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A Thanksgiving Tradition: The 1987 WWE Survivor Series

Welcome to November nostalgic nuggets and I’m not the type of asshole that treats Thanksgiving as the bastard step-child of the three BIG holidays skipping it over entirely when Halloween ends and diving balls deep into Christmas. This year, I’ll be serving up several pieces of delightful articles in what I see as essential Thanksgiving traditions, or at least what I’ve experienced anyway, in a nostalgic pie, with the first taste being the all-important WWE SURVIVOR SERIES.

I’ve always enjoyed the atmospheric pleasures of the gluttonous holiday as yours truly grew up in an Italian-American household where food was life and the center of everything. Getting together for these 6-hour long meals was something we looked forward to all year and while waiting for each course like a bunch of fat hobbits anxiously awaiting secondsies and thirdsies, we gathered around old-faithful in my grandparent’s living room (a giant Magnavox TV floor model) and watched the WWE annual Pay Per View event of Survivor Series. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the first-ever battle of survival in the WWE ring so it seems only fitting I focus on the one that started it all, even tho the 1990 SS will forever be the goddamn greatest of all time (umm hello Undertaker debut and Gobbedly Gooker). Not to say the 1987 event didn’t have some exciting moments because it sure as shit did, and a few underrated ones at that. Just a personal preference really.

But first, a little back-story:

With Vince McMahon having the wrestling world under his thumb, remaining independent territories struggled to stay afloat and while moderately successful they remained with loyal fans, it didn’t stop the wrestling mogul from screwing with them to the point of taking every little bit of bread crumbs they could get. Vince started the Survivor Series as an answer to Starrcade- the brain-child of NWA promoter Jim Crockett from 1983-1987 before moving into the WCW and aired on closed-circuit television every Thanksgiving before moving to Pay Per View in 1987. With that being the case, McMahon does what the guy does best and wanted to further his stronghold on the wrestling world by launching his own Pay Per View Event as a giant fuck you to the rest of the already, heavily bruised egos of remaining territory heads. So, the Survivor Series was born out of gluttonous greed and dick-measuring contests.

Ironic seeing as how these are how most Thanksgiving family dinners end up, eh?

Anyways, let’s get down to the glorious matches that came about as a result and begat one of the greatest Thanksgiving traditions.

Team Savage Vs Team Honky

First off, I just want to point out that one of the greatest SS matches ever was spearheaded by Randy Savage with an entire team he had/will have mega beef with. Just goes to show the guy knew who he had great chemistry with, as it’s well-known Savage was a master of organizing a great match for the audiences.

Team Captain Savage paired with Ricky Steamboat, Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts, and Brutas Beefcake to take on his formidable foe at the time The Honkey Tonk Man, who leading up to this match had a pretty great soap-opera-esque type of feud going that involved Honky pushing Elizabeth to the ground and busting Savage over the head with his crap guitar. His team consisted of Harley Race, Ron Bass, Danny Davis, and Hercules.

Jim Duggan and Harley Race were in the middle of a rivalry over the King of the Ring crown, brawled outside the ring, and wound up counted out. Beefcake was eliminated courtesy of a Shake, Rattle and Roll while Team Savage continued to pick apart the Honkey Squad, eliminating Danny Davis, Hercules, and Ron Bass. What’s great about this is that Honky Tonk Man, this smug shit who had claimed to be the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, now had three very pissed-off big dudes awaiting their revenge on this guy and this was their time, FINALLY. Honky received quite a berating along with a beating but alas, the coward emerges the current IC champion booked it from the ring and gets intentionally counted out to avoid further embarrassment. Spawning hatred from the fans who already despised this Memphis Shmuck even more than they did before and Survivor Series had its first underrated classic.

DM Credit: NotRobVanDam

Team Moolah VS Team Sherri

Next, we have another severely underrated gem and I’m not talking about strictly confining this to Women’s Wrestling; and that mostly has to do with one of the coolest Tag Team Gals ever in the game: The Jumping Bomb Angels.

Team Sherri Martel, woman’s champion at the time, led the team of Dawn Marie, Donna Christanello with The Glamour Girls Judy Martin and Leilani Kai against Moolah and her clan of Rockin’ Robin (Jake Roberts’ sister for those who don’t know), Velvet McIntire, with Jumping Bomb Angels Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno.

The Japanese power duo of the Bomb Angels were front and center of this match and anyone taking a break because its a “girls’ throw-away match” as some people would refer to the Women’s arena part of WWE of the 80s’, were FOOLS as these ladies did it better than more than half the men on this ticket. Not for nothing but McIntire was fun to watch too with her agility and technical skills.

Christanello was eliminated first by McIntyre with a victory roll with Robin hitting a running crossbody on Marie, pinning her and giving Moolah’s team the advantage of three against five. About this time we see what these Angels can do when Yamazaki bridges out of a pinning attempt from Kai and shortly after reverses it with an unsuccessful pin followed by some flying body scissors that impress even the most unphased of them all Jesse Ventura.

After some back and forth, Sherri comes in with a vengeance and hits Robin with a vertical suplex eliminating her. Then the real action starts with the Glamour Girls hitting a double clothesline on Moolah and Judy Martin, which would ultimately lead to Moolah being pinned and out she goes. McIntyre then takes out Sherri with another victory roll pin. Leilani Kai turns the tables however and takes out McIntyre after an electric chair drop. Now, the Bomb Angels can really shine. Both tag teams come into the match. Yamazaki hits a diving crossbody from the top rope on Kai and pins her with Tateno hitting a flying clothesline on Martin winning the match showing an American crowd what the Japanese culture has to offer and just absolutely pulverizes every lady in that ring as far as showmanship and skill. Team Sherri sucked and never really stood a chance in hell, even without the scripted loss. However, the Angels eventually won the crowd over towards the end and saved this match from being a total wash. It was also the last time we would see a ladies’ match at Survivor Series for a LONG TIME.

DM Credit: NotRobVanDam

The 20-Man Tag Team Match

The 20-man tag team was just that: a team of ten tag teams from the federation beating the hell out of each other. The rules for this one were that if one-half of your tag team member is eliminated then his partner is out too. Had this not been instated, this match could have easily gone on for close to two hours. The match itself runs 40 mins long, so instead of boring you with a really long play-by-play, how about some interesting facts about this particular segment instead!

The “Heel Team” was made up of The Bolsheviks, Demolition, The Hart Foundation, The Islanders, and the New Dream Team and each one had a heel manager at ringside. Although I was always one to enjoy Bobby Heenan’s shit-talking, with the addition of Jimmy Hart, Slick, Mr. Fuji, and Johnny V, that’s enough to give anyone a migraine.

Back in the day if you watched any of these on the famed Coliseum Video, you might notice a monumental fuck up during this ticket. Mid-way through the match, the British Bulldogs are eliminated when Haku pins Dynamite Kid following a savage kick. The entire elimination sequence was mistakenly (one has to assume) edited from the VHS of the event. So for those that only got to see the event via VHS, I would imagine a lot of confusion when all of a sudden the Bulldogs disappeared after kicking all the ass with no explanation.

Anyways, the “Face Team” of Strike Force, The British Bulldogs, The Killer Bees (who totally rule), The Young Stallions, and The Fabulous Rougeaus with Killer Bees and Young Stallions beating all the opposing team members and were victorious in survival.

WWE

Now here’s a special segment from everyone’s most hated millionaire, Ted Dibiase!

Newcomer to the WWE “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase spared no expense promoting his wealth and cringe behavior to the rest of the world shooting him straight up the ranks of most hated heels in a really short amount of time. With the show needing some downtown between the 20-man event and the Main Event of the evening, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura threw us a video package of the “Million Dollar Wrestling Mogul” in which of all the times he was “thankful” for being able to degrade the common public with a chance of them making a few bucks.

Seen above is a young Rob Van Dam kissing Diabase’s feet, while another shows then unknown, Linda McMahon barking like a dog for some cash.

Even as a young kid, I actually really liked watching Dibiase work the crowd. Everyone thought I was a sociopath for actually digging the guy, I mean hey- the shit he pulled was pretty hilarious, but I was also the kid that laughed hysterically at the live show I attended where The Undertaker who was then a heel, stuffed The Ultimate Warrior in a casket on a Funeral Parlor segment.

Oh well. I’m accepting that I might just be sort of a sociopathic asshole.

The Main Event: Team Hogan VS Team Andre

Here it is- the main event we’ve been waiting for all night ever since that record-breaking crowd event at Wrestlemania III where Hulk Hogan would face Andre the Giant once more.

Hogan’s team of Paul Orndoff, Bam Bam Bigelow, Ken Patera, and Don Muraco were facing a multitude of size and weight against Team Andre who had of course Andre, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude. Don Muraco, who was Team Face, was actually a last-minute replacement on the team as Superstar Billy Graham was slated to be a part of the ticket. However, Graham was hindered by a real-life hip replacement and was severely limited in his matches. So he was written out of the match and replaced just a few days before with a Butch Reed and One Man Gang assault angle as his injuries were too much for the former champion.

The match itself is fairly standard up until almost half of each team is eliminated giving Andre, One Man Gang, and King Kong Bundy an advantage over Hogan and Bam Bam. However, no one at the time saw this coming, but Hogan got caught being counted out of the ring fighting off Bundy and Gang; leaving Bam Bam Bigelow to take on over 1,200 pounds of meaty wrestlers all on his own.

I gotta say this was one hell of a way to put over Bam Bam as someone to watch in the WWE and it’s well-known to many wrestling aficionados that Andre truly loved the sport and a hell of a guy- doing everything he could to make someone else look great. Andre had not wrestled since the infamous match at Wrestlemania as his health was starting to decline at this point but that didn’t stop him, or anyone else for that matter, from putting on a grand finale.

All for it to be ruined by a dickhead move by the Hulkster.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Hulk as much as the next gal/guy back in the day but even I thought this was sort of, well, fucked up. Bam Bam SOMEHOW manages to pin both Bundy and Gang (in that order) but is ultimately taken out by Andre, as anyone would be. Bigelow is great but he ain’t Superman. Then, as Andre’s hand is raised as the sole survivor, Hogan comes dashing out from the locker room and beans him with his belt. I’d have to agree with Jessie Ventura on this one, “What a sore loser!”

Sure, I get it. We had to end the program with the soon-to-be-cliche finale of Hogan and his anthem. But damn, that was just so unnecessary and borderline cringe.

WWE

Welp, since you’ve made it this far, let us give thanks over a bowl of my Nan’s heart Italian Christmas Soup that we as a collective of our generation, were the first to experience this wild Thanksgiving tradition that went on for many years after, and even today as I must also give thanks to Peacock streaming for allowing us to watch every Survivor Series ever back to back on bust-your-gut Turkey Day to keep that nostalgic tradition alive.

The Insane 1985 WWF Halloween Party And Land Of 1000 Dances!

Sweet Goddess I love retro wrestling. In the 80s’, Saturday Night’s Main Event was THEE late-night television special to watch on the weekend. In 1985, the then called WWF (WWE) blew up all over mainstream and Hulkamania was indeed running wild all over our faces. From Saturday morning cartoons, live events, and the first ever Wrestlemania, there was no stopping the WWF train. When they threw in Saturday Night’s Main Event as a deal with SNL’s producers as a replacement for the NBC show reruns, ratings skyrocketed and it became a more regular airing for the network. While the shows were inconstant with an airing schedule in their premiere year, there was ONE particular episode that sated on my mind for years to come- and that was of course, the WWF HALLOWEEN PARTY that featured the infamous LAND OF 1000 DANCES!

The third ever Saturday Night’s Main Event was taped on October 31st, 1985 and aired on November 2nd with an insane Halloween party interjecting in-between matches; one being a Kung-Fu match between Ricky Steamboat and Mr. Fuji that is as entertaining as that sounds.  The Halloween party hosed by a pumpkin donning Mean Gene turned into a competition of course between the faces and heels with the “good guys” being captained by Lou Albano (dressed as Julius Caesar) and his teammates Tito Santana (as Zorro), Hulk Hogan (as Hercules), Hillbilly Jim, Uncle Elmer, and Cousin Junior (as the Three Musketeers. Heenan (dressed as Davey Crockett but constantly mistaken for a weasel heh) was joined by Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth (as Tarzan and Jane), The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (as Batman and Robin), and King Kong Bundy (as Abraham Lincoln). The “games” consisted of bobbing for pumpkins, a pumpkin toss, and a hilarious pie-eating contest (seen below) that ends up in a food fight because why wouldn’t it!? The weasel, I mean, Davey Crockett Heenan easily beats Junior in the pumpkin bobbing (with that mouth is anyone surprised?) and Albano gluttonously defeats Bundy in the pie-eating segment- leaving the score 1-1 and all the Halloween Heavyweight Champion of games to be settled in the “pumpkin toss”.

r d

I don’t know why the hell it’s called a pumpkin toss when the game consists of having teams of wrestlers pass a pumpkin underneath their chin. You know that game you do at middle school parties in a weird attempt to get close to the opposite sex? Well instead of that, you get a bunch of giant wrestlers in costumes trying to do it. It’s every bit as awkward as it sounds and I love every second of it. Anyway, the game ends when Elizabeth fumbles the gourd and Randy Savage scolds her in such a way you’d thought the woman killed Jesus or something.

While the Halloween party is ensuing in hilarity, we get to visit Roddy Piper in his “rented American home” and see how the rowdy one spends the spooky holiday with Vince McMahon there to interview and give us play by play deets. Like out of a Halloween urban legend joke, Piper wraps up bricks to make them look like giant chocolates, and bowling balls disguised as giant candy apples because hey, according to him the Scottish like to celebrate “the trick” in Trick or Treat. Trick or Treaters arrive, one dressed as the Hulkster so of course this pisses Roddy off. In typical Hot Rod behavior, Piper demeans them and tricks them into giving him their candy in exchange for his asinine-sized fake candy. It’s a total prick moment that showcases why we love to hate the guy and then karma rears it’s ugly head when the kids’ actually slipped him hot peppers disguised as candy. PRICELESS.

Finally, we end with The Land of 100 Dances that was a promotion tie-in for the Rock ‘N” Wrestling connection with MTV. With Meatloaf on the drums and Cyndi Lauper singing back-up, this superstar-filled wrestling WTF has become legendary and no better way to introduce this now nostalgic nugget of WWE history than during their Halloween special?! The thing that kills me is Mr. Wonderful kissing his fuckin’ biceps for the entire duration of the music video along with Piper sticking a Goonies movie promotion in there; as I’m sure you recall, the WWF and Cyndi Lauper did a massive promo for that film with the “Good Enough” video. Also another reason why Roddy is the goddamn GOAT. Fuck I miss that guy.

Anyways, here’s visual proof that this wasn’t some sort of fever dream we all had 36 years ago and a friendly reminder that “Hogan’s such a YOYO.”

[Video] Stand Back! It’s The 1987 WWE Slammy Awards!

Ahh, the Slammy Awards. First introduced in 1986 in a mockumentary-style of the prestigious Grammy Awards all to promote the Rockin’ Wrestling conjunction WWF Wrestling Album, Vince McMahon rode that wave of world wide domination success and made his own damn awards show for his Superstars. While most of the show was of course scripted and meant to entertain much like the matches themselves, there was some seriousness to it which became more-so later on in the following years where getting a Slammy was indeed, a great honor in the sport. But, yeah- it didn’t really start out that way and I got the receipts to prove it.

[VIDEO] THE FISH-SLAPPING 1987 WWE SLAMMY AWARDS!

I could stop right here but that isn’t any fun now is it?

Despite being billed as the “37th Annual Slammy Awards“, the program returned on December 16th, 1987 with hosts “Mean Gene” Okerlund and Jesse “The Body” Ventura in a perfect nuance of entertainment announcing while the likes of McMahon (above), Jimmy Hart, and of course, the Honkey Tonk Man performed (or lip synced rather) some umm.. original musical hits. Ending on a “high note” with the entire roster in attendance clapping and singing to their new hit, “If You Only Knew”. Again, all in the name of promotional purposes for the entertainment giant’s second sophomore album (I can’t believe I just said that) “Piledriver”.

The Fink led us into this wild ride with wrestlers showing up in ambulances, motorcycles, dressed to the nine for the all-inclusive Black Tie Spandex Event. Well, except for the Ultimate Warrior; ask him to put on a tux and you’ll essentially just get him in his bicycle ribbons and underwear.

Awards like the Best Performance by an Animal, Best Manager (heh), and Best Ring Apparel were pretty much spoofs and set ups for some comedy entertainment. However, awards like the Hulk Hogan Real American Award presented to Superstar Billy Graham and The Woman of The Year that went to Miss Elizabeth (albeit the setup for that was comedy gold as well), were actually heartfelt and well deserved pat on the backs for these sports stars.

But let’s talk about the real stars of the show here: Hacksaw Jim Duggen and King Harley Race. With the award for Best Ring Attire up for grabs, Duggen was at the podium announcing the nominees along with presenting the award. Now, of course, upon opening the envelope to see his long-time feuding opponent Race has won, has Duggen a bit underwhelmed and doesn’t even want to say his name; forcing the stage-hand co-presenter to mutter the words of the winner. Accompanying the “King” onstage to accept is manager, Bobby Heenan, he ridicules Duggen and proposes the “peon” bow to his superior. Well, we all know we have a better chance of seeing Hacksaw straightening his lazy eye out than watching him bow to the likes of this fucker; so the brawl begins and last throughout the entire damn program.

Starting on the stage and making their way all around the building, the pair throw everything they have at each other, including LIVE CHICKENS and a giant fish. Heh. Still to this day hearing Gorilla Monsoon say, “OH BIG FISH RIGHT IN THE KISSER!” is the celebrated commentator’s Magnum Opus.

Also, why the hell was there just a random donkey hanging out backstage?

Good times.

Watch the entire ham and cheese program, especially if you need a good laugh today, right here with a big shout out to Scott’s Wrestling Collection Youtube channel for uploading this masterpiece.