Monday, October 30, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1992)

Oh look, a non-Survivor Series show.....

Survivor Series 1992 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/25/92

Survivor Series '92, or as I like to call it, Generic Wrestling Show '92, returned to the place where it all started, the Richfield Coliseum.  This was the first Survivor Series after Hulk Hogan's departure and featured a host of brand new main event stars.  The WWF had moved away from the superhuman power wrestlers due to mounting steroid allegations, and focused on smaller grapplers and more athletic action.

Sadly they also moved away from a Survivor Series format for this installment and it became just another PPV event.

The show opened with the newly-signed Headshrinkers (or Samoan Swat Team as they had been called in WCW) vs. High Energy (Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware, who for some reason both wore Jim Neidhart's old MC Hammer-style pants).  This was a serviceable kickoff tag bout but little more than a showcase for the Wild Samoans: NextGen team.

Next up was The Big Bossman facing Nailz (a "former convict" whom the former prison guard Big Bossman had allegedly mistreated in the clink) in a Nightstick on a Pole match.  Nailz was comically evil and had a digitally enhanced speaking voice to make him sound more monstrous.  This was his final televised WWF match, as he was later fired for physically assaulting Vince McMahon.  Probably not the smartest move to beat up your boss, but then again Steve Austin made a great living that way.
Third was a rematch from WrestleMania VIII between Rick Martel and Tatanka.  Yeah, they were still feuding eight months later.  Nothing memorable here.

The first real match of the night was next, as Ric Flair and newcomer Razor Ramon took on Randy Savage and new babyface Mr. Perfect.  Perfect had been turned and partnered with Savage after the Ultimate Warrior was fired due to alleged steroid use.  This bout was a lot of fun and while nothing mindblowing, told a good story with Perfect and Savage never quite trusting each other and Bobby Heenan (hilariously) losing his mind on commentary, having recently been dumped by his protege Perfect.  Aside from a lame DQ ending this was solid stuff.

What would you call this team?  Perfect Macho?  Mr. ManFect?
I got it - Randall Perfo!

A squash match followed, as new monster heel Yokozuna annihilated Virgil.  While this match had no place on a paid wrestling show, it was one of the more entertaining squashes I had ever seen.  I mean Yoko just destroyed him.  I had also never seen Yokozuna's legdrop before and just about pooped when his gigantic thigh engulfed Virgil's face.  Brutal stuff.

The one half-assed attempt at a traditional Survivor Series match was another Two Teams vs. Two Teams elimination bout except that if one member of a tag team got eliminated, they both had to leave.  Money Inc. and the Beverly Brothers faced the Nasty Boys and the Natural Disasters.  Oh joy, two babyface teams I can't stand vs. two heel teams I'm only mildly interested in.  This match was an insufferable bore.  What a sad mockery of a once-great gimmick match.

The penultimate bout was the first-ever variation of a Casket Match (though it was called a Coffin Match this time), as The Undertaker faced Kamala.  The rules were a little different though.  Rather than the object being to stuff the opponent into a coffin, the opponent had to be pinned as normal, and the loser would have to go into the box.  Kinda silly.  The match wasn't much to speak of, but it was all about the spectacle of Taker nailing the coffin shut with someone inside.

So to recap, Survivor Series '92 was 1-7 thus far.

But then the main event saved the whole show.  WWF Champion Bret Hart defended against I-C Champion Shawn Michaels in what was at the time the longest PPV WWF Title match in history.  Heralding a huge stylistic shift in WWF main event wrestling, Bret and Shawn worked a classic no-frills wrestling match for 26 minutes.  These two were very small for WWF main event wrestlers and they set out to prove that you didn't have to be 6'5" and 275 pounds to capture the fans' imagination.  I remember thinking at the time, the WWF has finally caught up to the old NWA in terms of main event match quality.  If Bret-Bulldog at SummerSlam proved Bret deserved to be a top guy, this match proved that he could be THE top guy.  This was one of the best matches of 1992 and still holds up as a great main event.

One of the best WWF PPV main events ever up to that point.

Survivor Series 1992 really had no business being called that, and it showed just how paper thin the roster was becoming.  This was clearly a rebuilding period for the company and they were casting their lot with a new top star and a new philosophy.  The overall card was pretty terrible, but almost saved by a good match and a great one.  The Savage/Perfect tag match was very solid but not terribly important.  Bret vs. Shawn however is essential viewing.  Fortunately the WWF would rediscover the real Survivor Series format in 1993.

Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels - just outstanding stuff
Worst Match: Money Inc/Beverly Brothers vs. Nasty Boys/Natural Disasters
What I'd Change: How 'bout an actual Survivor Series lineup guys?  Bret-Shawn is obviously fine as the main event, but the Savage match should've been 4-on-4.  I know the roster was limited but there were still enough guys to assemble three elimination bouts.  Savage/Perfect/Nasty Boys vs. Flair/Razor/Money Inc.; Undertaker/Tatanka/Natural Disasters vs. Kamala/Martel/Headshrinkers; Bossman/Virgil/High Energy vs. Nailz/Yokozuna/Beverly Brothers.  There, done.
Most Disappointing Match: I guess the Taker-Kamala one.  Five minutes?  Really?
Most Pleasant Surprise: The Yokozuna squash I suppose?
Overall Rating: 4.5/10 - This was a two-match show, only one of which was must-see.
Better than WrestleMania VIII and/or Summerslam '92? - You're joking right?

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