I’ve always been a sucker for Survivor Series. Great name, love the team concept. It was a great idea when it was first invented as it allowed them to sell a pay-per-view without giving away any real one-on-one matches. The change in wrestling culture in the 90s sort of necessitated a shift away from all team matches, as it became difficult to get people to buy a pay-per-view without singles matches on it.
With the invention of the Network I’d like to see them shift back to more Survivor Series matches on the card. It feels like today the biggest selling point is doing something different, and team matches are different. I always love having main eventers interact with midcarders, managers going up against each other, and some of the other unique scenarios these matches can create.
So this is where Survivor Series began, in November of 1987. There’s a complicated backstory here with Vince trying to screw Jim Crockett by scheduling this the same day as Starrcade (and succeeding) but I don’t feel like going into that right now. This show follows very closely from Wrestlemania III, as the main event features Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant facing off. Hogan leads Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, and Bam Bam Bigelow against Andre’s team of One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude. There’s really nothing else to cover here, so let’s get it on:
Howard Finkel welcomes us to the show.
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura are our hosts tonight.
They take a minute to explain the rules of Survivor Series matches. Which is a good idea, because they’ve never done this before. I’ve seen promotions make this mistake where they just assumed people would know the rules of their matches. Never do that. Never assume anyone knows anything.
We hear from Honky Tonk Man’s team, which has Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart as managers. The atmosphere for these interviews is great, as all the guys seem genuinely fired up. It’s like a locker room before a big football game. We then hear from the babyface team. They go in order, with Savage rolling into the frame at the end.
Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake, and Jim Duggan vs. The Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Danny Davis, Ron Bass, and Harley Race
This is definitely one of those matches where you knew the winning team based on the participants. Honky screwed Steamboat out of the IC Championship and then shoved Elizabeth in the run up to this show. Beefcake and Hercules start. Beefcake locks the Sleeper early, but Hercules manages to tag in Danny Davis. Jake, Savage, and Steamboat each get their turn with Davis. Davis manages to tag in Harley Race, who hits a Shoulder Breaker on Steamboat. Steamboat responds with a Flying Chop, but Race comes back with a Belly to Belly Suplex. Duggan tags in and Clotheslines Race over the top to the floor. They brawl to the floor, where both guys are counted out. Jim Duggan and Harley Race are eliminated.
Bass and Savage are in next and the Macho Man goes to work. He gets distracted and leveled by Bass, who tags in Honky. Savage gets caught in the heel corner and Bass tags back in. Savage Back Drops out of a Piledriver attempt and tags in Beefcake, who catches Bass with a jumping knee for the pin. Ron Bass is eliminated. The heels start to work over Beefcake. Beefcake eventually counters a Honky Armbar with an Atomic Drop, but he stupidly does tag out. Instead, he gets cheap shotted by Davis and hit with the Shake, Rattle, and Roll and pinned. Brutus Beefcake is eliminated.
So it’s Honky, Davis, and Hercules against Savage, Steamboat, and Jake. Savage and Hercules are in now. Davis gets in, but Savage drops him with an elbow and tags in Jake. Honky’s in too. Jake goes for the DDT, but Honky escapes. Hercules works over Jake, but then tags in Davis, who gets caught with the DDT and pinned. Danny Davis is eliminated. Hercules attacks Roberts right after the pin and takes the advantage. Jake gets worked on for a few minutes before making a hot tag to Steamboat, who takes care of business before tagging in Savage, who pins Hercules with the Flying Elbow. Hercules is eliminated. It’s three-on-one now. Honky puts up a fight for a few minutes, but then decides to cut his losses and walk away. Honky is counted out and the babyfaces win at 24:00.
Survivors: Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, and Jake Roberts
Analysis: ***. Strong introduction to the Survivor Series match. Lots of good wrestlers and characters in there and they gelled as you would expect. I like that they avoided the cliché of having the babyface team get behind and make a comeback. The face team was stronger, so they went over. Simple as that.
We hear from Andre’s team, which is so big it can’t fit in the frame. Heenan speaks for them and guarantees victory. He says Andre pinned Hogan at Wrestlemania, and he’ll do it again tonight.
Fabulous Moolah, Velvet McIntyre, Rockin Robin, and The Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Sensational Sherri, Judy Martin, Lelani Kai, Dawn Marie, and Donna Christanello
The crowd is unfamiliar with most of these people. Kai and Martin are known as The Glamor Girls and are the Women’s Tag Team Champions. This is not the same Dawn Marie who was in ECW. Sherri bounces McIntyre around the ring to start. Velvet tags in Moolah, who works over Sherri. Donna Christanello gets tagged in, then one of the Jumping Bomb Angels, followed by McIntyre tagging back in. Hard to keep track of this. Velvet pins Christanello with a Victory Roll. Donna Christanello is eliminated. Rockin Robin gets caught in the heel corner and worked over by Dawn Marie. Got to say, the women are actually bringing it here.
After several tags Dawn Marie gets tagged back in, hit with a Cross Body, and pinned. Dawn Marie is eliminated. Moolah’s team is up five to three. One of the Bomb Angels gets in and the showcase really starts. Her athleticism and execution put most of the men on the roster to shame. The other Angel comes off the top with an Arm Drag. Sherri tags in and is caught with a Double Underhook Suplex. Sherri manages to pin Rockin Robin with a Vertical Suplex. Rockin Robin is eliminated. Moolah gets in and lands a Dropkick. Not bad for a woman in her 60s. Moolah gets back in, but is hit with a Clothesline and pinned by Judy Martin. Fabulous Moolah is eliminated.
Down to three-on-three. McIntyre locks Martin in a Boston Crab, then transitions to a Bow and Arrow. Sherri manages to tag in and hits a Back Suplex and Leg Drop. Velvet Swings Sherri, then manages a sloppy Victory Roll for the pin. Sensational Sherri is eliminated. Beautiful Sunset Flip by one of the Bomb Angels. The other Angel comes in and hits a Double Underhook Suplex on Martin. Velvet tags in, goes for a Victory Roll, but instead gets hit with a Slingshot Slam and pinned. Velvet McIntyre is eliminated. So it’s down to Bomb Angels vs. Glamor Girls. Lelani Kai hits a Body Slam but misses a top rope Splash. One of the Angels connects with a Flying Cross Body for the pin. Lelani Kai is eliminated. A Body Slam/Knee Drop combination is hit by the Angels. Jimmy Hart gets up on the apron and eats a Dropkick. A Clothesline by one of the Angels gets the pin at 20:00.
Survivors: The Jumping Bomb Angels
Analysis: **1/2. Not bad, but it definitely dragged a bit. The Angels were so, so much better than the other wrestlers in this match that you really found yourself wishing they were in there anytime they were on the apron.
We hear from the bad guy tag team from this next match, which is captained by the Hart Foundation. They have Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart as managers, as seemingly every match tonight does.
The Hart Foundation, Demolition, The New Dream Team, Islanders, and The Bolsheviks vs. Strike Force, The British Bulldogs, Killer Bees, Fabulous Rougeaus, and Young Stallions
This match is crazy. 10 tag teams, 20 total wrestlers. Tons of talent in there. The way this works is that if one member of a team is eliminated both guys are out. Strike Force is Tito Santana and Rick Martel, who took the tag team titles off the Hart Foundation shortly before this. The New Dream Team is Greg Valentine and Dino Bravo, who replaced Brutus Beefcake. The Young Stallions are Paul Roma and Jim Powers. The heels have Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Johnny Valient, and Slick in their corner.
It’s almost impossible to do play-by-play on this one due to the pace. They do a really good job getting everyone into the match and giving them a chance to shine. The Bolsheviks are gone in just over a minute after Tito catches Boris Zukhov with his Flying Forearm. The Bolsheviks are eliminated. We get a babyface showcase for the Rougeaus, the Killer Bees, and the Bulldogs. Paul Roma gets in and ends up getting worked over. Now it’s the showcase for the bad guy teams. One of the Rougeaus manages to tag in, but he misses a Cross Body and gets pinned by Ax. The Fabulous Rougeaus are eliminated.
Dynamite comes in and beats down guys twice his side. He’s so intense he made it look realistic. Both Powers and Roma get smacked around by the heels. Clearly, they’re the whipping boys in this match. A series of tags lead to Dynamite and Smash in the ring. Dynamite telegraphs a Back Drop and gets kicked in the face. The heels gang up on Dynamite. When the referee tries to intervene, Smash throws him across the ring. That’s a disqualification. Demolition is eliminated. Bret gets in and spikes Dynamite with a Piledriver, which he somehow kicks out of. Martel locks the Boston Crab on Tama, but gets blasted from behind by Neidhart.
Tito tags in and hits the Flying Forearm, but Bret breaks up the pin. That allows Neidhart to get a cheap pin. Strike Force is eliminated. Things slow down for a bit and we get a chance to work through some different combinations. A lot of it is the Young Stallions getting worked over. Those guys are really taking a beating tonight. Dynamite and Bret get in there and work an unfortunately short segment. Before long it’s Paul Roma getting worked on again. Davey hits the Running Powerslam on Haku, but the pin is broken up. The Bulldogs hit the Vertical Suplex/Diving Headbutt combination, but headbutting a Samoan is always a mistake. Dynamite is knocked silly and then he gets his head kicked off by Haku. The British Bulldogs are eliminated.
So we’re down to Hart Foundation, Islanders, and New Dream Team against Young Stallions and Killer Bees. The good guys are definitely underdogs at this point. Powers gets trapped in the heel corner, and it predictably doesn’t end well. Bravo hits a Side Slam, but rather than pin he tags in Bravo for the Figure Four. But Powers escapes and tags in Paul Roma. Sunset Flip by Roma gets three on Valentine! The New Dream Team is eliminated. The teams trade the advantage for a few minutes until Brunzell rolls through a Bret pin attempt and gets the pin. The Hart Foundation is eliminated. So we’re down to Islanders against the Stallions and the Killer Bees.
The Islanders quickly seize control. They take their time grinding down Brunzell. Brunzell manages to tag out to Jimmy Powers, and the Stallions get a shine segment. But the Islanders double-team while the referee is distracted and re-take the advantage. Tama telegraphs a Back Drop and gets caught, allowing a tag to Brunzell. Brunzell and Blair do a switch and Blair catches Tama with a Sunset Flip to get the win at 37:14.
Survivors: Killer Bees and Young Stallions
Analysis: ***1/2. Really good, but also really long. Might have been better if they cut it down by a few minutes and kept things moving a little bit more.
We get a vignette for the soon-to-debut Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase. Everybody’s got a price.
Andre the Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude vs. Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, and Bam Bam Bigelow
Main event time. This is the first time Andre’s been in the ring since Wrestlemania, and it’s close enough to a rematch between him and Hogan to have the crowd buzzing in anticipation. Rude and Muraco start and Rude gets trapped in the face corner. All the good guys get to run through their stuff while knocking him around. Bam Bam hits a great Splash and then a Press Slam. Butch Reed manages to tag in and he gets slammed by Patera. Hogan tags in, hits the Boot and the Leg Drop, and Reed is pinned. Butch Reed is eliminated. They tease Hogan and Andre facing off, but the referee didn’t see Hogan tag in. Instead it’s Patera and Andre. Andre is no longer interested and tags out to Bundy.
Rude ends up on the receiving end of another beating, this one from Orndorff. He’s the smallest guy in the match and the only one of the heels who is going to sell anything. Tags give us Patera and One Man Gang in there, and Gang pins Patera after a Clothesline. Ken Patera is eliminated. Hogan jumps in the match and deals on Gang. Bigelow tags in and he and Hogan hit a Double Boot. Orndorff and Rude tag in and Orndorff ends up getting rolled up after a shot from Bundy. Paul Orndorff is eliminated. Rude poses, and Don Muraco comes in from behind with an Atomic Drop and a Powerslam to pin Rude. Rick Rude is eliminated. Bundy gets in and levels Muraco, then tags out to One Man Gag. Muraco tries to slam Gang and can’t get him up. Gang hits a big 747 Splash for the pin. Don Muraco is eliminated.
Gang tunes up Bigelow. We’re down to Hogan and Bam Bam against Andre, Bundy, and One Man Gang. Bundy and Gang alternate pummeling Bam Bam. Eventually Andre tags in and Bam Bam manages to tag Hogan. Now the crowd comes to its feet as Hogan and Andre are about to go at it. Hogan fires off on Andre, but gets dragged outside by Bundy. Hogan brawls with Gang and Bundy on the floor. Hogan slams Gang and Bundy, but is counted out in the process. Hulk Hogan is eliminated. Crowd’s not happy about that development. So it’s Bam Bam vs. Andre, Bundy, and Gang. Not good odds. Bundy misses a charge and Bigelow hits a Slingshot Headbutt for the pin. King Kong Bundy is eliminated.
Now Gang pummels Bundy. Gang gets cocky and goes to the top rope for a Splash, which is a pretty terrifying prospect. He misses and Bigelow covers him for the pin. One Man Gang is eliminated. Could Bigelow really pull a miracle? Andre gets in and is all over Bam Bam immediately. Andre hits a Butterfly Suplex and pins Bigelow to win.
Survivor: Andre the Giant
Analysis: **1/2. Not great, not awful. This match had the least wrestling talent of the male matches tonight and it showed. It was a nice push for Bigelow to fight back, although they never did anything with him after.
Hogan returns and attacks Andre. Dick. Jesse rightfully calls him out. We end the show with a Hogan pose-down.
Overall: A good show. I like that they kept it to four matches and let them take their time. Nothing big in terms of storylines, as this was really just continuing feuds that were already going. But it was a night of good wrestling, which was the trademark of Survivor Series in the early years.