Mike Reviews: WWF Survivor Series 1989

Hello You!

I used to watch this one quite a bit back in my younger days as I had it on VHS, so seeing as we’re not far removed from the 2019 version of the show I decided to set the way back machine 30 years for some classic Survival action. In a nice bit of symmetry this event also took place in Chicago as well.

Back in 1989 we didn’t have “brand supremacy” or singles matches on Survivor Series events. Instead every match on this show is a survival format, with the change being that they’ve gone from 5 person teams to 4 person ones. This of course means the “Teams of Five, Strive to Survive” tagline is now ruined. They didn’t bother coming up with a new one for the four person teams. The best I could come up with was “Teams of Four, Go to War”, but if you can think of a better one then feel free to share it in the comments section.

Anyway, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling eh?

The event is emanating from Chicago, Illinois

Calling the action are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura

We open up with comments from the WWF Superstars as they let us all know what they are thankful for at this time of year;

Hulk Hogan is thankful for Hulkamania being the strongest force in the universe

Ted Dibiase is thankful that he’s rich and you’re not

Jake Roberts is thankful for having Damien and the DDT

Demolition are thankful that they don’t have to fight one another

Randy Savage is thankful that he is the only man worthy of being named the Macho King

Jim Duggan is thankful for living in the good old US of A, tough guy!

Dino Bravo is thankful that Earthquake has his back

Dusty Rhodes is thankful for his polka dots

Big Bossman is thankful for justice

Brutus Beefcake is thankful for struttin’ and cuttin’

Rick Martel is thankful for his dashing good looks

Rick Rude is thankful for being ravishing

Roddy Piper is thankful that he isn’t Rick Rude

The Genius is thankful for being the world’s smartest man

Mr. Perfect is thankful for being absolutely perfect

The Bushwhackers are thankful that they can stuff sardines up their turkey

Bobby Heenan is thankful for The Heenan Family

Mike Awesome is thankful that the move the powerbomb was invented

And finally Ultimate Warrior is thankful for, um, I’m not sure exactly. He just rambled in Warriorese for a bit

Opening Match
The Dream Team – Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana and Red Rooster
Vs
The Enforcers – Big Bossman, Bad News Brown, Rick “The Model” Martel and Honky Tonk Man w/ Slick and Jimmy Hart

I’m not sure why Akeem wasn’t on Bossman’s team here, but I assume that Bad News is filling in for him, even though he’s normally a lone wolf who doesn’t tend to like other human beings. Dusty and Bossman was the main feud here, as Dusty had stolen Bossman’s nightstick, but Tito and Martel had an issue as well due to Martel turning on Tito back at WrestleMania V. Considering that Big Bubba Rogers was a Dusty creation, it makes sense that he’d be okay with working with Ray Traylor in the WWF when he finally got there.

Tito and Martel do a quick bit to start, but Martel quickly tags out to Bossman, which gives the faces a chance to shine on the team captain for a bit. Both teams take it in turn to control someone from the other side until the heels settle into a more standard heat segment on Rooster (Who was Terry Taylor for anyone not au fait with 80’s WWF). Eventually Rooster and Honky bonk heads, which allows both men to tag Tito and Martel respectively. Tito runs wild on his former partner and seemingly has him on the ropes, but Martel is able to reverse a roll up into one of his own and then grabs some tights to score yet another win in a series of them over his ex-pal.

Elimination #1: Tito Santana via Rick Martel – Roll Up

Did Tito ever actually get some revenge on Martel? People like to make fun of Marty Jannetty, but he at least managed to score a big win over Shawn Michaels once. Maybe we should refer to failed partners as “Tito Santana” from now on? We see an excitable woman in the crowd who is wearing polka dot strewn outfit cheering for Dusty. She would eventually go on to be known as “Sapphire” and would manage Dusty for a bit before selling out to Ted Dibiase. Dusty works over Martel with elbows and even manages to deliver a dropkick, but makes the mistake of tagging Rooster back in and he subsequently gets cut off again.

Poor Taylor, having a lame gimmick like that was bad enough but getting booked to be an utter chump didn’t help either. Rooster eventually manages to peck his way out of a Bossman bear hug, which leads to Bossman finally tagging in Bad News for the first time. News works Rooster over but some heel miscommunication sees Bossman clock News by accident. Perturbed by this, News decides that he’s had enough of these mother fighting partners in this Monday to Friday Survivor Series elimination match and takes a walk.

Elimination #2: Bad News Brown by count out

With Bad News headed to the back, Honky Tonk and Beefcake renew hostilities from their feud in 1988 and do a decent little bit before Beefcake puts the Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All-Time away with a running high knee strike.

Elimination #3: Honky Tonk Man via Brutus Beefcake – High Knee

Bossman and Martel quickly pounce on Beefcake to work him over, but he manages to go for a sunset flip attempt on Martel. Martel Aloha-Arn’s as best he can to block it and then eventually grabs the rope block it and go for a pin of his own. The referee catches this blatant cheating however, which allows Beefcake to finally complete the move and pick up the three count.

Elimination #4: Rick Martel via Brutus Beefcake – Sunset Flip

Things look bleak for Bossman, but he is able to quickly put Rooster away with the Bossman Slam, because Red Rooster sucks.

Elimination #5: Red Rooster via Big Bossman – Bossman Slam

Despite managing to trim down the babyface team however Bossman’s night doesn’t last much longer, as Dusty is able to catch him with a cross body block to pick up the three count.

Elimination #6: Big Bossman via Dusty Rhodes – Cross Body

SURVIVORS: DUSTY RHODES AND BRUTUS BEEFCAKE
RATING: **1/2

This was relatively breezy and the work itself was fine, but it wasn’t especially exciting either. Fine for an opener but not a match you’d want to go out of your way to see again.

Bossman and Slick destroy Dusty with the nightstick post-match until Brutus Beefcake chases them off with his clippers. Sean Mooney calls Bossman’s actions deplorable, but Bossman replies that Dusty is filth and deserved it.

Mean Gene Okerlund is with The 4 x 4’s ahead of the next match. Bret Hart says the heels will found out the hard way that The 4 x 4’s are for real. Ronnie Garvin threatens to shove a 2 x 4 up Greg Valentine’s derrière. Hercules, The Third Mega Power, foresees no issues with the 4 x 4’s picking up the win. Team Captain James Duggan says his team are ready for anything. Bret Hart looked so out of place with these guys but he sees to be having fun with it regardless.

Match Two
The Kings Court: Macho King Randy Savage, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Canadian Earthquake and Dino Bravo w/ Queen Sherri and Jimmy Hart
Vs
The 4 x 4’s: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin, Hercules “The Third Mega Power” and Bret “Hitman” Hart

Savage took the crown from Duggan to instigate their feud but Garvin and Valentine also had a feud going on that would culminate at Royal Rumble 1990 in a great submission match. Savage has an awesome regal attire here of purple trunks and knee pads with white boots and just looks like the coolest person on Earth.

Bret gets a chance to showcase some of his wrestling prowess by going at it with Valentine, which leads to Hammer getting worked over in the babyface half of the ring for a bit. Hercules, The Third Mega Power, and Bravo go after that and it’s actually quite spry considering both men couldn’t be more swollen muscle wise if they tried. Herc eventually misses a charge in the corner however, which allows Bravo to tag in the big Earthquake, who promptly squishes Herc to end his night.

Elimination #1: Hercules, The Third Mega Power via Canadian Earthquake – Aftershock

Duggan tries it next with Quake and manages to take him down with assistance from Bret, but Quake quickly shrugs off Garvin and makes the tag. Garvin gets worked over in the heel half of the ring, before trading some stiff chops and slaps with Valentine. Duggan manages to sneak in with a blind tag however and mows Valentine down with a clothesline to pick up the three count.

Elimination #2: Greg Valentine via Jim Duggan – Clothesline

Normally I’d make a comment about people losing to transition moves in these types of matches (Something they actually included in EWR back in the day if you booked one of these) but I think Duggan was kind of doing a clothesline as a finisher anyway, so I’ll let it slide. Duggan gets worked over for a bit but he manages to tag in Garvin, who comes in with the Garvin Stomp to Bravo for a decent pop. Seeing Garvin in the cartoon world of the 80’s WWF was strange enough, but that fact he actually got kind of over is pretty trippy.

Bravo goes to the eyes to block a Scorpion Deathlock and tags in Savage, whilst Garvin tags in Bret. Bret and Savage do a great, but all too short, little segment that ends with Savage bailing following a kick to the gut. Bravo and Garvin go at it again, with Bravo this time getting the better of things with a side slam to eliminate Garvin.

Elimination #3: Ronnie Garvin via Dino Bravo – Side Slam

In a funny moment Savage gives Garvin a sly little stomp before he leaves the ring, just to be a jerk, before scampering back onto the apron. Duggan and Bret team up to knock Quake down with a double clothesline, so he tags out to Savage and we get a little bit more of Savage Vs Bret. Savage bumps around and sells for Bret and the crowd are behind the Hitman, but he eventually misses a move off the second rope and gets worked over. A heel miscommunication leads to Bret making the tag to Duggan and he comes in to run wild before tagging Bret back in. Bret misses a charge in the corner however, which allows Savage to head up with the elbow to end Bret’s night.

Elimination #4: Bret Hart via Randy Savage – Macho Elbow

Duggan bravely gives it a go despite being 1 on 3, and actually does pretty well for a bit by being able to clear the ring. Sherri gets involved by pulling down the ropes when Duggan goes to hit them however, which sends Duggan tumbling to the floor and getting counted out.

Elimination #5: Jim Duggan by count out

SURVIVORS: RANDY SAVAGE, CANADIAN EARTHQUAKE AND DINO BRAVO
RATING: ***

I’m not sure why Duggan couldn’t have been pinned there, especially as he was fighting three men. Have Quake squish him but then have Savage get the pin just to really make Savage look like a bastard. The match itself was good, with decent work and some fun spots. Bret Hart in particular got a bit of a showcase and looked good, as did Earthquake, although they probably had Quake bump a bit too much.

Duggan chases off the heels with his 2 x 4 following the match.

Mean Gene gives us an update on Dusty. He apparently has bruised ribs and a possible concussion, which in 1989 means he’ll be working all the houses that week including a double shot on Sunday.

The Genius gives us a special Thanksgiving poem. The crowd doesn’t like it.

Match Three
The Million $ Team: Ted Dibiase, Zeus, Warlord and Barbarian w/ Mr. Fuji
Vs
The Hulkamaniacs: Hulk Hogan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Demolition Ax and Demolition Smash

Hogan and Zeus were feuding here after Zeus stepped right out of the No Holds Barred movie to come and fight Hogan for “real”. I’m not sure if Hogan Vs Zeus was still pencilled in for WrestleMania VI at this stage but plans obviously changed eventually. Dibiase and Roberts had a feud going on as well due to Dibiase injuring Roberts, whilst Powers of Pain and Demolition still had residual hatred for one another following their feud in late 88/early 89. Dibiase was sorely lacking entrance music by this point but he’d get some eventually in 1990.

The heels won’t let the faces into the ring to start, so Jake throws Damien in there instead to chase them all off. Once things settle down, Zeus demands that Hogan face him. Hogan (The WWF Champ during this period) obliges and comes in to do battle with his foe. Zeus no sells everything, which would have been a bit more impressive if Hogan hadn’t already pinned Zeus at Summer Slam earlier in the year. That’s probably why they eventually decided they couldn’t elongate the feud all the way to Mania. Zeus decides to just outright choke Hogan in full view of the ref, thus earning him a DQ.

Elimination #1: Zeus by Disqualification

This felt akin to trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, like the WWF was saying “See, Zeus is still scary. Forget that Hogan pinned him already and give us some money to see them wrestle again”. Zeus’ own team eventually manage to drag him off Hogan and the match can continue. Hogan is hurt following that and gets worked over for a bit by the heels, but he eventually manages to get a boot up in the corner before making the tag to Jake, who runs wild on Dibiase. The face team shines on Dibiase for a bit now, with Dibiase selling it all well.

Hogan and Demolition (The Tag Champs) do a triple club to Dibiase, which infuriates Ventura that no DQ is called. He might have a point to be fair. Dibiase eventually tags out, which leads to Ax and Warlord going at it. Ax gets worked over for a bit but looks ready to make a comeback, only for Mr. Fuji to trip him up. This allows Warlord to drop an elbow and that’s enough to eliminate Ax.

Elimination #2: Ax via Warlord – Elbow Drop

The faces have a brief flurry until Smash is cut off. He fights back however and gets a Stun Gun to Dibiase, but Barbarian makes a blind tag in the process and then comes off the top with a clothesline to get the pin.

Elimination #3: Smash via Barbarian – Top Rope Clothesline

You’d think that The Powers of Pain pinning both of the Tag Champs would set them up for a Title shot but it was actually Andre The Giant and Haku who would defeat Demolition for the belts in December, so this went nowhere and meant nothing. Jake tries his luck next but gets worked over also, although his penchant for selling makes him an excellent face in peril. Dibiase talks plenty of smack to Jake as his team works him over, but Barbarian eventually misses a diving head butt from the top rope, which allows Jake to tag Hogan.

Hogan runs wild momentarily, but the Powers of Pain both come in to work him over and deliver a spiked piledriver. The referee decides that this is an intolerable double team and promptly disqualifies them, even though the faces have been double and triple teaming all match. Bloody hell, some of the officiating in this match has been worse than Mark Clattenberg in a Merseyside Derby!

Eliminations #4 and #5: The Powers of Pain by DQ

Hogan has been left for dead following that attack, so Dibiase quickly locks in the Million $ Dream in an effort to put him away. Jake breaks that up before Hogan’s hand can drop for a third time however, which allows Hogan to make the desperation tag to Jake. Jake runs wild on Dibiase and looks set to finally extract some revenge, but Virgil runs down to the ring to distract him. Jake lays him out with a DDT, but this allows Dibiase to catch him with a fist drop and then pin him with his feet on the ropes.

Elimination #6: Jake Roberts via Ted Dibiase – Fist Drop

Hogan is still hurting from getting pummelled by all the big blokes in the match, so Dibiase works him over for a bit. Hogan eventually starts to Hulk Up however and it’s not long before Dibiase is eating the leg drop and getting pinned.

Elimination #7: Ted Dibiase via Hulk Hogan – Leg Drop

SOLE SURVIVOR: HULK HOGAN
RATING: **

I found this one kind of dull for the most part and all the cheap DQ’s got pretty annoying. I’m not sure why Barbarian and Warlord couldn’t eat a DDT or Axe Bomber to get pinned. Jake sold well and Hogan’s Hulk Up routine is fun, but the match mostly meandered and didn’t do much for me.

Hogan does his posing whilst Jesse Ventura seethes.

Sean Mooney is with Randy Savage, Zeus and Sherri. Apparently it’s Savage and Zeus Vs Hogan and Beefcake in a cage on 27/12/1989. Savage says Zeus will destroy Hogan once and for all.

Mean Gene is with Beefcake and Hogan for their rebuttal. Sherri interrupts and throws powder in their eyes however, which leads to a sneak attack from Savage and Zeus.

Gorilla and Venture hype the cage match. Ventura lets slip that apparently there is dissention amongst The Heenan Family.

Mooney does an interview with Rude’s Brood. Mr. Perfect says tonight will be Perfect and addresses Jimmy Snuka. Jacque and Raymond Rougeau sat they’re ready for The Bushwhackers. Rude reveals that he has the babyfaces on the back of his tights.

Mean Gene is with Roddies Rowdies. Piper tells his team, who have animal bones all over their gear, that they can’t have lunch until after the match. Much yelling is done by everyone. This was just four larger than life personalities being utterly crazy and it really rammed home just how wrestling has so few of those sorts of characters in it these days.

Match Four
Rude’s Brood: “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Raymond Rougeau and Jacque Rougeau w/ The Genius and Jimmy Hart
Vs
Roddies Rowdies: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Bushwhacker Luke and Bushwhacker Butch

Bobby Heenan doesn’t come out with Rick Rude here, which adds further to the idea that there might be dissention amongst that group. Rude and Piper were the ones with the big feud here but everyone else in the match had side issues going on as well. I love the version of The Bushwhackers theme that has the didgeridoo in the background but it’s very hard to find a full clean version of it as WWE now mostly uses the version from Anthology for them, probably due to some form of music rights issues I’m better as the previous version is so much better.

The faces all take turns biting away on Perfect to start, getting across the story that they are all wild brawlers whilst the heel team are more technically focused. Jacques comes in to taunt by doing some flips, but Snuka soon goes to town on him with head butts and chops before slamming him and heading up top for the Superfly Splash to end Jacques’ involvement.

Elimination #1: Jacques Rougeau via Jimmy Snuka – Superfly Splash

The faces work over Perfect next with some quick tags and he sells it great before bumping over to his corner to make a tag. Raymond has a bash at fighting Piper, but that ends up going poorly for him as Piper mocks Rude by doing a hip swivelling piledriver to put him away.

Elimination #2: Raymond Rougeau via Roddy Piper – Piledriver

I think that Le Fabuleux Rougeaus were on their way out not too soon after this, so that explains why they both got so easily dispatched. Perfect comes in to attack Piper, but Piper fights back by sling shotting him into the corner before tagging in Butch. Perfect continues to keep getting walloped by the faces but they were grooming him for a run with Hogan here so he doesn’t get pinned and instead manages to catch Butch with a roll up to eliminate him.

Elimination #3: Butch via Mr. Perfect – Roll Up

Luke comes in to avenge his partner but Perfect is finally able to tag out to Rude. Rudes sells for him for  abit before catching him with the Rude Awakening to even things up.

Elimination #4: Luke via Rick Rude – Rude Awakening

So now we have Piper /Snuka against Perfect/Rude, which could have been one heck of a big tag match if they’d had a chance to promote it. The heels work Snuka over for a bit and they shockingly have some good chemistry as a team. Who knew? Snuka eventually manages to bonk heads with Perfect and makes the tag to Piper. Piper and Rude do their much anticipated brawl, which ends with them spilling outside and brawling to the back for a double count out.

Eliminations #5 and #6: Rick Rude and Roddy Piper by double count out

So that leaves us with Snuka Vs Perfect, with Perfect controlling things at first. Snuka fights back and both men trade rolls ups for some near falls. Perfect manages to eventually catch Snuka with the Perfect Plex though, and that’s enough for the clean win.

Elimination #7: Jimmy Snuka via Mr. Perfect – Perfect Plex

SOLE SURVIVOR: MR. PERFECT
RATING: ***

I enjoyed this and liked the dynamic of he faces and heels wrestling completely differently and that actually playing it’s part in the finish, with Perfect using his technical acumen to weather Snuka’s wild storm. Styles make fights as they say. Perfect looked like a total star here as well, beating the faces clean in an era when that didn’t happen a lot.

Mooney interviews the winners and asks Rude about Heenan. Rude says it’s none of his business.

Mean Gene is with The Ultimate Warriors. Jim Neidhart sarcastically says he hopes they don’t ruin the heels’ afternoon. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty say they’re going to rock the town. Warrior babbles incoherently.

Main Event
The Heenan Family: Andre The Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson and Bobby Heenan
Vs
The Ultimate Warriors: Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty

Heenan is filling in for Tully Blanchard, who I think had been fired in real life for failing a drug test. Arn had given notice and was off to WCW in time for Starrcade. The fight starts up before Warrior even makes his entrance, but he eventually sprints down and clotheslines Andre over the top rope to the floor to cause him to be counted out.

Elimination #1: Andre The Giant by count out

Things settle down a bit now, with Neidhart getting isolated in the heel corner. He fights back and slugs down Arn, but he then turns around into a kick from Haku to send him to the showers.

Elimination #2: Jim Neidhart via Haku – Thrust Kick

The Rockers work over Haku with their usual tag stuff and it’s good. Warrior comes in and briefly ends up in the heel corner before tagging out to Marty. Heenan comes in for a quick attack on Marty before quickly bailing again in a funny bit. Haku and Arn beat down Marty and then bring in Heenan again, who gets a quick stomp and pins Marty to eliminate him in the most cowardly way possible.

Elimination #3: Marty Jannetty via Bobby Heenan – Stomp

Warrior and Shawn are left as a team then, and that’s an interesting little historical curiosity. I think they were due to team at some point in 1996 before Warrior flaked out. They work well enough as a team actually, though they obviously aren’t as smooth as Shawn and Marty. Warrior and Shawn manage to get the Rocket Launcher on Haku and that’s enough to send him home for the night.

Elimination #4: Haku via Shawn Michaels – Rocket Launcher

Heenan now actually has to wrestle a bit more due to the numbers on his team depleting and he actually teases diving out of the ring onto Shawn before thinking better of it. Shawn goes for a sunset flip on Arn, which causes Arn to…err…Aloha-Arn to block it. This is unsuccessful and Shawn completes the move for two. Arn and Bobby have a dispute because of this, with Arn thinking Bobby should have helped him. Arm and Shawn continue their nice little segment, with Arn eventually catching Shawn with a lovely looking spinebuster to pin him.

Elimination #5: Shawn Michaels via Arn Anderson – Spinebuster

Warrior charges in to attack Arn, but Arn sends him outside to put a stop to that. Arn works over Warrior for a bit, with Heenan getting the odd cheap shot in. Eventually though Warrior is able to throw Arn into Heenan and then splashes him to eliminate him.

Elimination #6: Arn Anderson via Ultimate Warrior – Splash

Heenan tries to flee but Warrior isn’t going to let him get away easy and throws him back inside to pinball him around before splashing him for the pin.

Elimination #7: Bobby Heenan via Ultimate Warrior – Splash

SOLE SURVIVOR: THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
RATING: ***

This featured some good wrestling and some fun heel antics from Heenan, so I enjoyed it. You could see that they were trying to show that Warrior was a star on the level of Hogan here by having him close the show.

Warrior clotheslines Heenan in the aisle once the match is over, which is kind of mean spirited actually.

In Conclusion

This show was an easy watch, if not an especially exciting one. There were no blow away matches, but no real stinkers either and it works well as a nostalgic trip down memory lane. The 87 and 88 Survivor Series shows are probably better overall because each show at least has one propper corker on it (In both cases it’s the 10-a-side Tag Team Surivival matches). 1989 is mostly so-so by comparison but it will probably be fun for you if you like this era in general.