Old School WWE PPV Review: Survivor Series 1987
By Mat Elfring and Chris E. Hayner on
It's almost time for Survivor Series, WWE's fall PPV, which comes to the WWE Network on Sunday, November 18. This event is one of WWE's oldest PPVs, dating back to the late-80s, when the sports entertainment company wasn't putting out a big show once a month. Like Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and Summerslam, it's considered one of the big four WWE PPVs.
Survivor Series began back on November 26, 1987 with a simple idea: have four tag team matches where contestants are eliminated until only one team is left standing. The 1987 Survivor Series came in at 2 hours and 44 minutes for the matches and a whole bunch of weird interviews and segments.
Considering GameSpot's Mat Elfring and Chris E. Hayner review each current WWE PPV, we thought it would be a good idea to take a time machine 31 years in the past to watch this show on the WWE Network, and review it like it just recently aired. Because they were only four matches at this event, we decided to discuss some of the segments and interviews that took place because they are bonkers in their own right.
Here's the card for Survivor Series 1987 before we kick things off:
Team 1: Brutus Beefcake, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, Randy Savage, and Ricky Steamboat
Team 2: Dangerous Danny Davis, Harley Race, Hercules, The Honky Tonk Man, and Ron Bass
Team 1: The Fabulous Moolah, Itsuki Yamazaki, Noriyo Tateno, Rockin' Robin, and Velvet McIntyre
Team 2: Dawn Marie, Donna Christanello, Leilani Kai, Judy Martin, and Sensational Sherri
Team 1: The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid), The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell), The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques Rougeau and Raymond Rougeau), Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana), and The Young Stallions (Jim Powers and Paul Roma)
Team 2: The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff), Demolition (Ax and Smash), The Dream Team (Dino Bravo and Greg Valentine), The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), and The Islanders (Haku and Tama)
Team 1: André the Giant, Butch Reed, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang, and Rick Rude
Team 2: Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, Hulk Hogan, Ken Patera, and Paul Orndorff
Make sure to come back to GameSpot on Sunday, November 18 for live coverage of this year's PPV and a review of that show as well.
Interview: Team Honky Tonk Man
Mat: What's amazing about this is that Hercules is in the back mugging so hard for the camera. Everyone is having their own conversation, but only Honky Tonk has the mic. It's pure chaos, and it's wonderful. Unscripted promos are the best.
Chris: This is an example of something that would never EVER happen in 2018, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. It's just manic, having these four essentially on their own planes of existence, with Honky Tonk Man--who I do not like one bit--screaming into a microphone. It's wild how silly they make Harley Race seem here, and I kind of love it. My only wish if that it would've been Bobby Heenan with the mic.
Interview: Team Macho Man
Mat: The madness continues. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is using his 2X4 as a gun and Ricky Steamboat is doing Karate moves. The best part of the whole segment is Macho Man sliding in, with his back turned to the camera to tell us about the danger zone. He seems so confused yet confident in his confusion.
Chris: I… I don't even know what to say about any of this. Ricky Steamboat is a New Yorker, billed from Hawaii, doing a karate gimmick. Jim Duggan's character is "weirdo with a 2x4." The '80s were wild and, at times, way too much. While these are fun, for the most part, this is going to be a long show.
Men's Survivor Series Match 1
Mat: Dangerous Danny Davis sounds like one of my created wrestlers. He kinda looks like one too. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake's outfit gives me no confidence that he's actually a good barber. Why was I so into this guy as a kid? He's like a poor man's Zodiac. The audience at this event is the best. It's just regular folk. There's no wrestling smarks or dumb signs. It's just average folk. I'm so happy I got into wrestling during this era.
Ricky Steamboat is so good. He's such ahead of his time, and it really shows here. He's so smooth in the ring. And it's apparent, from the get-go that this match is really just to highlight team Macho Man. It gets pretty brutal towards the end when it's Macho Man, Steamboat, and Jake Roberts all beating on Honky Tonk, to the point where Honky Tonk just leaves the ring and gets counted out. What a weird finish, but I'm totally down with that.
Chris: I can't believe Jim Duggan did a corkscrew plancha to the outside. I'm kidding, of course that didn't happen. There's none of that on this show because it's 1987. These characters, though, are fascinating to watch. It's interesting to me that I watched this stuff in the 1980s and was so convinced it was real. As an adult, I'm watching a barber with a mullet fight an Elvis impersonator and… I'm kind of into it. These characters are so over-the-top but in a wildly entertaining way, even if the fighting looks even less impactful than anything you'll see today. The star of the match, for my money, is Ricky Steamboat. He's one of the best to ever step between the ropes and he's in fine form here. The match itself, though, left a lot to be desired. This is the first Survivor Series match ever and it ended because Honky Tonk just walked away? Poor form.
Interview: Andre The Giant's Team
Mat: You ever see a bad movie where all the extras in the background are talking, but it's obvious no one is really having an actual conversation. That's what's happening here. One Man Gang (oh Akeem) is just talking to the backs of everyone's head and nodding like a madman. I feel like Andre The Giant is mere seconds away from cracking up during that bit.
Chris: Wow. First of all, Slick and Bobby Heenan in a promo together is the stuff of dreams. The odd man out here is Rick Rude, the only person showing literally zero emotion. He's just kind of standing there, showing off his amazing mustache. Sometimes, though, that's enough.
Women's Survivor Series Match
Mat: I know who Fabulous Moolah, the Jumping Bomb Angels, and Sensational Sherri are, and that's about it. Before the match starts, Jesse Ventura decides to promote The Running Man, shamelessly, and I love it. But man, Rockin' Robin is pretty awful to watch, especially when she's facing Sensational Sherri for a few minutes. They're both in very separate leagues as Robin half-sells everything. Speaking of separate leagues, the Jumping Bomb Angels are a lot better than I remember. The pace is pretty high for a match during the late-80s. You can't really take your eyes off the match as everything is happening to quickly.
There are so many crossbody blocks, double underhook suplexes, and women being pulled into the ring over the top rope though. Wash, rinse, and repeat. And toward the end of the match, when it's just the Jumping Bomb Angels and the Glamour Girls, I just want the match to be over. The quick pace has worn a bit thin, and I just need it all to slow down a bit.
Chris: Do you remember the Glamour Girls? Yeah, neither do I. But they wear gold and Jimmy Hart is their manager, I guess. So many of the names in this match are forgotten, which is a bummer. But seeing the likes of Sensational Sherri, Rockin' Robin, and Fabulous Moolah is interesting. Sherri doesn't get enough credit for her role as a wrestler, due to her later time as one of the very best managers ever. She looks great in this match, though, and it the "Ladies World Champion," which is somehow a worse title name than Divas Champion. Unfortunately, the action in this match just doesn't have the same weight to it. This show, for the most part, isn't about blood feuds or anything like that, so the characters are important. Sadly, the women's characters just are defined well-enough--especially the final four of the Jumping Bomb Angels and the Glamour Girls. At least this match had a real ending, though.
Interview: Bobby Heenan's Team
Mat: This is the most madness. There are so many people yelling on screen, and I can't understand one thing anyone is saying. Heenan is blocking everyone talking too, and his back is to the camera. It's the best. I'm also glad to see Jimmy Hart does his jacket changes during interviews. It's very important that your outfit represent the wrestlers you're managing.
Chris: This is officially the best part of the show yet. Why? Because Demolition. I can watch Demolition stand in the background and be weird for hours. What a crazy pants team Heenan built. And shouts to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine for making it onto this show and yet another costume change for Jimmy Hart.
Interview: Strike Force Team
Mat: This looks like a bunch of dudes tailgating before a football game, but I'm very confused as to what football team these gentlemen are rooting for. Is it the Decatur Staleys? Now that was a great football team. Anyway, this is a good example of why some wrestlers should be a bit more scripted, as it's impossible to make out what's actually going on.
Chris: Team Strike Force looks like an early-80s TV movie adaptation of some comic book you've never read. They all look like low budget superheroes and their motto is "unity for victory." Does that make Bret Hart their Joker?
Note from Mat: Strike Force was TOTALLY a comic book you've never read during the '90s.
Tag Team Survivor Series Match
Mat: It's really weird to see Rick Martel not using his "Model" gimmick. This is a really long match, running around 40 minutes. Sure, there are some fun moments, but this match is overstuffed, and it contains plenty of wrestlers I'm not interested in, including the Hart Foundation as heels, before they really hit their groove.This was the first time during this Survivor Series event that I simply didn't care what was happening nor did I feel invested in the match in any way.
Chris: I'm having a hard time believing this match started with wrestlers demanding the audience rise for the Russian national anthem. Yeah, this was Nikolai Volkoff's gimmick, but it's so much more haunting in 2018. Regardless, why is this match so long? There's nothing interesting happening in it at all. In fact, the part I was most entertained by was Jesse Ventura talking about the pilgrim hat he was wearing.
Segment: Ted DiBiase Counts Money, Bullies Children
Mat: Ted DiBiase is the greatest thing, to me, about the late-80s and early-90s WWF. The Million Dollar Man is such a great gimmick. He's just sitting in a nice car, counting money, and trash talking. The man is incredibly underrated when it comes to cutting promos. That laugh is the best.
Additionally, I could watch all these segments of Million Dollar Man challenging kids to do contests for money all day long. They are hilarious. There is nothing better than DiBiase kicking the ball out of the kid's hand while he dribbling. NOTHING. None of this second part of the segment is new, but it's a nice package to show off how amazing DiBiase is.
Chris: Ted Diabe is such an a**hole. He's a perfect heel, just throwing money at anything standing in his way. He's literally spending his Thanksgiving riding around in the back of a car, counting his money and remembering the times he humiliated children. What an amazing character that perfectly sums up the excess of the '80s.
Interview: Team Hulk Hogan
Mat: How do these interviews keep getting weirder? What is going on with Hogan's bandanna? Why is Hogan blocking everyone who is talking into the mic? This seems like a bunch of men who have already lost their minds.
Chris: Leave it to Hulk Hogan to take this insanity to the extreme. Why does his headband have bangs? And, yeah, for some reason, Hulk is blocking everyone. Whoever produced this is just... bad. Also, I'm convinced this promo alone inspired the Oddities.
Men's Survivor Series Match 2
Mat: I forgot how big Hulk Hogan was, which is kind of a dumb statement, but the crowd is on fire from the moment Hogan enters the arena. It wasn't like this at all during the rest of the PPV. The whole match is really just building towards a face-off between Hogan and Andre, and when it begins, it really pays off. I love how sad Hogan is after getting eliminated. He's on the verge of crying. As soon as he's gone though, the train loses steam, right up until Bam Bam does a bunch of somersaults to escape Andre, and I completely lose it.
The finish is nutso, as Andre wins by arm dragging Bam Bam. Today, you can't win a major match without dropping like at least 14 F-5s on someone. Andre wins, but then Hogan comes out an mugs for the camera a bunch to his theme music. And there's like 10 minutes of Hogan pointing and flexing because that's a thing that happened a lot back then. Yeah, this feels a lot like the '80s, which is good because it's 1987.
Chris: Man, Hogan is so over. It might be the most over anyone's ever been in wrestling, which is saying something. This is going down during peak-Hulkamania, and his popularity just dwarfs everyone else in the ring. Also, he still has a bit of a hairline, so there's that too. Truthfully, this match is nothing more than means to an end. It's all about getting Hogan and Andre face-to-face.
Everything outside of that good and this match serves as a decent reminder of how cool Bam Bam Bigelow was. It's easily the best match on the card, but the magic comes when Andrew and Hulk are in the ring together, because that electricity shoots through the crowd. But Hogan losing the match via countout is a stroke of genius here. Hogan sells disappointment in himself, while they keep him from losing clean. From there, it's just a matter of time until Andre the Giant wins the match.
Post-Match Interview: Andre The Giant
Mat:While this interview is going on, Hogan is still doing his thing in the ring. His music is blaring and the crowd is cheering. Meanwhile, I can't make out what Andre the Giant is saying. He pointed a lot, so I know Andre means business. I haven't had this much fun watching mediocre matches in years. Can we cut back to Ted DiBiase picking on children, please?
Chris: The end of this show really makes Hogan look awful. He got counted out on his own accord then attacked Andre with the title? That's your hero, America? That's your Real American? For shame!