PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1990

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 - Event poster

November 22, 1990

Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut

With the turn of a new decade came even more twists and turns in the crazy 'anything can happen' world of the World Wrestling Federation. 

Good guys had joined the dark side, the bad guys had seen the light, and we had all new champions by the time November came around. When it did, November 1990 brought with it a show mediocre that to this day it is only remembered for one (if not the) worst gimmicks of all time...Oh, and the debut of some guy called The Undertaker.

Here's what went down.

Our Coliseum Home Video presentation this evening began with the one and only Sean Mooney who at first glance appeared to be situated in front of a giant egg (more of which later). However, on closer inspection, it turned out he was actually being filmed against a green screen with a static camera on the egg.

This matters very little of course, but trust me, it will be one of the most interesting things to happen all evening.

Anyway. Mooney promised us several "added features" which will make our viewing experience an "absolute classic." 

The first of these features is the much hyped "grand finale mass of survival" (I'm sure Mooney did say "match", but it sounds more like "mass") in which all the surviving members of the victorious teams will face one another in one big match.

Plus, there's that giant egg thing and, the moment you've all been waiting for, comments from the fans!


WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 - Live from Connecticut

Following Vince McMahon's usual introduction in which he growled like a constipated dragon as he ran down the card, we were presented with our commentators for the evening; Gorilla Monsoon and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. 

Monsoon welcomed us to the show before Piper appeared to cut an insane promo on Saddam Hussein (yep, in the midst of a war against Iraq, this was a particularly politically-charged show for the WWF.)

Cutting to Mean Gene Okerlund, the Federation's head interviewer got some pre-match words from World Wrestling Federation Champion Ultimate Warrior and his team. 

Nothing interesting was said, but I do have to admit that I love the following screen grab. It somehow looks like Okerlund was a part of Warrior's team and was pointing to the camera. 

What can I say? This is a boring show to review, I've got to find some way to amuse myself.

With all that madness out of the way, it was onto the action.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 - The Warriors

The Perfect Team (Mr. Perfect & Demolition Ax, Smash & Crush w/ Mr. Fuji and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) VS. The Warriors (WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior, Intercontinental Champion Texas Tornado & The Legion of Doom, Hawk & Animal)

So, let me get this straight. First, Demolition comes to Survivor Series 1988 with Mr. Fuji on their side, only for Fuji to turn against him. The following year they come out as the good guys without a manager, and the year after that, they're back with Fuji again? Fair enough.

It also strikes me here that with their almost identical ring gear, Texas Tornado and the Warrior could have made a pretty good tag team.

Speaking of teams, it was Demolition and Legion of Doom who provided most of the fun in this otherwise sluggish contest. 

After Warrior eliminated Ax in the early going, everybody had their chance to shine in the ring before the two established tag teams began to beat up on one another.

The action grew heated, and in a move that would apparently set a precedent for the rest of the evening, both the LOD and Demolition were disqualified in one swift stroke of the referee's hand.

The odds were now stacked against team captain Mr. Perfect as he stood opposite surviving opponents Tornado and Warrior.

A decent exchange between former and current IC champions Perfect and Tornado followed, with Mr. P wrapping up Tornado with a Perfectplex for a three count, before another former IC holder in Warrior charged the ring, battled back against a non-belligerency Perfect and won what had been a short and seemingly very rushed contest which was at least mildly entertaining.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: The Ultimate Warrior

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 - The Million Dollar Team

Backstage, The Million Dollar Man and his team had strong words for Sean Mooney, and for their opponents in the upcoming match. Dibiase promised that his 'mystery partner' was in the building and would be a part of the next match.

The Dream Team ('The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware & WWF Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation Bret 'The Hitman' Hart & Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart) VS. The Million Dollar Team (The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase,  Rhythm & Blues (Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine & The Honky Tonk man) and The Undertaker w/ Brother Love, Jimmy Hart, and Virgil)

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's the début of The Phenom, The Deadman, the WWE Hall of Famer himself, The Undertaker, teaming up with Ted Dibiase and the make-shift team of Rhythm & Blues (Greg Valentine with terrible dyed-black hair) against the WWF Tag Team Champions, Koko and a version of Dusty Rhodes who for all the world looked like he'd rather be anywhere else than in this match from the opening bell to moment of elimination.

This match wasn't actually bad for what it was, it's just that what it was simply boiled down to a showcase for the World Wrestling Federation's newest monster heel.

To that end then, 'Taker quickly took out Koko B. Ware and would go on to get rid of both Jim Neidhart and Dusty Rhodes, who still looked as pissed off as he had at the start of the match. 

Ultimately, it was Dusty who caused The Undertaker's elimination from the match as, for reasons mostly unknown, The Dream decided to attack 'Taker's manager, Brother Love following his loss. This caused a loyal Deadman to beat down on Rhodes and get himself counted out, thus continuing a trend that would run throughout the show of stupid count outs and disqualifications occurring for seemingly no other reason than to hurry things along.

Bret Hart scored a quick win over Greg 'Where the hell did my career go?' Valentine ('The Hammer's R&B partner Honky Tonk Man had been eliminated fairly rapidly by Neidhart earlier in the match), leaving only The Hitman and Ted Dibiase alone.

Striking out into what proved to be one of the better wrestling portions of the whole show, Dibiase and Hart gave us an entertaining performance before The Million Dollar Man shifted his weight against a flying crossbody from The Hitman and rolled him up for a three count. Afterwards, Bret sat up and mouthed a very visible 'Fuck!' in view of the camera.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Ted Dibiase

Back in the showers (because this was apparently a better place for Damien to be), Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and his team of vipers (who also included The Rockers and a barely-recognizable Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka), talked about 'the scars of time' and promised that individual scores would be settled in the next match.

The Visionaries
'The Model' Rick Martel, Power & Glory (Hercules & Paul Roma) and The Warlord
(with Slick) VS. The Vipers (Jake 'The Snake' Roberts,  The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty), and Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka)
WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 - The Warlord

If current WWE star Ryback is a clone of Goldberg, who himself was once accused of being a Stone Cold Steve Austin rip-off, then by that logic Austin must have taken his famous look from the singles push of the mighty Warlord. 

From the black ring attire right down to the way he hands over the ropes when not in combat, the appearance of the former Power of Pain in this match, especially from behind or from the sides is practically identical to The Texas Rattle Snake.

At least in my mind anyway.

All such nonsense aside, this actually began as a rather enjoyable match, with The Rockers, Rick Martel and even Paul Roma providing us with some fast-paced, exciting action, yet it didn't take long for things to fall apart.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 - Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka

Following the elimination of Marty Jannety, Shawn Michaels continued to be the most entertaining thing in the ring as his side lost further man-power in Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, whose appearance had changed so dramatically since the last time this writer had seen him, that if you hadn't had told me who it was, I never would have guessed.

An average match followed, the villains cutting Jake from his corner and punishing him before Michaels made the hot-tag and beat up on Paul Roma (or Romeo, as Piper would call him). Eventually, however, the future world champion was also eliminated, leaving Roberts alone against four opponents.

Jake tried to hold his own, but was quickly overpowered by Hercules and passed to the Warlord, drilling the Austin-lookalike with a DDT. 

Yet a cover was prevented by Rick Martel once again spraying Arrogance (his brand of perfume which was also used as a weapon in the feud between Roberts and Martel).

The Snake chased after Martel (who was not the legal man in the ring) and, for the second time in as many matches, an elimination occurred by count-out. The result of this of course, was that this match saw the first time that an entire team survived in a Survivor Series match.
Your Winners: The Vipers (Rick Martel, Warlord, Paul Roma, Hercules)

After Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper hyped January's Royal Rumble show, Sean Mooney interviewed Hulk Hogan and The Hulkamaniacs ('Hacksaw' Jim Duggan, Tugboat and The Big Boss Man). After his team had vowed to defeat The Natural Disasters in their upcoming match, Hogan volunteered to win the war in Iraq for George Bush (seriously.)

The Natural Disasters (Earthquake, Dino Bravo, Barbarian and Haku w/ Jimmy Hart & Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) VS. The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Tugboat and 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan)

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 -  The Hulkamaniacs

You know, it only just dawned on me that the lyrics to Boss Man's original theme music include the words 'He's got a big stick and a ball and chain too.' Wow, deep stuff.

That aside, this was, in all fairness, a pretty decent match, if one hampered by a slow pace and yet more bullshit booking. 

Hacksaw Duggan got in a fun exchange with Haku in the early going before Boss Man tug in and quickly eliminated the former king with a Boss Man Slam.

The battle waged back and forth until Duggan was pulled over the top rope by Jimmy Hart. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Duggan then grabbed his 2x4, beat some people up with it and got himself eliminated from the contest. Perhaps the funniest part of this whole sequence was that Hacksaw looked genuinely surprised at the result.

So, four matches in and so far we've had eliminations by either count-out or disqualification in every single one. 

Hogan returned to the ring and cleaned house, drawing cheers from the crowd as he picked up Earthquake and slammed him to the mat. Quake battled back, beating down on Hogan before tagging in Dino Bravo, who was promptly snared in a small package by The Hulkster and eliminated from the competition.

With eliminations coming thick and fast now in what was proving to be a very rushed show, Big Boss Man was eliminated by Earthquake, leaving Hogan and Tugboat against Earthquake and Barbarian.

After Hogan took his beating and made the predictable hot tag to Tugboat, the Hulkster then dragged Earthquake out of the ring, where Tugboat chased after him for another wild brawl and yet more count-outs; this time for both Earthquake and Tugboat.

Left to just Hogan against The Barbarian, the ending was never in question. The former Power of Pain man quickly succumbed to the former World Heavyweight Champion and was defeated by The Leg Drop of Doom. If it hadn't gone by so quickly, that could have been a really good match, but instead it was only decent, if that.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Hulk Hogan

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 -  Macho King Randy Savage

As promised, we were shown the WWF fans giving their thoughts. This was basically a bunch of young kids talking about how good The Ultimate Warrior was. IT was neither interesting nor relevant, and we shall pretend it never happened.

Up next, The Macho King Randy Savage was interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. 

Carried to the ring on a gold throne being heaved by several weak-looking office guys, Macho King declared that he was going after The Ultimate Warrior's World Wrestling Federation championship in a promo that was as enjoyable, entertaining, and captivating as any Savage had delivered in his entire career. 

That is to say, very. 

Prior to our next contest, the dastardly Sgt. Slaughter, flanked by members of his Mercenaries team, cut an awful promo on the American army then serving overseas and laughed at them for having to eat their Thanksgiving Day dinner in the presence of camel dung and praising Saddam Hussein. 

The Mercenaries (Sgt. Slaughter, The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka), and Boris Zhukov
w/ General Adnan & Mr. Fuji VS. The Alliance (Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana, and The Bushwhackers (Luke and Butch))

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 -  Sgt. Slaughter

It's worth noting (because not much else happened in this terrible outing), that each member of The Mercenaries team has their face painted in thick camouflage paint).

In absolutely no time at all, The Bushwackers took out Zhukov and Sato before Santana followed in short order by ridding the match of Pat Tanaka.

So yes, Slaughter's teammates were all eliminated in the space of two and a half minutes. 

Mounting a comeback, Slaughter did away with both Bushwhackers in the space of a couple more minutes, before he and Santana battled back and forth in a dismal affair. 

Santana took down Slaughter with a flying forearm, but following a ref-bump several moments earlier, General Adnan ran into the ring and planted his Iraq flag pole into the spine of Santana.

Slaughter applied the Camel Clutch, believing himself to be the victor as the referee came too and rang the bell, only for the result to be declared a, yes, disqualification, leaving Tito as the sole survivor.

That was the pits.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Tito Santana

Out in the back, Sean Mooney interviewed Ted Dibiase and The Visionaries about their upcoming 'Match of Survival Grand Finale' contest against The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk and Tito Santana.

It was your average heel promo, in which the bad guys basically cackled manically and vowed to defeat their opponents.

Then, just when you thought things couldn't get any worse following that Sgt. Slaughter match, WWF went out of their way to prove you wrong.

Hanging around beside the giant egg which had been there since the start of the show, Mean Gene Okerlund teased the crowd as to what could be inside until eventually, the egg 'cracked' and out popped a ridiculous-looking bird-like creature (Hector Guerrero in a turkey suit).

Yes ladies and gentlemen, we had seen the Gobbledy Gooker, and we could never unsee it again.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES 1990 -  Gene interviews The Gobbledy Gooker

As the crowds booed loudly and unrelentingly at this abomination of an angle, the Gooker led Okerlund into the ring for a spot of dancing.

The best part of the whole thing was of course Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper doing their best to put over the giant turkey.

"Look at the kids, the kids are going nuts!" cried Piper, as the crowd panned across a stone-dead crowd.

The worst thing about this was that it went for about a thousand years.

Seriously, just when you thought the whole thing would end, the Gooker would find a different dance for him and Okerlund to try out. On and on it went, until somebody finally had the good sense to save us from despair and take us to a backstage promo featuring Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Tito Santana.

Tito looked desperately out of his element here, and even gave off the impression that he was somewhat uncomfortable in the presence of Hogan and Warrior, especially when they tried to include him in their promo.

Grand Finale
Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and Tito Santana VS. The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, The Model Rick Martel, Paul Roma, and Hercules (w/ Virgil and Slick)
And so it was down to the main event, a short, nimble affair that seemed to serve little purpose other than to display a united front between the World Wrestling Federation's two biggest stars.

Santana flew in with a flurry and enjoyed took out the Warlord in record time before being eliminated himself shortly after by Ted Dibiase.

Hogan took over for his team and was quickly pummelled around the ring by the bad guys, before countering an attack by Paul Roma and removing him from the match with a short clothesline.

WWF (WWE) SURVIVOR SERIES - 1990 - Hogan and Warrior

The action continued, a sluggish and yet entirely rushed brawl in which more eliminations came thick and fast.

In quick succession, Martel and Dibiase were sent packing before Hogan set up Hercules for Warrior's big splash to win the match for his team.

Afterward, Warrior and Hogan gave a show of solidarity and mutual respect as they celebrated together then offered to hold the ropes open for one another as the show came to an end.
Your winners and sole survivors: Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior

And so easily the worst Survivor Series Pay Per View to date was done and consigned to the history books where it should stay for as long as possible. It's interesting that Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were arguably the two stand-out wrestlers in the 1990 show. As the decade would roll on, it would be these two men who would lead the WWF into the 90s, their careers often intertwining before exploding in a ball of controversy at this same event just seven short years down the line. But we'll save that for another time.

Other 1990 pro wrestling reviews: 

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  1. Slightly disagree with you on this. Although there wasn't an awful lot of great wrestling - save the exceptions you already pointed out - I actually thought that in terms of storylines and the right guys winning the right matches, the show was good. That's not including that damn egg, of course!

  2. I dont see this being much less than the 1989 series. Obviously no classic match but all the top stars of the time, feuds and storylines developing or continuing. Curious why this exact same booking a year earlier worked for you, but not this year. Minus the gobbledy Gooker of course

  3. I was there live. It was a great show.

  4. I loved this series, as it's the only time I saw Demolition & LOD in the ring together. Perfect, Michaels, Bret Hart & Debiase where all great.