Survivor Series

November 26, 1987

Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, OH

 

Here we are, the first annual Survivor Series, the second yearly tradition to be created following the phenomenon of Wrestlemania. The Survivor Series originated as a way to stick it to the NWA (later known as WCW), who were set to take to PPV for the first time with their yearly extravaganza Starrcade. The devious promoter Vince is, decided it was time to add another PPV to his line-up, broadcast on the same night, and so a new Thanksgiving tradition was born. The early Survivor Series focused on elimination tag team action, so they have a different feel to your traditional show. The first was set right in the midst of the still raging Hulk/Andre feud that was taking the WWF by storm.

 

We kick things off with our usual entertaining announcing team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura. A quick spot of pre-show hype before hearing from the teams in our opening match up backstage.

 

Elimination Tag Match:

Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake & Jim Duggan w/Miss Elizabeth vs Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Harley Race, Ron Bass & Danny Davis w/Jimmy Hart & Bobby Heenan

Its the battle of the mid-carders to kick this show off. A lot has changed in the IC division since Wrestlemania, so let’s cover that first. Most importantly, Steamboat has dropped the belt to an unexpected challenger in the Honky Tonk Man back in June. Rumour has it Vince was upset with Steamboat for requesting time off whilst holding the gold to raise his newborn son. The initial plans called for Steamboat to drop the strap to Butch Reed, but due to a no-show, Honky Tonk Man was added as a last minute substitute, defeating the champ and beginning the longest reign with the strap of all time. Who would have thought it at the time? Shortly after this, Steamboat’s hated rival Savage turned face, taking offence to the new champ’s claims of being the greatest IC champ of all time. The face turn was solidified after Savage took a vicious beating from HTM and the Hart Foundation on Saturday Night’s Main Event in which Hogan made the save. More on that later down the track. The other guys are really here to fill out the teams. Savage comes out to a huge reaction from the crowd who are loving him now that he has turned face, and has begun his ascension to the main event. The match gets under way, and Race and Duggan brawl to the outside early on to both be counted out.  Ron Bass is in next for the heels, who quickly falls to a high knee from Beefcake to bring things down to 4 on 3. Beefcake’s celebration is short lived however, as HTM enters and puts him away with the Shake Rattle and Roll. With things now evened up, Savage enters the ring, wanting a piece of Honky, but the champ quickly tags out to Davis. Honky continues to tag in and out when his team are in control in cowardly heel fashion as his team works over Roberts. The face in peril ends up nailing the corrupt former referee with the DDT, putting Davis down for the three. Hercules is in next and is eventually taken down with a Steamboat cross body. With Honky now facing the 3 on 1 disadvantage, the champ decides to take the easy way out, leaving the ring to be counted out, giving the face team the win with Savage, Steamboat and Roberts the survivors at 19:14

Grade: ***

 

Elimination Tag Match:

Fabulous Moolah, Velvet McIntyre, Rockin Robin & Jumping Bomb Angels vs Sensational Sherri, Donna Christanello, Dawn Marie & Glamour Girls w/Jimmy Hart

Next up we get a showcase of the women’s division that we haven’t seen on PPV for quite some time. Moolah is now a face, having lost the belt to the new heel of the division, Sensational Sherri. I believe McIntyre also had a run with the gold last year after her failed efforts at Wrestlemania 2. The real story here though is the Jumping Bomb Angels who were brought in from Japan to feud with the reigning Women’s Tag Team champs the Glamour Girls. The Bomb Angels are clearly light years ahead of the other girls in the ring to say the least, with the announcers putting them over in a big way as well. We get a few quick eliminations early on and in the end we are down to the Angels and the Glamour Girls. Judy Martin is the last women left for the heel team, and she goes down to a top rope clothesline as both Angels survive at 20:14. Surprising to see the match go so long, but it was entertaining and that’s what matters. The Angels would go on from here to win the women’s tag belts at the first Royal Rumble in January before the entire division was dropped.

Grade: **½

 

Elimination Tag Team Match:

Strike Force, Young Stallions, British Bulldogs, Rougeau Brothers & Killer Bees vs Hart Foundation, Demolition, New Dream Team, Bolsheviks & Islanders w/Jimmy Hart, Mr Fuji, Johnny Valiant & Slick

Yes, this is the showcase for the tag division. Slightly different rules here as when one man is eliminated, so is his usual tag team partner. This match really shows how strong the tag division was at this point. Imagine WWE putting on a match like this today. We can dream right? Its going to be interesting watching the division go through its ups and downs as the years go by actually. Strike Force are the new champs, having defeated the Hart Foundation not long ago, and are over big time. They are the team of Rick Martel and Tito Santana who were paired up after Tom Zenk left the promotion spelling the end for the Can-Am Connection. Seeing the ring apron loaded with all 20 men is quite the visual as we get under way here. The action is incredibly fast paced and one of those forgotten classics of the time. The Bolshviks are the first team eliminated when Tito nails Boris Zhukov with a flying forearm early on. No surprise there as the Russians were really a lower rung team in the division. After a  little back and forth, the playing field is evened back up when Demolition’s Ax takes out Jacques, spelling the end for the Rougeaus. Demolition’s temper would spell the end for them however as Smash would later pick a fight with the referee, throwing them out of the match. The Hart Foundation and Strike Force then take stage, as the major feud of the division, with Neidhart pinning Santana, sending the champs back to the showers. Next to fall are the Bulldogs followed by the New Dream Team. The face team is now left with the ultimate underdogs – the Killer Bees and Young Stallions, up against the former champs and the Islanders. Surprisingly, Brunzell of the Bees gets the huge upset pin on Bret Hart, taking the Foundation out of the affair. Wow. We follow things up with Tama of the Islanders falling to a sunset flip from Killer Bee Blair, for a surprise victory at 30:44. Interesting choice for survivors in the Bees and Stallions, as neither team would see a sustained push in the division from here, but I suppose it emphasised the fact that anything could happen in these elimination matches.

Grade: ****

 

We send it backstage for a word with our teams for the main event, starting with Andre’s  battalion, followed by Hogan and his pals.

 

Elimination Tag Match:

Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera & Bam Bam Bigelow w/Sir Oliver Humperdink vs Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang, Rick Rude & Butch Reed w/Bobby Heenan & Slick

And now the showcase of the main event players. Or rather, Hulk vs Andre with a bunch of other guys added into the mix. Orndorff is back from his time off, and has once again repented for his past transgressions, back on the face side for his final run with the company. Muraco has also had a change of heart as he would play on the face side for the rest of his career which would only span another year or so. Ken Patera and Bam Bam are new to the company. Well Patera actually had a previous run but this is the first time he’s been on PPV. He won’t do much of note. Hulk of course is still champ and embroiled in his feud with Andre which would soon take an interesting twist in the new year. The other heels are mostly just big guys to impose the faces, although Rick Rude is a newcomer who will have a decent run over the years to come. Whilst the ring work in this match can’t compare with those prior, the crowd is still into this one, as to be expected when Hulk is involved. Say what you will, but he was a true star in the early PPV days of the company. The faces start things off well, with Hogan eliminating Reed in the early going. We tease a confrontation between Hulk and Andre that has the crowd going nuts, before Andre tags back out. The face team remains in control as we progress, but they lose two men in the space of two minutes as Patera falls to the Gang, whilst Rude takes out Orndorff. The score is evened up though when the now bulked up Muraco takes Rude out for the three count. His celebration doesn’t last long though as the huge One Man Gang eliminates the formerly Magnificent One. Finally, about fifteen minutes in we get Hogan and Andre in the ring together for the first time since Mania in Detroit. The crowd is off the chain, or as Gorilla would say – going bananas. Hogan is in control, but Bundy and Gang intervene, pulling the champion to the outside. Yes, Hulk is counted out, marking his first PPV loss. Great role model that he is, Hogan chucks a fit which Ventura of course points out, but eventually leaves the ringside area. Bam Bam is now all alone against the three big monsters on the heel team. The Bammer actually manages to take down Bundy and OMG, but he ends up falling to a hip toss from Andre to end the match at 22:53, marking the first time in PPV history that the heels have gone over in the main event of the card. Andre is the sole survivor, but Hogan is back out to pick things right back up from where they left off. The champ nails Andre with the title belt, cutting his celebration short, as the Hulkster closes the show posing in the ring despite not coming out on top in the actual match. But alas, its the Hulkamania era, what can you expect?

Grade: ***

 

 

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those shows that is really enjoyable despite not much of note actually taking place. You get four solid elimination matches, each showcasing a different division of the company at the time. The highlight is definitely the tag division match, which was exciting the entire way through. The company is really in a state of anticipation for the big Andre/Hogan rematch which was in the works for the new year, and the main event tag here was really to whet the appetite of the fans. The company would go through a few major changes in time for the next PPV broadcast Wrestlemania IV. For now, Hulkamania is alive and well, but let’s just say – everything has a price.

  

Three Stars of the Night:

You know, for this event its just too hard so I’m going to pass. Everyone in that 20 man tag match was on fire. 1987 has been a good year for PPVs.

 

Final Grade: 7 out of 10.

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Once again thanks for reading. Feel free to follow me at @mpmcc91 and discuss wrestling at any time. I should have Wrestlemania IV up at some point this weekend. I've decided to skip over the inaugural Rumble due to it being more of a TV event, but any major happennings will be detailed there.