WWF SURVIVOR SERIES SHOWDOWN 1989:
(Nov. 12, 1989)
* So this is largely a card of JUST Dream Matches, and I Bayless already covered this ages ago, but whatever- these cards fascinate me. I guess they were on the USA Network and were used as hype shows for the Survivor Series, mixing up the guys in the matches against each other. So we’re in the post-WrestleMania V era, with “Macho King” being slid down to an “Upper Midcard” position, Hogan as Champion again with Zeus as an arch-enemy, and more. And this YouTube video includes the COMMERCIALS, complete with advertising. Hm, Dyanetics or video games made by Acclaim- which is more evil to advertise to children?
Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan & Roddy Piper are our hosts, and Monsoon actually lays it out- every team member would put their names into a hat, drawing names out until one one guy remained- those guys would fight each other. This is why it looks so “random” (ie. big stars are fighting tag team wrestlers so that they can win while not hurting anyone’s push).
THE BIG BOSS MAN (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick & Akeem) vs. TITO SANTANA (w/ Dusty Rhodes):
* Boss Man is leading The Enforcers (Martel, Bad News, Honky Tonk- Akeem was replaced with Bad News after this show) against Dusty’s midcard babyfaces The Dream Team (Tito, Beefcake, Rooster). Boss Man is many months from losing to Hogan and is preparing for his babyface turn next year- this is one of the few times these two’s careers intersect while Boss Man was a heel- both were babyfaces otherwise.
Vince is clearly disgusted with Boss Man’s sweat, lol- Ventura digs into him “If you’d ever BEEN an athlete, you’d KNOW what it’s like to sweat!”. They spend most of their time slowly locking up, but Tito wins some slugfests and Boss Man takes some great bumps off of dropkicks and bails quickly. Tito hangs onto a headlock all over the ring, no-selling an atomic drop and hitting ANOTHER dropkick, but the next headlock sees a backdrop suplex. Boss Man then hauls up Tito into a freaking DOCTOR BOMB, which is insane for 1989 WWF.
Back from a break with Boss Man working the back and landing on Tito in the ropes, but he misses an elbow and Tito slugs away. He hits a cross-body but gets launched off Boss Man to the outside, then uppercutted. Boss Man slowly pounds a way while Tito builds up for a comeback (even on the downswing, dude has his timing DOWN), and he finally dodges a knee in the corner. The fans go nuts as he wipes out Boss Man’s leg and tries for the Figure-Four, but he gets flipped over and Akeem tosses in the nightstick- Boss Man smokes Tito in the ribs and goes for a cover, but now DUSTY’s in and he takes a nightstick to BOSS MAN, and puts Tito on top for the surprise pin (11:35). Wow, I’m shocked they let Boss Man job by this point, even to that.
Rating: **1/4 (Good enough timing in the match, even though it was almost “all punches” up to a point and had a TON of standing around and soaking up reactions)
Heenan makes up a story about Dusty slipping in the nightstick first, while Piper accuses him of meeting Rick Rude via late-night dating lines (humorously, USA is including advertisements for those with this show). They give Heenan shit for the Brain Busters losing the Tag Titles to Demolition recently, too.
MISTER PERFECT (w/ The Genius) vs. BUTCH (w/ Luke):
* As one-sided a match as you’re likely to get, though this is early in the run of the Bushwhackers. Perfect is part of Rude’s Brood (Rude & Rougeaus) vs. Roddy’s Rowdies (Piper, Snuka, Bushwhackers), and is feuding with Hogan by the end of the year. Perfect’s now fully in the singlet, this time black with green & pink on the back. It occured to me last year that I’d been calling the wrong one “Butch” all these years- he’s the skinnier-faced one.
They start with a long pose-off, but Perfect jumps him like a good heel, only to be bitten on the leg- Vince is all “hey he knew what he was getting into” while Ventura is DISGUSTED. Perfect throws a knee and talks some quality shit (“YOU’RE IN HERE WITH MISTER PERFECT! NOT JUST ANYBODY! DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?!”), but Butch whips him into the corner and bites him on the ass, sending him out again. Perfect comes back with the kneelift & necksnap, and Butch writhes all over the ring while selling the beat-down- he finally comes back with brawling, a boot from the corner, and a clothesline, but Luke chases the Genius around. Vince calls this a “distraction”, as Butch pays attention to that, gets slugged, and the Perfect Plex finishes at (6:18). Okay, so maybe you don’t need to beat BUTCH via a distraction, but okay then. Luke slugs him after the bell, and the Bushwhackers hit a double-clothesline and send Perfect WAY over the top rope with the Battering Ram to get their heat back.
Actually not as bad as you might expect, since it was kept short, Butch sold his ass off (rolling around the ring from even simple chops), and it was pretty clean.
Rating: ** (a Bushwhacker solo match that hits **- a true miracle)
“MACHO KING” RANDY SAVAGE (w/ Queen Sherri) vs. THE MIGHTY HERCULES:
* Savage, now pretty well de-pushed but still relevant, leads the King’s Court (Earthquake, Bravo & Valentine- Quake replaces The Widowmaker) against The 4x4s (Hacksaw, Bret Hart, Garvin, Hercules). Herc the Jerk was the “Third Megapower” for a tiny bit, but is now kind of in a dead zone. Ventura: “Look at how well she obeys the King- he snaps his fingers, she acts. That’s the perfect male/female relationship, right there. Good heelin’. Macho’s in purple, and Herc’s in powder-blue.
They lock up to start and Macho bails & poses while Ventura points out the differences between them- “Hercules is SLIGHTLY stronger” (McMahon is annoyed at the adjective), while Macho is more agile, quicker, and “much, much smarter”. Hercules powers him around with a shoulderblock & clothesline while Vince points out that JESSE went far “without any brains”, leading to complete silence from the Body for like two minutes in a weird bit. Herc wins a tug-of-war with Sherri over Savage’s body and press slams him, complete with reps, but Savage bails. Sherri gets between them, and Herc lifts her up and out of the way before Savage knees him into the post- always a classic. Jesse compliments Sherri for fighting back despite “being BRUTALIZED”, as she puts the boots to Herc with her high heels on LIKE A LADY.
Back from the break with Savage pounding away outside and hitting the Flying Axehandle to the floor, then distracts the ref while Sherri just DROPS him with a right hand that has Ventura completely marking out (“You know, if you wrestled HER, McMahon, I’d bet on HER!”), then uses the dreaded WOMAN’S SHOE attack to the throat- this is great. A guy at ringside actually calls her “you WITCH!” while an Axehandle inside the ring gets two, impressing Ventura with Herc’s resilience. Savage with the Necksnap over the ropes, but Herc LAUNCHES him off at one! Flying Elbow… misses! Hercules hammers away on him for the big comeback, then DODGES Savage’s next sneak attack, sending Randy over the top! Herc tries to suplex him back in, but Savage falls on him while Sherri grabs the ankle- that gets two. Savage uses this distraction to pound away, but he comes off the top and gets caught! Savage eats clothesline beamspam, but Sherri pulls down the top rope after four and Herc’s in a bad way. Savage keeps breaking the count to take him down more, so Herc just yanks him over, but Sherri sleight of hands him the Loaded Purse and bails to distract the ref again, and that’s that- the purse gets the pin at (10:22).
God this act was amazing- Meltzer said something like “Sherri is so good that Savage can’t get cheered no matter how good he is”- she was magnificent. This was just NON-STOP CHEATING, with Sherri getting involved at nearly every twist and turn, getting the positioning and timing right on everything, allowing Herc to look strong in defeat even though Savage got all the great moves and the win. Like, this was a MASTER-CLASS in cheating and dishonesty. Ventura teases Hercules having a “glass jaw” from a purse knocking him out while Vince is disgusted.
Rating: *** (they managed to thread nearly an entire match around cheating)
BROTHER LOVE INTERVIEW:
* Brother Love comes out to talk about Demolition being super-tough… but brings out Bobby Heenan and the new Colossal Connection, with the Demo feud being transitioned from the Brain Busters to Andre & Haku. Haku speaks in Tongan, while Andre’s English promo is only slightly more legible to me. Love tries to get a word in and Andre just SNAGS his arm, going “I WASN’T FINISHED!” with that terrifying leonine roar, and even Heenan looks nervous (almost audibly going “woahhh…”), like he can barely control his giant. That’s great stuff.
Now it’s the Survivor Series report with promos all around! The Widowmaker (Barry Windham) is with the King’s Court still. Bret is too cool to do the “I don’t know, but I been told!” with the rest of the 4x4s, but Duggan notes “We got wood, and we’re comin’ for you!”. Well okay then.
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR vs. TULLY BLANCHARD (w/ Bobby Heenan):
* The Ultimate Warriors (Neidhart & The Rockers) fight against the Heenan Family (Bobby, Andre, Haku & Arn Anderson), which of course means this is before Tully was gone and Heenan got written in to replace him (apparently this happened either this day or very shortly thereafter). Warrior’s in green tonight, and is the current IC Champion.
Warrior easily muscles Blanchard around, so crafty ol’ Tully goes for the friendly handshake, then screams in pain as Warrior crushes his hand. Love this dude. Tully leaps over the ropes to escape, but Warrior just drags him over like a child. Tully finally gets a thumb to the eye and slugs away, but Warrior just starts no-selling. Tully cowers and takes the Slaughter Bump over the corner, then begs off, gets dragged back out, then tossed OVER again, and Warrior press-slams him back into the ring when he tries to run to the dressing room. Warrior goes up (!) with a Double Axehandle, rams him into the turnbuckles a few times, and FINALLY hits the corner after missing a jumping thing, letting poor Tully finally get some offense.
Tully gets caught with a clothesline but puts his knees up from the Running Splash. Warrior blocks a suplex and gets his own, but misses an elbow, but Tully comes off the top and eats a Powerslam reversal! This sends Heenan to call in backup, and so out comes the Heenan Family for the DQ (6:00). Warrior hits the Brain Busters with a double-clothesline to great applause, but Haku ruins that, and it’s my favorite Survivor Series Go-Home Show Cliche: the “Two-Team Clusterfuck” ending! The Rockers & Neidhart come out and fend them off, while Andre only makes it to the side of the ring before the Family stands there like good heels, afraid to challenge the babyface alliance.
This was a BLAST with Tully just flying all over the ring to put over Warrior, almost reveling in over-selling and cowering like a complete wuss- the man is a FANTASTIC heel. It was ultra-short, though I’d imagine they could have had a fun match even if it went longer, though I guess Warrior looks strong because the Family comes out the send Warrior has him beat.
Rating: **1/4 (Tully’s great selling and Warrior’s whupping of his ass was pretty fun, though it was one-sided and short)
Another promo! The Hulkamaniacs cut an all-timer, Smash working in “Kick people’s teeth in!”, Ax talking about how you can’t BUY titles, you have to fight, kick, and GRIND for them, “And we’ll fight, kick and grind for YOU, Hulk Hogan”, and Hulk talking about the DDT ambulance service in arenas across the country, saying Zeus is his before moving to Jake, who just does that quiet Jake thing and goes “A man is dyin’ of thirst, has to have water; a dog is starvin’, has to have FOOD; a child is CRYING, it’s got to have some attention… and I… have got to have YOU, Ted DiBiase…”.
“THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN” TED DiBIASE vs. SMASH:
* The Million Dollar Team (Zeus & the Powers of Pain) face the Hulkamaniacs (Hulk, Demolition & Jake Roberts). No music OR Virgil for DiBiase
Amazingly, Ted gets punched and then punches Smash while he’s still wearing the spiked mask, selling it and taking a huge bump over the top on an atomic drop. Then Smash grabs some of his cash and goes “You want it? Come GET it!” and shoves in into the front of his trunks. Oh that’s great, especially when Ted sells it. He takes a beating, but he suckers Smash by bailing and luring him back in at the wrong time. Smash comes back with a clothesline and Demolition Jumping Axehandles. Clothesline over the top! DiBiase moves and Smash clotheslines the post, so Ted gets heat on him with various shots, the fistdrop, and a neckbreaker. Methodical beatdown and chinlock takes us to the break- back with him cutting off comebacks repeatedly and just hanging into it. Vince & Jesse discuss tactics and psychology (Ventura forgets the name of Dr. Frasier Crane on “Cheers”). We FINALLY get another move with DiBiase eating a shot coming off the top, but Zeus comes down just as Smash gets going. Smash of course gets distracted, and Ted knocks him out of the ring- Zeus manages to do exactly one move, a neck-wrench in this case, without fucking it up, and he rolls Smash in for the easy pin (10:11). DiBiase slaps on the Million Dollar Dream after the bell, but Ax chases the heels off, Ted and now Virgil holding him off.
Really weird to see Ted DiBiase, in the middle of a feud with Hulk Hogan & Jake Roberts, having to cheat to beat a tag wrestler, but this is a WWF Tag Champ and we’re well into the “We want to protect our stars” stuff, so I guess there ya go. The match itself was almost NOTHING after the break- literally 3-4 minutes of a chinlock with Ted slowly cutting off comebacks and doing very basic things. He did some great bumping early on, but I’m guessing both guys were saving themselves or were tired, plus Darsow- while I love the guy- was no ring general.
Rating: *1/2 (unfortunately mostly restholds after a point)
Overall, this was a fun show of oddities in terms of matches- mostly stars vs. tag wrestlers and a fun Savage/ Hercules match, but this era of wrestling is just TOTALLY my thing so it never matters that they never break ***. It’s good not to always be a workrate snob- I have joshi for that!