Thursday, October 26, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1990)

Sadly the WWF followed up its first three good-to-excellent Survivor Series PPVs with a totally phoned-in edition...

Survivor Series 1990 - Hartford Civic Center - 11/22/90

Dear God this show sucked.  For the first time (and certainly not the last), the WWF took the amazing Survivor Series concept and diluted it beyond all recognition.  The 4-on-4 format was still in effect from 1989 but they added the wrinkle that the survivors of each match would meet at the end of the show for a "Grand Finale" match.  A very cool idea in theory, but a terrible one in execution.

For one thing it resulted in six elimination matches - far too many for a three-hour PPV.  For another, the company also added a Mystery Egg segment - the climax to a weeks-long series of teasers where at the TV tapings they would show this giant turkey egg in the arena and let everyone know it was due to hatch at the PPV (How did they pinpoint the exact date, might I ask?).  At the Series, the egg hatched, and it was a man in a turkey suit, known as the Gobbledy Gooker.  The Gooker ran down to the ring and danced with Mean Gene Okerlund, and that was it.  That's what this whole angle was built around.  Just a colossal waste of everyone's lives.

Anyway, the show opened (OPENED!!) with the match involving WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior.  This was the match I was most looking forward to, mind you; the hyped main event, and it went on first.  Warrior captained a team of Kerry Von Erich and the Legion of Doom, against Mr. Perfect (with whom Warrior was NOT feuding at the time) and the three members of Demolition.  Nevermind that Warrior was actually feuding with Randy Savage (who I presume wasn't medically cleared to wrestle, being that the two never fought until the following March), the lineup still looked intriguing.  And then it only went fourteen minutes.  Wait.  Thus far the shortest-ever Survivor Series match was almost 18 minutes, while the others were well over 20.  The MAIN EVENT of this Survivor Series PPV lasted fourteen minutes??  Something ain't right here.  Warrior won, incidentally.

Hmm, which of these four guys doesn't belong?
Incidentally only one of these men is still living.

Next was the Dream Team of Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and The Hart Foundation against the Million Dollar Team of Ted Dibiase, Honky Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, and mystery partner Kane the Undertaker (that's right, his first name was originally Kane).  This match was pretty good partly due to the intrigue of Taker's introduction, and partly because of the later stretches of the match when it came down to Bret vs. Dibiase.  Ted won the whole thing.
Third was a match that somehow stole the show (I guess when the show sucks this bad it's not that big a feat), as The Vipers - Jake Roberts, Jimmy Snuka and The Rockers took on The Visionaries - Rick Martel, Warlord, and Power & Glory.  Martel's team accomplished a Survivor Series first by sweeping the entire opposing team for a 4-0 victory.  Despite only four eliminations in this match it actually went longer than anything else on this card and was the best match.

The secondary main event was up next as the HulkaManiacs - Hulk Hogan, Jim Duggan, Big Bossman and Tugboat clashed with The Natural Disasters of Earthquake, Dino Bravo, Haku, and The Barbarian.  This match utterly stunk up the place and Hogan predictably came out on top.

The final regularly scheduled match of the night bafflingly went to The Alliance - Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana and The Bushwhackers vs. The Mercenaries - Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zhukov, and the Orient Express.  Eleven minutes of quick and pointless eliminations, where Tito was the sole survivor.

In the Grand Finale match the trio of Warrior, Hogan and Tito faced an uphill battle against five opponents (Dibiase, Martel, Warlord, Hercules and Paul Roma).  Fortunately the babyfaces made short work of the heels, only losing Tito in the process.  Nine minutes later it was Hogan and Warrior standing tall.  So in the end no heel opponents were elevated for either one of them.  Super.

5-on-3?  Eh, don't worry, Terry and Jim'll have this wrapped up in no time.

This show was probably the first example I can remember of a wrestling company taking an awesome concept and just shitting all over it.  The drama and epic feel of all the previous Survivor Series matches was removed entirely, and we were left with six matches full of unrealistically quick eliminations with no rhyme or reason to them.  I will never understand putting the Warriors-Perfect Team match on first and not even giving it fifteen minutes.  The Gooker segment is infamous for its stupidity, and I can't imagine this angle being responsible for even one single PPV buy.  True to 1990 form, the Survivor Series that year was crap.

Best Match: Vipers vs. Visionaries
Worst Match: HulkaManiacs vs. Natural Disasters - I hated everything about the Hogan-Earthquake feud.  The Hogan vs. Big Fat Dude concept had been done to death by 1990, besides which Earthquake was pretty awful in the ring.
What I'd Change: There's only so much that can be done with this card, but first, dump the Volkoff-Slaughter match.  It only went eleven minutes and no one cared.  Put Slaughter in one of the other matches since he was apparently so damned important.  Give the extra time to the other bouts, and for the love of Jeebus drop the Gooker nonsense.
Most Disappointing Match: Warriors vs. Perfect Team
Most Pleasant Surprise: The debut of The Undertaker.  I recognized him as "Mean" Mark Callous from WCW but loved the new gimmick and was intrigued by the idea of a monster heel who wasn't a big fat dude.
Overall Rating: 2.5/10 - Garbage show.
Better than WrestleMania VI and/or SummerSlam '90? - I mean they all stunk, but no.


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