This is the card that ignited the battle of wills between the World Wrestling Federation and the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions. At the time, Crockett’s borg collective had stretched from Mid-Atlantic to Georgia and eventually Florida as well as the Universal Wrestling Federation, the former Mid-South territory. Crockett hosted the annual NWA Starrcade event in Chicago on Thanksgiving, but the WWF decided to air a PPV that same night, the first ever Survivor Series.
It’s a battle of wills that would eventually favor the WWF as they had their trump card in WrestleMania IV, which they threatened to not let air on any cable outlet that carried Starrcade. Vince McMahon became lucky in many outlets not calling the bluff. That bluff call would have likely changed the landscape of pro wrestling forever in a different way.
In any event, this card takes place at the Richfield Coliseum just outside Cleveland and was home to the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. It is a 4 match card, but given the nature of the bouts, all elimination tag matches in large groups, 4 was all that was needed. Also, considering this is going against Starrcade, I’ll note the Crockett Collective influence where I can.
First there’s Team Honky Tonk Man versus Team Randy Savage. HTM’s team also includes Danny Davis who along with HTM was managed by Jimmy Hart, King Harley Race and Hercules Hernandez, both managed by Bobby Heenan, and also “Outlaw” Ron Bass who was sans manager. Given his fallout with JJ Dillon about 2 years or so earlier, it’s understandable he’d want to strike out on his own.
Savage’s teammates are Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and Brutus Beefcake, along with Savage’s manager, Miss Elizabeth at ringside. It’s worth noting that Savage and Steamboat had started the year as bitter enemies. Steamboat’s bitter rival prior to Savage was Roberts. Savage and Roberts would eventually have a personal feud of their own in 1991.
Crockett Collection Influence
The Honky Tonk Man (as Wayne Farris in Mid-Atlantic)
Harley Race (former NWA World Heavyweight Champion)
Hercules Hernandez (former Assassin #2)
Ron Bass (Mid-Atlantic, managed by JJ Dillon)
Randy Savage (Mid-Atlantic stint; given last name by Ole Anderson of Georgia territory)
Jake Roberts (LOD member in Georgia; Mid-South)
Ricky Steamboat (Mid-Atlantic; part of first Starrcade)
Jim Duggan (Mid-South, North American Champion)
Brutus Beefcake (Mid-South, as Dizzy Hogan)
The survivors are Savage, Steamboat, and Roberts after HTM is the last man standing on his team and realizing he has a WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship reign to consider, chooses to get himself counted out.
The Ladies’ Division elimination tag match was a highlight and one of the best things about Team Sensational Sherri Vs. Team Fabulous Moolah (aka Fucking Spider Lady) is that Velvet McIntyre, as part of FSL’s team gets some manner of redemption from her terrible showing at WrestleMania 2 the previous year. She scores a pair of eliminations by way of Americana Victory Roll, one of which is over “Sensational” Sherri Martel herself, the WWF Ladies’ Champion at the time.
Martel’s teammates were the WWF Ladies’ Tag Team Champions, the Glamour Girls, Donna Christianello, and Dawn Marie. No, not that one. FSL’s teammates were McIntyre, Rockin’ Robin, and the Jumping Bomb Angels. This match sparked the rivalry between the GG’s and JBA’s who were the last remaining members of their respective teams and the JBA’s finish off the GG’s to become the lone survivors. This will help set up a 2-out-3 falls match for the Ladies’ Tag Team titles during the first ever Royal Rumble card months later.
The third contest was a marathon with too many people involved. Instead of 5-on-5 it was 5 tag teams-on-5 tag teams, meaning elimination of someone meant he and his partner were gone from the match. The Hart Foundation captained their team of the Islanders, Demolition, the Bolsheviks, and the Dream Team of Greg Valentine and Dino Bravo. This unit combined for 5 managers at ringside. Jimmy Hart (HF), Bobby Heenan (Islanders), Mr. Fuji (Demolition), Slick (Bolsheviks), and soon to be departing Johnny Valiant (DT). Strike Force, who had just unseated the HF as the new WWF World Tag Team Champions during an edition of WWF Superstars of Wrestling captained their team of the Young Stallions, the Rougeau Brothers, the Killer Bees, and the British Bulldogs.
Crockett Collective Influence
Jim Neidhart (Mid-Atlantic; Mid-South)
Ax (as the Masked Superstar in various territories)
Smash (as Barry Darsow/Krusher Krushev)
Nikolai Volkoff (Mid-South, victory over Darsow convinced Barry to defect and become Krushev)
Boris Zhukov (as Pvt. Nelson in Mid-Atlantic)
Greg Valentine (Mid-Atlantic; part of first Starrcade)
Dino Bravo (Mid-Alantic)
Tito Santana (Florida, Georgia; once competed as Richard Blood, the real life last name of Ricky Steamboat)
Jim Brunzell (Central States; Tag Team Champion)
Triple B (Florida, as Brian Blair)
The last survivors are the Young Stallions and Killer Bees who use Bee Magic to eliminate the Islanders.
The final contest was Team Andre the Giant against Team Hulk Hogan. Andre’s team was impressive in terms of overall size as his teammates were King Kong Bundy and Rick Rude, fellow members of the Heenan Family along with One Man Gang and Butch Reed of Slick’s stable. Hogan’s teammates were Paul Orndorff who was back to being friendly with Hogan again after firing Heenan as his manager, Bam Bam Bigelow, managed by Sir Oliver Humperdink, Ken Patera, and Don “the Rock” Muraco who looked and acted a lot different since his WrestleMania III loss.
Crockett Collective Influence
Andre the Giant (Dude… everywhere)
King Kong Bundy (Georgia, Mid-Atlantic)
Rick Rude (Mid-Atlantic, NWA World Tag Team Champion with Manny Fernandez)
One Man Gang (Mid-Atlantic; Mid-South/UWF; UWF World Heavyweight Champion)
Butch Reed (Florida, Central States, Mid-South; North American Champion)
Hulk Hogan (Florida, Georgia)
Sir Oliver Humperdink (Florida, Central States)
Paul Orndorff (Florida, Mid-Atlantic)
Don Muraco (Georgia)
Ken Patera (Georgia, Mid-Atlantic)
This match marks the first time Hogan has been on the losing end of a PPV main event as his team gets dwindled down to Bam Bam Bigelow who fends off Bundy and Gang before finally being eliminated by Andre, leaving Andre as the sole survivor. Post match, Hogan attacks Andre, helping to eventually set up the most watched (and sadly, one of the worst ever) matches in TV history in early 1988.
Other fun stuff.
This event marked the first time Barry Darsow, as Smash got to team up with Nikolai Volkoff since being rechristened as Krusher Krushev in Mid-South.
Gang was still fresh off a departure from the UWF where he had surrendered the UWF World Heavyweight title to Big Bubba Rogers, the future Big Bossman and teammate of Gang’s as the Twin Towers.
Leilani Kai and Judy Martin were the Glamour Girls and their match marks the only time in WWF PPV history where both the Ladies’ Champion and Ladies’ Tag Team Champions competed on the same card. For Kai, this is her first closed circuit/PPV appearance since her WWF Ladies’ title loss to Wendi Richter at the first WrestleMania in 1985.
HTM had defeated Ricky Steamboat for the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight title earlier in the year after Steamboat’s memorable win over Randy Savage at WrestleMania III.
Danny Davis joins George Wells in the DDT’d on PPV by Jake Roberts club.
The Richfield Coliseum will host the following year’s Survivor Series as well.
Bass and Beefcake will develop a rivalry over the course of the following year.
Johnny Valiant was Demolition’s original manager, but sold the contract to Mr. Fuji soon after WrestleMania III to focus on his new Dream Team of Valentine and Bravo. Soon after this event, Valiant would disappear with Valentine taking in Jimmy Hart as manager for a second time and Bravo finding a new manager in Frenchy Martin. Johnny’s next major WWF appearance would be his and brother Jimmy’s induction into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996.
Rick Rude makes his WWF PPV debut here after leaving Jim Crockett Promotions of the NWA where he had been NWA World Tag Team Champions with Manny Fernandez, managed by Paul Jones. JCP would go on to claim the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express, the team Rude and Fernandez had unseated had regained their titles against Rude and Fernandez. Rude’s next Championship will be the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight title in 1989.
Hulk Hogan will have to wait until the first SummerSlam in 1988 to pick up his next PPV win.
Next up, WWF Royal Rumble 1988, a non-PPV event that aired on USA Network opposite another NWA PPV.
Seen by Kace Box at Sunday 9:49pm
Tags: WWF Survivor Series (1987)