Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Survivor Series 1987
*** Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
Survivor Series 1987: Hogan Whines & André Shines
November 26, 1987
Attendance: 21, 300
Buy Rate: 7.0
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura
Fun Fact: In 1987, the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions was beginning to stretch into more areas of the country. Their biggest event of the year was always held on Thanksgiving night and had become a tradition for the Southern wrestling company. For the 1987 event, they had booked Starrcade in Chicago, outside of its normal Southern stronghold. With the emerging PPV market, this was going to be the NWA’s first PPV event. All major NWA events prior to this one had been on closed circuit television. In order to compete with this event, Vince McMachon created the Survivor Series, which would focus on tag team wrestling. McMahon scheduled his event for the same night as Starrcade. Vince also turned up the pressure on the pay-per-view providers by telling them they would not get to air Wreslemania IV if they did not air Survivor Series exclusively. Most of the providers went with the WWF event, strongly cutting into Starrcade’s viewership. The PPV companies were not pleased with the tactics used and having to choose between the two. Crockett would move Starrcade to December in 1988, where it would stay until the company folded in 2001.
Match #1: Randy Savage, Brutus Beefcake, Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts & Ricky Steamboat defeat Honky Tonk Man, Harley Race, Danny Davis, Hercules & Ron Bass
Randy Savage, Jake Roberts & Ricky Steamboat
Harley Race and Jim Duggan are counted out at 4:21
Brutus Beefcake pins Ron Bass at 5:27
Honky Tonk Man pins Brutus Beefcake at 7:01
Jake Roberts pins Danny Davis at 11:20
Randy Savage pins Hercules at 16:27
Honky Tonk Man is counted out at 19:11
Fun Fact I: The legacy of the Honky Tonk Man takes shape on June 2, 1987. It was on that date that he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in WWF history when he defeated Ricky Steamboat to win the Intercontinental Title. There is an interesting back story as to why Vince took the belt of Steamboat so quickly. Steamboat’s wife, Bonnie, was preparing to give birth to their first son, and Steamboat asked Vince for six weeks off to be with her. Well, Vince didn’t much care for the idea of taking his Intercontinental Champion off the road for a month and a half, so he decided to oblige Steamboat, but he would be forced to drop the title first. So, on that fateful June 2, legend has it that Steamboat was scheduled to lose the title to the “Natural” Butch Reed and then head off on vacation. However, another wrench was thrown into these plans, as Butch Reed no-showed the event. Vince scrambled and decided to put Honky Tonk Man, who to this point was pretty much a joke, in the spot instead. He held that title much longer than he was supposed to, and the feud he starts with Randy Savage was to culminate with Savage winning the title he lost at Wrestlemania back from Honky. Savage had turned face over the summer and was ready to take back his Intercontinental Title. More on why that didn’t happen at the next WrestleMania review.
Fun Fact II: The seeds of Randy Savage’s face turn began on the 8/29 Superstars, which featured comments from the Honky Tonk Man, where he stated he was the greatest IC Champion of all time and to forget about past champions such as Ricky Steamboat, Tito Santana, and Randy Savage. On 8/27 Randy Savage pinned Omar Atlas. The match was taped to air on Challenge but was re-taped the following day due to Atlas playing a babyface when he was supposed to be heel. On the 9/5 Superstars, Honky Tonk Man showed up and mentioned how Randy Savage was upset over the comments Honky had made the previous week. Honky then added that he could sing, dance and wrestle much better than Savage. The next week on the 9/12 Superstars, they aired unseen footage following Randy Savage’s match the previous week. The footage saw Savage threatening Jimmy Hart in his dressing room, telling Hart to tell the Honky Tonk Man to stop talking about him. By September’s house shows Savage was fighting Hercules and One Man Gang, and even subbing for Hogan on a few shows. Finally, on the 9/26 Superstars, Craig DeGeorge conducted an interview with Honky & Jimmy Hart where Honky listed the 10 reasons why he was the greatest IC champion of all time. Savage interrupted and went to the ring to challenge Honky but the champion declined the offer, saying he wasn’t dressed to wrestle. By October all of Savage’s house show matches were against heels. On the October 3rd 1987 Saturday Night’s Main Event, Randy Savage challenged Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship. Towards the end of the match, fellow Jimmy Hart wrestlers the Hart Foundation interfered and cost Savage the match. After the DQ, the Harts and Savage mercilessly pounded on Savage and Honky even shoved down Elizabeth to the gasps of the crowd. Elizabeth went scurrying to the back, during which time the Harts held Savage up and Honky smashed his guitar over Savage’s head. Elizabeth then returned with Hulk Hogan in tow. Hogan chased off the Hart Family and shook hands with Savage, establishing the relationship that would dominate the storylines for the next year and a half.
Fun Fact III: Ronald Herd began wrestling under the name Ron Bass in 1975. He wrestled through the NWA territories where different nicknames followed him depending on what territory he was in, including “Outlaw” Ron Bass, “Cowboy” Ron Bass and Oliver Bass. In the early 80’s, Bass primarily wrestled in Florida Championship Wrestling and for Jim Crockett Promotions in the Mid-Atlantic region. Bass joined the WWF in 1987 where a feud with Blackjack Mulligan was in the works. Before the feud got off the ground, Mulligan got mad at WWF management and left the promotion to go back to Florida. This left Bass in the midcard. He took part in the inaugural Survivor Series in 1987 as well as the 1988 Royal Rumble and was part of the 20 man Battle Royal at Wrestlemania IV. Bass retired from pro wrestling in 1991.
Scott: A lot has changed since late March in the Silverdome. The Honky Tonk Man is your Intercontinental Champion, pretty much by accident. If true, I don’t understand in terms of who could replace Butch Reed on that infamous TV taping why they picked Honky. I still don’t, but he does captain this team of misfit heels against a team of guys who, when the year started, you never would have expected to be on the same team. Three of the five guys on the team were heels in January (Roberts, Savage and Beefcake). A lot has changed as the roster was getting shaken up, because clearly the bookers knew which characters would connect with the audience. They needed a solid base of babyfaces to help support Hulkamania and the crowd can have multiple guys to root for. The biggest change in terms of popularity was Jake Roberts. The Snake received a huge push of popularity when he turned face and eventually you saw a myriad of Jake signs and t-shirts. At one point he may have been the #2 face in the company. But, right now the Macho Man is clearly being positioned as the #2 babyface behind Hogan, as you can tell by being the captain of the #2 face team on this show. As for how this show is structured, there’s one survivor match for every division in the company: A main event match, a mid-card match, a women’s match and a tag team match. The action was solid considering it was a new concept to have this many guys in one match on teams. In the end Honky was the last heel left and he just begged off. Of course the top mid-card babyfaces remained in the end, as Macho Man, the Snake and the Barber stand tall. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Our first new concept PPV that would stick on the schedule has officially arrived. It is also the first time WWF is running a major PPV supercard on a holiday. With a loaded roster filled with great talent, tossing competitors onto different teams and letting them go to war made a ton of sense. As we will see, each match on the card features the wrestlers within each division of the roster. In our opener, we have the upper mid-card/IC Title division going at it. With the champion Honky Tonk Man leading one team, the other is made up of all the guys that seem to hate his guts…and Jim Duggan, who was out for revenge on Harley Race, with whom he was embroiled in a tense feud with. Randy Savage has completed his face turn, one that was much needed thanks to fan groundswell. In fact, it was very similar to the forced turn of his parter Jake Roberts from earlier in the year. It was surreal to see Ricky Steamboat teaming with two of his most heated rivals, Savage and Roberts, but a common enemy and goal will do that for you. Savage and Liz get a fantastic pop and his star power has officially gone off the charts. It is clear he was set up to be a big money player for the company in the coming years. This was a nice spot for Brutus Beefcake as well, elevated alongside some high ranking face peers. Beefcake would open things up with Hercules and almost grabbed a quick win with the sleeper, but Herc was able to wriggle free and make a tag. I thought maybe they would try to put over the concept with a really quick elimination there. The crowd was red hot for Savage’s team as they began to dismantle poor Danny Davis, who was clearly there to be the early guinea pig. After getting his ass handed to him by the entire team he somehow escaped to safety, tagging in the King, who was still going strong in the promotion. He gets a short sequence with Steamboat, a tease of what could have been a really cool extended match. Duggan would head in next and he and Race quickly tumbled to the floor while brawling, leading to a double count out and the first eliminations in Survivor Series history. It was not a surprise that they wanted to keep that feud hot for the house show circuit. This match also brings us the debut of Ron Bass, a former Florida and JCP competitor. He was a prototypical cowboy wrestler: stiff, rough and tumble and brandishing a bullwhip. He gets a nice little quickie battle with Savage, landing some solid offense in a back and forth. Unfortunately for him, it was a quick night as Savage slapped a blind tag to Beefcake, who came in and crunched Bass with a high knee for the elimination.
The remainder of Team Honky finally slowed the pace down and began working over the Barber, trying to gain some semblance of control in this one. Beefacke had an opening to tag out, but instead stuck in the ring and ended up eating a Shake, Rattle & Roll from the champ, ending his night. Savage came back in and kept gunning for Honky on the apron, something Jesse called out, citing that Savage was so obsessed with Honky that it could cost him. Jesse’s analysis was so fantastic, noting that he was shocked Savage would follow Beefcake’s mistake with one of his own. He also noted that Honky is just as lucky as he was good, which was quite true. It is amazing how far Roberts has come as a face as the Coliseum comes unglued for him wrecking Davis and knocking him out of the match with a DDT. Davis had a longer run than I expected. At this point, it was 3-2 for Team Savage, but Hercules started working Roberts over, continuing his really nice showing. In rewatching these shows, I have really become impressed with Herc as a heel. He has had some nice showings and was way more energetic than I remembered. Honky couldn’t put Roberts away after a long heat segment and that pretty much sealed his fate, as Herc was eliminated by Savage shortly later. And with that, it was HTM against the three men that hated him most. And they took joy in torturing him, avoiding pin attempts and instead tagging in and out and pulverizing him until HTM just bailed and ran away, accepting the count out loss. That was fine booking, no point in beating HTM just yet and the faces got more than enough shine on him to satisfy the fans. Jesse also points out that it was smart for him to avoid injury and bail. That was a hella fun opener, with great energy and pacing and a red hot crowd that was super into the face team. The Savage Train has left the building, hop on while there is still room. Grade: ***
Match #2: Velvet McIntyre, Rockin’ Robin, Fabulous Moolah & the Jumping Bomb Angels defeat Lelani Kai, Judi Martin, Dawn Marie, Donna Christanello & Sensational Sherri
Jumping Bomb Angels
Velvet McIntyre pins Donna Christanello at 1:57
Rockin Robin pins Dawn Marie at 4:10
Sensational Sherri pins Rockin Robin at 6:49
Judy Martin pins Fabulous Moolah at 10:53
Velvet McIntyre pins Sensational Sherri at 14:54
Lelani Kai pins Velvet McIntyre at 17:20
Noriyo Tateno pins Lelani Kai at 18:35
Itsuki Yamazaki pins Judy Martin at 20:14
Fun Fact I: Sherri Russell was introduced to professional wrestling by her mother as she would take Sherri and her sister to matches when they were children. In 1974, Sharri approached Grizzley Smith about getting involved in wrestling, Smith questioned her passion for the business and told her to come back in five years when she was an adult. She later sought training from “Mr. Personality” Butch Moore in Memphis. She started her career under the name Sherri Martine, but felt that she needed more training. She continued her wrestling journey at the Fabulous Moolah’s wrestling school, where Moolah changed her name to the one she would be best known for, Sherri Martel. Larry Zbyszko helped her get into the AWA and in September 1985 she won the AWA World Women’s Championship. In addition to wrestling, she started her managerial role, where she was part of the team with “Playboy” Buddy Rogers and “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers, helping them win the AWA World Tag Team Championship.
Martel was referred to the WWF by former AWA talent Jesse “the Body” Ventura. She debuted on July 24, 1987 where she defeated Moolah for the WWF Women’s Championship. She changed her name to Sensational Sherri while holding the title for 15 months before dropping it to Rockin’ Robin. In 1990, the WWF phased out the Women’s title, so Sherri turned her attention to managing. After Randy Savage’s heel turn in 1989, she began managing the former champion before turning on Savage after his loss as WrestleMania VII. Later than evening, she returned to the ring with Ted DiBiase, whom she managed until 1992.
Martel was paired with Shawn Michaels in 1992 after his breakup with tag team partner Marty Jannetty. She helped lead Michaels to his first Intercontinental title. She also sang on the original release of Michaels’ entrance theme, “Sexy Boy”. Sherri left the WWF in 1993 and had a brief stint in ECW where she managed Shane Douglas. Martel moved on to the WCW in 1994 where she is best remembered for managing the tag team Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) to 7 WCW World Tag Team Championships. She was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Ted DiBiase. On June 15, 2007, Sharri Martel died in her mother’s home in McCalla, Alabama from a drug overdose. Sherri was 49 years old.
Fun Fact II: The Jumping Bomb Angels were a Japanese women’s tag team formed by Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki. They were a well known Japanese team who captured the World Women’s Wrestling Association (WWWA) Tag Team Championship in January, 1986. The Angels would enter the WWF in mid-1987 and wrestle in the women’s tag team Survivor Series match in 1987. In January 1988, they would capture the WWF Women’s Tag Team titles at the inaugural Royal Rumble event.
Scott: Well this was an interesting train wreck. Sherri Martel was the showcase piece of the heel team, but Vince was still trying to establish some type of women’s division. Moolah was now a babyface which was probably unthinkable if you were an old school wrestling fan from the 1950’s. She could have been one of wrestling’s greatest heels for decades but now she is too be cheered. That was kind of odd. The other showcase piece was the Jumping Bomb Angels, this innovative Japanese team which was nothing that WWF fans had ever seen before. Vince even created a women’s tag titles just for them, and to make them look better he put two singles heels together and had Jimmy Hart manage them. The rest of the teams were put together by leftovers like Donna Christenello, Dawn Marie and the overrated Velvet McIntyre. The action is the usual lady wrestlers’ moves of the 80s: lots of airplane spins and hair pulling. The Angels come away the winners and are clearly positioned for a big push. Grade: **1/2
Justin: The next division up for showcase is the women’s. It is pretty impressive that they dug up ten ladies to fill the sides of this match, but really the focus was just on a handful. The heel team is…well, to put it kindly, quite aged. Dawn Marie and Donna Christanello were better suited as extras on the Golden Girls at this point. I am pretty sure they were pulled out of a canasta game and flown to Richfield, which was probably the big city for them. Christanello was especially ripe. Even Scott thinks she is too old. The bathing suits don’t help either. The Glamour Girls are also on this team and they are currently the women’s tag champs and are led by Jimmy Hart, who adds some credibility to the unit. They are also old. The centerpiece of the team is the newly acquired Sensational Sherri, who had jumped over from the AWA. It was clear they saw big things for her as she almost immediately took the gold and became the division honcho. Over on the face side, we still have Fabulous Moolah trucking along as the (great) grandmother of the division. Gorilla and Jesse joke about her being announced at 160 pounds, which Jesse proclaims is “beefy for her”. She is flanked by our old friend Velvet McIntyre, who jobbed out quick to Moolah back at WrestleMania II, budding “star” Rockin’ Robin and Japanese imports, the Jumping Bomb Angels. Outside of Sherri, and maybe Robin, it was clear that the Bomb Angels were set to be the focus of this match and the division. Christanello is so damn old and beaten down looking. I am pretty sure she used to work with me at Stop & Shop. Velvet gets the most shine early on, working a majority of the match and sending Christanello back to register seven. She followed that with a flurry on the Glamour Girls before tagging in Robin. Judy Martin looks a bit lost without her cribbage partner by her side. Robin was really awkward out there and I am not sure what they saw in her. I think Velvet came across as much more of a possible star than she did by any stretch. She would get a very awkward high cross body in on Dawn Marie to send her back to bag for Donna, putting the bout tally at 5-3. Finally we got to see the Angels in action and they impressed immediately, gracefully floating around the ring at a crisp pace and putting their older counterparts to shame. The fans seemed to buy right in as well, which was cool to see. They were even given some offense in on Sherri, rattling her with a double underhook suplex. That ended when Robin returned to clod her way through a segment with the champ. Thankfully Sherri would make quick work of her, saving us from anymore scintillating offense. That also allowed us to get more JBA action, which was much preferred.
While Velvet was a drop off, Moolah was on a whole different plane from the JBA and the match was so much noticeably slower and choppier when the JBA tagged out. Despite the disadvantage, the GG controlled the match for a bit until Moolah found her way back in. The fans did not seem to dig Moolah at all here, or perhaps they just wanted more JBA instead. The GG would take her out with a double clothesline, officially passing the torch and ending Moolah’s run as any sort of legit competitor. With the flotsam cleared out, the best six ladies remained and things started to pick up. Velvet continued to surprise me, wrestling with some intensity and clearly trying to stay relevant and hang with her partners. The GG were some nasty old bitches as they just started chucking their opponents around the ring by their hair with some true anger. Velvet would tag back in and slung Sherri around with a Giant Swing! She would take advantage and pin the champion, clearly setting her up as the top contender. You go Velvet! In a really nice power spot, one of the JBA’s had a struggle with Judy Martin, trying to lift her over with a double underhook, but Judy wouldn’t give until she got powered up and over against her will. The Velvet Beast finally fell to Leilani, but she had a heck of a showing here tonight. And with that, the GG and JBA remained to wow the crowd, putting the true emphasis on the tag division as opposed to big gold. The JBA would make quick work of the champs, and Jimmy Hart, to reign supreme over the division. Well, this was an odd mix of fun and…old? The times where Sherri, Velvet or the tag teams were in there were pretty good. Otherwise, it was slow and bland and ugly. Either way, the point was made: Moolah is done and the JBA are the future. Grade: **
3) British Bulldogs, Young Stallions, Killer Bees, Strike Force & the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers defeat Bolsheviks, Hart Foundation, Demolition, New Dream Team & the Islanders
Killer Bees & Young Stallions
Tito Santana pins Boris Zhukov at 1:44 (Bolsheviks eliminated)
Ax pins Jacque Rougeau at 5:48 (Rougeau Brothers eliminated)
Ax and Smash are disqualified at 9:13 (Demolition eliminated)
Jim Neidhart pins Tito Santana at 12:14 (Strike Force eliminated)
Haku pins The Dynamite Kid at 15:15 (Bulldogs eliminated)
Paul Roma pins Greg Valentine at 17:08 (New Dream Team eliminated)
Jim Brunzell pins Bret Hart at 23:59 (Hart Foundation eliminated)
B. Brian Blair pins Tama at 30:44 (Islanders eliminated)
Fun Fact: A few debuts here. First the champs: Strike Force. The Can-Am Connection broke up during the summer when Tom Zenk had a falling out with Vince (a grudge he still holds to this day). Martel hooked up with an aimless Tito and they upset The Hart Foundation the previous month in Syracuse to win the tag straps. It was both men’s second go-around with the tag titles. Tito had won them with Ivan Putski in 1979 and Martel with Tony Garea in 1980. The Young Stallions were two good looking jobbers, Paul Roma and Jim Powers. They would hang around for a while, but never make too much of an impact. On the heel side, Nikolai Volkoff needed a new tag team partner to replace The Iron Sheik, so Vince snagged Boris Zhukov from the AWA to form the Bolsheviks, a team that would last for nearly three more years. The former crowd favorite, King Tonga changed his name to Haku and hooked up with the former Tonga Kid to form The Islanders. The big debut is a team that would dominate the tag team ranks over the next three years. Bill Eadie (Ax) and Barry Darsow (Smash) are Demolition, a team many fans in other areas of the country thought were cheap Road Warriors knock-offs, but would win the tag team titles three times over the next two and a half years. Eadie was the former Masked Superstar and Darsow was Krusher Khrushchev in Mid-Atlantic. Darsow was from the same gym in Minnesota, coincidentally, that Animal and Hawk actually worked out in.
Scott: This is the pure workrate match of the show. You have all of the top tag teams in the promotion going at each other, including the lower card teams that may not belong with some of these top flight teams. I’m more talking about the Young Stallions, but to their credit they worked their butts off in this match. On the face side the showcase team is Strike Force, who recently upset the Hart Foundation to become Tag Team Champions. The showcase heel team is the powerful Demolition. Many feel they were Vince’s answer to the Road Warriors, which may be the case. I’ve always contended that another team that comes to the WWF in 1988 more copied them than Demolition did. The action is fast and furious here with teams like the Bulldogs and the Killer Bees flying around the ring both hitting moves and bumping for the bigger teams like Demolition and the Bolsheviks. As the match progresses we see the real athletic teams like the Islanders and the Harts keeping the pace going for over 37 minutes. The late 80s was the golden age of tag team wrestling, in both the WWF and the NWA. I was a little surprised that the final two teams were teams that were far down on the pecking order in the Stallions and the Killer Bees. From this moment until say 1991, the WWF may have some of the best tag teams in the history of the promotion. Grade: ***
Justin: We have seen the mid-card and women’s division showcased so far, so now it was time for the tag teams to do their thing. In a really cool booking decision, there are five teams on each side, meaning the ring is packed with a lot of great talent. The heel team is a very interesting mix of talent as we get the debut of some new units as well. First, we see Demolition, a team that had debuted early in 1987 but underwent an early change as Randy Culley was replaced by Barry Darsow to team with Bill Eadie. They had slowly been working their way up the card and by this point were becoming a top level team for the promotion. Also debuting here on the heel side is the team of the Islanders, comprised of Haku and Tama, managed by Bobby Heenan. Haku has been around for a couple of years now, but he hooked up with Heenan to team with a fellow island native in Tama. Finally on this side of ledger we have the Bolsheviks. With Iron Sheik kicked to the curb, Nikolai Volkoff stayed in the tag ranks by joining up with AWA import Boris Zhukov. Over on the face side, we see that Rick Martel now has a new tag team partner in Tito Santana. After Tom Zenk walked out of the promotion, Martel hooked up with Santana to form Strike Force and they were able to wrest away the tag titles from the Harts in the fall. We also see the Young Stallions for the first time, a unit comprised of handsome, lower card wrestlers Paul Roma and Jim Powers. And speaking of handsome, Jesse had some great logic for picking the heels: the face team is too pretty and will be too worried about their looks. The Bulldogs still feel like the, excuse the pun, alpha dogs out there even though Dynamite’s back was quickly deteriorating. Strike Force are the champs and captains, but it seemed the Bulldogs would be right back in the picture sooner than later. The crowd was very hot for the champs…or they just dig Girls in Cars. Seeing this mass of humanity around the ring was really cool and showed off the great division depth beautifully. It also allowed for a super fast pace and quick tags as nobody should ever need to rest in the ring.
The Bolsheviks were the first team sent packing, courtesy Strike Force. In an early glimpse of a bit of a dream match, the Bulldogs and Demolition tussled for brief moments on and off. That would have been a really fun match when Dynamite was at his best. The heel team really used their power advantage, alternating between Haku, Smash and Dino Bravo just chucking dudes around. Jesse & Gorilla did a nice job of putting everyone over here as soon as they entered. It made every team feel like a legit challenger for the titles. That said, Demolition was getting the hardest sell, eliminating the Rougeaus and getting a “Demolition has looked awesome” from The Body. It was interesting that early on, the Harts weren’t showcased at all and it seems like they have already become a bit of old news. With Bravo in for Beefcake, the New Dream Team has really petered out and they completely feel like afterthoughts here. In fact it felt more like a vehicle to just push Bravo for an eventual singles run. Demolition were next to go, but it was via DQ for being a bit too aggressive, the key sign of protecting someone for an impending push. They clearly got the most shine to this point, so it was coming. These fans really loved Strike Force…big time, just popping for every move. And I take back what I said about the Harts as they eliminate the champs when Neidhart pins Santana. Jesse notes that the win will shoot them back into contention, so maybe they aren’t done just yet. The ring has really thinned out but there was plenty of legit talent left in there. As things settled down, Roma became the piñata for the remainder of the heel team, building up a nice heat segment with lots of tags and strikes. Roma would finally tag out but for some reason Dynamite tagged him right back in. That was odd. Even Jesse called it out. The Bees stayed pretty fresh to this point, barely working the match at all. The longer this match edged on without the champs, I really started to question why they had to go down so early. It was an odd decision when you consider the teams still left. The Islanders picked up a big win for their resume when Haku pinned Dynamite to send the Bulldogs packing. It was pretty neat too, as Dynamite tried for his headbutt off the ropes, but it hurt him more than it did Haku, natch. A superkick later and the Bulldogs were cooked.
Things looked bad for the Stallions and Bees, but a really nice top rope sunset flip from Roma knocked the Dream Team out and evened the odds. At this point, it seemed the match was the Harts’ to lose. All added up, I think the Stallions had the most ring time in this one and they certainly made the most of it looking to make a name for themselves. Islander interference would lead to the Bees eliminating the Harts in a really big win for them. The Harts weren’t hurt too much there as it was clear miscommunication that did them in. This match was been really long. Good, but really long, especially once the Bulldogs went out. The pace would pick up down the stretch and after some nifty teamwork and a little bit of Bee MagiC, the most unlikely of sole survivors good tall in the Stallions and the Bees. I really enjoyed this match, both as a novelty and for the actual workrate, however I do this could have been a bit tighter by shaving some time off. As is, it was still really good right down to a pretty hot finish with a nice showcase for many of the teams involved. Grade: ***1/2
***We check out a vignette of Ted DiBiase celebrating Thanksgiving by driving around town in the back of one of his many cars, sitting in his library and eating a gourmet meal. He calls out the rest of the WWF and all of the working stiffs for not having the one thing really needed to survive: money. There are also clips of all his recent promo segments where he is humiliating fans blended in. The best line of the bunch: “Listen, I pay more in taxes than these people make in a year.” The filler continued with a long segment featuring Monsoon and Ventura breaking down the evening and previewing the main event. After that, Craig DeGeorge interviewed Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart on the podium. Honky was his delusional self, bragging about surviving earlier in the night and calling out Hulk Hogan for being jealous of him.***
Match #4: André the Giant, Butch Reed, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy & Rick Rude defeat Hulk Hogan, Ken Patera, Don Muraco, Bam Bam Bigelow & Paul Orndorff
André the Giant
Hulk Hogan pins Butch Reed at 3:08
One Man Gang pins Ken Patera at 8:00
Rick Rude pins Paul Orndorff at 9:39
Don Muraco pins Rick Rude at 10:26
One Man Gang pins Don Muraco at 12:10
Hulk Hogan is counted out at 16:45
Bam Bam Bigelow pins King Kong Bundy at 19:18
Bam Bam Bigelow pins One Man Gang at 21:38
André the Giant pins Bam Bam Bigelow at 22:53
Fun Fact I: A couple of big debuts in this match. Former Olympian, Ken Patera, who was also a former Intercontinental Champ, had just gotten out of prison after he and Mr. Saito roughed up some cops at a McDonalds late one night in 1984. He’d feud with the Heenan family, but that would be it. One Man Gang had been in a couple of territories in the southeast for close to 10 years. In fact he was part a trade between Jim Crockett in North Carolina and Jim Barnett in Georgia in the late 70’s. One Man Gang was traded to Georgia, and a young, extremely talented kid was sent to Mid-Atlantic. That kid? Ricky Steamboat. He started a feud with Ric Flair, and the rest is beautiful wrestling history. The next big debut was the “Smooth Operator.” Rick Rude had been in Memphis with Jerry Lawler starting in 1984, and then headed to Mid-Atlantic and the AWA. He had used Sade’s “Smooth Operator” as his entrance music, which was pretty swank. He obviously would get his own music here in the WWF, and would become a vital mid-card heel for the next three years. Many feel he was a lost gem that could have been a great heel world champion. Finally, we have the debut of a man who could have been a major force in the late 80s WWF: Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow started wrestling on house shows around the country in the spring. Then, starting on the 7/5 Challenge, various managers began announcing that they would be the one to sign Bam Bam Bigelow. Week after week each manager claimed they would sign the Bammer, but week by week announcements were made that certain managers were out of the running. On the 8/29 Superstars, Bobby Heenan was officially eliminated from the sweepstakes, leaving only Slick as a possibility. Finally, on the 9/5 Superstars, Craig DeGeorge interviewed Slick & Nikolai Volkoff, with Slick then introducing Bam Bam Bigelow, assuming he had won the Battle for Bam Bam. As soon as Slick made the announcement, Sir Oliver Humperdink appeared instead and introduced Bigelow, who came out, made it clear that Slick would never be his manager, punched out Volkoff, and announced Humperdink was his new manager.
Fun Fact II: Don Muraco is subbing for Superstar Billy Graham, who was supposed to make a triumphant return to the ring as a face. Graham, however, would have serious complications from hip surgery and would never wrestle again. He does return in 1988 to manage Muraco and then disappears from WWF TV for the next 15 years.
In 1986, Don Muraco had allied himself with Adrian Adonis and “Cowboy” Bob Orton against Roddy Piper. Orton and Muraco became a tag team during this time period. From May-July 1987, the team had gone through a losing streak that saw the pair arguing and shoving each other after matches. In late July after a loss to Tito Santana, Muroco shook Santana’s hand for being the better man in their match, leading to more arguing with Orton and signifying the beginning of Muraco’s face turn. On the 8/8/87 episode of Superstars, after losing a six-man tag match against Tito Santana, Hillbilly Jim and the Junkyard Dog, Orton and Muraco fought into the crowd, splitting the team apart. In November, Muraco would come to the rescue of Superstar Billy Graham as he was getting attacked by Butch Reed. Muraco would take on Graham as his managre and would start wearing tie-dye clothing and changed his moniker to “The Rock” Don Muraco.
Fun Fact III: This match is the final appearance of Mr. Wonderful in a WWF ring. He would go into semi-retirement in 1988 until his signing with WCW in 1990. He was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and made an appearance at Wrestlemania XXX during an interview segment with the men who made up the main event at the first WrestleMania.
Scott: Our main event has not only the two biggest stars in the promotion right now, but a few debuts and returns that will shape the company for the next couple of years. The “phantom count” at WrestleMania III has lingered throughout the summertime and we have the next chapter of the saga here. I like that Jesse thinks Joey Marella is “Hogan’s personal referee”, on top of the fact it’s Gorilla’s real life stepson. We see some guys switching sides here, as Don Muraco sheds the “Magnificent” moniker and he is “The Rock”. He also looks like he’s bulked up again, and probably not the natural way either. He replaces Superstar Billy Graham here and eventually they hook up as manager and protégé. We see Butch Reed get punished for allegedly no-showing that house show back in June as he gets pinned pretty quickly. How 1980s was it that Marella acknowledged a high-five from Hogan to Patera as a “tag”. Jesse wigs out over that. Patera is back after being in the pokey for a couple of years, and he’s selling an injury with that old school arm brace that looks like some sort of torture mechanism. I love the heel team, as other than Rude they are loaded with big time heel hosses like Gang, Bundy and of course Andre. The shocking turn of events here is when Hogan is counted out and leaves the match. That blew me away as we expected Hogan winning and giving his post-match posedown. Well he’d do that anyway, after Andre’s team wins when the newcomer Bam Bam Bigelow almost comes back from a 3-1 deficit late. Yet Hogan had to come back and stroke his ego by tossing Andre out and still doing his posing. That (in hindsight) was pretty low but then again during the height of drinking the “red & yellow kool-aid” nobody really noticed. This was a fun main event and Andre gets some heat back after WrestleMania by getting the win here, even if we don’t really remember that. Grade: **1/2
Justin: It is main event time, and we continue the biggest feud of 1987 as Hulk Hogan leads a team in against André the Giant. André had back surgery over the summer and had not been in a ring since he lost his World Title match at WrestleMania. Both teams were well stocked and loaded, especially André’s, which was filled with some big time beef in King Kong Bundy and the One Man Gang. The team also featured hot newcomer Rick Rude, an import from the NWA that had WWF written all over him, meaning both gimmick and body. Butch Reed rounded out the squad, still just meandering around but getting a pretty good slot here. I almost passed out from excitement seeing Slick lead Reed and Gang out together to Jive Soul Bro. That could have been a pretty bad ass team. André was a man on a mission as he stalked to the ring, stoic and ready to exact revenge on Hogan. We have seen lots of newcomers on this show, but one that was really hyped and positioned for a big time run was Bam Bam Bigelow. He had a very unique look and the fans here loved him. Hogan gets the pop of the night, natch, and his feud with André still seems really fresh and big time. In a great call back, Ventura questions why Joey Marella always gets to referee Hogan’s matches, harkening back to the phantom three count at Mania. Don Muraco opens things up for the faces as he has switched allegiances over the summer, aligning himself with Superstar Billy Graham in an attempt to revive his fluttering WWF run. Rude would get the early tap from André, but he did not get off to a very hot start as he just gets mollywhomped by all of Hogan’s team, beaten from post to post by every member until that idiot Ken Patera knocked him back into his corner so he could tag out. Patera had returned to action in May after a stint in jail and subsequently sucked up hours of TV time in a rather pointless feud with Bobby Heenan. Paul Orndorff looked pretty energized here, back to being a face after his red hot run with Hogan in 1986. Speaking of Hogan, he picked up the first fall, eliminating Reed with a legdrop. That was followed with the much anticipated showdown between Hogan and André, but Hogan had inadvertently tagged out while celebrating in his corner before he noticed André. Jesse was phenomenal here, ripping Marella for always saving Hogan.
Rude’s bad night continued as he just had zero offense in between getting hammered by his opponents. He would survive and tag out once again though. The size advantage of André’s team finally took hold as the Gang knocked Patera out of the bout to even thing up. Bigelow would make his first entrance and the crowd ate it up as he went toe to toe with the Gang. Despite his rough going, Rude would get the last laugh on Orndorff, the man he was brought in to replace, by rolling him up for an elimination. That would be it for Mr. Wonderful in the WWF, another mainstay of the early PPV family expunged. Rude quickly fell after that, pinned by Muraco. And right after that and a quick flurry, Muraco also went down, pinned by Gang after an assist from André. It was obvious that André was still recovering as he has had just about no ring time, letting his team do all the dirty work. Bundy and Gang would take a few minutes to pound on Bigelow and it looked like we may get Hogan stuck against some extreme odds. Once André did come in, Bigelow was able to swiftly escape and tag Hogan, leading us to our red hot Mania rematch. Hogan had André rocked and on the verge of going down until he got yanked to the floor by Bundy, where he got tied up into a fight and eventually counted out. During the melee, Hogan slammed both Bundy and Gang on the floor in a pair of impressive spots that has been forgotten over time. Hogan and the fans were not happy with that decision and it was pretty shocking at that time, as Hogan had always stood tall at these shows. This was a lot of faith and shine for Bigelow, having him man up and go right at these three monster opponents. He kept trucking and would mow through Bundy and Gang despite barely being able to stand. André would come in immediately and despite a gutty effort from Bigelow, the Giant would hit his double underhook suplex to leave Richfield as the sole survivor. I really loved this match as it featured some fantastic characters, a ton of energy and really good booking down the stretch. It also helped rebuild André for his eventual rematch. Unfortunately for André, the bell had barely rung before Hogan sprinted to the ring to knock him to the floor and celebrate instead. Jesse was rightfully pissed about it and this is the first time we are given a real reason to give Hogan some backlash for being a real asshole. It was awesome seeing André get his moment, but it sucked that he barely got to celebrate it. They could have had Hogan come out after the PPV went off the air to pose for the live crowd, but I think you could argue this attack damaged him for than it helped. Grade: ***
Scott: This was a fun show and a huge need for the WWF to get an end of year show on the calendar, if for nothing else than to compete with the NWA’s Starrcade. The show also gave the fans a chance to see the entire roster at once. We see some new faces as well as new allegiances from heel to face. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts and Bam Bam Bigelow were the big winners here for the faces, as well as Andre getting some revenge on Hogan (if only for a few minutes). This also showed the company’s tag team division was loaded and would only get better throughout 1988. Overall a decent show that kept the big feuds going, while setting the stage for what’s to come in the new year. Final Grade: B-
Justin: What a gem of a show for sure. This PPV is surprisingly fun to watch, as it features all the top stars of 1987 in long, fast paced matches. The opener is a great showcase for all the upper-mid-card talent and helps establish some fresh I-C contenders. The women’s match is a big change of pace, and watching the Angels is always fun, as they were so different than anything else at the time. The big tag team survivor match is impressive because of the depth of the division. We also see some new teams surface, ones that would dominate the tag ranks for years. The Main Event features a nice array of talent as well, but was mainly a showcase for the hot Bigelow and a nice way to give André a big PPV win. A lot of the talent at this show makes a quick exit shortly after it, so it’s also a nice chance to see some fading stars and teams as well as tons of debuting faces that would be around for a while. There is also a whole lot of fantastic commentary and character building blended in here. I won’t say this show has any real historical significance, but it is definitely worth watching if you have some time to kill, follow some some solid character development and want to see some good old school WWF wrestling. Final Grade: B