Classic Wrestling Review: Survivor Series ’88

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Survivor Series

November 24, 1988 (Thanksgiving)

Richfield Coliseum

Richfield, Ohio

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It’s time for the second annual Survivor Series, and once again they are in the suburbs of Cleveland. This time, they aren’t running head-to-head with Starrcade because WCW had the presence of mind to move that event to December, where it would remain for the rest of WCW’s existence. The primary storyline going into this event was the feud between the Mega Powers and The Twin Towers, which was the team of Big Boss Man & Akeem. You may be asking yourself, who is Akeem? Akeem is the former One Man Gang. According to Slick, Gang decided to go back to his roots. So, in a strange and kind of offensive back alley tribal ceremony, he was reborn as Akeem the African Dream. This was meant to be a joke on Dusty Rhodes, who was known as the American Dream. Akeem’s mannerisms and jive style of talking were patterned after Dusty. Within a year, Dusty himself would be in the WWF, but they didn’t know that at the time. Akeem was teamed with Boss Man, who had quickly found himself in a program with Hulk Hogan. It was a huge break for Boss Man. Hogan reportedly loved working with him, so he pretty much hit the jackpot within months of joining the WWF.

The show opens with a shot of the crowd. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura welcome everyone to the show. Thank goodness Jesse is back on commentary after SummerSlam. I was not looking forward to Billy Graham again. Jesse is wearing his pilgrim hat, as it is Thanksgiving. The show doesn’t waste any time getting started. The Ultimate Warrior’s music starts playing to begin the first match.

Elimination Match: The Ultimate Warrior, Brutus Beefcake, The Blue Blazer, Jim Brunzell, & Sam Houston vs. The Honky Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, Ron Bass, Danny Davis, & Bad News Brown (w/ Jimmy Hart)

The Warrior and his entire team all run to the ring in a straight line. Brutus Beefcake is announced as the co-captain of the team, which includes a new superstar, The Blue Blazer. Blazer is Owen Hart under a mask. I’ve always been a big Owen Hart fan, so I was glad to see him in this match. The Honky Tonk Man leads his team to the ring next. Valentine is on this team, but I don’t think they’ve officially formed Rhythm & Blues just yet. Jesse and Gorilla point out that it’s odd to see Bad News Brown teaming with anyone because he’s usually a loner. I wonder if that is some kind of foreshadowing.

Beefcake and Valentine start with a slug-fest, and Danny Davis quickly gets in a cheap shot. Davis comes into the match, but he is quickly dispatched with a sleeper hold for the first elimination. (Elimination: Danny Davis) Valentine reenters the match and continues where he left off with Beefcake, but he finds himself in trouble with the Blue Blazer. Bad News makes a blind tag and ends up eliminating Brunzell with a Ghetto Blaster. (Elimination: Jim Brunzell) Beefcake and Sam Houston can’t mount a comeback against Bad News. Brown is in and out of the match and demands a tag from Valentine. He holds Houston for a move, but Sam moves and Valentine accidentally hits Bad News. Brown is fed up and decides to leave the match, so he is counted out while his teammates try to convince him to come back. (Elimination: Bad News Brown) Sam Houston then finds himself in trouble. He keeps trying to make a comeback, with a sunset flip and a cross body off the second turnbuckle, but Bass ends up catching him for a powerslam and Houston gets eliminated. (Elimination: Sam Houston) Warrior comes in and starts tossing everyone around. He hits Honky with a flying shoulder tackle and then tags in the Blazer. He shows off his skills with a flying cross body, dropkick, and gutwrench suplex, but he goes to the top rope and Honky shoves him into the ring. Valentine locks in a Figure Four on the Blazer and he submits. (Elimination: The Blue Blazer) Beefcake comes in to help the Blazer and gets jumped. Honky and Valentine take turns beating on Beefcake and they work him over in their corner. Brutus fights off Honky and Bass for a while and eventually, he gets Honky in a sleeper hold. The two men tumble out of the ring and Beefcake grabs another sleeper on the floor. Warrior tries to tell him to get into the ring, but it’s too late. Beefcake and Honky are both counted out. (Eliminations: Brutus Beefcake & Honky Tonk Man) The Warrior is left alone with both Valentine and Bass and they double team him for a bit. He fights back with a double clothesline and then hits a running axehandle to eliminate Bass. (Elimination: Ron Bass) Jesse complains that Valentine was the legal man, but it falls on deaf ears. Warrior then hits another running axehandle and eliminates Valentine to win the match. (Final Elimination: Greg Valentine)

It was an okay opener. There was some decent stuff in there, but I wouldn’t say I was thrilled with it. The ending was kind of weak. I’m not sure why they decided to have Warrior win with a couple of weak axehandles.

Survivors: The Ultimate Warrior

Tag Team Elimination Match: The Powers of Pain, The Hart Foundation, The British Bulldogs, The Rockers, & The Young Stallions vs. Demolition, The Brain Busters, The Bolsheviks, The Fabulous Rougeaus, & The Conquistadors (w/ Bobby Heenan, Mr. Fuji, Slick, & Jimmy Hart)

This match also contains a few debuts. The Brain Busters, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, jumped ship from WCW to the WWF. They’re managed by Bobby Heenan, hence the tag team name. This match also introduces us to The Rockers, Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty, who had joined the WWF before but were fired within weeks because of a bar fight. This time they stick around for quite a while. There is also a Mexican tag team called The Conquistadors and I’m 99.9% sure that’s not Edge & Christian under the masks.

Davey and one of the Conquistadors start the match, but the early going sees a lot of frequent tags. The Rockers get in and do some double teaming and the Brain Busters try to join the fun. Tully ends up getting punched around the ring like a pinball, so he tags out to Jacques. There’s some action between the Rougeaus and Bulldogs and then Jim Powers comes in but gets in trouble. He finally tags out to Bret Hart, who rolls up Raymond to eliminate the Rougeaus. (Elimination: The Fabulous Rougeaus) There is some back and forth between the Hart Foundation and Demolition and the Powers of Pain tussle with the Conquistadors. Both Bret and Shawn try their best against Demolition, but Tully Blanchard trips up Shawn to prevent any comeback. Arn Anderson hits his awesome spinebuster on Shawn for a 2 count, but the Conquistadors slip up and slam Shawn too close to his corner. There are some more frequent tags until the Powers of Pain and Demolition finally square off. The two teams fight back and forth until Tully tags into the match. He gets tossed around by Anvil and Dynamite, but Dynamite gets in trouble. He manages to tag out to Jim Powers, who eventually goes for a flying cross body that is reversed by Boris Zhukov for an elimination. (Elimination: The Young Stallions) There is some more back and forth, which includes another face-off between the Powers of Pain and Demolition. Barbarian gets in trouble and tags Shawn. This leads to the Rockers eliminating the Bolsheviks with a sunset flip. (Elimination: The Bolsheviks) Marty then finds himself in trouble against the Conquistadors until he can tag out to Davey. The Bulldogs and Brain Busters square off and Davey takes a dangerous looking upside down bump in the corner. Davey fights back and tags out, so the Hart Foundation and Rockers take over on the Conquistadors. However, Barbarian makes the mistake of headbutting one of the Conquistadors into his own corner. Tully suckers Barbarian into their corner and Demolition begin double teaming him. He eventually fights back and Bret Hart comes in to fight with the Brain Busters. Bret ends up hitting a German suplex on Tully and both men’s shoulders are down for a pin, but Tully gets his shoulder up at the last second. (Elimination: The Hart Foundation) The Brain Busters and Rockers then end up brawling with each other and the refs cannot stop them, so both teams are disqualified. (Eliminations: The Rockers and The Brain Busters) The two teams continue brawling down the aisle, while Demolition and the Conquistadors take over on the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs and Demolition fight back and forth and Davey hits the running powerslam, but he tags the Barbarian instead of covering. Dynamite ends up coming in and hits a snap suplex on Smash, but he misses a flying headbutt and gets clotheslined. Smash then pins him to eliminate the Bulldogs. (Elimination: The British Bulldogs) The Powers of Pain find themselves in trouble versus Demolition and Fuji starts getting onto the apron. He keeps calling for Demolition to bring the Powers to him for an attack, but they ignore him. Fuji finally has enough of being ignored and holds the ropes open so that Smash tumbles out of the ring. Smash is dazed and gets counted out of the match. (Elimination: Demolition) Ax starts arguing with Fuji, so Fuji pokes him with his cane and tells him he’s the boss. Ax shoves him and turns around, so Fuji hits him with the cane. Demolition then attacks Fuji and leave ringside, but Fuji stays. The Powers of Pain come to check on Fuji and nearly get counted out, but they get back into the ring. The Conquistadors try to take control of the match, but Fuji hooks a leg and the Barbarian hits a falling headbutt to get the 3 count. (Final Elimination: The Conquistadors)

This match went on way longer than it should have. It wasn’t bad, but it did drag a bit. The stuff with Fuji didn’t make much sense. I know they wanted to turn Demolition babyface, but why would Fuji turn on Demolition while they were still champions? He kind of traded down by going with the Powers of Pain. Also, why have the Conquistadors look so strong? Were there big plans for them?

Survivors: The Powers of Pain

After the match, the Powers of Pain lift Fuji onto their shoulders and celebrate, much to the confusion of the commentators. Demolition then runs back to the ring and get into a short brawl with the Powers.

Sean Mooney is backstage with Bad News Brown. He says that Bad News has been an independent soul since joining the WWF. Brown calls everyone “beer belly sharecroppers” and says that he smelled a conspiracy when his own teammate attacked him. Everyone wants to be the first person to beat Bad News. He says that the “survival series” means nothing to him. The only thing he cares about is the WWF Title. Mooney asks why Brown should get a title shot against Savage. Bad News says it’s because he’s beaten everyone and he won the battle royal at WrestleMania. He then says that he’s been sending letters to Jack Tunney, but Tunney has been ignoring him. Mooney points out that if he faces Savage, Elizabeth will be in Randy’s corner. Brown says that Savage might need a skirt in his corner, but Bad News doesn’t.

Next, Mean Gene is backstage with Fuji and the Powers of Pain. He asks Fuji why he turned on Demolition. Fuji says that he made Demolition and made them champions, but their britches got too big for them. They thought they knew more than the master, so he searched for the Powers of Pain. He says they will demolish Demolition and make them suffer like the pigs they are. Gene tries to tell Barbarian that Fuji can’t be trusted, but Barbarian ignores the advice. Barbarian asks what Demolition will do now they don’t have Fuji. He tells them to kiss their titles goodbye. Gene then claims that Demolition did as much for Fuji as Fuji did for them, but Fuji says he did everything for them. He made them run and exercise, but they disrespected his discipline. Well, that’s obvious by looking at Demolition’s bodies. Warlord then ends the interview by saying Demolition didn’t listen, but the Powers of Pain will.

Gorilla and Jesse talk about the remaining matches before throwing it back to Gene, who is now with Andre the Giant’s team and Bobby Heenan. Gene says that Heenan has a lot invested in this team. Heenan tells Gene to picture the other team standing across the ring. While he says this, Andre places a hand on Gene’s shoulder and Gene looks mortified. Heenan says that Andre will get his giant hands around Jake Roberts’ neck and squeeze. Gene then talks to co-captain, Dino Bravo. He says that Bravo has to be thinking about Jim Duggan. Bravo says he’s coming right at Duggan and he’s going to humiliate him and put some shame on every American. Next, Gene turns to Rick Rude, who calls Gene a “divot head”. Rude says he will show the world how to celebrate Thanksgiving the ravishing way. Then, Gene talks to Mr. Perfect, who agrees that Thanksgiving has been perfect so far. He calls the team a perfect combination. Gene then says that Roberts has been putting Damien on a diet and he’s going to be hungry, but Andre says he doesn’t care. Last year he took his team to victory and he will do it again.

Then, there is another backstage interview. I feel like they could have spaced these out better. Sean Mooney is with the Mega Powers and their team. Savage says that people all over the world are feeling the electricity and the Mega Powers are bonded together. Koko B. Ware speaks next. He says, “When you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not you’re not.” Hillbilly Jim then says that the other team will feel the heat from the kitchen tonight. Hercules talks next and says that he always stood alone, but now he realizes he doesn’t have to. He tells DiBiase, “Welcome to the jungle,” which makes Hogan laugh. Mooney says that Hogan will be looking for the Big Boss Man. Hogan replies that there are no weak links in their chain and their team is bonded as one. They keep driving that point home. There’s no possible way that could be foreshadowing, right? Hogan then talks about his team standing in the ocean and having a séance while raising their hands. Wait, why didn’t we see that segment? That sounds hilarious! He says he feels sorry for the other team because they all have dollar signs on their heads. Hogan finishes by listing off the members of his team and asking, “Whatcha gonna do!?”

Elimination Match: Andre the Giant, Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, & Harley Race (w/ Bobby Heenan & Frenchy Martin) vs. Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, Ken Patera, Tito Santana, & Scott Casey

Okay, I have to ask, who the hell is Scott Casey!? Apparently, he’s some jobber they selected to take the place of the injured B. Brian Blair. It feels so random. Randomness aside, this match also sees the debut of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig. He’s dressed in plain black tights, as opposed to his singlet. He didn’t get that look until later. Jake Roberts team all come to the ring to Jake’s theme and Andre’s team come out to Bravo’s theme. I’m guessing that’s because Andre never had music. It is fitting because it’s the French national anthem and Andre is from France.

Rude and Patera start the match and Patera shoves Rude around, so Rick tags out to Dino Bravo. The two teams take turns trading off arm work and quick tags until Scott Casey ends up in trouble in the corner of Andre’s team. Casey finally fights back with a headbutt and tags out, so Jake’s team use their own frequent tags to maintain control of the match. Andre’s team is only able to take control once Casey reenters the match. See, they should have gone with someone else for their team! Rude takes over on Casey and eventually fights Duggan. They fight back and forth and end up colliding, so Duggan tags out to Patera. Rude ends up hitting the Rude Awakening and eliminates Ken. (Elimination: Ken Patera) Casey tries to jump on Rude, but he ends up in trouble in the corner again. He is able to get a backslide on Bravo for 2, but Bravo turns around and hits the Side Slam to eliminate him. (Elimination: Scott Casey) Duggan comes in and fights back and forth with members of the other team, but Andre keeps reaching out and grabbing him. Andre headbutts Duggan, but Jim tries to fight back. He finally tags Tito, who comes in and hits a cross body and sunset flip for a pair of 2 counts. Race comes into the match and Tito hits the flying forearm to eliminate him. (Elimination: Harley Race) Andre then comes in and chokes Tito on the ropes. He also chops him down and sits on him a few times. Andre then ducks for a back drop and Tito attempts a sunset flip, but Andre sits on him for a 3 count. (Elimination: Tito Santana) Duggan comes in and clotheslines Andre, who ends up tied in the ropes. Jim then tags Roberts, who comes in and beats on Andre. He chokes him, but Andre breaks loose and tags in Rude. Rude and Perfect take turns working over Roberts, while Andre gets in some cheap shots. Perfect starts getting cocky and slaps Jake around, but Jake fights back. Bravo comes in and Jake hits a short-arm clothesline, before signaling for the DDT. He tries for it, but Rude clotheslines him and then comes in to beat down Jake. Jake is in trouble, but he fights back and tags Duggan, who back drops and clotheslines Bravo. He goes for the three-point stance, but Frenchy Martin grabs his leg and Bravo knocks Duggan out of the ring. Duggan then gets his 2×4 and hits Bravo, so the ref disqualifies him. (Elimination: Jim Duggan) Jake is left alone with Andre, Perfect, Rude, & Bravo. He fights them off as the fans chant “DDT”. He goes for the move on Bravo, but Dino back drops him. Bravo and Rude work on Jake for a while until Jake fights back. Rude tries to tag out, but Jake pulls him by the tights, exposing his butt, and hits the DDT to eliminate Rude. (Elimination: Rick Rude) Andre comes in and starts choking and biting Jake in the corner. The ref warns him, but Andre continues, so the ref finally disqualifies Andre. (Elimination: Andre the Giant) However, all of the choking left Jake nearly unconscious, so Perfect comes in and easily pins Jake for the win. (Final Elimination: Jake Roberts)

This was a much better match than the others on this show. It told a good story and I liked the ending. Jake was still feuding with Rude, but he was also starting a program with Andre over Andre’s fear of snakes. This match did a good job of building both feuds. Plus, Jake looked really strong towards the end of this match.

Survivors: Mr. Perfect & Dino Bravo

Andre celebrates with his team, but Jake grabs his snake bag. He releases Damien into the ring and Andre sees it. Andre starts to run, but he celebrates again once he’s far enough away.

Gene is backstage with the Twin Towers and their team. Gene says that Slick has his team together. Slick replies, “Exact-ickly.” He says they’ve come up with a system of elimination that will not be denied. DiBiase speaks next and says, “Thanksgiving? Who cares!” The only thing he’s thankful for is the size of his bank account. He then tells Hercules that he will learn his place as DiBiase’s slave. Akeem then says it’s called Survivor Series and you’re looking at survivors. Then, Heenan says he’s going to show proper respect to King Haku and so will everyone else. Gene asks if the Red Rooster can talk and Rooster says he can and he won’t let Heenan down. Next, Gene talks to Boss Man, who says he’s a survivor and his team are survivors. He says his path will cross with Hogan’s and he will leave him laying like the dog he is.

Elimination Match: Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Hercules, Hillbilly Jim, & Koko B. Ware (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Big Boss Man, Akeem, Ted DiBiase, Haku, & The Red Rooster (w/ Virgil, Bobby Heenan, & Slick)

I already spoke earlier about the Mega Powers/Twin Towers feud, but there are a couple of other notes going into this match. For one, Hercules has turned babyface. Heenan attempted to sell Hercules’ services to Ted DiBiase and DiBiase referred to Hercules as a slave. Herc took offense to this and told them he was nobody’s slave. He tried to attack, so DiBiase jumped him. The other story is the debut of The Red Rooster, which is Terry Taylor. According to Bruce Prichard, the gimmick was supposed to be that Taylor was cocky and considered himself the “cock of the walk”, but Taylor never really got the gimmick. Eventually, he would even start playing the gimmick as if he were actually a rooster, so it never really worked as intended. One more note before the match, Hogan made his entrance separate from the rest of his team, which is another hint at the upcoming division between them.

Savage and DiBiase start the match and fight back and forth. Savage tags in Hercules, which causes DiBiase to bail out of the ring. Herc gives chase, but Ted rolls back into the ring and tags in Rooster. Rooster has some trouble with Koko, so he tags in Akeem and Koko finds himself in trouble. The two teams fight back and forth until Hogan and Hillbilly Jim hit a double team big boot. Rooster comes in and tries to slam Jim, but he can’t even lift him. Rooster then finds himself being knocked around by Koko and eventually Hogan. Hulk hits the big boot and tags Savage, who hits the flying elbow to eliminate Rooster. (Elimination: The Red Rooster) Heenan is furious with Rooster and sends him to the back. Haku comes in and gets into a fight with both Mega Powers until Hogan tags in Hercules. Akeem then comes in and eventually eliminates Hillbilly Jim with a clothesline and running splash. (Elimination: Hillbilly Jim) Akeem celebrates, but Koko comes in and dropkicks him from behind. The Mega Powers, as well as Koko and Hercules, take turns double teaming Akeem, but Akeem fights back with a punch to the throat. He then tags Boss Man, who hits the Boss Man Slam to eliminate Koko. (Elimination: Koko B. Ware) Hogan takes Koko’s place and the crowd erupts for a Hogan/Boss Man confrontation. Hogan bounces Boss Man around like a pinball, but he won’t go down to the mat. He even hits a big boot, but Boss Man still doesn’t go down. Finally, he slams him, but Boss Man gets up and hits a spinebuster. Hogan ends up on the receiving end of a lot of punishment from the Towers and from DiBiase. Ted hits a clothesline and some fist drops, but Hogan starts to hulk up. Hogan then tags in Hercules, but Virgil trips him. This gives DiBiase an opening to hit a running knee and roll him up for a 3 count. (Elimination: Hercules) DiBiase barely has time to celebrate before Savage rolls him up, exposing his butt, and pins him for a 3 count. (Elimination: Ted DiBiase) Haku enters the match and takes control. He and the Towers beat down Hogan for a while and Haku grabs a double nerve hold. The ref checks Hogan’s arms, but he keeps it up on the 3rd drop. Boss Man then comes in and manages to hit the Boss Man Slam, but he doesn’t make a cover. He opts to go to the top rope instead and misses a splash. Hogan tags Savage, who goes after the Twin Towers, but Slick trips him. Slick then starts yelling at Elizabeth and tries to pull her to the back, so Hogan comes over to help. The Twin Towers attack Hogan on the floor and Boss Man handcuffs Hogan to the bottom rope, but this causes Boss Man to be counted out. (Elimination: Big Boss Man) Boss Man then takes his nightstick and starts beating Hogan with it, while a fan screams. Savage attacks Akeem, which draws Boss Man into the ring. He attacks Savage with the nightstick and the ref tries to stop them. Akeem shoves the ref, so he gets disqualified. (Elimination: Akeem) The Twin Towers leave with satisfied looks on their faces, as Haku continues the assault. Slick taunts Hogan with the handcuff key, as Savage fights back in the ring. The ref becomes distracted by Elizabeth trying to help Hogan, so Slick attempts to interfere. Haku accidentally kicks him, so Elizabeth comes over and gets the key from him. She unlocks Hogan’s cuffs and Hulk returns to his corner. Haku hits a flying splash, but he makes the mistake of knocking Savage into his own corner. Hogan tags him and hits Haku with a big boot, slam, and leg drop for the 3 count. (Final Elimination: Haku)

This was a really good main event. It told a great story and found a way to keep the Twin Towers looking strong, despite being eliminated. It did a good job of furthering that feud, but what comes next does a great job of planting the seeds of a future feud.

Survivors: The Mega Powers

After the match, Savage can barely stand. Hogan is posing in the ring, but Savage is fatigued. Elizabeth tries to get Hogan’s attention and he thinks she’s celebrating, so he hugs her and lifts her. Savage sees this and visibly gets upset. He gives Hogan a death glare and points at him, but Hogan seems oblivious. The show goes off the air, with Hogan still celebrating and Savage still looking annoyed.

Final thoughts:

The show was fairly solid, but I don’t think it was quite the quality of the previous Survivor Series. The second half of the show was really good and it did a great job of building feuds. However, the show as a whole felt middle of the road for me. I do like the slow build of the Mega Powers falling apart and the subtle hints at the end of the show were a great touch.

Thank you again for reading. Be sure to check out the Facebook page for this blog by clicking here. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulDMatthews78. Also, if you want to leave a comment then there’s a comment section below the article links.

My next review will be Starrcade ‘88.


Written by Paul Matthews

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