Wednesday, 19 June 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1993

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Poster
November 24th, 1993
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

By late 1993, the World Wrestling Federation was hanging on for dear life. Rocked by the steroid scandal, failed drug tests, injuries, and that thing with Jerry Lawler, a series of events outside the ring rendered the seventh annual Survivor Series show a show barely worthy of pay per view status.

Prior to kick off, everyone’s favourite perma-grinned host, Todd Pettengill brought us the Survivor Series Countdown, introducing us to the Boston Garden, its fans (who he comically referred to as “the fans of the world,”) and tonight’s matches.

It was Pettingill’s job to explain to us why The Undertaker had replaced Tatanka in the All Americans  team, Crush had replaced Piere on the opposing Foreign Fanatics squad, and why Shawn Michaels had returned from suspension to fill in for Jerry Lawler in a battle against The Hart Family.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Todd Pettingill in the Survivor Series countdown
It was also up to our mate Todd to pay a visit to Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan at the commentary booth, and to Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon, doing play-by-play duties for the short-lived WWF Radio.

As Pettingill stirred yet more drama between Monsoon and Heenan (the former would later go on to eject the latter from the building, and the WWF as a whole, a month down the line), all five men completely ignored the dark match between Brooklyn Brawler and one of the Smoking Guns taking place in the ring.

Come to think of it, so did the majority of the audience.

With such a waste of time masquerading as excitement out of the way, it was on to a night of traditional Survivor Series matches.

Irwin R. Schyster, Diesel, Rick ‘The Model’ Martel and Adam Bomb
VS.
Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, Marty Jannetty and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage

Mr. Perfect was originally scheduled to tag with Razor Ramon and his buddies, yet depending on who you believe he fell victim either to injuries or Titan Sports’ ongoing drugs and steroid problems and had left the organisation a week or two earlier.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Team Razor vs. Team Diesel
Thus, before the match began, we had The Bad Guy inform us that Hennig was ‘such a perfect partner, he chose to tag out before the match,’ prompting a replacement in the form of Randy Savage. As the story had it, Macho would have done anything to get in the same building as arch-rival Crush, meaning his last-minute addition to this match at least made some semblance of sense.

As for the match itself, well, it was pretty good.

OK, not five-star classic good, but for a match featuring a an assorted collection of mid-carders with little else to do, it was a surprisingly entertaining affair.

There was plenty of drama and action to keep this one interesting thanks to Razor seeing off threats from potential Intercontinental challengers Rick Martel and IRS, dissension in the ranks of the heel squad (mostly caused by Martel’s squabbles with Adam Bomb’s manager, Harvey Wippleman), and of course, Crush sticking his nose in, causing Savage to get counted out.

Naturally, Savage proceeded to storm backstage and was shown storming about the place in an awkward search for his rival. For reasons which still elude this writer, the entire segment came across as entirely uncomfortable.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Razor Ramon addresses the crowd
Still, back in the ring, things were much better.

An exchange between Clique buddies Diesel and 1-2-3 Kid (probably over who had the best mullet) provided one of the bout’s more memorable moments, as the mammoth Diesel tossed his smaller foe about the ring like the proverbial ragdoll.

Still, it was Diesel who would be sent to the showers before the end of the match, and with everyone else gone, the unlikely tandem of the ‘Kid and Marty Jannetty triumphed as sole survivors after Jannetty stole a pin from Adam Bomb.
Your winners and sole survivors: Marty Jannetty and 1-2-3 Kid

Backstage, Todd Pettingill caught up with a recently reinstated Shawn Michaels.

Despite being stripped of the Intercontinental championship some months ago (the fictional excuse being his lack of title defences over a thirty day period, the actual excuse being a drug test dispute), Michaels bore the title around his waist and claimed to still be the undisputed champion.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Todd Pettingill interviews Shawn Michaels
Yet that was simply a precursor to the main subject at hand; trying to justify Michaels' last-minute gig as Jerry Lawler's replacement in a battle against the Hart Family.

(Lawler, in case you hadn't heard, had taken time off to deal with an accusation that he raped a teenage girl).

Drawing loosely on the Michaels/Hart WWF Championship bout from the previous year's Survivor Series, we were first provided with some pre-recorded comments from theHart Family.

As Bruce Hart stood in the background, adorned in sunglasses he stole from a blind man and exuding all the charisma of a constipated teapot, Bret and his other brothers Owen and Keith pretended like all the troubles they'd been having with Jerry Lawler over the last few months, they'd actually been having with Michaels.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Bret Hart and Bruce 'Too Much Charisma to Handle' Hart
Cutting back to the future Hall of Famer, Michaels played up to the rivalry to such an extent that, by the time the whole thing was over, you were convinced Shawn had been feuding with the Hart family the whole time, and that Jerry Lawler had never once entered the equation.

Still somewhere in the backstage area, Razor Ramon heaped congratulations on surviving team members Jannetty and 1-2-3 Kid before insisting that Savage had gone loco and leading his men off on a search party.

Back in the ring, Family Feud host wasted everybody's time by telling a series of awful jokes about Shawn Michaels family before finally, and in the most long-winded fashion possible, introduced the man himself to the ring.

Shawn Michaels and The Knights (or Barry Horrowitz, Greg Valentine and Jeff Gaylord in crap masks)
VS.
Bret, Bruce, Owen and Keith Hart (w/ Stu Hart)

By most existing reports, the first part of this year's 'double main event' was a dismal affair.

At first glance, it's easy to see why.

The pairing of Shawn Michaels and four 'knights' made little sense despite the WWF's best pre-match efforts, nor did the former Intercontinental champion particularly mesh all that well with his squad.

Add to the damage the fact that the Boston crowd could not have cared less about the match unless Shawn, Bret or Owen were involved, and what you were left with was barely worth getting excited about.

Yet what on the surface looked like a sure-fire fail played out rather well in the ring.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Shawn Michaels begs off from Owen Hart
Bret and Owen were on usual form, whilst Keith, and even Mr. Charisma himself, Bruce showed flashes of, if not quite brilliance, then at least a decent amount of skill.

Besides, could you ever possible fathom a match featuring The Hitman, The Rocket and the future Heartbreak Kid that wasn't at least  mildly entertaining?

The highlights of the lengthy battle included the Black Knight being surrounded by Harts before Owen put him out of his misery thanks to a swift missile dropkick,

Shawn Michaels taking a suckerpunch from Stu Hart and selling it like he'd just been stabbed, and both the Red and Blue knights succumbing to sharpshooters courtesy of Bret and Owen respectively.

Yet the climax ultimately came as Michaels, left without teammates, battled Owen in the ring. An irish whip caused the younger Hart to collide with Bret, who had been nursing his wounds on the apron, with the distraction enough to allow Michaels to score a pinfall on the Rocket.

Enraged, Owen blasted his older, clearly hurting brother, before storming off to the locker room, only to return after Bret finally put his rival to pasture.
Your winners and sole survivors: Bret, Bruce and Keith Hart.

The celebrations among the three remaining Harts was short lived. A bitter Owen took out his frustrations on his siblings, claiming that he didn't need them and was sick and fed up of not getting any recognition.

All the while, Hart family matriarch, Helen, sat at ringside and feigned tears with a face which more suggested she was desperate for the toilet.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Gorilla Monsoon threatens to beat up Bobby Heenan
Thus began the transformation of 'The Rocket' into 'The King of Harts' and the start of one of the most memorable feuds of the 1990s.

As Owen made his way backstage, the ever-persistent Pettingill tried to bag a few words with the family traitor, yet Owen insisted he didn't want to talk about it, leaving the show to focus instead on banter between McMahon, Heenan, Monsoon and Ross.

In a sign of things to come on WWF TV, Monsoon threatened to knock Heenan's block off, only to decide it really wasn't worth the effort, and instead joining Ross to do PPV commentary for the upcoming Smokey Mountain Wrestling contest.

Smokey Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Championship
Smokey Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Champions The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson)
VS.
The Heavenly Bodies (Dr. Tom Prichard and 'Gigolo' Jimmy Del Ray w/ Jim Cornette)

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Smokey Mountain Tag Team Champions The Rock 'n' Roll Express
It comes to something when arguably the best match on your show comes courtesy of four men who don't even work for you.

Alas, such was the case with this interpromotional feature match as aging veterans Morton and Gibson defended both Smokey Mountain Wrestling's gold and it's reputation as purveyors of excellent wrestling, in a match against the Heavenly Bodies.

Coming as part of the deal which saw Jim Cornette take up managerial duties in Titan land, the match was classic tag team wrestling at its finest.

From unique spots, compelling action and enough flips, dives and moonsaults as anyone could ask for, this tag match stood out as being unlike anything else on the card, and benefited greatly for it.

At least it would have been, had anyone in the audience paying attention.

Suffering the same fate as the previous match, there was a real lack of star power in the contest which hurt it, though between the ropes, this was a flawless contest.

In the end, the Doc hit a moonsault to earn the win, and the titles, for his team.
Your winners and NEW Smokey Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Champions: The Heavenly Bodies

Watching this show back, you really have to feel for Bam Bam Bigelow. Undoubted star of the inaugural Survivor Series' main event, here he finds himself some years later stuck in an abysmal comedy match, and I use the term match loosely.

Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon), Bastion Booger and The Headshrinkers (w/ Afa)
VS:
The Bushwhackers (Luke 'Doink' and Butch 'Doink') and Men on a Mission (Mo 'Doink', Mabel 'Doink' and yes, Oscar 'Doink')

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Bam Bam Bigelow
'I thought this was supposed to be four Doinks, not the Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission,' said Bobby Heenan as this travesty got underway, echoing the sentiments of everyone in the Gardens and no doubt the pay per view audience.

Indeed, this one was originally billed as Bam Bam and his buddies against Doink and Three Other Doinks until the original wrestling clown, Matt Borne wound up on the wrong side of a drug test.

Instead, what we were left with was this, perhaps the only time in history that a wrestling audience (or any audience for that matter), had felt compelled to shout

'We! Want! Doink!'

As if this show wasn't in enough trouble already, chants for Doink the Clown certainly didn't do it any favours.

What also didn't help was...well...everything else.

From a Bushwhacker distracting his opponent by riding around the ring on a scooter, Bastion Booger distracting *himself* with a banana, and a Headshrinker succumbing to a three count after slipping on the peel of said banana.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: "Mabel Doink" - Freaky
The latter of which caused Bobby Heenan to claim that it gave 'whole new meaning to the term 'slipping on a banana peel,' which in turn caused this writer to wonder what other meanings beyond, you know, actually slipping on a banana peel, Heenan knew of.

Anyway, none of that, nor anything else, mattered in what was essentially a bad slap-stick comedy routine complete with Nelson Fraizier looking horrific in a clown mask (honestly, if you thought the man was scary as Big Daddy V, wait until you seem him complete with clown make-up)

In the end, Bam Bam fell victim to one of the faux-Doinks after which he and 'main squeeze' Luna Vachon were mocked by the 'actual' Doink on the video screen.
Your Winners: Mo, Mabel, Luke and Butch

Backstage, Doink joined his hired men in a a rendition of Men on a Mission's favourite tune, Whoomp, there it is.

From there it was back to Pettingill and a pre-match promo from the Foreign Fanatics.

WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: The Foreign Fanatics
More accurately, it was a promo from Jim Cornette, who explained the strategy his men would employ to defeat the All Americans in a fashion that was a gripping and compelling as this writer has ever heard. Sure, Cornette delivered better speeches before and after this one, but raging on the mic on Thanksgiving Eve, ol' James E. was on fire.

Finally, we were treated to a cringe-worthy video package in which Vince McMahon compared The All Americans' upcoming wrestling match to the Boston Tea Party, complete with nonsensical lines from each member of said team.

After what seemed like an eternity then, it was on to our main event of the evening:

The Foriegn Fanatics
World Wrestling Federation Champion Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga, Crush and Jacques (w/ Johnny Polo, Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette)
VS:
The All Americans
Lex Luger, The Undertaker and The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner)

Given who was involved, there was absolutely no need for our main event contest to last as long as it did.
WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1993: Yokozuna dominates Lex Luger

Alas, it did, and for nigh on thirty minutes we were subject to long moments of tedium interspersed with the occasional flash of something mildly interesting.

At least the match had this going for it; almost all the interesting things that happened did so to create or develop feuds which would take us on to better contests by the time 1994 rolled around.

Among them, Randy Savage finally caught up with Crush (sort of) by rushing down the ilse only to be stopped by a host of officials and, curiously, The Smoking Guns. By the time Savage finally got his hands on the Hawaiian, it was enough to make Crush miss his ten count and be eliminated from the match.

Further count-outs followed when WWF Champion Yokozuna and The Undertaker were having so much fun brawling on the outside that they too failed to heed to the referees count and joined Crush, Jacques and The Steiners in the locker room.

Ultimately, and rather predictably, it was Lex Luger who emerged as the sole survivor after taking out Ludvig Borga with an elbow smash.
Your winner and sole survivor: Lex Luger

As the show came to a close, Luger was left to celebrate with none other than Santa Claus himself.

And so ended the WWF's final pay per view of 1993. Without the benefit of hindsight, it would have been hard to fathom Vince McMahon and his clan ever bouncing back from such a dire state of affairs. Yet we all know they did, and what started tonight would carry on into the new year with memorable clashes between Bret and Owen, Yoko and Undertaker and Crush and Savage. That however, is another story for another time.

------
Complete Survivor Series Anthology
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Retro Pro Wrestling

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