Simply put, especially in the wrestling business, you can’t succeed in the future without appreciating the past.
With that in mind, every now and then I like to take look back and review a pay per view event from yesteryear to simply try and bring up some fond memories for those reading this piece.
Or, in some instances, educate newer or younger watchers to let them know what they were missing out on. Since we’re in the heart of Survivor Series season, we’ll go back to the time that I, and I’m sure a lot of you reading, started watching professional wrestling. We’ll head to the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, CT for the 1990 Survivor Series.
This show included Hulk Hogan appearing NOT as WWF Champion, a rarity in the late 80s-early 90s, the only year to have the “Grand Finale Match of Survival” where the survivors of all the matches came back for one last elimination tag match, and also gave us a, shall we say “phenom-enal” debut!
So log on to the WWE Network (it’s only $9.99/month and free for the month of November for new subscribers…they haven’t done that much in-show advertising about that so I’m sure everybody forgot) and take a look at this blast from the past!
1990 Survivor Series
The show kicks off with Vince’s old-school “You’re Fired!” voice introducing all of the participants and all of the teams. I’ll say this; I miss the days of the named teams! Team Raw vs Team SmackDown just doesn’t do it for me. In 1990, we didn’t have Team Hogan vs Team Earthquake! No! We had a lot more creativity! We had The Hulkamaniacs vs The Natural Disasters! You could sell jerseys with these name printed on them!
From there we are introduced to tonight’s commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper. I thought Piper was underrated as a commentator during his run from 1990-1991. Hard to sound bad when you have a great like Monsoon sitting next to you though! Not only are they introducing themselves, but they are also introducing that large egg that is sitting on the stage as well…oh boy!
The Perfect Team – Team Captain Mr. Perfect, Demolition (Ax, Smash and Crush)
The Warriors – Team Captain The Ultimate Warrior, Texas Tornado, Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal)
Sooooooooo much face paint in the ring right now! We quickly saw an elimination as The Warrior pinned Ax in what turned out to be Ax’s last appearance in the WWF. A few minutes later half of the match was eliminated as the LOD and the remaining members of Demolition were disqualified for their brawl outside of the ring. This added to what should have been the biggest tag team program of the time with LOD vs Demolition, but it never surfaced. I still think that the Road Warriors vs Demolition would have made a better tag title match at WrestleMania 7 a few months later than The Hart Foundation vs The Nasty Boys did.
Mr. Perfect ended up eliminating the Texas Tornado, who never really got the momentum back after this event that he had after beating Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam just a few months prior. The Warrior followed that up with the final elimination of Perfect to become the sole survivor and move on to the Match of Survival.
The Dream Team – Team Captain Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart)
The Million Dollar Team – Team Captain Ted DiBiase, Mystery Partner, Rhythm & Blues (Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine)
This turned out to be the moment that changed the WWF for the next couple decades. Ted DiBiase grabbed the mic and announced that his mystery partner would be led to the ring by his manager Brother Love (which still just confuses me). The man that Brother Love was leading? Why it was the new superstar making his debut – The Phenom himself The Undertaker.
Couple interesting somewhat unknown facts about the debut. First, did you know that he was actually introduced as “Cain – The Undertaker”? It seems like every bit of video calling him “Cain” had been scrubbed out. But, thanks to a little investigating, I found Taker’s TV debut a few weeks after Survivor Series…
Another interesting tidbit is that, according to rumors heard and told by Mick Foley, The Undertaker was not the initial character idea that was made for Mean Mark after he left WCW. I’ll get into greater detail on that a little later.
The match itself was mostly an introduction as to just how dominating The Undertaker can be as he quickly eliminated Koko B. Ware and Dusty Rhodes only to be counted out after going after Rhodes to finish the job. The match ended with a wrestling clinic put on by Bret Hart and DiBiase. Hart showed great heart (sorry, I had to) as he put on a tremendous performance just a day of his brother Dean passed away.
DiBiase rolled through a high-crossed body for the roll up and the final pin to move on to the night’s final elimination match.
The Vipers – Team Captain Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, The Rockers (Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty)
The Visionaries – Team Captain Rick “The Model” Martel, The Warlord, Power & Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma)
This match was pretty much built around Martel “blinding” Roberts with his cologne “Arrogance.” Roberts came out with odd white contact lens and all to help sell the injury. This all led up to the big Blindfold Match at WrestleMania 7. The evolution of production costs and values have since given us blindfolds that you can’t actually tell where the eye holes are.
Not really much to this match itself other than, for the first time ever, all members of one team survived as all of The Visionaries moved on to the Match of Survival.
The Hulkamaniacs – Team Captain Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Tugboat
The Natural Disasters – Team Captain Earthquake, Dino Bravo, The Barbarian, Haku
I still say that the program of Hulk Hogan vs Earthquake was very underrated.
Earthquake’s finishing move was probably done so many times by me and my brother I don’t know how we still had rib cages. They didn’t have the “Don’t Try This At Home” disclaimers back then so it was ok to do :). But to see ‘quake hit the move so much that it took the Immortal Hulk Hogan out of action was just unheard up. It led to an entertaining one-on-one match at SummerSlam at the elimination match here.
This was a back and forth match that never saw a team have more than just a one man advantage. At the time, it was hard to predict how the match was going to end. Nowadays, of course you knew that Hogan was going to be a survivor! The only question was would anybody on his team join him.
The answer would be “no” as Hogan was the sole survivor who moved to the final match.
Macho King Randy Savage Interview
We take a break from the matches to see what is going on with the Macho King. As he had been doing for weeks, Savage simply made his case to take on The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF title. Nothing really else came of it this time – other than Savage, after being asked what would be next after winning the WWF title, saying that he might just go ahead and retire. Now we all know, that was a very subtle way to start the rivalry that gave us the great Retirement Match between Savage and the Warrior at WrestleMania 7.
Just a quick side note – it seems like I have been mentioning a lot about the following year’s WrestleMania here. Keep that in mind as you watch this year’s Survivor Series. We have seen WrestleMania storylines start around this time of year. Just something to keep in the back of your head.
The Alliance – Team Captain Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana, The Bushwackers (Luke and Butch)
The Mercenaries – Team Captain Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zhukov, The Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka)
Ugh! This was just a slow moving match. It really seemed like the only purpose of this match was to have Slaughter give a promo attacking the US troops that were watching on the Armed Forces Network (this being the first PPV show that was sent to the troops).
Some people had issues with Slaughter becoming the Iraqi sympathizer (to the point that death threats were made). I really didn’t have a problem with it. Of course I didn’t agree with what he was saying or doing, but it led to the most patriotic WrestleMania there was with the LA Sports Arena drenched in red white and blue as Hulk Hogan finally beat Slaughter. Business wise, well the storyline led to the most pay-per-view buys that the WWF had to that point.
As for this match, Slaughter ended up attacking Santana with the Iraqi flag to get disqualified and made Tito the sole survivor who moved on. The finish also helped Slaughter look ruthless and saved the inevitable confrontation between Slaughter and Hogan.
The Hatching of the Egg
For weeks the WWF had been advertising this giant egg that would be ready to hatch at the Survivor Series. Speculation ran roughshod as to what was in there. As he introduced the egg, Mean Gene Okerlund suggested that some of the possibilities included a dinosaur, ballons, and the playmate of the month. Well, after a few cheesy egg cracking jokes, the egg finally exploded and we were introduced to ….
… The Gobbeldy Gooker …
… a giant turkey suit that was worked by a member of one of the most famous wrestling families of all time, Hector Guerrero. Thank goodness Eddie (and to a much lesser extent Chavo) didn’t let THAT be the way the Guerrero family will be remembered in the WWF.
A few years ago, Mick Foley was on the Legends of Wrestling show with the topic being “Worst Characters.” Obviously the Gooker came up and Foley brought up a rumor he had heard that could have had GRAVE effect on the WWF (you’ll see what I did there in a little bit).
When Mark Calaway signed with the WWF, Foley heard that the initial idea for him would be to debut as “The Egg Man” and HE would be the one to come out of the egg. Foley went on to say that he could only think they took one look at the man and realized that “The Egg Man” would be a horrible horrible mistake and decided to go in a different path and the Gooker may have just been a late throw-in since the egg had already been so heavily advertised. If you haven’t figured it out yet, instead of The Egg Man, Mark Calaway became the conscience of the WWF, The Undertaker. Just take a moment to think about that one …
Grand Finale Match of Survival
The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana
Ted DiBiase, Rick “The Model” Martel, The Warlord, Power & Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma)
Not exactly the most exciting of ways to end a pay-per-view. The match started off as a back and forth bout, but quickly turned into nothing more than The Warrior and Hogan can take on anything as, after The Warlord and Tito were eliminated within the first two minutes, the rest of the match was the two biggest stars of the year dominating the remaining four members of the opposing team.
While I’m sure it was nice for guys like The Warlord, Paul Roma and Hercules to walk around saying they were in a WWF pay-per-view main event, the match left a lot on the table. It was the expected finish of the early 90’s.
While the finish of the show may not have been that memorable, the show as a whole was. To get yourself in the Survivor Series spirit, I recommend giving it a look.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SHOW? WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE SURVIVOR SERIES MOMENT? WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FOR THIS YEAR’S INSTALLMENT? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @FROM_THETOPROPE AND LIKE OUR NEW FACEBOOK PAGE AND TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!