991
Time to jump in the Cultaholic DeLorean again...
The holidays are coming and we've run out of pay-per-views.
Indeed, it won't be until New Year's Day that the supercards kick up again (outside of "special" Dynamites like Winter is Coming and New Year's Smash). It's kind of a weird feeling, because even though December pay-per-views in WWE weren't always the most memorable events, they at least made for decent entertainment during the holiday season. And now, we have to wait until 2022 for another one.
As for grizzled old timers like myself, I still miss the post-Christmas/pre-New Year Starrcades that took place between 1991 and 1998. Even if most of the cards weren't that great (1995 excepted), they were fun little "hangs" during a chill Christmas break, and something newsworthy always happened.
Speaking of pay-per-views, and since I mentioned 1991, how's about we take a journey back 30 years and look back at what was an experimental WWF card? After all, 2021's run out of pay-per-views - why not learn about one that you've perhaps not seen?
In fact, with a great assist from Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer archives, let's take a gander at what was happening in the wrestling business at this time three decades ago. News-wise, it was quite a loaded time.
Away we go.
1. Hulk Hogan regains the WWF title from The Undertaker at This Tuesday in Texas, defeating Undertaker in controversial fashion. The belt is then vacated, and will go to the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble
The match also held the record for "Worst Hogan vs. Undertaker pay-per-view match" until 2002, when they faced off at Judgment Day. In that match, accumulated age made itself quite apparent.
This Tuesday in Texas, for the record, was an experimental pay-per-view carried out by the WWF, held just six nights after the Survivor Series, to see how turnaround business could be with the announcement of two big matches (Taker-Hogan II and Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts). Though not a historic flop by any means, it's not something the company has really tried since.
2. After losing to Macho Man Randy Savage on the card, Jake Roberts DDT's him three times, threatens him with yet another cobra, and callously strikes Miss Elizabeth during her attempt to intervene
Words can't describe how insane this angle was. Jake was such a disgusting heel in this moment (hell, during the whole storyline, really) that even Bobby Heenan on commentary (who sided with *every* heel) couldn't help but express uneasiness.
Not only was this angle absolutely bonkers, but the post-match promos were off the charts: Roberts' pleasure-filled rant where he rhapsodized about putting his hands on Elizabeth, and Savage's subsequent "angry tears" promo where he swore murderous revenge. If you've never seen any of this, it's all worth pulling up on the Network. Some of each man's best work was evident on this broadcast.
3. This Tuesday in Texas is held in front of a crowd of 8,000 in San Antonio, and does a reported 1.0 buyrate
The buyrate is about half of what Survivor Series did the previous week, so whatever the idea was for WWF possibly expanding their pay-per-view output, the number pulled here wasn't quite to their satisfaction.
As for the crowd of 8,000 that filled San Antonio's Freeman Coliseum, they actually got a combination pay-per-view/TV taping, as the 90 minute Tuesday in Texas card was preceded by a ton of matches taped for Prime Time Wrestling. And amid those tapings, there was a very, very notable angle...
4. At said tapings, Shawn Michaels turns on Marty Jannetty by super-kicking him on the set of The Barber Shop, before throwing him through the set's glass window
For years, the story was somehow twisted into one act, as many believed Michaels superkicked Jannetty *through* the window, and some common tellings of the angle reflected that idea. Thankfully, YouTube and other video uploads came along to dispel the ridiculous myth.
But yes, this was the moment in which Michaels began his no-doubt-about-it solo run, leading to championships, instant classics, controversies, and the like. Few heel turns were ever as historically important as when Michaels chinned Jannetty with one particular superkick.
5. Indy mainstay The Soultaker wrestles dark matches at consecutive WWF tapings, using the name "Sir Charles"
It's not clear what "Sir Charles" was supposed to be (besides a rip-off of one of Charles Barkley's nicknames), but we certainly remember this man more for the character he went on to portray.
See, Sir Charles was Charles Wright, and he was shortly thereafter repackaged as Papa Shango, the evil voodoo man that would one day make The Ultimate Warrior spit up a lovely pea soup/applesauce concoction. Six years later, Shango transformed into a pimp, and nobody batted an eye. Because wrestling.
6. Several news outlets report that Mike Tyson has challenged Hulk Hogan to a match of some sort
It's kind of a moot point, seeing as Tyson was about to go on trial, while Hogan was months away from bowing out of the WWF. Dave Meltzer posits, though, that the only way the WWF and Hogan would get on board with such a high-profile encounter would be if "Iron Mike" did the job.
7. As he reaches his 33rd birthday, Dynamite Kid announces his retirement, after competing in All Japan's Real World Tag League alongside Johnny Smith
Serious back, neck, and leg issues halt Tom Billington's career after more than a decade and a half of setting a lofty standard for in-ring brilliance.
Dynamite would, however, go on to wrestle 17 more matches between 1993 and 1996 before hanging it up for good. By his absolute final match (a trios bout that featured his old rival, the original Tiger Mask), Billington was quite noticeably frail, looking years beyond his actual age.
8. Diamond Dallas Page wrestles his first ever televised match at age 35, and it doesn't go well
You'd be forgiven if you expected Page's wrestling career to wash out after his match with Johnny Rich at a WCW Saturday Night taping. Said match included several clumsy exchanges, a way-too-high clothesline that smashed Rich in the face, and a flying knee drop finish that over-shot its target. The fact that DDP improved to the degree he did (up to and after age 40, no less) is a testament to the man's relentless work ethic and determination.
As a side note, how weird is it that DDP was functionally starting out as a wrestler at 35 at the same time that Dynamite was calling it quits at 33? That's some crazy overlap.
9. "Superstar" Billy Graham records an interview with Inside Edition regarding steroids in pro wrestling, and has some choice words for Hogan
Graham goes so far as to compare Hogan to beleaguered Washington DC mayor Marion Barry, in terms of not practicing what they preached. Graham's remarks toward steroid culture and other nastiness in the WWF would continue through the years, most famously on the March 1992 episode of Donahue that sat McMahon next to a young, bushy-haired Meltzer. Now there's a YouTube classic.
10. The cancellation of Portland Wrestling's TV program is announced, after 38 years on the air
Another territorial giant falls, as Don Owen's Portland territory (founded all the way back in 1925) limps further into oblivion before completely dissolving by the summer of 1992.
11. Mexico's UWA promotion holds an eight team tournament in which the losers, not the winners, advance. Whatever team loses the final match is forced to unmask or have their heads shaved, depending on their circumstances
Frankly, it's incredible that WWE hasn't swiped this concept in some form. They could have a garish looking "losers" championship belt that can only be "lost" when you beat your opponent, then they have to tote it around, etc. Given how much WWE loves their losing streak angles for hapless heels (MVP in 2008, Curt Hawkins a few years back), this feels like a slam dunk idea.
12. Akio Sato, a former wrestler now working as a WWF/Super World of Sports official, reportedly attempts to convince "five of All Japan's biggest foreign stars" to jump ship
Meltzer notes that three of the wrestlers declined outright, but two others showed interest. No names are listed in the report, but out of possibilities like Stan Hansen, Steve Williams, and others, it's obvious that nobody made the move.
13. Road Warrior Animal is forced to work a St. Louis house show in his street clothes after the airline loses his luggage
Let's face it though - Animal didn't need face paint or spikes to be a scary dude. They help, but they're not exactly required.
Also, it doesn't say what his street clothes consisted of, but there's an 85 percent chance he was wearing Zubaz.
14. Erratic UWF owner Herb Abrams reportedly sent a threatening legal letter to the father of a 15-year-old Observer subscriber, after said subscriber criticized him
The fact that the Dark Side of the Ring episode on Abrams was only about 45 minutes in run time is a shame. Incredible as it was in truncated form, it probably doesn't even scratch the surface.
15. Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin of the Freebirds are scheduled for a concert in Atlanta, backed by the "Bad Street Band"
If this actually happened, my kingdom for footage, please.