Sunday, March 17, 2013

Old School Wrestling: Survivor Series 1989

Survivor Series 1989!

This took place during Thanksgiving in Chicago, IL. It starts out with Jessie Ventura in the most amazing turkey pilgrim outfit, he always wears the craziest things. I like events in Chicago, it’s a good place for wrestling, so I know the crowd reaction will be good.

Most of the matches are good, but they’re not excellent. The camera work, though, is spot on. They’re really working with the commentary. There’s a lot of moments where Jessie Ventura or Gorilla Monsoon will say something about one of the wrestlers not in the ring, and the cameras will quickly switch to them. It’s very well done.

In case you don’t know, Survivor Series’ are where it’s 4 on 4 tag team matches where each team tries to eliminate the other side until no one is left. The team left with anyone standing is the winner.

The event starts out quickly.

The Dream Team (Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake, The Red Rooster and Tito Santana) vs. The Enforcers (The Big Boss Man, Bad News Brown, Rick Martel and The Honky Tonk Man) (with Jimmy Hart and Slick as managers)

I am eternally surprised people actually like Beefcake. I am even more surprised people let him bring those damned sheers into the ring. He is seriously wearing a leopard print thong under his tights. Still, Rick Martel finally shows up as the Model and he looks really ripped, so at least we have the Model in the match, which makes up for Beefcake’s ridiculousness and his god awful tights. I feel really bad for the Red Rooster throughout the entire match. The crowd hates him even though he’s supposed to be a face, and he has a decent wrestling style. If he was given half a chance, I could see him doing a lot better. He only works well with a really good heel.

The best part of this match is Bad News Brown. Finally we get a heel that acts like a crybaby and leaves the match. A true heel! It is really a pleasure for me to see a heel acting like a whiny brat instead of the good guys being the brats and somehow getting cheered for it. Very refreshing.

I did really enjoy seeing Dusty Rhodes. I hadn’t seen him do much yet. He’s really good! He has a lot of charisma in the ring. I am looking forward to seeing a lot more from Rhodes. Rhodes and Beefcake end up winning the match by beating the Boss Man, who is another wrestler I like seeing in the ring.

The King's Court (Randy Savage, Canadian Earthquake, Dino Bravo and Greg Valentine) (with Jimmy Hart and Sensational Queen Sherri) vs. The 4x4's: (Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Ronnie Garvin and Hercules).

The 4x4 team all come in carrying 2x4’s a la Jim Duggan and it’s a really cute touch. I’m really surprised they broke up the Hart foundantion, but it is fun to see Bret Hart wrestling without Jim around. I do notice that powder blue tights are in fashion during this pay per view.

Anyway. I didn’t think I would enjoy Garvin at all, but over the past few shows, I’ve really started to like him. He’s one of those tough guys that knows how to sell his moves really well and has a good move set and he seems like a solid guy.

Bret is really picking up steam during this match, the crowd is really getting into his character. He gets a lot of pop and cheers. He has more hearts on his tights, too! He is methodical during this match. In the later part of this match, his execution shines through. Even when he’s losing, he’s still very precise. There are still a few minor goofs but the match is methodical when he’s in the ring. You can tell that Savage and Bret probably both did a lot of planning, I know Savage is a big match planner, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they worked hard on it.

Hacksaw loses the match, in the end, by being counted out. He then rushes back into the ring with his 2x4 and starts hitting the bad guys and acting like a heel. The crowd loves it, of course. Even I like it because it’s Duggan, but it is funny how often the faces act like heels in this era, yet sometimes people say the later generation was so revolutionary because the faces acted like heels and that had never been done before. Well, it had been done before. A lot.

Next up, and it’s a surprising match because Hogan isn’t main eventing:

The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Demolition (Ax and Smash) and Jake Roberts) vs. The Million $ Team (Ted DiBiase, Powers of Pain(The Warlord and The Barbarian) and Zeus) (with Virgil and Mr. Fuji).

Hogan does get a pop, but it’s not quite the pop that he usually gets. I think Chicago is as tired of him as I am. Jake Roberts brings out Damien, the snake, right away and begins threatening the other team with him. I think this is so funny because instead of gently petting Damien, Roberts pets Damien by bapping him on the head. I know Jake Roberts wasn’t the biggest fan of Damien, and I’ve always wondered what happened to the snake in the end. I happen to like snakes.

So this was a match where Zeus got to act like a true heel and got disqualified. Another match where the heel acted like a true heel! He choked out Hogan, then hit the referee, which wasn’t allowed, and got kicked out of the match. It was a big deal back then to hit a referee. I wish they brought this back. These days you can slap a referee around, but back then, referee’s were respected. I like that.

Jessie Ventura is a riot throughout this match. Everyone that fights Hogan gets disqualified for some reason or another. Zeus I understood, but the Powers of Pain get disqualified for double teaming Hogan, which was stupid. Jessie keeps pointing out how Hogan is basically cheating by having the referee just disqualify everyone who fights him, and it’s pretty much true, but since Hogan is such a strong face, Gorilla Monsoon keeps pointing out that it’s not true and Hogan is fighting fairly and so on and so forth. It’s so funny to me. Once again Jessie just lays into Hogan and it would come off as Jessie being so bitter and angry as a heel commentator, but so many years in the future, one has to wonder if Jessie is saying the truth behind Hogan’s backstage politics, brother.

Anyway, the match comes down to DiBiase vs. Jake Roberts and Hogan. Jake gets beaten by DiBiase cheating and using the ropes as leverage for a pin and it’s down to Hogan and DiBiase. Hogan does a terrible job being hurt and injured when DiBiase beats him up. Hogan flops around on the mat like a fish and then all of a sudden (!) he’s better! Then he hits his three moves of doom and wins “against all odds and injuries!” Bah. Saw that coming. It was predictable.

The Rude Brood (Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond)) (with The Genius and Jimmy Hart) vs. Roddy's Rowdies (Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and The Bushwhackers (Butch and Luke)).

This is a good match between the brawler types and the wrestling/technical showmanship types. It’s funny because Roddy Piper gets way more of a pop than Hogan did. Also, Rick Rude’s tights are awesome, as always. There is a lot more back and forth between the two teams in this match, so it’s a lot more exciting than the last match. The last match felt artificial, and this one feels more authentic, less sterile.

Rude and Piper were both counted out, which surprised me. It’s a good mix-up, having the two leaders be out of the match so the match is left to Perfect and Snuka. It was a good push for Perfect, he really is showing he’s got the chops to make it big because his match quality is so good. However, the referee had poor positioning through the last part of this match and nearly keeps getting hit. In the end, Snuka’s high flying moves aren’t enough to take down Perfect, but Perfect hits a Perfectplex and pins Snuka to win the match. That Perfectplex is, well, perfect!

The Ultimate Warriors (The Ultimate Warrior, The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) and Jim Neidhart) vs. The Heenan Family (Bobby Heenan, André the Giant, Haku and Arn Anderson).

Now, I know from my husband that Bobby Heenan wasn’t supposed to be wrestling. Tully Blanchard was supposed to be in his place, but Tully was so drugged out he was canned before the match and Bobby the Brain replaced him. Just goes to show what a great manager Bobby the Brain is that he can just switch gears to wrestle during a main event pay per view.

So Andre gets tagged out very quickly in the match. I can tell he’s not feeling good, his color is really bad. He’s getting close to the end of his run. I kind of feel bad for him.

The Rockers work great as the main event tag team, they are really popular, and they are an excellent tag team. They are probably the best tag team I’ve seen so far next to the Hart Foundation, so I’m not surprised they’re main eventing a Survivor Series. They work really well with the Warrior. He does a lot of moves where he pushes them off the ropes, like a rocket, into their opponents. It’s really awesome! I want to see him in a few more tag matches where he gets to throw his tag partners around. When he gets a chance to get into the ring he explodes out there like a caged animal and really gets the crowd into the match. It’s really exciting.

(This kind of match is perfect for Warrior, who can do short matches perfectly. Tag matches are like a bunch of tiny short matches strung together, and I could see Warrior being really good with a partner like Shawn Michaels, who could sell like crazy in the ring for a while, get beat up really bad, then slap Warrior in, who could explode with revenge against his injured partner. Man, that’d be an awesome tag team. I doubt it ever happens, but the fan in me wishes it happen(ed.))

Anyway. The ending of the match is perfect. Warrior beats up Heenan in the quintessential ‘beating up your evil boss’ ending. Warrior pounds on Heenan, who had acted like a weasel for the whole match and refused to get beat up at all, and pins him, Warrior poses for a minute or two tops with his Intercontinental Championship belt, then runs backstage. For once there’s not an hour of posing!

Final thoughts - 
It was a great ending to the pay per view. I’m going to be honest here, I’m becoming a fan of the Warrior. I know, I know, so many people say he couldn’t wrestle. But... compared to the other main attraction, Hogan, he is so much more fun to watch! He’s not perfect, but he’s so much better than Hogan is.

The 1980’s ended with this pay per view and I can say I’ve learned a lot so far. We have the 90’s to start watching with the Royal Rumble 1990 next. I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot the current fans could learn by watching these old shows as I am, there’s so much I’m picking up on now that I didn’t see when we first started watching, ring psychology and techniques I didn’t know that I know now. You really do start to appreciate the entertainment aspect of it and the time and effort put into the shows as you watch them one by one. Each wrestler changes a little bit, in each one the production quality increases. The company learns and progresses. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the 90’s. Even if it is more Hogan. Brother!

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