Survivor Series 87 is a unique beast. It’s the first of its kind PPV and thusly has quite a few hiccups. That being said, on Thanksgiving 1987 in Richfield Ohio the (then) WWF presented what would become a signature PPV for the company. We are guided through by the underrated commentary duo of Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon, notwithstanding Ventura’s sometime problematic comments. After a quick rundown of the rules and a cheesy 80’s music and video package we are off to the first match.
Match 1: Honky Tonk Man (Intercontinental Champion), Harley Race, Hercules, “Outlaw” Ron Bass, and “Dangerous” Danny Davis VS “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
The big storyline setup for the match is the feud between Honky Tonk and Savage, which began when Honky Tonk shoved Miss Elisabeth to the ground, which angered Savage, the former Intercontinental Champion and current number 1 contender for it. There’s also heat between Duggan and Race over the “King” gimmick, which I only mention because it plays a part in the match.
The heels come out first to a fair amount of heat but nothing overwhelming. (It’s important to note here that the sound isn’t great so the crowd could have been louder and I just couldn’t tell, but I’m going with what I heard.) The babyface team enters next, with Savage coming out to his music last for a huge pop that carries over into the match every time he gets in the ring. The bell rings and the babyfaces get up on the heels early. At this point it’s obvious that Danny Davis is way out of his depth but they use him to beat up on for much of the entire match, even though he’s only marginally okay even at that.
They all cycle in and out of the ring until Duggan and Race get in the ring together and tumble out of the ring and then get counted out. To me this makes sense with their feud but doesn’t help the match because Duggan is a good seller and Race is a great guy to have work over a babyface to get heat. They leave and everyone cycles in again until Beefcake pins Ron Bass. Again, why give the babyfaces the advantage in numbers so early in the match? Seems like another poor decision to me.
So after Bass is eliminated, the heels finally start working over Beefcake setting up the babyfaces for the hot tag which Beefcake doesn’t go for, as he instead “hulks up” only to get beat right back down until he finally gets the tag to Jake Roberts. Jake gets a huge pop, almost immediately gives Danny Davis the DDT, and the whole place goes absolutely insane. It’s short lived, though, because Hercules comes in and starts beating up Beefcake again to get Honky in to get his finisher off and pin Beefcake.
Honky and Hercules then work on Jake until he gets the tag to Steamboat who wrecks havoc on everyone. Hercules gets pinned at some point to make Honky the last guy left on his team. The babyfaces beat the snot out of Honky but a miscue sends him over the top rope to the outside where Jimmy Hart grabs him and the belt and they walk off for an intentional count out. The ending is very “on brand” for Honk Tonk Man, as that’s one of the reasons he had the longest ever IC reign.
Overall, this isn’t a bad match but it’s not a great one either which is a disappointing start for the PPV. There were a lot of really talented guys in this match so to have it only be okay is disappointing, but the finish makes sense and there were some entertaining spots here and there.
Match Grade: C
I tend not to talk about promos during PPVs but in between the first and second match they talk to Andre the Giant’s team. It’s not a great promo but at the very end Andre looks right in the camera and says “I’m here for your soul, Hogan! I will be the survivor!” It’s a really great moment.
Match 2: Sensational Sherri (Women’s Champion), Donna Christinello, Dawn Marie, and The Glamour Girls (Women’s Tag Champions) VS The Fabulous Moolah, Velvet McIntyre, “Rockin’” Robin, and The Jumping Bomb Angels.
With two tag teams and the Women’s Champ in the match I can only assume the major storylines revolve around them. The main focus seems to be on the tag teams though.
This match was a shocker for me because this is a pretty damned good Women’s match, especially given the era in which it occurred. Like most matches, they all cycle in and out to start. Sherri looks really good and you can tell why she’s the champ. Moolah looks as vicious as ever so she’s on brand here. Velvet does a great avalanche body scissors roll up to pin Donna. She works really well through the whole match and is impressive; she even pulls out a giant swing at one point so be on the lookout for that. Sherri delivers a gorgeous suplex at one point as well. Moolah gets eliminated, which I wasn’t expecting, but sets up the two tag teams to be left on each side. Both of these teams are very good. The Glamour Girls are rough while the Bomb Angels are more agile and high risk. They work well with each other and when it’s all over The Jumping Bomb Angels are the survivors and set up their claim to the tag belts.
For my money, this was the best match on the card. It wasn’t perfect and there were some bad looking spots but everything made sense. The women who could work took the lead and the others followed. It was exciting and fun.
Match Grade: B+
Match 3: The Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Islanders, The Bolsheviks, and The Dream Team (Dino Bravo and Greg Valentine) VS Strike Force (Tag Champions), British Bulldogs, The Young Stallions, The Killer Bees, and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Not much in the way of storyline here other than Strike Force having recently defeated the Hart Foundation for the tag titles. Also, remember when I said Ventura could be problematic on the announce desk? Well, he refers to Tito Santana as “Chico” a few times during this match.
This match was a bad idea from the get go. It’s an absolute cluster**** for the first 15 minutes and drags along for the last 30. There are 18 men on the apron at the start, so the hard camera can’t pick up any of the action. We do get to see Tito deliver his impressive flying forearm early on to eliminate the Russians and then Demolition get themselves disqualified for shoving a ref so the heels thin out their numbers pretty quickly. I guess having fewer men is a good thing because they quickly get the advantage and work over the babyfaces for a while. They pin Tito to eliminate Strike Force and beat the Stallions to a pulp. The unfortunate thing is the Stallions are both big “body guys” who couldn’t sell ice water in hell but they try so I’ll give them that much. Of course, Bret looks great and seems to be the only one really trying to have a believable match. It’s a shame he’s not in there when the Bulldogs get the Islanders in a pickle only for Dynamite Kid to deliver an ugly flying head butt and, I’m pretty sure, knock himself out, because they roll him up and rush him to the back pretty quickly.
After the Bulldogs leave the heels go right back to working over the Stallions for what feels like forever. To the Stallions credit, they do manage to roll up Valentine to eliminate the Dream Team, but it quickly returns to a dragged out beat down of the Stallions. Eventually someone makes a tag, the Bees pin the Harts, and we’re left with the Islanders against the Bees and Stallions. Why the Stallions are still in this match beats me, as they add absolutely nothing to it but Vince is going to Vince so take that for what it’s worth. The Islanders are such a great tag team, but at this point it’s dragged on so long it hardly matters. The Bees pin the Islanders with a little “mask trickery” to win the match. The Young Stallions are there, too.
This match was just not good. They eliminated Strike Force and Demolition way too early and kept the Stallions and Dream Team in it way too long. There’s no real way to tell any sort of story in a match with this many people, so it became a cycle of “get heat to make hot tag” and repeat. If they had ended up with Strike Force and Bees against Hart Foundation and Islanders, then you could have had a great four-on-four match to really sell that finish. Unfortunately, what we got instead was a match that took forever to get somewhere and, by the time you got there, you wished you never started.
Match Grade: D
Main Event: Andre The Giant, King Kong Bundy, The One Man Gang, “The Natural” Butch Reed, and “Ravishing” Rick Rude VS Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion), “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera
This is the first time Andre and Hogan have faced off since Wrestlemania 3, so that’s the main storyline in this match. The really great thing about this match is Bigelow, who outshines everyone here, including Hogan.
During the entrances, it’s obvious that Andre is not moving well at all, which makes the parts of this match where he’s actually in the ring (spoiler, there aren’t many) hard to watch. Hogan comes out last and gets his huge pop and poses and points and does all his Hogan shtick. Once the bell rings, the babyfaces get hot and trade in on beating the heels up. Orndorff looks particularly good during this section, as his work is really clean and crisp. Out of this Hogan drops the big leg and pins Butch Reed. Andre comes in and they tease the face off but Hogan gave a high five that was counted as a tag, so Patera comes in which draws huge boos from the crowd.
Patera is not good, and brings the match down a bit, but allows the heels to get hot and Gang gets the pin on him. Babyfaces tease a comeback, but Rude ends up pinning Orndorff with a roll up, celebrates, and gets eliminated almost immediately. The pace slows considerably as the heels isolate Bigelow from his corner. The thing you notice here is just how much slower Bundy and Gang are compared to Bigelow, which throws the believability off a little bit. Finally Hogan gets the hot tag and faces off with Andre. He’s getting the better of him when Bundy pulls him out of the ring. Hogan gets distracted slamming Gang and is counted out.
Now we have Bigelow against Bundy, Gang, and Andre. He does a great job against the three man team and pins both Bundy and Gang in fairly short order. He avoids Andre for a bit but ends up getting pinned by the giant. Thus, Andre is the sole survivor. Of course, after the match Hogan comes out to hit Andre with the belt and pose while his music plays to the delight of all in the arena.
I didn’t enjoy this match as much the first time as I did the second time I watched it. Watching Bigelow work is just a joy and Orndorff is so smooth and crisp with his moves that they made this match worth watching. It wasn’t always pretty and hobbled Andre is not my favorite thing to see, but the finish made sense. They protected the giant and Hogan with the count out and really put the shine on Bigelow so, all in all, it was a fun match that made sense.
Match Grade: B
Overall PPV Grade: B (one pretty good match, two decent matches, and one clunker)