Saturday, February 23, 2013

Old School Wrestling: Survivor Series 1988 and Royal Rumble 1989

Survivor Series 1988

The Survivor Series can be summed up in a short paragraph. We watched the Survivor Series about a month ago and it was a bunch of group tag team matches. They all started out pretty well. The best one was the one with the Rockers, the first appearance of Shawn Michaels. All of the matches fell apart by the end of them. They were long and boring. It was one of the most dull pay per view's we've watched so far. If you want to skip one of the old school PPV's, skip this one.

The last Survivor Series match is one that ends with Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan being the only survivors. This, of course, turns into a Hogan love fest because Hogan can't stand anyone getting any more attention than he does.

It's funny. I didn't grow up watching any of these, so I don't have much love for the Hulkster. I really look back at Hogan and realize how he was really the bad guy in so many of his matches by today's standards. More of this in the next PPV.

And onto the Royal Rumble 1989!

This was a lot better than the Survivor Series. It started out with a two out of three falls match with Jim Duggan and the Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) vs. Dino Bravo and The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond). I like the two out of three falls matches. I wish they brought them back. It was a pretty ok match, but there were a few botches. Hacksaw Jim Dugun can get a crowd going like no one else, and they worked the crowd very well. Besides the few moments where the match felt like it was falling apart at the seams, it was a good start to the PPV.

There was a women's title match for once. I really enjoy the women's matches from this era. The Rockin' Robin defeated Judy Martin. It was interesting to me because Robin was pretty much a lightweight. If you take today's diva's and remove the fake breasts and hips, you'd have Robin, she was probably 90 pounds, tops. Judy Martin was a lot heavier, by at least 30-40 pounds. There were a lot of moments where they played up the weight difference. These days, the diva's are all the same size and weight, so you don't get to see heavy and light weight women. It was really fun to watch. Sensational Sherri was on commentary for the match and it was priceless to listen to her. Quality match!

The next match was King Haku vs. Harley Race. It was a meh match. I'm not a fan of Harley Race, but I haven't seen a match where he's in his prime, so it's not really fair for me to make many comments on him. I do want to see one of the matches of him in his prime.

The last match was the Royal Rumble! This is the first one to show up on a PPV, the last one was a televised event. I can tell they were still working out how to work out how some of the eliminations would work, they hadn't streamlined the over the top rope moves yet. It made it almost more fun to watch at times. There were a few moments where the match dragged on, though, especially near the end.

The promos were good, but Hogan's drove me crazy. He totally buried Randy Savage. One of the things that drove me nuts was that he went out of his way to remind everybody that he was the "real" champion even though Savage was the real champion; that Hogan was the "real" champion in the fan's eyes. What a way to treat a guy that's supposed to be your friend and tag team partner!

So Ax and Smash started out the match, then Andre the Giant came out right away. I always feel bad for Andre. At this point he's starting to look pretty worn out at times. He picks up near the end of his time in the match, though. At first he was really slow and tired looking. Anyway. The match starts out great. Really fun. Mr. Perfect comes out, it's nice to see him as he's just starting to pick up steam as a bad guy.

The match picks up a lot when Jake the Snake comes out. I'm really interested in Jake the Snake, seeing as I'm following him now days because he's been getting clean with DDP and has been turning his life around.

Shawn Michaels comes out. I love seeing the young Shawn Michaels. His hair is so poofy! He's out amongst a bunch of bad guys, and the crowd starts to go wild. They really like him. It's fun to see.

Jake gets eliminated quickly by Andre and here's where I can tell times have changed. Jake is a face, everyone's mad. So he goes to the back and gets Damien, his huge snake. Andre's story is that he hates snakes.  The mere appearance of the Undertaker can't make someone eliminate themselves in a Royal Rumble but Damien the snake can make Andre the Giant eliminate himself. Oh Damien the Snake. The Wiki for the Royal Rumble says Andre eliminated himself, but that's not entirely accurate. Jake the Snake throws Damien into the ring in a fit of rage and Andre throws himself over the top rope. So actually, a snake made Andre be eliminated.

Anyway. These days, a good guy throwing a fit and running back to the ring after being eliminated would have made them a bad guy. A good guy throwing a snake into a ring would have been a heel turn. But back then, it was showing everyone that the good guy was a strong character that didn't back down from a fight and got even.

Ok. So the match continues and Macho Man Randy Savage comes out. The crowd goes nuts! I love it. Then Hogan comes out. Ugh. Hogan.

Hogan, being Hogan, has to come out and throw as many guys over the top rope as possible. I'm sure he set some record for some number of years or something. I know he made the record on Warlord for the shortest exit out of the ring, a record that stood until Santino broke it in the Royal Rumble of 2009.

So Hogan does his thing and screws over Randy Savage and "accidentally" throws Savage over the top rope and eliminates him. Instead of throwing a huge crybaby fit like Hogan does later in the match, Savage gets to be the better man and shakes Hogan's hand. You know, like a real good guy. I just would like to point out that by that time's standards and today's standards, Macho Man Randy Savage remains the best of the good guys. I might be biased. Just a little bit.

Hogan gets eliminated by Akeem and the Boss Man and the Royal Rumble starts to look up.

Eventually the end of the match comes, by this point it has started to drag a little bit. The big stars have been eliminated and only Ted DiBiase and Rick Martel remain to come out. My guess is on Ted DiBiase winning, seeing as he's the only name I know. Four guys remain. Akeem, Big John Studd, Martel and DiBiase. Akeem and Martel were eliminated and it was down to Big John Studd and DiBiase. Now, I don't know anything about Big John Studd, so my bets were on DiBiase.

So imagine my surprise when DiBiase was thrown over the top rope. It wasn't the ending I was expecting at all. My husband, who has seen this before, knew that this was one of the last matches for Big John Studd. Per his Wiki page, it is considered one of his crowning achievements. Knowing that, I can see why they had him win.

It was a good match. A pretty good PPV. Better than the Survivor Series 1988.

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