Date: January 28, 1991 (broadcast on February 16, 1991)
Rules: One man being eliminated counts for his partner as well
Stipulation: #1 contender spot for WWF Tag Team Championship at Wrestlemania 7
Roster (14): The Bushwhackers (Butch and Luke), Demolition (Smash and Crush), the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal), the Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags), the Orient Express (Kato and Tanaka), Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma) and the Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)
Here we go. I started watching wrestling in early 1991, so this is one of my earliest WWF memories. At the time, the tag champs are the Hart Foundation and we’re in the final days of the company having a great tag division. It’s been said that the Legion of Doom were the last time Vince really cared about tag teams and this is the first step in their rising up the ranks.
With the exception of Haku and the Barbarian and, naturally, the tag champs themselves, we have the entire tag division duking it out here for a chance at the belts. Kind of cool to see a battle royal for tag teams being used for #1 contenders in a stipulation they still weren’t using for the Royal Rumble by this point. In fact, the first time someone became #1 contender via Royal Rumble, it was also for the chance to dethrone Bret Hart. Huh.
After two minutes of clusterfuck clobbering all over, the Rockers take out Demolition. First they stagger Crush with a double superkick, then they do a double dropkick that sends Smash to the outside. Crush is annoyed that he has to leave and attacks the Rockers for a moment until accepting his loss. Soon after, the Bushwackers are out. What follows is something I’ve always wondered about as a kid. Jannetty holds Knobbs and Michaels goes for a dropkick. It misses and Jannetty goes flying out.
They get over it, but I was never sure whether or not they were trying to lay down the groundwork for the Rockers split-up at this point. Keep in mind, they spent MONTHS building it up through all kinds of screw-ups on either side. Was it just a cool spot or was this the first step in Shawn Michaels’ amazing singles career? I can never figure out just how long-term that booking really was.
Four teams become three once the ever-forgettable Orient Express are done with. That leaves the Legion of Doom, Nasty Boys and Power and Glory. Despite the heel dominance in the ring, Roma spends the last few moments running from Animal, even getting chased out of the ring, only to be thrown back in. His fate is sealed when Hercules throws Roma at Animal and fails to take him down.
Power and Glory are now out, leaving the Legion of Doom to take apart the Nasty Boys with little problem. As Animal sets up the Doomsday Device, Hawk climbs to the top rope. An annoyed Roma gets on the apron and shoves Hawk’s leg, causing him to fall to the floor. Despite Power and Glory no longer being in the match, that still counts as an elimination and the Legion of Doom are done. The focus appears to be more on Animal angrily glaring at Roma and Hercules as they walk off than on the fact that the Nasty Boys are Wrestlemania-bound.
The Nasty Boys would indeed go on to defeat the Hart Foundation, allowing Bret to go off on his own budding solo career. On the same Wrestlemania 7 undercard, the Legion of Doom got their hands on Power and Glory, destroying them in a fit of swift vengeance less than a minute in length. Said match also gave us the most cringe-worthy Hawk quote of all, “Power and Glory? POWER AND GLORY?! When we’re done with you, you’re gonna be SOUR… and GORY!”
Hawk and Animal earned their right to challenge for the belts and their climactic battle with the Nasty Boys took place months later at Summerslam. The Legion of Doom won their first WWF title victory and the wheels started rolling with this match.
Tomorrow, we’ll have a tag team battle royal of a different sort.