Writing Wrestling History: Survivor Series 1986

As JT, Scott and Kelly wind down 1986 on the Place to Be Podcast, the WWF continues to head in the right direction. Hulk Hogan was a household name. Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis were in the middle of a vicious feud. Randy Savage was taking on all comers as the IC champion, and the tag-team division was adding some serious depth.

Viewership for the company was going well with weekly syndicated shows, (Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge) national exposure with Saturday Night’s Main Event and regional programming in New York (MSG Network), Boston (NESN) and Philadelphia (PRISM). However, as they approached the holiday season, ending their fourth quarter with a bang would have given them a jump start to what would be a record breaking 1987.

The idea of the annual Survivor Series event on pay per view wouldn’t come around for another year.  With their roster expanding with some big names coming into the fold, Survivor Series could have been a success a year early. Without changing what history had already written, let’s take a look at how Survivor Series 1986 could have looked like.

When: Thursday, November 27, 1986 – Thanksgiving Night
Where: Springfield Civic Center – Springfield, MA

On this date, the company ran two shows. One in Dayton, OH and the other in Springfield, MA. With the WWF traditionally being a northeast promotion, Springfield would be the favorite over Dayton for this show. The 8,000 seat building is not hard to fill up, especially with all of the company’s big names under the same roof. With three big WWF markets surrounding this area, fans from nearby Boston, Providence and Hartford are all under two hours away from Springfield.

With the announce team, let’s go with a duo that we would become accustomed to over the years: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura as the voices of this show would be the right move. This show is somewhat a gamble, especially on a major holiday, so Vince McMahon would have to be free to make sure all runs smooth.

The idea here is to level out every team and not cram all of the top guys in one match.

Without any further ado, it’s time to see how this card could have shaped up.

Randy Savage (Team Captain), Don Muraco, and Dream Team vs. Tito Santana (Team Captain), George Steele, (substituting for Ricky Steamboat), and Rougeau Brothers 

Randy Savage was a proud and dominate IC champion by the end of this year. He wasn’t locked in a major feud, but former IC champion, Tito Santana still seeked revenge on Savage for cheating to defeat him for the title back in February. Tito would originally have a man on his team who was on his way to becoming top contender for Savage’s title in Ricky Steamboat. However, the weekend before this event on Superstars of Wrestling, Savage would injure Steamboat in match they had where Savage crushed Steamboat’s larynx with the ring bell. Steamboat was out of action and this team needed a substitute. Look no further than long time Savage nemesis, George Steele. Filling out Tito’s team would be a tag team who had come in to the company that summer, the Rougeau Brothers. The brothers from Montreal were trying to make a name for themselves and provided both technical and aerial moves, something that Tito and Steamboat were experts in as well. Over on Savage’s team, having a powerhouse like Don Muraco would be a wise choice. Muraco feuded with Steamboat for much of 1985 as well so they have some history. Joining them is the Dream Team of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine. The former tag team champions had slipped down the tag division’s ranks over the past few months and wanted to prove that they were still one of the best teams in the company. They had began having matches with the Rougeau over the summer, including one at The Big Event.  In addition, there was no love loss between Greg Valentine and Tito Santana.

Roddy Piper (Team Captain), Koko B. Ware, and British Bulldogs vs, Adrian Adonis (Team Captain), Bob Orton, and Hart Foundation

Perhaps the most intense feud at the time was the one between Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis. While Roddy was taking some time off after WrestleMania II, Adrian transformed Piper’s Pit into the Flower Shop and which Roddy Piper was not too happy about. In addition, Adrian took Bob Orton under his wing as his bodyguard, a role that Orton previously was for Piper. After beating down and humiliating Piper, Adonis and Orton, along with Don Muraco, were after one thing and that was to cripple Piper. With Adonis’ right hand man Bob Orton by his side, a tag team who would have their shot at tag team gold that coming weekend would join them.  The Hart Foundation had become the number one contenders for the tag titles and fellow members in Jimmy Hart’s stable. Joining Piper would be the current tag team champions, the British Bulldogs and a man who burst onto the scene a few months prior, Koko B. Ware.  Koko was one of the fastest men on the roster and someone who could wear out Adonis and his team. The Birdman was out to make a name for himself and a strong showing here would help him rise in the ranks.

Harley Race, Jake Roberts, Kamala, and Sika vs. Junk Yard Dog, Hillbilly Jim, and The Islanders 

In late 1986, JYD was still one of the post popular people in the WWF. Harley Race was crowned the King of wrestling a few months ago and along side Bobby Heenan, Race was one of the most hated people in the WWF. Race and JYD were at the early stages of their feud which was being featured on house shows across the country. Harley was a true ring general and a man who many feared. What better way to form a team then with other guys who are feared. Jake Roberts had just finished up a feud with Ricky Steamboat and was in a transition period. Along with his python Damien and sharp ring psychology, Jake is the right kind of person to join forces with Harley. As unpredictable as Jake could be, there were two other men who were just as unpredictable and feared. Kamala and Sika had both recently returned to the company and joined forces with Mr. Fuji and the Wizard by their sides. JYD would counter Race’s team of misfits with a man who loved to have good time, but could also get the job done in the ring. Hillbilly Jim was a crowd favorite and a powerhouse that JYD could count on. Along with Hillbilly Jim, a tag team that was making waves and could stand up to Kamala and Sika were the Islanders, Haku and Tama. This is a match that could get out of control in a hurry.

Hulk Hogan, Billy Jack Haynes, and Killer Bees vs. Paul Orndorff, Hercules, Iron Sheik, and Nikolai Volkoff

After turning his back on Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff wanted two thing, to destroy Hulkamania and become WWF champion. Hulk and Orndorff were selling out arenas across the country every night, including in front of 70,000 people in Toronto back in August. Having these two men headline this card is a must. Each man would need some serious backup on their teams. Joining Hulk would be a guy who was becoming one of the most popular wrestlers in the company, Billy Jack Hayes. Along with Haynes, a tag team that could do it all and was establishing themselves as one of the top teams, the Killer Bees: Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell. Orndorff would be joined by a man who recently came aboard the Heenan Family, Hercules. Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules were no strangers to each other. They had crossed paths at house shows over recently months, including at The Big Event. Two men that have had their battles with Hogan over the past few years would also join Orndorff’s team. Iron Sheik, and Nikolai Volkoff were still lingering around the tag team division, but they are also two guys that know Hulk Hogan as good as anyone.

One thing we know that Vince McMahon isn’t afraid of is competition. Also happening on this day was the NWA’s annual Starrcade event, which took place in Atalanta and Greensboro. Could Team Hogan and Team Orndorff compete with a Skywalkers match and Ric Flair taking on Nikita Koloff? You decide. Leave your feedback below and let us know which card you would watch on Thanksgiving night 1986.

 

Author: Jason Greenhouse

Jason is a proud nerd for all things 80s and 90s. He's a life long wrestling fan and can make a Seinfeld reference out of any situation. In addition, he hopes to see the Jets win the SuperBowl in his lifetime.

13 thoughts on “Writing Wrestling History: Survivor Series 1986

  1. Fun read, and it all makes sense in storylines. Only thing differently I would have done is switch the Bees for The Bulldogs and Sheik/Volkoff for the Hart Foundation. This way, you would have the tag titles as another storyline in the main event in addition to Hogan/Orndorff as opposed to the undercard match and you could add extra intrigue by having Danny Davis as the referee.

  2. Surely Bundy & Studd would be in the main event? The Machines too, probably. Switch those four for Volkoff, Sheiky Baby and the Bees.

    And it just seems wrong that teams of five are not striving to survive 😉

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