Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Survivor Series 1989

The Ultimate Warriors vs. the Heenan Family

So as we head into the final PPV of not just the year of 1989 but of the 1980s in general, it was pretty clear by this point that one of the shining stars from the year has been the reigning Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior. After regaining the title from Rick Rude back at Summerslam, Warrior would continue to gain steam and had been put into a feud with Andre the Giant to continue to make him into a bigger star. While it probably wasn’t completely obvious where Warrior was going to be headed as 1990 started, most figured it wouldn’t be too long before they would push him to the main event as an equal to Hulk Hogan. So he was given the main event spot here as he leads a team featuring the Rockers and a solo Jim Neidhart taking on Andre and fellow Heenan Family members Haku and the Brainbusters. However, a wrench was thrown into the mix when Tully Blanchard was fired after a surprise drug test so it would be interesting to see who would replace him especially since he was promoted to be in the match even on the day of the show.

Following Summerslam, Warrior and Andre would begin feuding on the house shows including two matches at Madison Square Garden, and Warrior would normally win those matches in a matter of seconds which included the second match at MSG. At the same time, the Rockers would mainly feud with the Rougeaus on the house shows while the Brainbusters continued their feud with Demolition. On the 11/4 Superstars which was taped on 10/2, Demolition would defeat the Brainbusters to regain the tag titles and after Blanchard was fired, Haku would team with Anderson to fulfill their remaining commitments since the Brainbusters were finishing up with the company after Survivor Series. It was then announced that Warrior would defend the IC Title against Andre and the Rockers would face the Brainbusters in a 2-out-of-3 falls match in 2 days at the next Saturday Night’s Main Event. This was going to be an interesting match in that you had a lot of different styles involved though again it was more than likely going to be a showcase for Warrior in the end.

A note about this show is the fact that they have teams of four instead of teams of five like the last two years, and this was also the first year where the teams had names which added a cool touch of unity. In another note, Jesse Ventura mentions on commentary of a potential rift in the Heenan Family which he continues to push when Rick Rude comes out for his match without Bobby. The Warriors give a good promo before the match and when the Heenan Family are shown in the ring, Blanchard is nowhere to be found and Bobby is dressed to compete as he takes Blanchard’s place in the match. Neidhart and the Rockers get good pops from the crowd and they waste no time as Neidhart goes after Bobby, and the Rockers hit stereo dropkicks on Anderson and Haku which send them out of the ring only for Andre to grab the Rockers and ram their heads together. Neidhart knees Andre in the back and Andre chokes him on the ropes as Warrior runs down to the ring to a big pop and the match officially begins, and Andre knocks Neidhart out of the ring as Warrior hits a trio of clotheslines on Andre that sends him over the top to the floor. Bobby, Anderson, and Haku try to revive Andre only for the ref to count him out and Andre is eliminated in a shocker, and Warrior slingshots Haku and Anderson into the ring before pounding on Anderson and whipping him into the corner. The Rockers and Neidhart get a shot in on Anderson as Warrior kicks him to the mat and tags Neidhart, and he hits a back elbow on Anderson and whips him into the corner before ramming the shoulder into the ribs. Anderson rakes the eyes and kicks at Neidhart before tagging Haku only for Neidhart to hit a hiptoss, and he knocks Haku down twice and pounds on him before knocking Anderson off the apron. Haku nails Neidhart from behind and hits a headbutt as they trade blows until Haku rakes the eyes and tags Anderson, and Anderson pounds on Neidhart and rams him into the buckle before pounding on him in the corner as Bobby chokes him from the outside. Haku tags in and he stomps on Neidhart before pounding on him and hitting a headbutt, and Anderson tries to come in only for Neidhart to knock him down and Haku hits a superkick to the back of the head which gets the three and Neidhart is eliminated. Michaels comes in and pounds on Haku who rakes the eyes and he pounds on Michaels before hooking a headlock, and he knocks Michaels down only to miss a falling headbutt and Michaels grabs the arm before tagging Jannetty who continues to work the arm. Michaels tags back in and continues to work the arm before tagging Jannetty back in who comes off the middle rope with a blow to Haku’s arm, and he continues to work the arm and tags Michaels who goes up top and nails a blow to the arm. Michaels continues to work the arm and tags Jannetty as they pound on Haku and Michaels tags back in, but Haku ducks a double clothesline and hits one on Michaels as Jannetty attempts a crossbody and Haku catches him. Michaels hits a dropkick that causes Jannetty to fall on top of Haku for a two count and Jannetty goes back to the arm, and Haku rakes the eyes and tags Anderson only for Jannetty to pound on him though Anderson hooks a headlock. Jannetty whips him off and Anderson catches him ducking with a shot though Jannetty blocks a suplex attempt, and Haku tags in and they attempt a double suplex only for Michaels to help Jannetty escape it and they hit stereo superkicks on Anderson and Haku. Jannetty hits a jumping back elbow on Haku for a two count and tags Warrior who pounds on Haku until he rakes the eyes, and he pounds on Warrior who reverses a whip and he hits a backdrop on Haku only to miss an elbow. Haku hooks a front facelock and looks for a tag as Bobby tells him to tag Anderson which he does, and Anderson works on the arm only for Warrior to turn it around and he takes Anderson to the mat before tagging Jannetty. He continues to work the arm and Anderson yanks him to the mat by his hair only for Jannetty to nip up, and he continues to work the arm until Anderson hits a drop toehold and he tags Haku as Jannetty quickly escapes. They lock up with Jannetty hooking a headlock and Haku backs him into the corner before pounding on him, and Jannetty reverses a whip into the other corner only to miss a charge and Bobby finally tags in. He kicks at Jannetty before quickly tagging Anderson who holds Jannetty as Haku pounds on him only for Jannetty to turn it around and he hooks a headlock, and Haku whips him off and Anderson knees him in the back from the apron as Haku hits a superkick on Jannetty for a two count. Bobby tags in as he stomps on Jannetty and drops a knee on him while grabbing the tights as he gets the three and Jannetty is eliminated.

Anderson quickly tags in as Warrior comes in as well and they lock up with Anderson backing Warrior on the ropes and rams the shoulder into the ribs. Warrior reverses a whip and catches Anderson in a bearhug only for Anderson to escape by raking the eyes, and Haku tags in only for Warrior to catch him in a bearhug and he hits an atomic drop. Michaels tags in and gets a two count before hitting a dropkick for a two count, and he pounds on Haku who rakes the eyes and he tosses Michaels to the outside as Warrior comes over and helps Michaels back into the ring. Haku hits a headbutt on Michaels and pounds on him before ramming him into Anderson’s knee and he tags him in, and Bobby chokes Michaels from the apron and Anderson stomps on him in the corner before pounding on him. He whips Michaels into the other corner only for Michaels to go up top and flip over Anderson before hitting a drop toehold, and he rubs his face into the mat and shoves him into Warrior who hits a headbutt on Anderson and he tags in. They knock Anderson down and Anderson begs off as Warrior stomps on him and whips him hard into the corner, and he winds up the arm and hits a slam as Michaels tags in and he goes up top with Warrior launching him onto Anderson for a two count. Anderson gets a knee in and pounds on Michaels before tagging Haku who pounds on Michaels, and he rams Michaels into the buckle and pounds on him only for Michaels to reverse a whip into the other corner. Haku leaps up to the middle rope only to miss a springboard crossbody as Michaels goes up top, and Warrior shoves him off as Michaels hits a crossbody on Haku which gets the three and Haku is eliminated. Anderson tags in and pounds on Michaels before ramming him into Bobby’s knee and Bobby tags in, and he pounds on Michaels as Warrior comes in and tries to go after Bobby only for the ref to force him back and Anderson tosses Michaels over the top to the floor. Bobby goes up top looking to dive onto Michaels only to drop down to the apron as Anderson pulls Michaels onto the apron, and Michaels gets a shoulder in and hits a slingshot sunset flip on Anderson for a two count. Anderson yells at Bobby and knees Michaels in the back before tagging Bobby who kicks at Michaels and Michaels tries to battle back, and Anderson tags back in as Michaels pounds on him until Anderson whips him off and they collide heads. The two men trade blows with Michaels taking control until Anderson gets a knee in and he pounds on Michaels in the corner, and he whips Michaels into the other corner only for Michaels to leap over him and pound on him. He whips Anderson into the other corner and Anderson blocks a monkey flip attempt only for Michaels to block an atomic drop, but then Anderson catches him in a spinebuster which gets the three and Michaels is eliminated. Warrior comes in and knocks Anderson down three times only for Anderson to send him through the ropes to the outside, and Bobby goes up top again only for the ref to force him back down as Anderson rolls outside and rakes his knee across Warrior’s face. Anderson throws him back into the ring and tags Bobby who stomps on Warrior and pounds on him as Warrior starts to fire up, and Anderson tags in and rakes his knee across Warrior’s face again before stomping on him. Warrior grabs Anderson in a choke only for Anderson to hit a headbutt to the ribs and he pounds on him, and he rams Warrior into the buckle and pounds on him as Bobby holds Warrior from the apron. Warrior grabs at Bobby as Anderson knees him in the back only for Warrior to reverse a whip and he sends Anderson into Bobby which knocks Bobby to the floor, and then Warrior hits the gorilla press on Anderson before hitting the big splash which gets the three and Anderson is eliminated. Bobby gets in the ring as Warrior rolls outside and sneaks up behind him while Bobby gets on the middle rope and calls for Anderson, and Warrior comes in the ring and Bobby begs off only for Warrior to whip him inside out in the other corner. Warrior rams Bobby into the buckle and whips him inside out in the corner with Bobby sailing over the top to the floor, and Bobby heads up the aisle only for Warrior to nail him and throw him back into the ring. Warrior hits a flying tackle and a big splash on Bobby which gets the three and Warrior is the sole survivor for his team. After the match, Warrior celebrates in the ring as Bobby staggers to the back only for Warrior to head down the aisle and hit a clothesline on Bobby, and Bobby struggles to his feet only to collapse to the floor as we go off the air.

The match itself was pretty good as both teams worked hard for the 20 minutes they got and put on a pretty solid Survivor match. You had some pretty good hands in the match with Anderson, Haku, the Rockers, and Warrior while Bobby was there to fill out the match and it was pretty clear Andre was nearing the end as he doesn’t even last 30 seconds in the match. It was interesting seeing Neidhart in the main event though it was clear that he was still second fiddle to Bret as Bret got a stronger showing in his match than Neidhart did here. I thought that Haku and Anderson actually had some decent chemistry together and could’ve worked well as a team if Anderson had stuck around. It would’ve been interesting to see how the match worked out if Blanchard had been in the match, but I think having Bobby in it worked out better as he made Warrior look so strong in the end. Speaking of Warrior, this was clearly a showcase for him as he gets the main event spot and passes with flying colors as his future is looking brighter than ever. The crowd was red hot for the match and popped big for Warrior when he won. Warrior wins the match for his team and all 8 men move on.

Final Grade: ***

Author: Steve Riddle

I have been a wrestling fan since 1993 and that is probably my biggest love, with movies being a close second due in part to being employed at a movie theater for over 9 years.