Classic Era Network w/ Kace: WWF Survivor Series (1989)

After a couple of years of suburban Cleveland getting to host this event, the Rosemont Horizon near Chicago gets its turn. For the Horizon, this is their first PPV for the WWF since being one of a trio of hosts for WrestleMania 2 in 1986. This is also the first WWF PPV not to involve the Illinois State Athletic Commission’s meddling. By this point, Vince McMahon had basically told people “Hey, this is fake, leave us the fuck alone” and so they did. Basically, the World Wrestling Federation and most everyone else in pro wrestling were able to operate without State Athletic Commissions butting in, allowing the sport to become a bit more cohesive when putting together their cards.

The broadcast for this event includes 5 4-on-4 elimination tag matches. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura are reunited on PPV commentary, their previous team-up at this level being WrestleMania V. Formerly “banned for life” referee Danny Davis finally gets to take part in a PPV as a referee after being reinstated. Also making his debut as a ringside referee is a young, future WWF European Champion, Shane McMahon.

The first match involves a pair of rival captains whose issues with one another stretches back to their time together in the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions, Dusty Rhodes and his Dream Team and the Big Bossman’s Enforcers. Oddly enough “the Enforcer” Arn Anderson isn’t part of Bossman’s team.

Bossman’s teammates include Bad News Brown, Rick Martel, and the Honky Tonk Man. Rhodes’ teammates consist of Brutus Beefcake, the Red Rooster, and Tito Santana. Beefcake had been part of the WWF’s original Dream Team, a tag team with Greg Valentine where he won his only Championship here, the WWF World Tag Team title. As for the second Dream Team of Valentine and replacement partner Dino Bravo, they team up in the next match.

Once again, Santana is the jilted ex who can’t get over it, still sporting the Strike Force gear, still going after Martel as soon as he can, and still coming up short against him, this time with Martel eliminating him.

Brown for the second straight year voluntarily exits his Survivor Series match after a miscommunication deal. For the second straight year, HTM has to deal with this happening to him as he and Brown were teammates the previous year.

The survivors of the match are Rhodes and Beefcake, which marks Beefcake’s first win as part of a Dream Team since WrestleMania III’s win with Valentine over the Rougeau Brothers which led to their immediate split. Bossman, post match takes out some frustrations on both winners before leaving. To reiterate, the issues between Rhodes and Bossman stretch back to their time in JCP together when Bossman was Big Bubba Rogers, bodyguard of Jim Cornette and ally of the Midnight Express against Rhodes and the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express.

Between SummerSlam and Survivor Series, Randy Savage had unseated Jim Duggan as King, rechristening himself as the Macho King and essentially retiring the King’s Crown as something occasionally competed for. That brings us to this match where the King’s Court led by Savage and featuring Earthquake, Valentine, and Bravo take on the 4×4’s led by the former King Duggan and his teammates, Ron Garvin, Bret Hart, and Hercules Hernandez.

One of the sadder things about watching these events on the WWF PPV list consecutively is the reduction of muscle definition for Hernandez. Also sad is Hernandez dealing with more big stage futility as Earthquake splats him with the Earthquake Splash. Eventually the match itself comes down to 3-on-1 with Duggan having to face down Savage, Earthquake, and Bravo. For the third consecutive year, Duggan finds himself eliminated via count out, giving the King’s Court the win.

Also, for you WCW fans yes that’s the same outfit Sensational Queen Sherri will wear when she makes her arrival during the Ric Flair Vs. Sting unification bout for the WCW World Heavyweight and WCW International World Heavyweight titles in 1994.

The middle match on the card is the one I was expecting to be the main event, or rather be the one that goes last in the order which is the Million Dollar Team taking on the Hulkamaniacs as this contest involved not only the WWF Heavyweight Champion in Hulk Hogan, but also the WWF World Tag Team Champions in Demolition. Also on the team is Jake Roberts. The Million Dollar Team consists of Ted DiBiase, the Powers of Pain, and Zeus Lister. Lister seems to have learned his lesson from SummerSlam, not letting himself be phased by Hogan bodyslamming him, getting back to his feet and going after Hogan again. Unfortunately for Zeus, he applies a chokehold and making a rookie mistake, forgets to let go before the end of the 5-count, getting himself disqualified from the match. Hogan and Lister will face off one last time a month later and more on that match later.

After continuously coming up short against Demolition, the Powers of Pain finally get to enjoy their first major taste of victory against Ax and Smash for the first time since the previous year’s Survivor Series, with the Barbarian and Warlord being responsible for their eliminations from the match. Unfortunately, that’s as close as they’ll ever get to being better in that ongoing war. By next year’s Survivor Series event, the POP will be split up with Mr. Fuji moving on to another team, the Orient Express. The POP then both get eliminated simultaneously for double teaming Hogan and not letting up. DiBiase’s the last of his team with all three of his teammates having been DQ’d from the proceedings.

DiBiase eliminates Roberts, but Roberts manages to add Virgil to the DDT’d on PPV by Jake Roberts Club, joining George Wells, Danny Davis, Hercules Hernandez, and Rick Rude.

Down to just Hogan and DiBiase, DiBiase once again finds himself coming up short against Hogan, a frustration he’s had to deal with since Hogan’s original WWF stint a decade earlier and leaving Hogan the sole survivor of the match.

Now, we start to enter a bit of chaos within the Heenan Family. Rick Rude has his Rude Brood team to deal with while the Heenan Family team has some fallout to deal with. A little note on the continuity here. WWF had taped a Saturday Night’s Main Event broadcast that wound up airing after Survivor Series that shows just how bad things were getting between the Brain Busters and Heenan. Between that and this, plus other stuff I’ll get into later, there would be a serious shakeup to emerge from the chaos.

Before getting to all that, let’s focus on the Rude Brood with Rude’s teammates, the Rougeau Brothers and Mr. Perfect taking on Roddy’s Rowdies, captained by Roddy Piper and featuring the Bushwhackers and former Piper enemy, Jimmy Snuka. Good to see he and Piper getting along so well. It had only been what, five years since the Piper’s Pit coconut incident? In any event, Piper’s team starts off well, eliminating both Rougeaus, before suffering through the Bushwhackers both being eliminated. Rude and Piper fight each other on the outside, resulting in a double count out and that leaves Perfect and Snuka and Perfect finishes him off with the Fisherman’s Suplex Pin. Perfect and his ringside cohort, Lanny “the Genius” Poffo get to celebrate Perfect being the lone survivor.

A quick note here before getting to the last match. The first 4 matches all resulted in wins for future New World Order members in WCW. The last match is future NWO free.

For the Brain Busters of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, Survivor Series was meant to serve as their finale before leaving the WWF to return to the former JCP, WCW the following month. It turned out to just be Anderson’s as Blanchard not only found himself dismissed from the Heenan Family for stuff in the ring, but by the WWF for stuff that occurred outside the ring, failing a drug test and torpedoing chances of Blanchard joining in the on the reformation of the Four Horsemen, leading to either Ole Anderson or Sting filling in that spot and leading to Sting being ousted a short time later. …It was a mess to say the least.

All of this results in Anderson, despite being on the outs with Heenan still being a part of this match, perhaps via contractual obligation and Heenan replacing Blanchard who was now gone from the WWF and pretty much the sport itself. Blanchard’s next significant resurfacing will occur years later in ECW in what was basically a one-off against Shane Douglas. The rest of the Heenan Family consists of Heenan’s new tag team, the Colossal Connection of Andre the Giant and Haku, arguably the most dangerous tag team ever assembled.

Their opponents, the Ultimate Warriors, captained by the Ultimate Warrior (of course) and his teammates, the Rockers and Jim Neidhart. Intriguing is that the Hart Foundation are represented in separate matches, a sign that both Hart and Neidhart were still wanting to find their footing as singles competitors.

The Rockers get to finally celebrate a win, but not before experiencing eliminations. Anderson gets to exit with some measure of dignity, being the next to last to be eliminated and at the hands of Warrior, the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion. That leaves just Warrior and Heenan and Heenan is basically slaughtered by Warrior before the IC Champ finishes him off.

Other fun stuff.

Another referee making his debut that night was a young Mike Chioda.

Prior to the broadcast, the paying audience were treated to a match between Boris Zhukov and Paul Roma with Zhukov getting the win, the first big win for him since leaving the AWA for the WWF.

Seated in the audience is a woman who will become known as Sapphire. Sapphire, real name Juanita Wright was no ordinary fan. Yes, she’s best known for being a big Dusty Rhodes fan and this was basically the beginning of the Sapphire Saga. Some things to keep in mind about Sapphire so I don’t have to repeat any of this later.

Sapphire was a Missouri product, not only becoming the first licensed female referee in the state, but she also competed as Princess Dark Cloud, so she had in-ring experience, experience that would more or less come in handy once she and Rhodes found themselves in a rivalry with Savage and Sherri. In terms of toughness, the former Dark Cloud not only wrestled other women, but apparently once wrestled a bear, back when that was a thing to do (see Kong, Queen).

After eventually selling out to DiBiase in 1990 and feeling depressed about doing so, she’ll leave the WWF behind and resurface years later in the Memphis USWA, once again as Sapphire and once again rocking the yellow polka dots for old times’ sake.

As noted earlier, this is Duggan’s third straight Survivor Series where he’s been counted out. The following year, he’ll be disqualified from his match and in 1991, he’ll be part of a team sweep victory. After that, Duggan will not compete at this event again, finding himself in WCW in 1994. So even though Duggan has a weird looking history at this event, he can always say he was never pinned or made to submit at this event.

8 former World Heavyweight Champions competed on this card.

WCW’s future New World Order swept their 4 matches, 2 of which ended with with an all-NWO final. Those matches were Dusty Rhodes and Brutus Beefacake (the future Disciple) last eliminating the Big Bossman (Bubba Rogers) and the other was Hulk Hogan (the future Hollywood Hogan) last eliminating Ted DiBiase.

After this event, Monsoon and Ventura will team up on commentary for a PPV event one last time, at WrestleMania VI. After calling this card for the first 3 years, 1990’s Survivor Series will see Monsoon paired up with Roddy Piper.

A rare PPV not on the Network is the one that follows this one and that’s the 1-match PPV of No Holds Barred: the Match where Hogan and Beefcake compete against Randy Savage and Zeus Lister inside the iron steel cage, making it the first PPV to have an iron steel cage tag team match and the first PPV match inside of that cage since Hogan’s WrestleMania 2 victory over King Kong Bundy in 1986.

Hogan and Beefcake go on to win that match and Lister disappears. By the time Royal Rumble 1990 comes around a month later, it’s as if Zeus never existed. Lister will eventually turn up in Puerto Rico, having a brawl of a match with Abdullah the Butcher that doesn’t really go anywhere and Lister basically just sticks to acting from that point on. He will resurface one last time in 1996, showing up in WCW as Z-Gangsta and once again tasting defeat from Hogan, who this time will have Savage as a teammate instead of an opponent.

For Demolition, Survivor Series proves to be largely a failure as they’re always eliminated. At least this year they still get to be part of the winning team, but they’ll be back on the losing side the following year before finally disbanding.

Speaking of Demolition, they’ll suffer another loss the following month as the Colossal Connection will go on to beat them for the WWF World Tag Team titles, igniting the rivalry between these teams which will culminate at WrestleMania VI.

Next up, WWF Royal Rumble 1990, where Hogan meets Warrior.

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