The SmarK Retro Repost – Survivor Series 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Survivor Series 89

– In our continuing trip back to when the WWF REALLY REALLY SUCKED, we hit Survivor Series 89, which was probably the low point, wrestling-wise, of the year. If you don’t count No Holds Barred: The Pay-Per-View. And really, who does?

– And no, I will NOT review No Holds Barred: The Pay-Per-View. So just don’t even bother e-mailing me about it.

– Live from Chicago, IL

– Your hosts are Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon.

– Thankfully (or not, depending on your point of view), by 1989 the WWF had managed to get organized enough not to have every PPV run 4 and a half hours, and so no clipping was needed for this show.

– Opening match: Big Bossman, Bad News Brown, Honky Tonk Man & Rick Martel v. Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, Terry Taylor & Dusty Rhodes. And as you can see, the unwieldly 5 on 5 format was dumped in favor of 4 on 4, which produced 5 matches instead of 4. Good move, sez I. Martel & Santana had the main issue (I refuse to call Bossman & the American Cow’s “feud” over the nightstick a legitimate issue) so they start. Pretty non-descript match to start, as they run through the basics and Taylor gets to play sacrificial lamb. Or rooster. He was just riding out the contractual gravy train at that point anyway, collecting his pay until he could legally go ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD but the WWF. Santana gets the hot tag and kills Martel, but tries a rollup and it gets reversed for the pin. Geez, that makes like 140 matches between those two with that ending. Interesting note for those of you obsessive enough to e-mail me stuff like this: Shane-O-Mac, the most homocidal, genocidal, suicidal guy to wear a sweater vest, is the on-the-floor referee for every match, probably stuck there on the order of Daddy-O-Mac in order to learn the flow and pace of a wrestling match. The future Sapphire is shown in the front row of the crowd, cheering on the Dream. Taylor and Martel do a nice sequence, and AGAIN poor Terry gets killed. Geez, he’s getting buried, we GET IT ALREADY. He makes the mistake of talking smack to Bad News Brown, and takes a beating for it. Gotta admire the guy for guts. However, once again, Bad News runs afoul of a teammate (this year’s lucky winner: Big Bossman) and walks out on his team. But I mean, it makes sense: What self-respecting bad-ass black guy would team with a prison guard and a guy nicknamed “Honky”? It’s just BEGGING for a bad situation. Ahem. HTM & Beefcake do their usual match, with an unusual twist: Beefcake hits a high knee and Honky lays down clean. Martel & Beefer do a boring mini-match next, with Brutus getting the pin on a sunset flip. Bossman is 1-on-3 now. He dispatches Taylor without breaking much of a sweat, and speaking of breaking sweat, here comes Dusty with a bodypress for the pin and the victory at 22:00. This was decent. **1/4 Survivors: Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake.

– Randy Savage, Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine & Earthquake v. Jim Duggan, Ronnie Garvin, Bret Hart & Hercules. Wow, a synchronized 2×4 routine! Yeah, just kill me now. Bravo is, I believe, subbing for Barry Windham here, who I distinctly remember being part of this show but can’t for the life of me remember who took his place. Bret gets BIG pops when he gets in the ring, and don’t think that wasn’t noticed. The faces lay into Valentine for a while. Hercules gets caught in the wrong corner, however, and flattened with a Quake splash in short order. Buh bye. Bret manages to schoolboy Quake from behind, which allows Garvin a splash for a two count. Cute. Garvin plays slug-in-peril for a while. Duggan catches a quick tag and clotheslines Hammer for the pin. Bret and Savage exchange a quick sequence, bringing a ray of hope into this show. Sadly, Bravo tags in. Sigh. Garvin comes in and gets side-slammed and pinned. Gee, and I thought he had it wrapped up after the GARVIN STOMP OF DOOM. Savage & Bret tease me again by doing another couple of minutes. Brets gets destroyed by Earthquake and does his usual amazing sell job. Miracle tag allows Duggan to come in to get a few shots in, but then he tags Bret back in. HUH? And as you’d expect, Savage pounces like a vulture and finishes the injured Bret with the big elbow. Man, what an idiot Duggan is. Duggan is now 1-on-3. He uses his limited brain power to temporarily outsmart the heels, but then they realize that there’s THREE of them and ONE of Duggan and proceed to getting medieval on him. Unnecessarily cheap ending follows as Sherri trips him up and he’s counted out at 23:23. Geez, you’ve got a former World champ, the World’s Strongest Man and a guy named after a natural disaster, and they need a GIRL to beat Duggan? That’s just sad. *1/2 Survivors: Bravo, Earthquake, Savage.

– And now, here to a poem for us all, the Genius.

– Ted Dibiase, Zeus, Warlord & Barbarian v. Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts & Demolition. Oh, this oughta be a classic. The Demos had regained the tag titles from the Brainbusters the week before (in TV time), but only because the ‘Busters were rapidly being shown the door and Vince needed an over team to job to that other awesome duo: Haku & Andre the Giant. Yeah, that’s a fair trade. That big Hogan v. Zeus issue was still building, so they start. For those who weren’t around way back then, there was a VERY real fear amongst smart fans that Vince would run Hogan v. Zeus as the main at Wrestlemania VI. The big Z no-sells all of Hogan’s offense, which makes him my hero for a few seconds. He shoves the ref and gets DQ’d. Yeah, bring on that singles match! Well, at least he went quick. Hulk gets beat up by the heels for a while, then Snake & Dibiase do their thing. They had the issue at the time, ostensibly over the Million Dollar Belt but my secret inside sources reveal that in fact it was a big contest between them, to see who destroy their life most dramatically with drugs and alcohol, then last longest doing the bible-thumping circuit as born-again Christians. Dibiase won that one pretty easily. And at that point, Gorilla hits a great quote: “I don’t care if you’ve got a Z on the side of your head or not, THAT’S NOT LEGAL”. Try saying that one to complete strangers, just to annoy them. Ax comes in and gets pinned after being tripped up and elbow-dropped. Smash comes in, more boredom follows, and he gets clotheslined and pinned by Barbarian. Man, did the Demos piss off a booker or something? The heels work Roberts over slowly. Hogan gets the hot tag and is double-teamed by the Powers of Pain, who are BOTH disqualified. LAAAAAAAAAAAAME. Jesse is nearly going apoplectic, yelling about Hebner being paid off by Hogan and giving him an easy time of it by disqualifying 3/4 of Dibiase’s team. He’s got a point. Anyway, it’s Hogan & Roberts v. Dibiase. If it’s 1988, then MAYBE there’s suspense, but the Dibiase push is deader than aw, just make your own tasteless joke. Hogan survives the Million Dollar Dream by using that special scientific counter: Having your partner run in and cheap shot the guy on the third drop of the arm. What a PUSS Hogan was. Be a freakin’ MAN and DO THE JOB for once your life, you orange freak. Jake gets the hot tag, but Virgil runs in (with a broken arm — now THAT’S Smithers-quality toadying) and takes a DDT for the boss, which allows Dibiase to drop a fist and pin Roberts with his feet on the ropes. And the plot thickens. Dibiase kills Hogan until The Thing That Wouldn’t Go Away decides to start no-selling at an arbitrary and finish Dibiase with his usual at 27:28. I *really* question the need for Hogan to win that match, considering his was ALREADY the champion and all. I mean, if you put Dibiase over there, you pop HUGE heel heat for him and build to a pretty good blowoff for the future. Alas, such are the dreams of fools like I. Survivor: Hulk Hogan.

– Intermission.

– Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka & The Bushwhackers v. Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect & The Rougeau Brothers. Talk about your contrast in talent. The faces start by providing a visual demonstration of my opinion of the lot of them: They all bite. Pretty much a comedy match to start, with Jacques in full melodramatic oversell mode. Superfly splash gets rid of him in short order. Rude & Hennig have some heel miscommunication to keep the faces on offense. Piper gets Raymond on a piledriver. So it’s Rude & Hennig against all four faces. Hennig gets beat up, but manages a quick rollup on Butch to even it up a little. Rude takes out Luke with the Rude Awakening and it’s 2-on-2. The heels now toy with Snuka for a while, with Hennig his usual great self. The sequence can most politiely be referred to as “unreasonably lengthy” and least politely as “more boring than watching Nitro”. Piper gets the hot tag as I struggle to remember how they booked it to get rid of Piper and Rude without anyone jobbing. Oh, yeah, brawl to double-countout, that’s it. You know, the transition from 80s wrestling to 90s wrestling was starting to become apparent, as the bookers didn’t want to job ANYONE to ANYONE if they could possibly help it, because it might hurt a house show gate in Podunk, MD if the fans didn’t believe that both guys in the “C level” show main event were indestructible. You know, the more I learn about the politics of wrestling, the more the smart in me hopes I never get involved in any way. We’re down to Snuka v. Perfect, and then the mark in me gets another little ray of hope, as Snuka wisely allows Hennig to carry him through a really nice little wrestling match. A roll-through on a cross-body gets two for Perfect, and the Perfectplex finishes it at 21:27. Nothing cheers me up more than watching Curt Hennig rebel against the bookers in his own way by getting over on his god-given wrestling ability. And despite Hogan’s politicking, he used that talent to get so over that he was THAT close to being put over Hogan before it got vetoed by the Balding One. This match, however, was just there. * Survivor: Curt Hennig.

– Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty v. Bobby Heenan, Arn Anderson, Haku & Andre the Giant. Heenan is in there because Tully Blanchard “failed a drug test” (HAH!) and got fired before the show. Ultimate Warrior does the Steve Austin entrance, waiting until his partners get beat on by the heels, and THEN making the big save. As a testament to how pathetically deteriorated he was, Andre gets clotheslined out of the ring by Warrior and counted out mere seconds into the match. Yeah, there’s a GREAT choice to put the tag titles on, Vince. No wonder you almost went bankrupt in 1990, you moron. To put this in perspective, this was the time when Warrior was headlining house shows against Andre and winning in 30 seconds with three clotheslines. Think Hulk Hogan will be doing the house show circuit to put over a hot newcomer when HE’S 60 years old and falling apart? Neidhart beats up everyone while Andre stands in the aisleway doing what can be best described as his impersonation of Rock doing his impersonation of the Big Show. Anvil quickly takes a Haku thrust kick to the back of the head and hits the showers. The Rockers and AA/Haku proceed to do a GREAT little mini-match, and I suddenly dream about what they had planned if Tully hadn’t been turfed. Heenan draws HUGE heel heat by tagging in for a cheap shot and then immediately tagging out. Then, after AA beats Jannetty into a pulp, he tags in again and gets the pin. See, THAT’S how to be a cowardly heel. Warrior takes out his agressions on Arn and Haku, then Shawn finishes Haku with a cross-body off the top. Shawn gets tossed to the floor and we almost have LUCHA-BRAIN as Bobby teases a dive off the top rope, but then thinks better of it. The Heenan Family dissention is furthered as Heenan gives Arn shit for, you know, tagging him. Arn takes out his frustrations on Michaels, pinning him after a spinebuster. So it’s Warrior against AA and the Brain. Arn gets some essentially token offense, then gets splattered. See ya. Warrior toys with the Weasel for his own petty amusement (the best kind) then puts him out of his misery with a should tackle at 20:25. Okay, I admit, I enjoyed watching Warrior humiliate poor Bobby and give him his just desserts. The match falls under my usual category: Entertaining crap. **3/4

The Bottom Line: This was pretty much as pedestrian and unexceptional as they come, which was par for the course at that time.

But hey, the next year, something REALLY big happens, so there’s always that to look forward to.

Don’t bother with 89, however.