This Sunday World Wrestling Entertainment celebrates the 30th anniversary of Survivor Series, the second-longest running Pay-Per-View event in history, with a stacked card from Houston, Texas. To honor the occasion Throwback Thursday dips into the archives of the WWE Network to revisit the event that started it all: Survivor Series ’87!
Survivor Series ’87 started out not as another PPV vehicle for the World Wrestling Federation but as an attempt to counter-program Jim Crockett Promotions’ Starrcade ’87, JCP’s first PPV. In doing so the WWF used access to WrestleMania IV as leverage for nearly every PPV carrier to abandon Starrcade for Survivor Series. The result was a bloodbath for JCP with slightly over 20,000 homes buying the annual NWA supercard compared to the 320,000 that ordered Survivor Series and spelled the beginning of the end for the last great NWA territory.
Be that as it may, Survivor Series ’87 was a legitimate draw. It guaranteed the first Hogan/Andre in-ring “showdown” (and Andre’s first match anywhere in the world since WrestleMania III), promised fifty WWF Superstars in four matches, and was built around nearly every feud in the company at that time. From personal grudges to tag team excellence to some of the best ladies wrestling offered on TV at that time, Survivor Series ’87 was one of the few “perfect” cards in that it offered something for everyone.
In respect to editing, this is not the live PPV version of the event on the Network. There is however very little in the way of overdubs and/or muting with nearly every “WWF” intact.
Context, on the other hand, is largely missing. Though all prior Saturday Night’s Main Event and lead-in editions of Prime Time Wrestling are currently available to watch on the Network, none of the weekly syndicated programming has been added as of this writing.
WWF Survivor Series ’87 (WATCH)
Date: November 26, 1987 – Location: Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio
Attendance: >21,000 – PPV Buys: 7.01 (>320,000 buys)
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura – Interviews: Craig DeGeorge & “Mean” Gene Okerlund
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion: Honky Tonk Man
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel)
WWF Women’s Champion: Sensational Sherri
WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai)
The show opens with Howard Finkel welcoming the raucous Richfield crowd to the Survivor Series before introducing our commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who officially welcomes us to the show before tossing to a short vignette to open the event complete with original music. Next Monsoon and Ventura run down the card and detail the “ways of elimination”: by pinfall, submission, count-out, disqualification, and “referee’s discretion pending injury”.
Backstage Craig DeGeorge is with “Team Honky Tonk Man”, Bobby Heenan, and Jimmy Hart. Honky Tonk Man says he’s got “the greatest team ever assembled” as we see footage of Honky Tonk smashing a guitar over Randy Savage’s head from SNME XIII before Honky Tonk Man then threatens to “shake, rattle, and roll” Miss Elizabeth.
With “Team Honky Tonk Man” in the ring we go backstage with “Mean” Gene Okerlund as he interviews “Team Randy Savage”. Teammate Ricky Steamboat says they have scores to settle “and we are survivors” while Jim Duggan says the “King” will bow (as we see footage of Race beating up Duggan with a 2×4). Savage enters the frame and says it’s a bad time for “Team Honky Tonk Man” in “the danger zone”.
— “5-on-5 ‘Survivor Series’ Elimination Match” (WATCH – 4:03)
“Team Honky Tonk Man”: “King” Harley Race w/Bobby Heenan, Hercules Hernandez, “Outlaw” Ron Bass, “Dangerous” Danny Davis, & Team Captain and WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion The Honky Tonk Man w/Jimmy Hart vs. “Team Randy Savage”: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, & Team Captain “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth
Steamboat’s music is overdubbed and “The Fink’s” ring introduction re-recorded, for those keeping score. The story in this one is Savage wanting to get his hands on Honky Tonk Man. Beefcake and Hercules are the first two in for some decent action and the crowd is just on fire. Duggan sends Race outside where both men end up being counted out at 4:33. Beefcake gets the blind tag from Savage and wallops Bass with the running high knee for the elimination at 7:02. Beefcake makes the comeback on Honky Tonk Man when Danny Davis hits Beefcake on the ropes, allowing Honky Tonk Man to deliver the Shake, Rattle, & Roll for the elimination at 10:51 to even it at three-all. Honky Tonk and Hercules work over Roberts when Danny Davis gets the tag. Davis does his best but ends up on the wrong end of a DDT and is eliminated at 15:10. Steamboat gets a hot tag from Jake and takes it to Hercules only to tag in Savage who eliminates Hercules with the flying elbow drop at 21:03 leaving Honky Tonk Man the last man standing for his team. Honky Tonk takes a bit of punishment from all three babyfaces until Savage sends Honky Tonk over the top with an atomic drop. In no time Honky Tonk is up the aisle with Jimmy Hart and counted out at 23:40, giving “Team Randy Savage” the win in a great opening match.
WINNERS are “Team Randy Savage”: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, & “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth (Survivors: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, & Team Captain “Macho Man” Randy Savage, 23:40)
Backstage Craig DeGeorge is with “Team Andre the Giant”, Slick, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Heenan tells DeGeorge that Andre will beat Hogan as he did at WrestleMania III as we see footage of the controversial near fall early in the WrestleMania III main event. Andre says, “Hogan, I did it once and I will do it again!” Slick says the team will be “a group of poor, sadistic animals!” Heenan says it will come down to Andre and Hulk when Andre interrupts, saying “I’m here for your soul! And tonight, Hogan, I will be the survivor!”
— “5-on-5 Women’s ‘Survivor Series’ Elimination Match” (WATCH – 38:07)
“Team Sensational Sherri”: WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai) w/Jimmy Hart, Dawn Marie, Donna Christanello, & Team Captain and WWF Women’s Champion Sensational Sherri vs. “Team Fabulous Moolah”: Velvet McIntyre, Rockin’ Robin, The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno & Itsuki Yamazaki), & Team Captain The Fabulous Moolah
This one starts with rapid fire action with Sherri, Moolah, Christanello, and McIntyre all seeing action in the first two minutes until McIntyre cinches up a victory roll on Christanello for the first elimination at 1:58. Rockin’ Robin takes punishment from Kai, Dawn Marie, Judy Martin, and Sherri but manages to land a crossbody on Dawn Marie for the elimination at 4:12. The Jumping Bomb Angles shine in the next segment of the match until Rockin’ Robin gets the tag and is soon taken out by Sherri with a vertical suplex at 6:51. Moolah, between tags, beats the snort out of both Glamour Girls until Moolah is caught by an illegal double-clothesline from Martin and Kai and is eliminated at 10:54. Velvet McIntyre goes back and forth with The Glamour Girls and Martel until catching Martel in a victory roll for the elimination at 14:56. After the Angels have their crack at Martin and Kai, McIntyre comes back in. Velvet goes for the victory roll on Kai when Kai blocks it and turns it into an incredible slingshot electric chair drop for the elimination at 17:21 leaving only The Glamour Girls and Jumping Bomb Angels. Soon enough Tateno hits a flying crossbody on Kai for the elimination at 18:36. Martin is in control of the match until Yamazaki tags in. Tateno wipes out Jimmy Hart as Yamazaki hits a diving clothesline from the top on Martin to win the match 20:16. This was another great match. The crowd, a bit quiet in the beginning, were tossing the baby in the air by the end!
WINNERS are “Team Fabulous Moolah”: Velvet McIntyre, Rockin’ Robin, The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno & Itsuki Yamazaki), & Team Captain The Fabulous Moolah (Survivors: Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno & Itsuki Yamazaki), 20:16)
Backstage Craig DeGeorge interviews “Team Hart Foundation” (sans Bolsheviks and Slick), Mr. Fuji, Johnny V. (in his last appearance as manager of The Dream Team), and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Heenan says “Team Strike Force” is in for the beating of their lives while Jim Neidhart says what happened to Jimmy Hart in the previous match doesn’t matter, that they don’t need luck. Jimmy Hart appears out of nowhere and screams about wanting to “hurt people” for what’s happened to him. As for The Bolsheviks, they’re in the ring with Slick preparing to sing the Russian national anthem while “Team Hart Foundation” is, Hennan screams, “getting ready to survive!”
After “Team Hart Foundation” are in the ring we go backstage where Gene interviews “Team Strike Force”. Tito Santana says they’re going up against 10 individuals while they are five teams who don’t care “who’s in there last.” Rick Martel says their motto is “unity for victory” and that “there’s only one way out for us, for our team, is to be the winning team!”
— “10-on-10 Tag Team ‘Survivor Series’ Elimination Match” (WATCH – 1:02:07)
“Team Hart Foundation”: The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov & Nikolai Volkoff) w/Slick, Demolition (Ax & Smash) w/Mr. Fuji, The Dream Team (Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Dino Bravo) w/Johnny V., The Islanders (Haku & Tama) w/Bobby Heenan, & Team Captains The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) w/Jimmy Hart vs. “Team Strike Force”: The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith) w/Matilda, The Young Stallions (Paul Roma & Jim Powers), The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond), The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell), & Team Captains and WWF World Tag Team Champions Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana)
The house lights go a bit potty at the start of this one and the PPV begins to take on the look of an MSG/NESN card. The Bolsheviks and Strike Force kick this one off with Tito catching Zhukov with the flying forearm smash to eliminate The Bolsheviks at 1:45. We get some decent tag team work next with both teams shining. The Rougeaus are next to be ousted when Ax ducks Jacques’ crossbody attempt to score the pin at 5:49. Another segment of fast-paced tag action follows that leads to Demolition being DQ’d at 9:10 when Smash, pounding on Dynamite on the apron (with the help of Ax and Mr. Fuji), pushes the referee down. Some more great, fast-paced tag action follows until Santana hits “Anvil” with the flying forearm smash. Bret breaks up the pin with a big elbow to the back of Tito’s head which allows Neidhart to pin Tito and eliminate Strike Force at 12:05. We get a nice long stretch of back and forth action next.
The Bulldogs are the next eliminated after Dynamite, hurt from headbutting Haku, is hit with Haku’s beautiful reverse thrust kick to the throat and pinned at 19:58. The Dream Team are the next to go when Valentine, going for the figure four on Powers, is caught in a top rope sunset flip from the legal Roma at 23:39, followed by the longest, best stretch of wrestling thus far. The Hart Foundation are eliminated at 30:28 when Tama attempts to dropkick Bret, in Brunzell’s arms for a slam, down onto Brunzell only for Brunzell to roll through and score the pin, leaving only The Islanders for “Team Hart Foundation”. The Islanders put up a valiant fight but the numbers prove to be too much. The match breaks down late as The Young Stallions battle Haku on the floor as the illegal Blair (in a mask) sunset flips Tama for the final elimination at 37:14 to win a true classic. After the match “The Brain” protests the decision to no avail.
WINNERS are “Team Strike Force”: The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith) w/Matilda, The Young Stallions (Paul Roma & Jim Powers), The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond), The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell), & Team Captains and WWF World Tag Team Champions Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) (Survivors: The Young Stallions (Paul Roma & Jim Powers) & The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell), 37:14)
Next up we get a classic “Million Dollar Man” vignette. As DiBiase rides in a limo, sits in his office, and is brought a lavish Thanksgiving feast we see highlights of some of DiBiase’s devious (and hilarious) contests in which fans could earn money for doing seemingly simple tasks that DiBiase, of course, ruins at the last moment. Included is my personal favorite: the public pool being turned to a private pool. The segment closes with DiBiase driving around in a classic car, telling us “everybody’s got a price for the ‘Million Dollar Man’ , even on Thanksgiving.”
After talking about the DiBiase package Gorilla and Jesse recap the first three matches of the night before they turn their attention to the main event. The 15-minute intermission that aired after this has been edited out for obvious reasons.
Next up Craig DeGeorge, in the arena, interviews WWF Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart. Honky Tonk says he is the survivor having not been beaten 3-on-1 before calling out Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
“Team Andre” comes to the ring before we go backstage where “Mean” Gene is joined by “Team Hulk Hogan” and Oliver Humperdink. Hogan says his team is “hungry” as each member of the team echoes Hogan’s words.
— “5-on-5 ‘Survivor Series’ Elimination Match” (WATCH – 2:02:50)
“Team Andre the Giant”: “Ravishing” Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, “The Natural” Butch Reed, The One Man Gang, & Team Captain Andre the Giant w/Bobby Heenan & Slick vs. “Team Hulk Hogan”: Bam Bam Bigelow w/Sir Oliver Humperdink, Ken Patera, “The Rock” Don Muraco, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, & Team Captain and WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan
The first few minutes are all “Team Hogan”. Eventually Hogan hits the big atomic leg drop on Reed at 3:08 for the first elimination. Andre enters the match to face Hogan but the referee says Hogan, in the midst of celebrating, tagged Ken Patera into the match. Andre taunts Hogan before dismissing Patera and tagging in Bundy instead. “Team Hogan” takes control until One Man Gang gets Patera in the heel corner. After a double clothesline gone awry Patera is eliminated at 8:47. Orndorff is preparing Rude for the piledriver when Bundy wallops Orndorff from behind, allowing Rude to school boy Orndorff for the elimination at 10:26. Muraco hits a beautiful powerslam to eliminate Rude at 11:13 and make it three-all.
After a powerslam on Gang goes south a staggered “Rock” is laid out by an Andre headbutt, allowing Gang to hit the big 747 Splash for the elimination at 12:58. Gang and Bundy beat on Bigelow until Andre tags in. Just as Andre goes for Bigelow, Bam Bam rolls through and tags Hogan. The roof of the Richfield Coliseum blows off as Hogan and Andre choke each other and pelt each other with chops. After Hogan sends Bundy and Gang to the floor Bundy trips Hulk and pulls Hogan to the floor where Hulk is eventually counted out at 18:14. Bigelow, all alone, manages to land an amazing slingshot splash to eliminate Bundy at 20:48. Gang comes in and works over Bigelow but can’t get the elimination. After ramming Bigelow face-first into Andre’s boot Gang goes up top for the 747 Splash. Bigelow rolls out of the way, though, and eliminates Gang at 23:09, leaving only Bam Bam and Andre in the match. Andre rushes in and immediately starts hammering on Bam Bam. Bigelow tries to use his speed but Andre sidesteps the big man and sends Bigelow chest first into the turnbuckle. Seconds later Andre hits a massive butterfly suplex for the final elimination at 24:24 to end an epic main event.
WINNERS are “Team Andre the Giant”: “Ravishing” Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, “The Natural” Butch Reed, The One Man Gang, & Team Captain Andre the Giant w/Bobby Heenan & Slick (Sole Survivor: Team Captain Andre the Giant, 24:24)
After the match Hogan rushes to the ring and gloms Andre with the WWF World title belt, sending Andre to the floor. Hogan stands in the ring and taunts Andre as Heenan yells about signing a contract and putting the title on the line. Hogan’s music plays and the World Champion begins posing.
Backstage Gene is with a happy Andre the Giant and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Heenan says Hogan can have Andre. “All ya gotta do,” Heenan says, “is put your name on that line!” Andre says his promise came true, that he is the survivor because of his “smart mind”.
Hogan continues to pose in the ring as the arena clears out. Gorilla and Jesse put a bow on the event and toss to a highlight package of the night’s matches to end the show.
All of the nostalgia aside, this ranks (in my book) as one of the best Survivor Series events ever. Though the highlight of the event is clearly the 20-man tag team bout, all of the matches delivered in a big way and it remains a must-see event to this day.
So, are you already a subscriber to the award-winning WWE Network? Then what are you waiting for? You can relive the classic inaugural edition of Survivor Series now or see it for the very first time! Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading – enjoy this Sunday’s big event and until next week, see ya at ringside!
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