PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1987


Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio.
November 26, 1987

Teams of five strive to survive as the World Wrestling Federation presents a brand new Pay Per View concept designed as much to harm the rival NWA Starrcade PPV as anything else.

The original Coliseum Home Video release of this was heavily, and often badly edited. Sadly, that just so happens to be the version we're watching today. Still, let's see what went down, shall we?

Welcome to the Survivor Series! 

Following an excruciatingly cheesy, incredibly 80's opening mostly consisting of Wrestlemania II clips played over jazz music (yes, jazz music), it was up to the legendary duo of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura  to welcome us to the show and run down the rules of the Survivor Series matches.

Shake, Rattle & Roll, baby!

If there's one puzzling thing about early Survivor Series shows, it's that everybody seemed to be on crack in the pre-match promos. 

As they grouped together to say a few words about how they would destroy their opponents, every combatant would abandon their usual personalities in favor of some kind of maniacal, half-crazed hysteric.

It was all rather strange.


Case in point here as The Honky Tonk Man laid into new fan-favorite Macho Man Randy Savage and even threatened to shake, rattle and roll Elizabeth again (having previously pushed her to the ground in a previous assault).

All the while, team-mates Hercules, 'Dangerous' Danny Davis, Ron 'Outlaw' Bass and 'King' Harley Race, along with managers Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Jimmy Hart snarled and jeered and acted, well...like they'd just taken a large amount of Class-A drugs.

Things were not much different when the Macho Man and his team took to the mic to offer a rebuttal, basically threatening to kick everybody's ass before the show finally took to the ring.

5 v 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match:
Honky Tonk Man (Team Captain), Hercules, 'Dangerous' Danny Davis, 'Outlaw' Ron Bass, 'King' Harley Race vs. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake and 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan.

And so, after their now legendary Wrestlemania III encounter, The Dragon and The Macho Man found themselves on the same team in this battle of WWF's premier mid-carders of the time.

Yet enough of that for now. 

Hercules and Brutus Beefcake kicked off the match with an exchange every bit as awkward as 'The Barber's' ill-fitting yellow and black ring attire. Clearly going nowhere fast with Herc, Bruti brought Danny Davis into the affray to play whipping-boy for the babyface team; each of Beefcake's allies taking it in turns to lay the damage to the former official.

As the fast-paced action continued, it was ultimately Jim Duggan and Harley Race who were the first men out of the contest. The heated rival battled to the outside and continued to batter each other with clobbering blows as the referee counted to ten, eliminating both men.


The good guys continued to gain the advantage with Brutus taking out Ron Bass with a high-knee to put the scores at 4-3 to the good guys. 

Ah, who doesn't pine for the days when a knee to the chops could lead to a pinfall?

The match, which is actually better on second viewing than your writer originally thought, continued with the villains gaining some measure of revenge. Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man planted Beefcake with the Shake, Rattle and Roll to even the scores.

As the pace began to drop just slightly, the good guys eventually took out Hercules and Danny Davis, leaving HTM alone to face three of his biggest rivals in Steamboat, Savage, and Roberts.

Rather than do that, however, the cowardly champion simply grabbed his belt and walked to the back, leading to a count-out elimination and a win for the heroes.

And thus ended the first ever Survivor Series match, a contest which at times did seem rushed and awkward, but was actually a really enjoyable opener featuring several Hall of Fame-worthy stars.
Winners and sole survivors: Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts

Following the contest, Ventura and Monsoon wondered aloud as to why Honky decided to bail, killing time til the next contest.

Women's 5 v 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Sensational Sherri (team captain), Judy Martin, Leilani Kai, Dawn Marie & Donna Christanello vs. The Fabulous Moolah (team captain), Rockin' Robin, The Jumping Bomb Angels and Velvet McIntyre


First things first, let's get the typical male aesthetic viewpoint out of the way, shall we? 

Yes, WWF Women's Champion Sensational Sherri looked damn fine here, Fabulous Moolah looked as old here as she did during her late-90s comeback and well, yeah, your reviewer has always had something of a soft spot for Rockin' Robin.

All that aside, this was as good a women's wrestling match as you'll ever see; the action moved at a solid pace and there was barely a dull moment to be found.

The babyface team made short work of Dawn Marie (not that one) and Donna Christanello, the latter being taken out thanks to a quick roll up from Irish-born McIntyre before Robin took got rid of the former thanks to a flying cross-body.

This left women's champion Sherri and women's tag title holders The Glamour Girls (Martin and Kai) to hold their own against five opponents.

And hold their own they did. 

Sherri took the action to Rockin Robin, taking her out with a wicked suplex before Moolah, working as a babyface despite a lengthy career as a heel, succumbed to a weak-looking double clothesline to leave the contest.

As the match wore on and fatigue set in, the remaining six girls slowed the pace yet continued to deliver a dramatic, entertaining contest. 

McIntyre eliminated Sherri with another roll-up before exiting the contest herself thanks to a hard Electric Chair.

Down to The Glamour Girls vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels, the four remaining combatants closed the contest on a high note with a series of beautiful exchanges before the Angels eliminated their rivals to win the contest and lead to their memorable tag title match at the 1988 Royal Rumble.
Your Winners and sole survivors: The Jumping Bomb Angels.

Heading to the back for another crack-addled interview, Bobby Heenan spoke on behalf of The Hart Foundation and the four other teams making up their Survivor Series squad.

Speaking on behalf of the Strike Force team, Tito Santana offered a response as his equally as excited teammates went loco in the background. 

Neither man said anything of note.

Ten Team 10 v 10 Survivor Series Elimination Match
The Hart Foundation (team captains), Demolition, The Islanders, The Dream Team and The Bolsheviks vs. Strike Force, The Killer Bees, The British Bulldogs, The Rougeaus and The Young Stallions.

If I've mentioned any of the other bouts on this card being fast-paced, ignore it. Or at least, take my word for it that, as fast as they were, the furious pace of this twenty-man match makes every other contest seem like it was moving in slow-motion.

The rules here are that when one member of a team is eliminated, both men have to hit the showers, and so it was that after Boris Zhukov ate a flying forearm from Santana, The Bolsheviks were out of the running.

Wasting absolutely no time, the action picked up just a second later with Demolition Axe charging the ring to beat up on 'Chico.'

Tagging in and out almost every thirty seconds, each combatant had the opportunity to step between the ropes and showcase their wares at some point in this exhilarating, if someone crowded penultimate contest.

One of your writer's favorite teams, The Islanders again showcased why they were perhaps one of the more underrated teams during the glory days of the WWF tag team division while the Rougeaus and The Bulldogs (the latter of whom didn't even have their elimination from the match recorded on video due to the aforementioned editing from Coliseum Home Video) also shined here.

Yet ultimately, once most of the teams had been kicked out of the contest, it was down to The Islanders to hold their own against The Killer Bees and The Young Stallions.

Credit where credit is due, Haku and Tama took it to the babyfaces, though they were no match for Jim Brunzel and Briann Blair's old routine of suddenly donning masks, confusing everyone insight (including some viewers!) and scoring the win for their team.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: The Killer Bees and The Young Stallions

Out in the back, Andre The Giant, flanked by his team, claimed to be out for Hulk Hogan's soul as we began to build to tonight's main event.


In reply, an animated Hogan riled up his already excitable partners, claiming that they were hungry and that 'the food chain doesn't matter.' Whatever that means.

Anyway, main event time.

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Andre the Giant (Team Captain), Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang and 'The Natural' Butch Reed vs. Hulk Hogan (Team Captain), Bam Bam Bigelow, Ken Patera, 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Ordorf and Don 'The Rock' Muraco.

Stepping into a WWF ring for the first time since his losing effort against The Hulkster at Wrestlemania III, Andre The Giant lead his team into a surprisingly enthralling main event.

Ravishing Rick Rude and Don Muraco kicked off this entertaining contest, The Rock trading ring time with his partners as each one laid into the relative newcomer Rude. But it was Butch Reed, thanks to the Legdrop of Doom from Hogan, who was the first man sent packing for the bad guys.

Sensing an opportunity, Andre stepped through the ropes to finally extract some revenge on Hogan, only for the referee to mistake Hulk's celebratory high-five with Ken Patera for a tag and insist that Patera, not Hogan, continue the match.

Why Hogan didn't just tag back in again is anyone's guess, but alas it was Patera who continued the action against King Kong Bundy, the latter tagging in after Andre made it known he had no interest in anyone who wasn't the WWF Champion.

Following some dramatic back-and-forth action, the heels evened the scores when One Man Gang eliminated Patera, and continued to gain the advantage shortly after thanks to a Rude pinfall on Paul Orndorff.

The pace quickened, with quick successive eliminations for Rude and Muraco, leaving Hogan and Bigelow against Bundy, Andre, and The Gang.

It was from this moment on that Bam Bam Bigelow really came into his own. 

Easily the surprise star of the match, The Beast from the East looked more than comfortable as he and Hogan looked to turn the tide against the behemoths on the opposite side of the ring.

Things took a turn for the worse for Bam Bam as Hogan tussled on the outside of the ring with King Kong Bundy and was ultimately counted out, leaving his partner alone against his three larger opponents.

A undoubted star on the rise, with impressive agility, charisma and that intangible star quality, Bigelow put forth a valiant effort, managing to eliminate both Bundy and One Man Gang before finally falling victim to Andre the Giant.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Andre the Giant

Stealing the spotlight and sending the crowd home happy, WWF Champion Hulk Hogan then returned to the ring, smacked Andre upside the head with the title belt and posed before the crowd.

In the closing moments, Bobby Heenan insisted that if Hogan wanted a rematch against The Giant, all he would have to do is sign the contract. 

More of that at Royal Rumble 1988.

And so the first ever Survivor Series event was in the history books. Hardly the most memorable or historically significant event ever (apart from it being the first one), this was nonetheless a fun, action-packed show which gave just about everybody on the roster a chance to shine and managed to create enough variation out of four matches with the exact same concept. It's not hard to see from watching this event just why Vince McMahon decided to return to Survivor Series year after year.

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  1. Honkys Team vs Machos Team was the best match! Thats for true!