WWF Survivor Series 1987 and 1988 Review

This is my first review for Wrestling 101 and I’m going to be taking a look at Silvervision’s Tagged Classics release of the first two Survivor Series, which took place in 1987 and 1988.

Tagged Classics Double DVD Series

wwf-survivor-series-1987-and-1988-cover_0

Cert: 15

Length: 235 mins

Survivor Series 1987 Review

The second of WWE’s great pay per view mainstays debuted on 26 November 1987. Survivor Series, like the Royal Rumble which began the following year, was a wrestling event with a concept. Rather than some single and tag matches put together to represent the ongoing feuds in the federation at the time, they put together huge elimination tag contests in which we saw our favourite goodies and baddies teaming up against each other.

The disc begins with a wonderfully retro “WWF HOME VIDEO SERIES” montage – a hexagon spins through space as we see clips of classic matches on its sides. This is accompanied by some cheesy sax stylings and is presented in glorious eighties lo-res-o-vision.

21,300 fans attended the show at the Richfield Coliseum and we open with Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura (resplendent in a pilgrim’s hat) doing a “to camera” piece to the wrong camera. We then see a shot of the packed arena with the name of the arena superimposed. Alas, they managed to spell “Richfield” incorrectly – “Richfeild”? I before E except after C!

Gorilla promises that this is going to be “one of the most prestigious events ever in the history of professional wrestling,”. Back then you could say that kind of thing without fear of being contradicted so Jim Ross take note! Gorilla then runs down the rules of the match. He makes a far better fist of it than the Fink has done of the Royal Rumble in recent years. He then sends us to see Craig DeGeorge who’s backstage with the Honky Tonk Man and his team. Craig DeGeorge is my least favourite of the former WWF/E announcers. Utterly devoid of emotion or character.

Anyhoo, HTM delivers a fairly bog-standard promo while the other villains – King Harley, Hercules, Ron Bass, Danny Davis, Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart – act like a bunch of school kids who’ve had too much Sunny D in the background. I then discover that the running time of the DVD is only 1 hour 58 minutes, even though Gorilla promised 3 hours of action… Why did I notice this? Well, the wrestlers aren’t introduced to the ring, we just get a montage of them walking down the aisle with Craig DeGeorge reeling off their names. Let’s see if I can spot the other cuts okay kids?

We then go to the Macho Man’s team. Macho “Ooh Yeah”s his way though the promo as his team – Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Brutus Beefcake, Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat (along with Miss Elizabeth, naturally) – do an impressions of the bad guys just seconds ago. Lots of random spouting of positive phrases. For some reason, even though Mean Gene is still speaking at the end of the interview we can’t hear him and it cuts away. Another video-shortening measure?

I’d better give a quick explanation. Back in the day, Coliseum Video decided they’d save some money. Basically, a 2 hour VHS cassette costs far less to reproduce and make than a 3 or 4 hour one. Hence, they chopped the heck out of all the early shows.

Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, & Brutus Beefcake Vs. Honkytonk Man, Danny Davis, Harley Race, Hercules, & Ron Bass

The match starts with Beefcake and Herc’. I really hated Beefcake’s tights back then. You know, the ones with the sheer hosiery down the sides. Herc’ I always thought was cool but far too pasty. The crowd are loving the Beefer. No accounting for taste. Some nice exchanges from these two.

Danny Davis tags in and gets seven bells beaten out of him by Beefcake, Jake, Savage and Steamboat. In comes Harley Race to slow the action down. You know you’re in the eighties when a week-looking chop to the forehead is a heat spot. Harley Race shows us how to execute a belly-to-belly but Steamboat manages to tag in Hacksaw. They brawl on the outside to double countout.

*Cut* to rejoin the action with Jake Roberts and Ron Bass in the ring. Savage in and gets a longish beat-down. Not that we get to see it as there’s another *cut* and he blind-tags Beefcake. See, this is a very good example of bad editing. They’ll include the pinfalls, obviously, but the lead-up to it and all the excitement is sucked out because all you know of the beat-down is Jesse Ventura suggesting that Macho man ought to “get out of there”.

HTM sells Beefcake’s atomic drop like he has and electric cattle prod up the jacksie! In fact, HTM’s facials are brilliant during this little exchange. HTM hits the Shake, Rattle and Roll which is just a Swinging Neckbreaker. I say “just” a Swinging Neckbreaker but it ought to be called “The Neckbreaker Nobody Does Right” because it’s so damned rare that the recipient’s neck is in contact with the protagonist’s shoulder upon impact.

But I digress.

VICIOUS beatdown on Savage by Hercules. Lovely stomping in the corner. I’ve also just noticed they have two referees (one on the outside, one on the inside) – nice touch! All change and we have HTM and Roberts in the ring. HTM’s lightning-quick escape from the DDT was cool. Ventura on HTM: “What the guy lacks in ability he makes up for in sheer luck!”.

Davis is out through Jake’s DDT but Herc dives in knocks down a celebrating Jake. “Pearl Harbour Job” says Gorilla. Do you reckon Japanese wrestling announcers call that a “Nagasaki”?

Even though there are two referees they still manage to allow the heel tactics. And I for one applaud that.

*Cut* but it’s only a reverse-chin-lock-have-a-rest-and-get-the-crowd-chanting spot so that’s okay. Why they feel the need for restholds and easy heat like that when there are still three other fresh men in the match – including Steamboat who’s done the square-root of sweet FA during this one – is beyond me. Turns out they cut ONE of the reverse-chin-lock-have-a-rest-and-get-the-crowd-chanting spots. Roberts breaks out of the hold by ramming Herc’s jaw into the top of his head. I’ve never understood that.

Steamboat in, WOO!!! He’s all chops tonight! And that’s it from Steamboat. Savage in with the elbow from the top and the pin so Herc’s out. HTM’s left on his own and the faces take turns beating him up and, in the end, he turns tail and gets counted out in the aisle.

Savage, Roberts and Steamboat take the win. We then get some very salient critique by Ventura and Monsoon.

Not a bad opener by any means, shame about the cuts.

Fabulous Moolah, Rockin’ Robin, Velvet McIntyre, & The Jumping Bomb Angels Vs. Sherri Martel, Lelani Kai, Judy Martin, Donna Christanello, & Dawn Marie

Judy Martin and Lelani Kai are the WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions… huh? I never even knew they had a Women’s tag division. Good God there are some ropey old women in the heel team! Apart from Sherri who’s looking quite hot. Interesting fact: It turns out that Moolah’s always been really old.

I’m not expecting much of this match and I’ve realised I may have written too much for the first match. So for these reasons… edited highlights!

Woo for hairpulling! Moolah’s pretty damned good! Groovy victory roll by Velvet to take out Christanello.

Flying headscissors by Velvet on one of the Tag Champs. Ventura conjugates “Drag” into “Drug”. Wrong, wrong, wrong! /pedant_mode.

More hairpulling. ARGH! Spot-miss-tastic in places, this one. The crowd really isn’t going for this one.

Bomb Angels RULE!!! Is it because I like the wrestling or is it because I like screaming Japanese chicks? Bit of both I think. And the crowd are actually getting into it now! Rockin’ Robin tags in and they release the soporific gas into the audience…

NASTY Hair-pull/throw bump. Two slingshots in the middle of the ring so far in this match – you don’t see that much any more. Moolah’s punches are horrible but still better than Billy Gunn’s.

Velvet McIntire does her own variation of the Surfboard. It’s called the s***board.

Stuff happens, very little of it is any good… and the Bomb Angels are the winners! Hooray!

Rather dull match, apart from Bomb Angels who were great! Why was the opening match chopped up whereas this one was shown in it’s entirety?

Tito Santana & Rick Martel, Paul Roma & Jim Powers, Jacques & Raymond Rougeau, The Killer Bees, and The British Bulldogs Vs. The Hart Foundation, Haku & Tama, Demolition Ax & Smash, Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov, and Greg Valentine & Dino Bravo

Allow me to wipe the drool from my chin. Look at that line-up! There are some nice wrestlers in there! I’ve got this match listed at 37 minutes but I’d be surprised if we get it all… Actually, there’s more than an hour left on the disc and there’s only this match and the main event to come.

This is a Tag Team Elimination match. It’s just like a regular Survivor Series match but if your partner is eliminated then you are too.

Okay, this time I’m really going to try just to give a précis of the match, rather than too much detail, honest!

Small problem – having ten-man teams means they’re lined up right in front of the main camera to start with. It’s an impressive sight, though.

Anyway, the good stuff in this one:

Fast-paced action, quick tags, looks mighty cool with all 18 other competitors all lined up on the edges of the ring. The crane shots over the ring are particularly groovy.

Some bad stuff:

Like I say, the camera work isn’t the best on this match. It’s a little confusing at times.

This match is lots of fun. It reminds me of Flair’s comment about the 1992 Royal Rumble – look at all the talent. Okay, many of the guys in there didn’t burn too brightly as huge superstars, but if you’re around my age then this is the era that you first saw WWF and seeing these wrestlers brings back a lot of memories.

I won’t name the winners for this one – don’t want to spoil a cool match for you if you’ve never seen it.

Right, main event time…

Andre the Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, & Rick Rude Vs. Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, & Bam Bam Bigelow

Hmm. I’m somewhat ambivalent about this one. Not sure if I’m looking forward to it or not…

Things are set up with Craig DeGeorge interviewing the heels. Blah until Bobby Heenan gets you smiling – being that it’s Thanksgiving he refers to Hogan as the “300lb turkey!”

To the face interview by Gene Okerlund. More background WOOing! Standard Hulk promo which seems cut short.

Amazingly, Hogan isn’t in the final two of the match – he went down to a count-out! Not a brilliant match but the crowd are into it and more than make up for the technical deficiencies of the majority of the competitors.

Survivor Series 1988

On to Survivor Series 1988, once again broadcast from the Richfield Coliseum..

A stunning opener to a PPV sets us off:

The Powers of Pain, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation and The Young Stallions Vs. Demolition, Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard, The Bolshevicks, the Fabulous Rougeaus and he Conquistadors

Like the year before it’s a standard Survivor Series elimination match with tag teams instead of singles.

Like the year before it has a great line up of guys.

Like the year before it’s a spanking good match.

Of course, this kind of match being the opener, you’d expect a lot of quick exits from the ring to get the curtain-jerkers out of the way. You be wrong. FORTY FIVE MINUTES AND SOME CHANGE of non-stop tag team action. The match is obscenely good. There are far too many high points to discuss and, again, for the younger guys and gals who’re discovering WWF/E history, I don’t want to spoil it.

It was pleasant to discover that the match wasn’t cut in any way too – here’s hoping the the rest of the disc keeps up the quality.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. This is for two reasons:

1) In terms of clipping, the next two matches are hacked to smithereens. As stated above, it’s all down to Coliseum Video – down blame the lovely Silvervision people!

2) The rest of the card just doesn’t stand up to the quality shown in the opener.

Anyway…

Ultimate Warrior, Brutus Beefcake, Sam Houston, The Blue Blazer and Jim Brunzel Vs. Honkytonk Man, Ron Bass, Danny Davis, Greg Valentine and Bad News Brown

I can’t say I’m overly upset that this match was chopped up – apart from Honky there isn’t anyone in the match I’d go out of my way to see. It’s just the completist in my soul that makes me yearn for the complete thing. Running time on the disc is around ten minutes whereas it really ran to about half an hour. This is so chopped up that the drama is nullified and we get to see the finishes and very little else.

It’s proving a struggle to write this review, now. I’m going to have to learn to enjoy describing things I don’t like if I’m to keep up this reviewing lark!

Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, Dino Bravo, Mr Perfect and Harley Race Vs. Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts, Scott Casey, Ken Patera and Tito Santana

This is another half-hour match chopped down to under ten minutes. I’m not going to attempt to review the match as we see less than a third of it. Instead, I’ll just mention the only two points that seemed interesting about this match:

  • I can see why Curt Hennig (Perfect) reverted to the singlet not long after this.
  • Ken Patera bears a striking resemblance to Moolah.

That’s really it.

Right, I need a big Main Event now…

Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Hercules, Koko B. Ware and Hillbilly Jim Vs. Ted DiBiase, Big Bossman, Akeem, Haku and Red Rooster

The short review of this match? Rubbish.

The long review? Really quite rubbish indeed.

Overall

I’ll be honest, my initial nostalgia pop deteriorated quite rapidly after that first disc. It’s one thing to take a trip down memory lane but it’d always better to take a map with you. If you’re anything like me then your knowledge of the eighties WWF product is a patchy beast so choosing which Tagged Classic to purchase might be a tricky proposition.

Would I recommend this DVD set? Yes. For the opening match at Survivor Series 1988 alone I’d recommend it. The other matches from that year I could take or leave but 1987’s offering adds enough to this purchase to make it worth your while.

Buy It:

UK: £15.99 (DVD)

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