Vintage Vault Repost: Survivor Series 1987

Vintage Vault Reposts are Pay-Per-View recaps with Justin and Scott’s commentary, including star ratings. Please note, these were written in the past and may have dated references. Each repost comes with the audio for the Place to Be Podcast episode where the show is reviewed.  Please scroll to the bottom to find your listening and downloading options!

Vintage Vault Repost: Survivor Series 1987

November 26, 1987

Richfield Coliseum

Richfield, Ohio

Attendance: 21, 300

Buy Rate: 7.0

Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura

1) Randy Savage (Randy Poffo), Brutus Beefcake (Ed Leslie), Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.) & Ricky Steamboat (Richard Blood) defeat Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris), Harley Race, Danny Davis (Daniel Burielle), Hercules (Ray Fernandez) & Ron Bass (Ronald Herd)


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: 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 6 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. One more debut in this match was “Outlaw” Ron Bass. Bass came from the NWA’s Florida territory, and in 1988 would bust open Brutus Beefcake with a heel spur in a memorable episode of Superstars.

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 WWF IC Champion the Honky Tonk Man & 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.

Scott: The first Survivor Series match ever is a fun opener with the new over face, Randy Savage. Savage was gaining some popularity even before the Steamboat match in March. By the summer, they faced him out as a possible new main eventer. The feud with Honky was the obvious backbone of this match, and the others were just filler. Honky just leaves the match after it becomes 3-on-1. That’s pretty much how he kept his IC title as long as he did. There’s a bit of a logic problem here. Steamboat feuded with both Roberts and Savage over the past year, and now they’re on the same team. Heh? Savage continues to feud with Honky and by February gets a nationally televised IC title shot. We’ll soon let you know where that goes. Grade: **1/2

Justin: Well, if you want to build up three strong title contenders in less than 20 minutes, here is the blueprint for you. By the end of the match, Honky looks like his usual chickenshit self, and Jake, Steamboat and Savage look like three badass faces who just ran the champ off. Randy Savage turned face shortly after Wrestlemania III, but his popularity wouldn’t truly soar until an incident on the Main Event in February, and a backstage issue that would catapult him into the stratosphere. By this point, Jake had solidified himself as a very over face that, no matter how he was booked, was always cheered and loved by the crowds, and that would come in handy, as he embarks on a PPV streak that includes many non-finishes or cheap losses. Ricky Steamboat had a great first of half of 1987, but since taking his vacation in June, had become a bit of an afterthought on the face side of the picture. He perseveres for a bit longer, but would never see the same success he had in March. Brutus Beefcake, on the other hand, was a face whose stock was clearly on the rise. He gets eliminated here, but by 1988, as he solidifies his “Barber” character, he would be positioned as a top upper-mid-card face. Jim Duggan is, well, Jim Duggan. He is in the same boat as Jake, as no matter how many times he jobbed or was disqualified, he was pretty bulletproof for his whole career. On the heel side of the coin, after Honky, we only have one guy who lasts past 1988, and that is Hercules, who goes on to fashion a nice mid-card career after this. Danny Davis’ novelty was quickly wearing off, and by mid-1988, he was just another jobber, and eventually reverts back to being a referee. Ron Bass was a Florida import who makes a decent impression, but is best known for his actions in the summer of 1988 after a match with Brutus Beefcake. Other than that, his impact is minimal. Harley Race is an all time legend, but his WWF run has been anything but legendary. His career sputters to an end over the upcoming year, but thankfully he is more remembered for his NWA classics than his WWF debacles. All in all, this is a match to solidly some contenders to Honky, and to start the long build to a big push for the Macho Man. Grade: **1/2

2) Velvet McIntyre (Velvet Mykietowich), Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith), Fabulous Moolah (Lillian Ellison) & the Jumping Bomb Angels defeat Lelani Kai (Patricia Karisma), Judi Martin (Judith Hardee), Dawn Marie, Donna Christanello & Sensational Sherri (Sherri Russell)


Jumping Bomb Angels


Velvet McIntyre pins Donna hristanello 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

Scott: This show was a chance to take all the categories of wrestlers and put them in a match. The first match was mid-carders. This match was all the women. Sherri was the women’s champ, having beaten the now-face Moolah in July. Velvet McIntyre had built quite a career since her embarrassment at Wrestlemania II, actually winning the title in July 1986. Lelani Kai and Judi Martin were the women’s tag champs, now known as The Glamour Girls under Jimmy Hart. Rockin’ Robin was Jake Roberts’ sister, and a future women’s champ. Of course once she was champ the division was in the toilet. Donna Christanello and Dawn Marie (not that one obviously) were…well trailer park trash scraped off of yesteryear. The centerpieces of this match were the young sparkplugs from Japan. The Jumping Bomb Angels were revolutionary with their aerial maneuvers and counter-maneuvers. They would impress here, getting the last two pins on the Glamour Girls no less, to give their team the win. This would set up their Women’s Tag Title shot at the inaugural Royal Rumble in a couple of months. This match was surprisingly exciting. Grade: **1/2

Justin: Man, talk about a team that was way ahead of their time. The Jumping Bomb Angels were imported from Japan to wow the WWF crowds, and wow they did, as the crowd gets really into this match and digs the Bomb Angels’ clinic big time. The face team dominates this thing for a bit, until a couple of shocking eliminations, as Rockin’ Robin and Moolah go down back to back. Moolah is clearly past any usefulness at this point, but the worst part is she wrestled more televised wrestling matches in this decade (2000s) than any of these other ladies. And when I say ladies, I use it lightly in regards to a select couple, namely Donna Christanello and Dawn Marie, who look like a couple of haggard old hosebeats that Vince found outside the Richfield Coliseum panhandling for some cab fare so they could go buy a bottle of hooch and brag about their success in women’s wrestling back in the 1930s. The Champ, Sherri, also shockingly is pinned by Velvet McIntire, whose PPV outing is much better than her last. However, she still loses, and the match comes down to the two premier (only) tag teams in the division. After 3 fast paced, crowd pleasing minutes, the Angels put away the Golden…err…Glamour Girls and stake their claim to the titles. A fun match that showcases some much needed fresh women talents. I can’t believe that today’s wrestling fans have the sack to call Lita and Melina ugly. Throw in a tape of this PPV and take a gander at Christanello, Dawn Marie and the Glamour Girls and tell me which you’d rather spend an evening with. Lita and Melina may not be knockouts, but Christ…Judy Martin and Leilani look like should be crocheting at Shady Oaks instead of wrestling in bathing suits in front of a national audience. I mean, I love my grandmothers, but they day they decide to toss on a black one piece and toss it up with the toothless hags bagging at Stop and Shop is the day I finally give up wrestling for good. 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 3 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 3 times over the next 2 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, ironically, that Animal and Hawk actually worked out in.

Scott: Now it is time for the tag team survivor match and the crowd was very into this one. All the big teams were in this match, and all got some good action in. Actually, the survivors were two mid-card teams with no real future. The Killer Bees were slowly faded, relegated to parlor tricks like wearing masks. The Stallions may have had a random title shot here and there, but not much. Demolition was the obvious team of the future as they were eliminated without being pinned. Non-stop action and a great example of the wonderful wealth of tag team talent the WWF had throughout the 80’s. Grade: ***

Justin: Just sit and watch this match with an amazement of the incredible depth of the tag team division. The fact that they could squeeze TEN teams into this match, and NONE of them were just two guys tossed together for the hell of it. Each team had a history, a team name, a special look and a great rapport. Strike Force was the current champions, and was very over with crowd. They even had a special song written for them by Rick Derringer entitled Girls in Cars. It was nice to see Tito have a good title run, as it would be the last one of his career. By 1988, he would be pushed further down the chain to lower-mid-card star. He would always have a job and a PPV match, but wins were few and far between. After being the top face team in 1986, the British Bulldogs’ star has fallen quickly and it is fairly noticeable, since their elimination is completely clipped from the Coliseum Home Video version. Yes, you read that right: one minute they are on the ring apron, a clip later and they are gone. By this point, Dynamite’s back was being strung together by some masking tape, so the fact that they are phased out so quickly is no surprise. They would have a decent 1988, but as far as being contenders, they are finished. On the heel team, Demolition was being groomed to carry the tag division over the upcoming years. Here, they are unknowns who are tossed from the match nine minutes in. By April, they would be a hot heel tandem receiving face pops left and right. The original Demolition was comprised of Bill Eadie as Ax and Randy Culley as Smash, and the team was managed by Johnny Valiant. A couple of weeks went by, and the team was restructured. Culley was shown the door and Barry Darsow was brought in to replace him. Also, Johnny V hit the road, and Demolition hired Mr. Fuji as their new manager, a role he would hold for the next year. With Demolition stepping up on the heel side, the Hart Foundation are quickly pushed to the passengers seat of the division they had been driving for a while now. They were in serious need of a makeover, and 1988 would bring a big one. The New Dream Team also sees its swan song here, as Valentine and Bravo would break up and embark on singles careers, with both seeing very little success. The match as a whole is pretty exciting and the action is non stop. I’m still not sure why the Stallions and Bees win here, but I guess they wanted faces to go over, and they figured they’d go the underdog route. Grade: ***1/2

4) Andre the Giant (Andre Rousimoff), Butch Reed (Bruce Reed), One Man Gang (George Gray), King Kong Bundy (Chris Pailles) & Rick Rude (Richard Rood) defeat Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea), Ken Patera, Don Muraco, Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Charles Bigelow) & Paul Orndorff


Andre 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

Andre the Giant pins Bam Bam Bigelow at 22:53

Fun Fact: 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 3 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.

Scott: The main event pits the two big main eventers in the promotion at that time, and the rest were either new, re-packaged, or out the door. This would be Orndorff’s last PPV and his second face run after he missed Wrestlemania III. Muraco turned face, shot himself up with some steroids, and became immobile and jacked. Bundy would be gone after this show, not to return in the WWF until late 1994. The match was hot for the first few minutes, dead in the middle, and hot for the lucky Bigelow in the end. I guess big things were planned for him, but they never really materialized. Andre would get the big win, but Hogan ruins it by coming out and hitting Andre with the belt, then posing to end the show. What was the point of that? The fans in the arena could have used that after the show went off the air, but for the PPV audience digesting turkey? You could have finished the show with Andre winning, and it wouldn’t have hurt. This was one of many examples where Hogan Overload hurt a storyline. If they wanted to continue the Hogan/Andre storyline, Andre should have finished the show on top. Sure he won the match, but no one remembers that with Hogan posing in the crowd after being counted out and crying about it. As his career progresses, that gets a little worse. This was an entertaining match, but a crappy finish. Grade: **1/2

Justin: Maybe we should have seen the writing on the wall back in 1987. Hogan is eliminated from a match and then whines and cries about it, and then is a poor sport in the end. In 1987, the fans were still very high on the Hulkster, so they don’t turn on him and side with Andre. Hogan would continue the spotlight glomming, however, over the rest of his WWF tenure, and in a few years, many wrestlers AND fans would get very tired of it. This was a golden chance to let a new face gain some momentum which they did, with the very over Bam Bam Bigelow. It was nice to see him mow through Gang and Bundy, but the valiant attempt at victory was stolen from him by the Giant, who gets his PPV moment in the sun after putting Hogan over big time at Wrestlemania. That would have been sufficient, but alas, Andre is once again stiffed of his moment. The match itself is decent enough, but the last 5 minutes is pretty exciting until the poor PPV ending. It was nice to see Hogan go out in the middle of the match instead of dominating, and added a fresh feel to things. Looking back, the heel team was pretty stacked, and Hogan’s team consisted of 3 guys who had tried to kill him in the past and a fresh faced rookie. After being betrayed by Orndorff in 1986, Hogan again forgave him, and they team up here to end Orndorff’s WWF career with a whimper. Muraco looks like he was training AND taking lots of vitamins as he too is now a popular face. He would have a decent 1988, but never reach the heights he was at just 2 years earlier. As Scott said, the big news here is the debut of Rick Rude. He lasts a good 10 minutes and even gets to show Orndorff the door. You could tell he was going to be a favorite of Vince and was being lined up for a good push. All in all, this is a pretty good match to cap off the first ever Survivor Series. Grade: **1/2


Scott: The first installment of the Thanksgiving tradition was a fun, invigorating way to get almost the entire roster on a PPV. The matches were extensive, the action almost non-stop. Going an entire year between PPVs (WrestleManias II and III) was absolutely torturous. Sure they had that big card in Toronto in the summer of 1986, but not everybody was able to see that show. This was a nice change of pace. Two more shows would be invented in 1988, and the regular PPV schedule would be set for the next 5 years. The Hogan/Andre war continues, even here when Hogan should have conceded the moment. 1988 would bring more debuts, exciting storylines, and a new main event force. 1987 is done, and the WWF is living large as the big daddy of sports entertainment. Sure NWA is still cooking with the most awesome heels in all of wrestling (The Four Horsemen), but in terms of big ticket entertainment, Vince was forging ahead of Jim Crockett. This show is a surprising gem. Final Grade: B-

Justin: A gem it is, Scott. This show 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 Andre 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. I won’t say this show has any historical significance, but it is definitely worth watching if you have some time to kill and want to see some good old school WWF wrestling. Vince actually created this show to take a shot at Jim Crockett, as he scheduled the show for the same night as Starrcade, which had always been NWA’s Thanksgiving tradition. Vince forced the PPV companies to choose between the two, and a strong majority of them chose the WWF product, since it was the proven PPV brand. The companies, however, were not happy with being forced to choose. Crockett would move Starrcade to December the next year, which is where it stayed until the company folded in 2001. Final Grade: B-