Classic Era Network w/ Kace: WWF Survivor Series (1988)

Welcome to the pro wrestling event that usurped NWA Starrcade for Thanksgiving Tradition honors. Just like the previous year, Survivor Series takes place at the Richfield Coliseum. Also, like last year we have 4 matches on the card. A major difference this year is that the Ladies’ Division is not featured.

I will note where I can, Starrcade experience of the participants between 1983 and 1987 when it was still a Thanksgiving event. The commentary is handled by the usual fellas, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura.

First up it’s the Beefcake Warriors against Team Honky Tonk Man. The BW’s consist of Co-Captains Brutus Beefcake and the Ultimate Warrior, Sam Houston, the Blue Blazer, and Jim Brunzell while HTM’s teammates are future Rhythm & Blues tag team partner Greg Valentine, Ron Bass, Danny Davis, and Bad News Brown. Jimmy Hart is manager for HTM, Valentine, and Davis.

Starrcade alumni in this match
Sam Houston (1985, 1986)
Greg Valentine (1983)
Ron Bass (1985)

Of the 3, Houston batted .500, losing to Smash, known at the time as Krusher Kruschev then successfully defending his NWA Central States Championship against Bill Dundee, Valentine suffered a bloody, violent loss in a dog collar match to Roddy Piper, and Bass was successful against his Starrcade opponent and former tag team partner, Black Bart in a bull rope match.

HTM is counted out for the second year in a row, this time by way of Beefcake sleeperhold, which also causes Beefcake himself to be ousted from the match. Warrior winds up being the sole survivor. Brown begins a 2-year streak of walking out on HTM’s team.

The next contest is the second and last ever 5 tag team-on-5 tag team elimination match, meaning if you’re eliminated, so is your tag partner. Team Demolition, managed by Mr. Fuji have teammates in the newly arrived Brain Busters, managed by Bobby Heenan, the Rougeau Brothers, the Bolsheviks, managed by Slick, and the Conquistadors. Their opponents, Team Powers of Pain whose teammates include the Hart Foundation, Rockers, British Bulldogs, and the Young Stallions.

Starrcade alumni in this match
Smash (1985, 1986 as Krusher Kruschev)
Arn Anderson (1985, 1986, 1987)
Tully Blanchard (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987)
Barbarian (1985, 1986)

Smash defeated Houston, then followed that up with a tag team win alongside former WWWF Heavyweight Champion Ivan Koloff against the Kansas Jayhawks. Arn Anderson and his uncle Ole Anderson successfully defended the NWA National Tag Team Championship against Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Jack Haynes, but came up short the following year challenging the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express for the NWA World Tag Team titles. Tully Blanchard defeated Ricky Steamboat, lost a legendary bout to Magnum TA in a steel cage submission match, then defeated Dusty Rhodes to become NWA World Television Champion in a First Blood match. Anderson and Blanchard would then team up to successfully defend the NWA World Tag Team Championship against the Road Warriors. The Barbarian tasted only defeat in his Starrcade apperances, losing to “Superstar” Billy Graham by DQ in an arm wrestling contest then losing the immediate wrestling match, also by DQ, following that up the next year with another loss, this time while tag teaming with Shaska Whatley against Hector Guerrero and Baron Von Raschke. Baron would be the one to bring Barbarian and Warlord into the WWF before leaving soon after.

The Conquistadors have one of their best showings ever during their WWF time under the masks. Eventually they would be revealed as Jose Luis Rivera and Jose Estrada, a couple of WWF journeymen looking for a break. This is the closest they’d ever come, being the last team to be eliminated by the sole survivors, the Powers of Pain. A funny thing happened on the way to this victory. Demolition were eliminated by Fuji holding on to the top rope and causing Ax to be counted out from the hard tumble. This led to Ax and Smash immediately and violently parting ways with Fuji before leaving. The POP, without a manager since Von Raschke’s departure and not all that used to operating without one, as well as seeing Demolition as their mortal enemy at the time immediately rushed to Fuji’s aid and brought him over to their corner. With that, Fuji had a new tag team and Demolition was sans manager for the first time.

Team Andre, captained by Andre the Giant takes on the Hacksaw Snakes next, captained by Jim Duggan and Jake Roberts.

Andre the Giant has a posse and it includes Heenan Family stablemates Rick Rude and Harley Race along with Dino Bravo, managed by Jimmy Hart, and newly arrived Curt Hennig, going by the nickname of “Mr. Perfect.”

The Hacksaw Snakes’ teammates include Tito Santana, Ken Patera, and Scott Casey who may have been filling in for Rick Martel who was out of action at the time.

Starrcade alumni in this match
Rick Rude (1986)
Harley Race (1983)

Rude lost a strap match to Wahoo McDaniel while Race lost in one of the most memorable of Starrcade matches to Ric Flair, surrendering the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Flair in a steel cage match which also was Starrcade’s first ever main event.

At this point, Race was coming back from an injury and in his absence his crown was transferred to Heenan Family stablemate Haku, now King Haku. Race seems cool about things for now, but by Royal Rumble in January 1989, Race and Haku will be fighting over who gets to be the King.

Duggan was counted out the year before while fighting Race on the outside. This time he’s DQ’d for using his 2×4 on Bravo. Eventually, Roberts is the last man standing on his team and some Andreference leads to Bravo and Hennig being the sole survivors.

The final match is Team Towers, captained by the Twin Towers of Big Bossman and Akeem, managed by Slick versus Team Megapowers, captained by Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, managed by Miss Elizabeth.

The Twin Towers’ teammates are Ted DiBiase, King Haku, and Terry Taylor aka the Red Rooster, managed by Bobby Heenan. The Megapowers are joined by Koko Ware, Hillbilly Jim, and Hercules Hernandez, no longer managed by Heenan and refusing to join up with DiBiase who had purchased the contract from Heenan. A key part of this includes Hernandez not taking kindly to the idea of being utilized as DiBiase’s “slave” which I’m sure would be illegal unless we’re talking about something out of the BDSM community and I’m guessing the WWF wasn’t too keen on that at the time… Demolition’s outfits notwithstanding.

Starrcade alumni in this match
Big Bossman (1986, 1987 as Big Bubba Rogers)
Red Rooster (1985, 1987 as Terry Taylor)
Hercules Hernandez (1983 as Assassin #2)

Bossman’s time as Rogers had him serve as Jim Cornette’s bodyguard for the 2 SC’s he was a part of, while also getting a win over Ron Garvin in a No DQ match. Taylor surrendered Championships in his 2 SC appearances up to this point, losing the NWA National Heavyweight title to “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel then two years later losing his UWF World Television Championship in a unification bout with NWA World Television Champion Nikita Koloff. Hernandez competed in the first ever SC match as masked Assassin #2, teaming with Assassin #1 to beat Rufus R “Freight Train” Jones and Bugsy McGraw.

Ware becomes the first black competitor since Mr. T (also competing as a teammate to Hogan) in 1985 to main event in one of these major events and the first on PPV. He and Hernandez, both suffering through futility on the big stage with no wins finally get to celebrate, but not before being eliminated, Ware by Akeem and Hernandez by DiBiase. Even in victory, both still tasted defeat. The sole survivors are the Megapowers of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s celebration with Elizabeth, picking her up and carrying her around like Donkey Kong kidnapping Pauline is once again noticed by Savage and just like SummerSlam before, he looks a little miffed by it. This time, the feeling persists a little longer as the cameras stop rolling.

The Megapowers didn’t so much explode as they experienced a slow decay followed by an implosion in early 1989. The Twin Towers will play a key role in the team’s breakup before suffering a breakup of their own in 1990.

Other fun stuff.

The former Thanksgiving tradition, Starrcade becomes a December event starting this year and it stays that way until the final SC card in 2000.

Rude joins George Wells, Danny Davis, and Hercules Hernandez on the DDT’d on PPV by Jake Roberts Club.

The Blue Blazer is a young Owen Hart under the mask, but I’m guessing some of the younger fans know this for a more morbid reason. …We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it in 1999, because as of this writing that card is still on the PPV list.

In total there are 12 competitors on this card that have participated in Thanksgiving Starrcade matches.

Starting in 1989, the 5-on-5 concept will be replaced by the 4-on-4 one, making room for an extra match.

10 is the number of future WCW New World Order members involved in this card, either in-ring or at ringside.

This card serves as the final appearance of the British Bulldogs whose value had dropped since Albano’s departure. The Bulldogs would go on to compete in the AWA and Japan. After that, only Davey Boy Smith would return to the WWF with Dynamite Kid never returning.

For Arn Anderson, this was an accidental glimpse into the future as he was facing off against Paul Roma as one of his opponents while teaming up with the man who would no-show the 1993 Horsemen reunion that would introduce Roma as their new member, Tully Blanchard.

While this year’s Survivor Series is the finale for the Bulldogs, next year’s will serve as the finale for Anderson. It was also meant to be Blanchard’s, but Blanchard was let go a little sooner for reasons we’ll get into another time.

Current or former World Heavyweight Champions on this card include…
Rick Rude (World Class World Heavyweight)
Mr. Perfect (AWA World Heavyweight)
Harley Race (NWA World Heavyweight)
Randy Savage (current WWF Heavyweight)
Hulk Hogan (WWF Heavyweight)
Akeem (UWF World Heavyweight)
Big Bossman (UWF World Heavyweight)

The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart will eventually become World Heavyweight Champions themselves.

Arn Anderson and Tully Blanhcard (NWA) and Red Rooster (UWF) represent former World Television Champions while Jim Duggan will become the final WCW World Television Champion.

After two years in suburban Cleveland, the Survivor Series will start to move around a little more.

Next up, the second ever WWF Royal Rumble and the first to be a PPV event.

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