PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1988


Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio

November 24, 1988

After a successful debut the year before, Survior Series 1988 brought the World Wrestling Federation's annual Thanksgiving event back with four strong outings that entertained from the opening bell to closing credits.

A little note about today's show:

I actually watched the original Coliseum Home Video release of this event, which puts the matches in a slightly different order with a couple of different promos than the later versions which came out on WWE DVD. Regardless, for the sake of historical accuracy (or something), we'll look at the show in the order that it actually went down live. 

Here goes.

Your commentators for the show are none other than Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura.

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination match
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake, Sam Houston, 'Jumpin' Jim Brunzell and The Blue Blazer VS. The Honky Tonk Man, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, 'Dangerous' Danny Davis, 'The Outlaw' Ron Bass and Bad News Brown

The late, great Owen Hart puts in an early WWF PPV appearance, donning the blue mask in his first gimmick of The Blue Blazer to kick off the second annual Survivor Series event.


Yet before the Blazer could hit the ring, it was up to former Dream Team partners, Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake to get the action underway, both men beating on one another with clobbering blows before The Hammer gained a sneaky advantage. Danny Davis entered the fray, only to be shot into the ropes and then put to sleep by Beefcake for elimination in record time.

Both teams traded the advantage before Bad News Brown pummelled Jim Brunzell, taking out the former Killer Bee with the Ghetto Blaster. Brown wasn't long for the competition however, a misunderstanding between the noted loner and partner Valentine led to Bad News storming off, leaving the ring and ultimately being counted out.

Luck began to fail the Warrior's team, Sam Houston was eventually taken out by Ron Bass before an exciting exchange between the Blazer and Valentine resulted in the masked man being caught in the hammer's patented figure-four leglock and discarded from the contest.

As this fun opening match continued with each man playing their parts well and getting hte crowd pumped for an action-packed night ahead before Honky Tonk Man and Beefcake both toppled to the outside and were counted out.

Left alone against Valentine and Bass, Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior took the fight to his opponents. The outnumbered Warrior made lightwork of the bad guys, taking out both in rapid succession to be declared the sole survivor and end a good, if barely memorable, opening contest.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: The Ultimate Warrior


Heading to the back, Bad News Brown talked about growing up as a loner on the streets of Harlem, before deciding that he didn't really care about that at all, and was only concerned with getting a title shot against The Macho Man.

In a Coliseum Home Video exclusive, The Ultimate Warrior then declared that every man on his team was a winner because they went without food and sleep and 'all the other luxuries of mere mortals.' 

Sans-face paint (owing to most of it being sweated off in the prior bout), Warrior actually delivered one of his more coherent promos here.

Ten Team Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Demolition: WWF Tag Team Champions, Demolition, The Conquistadors, The Bolsheviks, The Brain Busters and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers VS. Team Powers of Pain: Powers of Pain, The Young Stallions, The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The British Bulldogs

Clocking up more in-ring time on a single PPV than their modern-day counterparts do in a calendar year, the World Wrestling Federation's premier tag teams (and The Conquistadors) showcased what made many of them so memorable in a lengthy, thoroughly enjoyable 20-man tag team elimination match.

Moving at a slower pace than the similar match from 1987 actually benefited this classic Survivor Series contest, giving everybody ample time to grab a piece of the action and gradually build a story up throughout.


The early portion of the match saw a succession of quick tags from both teams, the excitement building rapidly before a swift inside cradle from Bret Hart sent The Fabulous Rougeaus to the showers for the first elimination.

The action continued with every man involved working hard to deliver a compelling match with barely a dull moment in sight. 

That said, while contributions from The Rockers, The Brain Busters, and The British Bulldogs were arguably the highlights of this thrilling contest, it was the exchanges between face-painted powerhouses Demolition and The Powers of Pain that really had the crowds on their feet.

The two rival squads stood firm and strong, and as their teammates dropped around them, they continued to entertain the Richmond audience with the hard-hitting audience until only Powers of Pain remained for the good guys against the four-man team of Demolition and The Conquistadors, the latter of whom surprising everybody by lasting this long into the match.

It was at this point that Demolition manager Mr. Fuji made his presence felt by climbing onto the apron and waving his walking cane in the general direction of the ring like some half-crazed old man who wasn't entirely sure why he was there.

Of course, the cunning manager knew exactly why he was there; to complete one of the most memorable turns in WWF history

As Smash charged towards the ropes, the dastardly Fuji prized them open, sending his own man crashing to the outside. Confronted by an irate Ax, Fuji reminded his team that he was the boss, and proceeded to whack his charge across the spine with his cane.

That move was to be Fuji's undoing, as the WWF Tag Team Champions turned on their manager, Smash throwing the diminutive man from the orient towards Ax for a crowd-popping bodyslam.

Unsurprisingly, the chaos on the outside led to Demolition's elimination from the contest, leaving The Conquistadors alone to face The Powers of Pain. In a confusing move, Warlord and Barbarian left their corner to attend to Mr. Fuji, helping the fallen manager to his feet and bringing him to their corner before making light work of their masked opponents to end a match which, even some 20-plus years later remains one of the best Survivor Series matches to date.
Your Winners and sole survivors: Powers of Pain

In the post-match, Warlord and Barbarian hoisted Fuji on their shoulders to confirm their new allegiance before Demolition returned to the ring and cleaned house. 

Though the tag champs certainly got a huge babyface reaction for ditching Fuji, the Powers of Pain heel turn was less than effective; The Richmond crowd greeted their victory with a roar of approval that was unfitting for WWF's newest villains. 

The ending aside, that was all kinds of awesome.

The show cut to the back with promos from Mr. Fuji and The Powers of Pain explaining their earlier actions, the Heenan Family team decreeing that they would take out Jake 'The Snake' Roberts' team in the upcoming contest, and The Mega Powers team insisting they were ready for action in the main event. 

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination match
Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Ken Patera, Tito Santana, Scott Casey and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Dino Bravo, 'Mr. Perfect' Curt Hennig, 'Ravishing' Rick  Rude, Harley Race, and Andre The Giant.

There comes a point after watching wrestling for over 20 years that you start to believe you've heard of any and all PPV-worthy combatants. Then Scott Casey comes along and proves you wrong.

Sadly, the muscular Casey didn't last long in his first (and, I'm pretty sure, only), WWF Pay-Per-View outing. Dino Bravo banished him from the ring with a hard side-suplex to put the scores at 5-3 following an earlier elimination of Ken Patera thanks to a Rude Awakening from The Ravishing One.

Tito Santana helped reduce his team's deficit by taking the fight to Harley Race and eliminating him in short order. Santana's luck quickly ran out as Andre The Giant stepped between the ropes and annihilated Chico. The former Strike Force member tried to counter the attack with a sunset flip which proved to be his downfall as the menacing giant simply took a seat on Santana's chest for the three count.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan picked up the slack for his team, beating on Giant with aplomb and offering fellow co-captain Jake Roberts a few shots at the Wrestlemania 3 headliner. Duggan was the next man to leave the match, countering the heel team's cowardly cheating ways by grabbing his trusty 2x4 and taking out Dino Bravo, thus getting himself disqualified.


Irate at the decision, Hacksaw stormed to the back, though not before yelling a very visible BULL SHIT right in front of the camera. Honestly, as good as this match was, seeing Duggan curse on camera was a guilty highlight for this reviewer.

That aside, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts found himself seriously outnumbered against four opponents, finding small consolation in taking out Rick Rude with a roll-up. Andre then returned to the ring and choked out Roberts, absolutely obliterating his rival and earning himself a disqualification in the process.

The damage had been done, however, and all that was left was for Mr. Perfect to pick up the pieces and pin Roberts for the win.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig and Dino Bravo

Though hardly full of technical excellence, that was a fantastic match-up that told a great story and kept the audience -or at least this fan- captivated throughout, just the way the best wrestling matches should do.

Heading to the back once more, Sean Mooney provided us with another Coliseum Home Video exclusive in which Andre The Giant reminded us that he had promised victory for his team and delivered. 

The big man then challenged Jake Roberts to a match.

Offering a retort, Jake The Snake then cut a compelling promo in which he vowed to gain revenge against his giant adversary.

5 vs. 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Mega Powers: WWF Champion Macho Man Randy Savage, Koko B/ Ware, Hillbilly Jim, Hercules and Hulk Hogan . Team Twin Towers: Akeem, 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase, King Haku and The Big Boss Man

Finally, it was time for the main event as Hulk Hogan looked to get his hands on arch-rival The Big Bossman, Hercules sought revenge on Ted Dibiase for that whole dodgy 'Herc is Dibiase's slave' thing, and everybody else was seemingly there to make up the numbers.

This was a very good, old-school Survivor Series contest, the drama building throughout and keeping the crowd on their feet.

Following a see-saw battle in the early going, Koko B. Ware got the better of The Red Rooster before tagging in Hogan for the Big Boot. In a good display of teamwork, The Hulkster then brought Mega Powers teammate, Randy Savage, into the match to finish off The Rooster with a flying elbow drop.

As a brawl erupted in the ring, a dejected Rooster was berated by manager Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, leading to their eventual split later in the year. Inside the ropes, the good guys cleaned house and celebrated with such gusto you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd already won the match.

The villains evened the scores after Akeem took out Hillbilly Jim before his Twin Towers teammate The Big Boss Man sent Koko packing.

Seizing his opportunity, Hogan returned to the ring to beat up on the Boss Man, but his bulky adversary refused to go down and got the better of the former World Champion with the assist from Akeem. Haku entered the fray to inflict further damage on Hogan before Ted Dibiase added to the assault.

Mounting a comeback, Hogan tagged out to Hercules, giving the mighty one his opportunity to finally serve some justice to Dibiase. His revenge was short-lived, however, as thanks to the assistance of bodyguard Virgil, The Million Dollar man was able to eliminate Herc.

That was the beginning of the end for this gripping finale,.

Slick attempted to drag Elizabeth to the back, only for Hogan to make the save. That allowed the Twin Towers to attack Hogan from behind and handcuff him to the ring posts.

Forgetting to make a legal tag beforehand, The Big Bossman was then counted out.

Down to two against one, Savage brought the battle to Haku and Akeem but was quickly overwhelmed and beaten on before Akeem somehow got himself disqualified.

Haku continued the assault in the ring as Savage looked desperately for his partner to make a tag.


As the drama reached fever pitch, Hogan socked Heenan, then called over Elizabeth to get the handcuff keys from The Slicker's pockets and set him free.

The Hulkster then returned to the apron, made the tag, took out Haku, and won the match for his team.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: Hulk Hogan and The Macho Man Randy Savage.

Afterward, Hogan celebrated triumphantly as Savage sold his beating on the outside. As Elizabeth attempted to get the Hulkster's attention, you know, to get him to check on his partner, Hogan instead swooped up Elizabeth for a celebratory hug. Savage then revived himself long enough to celebrate with the duo, flashing a look towards the Hulkster which fused anger, bitterness, and jealousy. 

The downfall of The Mega Powers had begun.

Cutting to the back for a final promo, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura interviewed Savage, insinuating that the look in the WWF Champion's eyes suggested all was not well between him and Hogan. Savage rebutted the claims and reminded us that he was the champion, storming off camera to end the show.

And so, the second annual Thanksgiving spectacular, Survivor Series 1988 was in the history books. Match of the Night honors undoubtedly go to that epic 20-man tag team match which should, and often is, revered as a classic even years later. Yet really, there was no bad match on the card; everybody played their parts perfectly and delivered excitement, entertainment and enjoyment from bell to bell. As a wrestling fan, what more could you possibly ask for?

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