Retro Wrestle Respawn – Battle Royal at the Albert Hall

So with WWE running a show on foreign soil with a battle royal main event last Friday, I decided I’d dip into the vaults for another occasion where they did something similar. This show has the benefit in not being in a horrific totalitarian state where women and homosexuals are brutally subjugated at least. Yes Saudi Arabia, you’re so bad you make a lame duck John Major government look preferable by comparison. Think about that!

Oh well, onwards to the show.

The event is emanating from the famed Royal Albert Hall on the 3rd of October 1991

Calling the action are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan

Opening Match
The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags) w/ Jimmy Hart Vs The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)

These two were wrestling each other a fair bit during this timeframe and would find themselves on opposite Survivor Series teams in a month’s time. Monsoon gets in his usual statement that The Rockers are “Tag Team Specialists”. Surely The Nasties had a better claim to that nickname seeing as they, unlike The Rockers, had actually officially been tag team champions whilst The Rockers hadn’t?

The Rockers clear the ring to start and Marty steals one of the Nasties jackets. I personally wouldn’t want to wear anything that either Brian Knobs or Jerry Sags had been sweating in, but each to his own I guess. Stalling follows until Shawn and Sags finally start us off officially, with Sags slugging away with right hands. Shawn fights back with a super kick, and then delivers another one to an encroaching Knobs. Marty follows with a cross body onto both Nasties and they head outside again for more stalling.

Now Knobs and Marty give it a go, with Marty getting the best of that battle, and The Rockers clear the ring once more. The Nasties tease walking out but eventually decide to come back. The Rockers continue to control things, and actually get a funny spot where they keep switching an arm bar on Sags without tagging, as the referee is distracted by Knobs. Knobs tells the ref to ask the fans if The Rockers tagged, and they of course reply to the affirmative, much to his chagrin.

Finally The Nasties manage to get control when Knobs low bridges Michaels whilst the referee is busy dealing with Jimmy Hart, and we have our heat segment. Shawn gets clobbered for a sustained period by The Nasties, getting the occasional shot in but always eventually getting overwhelmed again. Shawn manages to make a tag, but the ref misses it and The Nasties beat on him some more as Marty is put back in his corner.

Shawn manages to get the tag not soon after and Marty runs wild with punches on the heels. The Nasties get run into one another and Shawn press slams Marty onto Sags. However, Hart has the referee distracted so Shawn goes over to deal with him, allowing Knobs to clunk Marty with Hart’s megaphone. With Marty out, Sags is able to get the pin and the three count.

WINNERS: THE NASTY BOYS
RATING: **1/2

Standard formula tag match, but it worked well enough. The finishing sequence was a little sloppy but the match as a whole was a decent opener.

Ric Flair is backstage being interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. Flair says Tito Santana will find out in the next match that the Nature Boy is the greatest wrestler in the world. He then turns his attentions to the battle royal later, singling out Rowdy Roddy Piper especially.

Second Match
Ric Flair Vs Tito Santana

Flair had only recently just jumped to the WWF from WCW, and had brought the NWA Title with him for good measure. I always kind of thought that Flair looked a bit out of place in the cartoon WWF of the early 90’s. He did his best to be a bit zanier, but the early 90’s WWF weren’t really the place for serious wrestlers like him, outside of Bret Hart. He also couldn’t really go “full on” Nature Boy due to the younger audience and tamer overall product.

Tito refuses a clean break early and clocks Flair, which is weird behaviour from a baby face considering that Flair hadn’t actually done anything evil yet. Flair works a wrist lock and pulls the hair multiple times for good measure. Tito’s response to such scientific technique is some punches and a dropkick. How unsporting!

Flair replies to this devious act of cheating with a good clean throw into the guardrail, but Tito gets a sunset flip whilst coming back in for two. Tito starts working on Flairs leg, and Naitch sells it well as you’d imagine. Tito tries the 10 punch in the corner but Flair brings him down with an atomic drop and then follows that up with a knee drop for two.

Flair works Tito over with punches and chops, getting the odd bit of cheating in there when an opportunity presents itself. Tito fights back and Irish whips Flair into the corner, giving us the Flair Flip™, before getting a clothesline and vertical suplex. Tito gets a backslide for two but Flair halts his momentum with a sneaky rake of the eyes.

Back suplex from Flair sets up the figure four leg lock, and he even grabs the ropes when the ref isn’t looking for extra leverage. Tito manages to roll over and reverse the force of the hold, but Flair manages to get out of it. One of these days I’ll see someone submit to that. The fight spills outside and Tito slams Flair on the floor. Flair fights back and heads up, but gets throw off because…

Thanks, Cenk.

Tito covers off this and some of the fans actually buy it as a possible finish, but Flair is out at two. Tito gets a running forearm smash and makes the cover but Flair is just able to get his foot on the ropes at two. Tito goes for the O’Connor Roll but Flair rolls through and then grabs the tights to give him the three count.

WINNER: RIC FLAIR
RATING: ***1/2

Flair gave Tito LOADS of offence here, probably too much if I’m being honest, and the crowd got into the match as consequence. I’m all for having a good match, but Tito hadn’t been a pushed commodity in WWF for years at this point in time and a main event calibre guy like Flair really should have polished him off much easier. That being said, a good match is still a good match and this was definitely a good match.

Big Bossman is with Mean Gene in the interview area. He says the entire world is his jurisdiction. Ray Traylor: World Police! Anyway, he says Earthquake is trash and that tonight the trash will be taken out!

Quick cut to the ringside area where Mean Gene interviews Jimmy Hart and Earthquake. Hart puts Quake over and Quake actually gets a funny line in by saying “Do you have any idea how long a boat ride to the UK is Gene? That’s why we took a plane!”. The delivery of that was actually quite good.

Third Match
Eathquake w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Big Bossman

Bossman was coming off a summer feud with The Mountie, which saw him literally send his foe to the slammer, whilst Quake was a tag wrestler by this stage with his partner Typhoon. Quake overpowers Bossman to start, so Bossman tries to hit and move to keep himself in the match. It’s interesting how this venue was actually named after Prince Albert when Bossman would go on to tag with a wrestler of the same name. Okay, it’s not especially interesting but it’s factually accurate at least, get off my back!

Bossman finds some joy from out quickening Quake and even manages to apply a side headlock to the big monster to wear him down. Bossman gets an axe handle smash from the second rope and then heads up for a cross body, but Quake actually catches him, in an incredibly impressive show of strength, and then power slams him down. That was genuinely terrifying, what an absolute beast Earthquake is!

Quake now works Bossman over, using his girth as a weapon, before cinching in a bear hug. Bossman gets worn down by Quake and makes sporadic come backs, but Quake always manages to get back in control. Eventually Bossman manages to smash Quake with an enziguri kick to finally get him down for a sustained period of time.

Despite having Quake down, Bossman decides to stupidly go after Hart, which allows Quake time to recover. Quake and Hart end up colliding and Bossman gets a roll up on Quake for two. Bossman ties Quake up in the ropes, which is The Mountie’s cue to come down to the ring. Bossman goes to hit the ropes but gets tripped by Mountie, allowing Quake to drop an elbow for the win.

WINNER: EARTHQUAKE
RATING: **1\2

What is it with all the heels winning these matches so far? Good effort from both men and this was a fun match as consequence.

Mean Gene is the interview area and shows off the trophy that the winner of the battle royal will take home tonight. Kerry Von Erich comes in and states that he has plans to win it.

Quick cut to Mean Gene at ringside with Mountie and Jimmy Hart. Mountie gets his catchphrase in and then complains that his music isn’t playing, just to annoy the crowd.

Fourth Match
The Mountie w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Kerry Von Erich

Mountie was one of those people who had a great gimmick but was also a middling worker. As part of a team with his brother Raymond he was able to hide his deficiencies but, when asked to work proper singles matches as a heel, he wasn’t able to hide them any longer. Kerry seems genuinely moved by the loud reaction he gets here.

Maybe we will finally get to see a baby face win a match in this contest? This is incredibly sloppy in the early stages and is mostly punching. Fans chant jailbird at The Mountie, due to Bossman sending him to the slammer at Summer Slam 91, and he gets very annoyed as a result. We get a lot of stalling from Mountie before he finally gets back in and slaps a sleeper on Kerry.

There was no transition or set up for that at all. Mountie literally just walked into the ring and muscled Kerry into a sleeper. These two have so little chemistry together it’s actively negative chemistry. I can only assume that Mountie thought it was preferable to sit on the mat with a sleeper hold applied than actually try and wrestle Kerry?

Kerry counters Mountie’s sleeper with one of his own, as this pulsating bout continues, but Mountie makes the ropes to break it. Ironic that they’re using this hold as this match has effectively put a super hot crowd to sleep. Whose idea was it to give The freaking Mountie and a possibly hammered Kerry Von Erich this much time for goodness sake?!?!

The fight spills outside, as the match threatens to get out of neutral gear, but Kerry misses when trying to punch The Mountie and catches the ring post instead. Back inside, Mountie double legs Kerry and puts his feet on the ropes to get us the fourth heel win in a row.

WINNER: THE MOUNTIE
RATING: DUD

This was utterly terrible. I think they tease the referee reversing the decision, but no official announcement is made and Mountie retreats to the back anyway.

We head to a darkened room where Paul Bearer and The Undertaker threaten Jim Duggan. Taker says that there’ll be a mass burial in the battle royal tonight, which considering the amount of deceased wrestlers in the main event is more than a little depressing.

Fifth Match
The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer Vs “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan w/ The star spangled banner

A masked man in a Phantom of the Opera styled getup plays the organ for Undertaker’s entrance. Taker had only been in the WWF for 11 months at this stage and was still a heel. Taker has a great bemused expression on his face as he watches Duggan bumble down to the ring with his flag and 2X4.

The English fans are actually nice enough to chant “USA” for Duggan, showing that, if anything, we’re generous and magnanimous hosts. Duggan punches away at Undertaker to start and then clotheslines him over the top. Taker lands on his feet for this though and then drops Duggan’s throat over the top rope to take over.

Sadly Taker’s main offensive manoeuvre during this time period was to choke people, and he does that continuously here. Old School rope walk (Although technically it was “Contemporary School” back then) breaks up the monotony for a bit, but then he goes straight back to choking. Man, Undertaker matches from this time period are just brutal.

Duggan fires back with yet more punches, but he then stupidly decides to go after Bearer and ends up on the wrong side of an Undertaker jumping clothesline. Having had enough of this wrestling match lark, Duggan decides to just wallop Taker with the 2X4 in full view of the ref, thus causing a disqualification.

WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER
RATING: ½*

What a terrible baby face Duggan was there. Monsoon tries to explain it away by saying that Duggan got annoyed with all the choking from Taker, but baby faces are supposed to rise above that stuff, not decide to take the easy way out like that. This result now leaves the baby faces 0-5. What a depressing first half of the show.

Meanwhile, Meane Gene is in the interview area with Rowdy Roddy Piper. Piper targets Heenan and Flair during his diatribe. He says he’ll win the battle royal and then take Gazza (Which he pronounces “Garza”) to a disco. I’d pay good money to watch Roddy Piper and Paul Gascoigne going to a disco!

Quick cut to Mean Gene interviewing Jimmy Hart and Typhoon. Hart brags that he has five entrants in the battle royal. Typhoon says he and Earthquake will deal with being the last two if it happens. Power and Glory then enter the interview area and declare that they’ll defeat the Legion of Doom later.

Quick cut (“Why have hamburger when you can have steak?!?!”) to Mean Gene with the Legion of Doom. Animal says that they’ll be champions for a long time. Hawk once again threatens to rename the challengers “Sour and Gory” and goes on to say that their own mothers won’t recognise them. Gene asks what would happen if the battle royal came down to them, and they seem perfectly fine with the notion of having to scuffle with one another.

Sixth Match
WWF Tag Team Championship
Champions: The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) Vs Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma)

LOD had only just recently claimed the tag titles from the Nasties at Summer Slam. These teams had actually battled earlier in the year at WrestleMania VII, which had seen the LOD squish their opponents in mere seconds. I personally think Roma is just a body and nothing else, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Hercules.

Hawk starts out with Roma and challenges him to a test of strength. After some stalling, Roma finally engages, and immediately gets overpowered. Roma cheap shots Hawk to get out of his predicament, but ends up taking a dropkick from Hawk instead. Wow, maybe the LOD have their working boots on tonight? Animal and Herc go next and slug away, with Animal getting the best of it as the match sort of meanders around with no real flow or purpose. It’s all very stop-start and that makes it a struggle to build any momentum or fit into any particular rhythm.

Roma drops Hawk with a piledriver which he no sells beacause…

Thanks, Cenk. Again

Hawk gets a military press slam but misses a clothesline off the top, and this finally appears to be the cut off. Indeed, Hawk gets worked over briefly but it’s not long before he’s tagging in Animal after a collision of heads with Herc.

Animal unloads on both challengers and gets a powerbomb on Roma, but Herc comes in to break it up. Roma, deciding not to sell the powerbomb for some reason, heads up for a cross body off the top onto Animal but he counters with a powerslam and that’s enough for the win.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: THE LEGION OF DOOM
RATING: *1/2

Finally a face wins a match! It’s about bloody time! The match itself was hurt by the fact they didn’t really do any proper tag formula stuff, but it wasn’t awful or anything like that. Shame we didn’t get to see the Doomsday Device though.

Mean Gene is in the interview area with the British Bulldog. He says he smells victory tonight. Is that really victory though Davey, or just the distinct whiff of Whiskey on Mean Gene’s breath?

Lord Alfred Hayes comes out to do ring announcing for the next match

Seventh Match
The Barbarian Vs “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith

Bulldog is, as you would imagine, crazy over here in his native land. Bulldog dropkicks Barbarian to start, which causes him to roll out and regroup. Davey works the arm in the ring with arm drags and wristlocks, much to Barbarians frustration, but he’s able to clock him with a big boot and then rams him back first into the ring post to take over.

Barbarian now works Bulldog over back in the ring and goes to a chin lock to wear him down. Davey manages to get out of that but Barbarian is soon back on top of things with a piledriver for two. Kind of shits all over Bulldog that he needed to kick out of that after Hawk just no sold one in the previous match, but hey-ho.

Barbarian goes for an elbow drop off the second rope but there’s no water in the pool, and this gives Davey a chance to start his comeback. Bulldog gets two from a clothesline and then hurks Barbarian up with an impressive vertical suplex for another two. Barbarian misses a charge in the corner and ends up on the wrong end of the running powerslam, which nets Bulldog the three count.

WINNER: DAVEY BOY SMITH
RATING: **

The pace was kind of slow but I liked it. Davey Boy Smith throwing around massive blokes with ease is always entertaining.

Mean Gene is with the Nasties and Jimmy Hart in the interview area. They yell about how it’s time to get NASTY. Okay, I’ll make sure to put a reminder in my phone.

Lord Alfred joins the commentary desk for the upcoming match

Main Event
20 Man Battle Royal
The Barbarian, Big Bossman, Jim Duggan, Earthquake, Ric Flair, Hercules, Marty Jannetty, Brian Knobs, Hawk, Animal, Shawn Michaels, The Mountie, Davey Boy Smith, Roddy Piper, Paul Roma, Jerry Sags, Tito Santana, Typhoon, The Undertaker and Kerry Von Erich

As usual with a battle royal, I’ll be limiting the play by play to major incidents just because otherwise we’d be here all day. Piper is hugely over and goes straight for Flair. The fight actually spills outside, with both men going through the ropes instead of over the top, and Piper chokes Flair with a TV cable. Flair and Piper had been feuding on television prior to this show, hence why they’re going after each other in such a manner.

In a funny example of poor sportsmanship, Herc gets dumped by Hawk and then tries to come back into the ring with a chair. Tito surprisingly gets to eliminate Barbarian, but his joy is short lived when Mountie dumps him not soon after. Michaels tries to skin the cat at one point but Mountie comes over and punches him out, getting another elimination to his name. Duggan gets dumped by Earthquake fair and square, but still petulantly comes back in to attack him with his 2X4, allowing Animal to dump him.

Duggan has been an absolute weapon on this show. Why on earth would anyone want to cheer such a whiney little man child like him? Piper eventually manages to dump Flair, which gets a tremendous reaction from the crowd. Piper continues his tear by chucking out Undertaker, but Taker reaches back into the ring like a horror monster and pulls him out to eliminate him.

This leaves us with a final four of Typhoon, Mountie, Bossman and Bulldog. Bossman and Bulldog attempt to team up, but Mountie is able to low bridge Bossman to send him out. What is with Mountie getting to eliminate so many people? Mountie and Typhoon, both being Hart clients, decide to double team Davey. Mountie holds Davey for Typhoon to hit, but Davey is able to dodge and Typhoon ends up bundling out his pal by accident.

This leaves us with Typhoon Vs Bulldog, in a match that could have easily main evented the following years WrestleMania! Typhoon clobbers Bulldog but Davey is able to back drop him over the top for the win. Fans erupt at this, but Typhoon decides to be a sore loser and jumps Davey, with Earthquake coming down to help. Bulldog looks doomed, but then Andre The Giant limps down on crutches for the save, and together he and Davey are able to send the heels packing.

WINNER: DAVEY BOY SMITH
RATING: *

Standard battle royal with a crowd pleasing main event to send everyone home happy.

Final Thoughts
Not unlike Greatest Royal Rumble, this was essentially a house show that they filmed. Stupid booking decisions in the first half aside (Seriously, five heel wins in a row?) the ending at least put Bulldog over and established him as the WWF’s premier European star. Ah, remember when they would actually let people win in their home town/countries?

I can’t really recommend this show to be honest. Flair/Tito is good and the opener is decent. Bossman/Quake isn’t too bad either. If you’re a big Bulldog fan you might enjoy the last two matches, but some of the wrestling is terrible and the constant heel wins really made for an unusual atmosphere.

Thanks for reading

Written by
British, Evertonian, grapple fan and passionate about them there Video Games. Bit of a golden oldy these days weighing in at a pert 30 years of age. I'll be providing reviews, retro features, the odd rant and the occasional article on Pro Wrestling. I also like a nice pint of Porter now and then