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30 Years of Survivor Series, Part 1: Barely Surviving

If you're new to the site (and a huge amount of you are), a couple of years ago, some crazy guy named BaconStrips went off his rocker and decided to review every WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Royal Rumble show. Obviously, if you're playing along at home, you may have noticed that Survivor Series was omitted from this list.

Why? Well, BaconStrips got himself a full time job and started live blogging for this lovely place. Honestly, Survivor Series went by the wayside.

Fast forward two years. BaconStrips went corporate and changed his name to Chris Dawson and has an awesome full-time job, but doesn't blog anymore (multiple reasons went into that as I've discussed before). That said, I have slightly more free time right as a milestone is peeking over the horizon.

The 30th Survivor Series is this year. So, it's time to remind myself how to review shows and finally knock this son-of-a-gun out. We're gonna watch all the Survivor Series shows this year and give them a review.

Now if you've read any of my show reviews from a couple years ago, you know that I would watch a show and review them individually. This time, we're going to do five at a time to make things easier for all of us. It'll also allow me to be a little more free-form with my writing so I can have a little more fun.

Enough blabber, let's dig right into this beast.


So we start this schlep with what else? The first Survivor Series held on Thanksgiving 1987 in Cleveland, Ohio. It was WWE's way of taking advantage of the hype following WrestleMania III and the iconic feud between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant (and also Vince McMahon's way of taking advantage of cable companies so that they would only air WWE, not NWA). The original formula was simple: a night showcasing the best that tag team wrestling had to offer in four five-on-five elimination matches. In the first few shows, each member of one team had a beef with a member of the other team, so there was an element of storytelling in these matches, believe it or not.

On paper, the idea was great. In didn't exactly go to plan for a while. First of all, we need to remember that the vast majority of wrestlers in the late 1980s frequently dined on healthy diets of steroids and cocaine, so stamina, technique, and finesse were solidly in the back of the line behind HOSS HOSS HOSS and MUSKLES! Therefore, these matches would start out at a fairly fast pace and slow to a trudge within five minutes...not a great way to stay awake after devouring Grandma's turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

Therefore, this first show was very boring. The first match started with promise, but slowed down because gassed performers. Also, the first EVER Survivor Series elimination was, of all things, a double count-out.

Yes. Just let that little fact set the stage for the rest of the Survivor Series series. Oh, and to make it better, guess how the first match ended....with Honky Tonk Man (the lovable human being he is) WALKING OUT.

Yes, this is going to be a great series.

The next match was a women's match that featured the Jumping Bomb Angels (yay!) and Moolah (one of the worst things ever to happen to women's wrestling). It was bad, but dammit, them Bomb Angels tried their damndest and survived...only to get politicked out of WWE by Moolah....yep. One of the saviors of women's wrestling? Hack-pew.

Next was a five-on-five elimination match featuring ten tag teams. If you're playing along still, there were TEN men at each corner. Therefore, your view during the majority of this 37(!!!) minute match was of some babyface's lovely toned buttocks. Thankfully you didn't miss much in the ring - the match was so slow that even the ref was getting gassed.

The main event started decent, but went down the toilet quickly after Hulk Hogan had to Hogan all over Butch Reed. One Man Gang, for whatever unholy reason, had to dominate (so so so bad), and other stuff happened. Andre was the sole survivor, but who had to stand tall?

That's right! JOHN CENA ROMAN REIGNS HULK HOGAN!!! As you can tell, WWE learns from their past.

List of matches is here with the results, but this show was just average. I give it a C.


Next up is Survivor Series 1988, again from Cleveland, Ohio. By this time, you'd think that WWE would have had their act together and had this stuff figured out? NOPE!!! This one was worse than the preceding show.

Granted, the first match was pretty solid. There was another double count-out because of course, and this time Bad News Brown walked out of the match (but I do agree with this since this fit his character as a lone ass-kicker), but other than that, no complaints. At this time Ultimate Warrior was getting stupidly over, and the Blue Blazer was also cutting his teeth at this time, so there was that to look forward to.

The next match....another big tag team elimination match with ten dudes in one corner....sigh. At least the Brainbusters were in this one, but not even Arn Anderson's glorious spinebuster could save this 42 minute monstrosity. For some reason, Los Conquistadores lasted a stupidly long time because no one would pin them (note: Survivor Series also needs a "dumbest ass" award). At the end of this one, there was the rare double turn during which Mr. Fuji betrayed Demolition and allied himself with the Powers of Pain. The turn was made official minutes later during an interview, but when it first happened, no one knew what was going on (doesn't this also sound familiar?).

Match number three....nope. Let's not even talk about this snoozefest.

The main event was both boring and incredibly stupid with no one trying to pin their opponents because taunting is better or something - I don't know (this show would easily earn a spot on the renowned WrestleCrap website). The faces rolled and won in the end.

But things did get interesting after the match. The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage) were celebrating when Hogan celebrated a little too much with Ms. Elizabeth by picking her up for a hug. Savage saw this and didn't like it one bit. His jealousy was very evident to everyone but Hogan. It was this moment where the explosion of the Mega Powers began (and eventually culminated in a decent main event at WrestleMania V).

Details here, but this show really sucked and gets a D


Alright, Survivor Series 1989, and this one also sucked. However, this one played with the format and went with 4 vs 4 elimination matches, so it made for somewhat quicker matches.

The opener was actually pretty solid and featured Dusty Rhodes (who wouldn't let Vince's attempted burial throw him off his game), Honky Tonk Man (lolol), and Bad News Brown (obviously the heels didn't learn from last time because BNB walked out on them again). I can't think of any complaints for this one, so that's a good thing....also one of the only good things from this show.

The second match started as average, but just fell apart. It also marked one of the early appearances of Earthquake (who at this time went by "Canadian Earthquake), and Hercules would remember this night because he got a faceful of Earthquake (eww). Other stuff happened, but it was clear that this show was off the rails.

The third match....ooh boy. First of all, Hulk Hogan wasn't in the main event, so that was surprising. Secondly, for some unknown reason, WWE was still pushing Zeus as the "Human Wrecking Machine"...even after being pinned by Hogan at SummerSlam and quickly getting DQ'd in this one. This match was so much so that I literally wrote the word "stupid" six times during this one match. Let's just purge this one from our memories, shall we?

Next was a boring comedy-style match that was boring and stupid. There was another double count-out, but it involved Rick Rude and Roddy Piper trying to murder each other, so it was fun. Other than that, who cares?

The main involved the Ultimate Warriors (who probably did a few mounds of coke before this one) and some heels who got a jobber entrance. Arn Anderson was involved, but there was no Tully Blanchard in sight for unfortunate reasons, but still...DAT SPINEBUSTER!! Also, Bobby Heenan was a competitor and pinned Marty Jannetty for a huge upset. In the end, guess what? The faces won...yay.

Results here. Show sucked, so D


Alright, Survivor Series 1990. Could this show break the streak of bad shows? Yes, it actually did. This show is notable for two iconic debuts, and was also fueled by patriotism due to the United States being involved in Operation Desert Shield in the Middle East. It also continued with the 4v4 formula, making for shorter matches.

Alright, first match (brought to you by cocaine because of course), and it was actually really fun. The action was exciting, Demolition and the Legion of Doom got DQ'd for trying to kill each other, Ultimate Warrior ran over Bobby Heenan a couple times, and Roddy Piper was absolutely insane on commentary. No complaints at all.

Next, one of our two debuts: The Undertaker, who was managed by Brother Love for reasons. He quickly made an impact by murdering Koko B. Ware with a tombstone and later leaving the ring to destroy Dusty Rhodes for a count out. All in all, this was another fun one with Bret Hart being eliminated last and looking absolutely stunned over it. You could tell that his singles push was absolutely imminent.

Third match was also fun (seriously, what was going on tonight?). Jake Roberts' eye was messed up by Rick Martel's Arrogance spray, so they made a good story out of it when Roberts (at this point the sole member of his team) chased Martel to the back for the count-out. Roberts wanted blood, but wouldn't get it for a while.

The fourth match was honestly average, but it was a hoss fight if you're into that sort of thing. Earthquake and Tugboat had a face-off and brawl to a count-out, so there's that. Also, if I heard correctly, Hulk Hogan was getting some boos, so this was likely the point where crowds started to sour on him a bit.

Match five was more a showcase of 'MERICA kicking some Middle Eastern ass. Vince needed his patriotism kick, so he got it. Nothing more to say.

Now before we hit on the main event, let us talk about the elephant in the arena. All night long, there was one big egg sitting on the stage and was supposed to hatch. What was in it? A car? A full turkey dinner? The secret to a successful sex life?

No...the goddamned Gobblety-Gooker, some poor soul in a Dollar Tree turkey costume who communicated by gobbling, dancing, and rolling. This whole segment was a dud. Viewers at home hated it, people in the arena booed it, and Gene Okerlund's soul died a little bit.

Oh, and there was a main event, which was a sort-of "Ultimate Survivor" match. As you'd expect, the team with Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan

Results here. Fairly fun show, so it gets a B.


Last show of this post, Survivor Series 1991, and we're back to our average quality for Survivor Series.

The first match was pretty fun though because Ric Flair, who had recently debuted in WWE, was involved and was able to turn his cheating tactics into a good story for the match, even turning a really stupid ending into one that makes sense for Flair. Also, Gorilla Monsoon made a BDSM reference if you're interested in looking for that kind of thing.

Second match was a quick domination for the faces, including Sgt. Slaughter, who had recently turned face from a really stupid heel run. After the match we got a really good treat from a heel Jake Roberts, who is such a powerful presence when he talks about how his cobra bit and poisoned Randy Savage, a scene that goes down as one of the most frightening in WWE history.

The third match, believe it or not, was the first ever singles match for Survivor Series, and it was for the WWF Championship as the then-undefeated Undertaker took on Hulk Hogan and (shockingly) won with the assist from Ric Flair (who positioned a chair for a tombstone). Undertaker won his first title, but then infamously lost it the very next Tuesday. That loss for Undertaker was a huge burial, and he wouldn't recover until 1997 when he won his next championship from Sycho Sid.

Match four (following a VERY insane promo from Ric Flair) was very boring, but featured the beginning of the Rockers explosion, which of course culminated with Marty Jannetty jumping out of the Barbershop window. That's all I gotta say about that.

The main event was a six-man tag due to Randy Savage being unable to compete and Jake Roberts being suspended. However, as you would expect from an early-90s WWF main event, the faces rolled and won easily after the Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) turned babyface and abandoned I.R.S. after he inadvertently hit Typhoon with his loaded briefcase. All in all, it was a decent main.

Results here, but this show was back to an average C


That's it for the first five Survivor Series shows. Tune in next time as we explore the New Generation shows and one of the greatest matches in WWE history.

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