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- WWF Survivor Series 1987 – a Pay Per View Autopsy - November 4, 2017
By Nathan Bones @fretlessnathan
The 2017 Survivor Series is being promoted on the back of interpromotional rivalry, with Raw and Smackdown Live going head to head. Yet, rivalry and one-upmanship between opposing promotions is nothing new for the company in the month of November.
As the 30th anniversary of the inaugural Survivor Series approaches, there has never been a better time to re-visit the first edition of Vince McMahon’s long-running Turkey Day tradition.
This piece seeks to cover all aspects of the ’87 Series: the background to the show, a breakdown of each match and an editorial analysis; detailing the in-ring/character work and booking decisions. Hopefully it will act as a viewing guide and give you everything you need to know about the show and its background. Most importantly, hopefully it will to entice you to watch it.
Let’s get started!
The show was originally conceived as a way for the World Wrestling Federation to both capitalise on the craze of Hulkamania and the momentum of Wrestlemania III the prior March. Not only was it successful on these fronts, but it also managed to strike a fatal blow against Jim Crockett Promotions’ Starrcade; consolidating Vince McMahon’s position as the King of Pay Per View (PPV).
The idea of adding a concept PPV consisting entirely of elimination matches on Thanksgiving Day was certainly a commercially appealing one. Historically, wrestling on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were traditions in many of the old territories; drawing big live crowds and TV viewership figures for decades. Jim Crockett Promotions had run their Starrcade show for the prior four years (albeit on closed-circuit in the old Mid-Atlantic territory) and Vince was keen for a piece of the Holiday action.
As such, Vince scheduled the Survivor Series to go out at the same time on Thanksgiving Day as Starrcade, which was also making its PPV debut. Crockett’s group was exhibiting a lacklustre main event of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ron Garvin vs Ric Flair at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Initially, JCP relented and moved the ‘Cade to the late afternoon/early evening. This surely would be good enough for most fans; they would be able to watch both shows back to back on a Holiday. Not so for Vince…
At the time, cable companies were negotiated with individually separately for PPV clearances. McMahon simply issued an ultimatum to the companies, refusing to allow them to show both the earlier Starrcade, as well as his own Survivor Series. His PPV was to be shown exclusively. If the companies rebuffed his demand, they would be barred from showing Wrestlemania IV the following Spring.
Seeing the writing on the wall (and given Vince’s successful track record on PPV and network TV with Saturday Night’s Main Event on NBC) all but five companies agreed to his demand. Four of these the Crockett-loyalist companies were in the Carolinas; with the other in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although JCP were still showing the ‘Cade at 100 venues on closed-circuit, this was a disaster for them.
McMahon on the other hand enjoyed national TV clearance on PPV for the Survivor Series, ensuring it could be seen in as many homes as possible. Vince’s aggressive policy struck a fatal blow to Crockett’s PPV ambitions. Starrcade 87 garnered 20,000 buys, compared to 325,000 for the Survivor Series.
Such was the show’s success that the World Wrestling Federation pushed ahead with adding additional shows to their annual portfolio; with the Royal Rumble in January 1988 (a USA network special) and Summerslam 1988 on Pay Per View the following August. Also an enormous success was the Hogan- André rematch at The Main Event on February 1988. Drawing 33 million viewers for a 15.2 rating on NBC, it is to this day the highest rating pro wrestling show in US television history.
By contrast, Jim Crockett Promotions collapsed later in 1988, to be purchased by Turner Broadcasting System, resulting in the creation of World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
Location: Richfield Coliseum, Richfield Township, OH
Pay Per View Buys: 325,000 (7.01 buyrate)
Body count: 18 out of 59 performers on the show have passed away; equating to a 31% death rate.
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura
The show cold-opens to a hot crowd. Howard Finkel introduces Gorilla and Jesse as they make their way up to their elevated commentary near the entranceway (so were the days before ringside commentary tables). Jesse is in a sweet-looking ringer tee, emblazoned with the Series logo and the slogan “teams of five strive to survive”. Retro indeed… Gorilla is resplendent in his trademark maroon velour blazer and thick coke-bottle glasses.
A very generic, 80s-tastic slap-bass video package begins, showing random clips from syndicated TV matches. After seemingly forever, the original (though not-iconic) Survivor Series logo comes into view and we’re back into the arena for a run-down of the four matches with Gorilla and Jesse.
Backstage Promo – Team Honky Tonk Man with Craig DeGeorge.
In a generic heel promo, Intercontinental Champion Honky says he’s ready to “shake, rattle and roll on Elizabeth”; whatever that means…
Noteworthy is that Honky recently shoved Elizabeth in a backstage altercation on an October 87 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event following a match with Randy, so Savage clearly wants blood. Additionally, before feuding with Randy, Honky’s two prior feuds were with Ricky Steamboat and Jake Roberts. It’s called layering, kids!
Backstage Promo – Team Savage with “Mean” Gene Okerlund
Ricky Steamboat (with all of the charisma of a wet flannel) says this team are “all survivors”. Thanks Dragon…
A very tense and fired-up Savage rotates into frame; positing that Honky will be in the “danger zone” this evening. A textbook Randy babyface promo indeed.
Match One – Five on Five Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Savage (“Macho Man” Randy Savage, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – with Miss Elizabeth)
Team Honky (Honky Tonk Man, “The King” Harley Race, “Dangerous” Danny Davis, “Outlaw” Ron Bass and Hercules – with Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan)
1. Feuding together at the time, Duggan is tagged in and clotheslines Race to the outside. They brawl. In the melee, Duggan even calls Race a “son of a bitch” – in 1987 no less… Both men fail to answer the referee and are counted out. “The King” Harley Race & “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan are ELIMINATED.
2. After escaping a Piledriver from The Outlaw, wily babyface Savage blind tags in the Beefer, who Irish whips Bass; catching him with his patented high knee. Bruti covers him for the three. “Outlaw” Ron Bass is ELIMINATED.
3. Beefcake is tripped by the illegal man Davis, stumbling into the Shake, Rattle and Roll swinging neckbreaker from Honky; who stacks him up for the pin. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake is ELIMINATED.
4. Danny Davis attempts cheap shots at Jake, who had previously been softened up by Hercules. Roberts no-sells this offense and hits a textbook DDT; floating over for the three count. “Dangerous” Danny Davis is ELIMINATED.
5. A house of babyface fire, Steamboat chops away at Hercules; even connecting with one from the top rope. A body slam from the Dragon follows, leading to a tag to the Randy, who hits a majestic flying elbow drop and pins Herc for the three count. Hercules is ELIMINATED.
6. The chickens come home to roost here, as lonely Honky must now face his three previous nemeses in Savage, Steamboat and Roberts. All three get offense on Honky Tonk (including a trademark Savage double axe-handle). Realising the odds that are stacked against him, Honky “takes a powder” and walks to the back, allowing him to be counted out. Honky Tonk Man is ELIMINATED.
Survivors – Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
The babyface team in particular was well chosen. Having the top three faces on the team be previous rivals of Honky gave it added depth and build; leaving the ending an inevitability as the match unfolded.
Rent-a-heels Ron Bass, Danny Davis and Hercules barely factored; although this is hardly surprising due to the experimental nature of the new Survivor Series format.
Truly The Miz of his day, Honky Tonk Man forfeiting the contest at the prospect of facing a 3 on 1 assault was clever booking that preserved his character well and left the crowd satisfied with a babyface win (however hollow it may appear); particularly when one factors in the outcome of the main event later in the card.
Duggan and Harley being eliminated together early on protected them both (presumably a prerequisite for former multiple-time NWA champ Harley) and kept their TV and house show feud burning.
The match was a decent demonstration of conservative, protective booking, but very fun with it. Jake and his DDT were incredibly over and the crowd stayed hot throughout; as they were for the majority of the show.
Match length – 24 minutes.
Backstage Promo – Team Andre with Craig DeGeorge.
An on-form Bobby Heenan gamely yells “it’s you and him, Hogan – you 300lb turkey!”, as André chillingly reminds his rival “I’m here for your soul, Hogan”.
Gorilla remarks that André’s team is comprised of “over a ton of determination”. Well, he’s not wrong is he?
We’re taken back to ringside, where two women’s teams currently in the ring have received jobber entrances and are being introduced to the Richfield faithful.
Match Two – Five on Five Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Moolah (Fabulous Moolah, Velvet McIntyre, Rockin’ Robin and The Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno))
Team Sherri (Sensational Sherri, Donna Christanello, Dawn Marie and The Glamour Girls (Lelani Kai & Judy Martin) – with Jimmy Hart)
1. McIntyre pins Christanello with a very basic head scissors into a victory roll, following a glacier-slow offense exchange. Donna Christanello is ELIMINATED.
2. After performing seemingly every move from an Irish whip situation, Rockin’ Robin pins Dawn with a weak-looking running crossbody. Dawn Marie is ELIMINATED.
3. Sherri pins Jake’s half-sister Rockin’ Robin with a sensationally crisp and well-executed vertical Suplex with a partial bridge. Rockin’ Robin is ELIMINATED.
4. After performing some “60s women’s wrestling by numbers” offense (including some rough-looking hair-biels and har-mares), Moolah is caught short by WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions The Glamour Girls, who nail her with a double clothesline from the apron. Martin covers her for the successful elimination. Fabulous Moolah is ELIMINATED.
5. After dominating Sherri with a superb giant swing (of which Cesaro would undoubtedly be proud), McIntyre rolls her up with a victory roll. Its curtains for the Sensational One. Sensational Sherri is ELIMINATED.
6. In a great spot, Kai has a ground and pound situation on Velvet countered into a body scissors. With McIntyre’s legs wrapped around her, Lelani hoists her up and drops the Irishwoman with a fantastic electric chair drop. Pin. Velvet McIntyre is ELIMINATED.
7. Kai attempts a superfly splash on Noriyo, who rolls clear. She tags in Yamazaki, who connects with a big crossbody from the top strand. Lelani is pinned. Lelani Kai is ELIMINATED.
8. After some very innovative (for 1987) work on Martin from The Angels (including a seated atomic drop and seated knee drop), Noriyo connects with a breath-taking Hart Attack clothesline from the top. There was even a slight turn in Noriyo’s body, which made it look somewhat like Finn Balor’s slingblade when it connected. It’s a successful pin attempt and the second Glamour Girl’s off to the showers and the Angels survive. Judy Martin is ELIMINATED.
Survivors – The Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno)
Donna Christanello and Dawn Marie were utter non-entities and their act seemed tired and dated. The same can also be said for the usually-heel Moolah, who had merciless heat with the Richfield crowd despite playing a babyface role; certainly more so even than Honky Tonk Man. The then-64 year old moved as if suspended in custard and compared to the Bomb Angels and even McIntyre, was certainly outmoded, outperformed and overshadowed.
Sherri proved she was one of the great under-appreciated talents of her generation; bumping as if her life depended on it and selling for Velvet McIntyre as if she’d been shot out of a cannon. Velvet was another surprise package; performing very impressive power moves in every interaction.
The undoubted stars of the match though were the victors, The Jumping Bomb Angels. It was certainly the right call to give them ‘the W’. These Joshi pioneers were crisply connecting with tiger and butterfly Suplexes in a manner that would make a Steiner blush. In a match containing turgid mainstays from Moolah’s training camp (Dawn Marie and Cristanello) and an uber-green newbie (Robin), they were an innovative breath of fresh air and wrestled in a style very comparable to today’s competitors in say, the Mae Young Classic and certainly more so than the hair-pulling catfights of the Diva era.
Largely: entertaining stuff; if for nothing else the surprise package of the ahead-of-their-time Jumping Bomb Angels.
Match length – 24 minutes.
Craig De George is with Team Hart Foundation; Heenan insightfully suggesting that the teams are “ready to survive” and describe them as “exciting and fantastic”. Perhaps The Brain was having an off-night, promo-wise.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene is with a rowdy Team Strikeforce; so that means its bland-80s-babyface-promo time. We’re hit with such zingers as:
“This team is gonna win, baby” – Tito Santana
“Unity for Victory” – (Not-Yet-The-Model) Rick Martel
So, there’s that… Anyway, back to the arena.
Match Three – Five on Five tag team Survivor Series Elimination Match
NB: Elimination to one member of a tag team eliminates that entire tag team.
Team Strike Force (Strike Force, The Killer Bees, The Young Stallions, The Fabulous Rougeaus & The British Bulldogs)
Team Hart Foundation (Hart Foundation, The Islanders, The New Dream Team, The Bolsheviks & Demolition – with Mr Fuji, Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan)
1. Martel starts with babyface fire; eating a boot from Boris Zhukov He quickly rallies, countering with a one-two of a crisp dropkick and high crossbody. Tito quickly tags in and after dodging Boris’ sluggish offense, catches him with a flying forearm for a quick three count. The Bolsheviks are ELIMINATED.
2. After no-selling offense and working with stiffly with Haku and Tama to destroy every babyface in sight, Ax outsmarts Jacques Rougeau by rolling him up for a pin after missed crossbody block. The Fabulous Rougeaus are ELIMINATED.
3. An overzealous Ax and Smash pound on a prone Dynamite Kid in the corner, after he’s caught from a backdrop attempt. As the referee approaches in an attempted to reason with the Demos, he’s paintbrushed by a hyped-up Smash; leading to their disqualification. Demolition is ELIMINATED.
4. A sharp exchange between Jim Neidhart and Tito leads to the latter connecting with the flying forearm. Tito’s pin attempt is broken up by a textbook second rope elbow from Bret Hart. Neidhart lazily rolls onto Tito for the pinfall. Strike Force is ELIMINATED.
5. After tagging in Dynamite, there’s a power-looking vertical Suplex from Davey Boy onto Haku. Dynamite goes up to the high-rent-district and performs a diving headbutt onto a prone Haku. Of course, because Haku is a Pacific Islander (by quasi-racist 1980s logic), he feels no ill-effects and Dynamite sells the impact to his head instead. Yep… Haku takes to his feet and waffles a woozy Dynamite with a reverse crescent kick for a swift cover. The British Bulldogs are ELIMINATED.
6. After attempting to best the other for a while, Greg Valentine attempts to set up he figure four leglock on Jim Powers. Powers manages to get a bling tag to Roma, who hits Valentine with a very well-executed diving sunset flip on Valentine; rolling him up for the cover. The New Dream Team is ELIMINATED.
7. A clever exchange for the next fall, as we reach our final four teams. Jim Brunzell holds Bret in a standing power slam position, just as Tama soars from the top rope and connects with a majestic-looking missile dropkick. Bret lands on Jim Brunzell, but using Bret’s own momentum, the Killer Bee manages to roll himself on top of Bret for long enough to score a pinfall. The Hart Foundation is ELIMINATED.
8. In a very confusing conclusion (which I’m sure will polarise viewers), Haku and Tama are drawn into what Gordon Solie would deem a “pier six brawl” with the Stallions and Brunzell. As the referee is distracted and attempting to restore order, B. Brian Blair (in a bee lucha-style mask) performs a high sunset flip on Tama for the pinfall. Simultaneously Brunzell rolls to the outside and pulls on a mask of his own, to ensure the hapless referee won’t be able to tell which Bee scored the fall. The Islanders are ELIMINATED.
Survivors – The Killer Bees and The Young Stallions
There was a lot to be enjoyed in this match. With twenty men and so many moving parts, logic played its part and each team got a chance to shine. The fast paced, unpredictable nature of the early eliminations added to the excitement factor and the spectacle of twenty colourful men standing on the apron was certainly something not being done in any other promotion at the time. The mid-late 80s was truly the high-watermark of tag team wrestling in Vince McMahon’s New York outfit.
Having two unlikely teams finish as the sole survivors was a brave booking decision that paid off well for the live crowd and didn’t diminish the other teams’ stock at all. Arguably, it’s not something that would be attempted today. Often with the current product, unpredictable finishes tend to be the result of swerves and controversy-for-the-sake-of-it, rather than the genuine logic of say, fatigue or one team simply getting the better of another.
The early elimination of Demolition was a necessary one and kept them looking strong and credible as killer heels. They dominated their opponents in brutal fashion and theirs was the most unique offense in the match; hard-hitting and stiff; garnering genuine heat from the crowd. Their brutalising of Strike Force at Wrestlemania IV the following spring to win their first tag titles should have surprised nobody. Even to current eyes, their presentation really does hold up and the fact that they are still not in the WWE Hall of Fame beggars belief.
Whilst we’re on the subject of stiff offense: Haku and the Dynamite Kid stood in stark contrast to the mostly-white bread babyface teams; who were largely performing sunset flips, crossbodies and Irish whip transitions. With their innovative movesets, crisp grappling and stiff striking, Haku and Dynamite were a cut above the rest. Strong-style in 1987, apparently.
Worthy of note is simply how beloved Strike Force were on this show; particularly Rick Martel. They were rockstar-over and receiving the high-pitched “Shawn Michaels-in-late-95 pop”. They were the newly-minted WWF World Tag Team Champions, having unexpectedly upset the Hart Foundation on October 27th at a Superstars TV taping in Syracuse, NY.
And finally, Bret Hart fans will get a kick out of this match. Seeing him work on top as a badass, hard-hitting heel (rather than a selling, babyface-in-peril) is certainly a novel concept.
Interestingly, his hallmark spots were all present; including a stiff Piledriver, side Russian legsweep and his patented sternum-first Irish whip into the corner turnbuckle. Is there anything more satisfying than watching this master technician perform a snap Suplex? The way he leaves both feet and floats over for the cover afterwards is still breathtaking thirty years later.
Match length – 37 minutes.
Next up, we’re presented with a vignette and package of the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, as we see how he’s spending his Thanksgiving. Apparently, by peeling off banknotes and talking nonsense to a camera in the back of a limousine. He tells us “I’ll tell you what it really takes to survive: money. Tons of it. And I’ve got it”. We then see clips of his previous dickishness at TV tapings (making a chil bounce a basketball and making Linda McMahon bark like a dog), followed by a demonstration of his wealth at his dinner table.
This felt like filler content, but was presumably a way to bring the crowd down temporarily, as well as keeping DiBiase visible on PPV; due to his pivoting into becoming a key heel in 1988.
Speaking of filler; Craig DeGorge is on the podium (for some reason) interviewing Honky Tonk Man on the podium, like it’s a Wrestling Challenge taping… Honky challenges Hulk Hogan to a title-for-title match, since he’s moving away from Savage. I wonder how that worked out…
Mean Gene is with Team Hogan and the babyfaces are fired up. Each takes his turn to tell us that they’re going to survive. Just by being in the frame, Hogan demonstrates to the audience why Hulkamania exists in the first place. Even with current eyes, you can see how special and large-than-life he appears to be.
As Hogan walks the aisle, Gorilla comments on the monster pop, suggesting “I can’t even hear myself think, it’s so loud…”.
Match Four – Five on Five Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Hogan (Hulk Hogan, “The Rock” Don Muraco (substituting an injured “Superstar” Billy Graham), Ken Patera, Bam Bam Bigelow & “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff – with Oliver Humperdink)
Team Andre (André the Giant, One Man Gang, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy & “The Natural” Butch Reed– with Slick and Bobby Heenan)
1. After very little time, Reed is double-clotheslined by Hogan and Orndorff. Hogan capitalises on this and hits the big legdrop for the first fall of the match. Reed looks like an utter jobber
in this exchange as he counts the lights for the Hulkster. “The Natural” Butch Reed is ELIMINATED.
2. After having his Irish Whip reversed by One Man Gang, Patera is floored by Gang’s uranage-like slam for a quick three. Ken Patera is ELIMINATED.
3. Rude bumps like Dolph Ziggler for Mr Wonderful, who brings the Ravishing One into a Piledriver position. Bundy heelishly strikes Orndorff, who is schoolboyed by Rude. “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff is ELIMINATED.
4. In short order (and after an Irish whip from Hogan), “The Rock” hits an enormous Muraco powerslam on Rude. Rick counts the lights for Muraco. “Ravishing” Rick Rude is ELIMINATED.
5. In a sequence constructed solely to make Andre look like a credible threat, Gang whips Muraco into the ropes, who is caught by Andre from the apron with a weak-looking palm strike on the turn (it was really more of a caress). Gang capitalises, squashing The Rock with the 747 splash and it’s a three count. “The Rock” Don Muraco is ELIMINATED.
6. After a short sequence of Bammers selling for Bundy, André and Hogan briefly go toe-to-toe. Bundy pulls Hogan to the outside as the Hulkster is running the ropes. By way of receipt, Bundy and Gang are both easily bodyslammed by Hogan. In the melee, Hogan is counted out by referee Joey Marella; leaving the contest 3 on 1. The crowd hates the decision. Hulk Hogan is ELIMINATED
In a “tantrum” reminiscent of his reaction to his Royal Rumble 1992 elimination, the sulking Hogan protests in vain with his hands on his hips. At this point, Howard Finkel announces that if Hulk Hogan doesn’t leave the ringside area, he will forfeit his WWF Championship to Andre. Poor sport Hogan obliges.
7. With the deflated crowd largely apathetic, Bammers now faces seemingly-insurmountable 3 on 1 odds. He makes quick work of Bundy; working the leg and headbutting him multiple times. After a missed avalanche from Bundy from a whip reversal, Bigelow connects with a suspect-looking slingshot splash from the apron. Bundy eats the pin (as well an entire buffet, apparently). King Kong Bundy is ELIMINATED.
8. An exhausted Bam Bam is worked on by Gang, who punishes him with multiple chokes and kicks. It’s all heat and no hope. As a result (and probably due to the finish being fairly predictable now) the crowd is very flat. In a spot of hope, Gang misses a top rope 747 splash and is lazily covered by Bigelow. One Man Gang is ELIMINATED.
9. Miraculously, Bammers uses cat-like agility to constantly evade the almost-immobile Giant. André shoulders Bam Bam in the corner and catches him with a butterfly Suplex (which more resembled a weak-looking biel) and scores the pinfall. Bam Bam Bigelow is ELIMINATED.
Sole Survivor – André the Giant
As was the case with the two previous men’s matches, the main event was a keen demonstration of the unpredictable nature of the new format. The booking served to elevate newcomer Bam Bam Bigelow, who really got to shine in the match as a young, agile babyface big-man, even if the competition was largely immobile and/or morbidly obese workers; capable of very little. Aside
From Bammers, Hogan’s team were largely comprised of rent-a-friend non-entities, so his star was only built further by comparison.
So long as Hogan was involved in the match, the crowd were hot throughout. There were no weak chants; this was a sustained roar which built the anticipation further the longer Hogan and André didn’t touch. Such was Hulk’s magnetism; as soon as he was eliminated, the enthusiasm of the crowd collapsed like a warm Easter egg.
The booking of the Giant being victorious and Hogan being eliminated by count out (which although “cheap”, it was clean), protected both. Hulk didn’t get pinned and André remained a credible title contender and held bragging rights over the Hulkster. This would of course come to fruition on an episode of the Main Event in the following Spring, wherein André would win the coveted strap after assistance from Ted DiBiase and an ‘evil’ referee’.
As mentioned previously, what is perhaps more obvious on hindsight is Hogan’s tantrum after elimination. To modern eyes, he appears a sore loser and a bad sport. That’s to say nothing of his heelish offense, which included back rakes, cheap shots and eye rakes. A babyface indeed.
Match length – 22 minutes.
As expected, a gloating André is forcibly removed from the ring by Hogan, who returns and quickly waffles him over the head with the World Title. Jesse calls the Hulkster “disgraceful” and follows up with “what a sore loser”. There’s some truth to that.
Still, the crowd can’t seem to get enough of him and it sends them home happy; a great old rasslin’ promoter trick to this day.
Once he has the ring to himself, Hogan poses. Of course he does…
After a nondescript André/Heenan post-match promo, the show goes off the air and so concludes the 1987 WWF Survivor Series event.
Overall, the show was very enjoyable and there’s much for the current fan to enjoy; particularly the tag match. A lot of the workrate in the main event in particular may seem pedestrian compared to today’s product (whether mainstream or independent), but the larger-than-life personas, hot crowd, sound booking and to-the-point commentary all work in its favour.
The spectacle of seeing so many colourful talents on one card gives a fascinating cross section view of the sheer depth of bodies on the roster at the time. It works in stark contrast to the more serious sports-like presentation of Crockett and the NWA.
The multi-man approach was also clever from a booking perspective, as lesser workers or those in worse shape would not be overexposed by working long matches. Not to mention, wrestlers with more name value could be eliminated in creative ways that wouldn’t their TV personas or drawing power.
As with any wrestling show, it’s the presentation that’s key. With all of the hallmarks of Golden Age WWF on display, using the word ‘iconic’ to describe it would be no understatement.
Show rating: 3.5*
I hope you’ve enjoyed this very detailed autopsy of the inaugural fall classic.
Please let me know your questions, thoughts, feelings and opinions. Is there anything else you’d like to see covered in this format? Get in touch.