Survivor Series 1991
The following piece was contributed by avid wrestling fan and analyst JR. Follow him on Twitter at @StarNinja99.
Hello Wrestliing fans, and welcome to this, the first ever "Spotlight On" article, and it can only be found here, at Next Era Wrestling. I am JR, your guide through some of the most critical matches in Wrestling history.
Each of these articles will highligt a certain match, explaining the build up to the match, the match itself, and ultimately, the impact it had on the business after its inception. This may range from any company, and from lesser known matches to the classics. Lets get started, then, shall we?This week we'll be focusing on a match that has almost been forgotten to wrestling history. We'll be jumping back to Survivor Series 1991, and the match betweeen "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan, and a young upstart by the name of... The Undertaker!
The Build Up:
The Undertaker debuted in the WWF at Survivor Series 1990, where he would help the Million Dollar Man and his "Million Dollar Dream Team", go on to a win at the event. This would be a strong start for any other wrestler in the business, but the true birth of The Undertaker would come a few weeks later, when his manager, "Brother Love", would be replaced by the Iconic Paul Bearer. The Deadman had been born.
He would go on to face "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka in his first Wrestlemania match, ending Snuka with a Tombstone Piledriver only a minute and a half into the match.
For the remainder of the year, Undertaker would serve as a lackey of sorts for Jake "The Snake" Roberts, playing mind games with such figures as The Ultimate Warrior and "Macho Man" Randy Savage. In all of this time, The Undertaker remained Undeafeated inside the squared circle.
Things would ultimately come to a head when Hulkamania would cross paths with The Phenom.
Hulk Hogan was coming off an unresolved fued with Ric Flair, a relative newcomer to the WWF, but a legend in his own right already. He had been holding the title since his defeat of the evil pro-Iraq Sgt. Slaughter, and a feud between Hogan and Flair was something that most fans salivated over at the time.
Nevertheless, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker were now on a collision course for Survivor Series. Hulk fired the opening shots, claiming that this was indeed his "Gravest Challenge." When he thought of the Undertaker, he thought of what would happen if he could take his title. He envisioned a first grader, lunchbox in hand, ready for school, but had been dumped six feet under. He saw the Undertaker and Paul Bearer standing over the grave, dropping dirt upon the child. Hulk stated that Hulkamania was going to close the casket on the Undertaker.
The Undertaker, a man of few words, went on to say that Hulk Hogan was not immortal, and that on the Dark Side their was no such things as immortality. The Undertaker then flatly stated that Hulkamania was dead, and he would prove that at Survivor Series.
Hulk Hogan versus the Undertaker. The stage had been set for an epic confrontation.
The Undertaker grabs hold of Hulk Hogan.
As the Undertaker made his always awe-inspiring entrance to the ring, a casket could be seen sitting at ringside. Upon it said the word "Hulkamania", making it clear that The Deadman intended to make the Hulkster Rest In Peace that night.
Hogan hit the entrance ramp, immediatly going after the casket, flipping it and throwing it out of his way. He did his usual play to the crowd, gave up his belt, and the match began.
Hogan circled The Undertaker, and they stared each other down. After a series of power moves, the first set of moves ended in deadlock.
Hogan wrapped 'Taker in a headlock, but after some effort, 'Taker reversed, sending Hogan into the ropes. After barely escaping a clothesline from the Phenom, Hogan slid out of the ring to compose himself.
Getting back in the ring, Hogan began to circle 'Taker again. He tried for a collar and elbow tie up, but instead found the hand of the Phenom grasped against his throat! As Paul Bearer held up the symbolic Urn, the phenom smashed Hogan into the turnbuckle, attempting to choke him out. After the referee ordered a break up, Hogan took a right hand from The Undertaker, blindly stumbling across the ring and to the opposite turnbuckle. Hogan was then met with an uppercut to the throat. 'Taker took advantage by using the corner to help with a Mandible Claw, choking out Hogan once more, only releasing when the referee forced him too.
Chasing him to the ropes with a series of punches, 'Taker went right back for the choke, this time attempting to do so using the top rope. The Referee began to count, and the Phenom released at three, distracting the ref so Paul Bearer could get a cheap shot in.
A few flown punches followed from the Dead Man, then a scoop slam. 'Taker went for a jumping elbow drop, but missed! Hulk takes over, with a flurry of fists! Hogan goes off the ropes, attempting for a clothesline, but a no-sell from the Undertaker. It didn't effect him!
Hulk tries for a slam, but finds nothing but a Dead Man's Elbow. 'Taker tries for the Chokeslam, but is met by a rack of the eyes. The crowd goes nuts! Only in the Golden Age...
Hogan took him off the ropes, meeting him with yet another unneffective clothesline. A series of chops from Hogan ensued, followed by two turnbuckle slams. Two punches, then a clothesline sends Taker over the tope rope! Taker does a 360 and lands on his feet! The crowd comes unglued!
Hogan heads for the ropes, but Taker grabs him by the legs and pulls him right into an uppercut! He takes Hogan by the head, and slams it off of the steel steps. Taking a camera cord, he begins to choke Hogan with it!
Releasing as the count nears three, Bearer held up the urn, and as if obeying the object, 'Taker stepped back into the ring. Hogan rolled back in, but is immediatly grounded by the Phenom. After a few blows, 'Taker goes for a few short, yet blatant, choke holds. He backs off, letting his nefarious manager get in another cheap shot. 'Taker guides Hogan to his feet, gives him an uppercut, and chokes him out on the middle rope, only releasing at the last second. 'Taker holds Hulk down, and applies the Mandible Claw!
Hulk struggled to both keep his shoulder off the mat and to stay concience at the same time. The Demon of Death Valley held Hogan down with authority for several minutes. The Dead Man's eyes rolled into the back of his head. The ref pulls up Hogans arm, seeing if he is still awake.
Suddenly, the lifeless body begins to move. He's Hulking out! With effort, he escapes the hold! Two kicks to 'Takers gut were immediatly followed by two shoulder blocks. The second sent 'Taker into the ropes, but he came back and hit Hogan with a flying Clothesline, leveling him!
Staring at the urn or a brief moment, 'Taker stalks Hogan... And hits him with a Tombstone Piledriver! 'Taker backs off... but Hogan is up! 'Taker tries to attack, but Hogan counters with a series of fists! After a tremendous effort, The Dead Man drops to his knee. Hogan is in control!
Ric Flair comes down the ramp, just as Hogan hits The Undertaker with a scoop slam. Hogan goes for a Leg Drop, but is distracted by Paul Bearer. He scares him off... then goes after Flair, leveling him!
He gets back in the ring, hitting 'Taker with the big boot. Paul Bearer gets involved yet again, grabbing his leg, but gets knocked out of the way. Hogan goes to turn... And is picked up by 'Taker! Ric Flair sneaks a chair into the ring, and Hogan is brought down upon it! Tombstone Pilledriver! Flair ditches the chair, and 'Taker gets the three count!
The Undertaker is the new WWF Champion! Bobby "The Brain" Heenan screams that Hulkamania is dead!
While Hulkamania obviously did not die that night, something else was certainly born. At Survivor Series 1991, the Phenom was truly born.
While some would argue that The Undertaker was truly born when he Tombstoned Superfly Jimmy Snuka, etching the irst grave that represents the streak, consider this.
This was the Deadman's first real taste of Main Event glory. After only one year in the promotion, The Demon of Death Valley had wrestled the biggest name in the company, for the biggest prize in the business, and come out on top. While this may not seem as big a deal in the Hot Potato game of championship reigns today, it was something beyond measure back then. Not to mention, his win made him the youngest Champion in the companies history up to that point, at only 26 years old. (This record would be broken a few times after The undertaker's win, most notably by Randy Orton, who won the World Heavyweight Championship at a mere 24 years of age, a record that stands to this day.)
Unfortunatly, his reign would not be a long one. In what some beleive was an act of panic, The Undertaker would drop the title a mere six days after Survivor Series, at theone time event "This Tuesday In Texas."
The Undertaker would not taste the gold again until 1997. Hogan, on the other hand, would end up vacating the title after "This Tuesday in Texas", due to the "controversial" way that the two matches before it had gone. The title would remain vacant until the 1992 Royal Rumble Match, where Ric Flair won it in the only time a championship has been on the line in a Royal Rumble Match. Hogan would not win back the WWF Championship until Wrestlemania IX.
Never the less, The Undertaker would stay atop the WWE ladder for the remainder of his career. Hulk Hogan would leave the company in 1993 due to the ever scandilous Steroid Cases of that year. He would spend a year in Japan, then go on to WCW.
These two Icons would not cross paths again for Eleven years. In 2002 a collision course once again sent Hogan, the Undisputed Champion, who had taken the title from Triple H, against a now much different Undertaker. On May 19, 2002, at Judgement Day, history repeated itself once again, and The American Badass walked oput of the building with the strap around his waist.
No matter how long his reign had been, or if Ric Flair and Paul Bearer had been their, the man known as The Undertaker had been destined for greatness. And at Survivor Series 1991, the Phenom that would become an Icon of a generation, a man unrivaled in wins at Wrestlemania, a man who is a backstage leader, stepped up his game to a whole new level.
And he never looked back.