“FLASHBACK” FRIDAY: BOOKING A BRAND SPLIT AND MONEY IN THE BANK IN 1990.
INTRODUCTION: MONEY IN THE BANK BEFORE INFLATION?
With the insane amount of product we’ve seen the last month and a half or so, I have to admit I long for the Hulkamania days of less Pay-per-views and television shows. To me, the events felt special and very seldom did you see a repeated main event unless it held significance. Titles mattered more, motivations were not hard to come by, and a lot of the roster was protected. The house show circuit allowed for them to test the waters on a lot of things that you see fleshed out today because there is so much programming.
But what if…?
What if the 90’s had monthly pay-per-views? What if the Hulkamania era had to compete within the same framework of 2018? In an attempt to poke history with a stick a little bit, I wanted to give that era the flavor of today and see how that would look.
In what I’m hoping will be come an on-going series, I plan on taking something from current wrestling and applying it a time frame in the early 90’s. There is no shortage of talented columnists here who will give you their unique take on the current wrestling culture, so consider this my brief hiatus from that.
Today’s “throwback” will feature what the brand split may have looked like in 1990, as well as booking “Money in the bank” 1990. Would it have worked? Would you have watched? Would the rosters have been too thin for a brand split? Let’s find out!
JACK TUNNEY’S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
How We Got Here: The dominance and seemingly lack of opportunities for superstars outside of Hulk Hogan has led Bobby Heenan to publicly call out Jack Tunney on PrimeTime Wrestling. Heenan demands that Hulk give up the spotlight and says that his ego is getting in the way of his clients being able to succeed. After weeks of Heenan rhetoric, Jack Tunney finally responds and lays down the details of a huge announcement:
– For the first time in WWF history, there will be a brand split and a draft. The draft will take place LIVE!
– Half of the roster will be on PrimeTime Wrestling, which will get a brand new LIVE timeslot Monday nights for one hour at 8pm ET.
– The other half of the roster will be on WWF Superstars, which will get a brand new LIVE timeslot on Tuesday nights for one hour at 8pm ET.
– Jack Tunney will be the President of PrimeTime’s brand and Gorilla Monsoon will be promoted from his position of color commentary to be the President of the Superstars brand
– The draft will take place LIVE over a 2-day span on PrimeTime Wrestling’s debut show Monday, July 2nd as well as Superstars debut show on Tuesday, July 3rd.
1990 WWF DRAFT RESULTS
LIVE ROSTER REVEAL SPECIAL (Took place on Mon, July 2 and Tues, July 3rd on both Primetime and Superstars)
Ultimate Warrior (WWF Champion)
Macho Man Randy Savage
Bad News Brown
Mr. Perfect (Intercontinental Champion)
Superfly Jimmy Snuka
Koko B. Ware
“The Genius” Lanny Poffo
TAG TEAMS (PRIMETIME ROSTER)
Demolition: Ax Smash w/ Crush (Tag champs)
Legion Of Doom
“American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
Andre The Giant
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
“Playboy” Buddy Rose
TAG TEAMS (SUPERSTARS)
Hart Foundation (Bret Hart/Jim The Anvil Neidhart)
Rockers (Shawn Michaels/Marty Jannetty)
Power and Glory (Hercules/Paul Roma)
Rhythm and Blues (Honky Tonk Man/Greg Valentine)
PrimeTime Wrestling Recap Monday, July 9, 1990
The show begins with President Jack Tunney in his office welcoming everyone to the first full episode after the draft with his new brand. Since his brand has all the champions already, his job is a little easier to make matches. Tunney says he’s excited about all the new Pay-per-views that will happen each month even though this one comes on short notice. He announces The Big Bossman Vs. The Barbarian for the main event of the evening with the winner facing the Ultimate Warrior at Money In the Bank this Sunday for the World Wrestling Federation championship. He goes onto mention the concept of Money in the Bank being an idea Gorilla Monsoon brought to him, wanting to initiate an actual ladder of success to climb with the rich prize of a guaranteed contract in the briefcase suspended above the ring. Tunney announces that Demolition will make their first title defense since winning the belts at Wrestlemania and he puts them in a match with the Orient Express at Money In The bank. We will also see the WWF debut of Legion of Doom live on Pay-per-view that night as well.
Koko B. Ware Def. Brooklyn Brawler with the ghost buster to qualify for Money in the Bank
Mene Gene interviews the Demolition who say Crush will be in their corner to make sure Mr. Fuji doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve this Sunday.
Macho Man Randy Savage Def. Tito Santana with an elbow drop after Santana misses a flying forearm smash, favoring his right arm on the canvas. Savage qualifies for Money in the Bank.
Mr. Perfect Def. Brutus Beefcake with the Perfect Plex to qualify for Money in the Bank.
Mene Gene interviews Legion of Doom about having their WWF debut match at money in the bank. Legion of Doom say they are coming straight for the tag team champions, whomever that may be.
“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka def. “The Genius” Lanny Poffo with a Superfly splash to qualify for Money in the Bank.
The Barbarian Def. The Big Bossman with a roll up after a distraction from Heenan on the apron. Bossman goes after Heenan after the bell rings but Barbarian attacks him from behind. The Ultimate Warrior comes out and the two have a stare down as PrimeTime goes off the air.
Tuesday, July 10th, 1990
Gorilla Monsoon opens the show in the ring thanking Jack Tunney for the promotion and opportunity to run Superstars. He says that, unlike PrimeTime, he has to crown 3 new champions for his new brand. Monsoon says they’ll be a 4-team tag tournament tonight with the two winning teams facing off this Sunday at Money in the Bank for the titles: The Hart Foundation will face Rhythm and Blues while The Rockers will face Power and Glory.. The winning team on Sunday will be the Global Tag champions. Gorilla says that next weeks show will feature an 8-man tournament to crown an International champion as well. He says his biggest announcement, however, is concerning the Global heavyweight title. He stated he’s had several people knock on his office door begging for the championship match but he has his 2 competitors picked out. He declares The Earthquake will be one half of the equation on Sunday for the title match going up against the man who was just cleared by Doctors- the immortal Hulk Hogan. The crowd goes crazy as Monsoon heads up the ramp.
Rick Rude defeats Jim Duggan with a rude awakening to qualify for Money In the Bank.
Power and Glory Def. The Rockers to advance to the Global tag team title tournament final on Sunday at Money in the Bank. Marty Jannetty overshoots a Rocker Plex off the top rope and Hercules scoops him for a slam and pin.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts Def “Playboy” Buddy Rose with a DDT to qualify for Money In the Bank.
Hart Foundation Def Rhythm and Blues with the Hart Attack to advance to finals of Global Tag team Title tournament on Sunday at Money In the Bank (Vs. Power an Glory)
Rick Martel Def. Tugboat via count out to qualify for Money In the Bank after chasing him outside the ring and sneaking back in before the count of 10.
Ted DiBiase (w/ Virgil) Def Shane Douglas with the Million Dollar dream to qualify for Money In The Bank
Earthquake comes out demanding to see Hulk Hogan’s medical records. He wants to be awarded the Global Heavyweight title tonight and does not believe Hogan is cleared to compete. He says he knows he destroyed him beyond recognition and won’t believe it til he sees it. As Earthquake begins stomping around the ring, Hulk Hogan’s music hits as he comes marching to the ring. Earthquake immediately begins attacking him again but this time Hogan shakes his head and points his finger. Hogan chases Earthquake out of the ring and points to the vacant Global title at ringside.
WWF: MONEY IN THE BANK (PREVIEW)
Sunday, July 15, 1990
Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI)
Hulk Hogan Vs. Earthquake (For WWF Global Championship)
After being put on the shelf at the hands of the Earthquake nearly two months ago, it appears Hulkamania is alive and well. Aside from obvious retribution on the man who attacked him, Hogan has has sights set on adding the Global Heavyweight championship to his collection. Will Earthquake be too much for the immortal one?
Ultimate Warrior (C) Vs. The Barbarian (WWF Championship)
Ever since Bobby Heenan purchased the contract of The Barbarian, he has been running roughshod over everyone in his path. Will this be another Heenan client who goes straight to the top or will the Ultimate title reign continue?
“King” Haku (W/ Bobby Heenan) Vs. Andre The Giant
The former Colossal Connection will finally face off after losing their tag team titles Demolition at Wrestlemania. Haku has promised his manager, Bobby Heenan, that he’d extract revenge for when Andre choked Heenan. Heenan says that Andre is washed up and will be exposed for the dinosaur he is. Will the Giant stand tall or does the “King” stake claim to the top?
Legion of Doom Vs. Ted Stone/Pez Whatley (LOD Debut)
Oh, what a rush! The Legion of Doom will make their in-ring debut in the World Wrestling Federation against the team of Ted Stone and Pez Whatley. How quickly can the Road Warriors climb to the top of the tag team ranks? Is a dream match up with Demolition on the horizon?
Money In The Bank Ladder Match– Rick Rude vs. Ted DiBiase Vs. Rick Martel Vs. Jake Roberts Vs. Koko B. Ware Vs. Jimmy Snuka Vs. Mr. Perfect Vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
After weeks of countless superstars storming into Gorilla Monsoon’s office begging for a chance to climb the corporate ladder, Monsoon got an idea that will change the landscape of the World Wrestling Federation forever. With Primetime President Jack Tunney agreeing to the terms, 8 superstars (4 from each brand) will compete in a first time ever match where the competitor who climbs the ladder and retrieves a briefcase suspend above will win the match. The pay off? Inside that briefcase is a contract that guarantees the winner a championship match any place, any time. Who will climb the ladder of success for an opportunity of a lifetime?
Hart Foundation Vs. Power and Glory (winning team becomes inaugural Global Tag Team Champions)
After both winning semi finals matches this past week on Superstars, The Hart Foundation will battle Power and Glory for the Global tag team championships. Who will come out on top with the gold?
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan Vs. Sgt. Slaughter- Flag Match (Interbrand match-up)
Presidents Jack Tunney and Gorilla Monsoon agreed to the terms of an cross branded flag match up between New York’s very own Jim Duggan and newly Iraqi sympathizer, Sgt. Slaughter. Which superstar will hold their flag high? Can Hacksaw win one for USA or will Slaughter continue crushing everything American?
Demolition (C) Vs. The Orient Express (WWF Tag Team Championship Match)
After defeating the seemingly unstoppable Colossal Connection at Wrestlemania, Demolition are presented a new challenge in the form of Orient Express with their manager, Mr. Fuji. Can the champs hold off their former manager and his antics or will we have new tag champions Sunday?
The Rockers Vs. Buddy Rose/Larry Stevens
The high flying duo of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty came up short in their bid to become #1 contenders, but are still one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in the World Wrestling Federation. Can they get back on track this Sunday?
TYPE’S ULTIMATE MONEY IN THE BANK REVIEW (Sunday, July 15, 1990, 10pm)
Rockers Vs. Buddy Rose/Larry Stevens
Fun little match here with Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty hitting their spots. This team is so crazy over I’m not sure why they weren’t in the tag team title match against The Hart Foundation. My guess is this is one they’re saving for Summerslam. The crowd was hot all match for Jannetty and Michaels. Highlight of the night was when Jannetty spring boarded himself, caught Stevens in mid air, and came down to roll him up for the pin! Michaels sells well to bigger guys like Rose and it only makes their eventual comebacks that more believable. Hot opener that I thoroughly enjoyed! Type Rating ** 1/2 for match quality, *** for Entertainment quality.
Sargeant Slaughter Vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (Flag Match)
Slaughter works a slow but effective style with several punches and kicks to the mid section. The crowd was all for Duggan and really wanting Hacksaw to capture that flag for the United States. Kind of a boring match to be honest, but you could see the crowd was really affected by how dominant Slaughter was. Once Slaughter captured the Iranian flag and choked out Hacksaw with with the U.S. one, you saw a few tears from the kiddos. The match accomplished what it needed it to in generating hatred for Slaughter and Hacksaw was the perfect tool to use. Type rank: ** for match quality, *** 1/2 for entertinament quality
Legion Of Doom Vs. Ted Stone/Pez Whatley
Legion of Doom come off as massively powerful. Every bodyslam they delivered in this match felt like they were a genuine threat and putting the entire division on notice. Credit to Pez Whatley for selling a lot of these power moves and making the LOD look like a million bucks. Nothing earth shattering here, but the match did what it needed to. I’d love to see a high flying athletic team like the Rockers face LOD’s brute strength. Type’s Rank: * 1/2 for match quality, ** for entertainment quality
“King Haku” Vs. Andre The Giant
Easily the worst match of the night. Andre has very little left to give in the ring and it shows. His knees looked bad and this match just didn’t click from the start. Poor Andre could barely move as Haku spent most of the match just slapping him around and trying to chop him down. Haku clearly has some talent, but I don’t know that he’s some kind of main eventer. Match ended in DQ when Heenan tried to get involved. At least Andre didn’t lose this one which I think would have been the wrong decision. 1/4* for match quality, ** for entertainment quality
Hart Foundation Vs. Power And Glory (Global Tag Team Championship Match)
Power and Glory really impressed me in this bout. Hercules pure strength throughout the contest meant that the Hart Foundation couldn’t utilize their technically sound style. Hercules was dominating Anvil from pillar to post throughout the first few minutes with intense clotheslines but Roma came in to sling him rope-to-rope. These two worked well together in tiring out Jim The Anvil. Hercules got Anvil to the top for a suplex off the top rope, followed by an unsuccessful frog splash attempt by Roma from the opposite side. (Seriously, that finisher is so freakin’ cool). That one mistake proved costly as the Anvil set up Roma for the Hart attack and the 3-count. I think this match definitely needs to be revisited as the story played out that Harts won the battle but definitely not the war! Will there be a re-match at Extreme Rules? I think there should be. *** for match quality, *** for entertainment quality
Demolition (C) Vs. Orient Express W/ Mr. Fuji (WWF Tag Team Championship Match)
They really played up the narrative of Mr. Fuji knowing the Demolition’s skill set and strategy as their former manager. Mr. Fuji pulled out all the stops to get his former team out of rhythm. The distractions allowed for the Orient Express to get in strikes and kicks on Ax. Sato hit Ax with a reverse crescent kick after Mr. Fuji struck him with the cane. Fans were boo’ing hard at all the cheating as Orient Express dominated to start out. I really like how effective Fuji is for this team. Finally as he tried throwing salt, Crush caught him and tossed him out. Once the odds were even, Ax and Smash took over with their usual brutal style, taking turns beating the hell out of Tanaka with chops. Finally, Smash goes to the top with the elbow drop finisher on Tanaka. Fun match with a lot of shenanigans, but ultimately Demolition get the big comeback. ** 1/2 for match quality, *** 1/2 for entertainment quality.
Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Jake Roberts Vs. Ted DiBiase Vs. Koko B. Ware Vs. Rick Martel Vs. Mr. Perfect Vs. Randy Savage Vs. Rick Rude Vs. Jimmy Snuka
This was the one I was looking forward to all night, as this kind of concept for a match was uncharted waters. Would there be too much going on to keep up? What are these guys going to possibly do with a ladder? We got our questions answered fast. It was nice to see the “feud within the feud” with some of these dynamics playing out. Hilarious start to the match as DiBiase tries to buy the briefcase from the ref. A lot of just feeling eachother out before anyway made an attempt to climb. Koko/Martel brawled a bit, revisiting their Wrestlemania 6 match just months prior. Savage and Roberts brawled, Perfect and Rude seemed content to work together as Heenan clients on Superfly. Heenan’s commentary was priceless throughout as he was hilariously torn between who should win the match.
There was so much going on here it was hard to keep up, but so incredibly fun! Snuka flying off the top rung as Rude/Perfect were about to make it fall, Roberts DDT on Savage from half way up the ladder, Bobby Heenan leaving his position of color commentary to coach Perfect/Rude to “work together,” Koko B. Ware trying to use the top rope but flying into the ladder. So intense and just something we’ve never seen before. With Rude/Perfect arguing, Virgil steps in to create just enough of a diversion to allow DiBiase to take advantage, climb the ladder, and win Money In the Bank. He now has a guaranteed title shot on the Superstars brand whenever he wants. Incredible match! **** stars for match quality, ***** for entertainment quality
Ultimate Warrior (C) Vs. The Barbarian- WWF Championship Match
Barbarian gets a lot of offense in early on the Warrior. I suppose they had to play this up as a real test for Warrior even if it wasn’t. Warrior gets knocked out of the ring as Barbarian celebrates. He gets back in and Barbarian continues with the chops to the chest. Eventually, Warrior gets his strength and hits with him a guerrilla press drop and running splash for the 1, 2, 3. Big things in store for Warrior as WWF champion, but this match kind of seemed like a filler to give Warrior something to do. I imagine Savage, Mr. Perfect, and the Warlord could. * 1/2 match quality, * 1/2 for entertainment quality.
Hulk Hogan Vs. Earthquake (Winner is first ever Global Heavyweight Champion on the Superstars brand.)
Gorilla Monsoon makes his way out with the Global Heavyweight title as we’re about to begin the match. Pretty cool looking title with the globe and the aqua colors to match the brand. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Hogan was still selling the injuries from months prior at the hands of the Earthquake. Earthquake had his way with Hogan all match, stomping around the ring. Earthquake sandwiches him into the ring post and Hogan goes down immediately favoring his side. This is the kind of stuff that can turn Earthquake into his biggest rival potentially, as he looks to be his tougest test ever. Earthquake goes for a splash from the top rope and hits it, but isn’t content and goes back for another. The second one misses and gives Hogan the opportunity he needs. Earthquake tries to go back to work but Hogan “Hulks up.” He swings him off the rope for a big boot and hits the leg drop for the 1-2-3. Hogan is the FIRST EVER global champion! Hogan begins to start pandering to the crowd but Earthquake attacks him from behind. Dino Bravo holds him down and Earthquake goes to the top for an Earthquake splash. Jimmy Hart hits him with the mega phone as Bravo continues holding him down.
The fans are boo’ing and many look legitimately concerned. Earthquake heads up the ramp but ohh man… a familiar laugh comes over the loud speakers as Ted DiBiase makes his way to the ring with the Money In the Bank Contract! OH MAN! THIS IS NUTS! I didn’t know he was allowed to cash in this early but I guess it did say “anywhere, anytime.” DiBiase hands the briefcase to the ref and asks him to ring the bell. DiBiase immediately puts Hogan in the “Million dollar” dream. Hogan’s hand drops twice but he hangs on at the ref’s third attempt. DiBiase applies the hold again and this time it appears Hogan has passed out. The ref calls for the bell as we get the official word. Fans eagerly wait to hear what the results are. Howard Finkel makes the announcement that Ted DiBiase is the new Global Heavyweight champion. Many fans (adults and kids) are shown stunned in the crowd. DiBiase heads up the ramp with his title. Hogan finally recovers enough to realize what happened as fans begin to cheer him standing upright. Show goes off the air.
This pay-per-view will go down in history as the one that changed the game forever. This is the first of what will now be monthly pay-per-views instead of just having 4 per year. This is the first one to have a Money In the bank ladder match and the first one to display the brand split and how that will work out. So many exciting and new changes. Overall I give this PPV *** 1/2 stars for the historical significance it could hold, the shock value of Ted DiBiase winning, and an amazing inaugural Money In The Bank Ladder match!
BACK TO REALITY (FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS EXERCISE)
Brand split would have never worked in this era with the thin rosters. Having monthly pay-per-views would have likely killed a lot of the mystique around some of these wrestlers. The house show circuit was always used as a “test run” to see what would work on their big 4 Pay-per-views and that’s a formula that kept things special in the 90’s. This was a blast to do though and I had fun thinking of what things might have been like back then with today’s wrestling. I racked my brain for far longer than I care to admit coming up with some 90’s esque logo for MITB, so hopefully you enjoyed the super generic route I went! I’m thinking I may just give this another whirl if you all enjoyed it.
TYPE IT BACK FAAANS
Who would have been the best choice to win a Money In the Bank ladder match in 1990? Would it have advanced their career? How would you have done the brand split differently than I did?