Welcome back to the return of Retro Wrestling. With WWE’s second longest running PPV event, the Survivor Series coming to us later this evening I wanted to go back to a time when the event was special and really meant something to the fans. It was also WWE’s Thanksgiving Night tradition as the first several editions of the event took place on the Holiday. Turkey legs and pro-wrestling. Can’t ask for more from a day off.  The year is 1990. Why am I reviewing the 1990 Survivor Series and not just starting at the first one in 1987? Well, this was the first ever PPV I saw live and one of only three wrestling tapes I had until about the age of 12. The other two being WrestleMania VII and the Saturday Night’s Main Event shows from before and after WrestleMania V. I’ve seen this event at least a dozen times in my life but I never reviewed it. I have fond memories of the show but is it any good? Keep on reading to find out.

 

1990 WWF Survivor Series

Vince McMahon welcomes us to the show with graphics of the teams that will be competing against each other tonight. This edition of Survivor Series is a bit different than the three previous ones. The main event will be the Grand Finale Match of Survival. In that match all the survivors from the previous matches will be on two teams in another Survivor Series match to determine the ultimate survivors.

Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper are the announcers for the event. They talk about the show and how it’s being broadcast to the troops over in Iraq. They show the egg. Yup, the egg. We’ll get to that later.

The Perfect Team makes their way to the ring for the first match. Gorilla tosses it to Mean Gene who is with The Ultimate Warriors. That team consisted of the WWF Champion, Ultimate Warrior, the Intercontinental Champion, Texas Tornado and the Legion of Doom. I’m sure you can imagine the incoherent ramblings that occurred during that one.

The Ultimate Warriors (Ultimate Warrior, Texas Tornado and the Legion of Doom) vs. The Perfect Team (Mr. Perfect and Demolition)

This was at the time when Demolition was three members. Crush was inserted into the mix because age and injury left Ax unable to compete as he used to. Animal jumps Smash to get the action started. Smash is able to gain the advantage and he and Mr. Perfect exchange tags to keep Animal at bay. Animal stops the Perfect Team’s advantage with a big powerslam on Smash. Things get crazy as the Ultimate Warriors clean house on Perfect and Smash. Ax winds up in the ring with the Ultimate Warrior. Ax wasn’t long for the match as the WWF Champion quickly disposes of him with a big splash and we have our first elimination.

As the match progresses, Hawk and Smash are battling in the ring. Hawk nails Smash with a clothesline off the top rope. Hawk goes for the cover but Crush breaks it up. This brings in Animal and now LOD and Demolition start brawling. The referee can’t control the situation and disqualifies both the Legion of Doom and Demolition. We are now down to Perfect vs. Warrior and Tornado.

After the quadruple elimination, Warrior wants to do battle with Perfect. Perfect wants the Tornado who beat Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship. Perfect got a measure of revenge by eliminating Tornado after cracking his head on the exposed turnbuckle followed by the Perfect Plex.

Perfect is looking to really make his mark and eliminate both the Intercontinental and WWF Champions. Perfect had things in complete control then seemingly out of nowhere Warrior got a second wind, hit three clotheslines, a shoulder tackle and a big splash and that was all for this match. Warrior advances to the Grand Finale.

Winners- The Ultimate Warriors. The Ultimate Warrior was the sole survivor. (**)

The match went 14:19. It really wasn’t anything special. It got the crowd going by getting to see the WWF Champion early in the night. Warrior was super over in 1990. Perfect really carried his team but didn’t get much help from his opponents to have a standout match.

Sean Mooney is in the back with the Million Dollar Team. The talk is all about the speculation of who their mystery partner is.

Ted DiBiase is last to enter the ring and he introduces his mystery partner. He is led to the ring by Brother Love. The partner is The Undertaker and a mysterious, ominous figure makes his way to the ring.

The Dream team (Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware and The Hart Foundation vs. The Million Dollar Team (Ted DiBiase, Rhythm and Blues and The Undertaker)

The Undertaker starts the match off with Bret Hart as the announcers speculate where the Undertaker came from. It didn’t take Taker long to make an impact. After using power moves to scare off the Hart Foundation, Koko B. Ware comes in the ring. In all of his Hall of Fame wisdom he charges Undertaker, Taker sidesteps and hit the first ever Tombstone in WWF/E history and that’s all for Koko.

The Undertaker looks bored by the match so he tags out. Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine take turns beating on Bret Hart but Bret makes a blind tag to his Tag Team Championship Partner, The Anvil and Anvil drills HTM with a big powerslam and that sends Honky back to the Heartbreak Hotel.

After Dusty and DiBiase go at it for a bit, Anvil is in there with the Million Dollar Man. Anvil seems in control but DiBiase’s man servant, Virgil grabs Anvil’s leg and when he turns around he gets drilled by a DiBiase clothesline and that’s enough to send the Anvil packing.

The Million Dollar Team takes their respective turns beating on Dusty Rhodes until The Undertaker tags in. Taker goes to the top rope and knocks Dusty out with a big double axe handle. Things are looking grim for Bret Hart as he is now in a 3 on 1 situation.

While Dusty Rhodes is on the floor, Brother Love takes some cheap shots on Rhodes. When Rhodes gets to his feet he goes after Brother Love. This brings The Undertaker off the apron to defend his manager. He beats up Dusty in the aisle and we hear a bell ring. We are informed that the Undertaker was counted out. Gorilla says Taker must have been the legal man. He wasn’t. He was clearly on the apron when he went after Rhodes. I can understand that they didn’t want to have Taker get pinned in his first match but I don’t understand how he gets counted out when he’s not the legal man. Anyway, back in the ring, Valentine is setting up Bret for the Figure Four Leg Lock but Bret Reverses it into a Small Package and that’s enough to keep The Hammer down. We are down to Bret vs. DiBiase.

Bret and Ted go back and forth for the next five minutes. Really good work by both here. Bret got in some really close near falls to really get the crowd excited. Bret hit a cross body block but his momentum carried DiBiase over. DiBiase cradled his hands and pinned Hart at 13:55 to win the match and advance to the Grand Finale.

Winners- The Million Dollar Team. Ted DiBiase was the sole survivor. (***)

Fun match. I always talk about these Survivor Series matches making a star out of someone and that’s what this one did for Bret Hart. He was known as solely a tag team wrestler at this point and this match gave him a chance to show what he could do on his own at the end of the match with DiBiase. He did not disappoint and it was just the following summer where he got his first taste of singles gold. This match also got the career of another legend off and running, The Undertaker. When he debuted did he look like a guy that would be one of the best ever and still putting on stellar matches almost 25 years later? Not really but give credit to the WWE for sticking with the character and credit to Taker himself for making that character into one of the biggest icons in wrestling history.

Mean Gene is in the showers with The Vipers which consists of The Rockers, Jake Roberts and Jimmy Snuka. Jake still has the crazy eye from when Rick Martel sprayed him in the face with Arrogance. Jake is in the showers with his team because he’s a creep but he gets his team pumped up by extolling their toughness.

The Vipers (Jake Roberts, Jimmy Snuka and The Rockers) vs. The Visionaries (Rick Martel, The Warlord and Power and Glory)

The match starts off with Marty Jannetty trying to avoid the power of The Warlord. The Warlord was a man that never met a steroid he didn’t like. He also couldn’t move very well in the ring. Warlord tags in Martel and Marty tags in a very young Shawn Michaels as the speed of the match picks up. With Martel down, Shawn tags in Jake and the place goes bonkers because they all want to see Jake get his hands on Martel but like any shifty heel he tagged out of the ring. Eventually, Marty would find his way back in the ring with The Warlord and tries his luck with a top rope move but comes up snake eyes as Warlord catches him and drills him with a nice powerslam to eliminate one half of the Rockers.

As the match moves along, Michaels takes a beating from The Visionaries until Martel misses Michaels in the corner and rams his own shoulder into the ring post. Michaels tags in Sunka who goes back and forth with Martel. Snuka attempts a second rope cross body but Martel rolls through and hooks the tights to eliminate Superfly. Jake rushes in the ring to get his hands on Martel but The Model tags in Hercules.

A one eyed Jake is held down by Power and Glory until Paul Roma misses a top rope fist drop. This allows Jake to tag in Shawn. Shawn is running through Roma until Roma blind tags Hercules. It was all Visionaries from here on out. Power & Glory eliminated Michaels with the Power Plex which was one of the nicer tag team finishers at the time. Jake is now left all by himself to face all four Visionaries.

Jake wasn’t as helpless as you’d think. He hit the DDT on the Warlord but the referee was distracted by Power and Glory. Martel grabs his Arrogance and tries to spray Jake with it. Jake avoids the cologne spray and grabs his snake Damien and chases Martel out of the arena. The referee counts out Jake and declares the entire Visionaries team survivors after 18:02 of action.

Winners- The Visionaries. The entire team survives (**1/4)

Martel runs out of the arena and is not counted out because he isn’t the legal man. Makes sense, right? Then why the hell was The Undertaker counted out when he wasn’t the legal man not even an hour earlier? It was announced that this was the first time in Survivor Series history that an entire team survived. The match itself was solid. Michaels really showed glimpses of the Hall of Famer he would become. The crowd really wanted to see Jake get his hands on Martel but the WWF did an excellent job of building to the payoff of the feud. Sadly that payoff was one of the bigger disasters in WrestleMania history.

We now head to the back where Sean Mooney is with Hulk Hogan and his team of Hulkamaniacs as they ready for their upcoming match.

The Natural Disasters (Earthquake, Dino Bravo, Haku and The Barbarian) vs. The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Tugboat, Jim Duggan and The Big Bossman)

Haku and Jim Duggan slug it out to start the match. Bossman tags in and quickly gets Haku out of there with the Bossman Slam. That’s a shame because I’ve always been a fan of Haku’s. He was probably my favorite heel to watch during this time period.

As the match progresses, Duggan is in there trying to knock down Earthquake. He hits the ropes and Jimmy Hart pulls down the rope causing Hacksaw to topple out of the ring. Duggan grabs his 2X4 and chases Hart. The chases winds up in the ring and Duggan idiotically cracks Earthquake with the 2X4 and gets disqualified and we now have three on each side.

Hulk Hogan is now in the ring and gets his hands on his rival, Earthquake. He even slams the big man but he can’t hold the advantage and Quake tags in Dino Bravo. Bravo has Hogan down but does a little too much showboating and gets caught in a Small Package that sends him packing.

We now have Bossman and Quake going at it and when Bossman hits the ropes, Barbarian kicks him in the back and Quake follows it up with two big elbows and pins the Bossman bringing us down to a two on two match.

Hogan is in there with Quake now and tries to go to the well again by slamming Quake but he doesn’t have the same luck and almost gets eliminated when Quake falls on top of him. Hulk is able to tag Tugboat into the match for the first time. Tugboat isn’t even in the ring for 30 seconds when Hogan pulls Quake out of the ring. Quake rams Hogan’s back into the post and now he and Tugboat brawl on the floor until the referee counts them both out. We are now down to Hogan vs. Barbarian.

Barbarian throws everything at Hogan including a pile driver trying to get rid of the Hulkster. He heads to the top and drills Hulk with a flying clothesline. Barbarian was a surprisingly agile guy for his size. After the clothesline, Hogan had enough. He Hulked up, three punches, big boot and the leg drop and the match was over at the 14:49 mark. Hogan punches Bobby Heenan in the face for good measure after the match.

Winners- The Hulkamaniacs. Hulk Hogan was the sole survivor. (*1/2)

The match wasn’t very good. You can’t expect much from the group of guys that were in this match. Earthquake and Tugboat had no business being wrestlers. They were just big tubs of goo and that’s the reason why Vince McMahon hired them. It also didn’t help that Haku, the best worker of the group was eliminated in the early stages of the match.

We head over to Mean Gene who has a special interview with Randy Savage. It is a shame we couldn’t get him in a match at this PPV. He basically says he has his sights set on winning the WWF Championship back from the Ultimate Warrior. Their collision course for WrestleMania was at the early stages. Savage says he may just retire after he beats Warrior because he’ll have nothing left to prove.

As The Mercenaries head to the ring, Mean Gene catches up with their captain, Sgt. Slaughter. This was just awful. Especially with Slaughter talking about maggots, puke and camel dung. I know he was playing a character but it must have been tough to be him waving an Iraqi flag and denouncing the USA during a war. This interview went on longer than most of the matches at this PPV. I remember hating it as a kid and I hate it even more now.

The Alliance (Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana and The Bushwhackers) vs. The Mercenaries (Sgt. Slaughter, The Orient Express and Boris Zhukov)

The entire Mercenaries team had their face painted in camouflage. The first elimination occurs in less than a minute as Tito drills Zhukov with a flying forearm. Then not even a minute later the Bushwhackers eliminate Kato of the Orient Express. Then before you can process what happened, Tanaka is eliminated by Tito and now Slaughter is there all by himself less than three minutes into the match.

Slaughter doesn’t go down quietly as he only needs a few minutes to eliminate Nikolai and both Bushwhackers. We are down to Slaughter and Tito. Slaughter has Tito in trouble and looks like he may pull off a clean sweep. Slaughter whips Tito into the referee in the ring and the referee is down. General Adnan sneaks in the ring and drills Tito with the Iraqi flag. Sarge locks in the Camel Clutch. The referee comes to and calls for the bell. Slaughter thinks he won but the referee on the outside saw Adnan attack Tito and Sarge in disqualified and thankfully this match is over after 10:44.

Winners- The Alliance. Tito Santana is the sole survivor. (1/2*)

The match was just awful. It was borderline unwatchable. I guess they had Slaughter go 4 vs. 1 for a while to show how tough he was as he would become WWF Champion a couple of months later. The less said about this match, the better.

We head to the back where Sean Mooney is with one Grand Finale team. That team is comprised of Ted DiBiase and all of The Visionaries.

Mean Gene is at the egg. The egg is this giant egg that would be at WWF arenas and there was rampant speculation as to what was in the egg. We knew the egg would hatch at the Survivor Series. The egg hates as the anticipation builds to a crescendo and the crowds boos. Why are they booing? Because of a freakin’ turkey like creature in a costume that looks like it was borrowed from a second grade Thanksgiving play comes out of the egg. Gene dubs him the Gobbledy Gooker. Gooker and Gene dance around the ring for a few minutes as Gorilla and Roddy try to convince us that this is the greatest thing ever. It wound up being one of the biggest blunders in WWF history.

Now we here from the other Grand Finale team. This team is Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana and The Ultimate Warrior.

The Grand Finale Match of Survival- Ted DiBiase, Power and Glory, Rick Martel and The Warlord vs. Tito Santana, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior

We have our first elimination even before Hogan gets his bandana off. He punches Warlord and Tito follows that up with a flying forearm to bounce the big man. Tito is now in there with DiBiase. He looks to finish off Ted with another flying forearm but he misses. DiBiase drops him throat first on the top rope and pins him to put Hulk and Warrior at a four vs. two disadvantage.

Hogan takes a lot a punishment from the heel team and they look to finish him with the Power Plex. Roma goes for the pin but Hogan Hulks out of it and drills Roma with a big clothesline and pins him to narrow their disadvantage.

Martel puts the boots to Hogan but Hulk gets the tag to Warrior. The WWF Champion is a house of fire and all over the Model. Hogan tags back in and drills Martel with a big boot and clotheslines him out of the ring. Martel decides he’s had enough and gets counted out. We are down to Hercules and DiBiase vs. Hogan and Warrior.

Now the good guys are on a roll. Big boot and leg drop eliminates DiBiase. Warrior tags in and it’s three clotheslines and a splash on Hercules and Hogan jumps back in the ring to count along with the referee and this one is over after 9:07.

Winners- Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior (*1/4)

The match was fun for what is was. It would have been nice for it to go maybe ten minutes longer but I guess you can’t have everything in life. I liked the idea behind the Grand Finale match. I just wished they would have been more creative than putting the heels vs. the babyfaces. If you expected anything other than what happened in this match then you don’t know WWF/E booking very well. The two top babyfaces were booked strong and overcame the odds to send the crowd home happy.

Hogan and Warrior pose and celebrate together to end the show.

 

The Diagnosis

This edition of the Survivor Series was a big step down from the previous three years. The matches were all very short. Earlier editions of Survivor Series had matches the routinely went 25-40 minutes. When the matches are short like this the eliminations happen too quickly and it’s really hard to get into a match when so much is happening so fast.

My guess is they felt they needed to freshen up the Survivor Series concept by adding the Grand Finale match. It’s something I’d like to see them bring back. The current WWE roster is huge. You could easily do 4-5 Survivor Series matches and add in the Grand Finale match and still be able to have both World Titles defended. I would add a stipulation to that Finale match to make it mean something. You could have the Finale survivors have a guaranteed final five number in the Royal Rumble. The Survivor Series was such a great concept that has basically been forgotten about. It would be nice to see them do something to get the fans interested in the show again and make the Survivor Series matches mean something.

I’ll always have fond memories of this show since it was the first PPV I ever saw live but if you haven’t seen it you didn’t miss much. It is cool to look back at the debut of The Undertaker and watch Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels show glimpses of their Hall of Fame abilities while they were still tag team specialists. The 1990 Survivor Series was a watchable show but it wasn’t up to the level of the previous three shows. If you do check out this show, make sure you have the remote ready to fast forward through the debacle that was the Gobbledy Gooker. Let’s go ahead and hang a 5/10 on the 1990 Survivor Series.

 

Check out the Retro Wrestling Archives:

2001 WWF King of the Ring

2002 WWE Backlash

2003 WWE Unforgiven

2004 WWE Bad Blood

WWE No Way Out 2005

ECW One Night Stand 2006

WWE Backlash 2007

WWE’s The Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event Part One

WWE’s The Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event Part Two

WWE’s The Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event Part Three

 

 

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