The Thanksgiving Day tradition of Survivor Series PPVs continues on November 23, 1989. The opening consists of a video package of various wrestlers saying what they are thankful for. Following the video package we get a shot of the Rosemont Horizon’s audience. They then show Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, the commentary team, who after a quick back and forth throw it down to the ring for the first match.
Match 1: The Enforcers (Big Boss Man, Bad News Brown, “The Model” Rick Martell, and The Honky Tonk Man) VS The Dream Team (Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Tito Santana, The Red Rooster, and Dusty Rhodes)
Trigger Warning: Jesse continues to refer to Tito Santana as “Chico”
The match opens with the usual cycling in and out to try and gain a significant advantage, until Dusty gets one on Boss Man. He tags Beefcake in, who almost immediately loses it and allows the heels to dominate him. He finally manages to get Rooster in but he can only mount an unsuccessful comeback. He’s worked over pretty well by the heels and looks about done for, when a fluke double clothesline/knockout gives him enough space to tag in Tito.
With the advantage of the hot tag, Tito lays in on the punishment of Martell. He gets him almost to a pinning predicament when Martell reverses the momentum and eliminates him by using the tights for leverage during the pin. Dusty immediately comes in to work over Martell and the faces cycle through taking turns giving him the business. It fails to lead to a pin, however, as a lapse in judgment by Rooster gives the advantage back to the heel team.
Bad News Brown tags in and really brutalizes Rooster for a while. Boss Man gets the tag and they go for a double team move that misses and Boss Man ends up clobbering Brown. This is the exact same thing that happened in Brown’s other Survivor Series match the year before, so he’s fed up (and so am I). After some words are exchanged, Brown walks back to the locker room for the second year in a row. During all the commotion, Rooster manages to tag Beefcake in but he doesn’t fair much better against the heel team as they gain the advantage pretty quickly on the fresh man. He does manage some attempts at comebacks but they don’t lead anywhere until he reverses an attack by Honky and pins him.
This is normally where the faces would get an advantage but the heels are tenacious here as they swat Beefcake’s momentum right back down in order to work him over some more. Martell, however, is the victim of another reversal and pin by Beefcake. Boss Man is the only man left on his team but he quickly pins Rooster and battles with Dusty, who pins him for the win.
After the match, Boss Man attacks Dusty with his nightstick and handcuffs him to the ring rope in order to neutralize any attempt at offense. He lays into Dusty until Beefcake storms the ring with his clippers. The heels flee to the back and the refs free Dusty so he and Beefcake and stand in the ring as the winners of the match.
This match could have been much worse than what we got, but it could have been much better. The pacing felt plodding and there was very little in the way of story or drama. The fact that they did the exact same thing with Brown, for a second year, was very disappointing. None of the comebacks felt particularly meaningful, whether in the match or for the wrestler making them. It was a forgettable match but not an awful one.
Match Grade: C
Following the match, Big Boss Man gives an intense promo that is both passionate and a bit scary. We are then treated to a promo from “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan’s team. It’s a pretty mediocre interview as none of his teammates are great talkers.
Match 2: The King’s Court (“Macho King” Randy Savage, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Dino Bravo, and The Canadian Earthquake) VS The 4x4’s (“Hacksaw” Jim Dugan, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin, and Hercules)
During the Entrances, the 4x4’s come out with all four guys carrying 2x4’s and clears the ring to do some rifle drill with the lumber. It’s a little cheesy but kind of fun at the same time. They finish up and the bell rings to start the match.
At the start of the match the faces get up early and work over Valentine but that momentum soon fizzles, and the two teams cycle in and out trying to find a weak point to attack. The heels find it when, almost out of nowhere, Earthquake pins Hercules. Garvin storms into the ring but is quickly neutralized as the heels go to work on him. He takes a pretty good beating until the hot tag is made to Dugan who tackles Valentine from behind and pins him to even up the numbers on the two teams.
The match goes into a lull at this point and doesn’t really get going for a minute. We do get to see Garvin deliver the “Garvin Stomp” on Bravo and some flashes of Savage and Bret in the ring at the same time. Eventually Bravo gets the pin on Garvin and tags in Earthquake. With Garvin gone it’s down to Dugan and Bret to try and take the big man down. They both lay in some really good work but Earthquake just won’t leave his feet. He manages to tag in Savage who has some more great wrestling with Bret until he gets caught up in the ropes.
Shortly after Savage is freed from the ropes he gets the tag to Bravo, who works over Bret for a while. A miscommunication between Savage and Bravo leads to Bret getting the tag to Dugan who gets up on the heels for a second but quickly tags Bret back in and the advantage is lost. The heels work on Bret some more but he keeps trying to counter into a comeback. It doesn’t happen, however, as Savage delivers the big flying elbow to pin and eliminate him.
With only Dugan left, the heels have the clear advantage. Dugan’s intensity allows him to clear the ring for a minute but he’s beaten down in short order. They work him over for a bit but he refuses to stay down for the pin. He manages to get a bit of separation and goes to hit the ropes only to have Queen Sheri (who has been at ringside) pull the top rope down in order to make him tumble to the floor. Between the beating he’s taken throughout the match and hitting the floor he is unable to make the ten count and is, thus, eliminated. Savage’s team wins with only one member having been eliminated.
This is a decent match due to the work of Savage and Bret. Even the short segments of the match they were in the ring together was enough to carry this one but they do the majority of the heavy lifting in this one. Savage is in the peak years of his career and Bret is just starting to get over as a singles guy. That combination of hungry upstart and top of his game veteran just makes this match more intense when they are in the ring. Other than those two, the rest of the match is mediocre. So they elevate it but not enough to make it super memorable.
Match Grade: B-
Before the next match we are treated to a poem by The Genius. It’s pretty forgettable as far as both promos and poems go.
Match 3: The Million Dollar Team (“The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, The Powers of Pain, and Zeus) VS The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion), Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Demolition (WWF Tag Team Champions))
Dibiase’s team enters first and climbs in the ring. They then hold the ring, preventing Hulk and his team from entering, until Jake pulls Damien out of his bag and throws the snake in the ring. The Faces then climb in and allow the heels to enter once Damien is put back in a bag. There’s a little bit of a back and forth as Zeus wants Hogan to start the match against him. Hogan agrees and the bell rings only for Zeus to no-sell Hogan’s offense and knock him to ground. He then proceeds to choke Hogan while throwing the ref off of him after the five count has past. This happens twice and Zeus is eliminated via disqualification.
With the actor sent to the back the boys can get to the business of the match. Dibiase begins by working over the already weakened Hogan but he manages to tag in Jake who swings the momentum and begins taking it to Dibiase. The whole face team works on him, until he gets enough separation for a tag to Warlord. Warlord ends up facing Axe, who in trying for a comeback but gets tripped my Mr. Fuji as he hits the ropes. Axe is pinned and eliminated. The faces get a bit of an advantage after the elimination but it’s lost by Smash who gets pinned, fairly quickly, by Barbarian.
This leaves only Hogan and Jake on the baby face team so Jake comes in but is worked over by the heels almost immediately. They beat on him for a bit longer than is necessary because it does start to drag. Eventually, Barbarian goes for his flying head butt, only to see Jake roll out of the way and get the hot tag to Hogan. He comes in just as the whole match devolves into chaos. The Powers of Pain use this to execute a number of double team moves on Hogan. The ref catches them and disqualifies both, leaving only Dibiase against Jake and Hogan.
Dibiase puts the Million Dollar Dream (a sleeper variant) on Hogan, who is already weak, and starts collapsing to the mat quickly. Jake interferes in an effort to save his partner but Dibiase just puts the hold back on when he’s cleared the ring. However, Jake’s interference seems to have helped, because Hogan breaks the hold and tags in the fresh man. Jake is on fire as he goes after Dibiase, eventually setting him up for the DDT. Just as Jake is set to deliver it, Virgil comes down to the ring, jumps up on the apron, and begins yelling at Jake. He gets distracted and ends up giving Virgil the DDT only for Dibiase to pin and eliminate him. Hogan looks done for as Dibiase drags him into the ring but he musters up enough to go for a clothesline at the same time as his opponent, thus knocking them both to the mat. Hulk gets “Hulked up” and runs through Dibiase, delivers the big leg drop and wins the match. He then poses for the crowd.
This match is not great or memorable. The two tag teams add almost nothing to the match. Zeus is useless so he’s eliminated right out of the gate. The work of Dibiase, Jake, and Hogan is solid but it’s not enough to get this one over. As is quickly becoming the theme of this ppv, it’s not awful but it’s certainly forgettable.
Match Grade: C-
In the space between the matches here we are treated to a couple of promos and some news from the commentators’ desk. First we get a wonderfully crazy promo from Macho King and Zeus talking about their upcoming cage match, against Hogan and Beefcake, in December. Then we get a locker room interview with Beefcake, Hogan, and Mean Gene. This interview is cut short by the appearance of Queen Sheri, who blinds the three with baby powder. Macho and Zeus then attack the two wrestlers as Mean Gene heads for safety.
We are then thrown back to the commentator’s desk where Monsoon and Ventura talk about rumors of dissention in the Heenan Family. They cut from here and we get a promo from Rick Rude and his team about their match. There’s a promo from Piper and his team following Rude’s promo but I’m not going to comment on it due to it involving Jimmy Snuka.
Match 4: The Rude Brood (“Ravishing” Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers) VS Roddy’s Rowdies (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, and The Bushwhackers)
Author’s Note: As previously stated, I will not be reviewing any match involving Jimmy Snuka.
Match Grade: N/A
Before the main event we are treated to an utterly insane promo by Ultimate Warrior and his team.
Main Event: The Heenan Family (Andre The Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) VS The Ultimate Warriors (Ultimate Warrior, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and The Rockers)
The match opens with the heels already in the ring as the faces make their entrances. There’s brawling in the ring before Warrior is even come out, but he runs from the back and jumps in the ring to clear it. As soon as Warrior hits the ring, the bell signals the start of the match. Andre is the only heel in the ring as this happens but he’s been knocked out by Warrior and rolls to the outside and is swiftly counted out. As he walks off, it’s obvious that he’s having a very hard time standing, which is very hard to see. The heels start the match down one man and have a manager wrestling instead of Tully Blanchard of the Brain Busters.
The heel team does what they can, given the situation. Haku gets up early and works over Anvil and gets the pin to even out the numbers. The momentum doesn’t last long as Shawn comes in to swing the advantage back to the faces. There’s a weird thing that happens in this match where Warrior keeps pushing Shawn off the top turnbuckle when he’s about to do an aerial move. Besides Warrior being odd the match continues uneventful until Haku eats a double superkick from the Rockers. He manages to tag in Arn who doesn’t fare much better until Jannetty comes in. Arn gets up on him and works him over until he tags Heenan in to get the pin.
Following Jannetty’s elimination, Shawn is fired up and comes in to clean house with the heel team. He does exactly that and shows why he is one of the greats, even if he wasn’t there yet, at this time. He eliminates Haku, eventually, and Arn comes in as the last actual wrestler on his team. Shawn and Arn wrestling each other is a beautiful thing to watch. They are both so talented and smooth that it feels like a letdown when Arn hits his spin buster and pins Shawn. Warrior comes in and ends up pinning Arn. As he is walking to the back, Heenan is up on the ropes, yelling for Arn to come back, and turns to see Warrior in the ring ready to destroy him. The look on Heenan’s face is absolutely priceless. He tries to walk away and be counted out but Warrior stops him, beats him up, and pins him for the win.
Arn and Shawn make this match watchable. The 5 seconds of Heenan scared out of his wits by Warrior is also good, but the rest of it feels like filler to those moments. Andre shouldn’t have even been in the match and Anvil doesn’t really get to do anything but get pinned. There’s also the weird thing with Shawn getting pushed off the top rope a few times. Yet again, not awful but not really good either.
Match Grade: C
Overview: This has been a painful PPV to review. It’s so middle of the road and forgettable that it gave me little to work with. If this PPV was a color it would be “apartment rental beige”. I never want to see this one again, ever.
PPV Grade: F