Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1989)

Wait, it's not five-on-five anymore?  And the tag team match is gone??  WHAT THE DAMN HELL??

Survivor Series 1989 - Rosemont Horizon - 11/23/89

Here's a Survivor Series I went into just eager to hate the whole thing.  When I found out they had changed the format to 4-on-4 and done away with the 20-man tag team-based match I was livid.  This felt like it would totally water down the concept and ruin what had been one of my favorite gimmick matches.  Instead of putting all the tag teams in one supermatch, they paired two singles wrestlers with each tag team, and in the case of the Hart Foundation, actually split them into separate matches (something I still find baffling).

Fortunately though, Survivor Series 1989 was still a fun show to watch and featured some very good elimination bouts.  This was also the first Series where each team had a name - a silly touch, but it added a sense of officiality to the whole thing.

The opening match featured The Dream Team - Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, and The Red Rooster vs. The Enforcers - Big Bossman, Bad News Brown, Rick Martel and Honky Tonk Man.  On paper this looked like a yawner but it was actually pretty good.  Rhodes and Beefcake outlasted the Bossman team.

Second was the match I was initially looking the most forward to, as Randy Savage captained The King's Court, with Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, and originally Barry Windham, who had jumped to the WWF as The Widowmaker.  I loved Windham at the time and had high hopes for his WWF run.  Unfortunately Windham only spent about six months in the company, for reasons I still don't understand, and was replaced by the WWF's newest monster heel Earthquake.  Savage's opponents were the 4x4s (a name that makes little sense since Jim Duggan carried a 2x4, not a 4x4): Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Ronnie Garvin, and Hercules.  This match was solid and featured some rare televised Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage interaction (why they never had a major feud with each other I'll never know).  Savage's team was dominant thanks largely to Earthquake's involvement.

How much better would this match have been with Windham?

Up next was the main event (the first of three Series cards where the advertised main event didn't close the show), as The HulkaManiacs - Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and Demolition (what a stacked team!) faced Ted Dibase, Zeus, and The Powers of Pain.  The company was still milking this No Holds Barred thing well after it had run its course, but with Savage being moved down the card they made Dibiase Zeus's new handler.  The Demolition-PoP feud was also long over by this point but I guess the company felt this match needed a lot of power guys.  The match itself was nowhere near as good as it should've been and three of the four heels were eliminated by disqualification.  Hogan looked pretty unheroic as a result, but he did pin Dibiase to win the whole thing.

Match 4 was the sleeper hit of the show, as Roddy's Rowdies - Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and The Bushwhackers took on The Rude Brood - Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, and the Rougeaus, in a helluva fun contest.  The Rougeaus were eliminated early, leaving Rude and Perfect as 4-to-2 underdogs.  Perfect was booked very strong here and managed to outlast Piper's whole team on his way to a very successful 1990.

The main event slot went to the Ultimate Warriors-Heenan Family match.  Warrior, Jim Neidhart, and The Rockers took on Andre the Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Heenan (sadly forced to sub for a just-fired Tully Blanchard).  This ended up stealing the show after a really lame start where Andre was taken out in the first minute of the match.  Very anticlimactic since this was built around the Warrior-Andre feud, but it was still a fine elimination match.

OH MY GOD!!  Hogan bodyslammed someone almost as big as him!  Wait...

The 1989 Survivor Series is really kind of a pointless PPV in terms of advancing any kind of feuds or angles.  No one was really elevated except maybe Mr. Perfect and Earthquake, and the top two matches were primarily built around feuds that had already run out of steam.  I guess the whole point was to position Hogan and Warrior as dominant forces to build to 'Mania 6, but it made for a very predictable show.  I also resented the format change as I said earlier, but I ended up enjoying this show much more than I probably should have.

Best Match: Ultimate Warriors vs. Heenan Family - this would've been even better had Tully been involved.
Worst Match: HulkaManiacs vs. Million Dollar Team
What I'd Change: They needed to take a risk with the Hogan-Dibiase match, especially if it wasn't going on last.  Dibiase should've pulled out a win after Hogan and Zeus eliminated each other.  Or better yet, enough with the fucking No Holds Barred hype!  The movie tanked and the only thing worse was Zeus's wrestling ability!  What they should've done is teamed Dibiase, Perfect, and the Powers against Hogan, Jake and the Hart Foundation.  That would've been a helluva match.  Then Demolition could've been on Warrior's team since they were about to feud with Andre and Haku anyway.  Put the Rockers on Dusty's team, Beefcake on Warrior's team, and I guess Rooster on Duggan's team, though he's not exactly a 4x4 type guy.  That just leaves a heel spot on Rude's team.  I'm sure they could've found someone to take that spot (where was Akeem?).
Most Disappointing Match: HulkaManiacs vs. Million Dollar Team - no reason a lineup that stacked should've resulted in such a weak match.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Roddy's Rowdies vs. Rude Brood
Overall Rating: 8/10
Better than WrestleMania V and/or SummerSlam '89? - Yes on the former, no on the latter.

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