Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Survivor Series 1988

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*** 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. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

Survivor Series 1988: The Mega Powers Have Issues

November 24, 1988
Richfield Coliseum
Richfield, Ohio
Attendance: 13, 500
Buy Rate: 2.8
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura

Match #1: Brutus Beefcake, Blue Blazer, Sam Houston, Jim Brunzell and the Ultimate Warrior defeat Honky Tonk Man, Danny Davis, Greg Valentine, Ron Bass, and Bad News Brown in 17:50

Survivor:
Ultimate Warrior

Eliminations:
Beefcake pins Davis at 1:17
Brown pins Brunzell at 5:12
Brown is counted out at 7:50
Bass pins Houston at 10:09
Valentine pins Blazer at 12:29
Honky and Beefcake are both counted out at 15:44
Warrior pins Bass at 17:30
Warrior pins Valentine at 17:50

Fun Fact I: The only real debut of note is the masked Blue Blazer. Under the mask is Owen Hart, little brother of Bret Hart. Trained in the Dungeon, and with a successful career in Stampede, he makes his masked WWF debut here. He’ll pop in and out from time to time from now until 1992, when he becomes a regular on the roster.

Fun Fact II: Jim Brunzell was subbing for Don Muraco, who was originally scheduled to be in the match but left shortly before hand.

Scott: We start with the mid-card battle with a bevy of top flight characters and guys who are primed for big pushes. Next to the Mega Powers, there’s probably no two hotter babyfaces right now that the Barber and the Ultimate Warrior. It was no accident that Warrior was picked to end the Honky Tonk Man’s record Intercontinental Title reign, as he was getting crazy face pops around the house show circuit. The Fink called both Warrior and Beefcake “co-captains”. The rest of this team has mostly filler as Sam Houston is a pin eater, along with Jim Brunzell. As for the mysterious masked Blue Blazer, that was of course Owen Hart, youngest son of legend Stu Hart and little brother of Bret Hart. It was a perfect mix of red-hot characters and up and comers. Honky’s team is full of grizzled veterans and newcomer Bad News Brown. Brown in fact shows his type of character perfectly, as he eliminates Brunzell with his ghettoblaster, then disagrees with his team and walks out, as a loner would. His character is fascinating because in the days of kayfabe heels stuck together and didn’t argue with other heels. As for the heel captain, well it’s time for him to pay the piper. After holding the IC Title hostage, it’s time to pay back all the screwjob wins he got over the past year and a half. Back to him in a second, first nice continuity by the bookers for putting both Greg Valentine and Ron Bass in this match as they have history with Beefcake. As the pinfalls occur you can see where they are going as eventually the current IC Champion is all alone on the babyface team. Honky didn’t have to job here, but he is quickly forgotten and Warrior is the showcase piece in this match. Gorilla is so funny when he dispels actual facts to make the babyface look better, like when Warrior actually pins the wrong guy and Jesse tries to point it out. No matter anyway, as Warrior cleans out the last two guys to be the sole survivor. The build of this unique and incredible character continues to grow and the Richfield Coliseum goes crazy. What a fun opener and the right guy goes over. Grade: *** 

Justin: We are back in Richfield for the second annual Survivor Series and the card is once again stacked with big tag team matches across the various divisions of the promotion. This year we have co-captains for each team and we open with a pretty eclectic mix of talent in our first match. Ultimate Warrior and Brutus Beefcake had both chased the IC title throughout 1988 with the former taking the gold at our last show. Here they co-captain a team against the former champion Honky Tonk Man. Each team is a little top heavy with a weak back end, so things match up pretty evenly. Immediately Gorilla wonders if a loner like Bad News Brown can hang in a tag team situation. We will see. Greg Valentine has his rarely seen power blue trunks/yellow boots combo on and it pops tremendously. Beefcake has slowly morphed into the Barber we would grow up knowing as his hair has fully grown out into a full blown flowing mullet. And the Barber gets the first elimination of the night in very quick fashion when he puts Danny Davis to sleep and out of the bout. Davis was just about at the end of his in ring run here and goes out with a whimper. That is quite the fall from getting the pinfall at WrestleMania III. When Beefcake finally tagged out, the Blue Blazer made his PPV debut. The man under the mask is Owen Hart, brother of Bret, and he had been wowing crowds with his crisp, aerial style. He would tag out to Jim Brunzell, who was filling in for the departed Don Muraco in this one. The Killer Bees were no more as Brian Blair had also left in the purge of late-1988, so Brunzell is out of the yellow and black trunks and on his own. Bad News would even up the sides by polishing Brunzell off with the always swank Ghetto Blaster. Sam Houston would make his first appearance in the match here, and it would also be his final PPV bout as he departed in early 1989 after a fairly quiet run. Bad News looked the strongest by far early on, running through Brunzell and punishing Houston with easy arrogance. Those good feelings quickly crumbled when Valentine accidentally clocked Bad News, leading to an argument and Bad News walking out of the match. With Bad News counted out, the odds were back to Team Warrior Beefcake. I love that character development for Brown and it paid off the commentary that wove throughout the match to this point. The destruction of Houston continued as Ron Bass slipped right in and picked up where Brown had left off. Bass has Bob Golic’s haircut circa Saved by the Bell, The College Years at this point so I can see why Brutus had him in his crosshairs, no pun intended. Bass would even things up by eliminating Houston but that finally brought in Warrior to wake things right up. He started wiping everyone out, including Honky, to a huge pop. After planting Bass, he assisted in propelling the Blazer into a top rope splash that Bass actually kicked out of. Wow, that surprised me. The crowd was really revved up here as Blazer was cruising around the ring, taking the fight right to Honky. Honky would sneak away to tag out to the Hammer who ate a picture perfect gutwrench suplex. The pacing has been great since the Houston elimination. Blazer went up top, but Honky shoved him to the mat where Hammer hooked the figure four for the submission elimination. I think this could have been a really good opportunity to establish the Blazer by making him a survivor. He looked awesome when in there and the crowd was into him. It is weird that Hammer and Beefcake go at it as they look so different than they did as tag team champions over two years earlier. Mainly Beefcake, but Valentine has beefed up too. Honky’s team would expertly triple team Beefcake as Warrior stood helpless. There was nice continuity with this as Beefcake is fighting off the three men he has spent most of the last 18 months feuding with. He would come back and hook a sleeper on Honky but both men tumbled to the floor where they were both counted out of the match. That would leave the Warrior against two men, but he would fight them off and eliminate both to win the match in less than two minutes. I dug this opener and it really did its job in putting over Warrior as a true rising star. Beefcake, Bad News and Blazer all came off looking great as well and the only guys that got nothing were Brunzell and Davis, but they were fodder at this point anyway. The crowd was hot for this as well, especially the finish. The Warrior meteor continues to gain steam. Grade: **1/2

Match #2: Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, Young Stallions, British Bulldogs & the Rockers defeat Demolition, Conquistadors, Brainbusters, Bolsheviks & the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers in 41:35

Survivors:
Powers of Pain

Eliminations:
Bret Hart pins Raymond Rougeau at 4:51 (Rougeaus eliminated)
Boris Zhukov pins Jim Powers at 14:49 (Young Stallions eliminated)
Marty Jannetty pins Boris Zhukov at 17:32 (Bolsheviks eliminated)
Tully Blanchard pins Bret Hart at 26:22 (Hart Foundation eliminated)
Brainbusters and Rockers are both disqualified at 27:37
Smash pins The Dynamite Kid at 35:30 (British Bulldogs eliminated)
Demolition is counted out at 39:00
Barbarian pins Conquistador #1 at 41:35 (Conquistadors eliminated)

Fun Fact I: There are a few legendary debuts in this match, as four men make their WWF debuts. On the heel side, we have The Brainbusters, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. Blanchard is from San Antonio, and was trained by his father Joe. After spending some time in Texas, he went to NWA Georgia, then to Mid-Atlantic where he became an excellent upper mid-card heel, winning the National Heavyweight, US Heavyweight, and World Television Championships. Arn Anderson grew up in Georgia, and started his career there also. He migrated to the Carolinas. Blanchard and Anderson hooked up with Ole Anderson and Ric Flair. From there, the greatest heel faction in the history of professional wrestling was born: the Four Horsemen. They raised havoc for over two years. Now, half of them are in the WWF.

Fun Fact II: The other debut is on the face side, as the Rockers came from the AWA, where they had some bloody matches with Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, winning the AWA Tag titles twice. Marty Jannetty would be a solid tag team performer with a mildly successful singles career. Shawn Michaels, well let’s just say goes a little further than that. For now, they’re just a hot exciting new team.

Fun Fact II: After Survivor Series, Dynamite would not be seen on WWF TV ever again (other than vintage footage). After leaving the WWF in December, the Bulldogs returned to Stampede, where they won another tag title, but they eventually split and had a vicious feud. In 1990, they finally went their own ways, with Davey Boy going overseas for a brief run before returning as a solo act to the WWF. Dynamite wrestled for Stampede and in England, even forming a tag team called the British Bruisers with Johnny Smith, but the duo would be short-lived. Dynamite announced his retirement on December 6, 1991 after a tag bout in Japan as the years of steroid and cocaine abuse, along with his high impact style of wrestling, finally caught up to him. He would attempt a failed comeback in 1993, and his final match was for Michinoku Pro on October 10, 1996. He obtained a victory in a six man tag match, but it was clear his best days were behind him (his body had clearly degenerated to the point he was skin and bones). In 1997, Dynamite would be confined to a wheelchair after being told by a specialist that he could no longer walk. Davey Boy will be back shortly in our review world, but sadly we will no longer have the pleasure of watching the Dynamite Kid ply his trade on a major PPV setting.

Scott: I’m gonna say right now that I instantly mark out every time this match comes on. Never in history will there ever be a match where there is so much talent together at the same time. You have five or six teams in this match that are bona fide top 15 tag teams of all time. This match proves that the tag division in the WWF was absolutely stacked, and it made the Tag Title straps that much more special because so many teams deserved to be #1 in the promotion. The visual of guys literally around the entire length of the ring is pretty awesome. Right from the get-go you see all these expert tag teams just going right at each other, wanting to make an impression to the audience and move up the ladder. Let’s talk about the two new teams on the block, one on each side. On the babyface side you have the Rockers, two young aerial high-flyers who had briefly been with the company once but their behavior got them turfed. After more seasoning in the AWA they return to the WWF and instantly up the talent quotient in the company. On the heel side is one of my favorite teams of all time, the Brainbusters. First off they are former Horsemen, so you’ve piqued my interest immediately. Second, both Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard are flat out great wrestlers and third they’re managed by Bobby Heenan, who’s always been “the fifth Horseman”. It’s a treat to see them in the WWF, a non-cartoony tag team that’s just aces in the ring. These two teams would eliminate each other by brawling out to the aisle and out of the arena. This feud would lead to some tremendous house show matches between the two teams through early-1989. The real problem here is that Demolition was really getting face pops full bore now and being the captain of the heel team was really strange but that was rectified later in the match when we have the infamous “double swerve”. Fuji screws his team over by pulling the ropes on an Irish Whip and his team gets counted out, then when Demolition leaves (after working Fuji over) the Powers of Pain help Fuji and he starts to manage them. I understand switching teams but why would Fuji want to dump his tag champions? There’s no real logical reason to do that and (even though it needed to be done) it still makes no sense. The pace of this match is so fast and furious, more than probably a normal Survivor Series match because there are so many guys in the ring that energy can be expended at a more frenetic pace. In the end the (now heel) Powers of Pain win the match and are the sole survivors but the war with Demolition has just begun. One of the greatest Survivor Series matches ever and the highlight match of this show. Grade: **** ½

Justin: For the second straight year, we are assembling all of the company’s tag teams and letting them do what they do best. 1987’s installment was a great match chock full of talent but you could easily argue that the talent level has somehow improved a year later. And that was mainly due to the influx of a couple of new teams and the elevation and reshuffling of others. A year earlier, Demolition were hidden in the crowd and here they are the division aces. We also have four world class talents added into the mix now in Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, so that was bound to improve the quality regardless of anything else. The only team that has stepped back and feels a bit lost is the Hart Foundation, who are no longer the top face or heel team. It almost makes you wonder if they should have been split up earlier in 1988 when it was first considered. Another team that is just about done is the British Bulldogs. They would finish up with the company shortly after this show, ending the mercurial run of Dynamite Kid on the main stage in the wrestling world as he would slowly fade into bitterness and obscurity, his body destroyed and ravaged by injury. He does finish strong with a prime mustache/mullet combo on top of a heavily juiced frame. Another cool benefit of this match is seeing all the heel managers crowded around ringside, huddled up and talking strategy. Early on we would get a SummerSlam feud revisited as the Bulldogs and Rougeaus briefly tussled before tagging out. The match would reset multiple times early on as they tried to work everyone in and keep things humming along. Shawn Michaels officially kicks off his WWF PPV career and in a nice piece of trivia, his first official opponent was Boris Zhukov. Scoring the Brainbusters from WCW was a big get for the WWF as they struck a serious blow to WCW’s talent base and brought a stud team into an already loaded division. Same goes for the Rockers and the AWA. Quick tags and fast offense continued to rule this one as we go just about a full five minutes before our first elimination. And that came when Bret Hart caught Ray Rougeau with a small package to send the brothers packing and gain a little revenge on Jimmy Hart in the process. The crowd liked that one. And right off of that we got our first tease between the POP and Demolition as Barbarian and Smash briefly traded bombs before Smash tagged out. That was followed by a nice little treat as Hart and Tully Blanchard dueled, but again it was just a really quick morsel of what was potentially to come. Moments later, we were treated to our first AA PPV spinebuster as Arn snapped Shawn Michaels down with authority. One of the match long stories was that any time the Conquistadors tagged in, they tended to screw things up and allow their opponent to tag out but were always able to tag out themselves just before they could be eliminated.

The pace was great and frenetic here, never stopping or slowing down at all. The two hoss powerhouse teams would tangle again, sucking the crowd in further into a potential feud, as Warlord and Ax slugged it out this time. In a snippet of what could have been a dream match just a year earlier, Dynamite and AA had a short tussle before AA tagged out. That would have been just an awesome tag war if the Bulldogs were at full health. The Stallions were the first casualty on the face side as Boris rolled through a cross body block and pinned Jimmy Powers. The Russians would follow them right to the locker room as Marty Jannetty picked up a pinfall to send them packing. With the mix of talent in there, I think you could argue that this one match could have taken the whole three hour PPV up and still felt fresh throughout. We got to see a lot of great combinations and spots but some of these guys could have went twenty minutes with each other on their own. The Bulldogs and POP would start to wreck one of the Conquistadors, beating the crap out of him until he was able to stumble backwards and tag out to again remain in the bout. After Neidhart softened up Blanchard a bit, we were again treated to Tully and Bret going at it. It ended when Bret took Tully over with a German suplex into a bridge, but Tully got his shoulder up and eliminated the Harts. Dynamite tried to make him pay immediately with a crisp Tombstone piledriver, but Tully kicked out. That was followed by a big brawl between the Busters and Rockers that ended up with both teams being disqualified, continuing a feud that had been raging on the house show circuit. It was shrewd not to beat either of those teams and to keep the both strong in the eyes of their new fans. It was interesting that the Bulldogs got this much shine as they were the last team standing alongside the POP. Across the ring, it was quite shocking that the Conquistadors stood tall next to the champions. The Bulldogs would commit a crucial error when they had the Conquistadors dead to rights but didn’t bother to pin them, leading to another escape and tag out. For as fantastic as most of this match was, I thought the segment with the last four teams went on a bit longer than needed as it was just the Conquistadors getting beaten around and barely tagging out in time. It felt a bit like filling time. Finally, Dynamite missed a headbutt off the top and was rolled up by Smash to give the champs the advantage. In a bit of weirdness, Mr. Fuji decided to hop on the apron and start barking orders as his team was working he POP over. Things came to a head when Fuji held the ropes open as Smash was running them, causing his charge to tumble to the floor and eventually be counted out. Ax confronted Fuji, who retaliated by bashing him with his cane. The split was official as Smash grabbed Fuji and slammed him hard to the floor before walking out. Moments later, the POP went over to check on Fuji, dusted him and brought him to their corner for the rest of the match. They would quickly polish off the Cinderella Conquistadors to win the match and seal the shocking double turn. I was all for swapping the allegiances of these two teams as fan reaction had been dictating it, but I don’t understand Fuji’s thinking. Why would he dump the champs? And if he was hell bent on doing so, why wait until the end of the match? Why not do it right away. Fuji will always confound me. The match was fantastic throughout until the last five minutes or so but the double turn at the end was very memorable and launches Demolition’s epic face run. I wasn’t sure last year’s super tag match could be topped, but they managed to do it here. Grade: ****

*** Backstage, Bad New Brown demands a WWF Title match with Randy Savage. Also, Mr. Fuji defends his actions by claiming he made Demolition and they got too big for their own good so he jumped ship. ***

Match #3: Dino Bravo, Harley Race, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude and André the Giant defeat Ken Patera, Tito Santana, Jake Roberts, Scott Casey & Jim Duggan in 30:03

Survivors:
Dino Bravo and Mr. Perfect

Eliminations:
Rude pins Patera at 8:18
Bravo pins Casey at 9:27
Santana pins Race at 13:19
André pins Santana at 14:40
Duggan is disqualified at 21:22
Roberts pins Rude at 28:45
André is disqualified at 29:39
Hennig pins Roberts at 30:03

Fun Fact I: The one big debut here is another top of the line Grade A heel. Curt Hennig is the son of legendary heel Larry “The Ax” Hennig. From Minnesota, he cut his teeth in the AWA, winning the tag titles with Greg Gagne, and the World Heavyweight Title. He was brought in by Vince, but legend has it that the real big decision that was made was who would get the “Mr. Perfect” gimmick; Hennig or Terry Taylor. Both are very respected and capable athletes. Hennig is Mr. Perfect. We’ll see the gimmick Taylor got in our next match. The first of the many vaunted “Mr. Perfect” vignettes aired on 10/1/88 and featured Hennig playing basketball…perfectly.

Fun Fact II: Uber-jobber Scott Casey is replacing Brian Blair, who had been replacing Junkyard Dog in this match. JYD was part of Jake’s team originally to play off the ending of the JYD/Rude SummerSlam match, but JYD left the WWF shortly before the match. It was then decided that Brian Blair would replace him, but he was miffed that the Killer Bees were broken up, and saw the jobber writing on the wall and quit before the show. Scott Casey was the lucky jobber to be drafted onto the PPV.

Fun Fact III: As of October 2014, Harley Race, the first to retire of the group, is the only surviving member of the heel team.

Fun Fact IV: The Survivor Series match will be the last of the Jake Roberts/Rick Rude feud. Roberts would move on to feud with Andre the Giant while Rude would begin contending for the Intercontinental Title, both of which we will get to in later reviews. This rivalry was ahead of its time by blurring the line between wrestling and reality and pushing the envelope years before the Attitude era.

Scott: The first thing I have to say is that it’s very sad that Harley Race was the oldest member of this heel team, and he (as of 2014) is the only one still alive. What’s also sad is that Jake Roberts and Tito Santana were saddled with three of the worst stiffs in WWF history. We have the over but thoroughly annoying Hacksaw Jim Duggan, the career jobber Scott Casey, and the has-been creamy-legged hump Ken Patera. Perhaps the saddest Survivor Series team of all time. I mean there wasn’t anybody in the locker room with any more credibility than Scott Casey? The heel team is a who’s who of the 80’s greatest heels. We have Andre, who is slowly being siphoned off the main events and into some creative upper mid-card feuds. Rick Rude has settled into a nice groove as a top flight heel and is about to embark on the greatest year of his WWF run. Dino Bravo is a solid enough heel and then there’s the newcomer. Curt Hennig, former AWA Champion and one of the best in the world. He arrives in the WWF to great fanfare and is given the name “Mr. Perfect”. No gimmick fit anybody better in history. The match itself is pretty standard as the lowly face team lost their two biggest stiffs first (Patera and Casey) because they didn’t belong in there anyway. Race was coming off an abdominal injury suffered earlier in the year, thus the reason someone else is “King”. More on that person in our next match. With Tito eliminated, the real workhorse guy left on the team is Jake. Duggan executes the first of many stupid things he’d do during his tenure in WWF. He gets himself disqualified by hitting Bravo with the 2×4, which means he doesn’t get pinned. I’d really like to see what was in Duggan’s contract that allows him to not have to ever eat any pins or put anybody over in his five-year run. Was he really that over? Perhaps, but not ever having to eat a pin is like Hogan-level creative license. He’s not THAT over. On a side note, I love that Jesse calls Hacksaw “Doogan”. So awesome. What’s not awesome is that Gorilla has acknowledged that Duggan had a right to use the 2×4. That’s why Duggan pissed me off all those years.  Gorilla used to vilify heels for foreign objects, except Duggan who was “defending himself”. Ridiculous. Just like Ultimate Warrior in the first match, Jake was being showcased here as one of the most popular guys in the company, but unlike Warrior, Jake couldn’t clean house and survive in the end. The difference there is that Jake is better when being the recipient of sympathy and it builds the next feud for Jake to cash in on it, as Andre here is disqualified but the point is that Jake was overpowered. Earlier than that Jake pinned Rude to end that feud. Bravo picks the bones after Andre choked Jake out to get the win for the heels. This was a decent enough match but nothing outstanding. Grade: ** ½

Justin: We head to the upper mid card for our next match and as a gift we get to witness one of the greatest heel units of all time. The face side was a bit hit or miss but co-captains Andre the Giant and Dino Bravo had assembled an all star crew. And that crew included newcomer Mr. Perfect, portrayed by great AWA stalwart Curt Hennig. Also on the team is Harley Race, who is no longer King after some time off rehabbing an injury, but is still an old school badass in the ring. Rick Rude and Dino Bravo are still climbing the ranks and establishing themselves and both were ready for new feuds to sink their teeth into. Andre, apart from Hulk Hogan for the first time in nearly two years, had been warring with both Jim Duggan and Jake Roberts across the country, so he had his sights set on both here. Duggan had knocked him unconscious with his 2×4 on TV and Roberts had been torturing the Giant with his snake, Damien. The story was that Andre was deathly afraid of snakes and once an evil mastermind like Jake had that intel, he was nonstop in doing his best to scare the Giant to death whenever he could. With his partner on the shelf due to injury, Tito Santana has been back to going it alone and it clear he would be the workhorse in this one. After a surprisingly fun slugfest at SummerSlam, we will see if Ken Patera can stay on any sort of a PPV hot streak, although my money would be on “probably not”. Scott Casey is just filling in for the recently departed Brian Blair, and I won’t argue anyone that says that was probably a wash at this point in the context of this match. The crowd was hot on Bravo to start the match, revving up a hearty “USA” chant as he tussled with Patera and his rust-tinted afro. I love that Jesse and Gorilla are still arguing over Bravo’s bench press record from nearly a year ago. Seeing Perfect in there with this crew of talent was awesome and immediately hammered home what a great signing that was for the WWF. He has a fun sprint with Tito Santana, starting a long running on-and-off feud that would entertain many times over. Casey was clearly “training” with Bravo around this time as they have a similar…ahem, look. He was also rocking quite the mustache/mullet combo. It didn’t do much for him in the ring, though, as the heel team took their turns beating him around like a rag doll. He would survive the onslaught and make the tag, giving momentum back to the bruisers on his team. Duggan would see his first action and overpowered Perfect, including a really good right hand to the side of the head that sent Perfect crumbling to the mat. Casey came back in but, in a swank move, Perfect slid through, hooked the ankle and yanked Casey to the mat before tagging in Rude, who dropped a hammer blow down. There were some really interesting pairings sprinkled in here and Santana battling Rude was one of them. More than once I found myself wanting to see extended singles matches between some of these guys. Rude would end up striking and getting the first pin when he snapped Patera down with a Rude Awakening to pick up the win and end the Olympian’s WWF stint for good. Farewell, Ken, and thanks for the interesting and stylish memories. Harley is still rocking his purple king tights, probably because nobody bothered to tell him otherwise. Bravo piled on Rude’s work by finishing off Casey right after, putting the face team in a tough 5-3 hole by targeting their weakest links. Andre hung on the apron for a while, but was still able to do some damage from there, swiping at Duggan and rattling him a bit with some right hands. Race and Santana also gave us a tiny tease of what could have been an awesome long form match. The crowd here continued to be red hot and you could tell the wrestlers were feeding off it because the pacing has been great and non stop. It didn’t take long but you could tell the competitors all understood that with so many guys involved, things should never slow down. Ventura was also great, explaining how the heels were set up so well with the advantage because they could rotate guys much easier. Santana was a force in the ring here and wrestled with the urgency of a man who knew his team was down by two. After a flurry of offense, he pinned Race with a flying forearm.

Andre decided to put an end to that bullshit himself as he stepped in the ring and just battered Tito before sitting on his chest and then choking him out. Tito would try an ill advised sunset flip, but Andre just sat on him to give his team another two man advantage. Duggan quickly pounced and knocked Andre into the ropes, where he ended up tied up. The crowd went bananas as Duggan and Roberts took turns working him over and fending off his teammates. What heat. Things were not easy though, as anytime Roberts or Duggan gained any momentum, the numbers game quickly caught up to them. Unfortunately for Roberts, Duggan lost his cool and senses after Frenchy Martin tripped him up, leading to Duggan grabbing his 2×4 and bashing Bravo before being DQ’d. That means the Snake was left with some really steep odds. The match finally slowed down a bit here as the heels started to punish Roberts, tagging in and out and working him over with some fine heel swagger. And then in the blink of an eye, Jake landed a huge blow for both this match and a long running feud when he caught a cocky Rude with a snap DDT for the elimination. It was good to see that feud get some closure on PPV. And then in one of my favorite Andre moments ever, he stormed in the ring with fire in his eyes and just started wrecking Jake in the corner, maiming him with right hands, biting him and then choking him out until the referee was forced into calling for a DQ. Andre was wild eyed and looked phenomenal as he was destroying Roberts for revenge. And then, to cap it off, Perfect hopped in the ring, cradled Jake and easily won the match, followed by a great celebratory bounce with Bravo. That was a really fun match and I liked that it was booked differently than any other Survivor Series match to date. The segment with Jake and Duggan fighting the odds was a lot of fun and the finish was fantastic, bumping the grade up slightly in my eyes. It also did a great job of establishing Bravo and Perfect and pushing feuds forward as well. Good stuff. Grade: ***

Match #4: Randy Savage, Koko B. Ware, Hillbilly Jim, Hercules and Hulk Hogan defeat Akeem, Red Rooster, Haku, Ted DiBiase and the Big Boss Man in 29:08

Survivors:
Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan

Eliminations:
Savage pins Rooster at 6:09
Akeem pins Hillbilly at 9:53
Boss Man pins Koko at 11:44
DiBiase pins Hercules at 16:33
Savage pins DiBiase at 16:55
Boss Man is counted out at 23:32
Akeem is disqualified at 24:58
Hogan pins Haku at 29:08

Fun Fact I: So, Curt Hennig gets Mr. Perfect, and Terry Taylor gets…the Red Rooster, the bizarre gimmick that would hang over him for the rest of his career. He starts off as a heel under Bobby Heenan’s tutelage, but Heenan always is pissed off at him for losing and never doing anything right. Even after he is eliminated here, Bobby is shown apologizing to the rest of the team for Rooster’s quick exit. Rooster would turn face, grow a red Mohawk, adopt some rooster-esque music and effectively scar his career.

Fun Fact II: After his DQ loss to Randy Savage at WrestleMania IV, the One Man Gang was taken off TV, grew his hair out and returned as the “African Dream” Akeem, a jive talking, dancing fat white man who acted like he was black. On the 9/24/88 All-American Wrestling, Mean Gene was invited to “Deepest Darkest Africa” to see the Gang officially transform into Akeem. The piece looks like it was shot in some back alley in Harlem, which is probably where it happened. Regardless, the Gang was dead, and the Dream was alive and would begin teaming up with Big Boss Man as the Twin Towers.

Fun Fact III: On the 10/1/88 Superstars, Bobby Heenan and Ted DiBiase were interviewed by Mean Gene, and they announced that DiBiase had officially purchased Hercules from Heenan to become his “personal slave.” Hercules, quite offended, jumped Heenan but was then beaten down by DiBiase and Virgil, officially turning him face. Man, wrestling roosters, fat dancing white men who thought they were black and indentured servitude…the creative team was on a hell of a roll in late 1988.

Fun Fact IV: While Tonga Fifita had been known as King Tonga in Canada, when he came to the WWF he was renamed Haku, without the royal moniker. He was part of the Heenan Family when King Harley Race suffered a legitimate hernia at the hands of Hulk Hogan. During Race’s time off, manager Bobby Heenan vowed to name a new king of the WWF. On June 21, 1988, a coronation ceremony was held to christen King Haku as that new king. He would successfully retain the crown when Race returned to the ring in January 1989.

Scott: We have reached our star-studded main event, as the World Champion and the Hulkster team with newly turned face Hercules, Koko B. Ware and Hillbilly Jim. Did Hogan really have to come in to his OWN MUSIC? Savage and the others came in during Savage’s entrance. That pretty much tells everyone “Yeah Savage is the champ, but he’s not me.” Even watching this for the 10th or 11th time, I constantly forget that Hillbilly was still with the company at this time let alone even in this match. He’s Hogan’s original buddy from 1984-85. On the heel side we have the new “KING”, Haku. The Islanders have broken up and Haku replaced Harley Race in Bobby Heenan’s family to be royalty after Race’s injury. Something does come from that, and it will be happening early in 1989. Hercules turned face when Bobby Heenan attempted to “sell” him to Ted DiBiase. That was an interesting turn because I thought Hercules was a fine heel. Koko’s on this team probably because he’s earned a main event slot for jobbing to some bigger opponents on the house show circuit. Even though he’s been in the WWF for a short time, Big Boss Man has moved up the heel ladder very quickly to earn this shot. Gone was the stale One Man Gang gimmick and from “Deepest, Darkest Africa” comes Akeem. Combined they created a very formidable duo that would antagonize the Mega Powers for the next few months. One of the best moments of the match is when DiBiase pins Hercules, but as he’s paying attention to the outside Savage slides in and rolls DiBiase up for the pin. The match has great back and forth action, which combined with the hot crowd and our HOF commentators’ back and forth, makes this a very engaging main event. When it comes down to just Hogan and Savage the storyline chicanery begins. Hogan is handcuffed to the bottom rope, and after both Twin Towers are out of the match they really lay a beating down on the WWF Champion in the ring. That leaves Haku and Savage to battle in the ring while Hogan is beaten down outside. Eventually heel miscommunication leads to Hogan getting unlocked and after Savage tags in (he’s actually thrust kicked into the corner, a point Gorilla makes clear as if Savage really didn’t fight to “tag”), Hogan wins it for his team with a legdrop. Hogan and Elizabeth celebrate while Savage is all crumpled and beat down in the corner. Elizabeth tries to check on him but Hogan is too busy celebrating, and Savage looks a bit peeved. I would be too. Now we begin the slow burn to April 2 in Atlantic City. As you can see from the start, its clear Hogan cared about himself and Savage was the poor bastard who got the crap kicked out of him and “accidentally” got no help. Stay tuned. Grade: **1/2

Justin: Time for our main event match and it features some really heavy hitters across the board. A lot has gone down with the guys in this match since August and it has freshened up the top of the card a bit. On the heel side, Ted DiBiase is still in the main event mix but is no longer he top foil for the champion and his buddy. Instead, he was embroiled in an…odd feud with Hercules, who he tried to purchase as a slave from Bobby Heenan. Hercules did not like that all too much so he quickly put an end to it and turned on both his current and future manager/owner. Also on the team is Haku, who is now the King of the WWF after Bobby Heenan chose him to step in for the injured Harley Race. It was cool seeing Haku up here with the big boys. Joining them is the Red Rooster, portrayed by NWA import Terry Taylor. The gimmick name didn’t make much sense here and he portrayed as a dope that Bobby Heenan was embarrassed by and the gag was that Heenan was trying to prove he could even take a guy like the Rooster and make him a winner. Finally, the co-captains are the Twin Towers, one of the most fun and engaging tag teams in WWF history, at least in my opinion. Akeem is the transformed One Man Gang, and is just a fun loving monster that likes to dance and speak jive. The Boss Man has quickly moved up the ladder and went from the lower mid-card into the main event picture in the blink of an eye. The Mega Powers captained the other team and had an interesting mix of talent in the angry, vengeful Hercules and a couple of low-card JTTS in Koko B. Ware and Hillbilly Jim. On paper, this may be the weirdest mix of talent to ever main event a PPV. As Savage and DiBiase started things off, Jesse did his best to justify slavery, comparing it to the stock market. Savage and Hogan had their matching tights from SummerSlam on here, which is a nice touch. DiBiase wanted no part of Hercules, however, and quickly made an exit when the Mighty One tagged in. In a dream moment for me, we got a nice little segment of Akeem beating Koko. I could watch that match all day. In what is likely one of the peak moments of his career, Hillbilly Jim makes the most of it, aggressively attacking Haku until Akeem stops him short. Jesse gets some funny digs in on Jim, wondering how often he washes his overalls. The Rooster got tagged in and things swiftly went downhill as he was beaten from pillar to post until Savage finished him with the big elbow to a huge pop. Jesse was great here, acting surprised that Hogan didn’t cheap shot Rooster when he had the opening. To add further embarrassment, Heenan berated the Rooster and kept apologizing to his other team members as the Rooster pathetically limped away.

Akeem would even the sides a few moments later, dropping the big splash on Hillbilly to end his main event career. The face team then all took cracks at knocking down Akeem, landing a flurry of shots, but nobody could do it. They are really making Akeem look strong here. Boss Man would step in for his partner and polish him off with a sidewalk slam to give his team the lead. Hogan would then slip into the ring and as he and Boss Man squared off, the crowd started to really buzz. The WWF backed right into a red hot, and very unexpected, feud. Boss Man’s bumping was so good as he was able to flop and contort his body around in some pretty weird ways. The pops continued as Hogan slammed Boss Man but things quieted down when Boss Man rattled him with a spinebuster. These two guys have some damn good chemistry. After Hogan was able to turn the tide on DiBiase, he tagged in Hercules, who finally got his hands on the man who tried to buy him. He would get some revenge in, but after Virgil tripped him up, DiBiase got the roll up for the pin, leaving just enough time for a couple more slave jokes by the Body. And again on this night we stood at 4-2, with the Mega Powers left alone. I do wonder if they shouldn’t have done so many big heel team leads throughout the night because they had one planned here for the biggest match on the card. The crowd didn’t seem to care. And I guess they were right as that lead was quickly shorn when Savage rolled up a distracted DiBiase to bring his side within one. Hogan would get trapped from there, worked over by the larger Towers before Haku wore him down with a nerve hold. At one point, Hogan barely kicked up out of a Boss Man cover, gently rolling his shoulder up and barely beating the count. The company really did a nice job of building up their heels on this show and you could tell they were lining things up for both the coming house show run and WrestleMania season. Boss Man got a bit too excited as he climbed the top rope but came up empty with a splash, which allowed Savage to tag in. Savage was quickly in trouble as well when Slick tripped him and allowed the Towers to regain control. And then, Slick got a little crazy as he started berating Liz, grabbing her wrist and dragging her down the aisle. Hogan chased after them, leading to the Towers following. Boss Man would cuff Hogan to the bottom rope but was counted out in the process. Before leaving, Boss Man brutally beat on and choked Hulk with his nightstick. As great as that was, Boss Man stupidly got in the ring and hammered Savage with the stick, causing Akeem to get DQ’d for being part of the double team. It was great that they wanted to protect the Towers, but it felt a bit cheap to whittle the odds that way. Still, it showed they were more focused on eradicating the Megapowers than they cared about winning the bout. So, poor Haku was left along but both his opponents were in very bad shape. Any time Savage was able to wriggle free, he would try to head to his corner to tag but Hogan was missing, still cuffed to the ropes. In a stroke of luck, Haku accidentally nailed Slick, which gave Liz the chance to procure the keys and unlock Hogan. Hulk would tag himself in and make quick work of Haku to give his team the victory. After the bell, the winners celebrated, but Hogan got a bit too chummy with Liz, a point that wasn’t lost on Macho.Well, there wasn’t much to this one as far as in ring work, but the story was all about establishing the Twin Towers and starting to sow some seeds of trouble for Savage and Hogan and it accomplished both of those goals with great success. The crowd was bananas the whole way through, especially when Hogan got the win. The Megapowers are victorious once again but there seems to be a small dark cloud creeping in. Grade: **1/2

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: The second installment of the Thanksgiving night tradition did not have the same drama that the first one did, but there were some amazing moments and much more talent than the first one. That 10-team tag match was better than last year’s, with an unbelievable amount of talent that would shape the tag team division throughout 1989. The opening match and the third match were great showcases for the mid-card, although it may have exposed that the roster was a little thin, if Scott Casey was needed and Hillbilly Jim came out of moth balls then clearly more guys needed to be signed. The main event was a little slow, but did tell a good story. Randy Savage’s visuals tell all you need to know about where this storyline is heading. Visually pissed his partner and woman are celebrating while he’s recovering from an ass-kicking he got no help from is priceless. From there things continue to get dicey, but it’s not for a few months that it comes to a head. Some memorable debuts come from this show, including Mr. Perfect and the Blue Blazer, plus those aforementioned tag teams. The company’s roster was getting more athletic in the mid-card, even if the main events had some bigger dudes on top. It seems the memorable roster of stars we all remember as kids really reached its peak of debuts with this show. Jesse Ventura again brings that special credibility to the show by stirring the pot with Savage after the show, something he does at the next PPV also. The show really defined what a roster of characters the WWF had but now had a great cache of truly talented workers, if they were only in the mid-card or the tag division. That’s not to say Randy Savage isn’t a great worker and WWF Champion, but he’s surrounded by some bigger guys. 1988 ends and a storm is brewing between the Mega Powers. Final Grade: B  

Justin: This PPV was an entertaining way to further a ton of storylines and debut a lot of new talent, talent that would carry the WWF for the next several years. The major storyline advancement comes in the Main Event, but advancement is ripe in every match. Warrior, Bravo and Perfect receive big wins to further their pushes, Demolition becomes the face team the fans have been clamoring for since WrestleMania and the Powers of Pain are turned into the number one heel team within one five minute stretch. We say goodbye to some guys as well, as Harley Race, the British Bulldogs, Danny Davis, Ken Patera and Sam Houston all leave the WWF. Two mainstay tag teams of the past two years also dissolve, as the Young Stallions and Killer Bees are broken up to make room for an influx of new teams, such as the Rockers, Brainbusters and Twin Towers. Lost in the mix of storylines is also the debut of Shawn Michaels, who would become a major player in the WWF as the years creep on. It will be fun to track his career as we continue through these PPVs. Anyway, outside of the tag team match and some stretches in the third bout, there isn’t much here wrestling wise, but the storyline development is heavy and the influx of major stars is huge, so it is a big show historically speaking. Final Grade: C+

Author: JT Rozzero

JT Rozzero is a cohost of the Place to Be podcast and original member of the legendary Moliseum Video. He enjoys all sports. The only thing he hates more than traffic and customer service is people. He is a proud Svenjolly and has had a sinus infection since October 2013. Send Justin an email