God I rented this so many friggin’ times from First Choice Video in my hometown.
SURVIVOR SERIES SHOWDOWN 1990:
(Nov. 18 1990- taped Oct. 29)
* And here’s another selection of unusual matches from a “Pre-Show”. This is for the Survivor Series, and is the same kind of show as the last one- each match takes a random guy from both sides and makes them fight. It creates some interesting one-off matches.
SGT. SLAUGHTER (w/ General Adnan) vs. TITO SANTANA:
* Slaughter, now a heel who admires Saddam Hussein in a sad attempt at recapturing the “Evil Foreigner” dynamic with an enemy country, is to lead the Mercenaries (Boris Zhukov & The Orient Express) in a pathetic match against Tito Santana’s Allies (Nikolai Volkoff & The Bushwhackers). Slaughter’s in his “Military Fatigue” shirt with a black singlet over it, while Tito’s, infamously, STILL IN THE STRIKE FORCE TRUNKS. Though was the lil’ sombrero always on there?
Heenan is aghast to learn that Nikolai is the leader of The Allies, then they talk about the “Giant Egg” still in its “incubation period”. Slaughter loses a wristlock and dramatically whines to the ref about Tito pulling what’s left of his hair while Heenan compares Sarge’s turning on his country to men getting divorced “and dumping their old lady- it’s the same thing!” to Monsoon’s disgust. Sarge suckers Tito and uses some roughhouse stuff to put him down, just jumping on the breadbasket. Gutbuster and more shots keep it up, and Tito’s selling is great- he gets a mini-comeback but he puts his head down and gets booted. Gourdbuster and Sarge is using some unique body-work, but Tito’s third comeback works and we do the “Slaughter Bump” over the top rope! Sarge does more cartoon bumps all over the ring, but now TITO does a chinlock, blowing a few minutes. Since when does the babyface do the restholds? That lasts two whole minutes, while Heenan talks shit about Tito’s lack of effort and Monsoon derides his technique- ooh, that’s not a good sign for a guy’s push.
Monsoon casually drops his wishes for Adnan to “go back (to Iraq) in a wooden box” as Sarge makes a weak comeback, but goes up (!!) and misses a Flying Splash. Tito misses a dropkick, but Flair-Tosses Sarge off the other corner! Flying Forearm!! But Sarge flips all the way out of the ring, preventing a follow-up. Double noggin-knocker the Sergeant & General, but they do the “Warrior/Rude” finish, Adnan tripping up Tito when he brings Sarge back into the ring, and he gets landed on for the three (11:30). Heenan’s excuse that “his ankle gets caught in the hand of General Adnan” is great. Shockingly slack performance from Tito here, who’d last almost two more years in the company. Sarge was good for the bumping, and the psychology was strong with the work on the stomach area, but it was pretty slowly-paced aside from the Slaughter Bump and the last stretch of moves.
Rating: ** (one of the weaker Tito solo matches you’re gonna see)
“THE MODEL” RICK MARTEL vs. MARTY JANNETTY:
* At SS, Martel leads The Visionaries (Warlord, Power & Glory) against The Vipers (Jake Roberts, Jimmy Snuka & The Rockers). It’s very shortly after Jake got sprayed in the eye by “Arrogance”, with the classic “white eye” contact and him accidentally DDTing Brother Love while Piper has an orgasm on commentary (Pritchard sells it like death, too- just totally limp and unmoving). This is actually a bout between two good workers who were lifelong underachievers, both never getting pushes their in-ring skill should allow for a variety of reasons. Martel’s in purple trunks tonight, while Marty’s in red tights.
Heenan & Monsoon debate the intelligence of getting into the ring with bad eyes like Jake has- “You’ve never made a mistake, have you?” “Well one time, but you don’t know her”. Bobby tells blind jokes (“Jake got blindsided- they hit him head on”) while Martel uses technical stuff, but Jannetty uses speed to keep him on the ropes. Martel bails but returns with a knee to the gut and choking, but gets too arrogant and flies into the corner knee-first. Jannetty pounces and twists the leg, and cartwheels out of a counter and stays on it. They criss-cross and Martel takes a spinebuster and another leglock as Monsoon shits on his strategy (love this guy, lol), and manages a brief comeback before he takes a kneecrusher. Martel finally manages to kick Jannetty out of the ring and goes to work on the back, but he comes off the top and Jannetty throws a crazy lightspeed jab to knock him down. Back elbow, punch, kneelift and a facecrusher out of the corner put Martel in real danger, but Jannetty takes too long and only gets two. He tries a whip, but Martel reverses and tosses him, and when Marty comes in with a sunset flip, Rick just dodges it and Marty cracks his head on the mat- Martel holds him down struggling for the three (10:49).
Interesting finish! The match was almost all Marty, which was a pretty good showcase for Rick’s selling capabilities. Both guys were working really fast despite it being mostly a technical bout, but there was some real fire here before the finish, which kinda came out of nowhere. But this was back in the day where the psychology was that a single mistake could easily cost you.
Rating: **1/2 (good little match before the sudden ending!)
EARTHQUAKE (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. THE BIG BOSS MAN:
* I reviewed this a short time ago, but didn’t realize the whole show was worthy of reviewing, too- oh well. The Hulkamaniacs‘ Boss Man (Hogan, Jim Duggan & Tugboat were his partners) taking on the captain of their rival squad, The Natural Disasters (Earthquake, Barbarian, Haku, Dino Bravo). Bobby Heenan, then feuding with the Boss Man, is immediately refusing to come down to ringside. Monsoon calls him out as a coward promptly. Boss Man, at around his slimmest here, robs us of a true FAT MAN STAND-OFF, but he’s at least 300 lbs. or so. I can see the fuck finish coming a mile away, as it’s an obvious waste to job either guy here.
Quake shows off the guns to start, but eats a headlock and a BIG right hand, selling it like nuts. Even Heenan marks out for that impact. Boss Man keeps using evasion and another punch, but gets caught- Quake slams him but misses an elbow. Boss Man chases Jimmy Hart in a fun bit, then avoids an avalanche and does the ol’ schoolboy trip, going up… and Earthquake FUCKING CATCHES HIM IN MID-AIR, which is an absolutely insane feat of strength. He hits his sweet overhead-grip Powerslam out of that. Boss Man sells it as a crippling blow, and NOW Heenan’s confidant enough to hit ringside (“Ya know, I just might go stretch my legs!”). Quake sits on him in the corner a bunch and Heenan adds some cheapshot slaps, but the ref is cajoled into letting both managers stay out to HUGE heat. Tremendous.
Quake hits the huge elbow and just steps across him and slaps on a bearhug, Boss Man selling it with mortal terror (like this “aw fuck gotta get out gotta get out!” look on his face). He scrambles, but soon fades out… but hits headbutts and bites Quake on the nose. In a neat bit, he hits an ear-clap, but loses his back as the accumulated damage is too much, and Quake pounds away, Boss Man actualy GAGGING in agony and arching his back like he’s been hit with a cattle prod. Boss Man gets skooshed in the corner, but with all this going against him, he gets the crowd behind him and starts fighting up- counter-punches! Quake catches a boot- Enzuigiri! Clothesline puts Earthquake in the “Andre Position”, and Boss Man hits a cross-body, slugs Jimmy Hart into the stratosphere, and runs again- but he’s back body-dropped over the top! Heenan puts the boots to him outside, leading Boss Man to get furious and chase him to the back, continuing their feud. Well you knew it wasn’t gonna be clean (11:59).
Okay, it was mostly “slow pounding” and bearhugs but fuck it- Hoss Matches are fun. Boss Man selling like a Cruiserweight and Quake catching him in mid-air are terrific spots- feats of strength are as cool as acrobatics when they’re legit like this. They’d use the same move at the actual Survivor Series, which I don’t remember.
Rating: *** (a lot of fun- both guys continue to be underrated in the ring, but I’m glad they’re getting more love these days)
BRET “HITMAN” HART vs. THE HONKY TONK MAN (w/ Jimmy Hart):
* The Hart Foundation are part of the Dream Team (with Dusty Rhodes & Koko B. Ware), up against The Million Dollar Team (Ted DiBiase, Rhythm & Blues and a Mystery Partner who’ll probably just be some disappointment, as is tradition). Honky is WELL out of his IC run and is pretty well reduced to a JTTS. Hell, he’s now wearing the Universal Jobber Color of powder-blue!
Bret & Honky do some basic stuff while Heenan & Monsoon get into a great bit on commentary, going from scolding Heenan for the attack on Boss Man, to Heenan keeping money from his boys, to Heenan accidentally calling Jimmy “the runt” and immediately backtracking when Monsoon calls him out. He keeps trying to “clear his throat” to mimic the noise, then makes excuses when Jimmy tries to trip up Bret (“See, I can tell you’ve never managed- sometimes guys kick at you!”). Bret controls with arm stuff while giving Jimmy a death-glare, but Honky gets up and slugs him a couple of times. Bret comes back with shots as Heenan is asked where the Honkettes are (“Well one is wounded, and the other two I haven’t made bail for yet- I DON’T KNOW WHERE THE HONKETTES ARE!”) and Honky does some great cartoon selling. He goes for the eyes and holds a chinlock as we come back, stuffing an inverted atomic drop comeback by dodging an elbow. Bret fights up but take a knee and ANOTHER chinlock, but finally makes a real comeback when Honky meets a punch coming off the top. Bret gets some fiery shots and a snapmare, then a backbreaker- Jimmy hits the apron and Bret goes off to confront him, but then they run contrary to what you’d expect- Honky goes for the attack, but nails Jimmy by mistake, and Bret rolls him up for the win (10:25). HUGE reaction on the hard camera for that one.
The match was pretty much just restholds except for Bret’s comebacks, but the commentary was classic Heenan buffoonery and Monsoon talking shit back when Bobby mocked the town (Indianapolis) and all kinds of stuff. The notion of a tag wrestler (even the Champion) pinning Honky Tonk (who had his manager’s help, mind you) pretty well enunciates how far down the card he’s fallen. No wonder Honky hates Bret now.
Rating: 3/4* (mostly chinlockery, but Bret’s stuff looked great)
“THE TEXAS TORNADO” KERRY VON ERICH vs. SMASH:
* The Warriors are one of the biggest all-time superteams, consisting of the Ultimate Warrior, Tornado & the Legion of Doom, and their opponents were The Perfect Team– Mr. Perfect with all three members of Demolition. Sadly, this is well on the tail end of Demolition’s relevance. Oh god and it’s the “Masked Demolition” era, too. Thank god they dropped that. Tornado’s in red trunks, which I don’t think I’ve seen before- pretty spectacular physique for a guy with one foot, I might add. That can’t be easy to maintain, even WITH roids. Monsoon declares this to be non-title.
Monsoon COMPLETELY writes off the Perfect Team’s chances at Survivor Series, though, to be fair, they’re up against arguably the greatest Superteam since Andre’s Monster Squad at the inaugural Series. They debate how many guys will be in the “Grand Finale” at the show, Monsoon deriding the Brain’s math (“Did you have any kind of formal education?” “No, I never WORE a tux to school!”). Tornado punches away, but Smash blocks THE CLAW. Heenan gives a hush-hush reveal that the Demos are immune to head-based offense so long as they have the masks, implying that the masks are armored. Smash wins a slugfest, but dumps Kerry to the apron and gets a slow-motion Discus Punch (sold as a regular punch) because he thought he had more time. Tornado dumps him and beats his ass outside the ring, then goes to the arm, reversing a comeback halfway through, but charges into the ringpost.
Smash twists the arm and does a shitty rib-breaker (Monsoon, true to form, completely rips his application) for two. He whips Kerry to the ropes, but puts his head down and earns THE CLAW, Von Erich wrestling him to the mat and getting two (he puts his foot in the ropes). The ref won’t break the hold, which Bobby AND Gorilla shit on, so Smash just punches Tornado in the face to break it. Mr. Perfect runs in while Smash slugs away in a weird bit, leading to a 2-on-1 brawl while the useless ref just admonishes them, and soon all three Demos are in there and he finally rings the bell (7:44). A 4-man beatdown ensues, and the Legion of Doom arrive just as Demolition Decapitation hits! Perfect bounces all over for Animal but the heels take back over… and the Ultimate Warrior arrives! In a bitching PURPLE ensemble, too! And it’s my favorite Survivor Series Go-Home Show trope: Everybody In the Match Fights! Perfect SAILS over the top rope from a single right hand, but is right back in and gets chopped over as Demolition bails. Perfect charges AGAIN as Heenan admonishes him to get out of there.
Actually nowhere close to as bad as I was expecting, given that neither guy is much of a ring general. Kinda fell apart near the end, though, as they ramble around, there’s bad officiating, and the match ends while SMASH is on offense.
Rating: **1/4 (was looking a little better until the ending stretch kinda sucked)
Overall, this actually turned out to be a really good show- we got a *** Boss Man/Earthquake monster match, Bret beating Honky Tonk, a bumptastic Martel performance against Jannetty, and some of the best commentary going- one of the better Monsoon/Heenan runs tonight. It had all their greatest hits- Heenan accidentally insulting a heel, Heenan being full of shit, Heenan being sarcastic, Monsoon ripping into guys’ move application and having horrible strategy, etc.