Vintage Vault Repost: Survivor Series 1988

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 1988

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

1) 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


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: 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 2 years. Now, half of them are in the WWF. 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.

Scott: In the modern day WWE, I’d like to see a perfectly done 20-man, 10-team old school survivor match. These were the best matches back in the day, as it was non-stop action. There were different combinations in the ring, crazy moves, and total mayhem. This tag match was better than the year before simply because there were better teams in it. I was jazzed to see ½ of the Four Horsemen in the match, although they didn’t get a chance to show their true heel attitude. The Rockers added a nice spark to the match, and was a fresh face on the face side, if you will. The match was exciting, and then there’s the swerve. Smash of Demolition comes off the ropes, and his manager Mr. Fuji separates the ropes and Smash falls through. Ax argues with Fuji, and they’re counted out. Fuji whacks Ax with the cane, and the tag team champs beat the hell out of their manager. Suddenly, The Powers of Pain come over to console Fuji, and after finishing the match they celebrate together. Gorilla and Jesse make it clear this didn’t happen overnight. Obviously this had to be done. POP look and act better as heels. Demolition was getting complete face pops after a year in the WWF. Logically, you wonder why Fuji would ditch the Tag Team Champions for another team. Well, I guess you have to suspend logic for now. An entertaining match with a big swerve. Grade: ****

Justin: A really fun nonstop survivor style match that gives everyone ample time to shine. There is a lot going on here, in and out of the ring. This is the final time we will see the Dynamite Kid on WWF TV and is the last hurrah for Davey Boy for the next 2 years. Also gone after this match are the Young Stallions. Both Powers and Roma would hang around a few more years, but their tenure as a team has reached its end. Replacing them in the face tag ranks are the Rockers, who were coming off a great run in the AWA as the Midnight Rockers. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were actually offered a job one year earlier, but they got drunk and caused a scene in a hotel bar and were fired immediately. A year later, they returned a little bit wiser and a little bit smarter, and would last a lot longer. Here, they make a good debut, lasting nearly a half hour before being counted out alongside the debuting heel team, the Brainbusters. While Ric Flair decided to stick with the NWA in mid-1988, two of his closest friends decided to head for greener pastures when the opportunity came about. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were immediately paired up with Bobby Heenan, explaining the name “Brainbusters.” Besides the major shock of the double turn of Demolition and the POP is the minor push of the Conquistadors, who have never been anything more than a jobber tag team. They somehow last until the end, despite taking a vicious beating throughout the whole match. I’m guessing Vince had them last so he would have a non-descript team at the end, so they wouldn’t take away from the POP-Demolition storyline. It worked pretty well, even though the Conquistadors ended up gaining some major sympathy heat, which was OK, because it helped the POP heel out when the murdered them at the end. All in all, a great opener that once again showed how awesome the tag division was in the late 80’s. Grade: ****

2) Brutus Beefcake (Ed Leslie), Blue Blazer (Owen Hart), Sam Houston, Jim Brunzell and the Ultimate Warrior (Warrior) defeat Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris), Danny Davis (Daniel Burielle), Greg Valentine (John Wisniski, Jr.), Ron Bass (Ronald Herd), and Bad News Brown (Allen Coage) in 17:50

Survivor: Ultimate Warrior


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: 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: Not much to say here, except the shuffling of Honky Tonk Man into the mid-card where he belongs. This match also is the obvious stage for the Intercontinental Champion, The Ultimate Warrior. He cleans house and ends the match with 2 straight pins. His momentum is building, and 1989 will be a banner year for Warrior, the beginning of a successful 2-year run. Most everyone else in this match is a harmless jobber who you’ll forget once you stop the tape. I find it odd that they don’t blow off Honky and Beefcake. Why doesn’t Beefer just pin him? Very strange. Bad News Brown continues to build his rep as a loner, as this is the first of two straight Survivor Series he walks out on his teammates. Grade: **

Justin: This match is basically a showcase for the Ultimate Warrior, as he continues his long trek to the top of the mountain. He plows through Valentine and Bass to finish things off and stands alone as the sole survivor. Speaking of Valentine, he has severely dropped off since WrestleMania, as he wasn’t even at SummerSlam and is an afterthought in this match. Things would pick up a bit in 1989, but his time in the sun is gone for sure. Houston and Davis are pure cannon fodder and would both be gone from the ring very soon. Davis would eventually return as a ref, a job he would remain in until the mid-90s. Bass is another jobber to the stars who would be gone early in 1989 as well. His one claim to fame was tearing up Beefcake’s face with his spurs, but that incident has no blow-off here, as Beefcake continues his never ending feud with Honky, causing the two men to be counted out. Honky is definitely feeling the effects of his long push, and as 1989 rolls around, he drops further and further down the ladder, to the delight of many. Finally, Bad News Brown continues his push as a nasty son of a bitch by walking out on Honky and his teammates. The match itself is OK, and is clipped heavily on the Coliseum video release, which shows how much they cared about anything but the Warrior as far as this match is concerned. Grade: *1/2

3) Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano), Harley Race, Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), Rick Rude (Richard Rood) and Andre the Giant (Andre Rousimoff) defeat Ken Patera, Tito Santana (Merced Solis), Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.), Scott Casey & Jim Duggan in 30:03

Survivors: Dino Bravo and Mr. Perfect


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

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

Scott: As we now see after two years, each Survivor Series match has an underlying goal. This one was to get the up and coming heels over. Bravo was continuing his strong run, and Rude was on the verge of the biggest storyline of his career. Race has been recovering from a severe back injury he suffered in a match against Hulk Hogan, and is no longer King. Andre takes a step down from the main events to start a new feud. His next target is Jake Roberts, who finally finishes the storyline with Rude by pinning him here with a DDT. Andre goes medieval, choking him out viciously until he is DQ’ed. It was actually a good sign to see the nastiness in Andre. He wasn’t this nasty during the Hogan feud. Henning gets the easy pin after Andre is DQ’ed. This starts up the Roberts/Andre feud that helps the Snake gain more face credibility. This is just a tease for Hennig, Better things are to come. Grade: **

Justin: Another match that exists to get over the debuting Mr. Perfect and the revitalized Dino Bravo. Curt Hennig was a big star in the AWA, and it was only a matter of time before Vince snagged him. Here he is still wearing simple black tights, as the more famous Mr. Perfect singlet wouldn’t show up until the spring of 1989. He does start an impressive “perfect record” that would be the source of much debate over the next year or so. His co-survivor, Bravo, is seeing a pretty good mid-card push, one that would continue into 1989. Another sidebar in this story is the launching of the Jake-Andre feud, as Andre was sent down to help elevate some talent. Duggan was also feuding with Andre around this point, as back in the spring, they had an encounter where Andre tried choking Duggan out, but Duggan nailed him with the 2×4 and knocked him out cold. We also get a bit of closure in the Roberts-Rude feud, as Jake pins Rude cleanly with the DDT, ending that feud and allowing Rude to move on to his biggest program to date in 1989. Tito has a nice showing as always and makes the heels look good before bowing out to Andre in 15 minutes. Harley Race returns here, would turn face in January and face Haku at the Royal Rumble to pass the “King Torch,” before retiring altogether. We also bid adieu to ken Patera and his ugly afro and pantyhose. A pretty decent match that gets the major points across: set up Jake vs. Andre and push Bravo and Perfect. Grade: **

4) Randy Savage (Randy Poffo), Koko B. Ware (James Ware), Hillbilly Jim (Jim Morris) Hercules (Ray Fernandez) and Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) defeat Akeem (George Grey), Red Rooster (Paul Taylor), Haku (Uliuli Fifita), Ted DiBiase and the Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) in 29:08

Survivors: Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan


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: 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.

Scott: An exciting main event with a good amount of drama and tension. It was nice to see Boss Man and Akeem immediately pushed to the main event, as DiBiase was starting to lose a little luster after two straight PPV losses. As for the Mega Powers, well after wonderful bliss throughout the summer, the first crack in the foundation appears. While Savage, who pinned two opponents to Hogan’s one, was getting the crap beat out of him, Hogan was handcuffed to the ropes opposite their corner. Savage goes into the corner at least twice and finds no one to tag. Slick dangling the keys in front of Hogan, taunting him and laughing, is a great visual. Some heel miscommunication leads to Slick hitting the deck, and Elizabeth goes into Slick’s coat and gets the keys. Hogan unlocks the cuffs and Savage is eventually thrown into the corner, hitting Hogan’s hand. Hogan comes out, cleans house on Haku and finishes off the match. Savage is trying to get his bearings while Hogan is celebrating in the ring. He then picks up Elizabeth off her feet, and Savage turns around to see them celebrating together. Savage’s facial reaction is priceless. Frankly, if I was Savage I’d be pissed too. This is the time Jesse starts stirring the shit, as after the match he interviews Savage and asks if he was upset after the match. Savage dances around the answer, something he does often over the next couple of months. Another big win for the Mega Powers, but not everything is completely rosy. Grade: ***

Justin: Everyone knows the drill here: set up the long road to WrestleMania by teasing some tension in the Mega Powers. Between Hogan hogging the glory, celebrating with Macho’s woman and Jesse stirring the pot, the tension is very palpable. Savage cools down as the show ends, but the seeds of doubt are planted in his mind by the “Body.” This match is interesting, because it is ripe with lower mid-carders (Koko, Hillbilly and Rooster) and upper mid carders that had never main evented (Akeem, Boss Man, Hercules and Haku). Also in this match, we see the first time of two consecutive years where Hogan is bailed out by a ref disqualifying his monster opponents for no reason. Here, Boss Man is counted out while beating on Hogan outside the ring, and Akeem is DQ’d for some bizarre unknown reason. Things would get much more blatant and worse in 1989, which would cause Jesse to have a near coronary. Haku, now split from the Islanders, gets a nice run here, and he would have a solid 1989. We also get our first look at Hercules in his new face role, which gets over with the crowd pretty strongly, and he would become a solid face hand for the next year and a half. Savage puts in his usual great performance, selling his beating like a mother fucker and making you believe he may succumb to Haku before making the tag to Hogan. It is funny, when you really analyze this storyline now-a-days, Hogan clearly comes off as the heel the whole way through, and the only reason he remains a face is because of the fans. If this story happens in 1992 or 1993, Hogan would have been forced into being a heel because the fans weren’t unconditionally in his corner like they were in 1988. A fun little match that exists just further the Mega Powers storyline, but that also gets some long time mid carders a nice PPV Main Event slot. Grade: **1/2


Scott: The second installment of the Thanksgiving night tradition did not have the same drama that the first one did, but the tag match was better than last year’s; with the Demolition swerve the highlight. 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, the Blue Blazer, the Rockers, and the Brainbusters. 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. Other than that, there isn’t too much memorable about it. Demolition can finally be cheered, the tag team division is as hot as ever, and Randy Savage is having second thoughts about his “partner”. Not the best show in the world, but one that does tell a story and prepare us for the volatile year that is 1989. Final Grade: C

Justin: This PPV is really just a giant 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 5 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 the show stopper, the main event, the ICON, 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 opener, 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