Twelve months had passed since the massive success of the WWF’s inaugural Survivor Series event. On November 24th, 1988, World Wrestling Federation was once again LIVE from the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield Township, Ohio, and ready to kick off the second annual, Survivor Series.
This time around, there was not a traditional introduction. This time around, we were promptly welcomed with the sounds of The Ultimate Warrior’s theme music that filled the jam-packed Richfield Coliseum as Warrior led the charge with as much human energy as you have ever seen. Warrior was set to lead his team alongside co-captain, Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake. Team Warrior/Beefcake comprised of both captains joining forces with Jim Brunzell, Sam Houston The ‘Blue Blazer’ aka Owen Hart. The opposing team was led by the massively despised, Honky Tonk Man and Ron Bass. HTM/Bass were accompanied by ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis, ‘Bad News’ Brown, and Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine.
Team Warrior/Beefcake vs Team HTB/Bass
This match started with everything that you could ask for as a wrestling fan. First off, we had Beefcake, who had 100% backing of the fans behind him as he started the match off against the heelish Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. Valentine knew that Beefcake could overpower him and Valentine was known within this period to lock in a nasty figure-4-leglock. Valentine tried working the legs of Beefcake in hopes of softening up the brute. Valentine needed a breather and tagged in ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis, who Beefcake devoured in a matter of moments and eliminated via technical submission. Not long after this exchange, we had The ‘Blue Blazer’ who we later discovered was Owen Hart. Blazer had it all, athleticism, charisma, charm, and an overall explosive character that you help but support as he laid into the ‘bad guys’. Jim Brunzel of Team Warrior/Beefcake soon got his chance with Valentine, and Brunzel may have been one of the more technical wrestlers within the team. Team HTM/Bass may not have been over with the crowd but that did not mean that they were to be overlooked and ‘Bad News’ Brown made that clear once he got into the match. The impressive Jim Brunzel didn’t have a chance once Brown sank his claws into him, Brown eliminated Brunzel via pin-fall, thus leveling out the score to 4-4. Sam Houston was the next to be fed to ‘Bad News’ Brown. Brown was going to town on Houston, simply toying with his opponent before tagging Valentine back into the match. Meanwhile, on the apron, Warrior was frantically pacing, wanting to get into this match in the worse way. Team HTM/Bass soon fell into trouble, however. Just as Brown made the tag to Valentine, the pair were looking to double-team on the helpless Houston. Houston somehow managed to side-step disaster and unintentional (but gladly) caused a rift between Team HTM/Bass. Brown and Valentine collided after the side-step from Houston and were ready to attack each other! HTM and Bass rushed to ring to try to prevent their team from falling apart but ‘Bad News’ Brown had enough and left the ring and abandoned the match. Brown was counted out, giving Team Warrior/Beefcake the 4-3 advantage.
Later in the match, The Ultimate Warrior had finally gotten the tag and the Richfield Coliseum erupted. Warrior got his hands on pretty much every remaining member of Team HTM/Bass and the crowd loved every last minute of it. Warrior was only giving a taste of what he could do, however, and he cleaned house, taking out everyone, before tagging Blazer back into the match, allowing Blazer to hit a diving splash from the top-rope onto HTM, who was now the legal man in the match. Blazer was delivering missile dropkicks, snap-suplexes and monkey flips, picking up the pace of this elimination match. Just as Blazer was picking up momentum, he jumped atop the top-rope. HTM, who was on the apron, ran over to shove Blazer down to the match, allowing Valentine to make the tag and eliminate Blazer via the figure-4-leglock. Towards the end of this opening bout, Beefcake and HTM were eliminated simultaneously as they both failed to get back into the ring before the 10 count as they brawled outside. The match was 2-1 in favor of Team HTM/Bass as Valentine and Bass were left against the lone Ultimate Warrior. Proving he didn’t get his name from a fortune cookie, Warrior ran right through Bass, eliminating him via pin-fall and a mere 20 seconds later, Warrior had pinned Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine for the count of three, to be declared the sole survivor of the match and picking up the victory for his team,
Survivors: Team Warrior/Beefcake
Team Demolitions vs Team Powers of Pain
Next up was a 10 on 10 tag-team elimination match. Similar to the previous year, the two competing teams consisted of five tag teams each. If one member of a tag team were to be eliminated, the other member of that tag team would also be eliminated. The first team that made their way down the aisle was led by co-captains, Ax and Smash (Demolition). Ax and Smash were joined by the teams of Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff, Jacques and Raymond Rougeau, and Dos and Uno aka The Conquistadors. The competition proved to be stiff as we saw the opposing co-captains, The ‘Powers of Pain’ aka The Barbarian and The Warlord leading the teams of The ‘Rockers’ (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty), The ‘British Bulldogs’ and The Hart Foundation.
The first thing you’ll notice when you go back and watch this show is the pageantry. These characters were truly ‘larger than life’ and this was evident in the face paints, the attire, and the fashionable hairstyles that many of these wrestlers sported during this era. The atmosphere during the beginning moments of this match was great. First off, we had Davey Boy Smith going off against Rougeau, followed by Shawn Michaels of The Rockers delivering a flip from the corner turnbuckle, showing a variety of wrestling styles in the match. Jannetty of The Rockers soon made the tag and would up battling with Jacques Rougeau. There were many tags within a short amount of time but Team Powers of Pain had the upper hand. The first elimination came when Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart eliminated The Rougeau’s from the match, giving his team the numbers advantage. Jim ‘The Anvil’ soon joined the fray, as did Smash from Demolition This match displayed athleticism and brutality simultaneously due to the range of performers that were involved in this great match. Ax of Demolition made his way back into the match, as did Shawn Michaels, not long after Michaels made the tag, he was the victim of a brutal 2-on-1 beat down at the hands of Ax and Smash. The referee regained control of the match as he forced Smash out of the ring. At this time, Ax Irish-whipped Michaels into the ropes, Michaels ducked an oncoming clothesline and attempted a crossbody takedown. However, the much larger, Ax, caught Michaels in the air and carried him over to his Team Demolitions side of the ring, where Michales was trapped and helpless.
Ax tagged Volkoff in and Volkoff proceeded to manhandle the young Rocker. After suffering a devastating beatdown, Michaels managed to desperately tag Marty Jannetty into the match. As the match rolled on, Boris Zhukov went on to eliminate Jim Powers from the match, giving his team the much-needed upper hand. However, just moments later, Boris Zhukov was eliminated via pinfall at the hands of Marty Jannetty, meaning that Zhukovv and fellow ‘Bolsheviks’ member, Nikolai Volkoff, were out of the match. The next elimination came with slight confusion as it appeared that Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart had pinned Tully Blanchard and Bret even raised his arm in victory. The referee made the decision, however, that ‘The Hitman’s’ shoulders were down, not Blanchards which resulted in Bret Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart being eliminated – The Hart Foundation were out! The drama continued in this bout as what took place next was a double-disqualification which led to both The ‘Rockers’ (Shawn and Marty) and The ‘Brain Busters’ (Arn and Tully) being eliminated. What happened was Shawn and Tully were the legal men in the match but all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. Jannetty jumped into the ring as did Arn Anderson and Michaels and Anderson were going at on one side of the ring whilst Jannetty and Blanchard were going at it on the other side! Suddenly there were two referees in the ring and they count not contain these two teams. The ‘Rockers’ knocked The ‘Brain Busters’ out of the ring with a double-superkick sequence. It was at that point that ‘The Fink’ grabbed his microphone and announced that both teams had been DQ’d. The match continued and Smash went on to eliminate The ‘British Bulldogs’ by pinning Dynamite Kid. Smash celebrated momentarily before being eliminated via count-out. Mr. Fuji who had been lurking at ringside, pulled down the ring rope when the time was right and caused Smash to fall to the outside. Smash could not get up in time. Demolition were out! Demolition may have been eliminated but they got some retribution on Mr. Fuji as Smash body-slammed Mr. Fuji on the outside before leaving ringside. The remaining teams in this match were Dos and Uno aka The Conquistadors and The Powers of Pain, The Barbarian, and The Warlord. The Barbarian made quick work of Uno with his strength advantage and picked up the pinfall victory in a matter of moments. The Barbarian and The Warlord stood tall as the sole survivors.
Survivors: Team Powers of Pain
‘Mean Gene’ Okerlund caught up with Team Andre/Dino backstage ahead of their upcoming elimination match against Team Jake/Hacksaw. Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, was not hesitant in his attempt to intimidate the opposing team, with the most useful tool in his arsenal, Andre ‘The Giant’. Heenan stared down the lens and dared Jake ‘The Snake’ to imagine having ‘The Giants’ hands squeezing around his neck, hoping to get in the mind of the opponents before the bell had rung. Co-captain, Dino Bravo, made it clear that he was gunning for ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan saying ‘by eliminating you, I will put a little bit of shame into every American in the United States of America’. Andre confidently closed the segment by saying that last year, he brought his team to victory and that on this night, he would do it again, Team Andre/Dino were ready for battle.
Shortly after this backstage interview, Sean Mooney brought us Team Mega Powers (led by Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan) as they had some choice words for their opponents in the Main Event, Team Twin Towers. Savage started by saying that on this night, The Mega Powers had bonded together. Fellow Team Mega Powers member, Koko B Ware. Hillbilly Jim and Hercules voxed that they were ready to fight. Hulk Hogan then had something to say:
Just like the twenty-four inch pythons are the largest arms in the world. Just like Hulkamania has ruled for five long years, there are no weak links in this chain, man. The Mega Power Team has been bonded as one, brother. Body. Mind. Soul. Physical ability. When the might Hercules stood in the Pacific Ocean, when we had our seance, when we raised our hands, united ourselves as one, we will strike down as Hulkamaniacs and I actually feel sorry for the team on the other side. Akeem, The ‘Big Boss Man’, Haku, The ‘Red Rooster’, The ‘Multi-Million Dollar Man’. As far as I’m concerned, when I look across that ring, each and every one of those guys has got a dollar sign planted on their head. Whatcha’ gonna do when Hulk Hogan and The Mega Powers run wild on you.
Team Jake/Hacksaw vs Team Andre/Dino
On one side of the ring, Jake ‘The Snake” Roberts joined forces with ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan to lead the team of Ken Patera, Scott Casey, and Tito Santana. Whereas Andre ‘The Giant’ and Dino Bravo were adamant that their team of ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig, ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, and Harley Race would be the surviving team. Patera kicked things off against Rick Rude.
This match is one of the most hard-hitting bouts of the night. Team Andre/Dino led the first have of this match with intelligent choices and a methodical wrestling style. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan made his way into the ring and with just one breath of his signature phrase, ‘Hooooooo!’, Duggan had the crowd in the palm of his hands. Once again, as per the style and nature of these elimination matches, tag-ins were plentiful. Duggan found himself squaring up against Rick Rude and the crowd erupted after every bit of offense that Duggan made. Patera tagged in and had an opportunity to get his hand on the ‘Ravishing’ one but was met with the ‘Rude Awakening’, followed by a successful 3 count, Patera was out! Scott Casey ran into the ring trying to attack Rude from behind but rude was a step ahead and managed to sneak a tag to Harley Race, Race immediately tagged in Dino Bravo who instantly eliminated Casey with apparent ease. Team Andre/Dino were up 5-3 and Team Jake/Hacksaw were in clear danger. Mr. Perfect soon found himself in the ring with Jim Duggan. Perfect lured ‘Hacksaw’ to the opposite side of the ring where Rick Rude was tagged back in and a sequence of rapid tags took place once again until we were left with Tito Santana and Harley Race fighting it out for their respective team. So far, the match had been great. The pace had quickened and Team Andre. Dino was proving that they were not to be messed with. The only thing was that we still had not seen Andre enter the ring as of yet, the audience was anticipating it. As the match progressed, and with Patera and Casey already eliminated, Santana made a line of improvement by successfully eliminating Harley Race via pinfall which didn’t exactly level the score but it was not far off. However, Andre would go on to eliminate Santana soon afterward. The score was now 4-2 in favor of Team Andre/Dino. Immediately after Snatanas departure, ‘Hacksaw’ got back in the ring, and oh my god, would I have loved to have been in the Richfield Coliseum at this moment in time. The crowd lost their damn minds – they were so pumped and so purely in support of Jim Duggan, it was great to see such enthusiasm for Professional Wrestling. In Duggan’s passion and adrenaline he somehow knocked Andre ‘The Giant’ to the mat, next to ropes and Andre’s are were tangled between the ropes. In a rare event, ‘The Giant’ was helpless. Duggan was feeding off the energy of the crows and started throwing right hand after right hand into the face of Andre, who could not physically shield himself. Jake Roberts then made his way into the match and he had his go at ‘The Giant’. Jake started choking Andre but without a moment’s notice, ‘The Giant’ had managed to free himself – and everybody fled. Andre was expectedly irate but at the same time exhausted.
Andre was plotting for retribution later on in the match as he smartly tagged out. Later in the match, Duggan and Dino were going back and forth, Duggan was sick of Dino at this point and thought with his heart instead of his head. Duggan grabbed one of his trademarked 2×4’s from ringside, rolled back into the ring, and smashed it against Dino. Now, we know what Duggan was thinking here, ‘I’ve had enough of this guy, I’ll show him’ but Duggan got himself eliminated, leaving Jake ‘The Snake’ to fend for himself as the last remaining member of his team against 4 members of Team Andre/Dino. Duggan seemed surprised and audibly called BS on the decision. Jake was seen gesturing from the ring apron as if to say ‘what the hell have you done?’. Jake was forced to get into the ring for this 4 on 1 battle. Jake Roberts was not a man to back down from a fight, Roberts fought off Mr. Perfect until Perfect tagged Dino into the match. Dino, who was dubbed the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ gave Jake one hell of a fight, Jake continued to fight back. Rude was the next to enter the ring and just toyed with the worn-out Roberts for a good 5-6 minute stretch. Rude eventually turned his back on ‘The Snake’ and slowly walked towards his team to make a tag. Jake slowly crawled towards rude and managed to hit a low blow followed by a desperation DDT! Jake eliminated Rick Rude but the second he did, Andre entered the fray and grabbed Roberts by the scruff of his neck like an animal Jake tried to fight it off but he could not fight off the vicious Andre The Giant. Andre started choking Roberts in the corner of the ring and would not stop – Andre was eliminated. Andre’s work was enough as Mr. Perfect ran into the ring and covered Jake immediately to pick up the pinfall victory for Team Andre/Dino. Jake ‘The Snake’ fought with all his might but he was the victim of a numbers game and a real-life giant.
As the survivors, were leaving the ring, Jake rolled out of the ring with what energy he had left and grabbed his green bag. It may not be a surprise but the contents of Jake’s bag was a giant snake named Damien. Jake was soon left standing alone in the middle of the ring with Damien in hand as Andre and company fled ringside in fear.
Survivors: Team Andre/Dino
The Main Event
It was now time for Team Mega Powers to take on Team Twin Towers. We heard from Team Mega Powers earlier in the night with Sean Mooney, but now ‘Mean Gene’ Okerlund was standing by with Team Twin Towers. Dibiase and Akeem were quick to insult the opposing team in a very brief manner, The ‘Big Boss Man’ then had the following to say:
Big Boss Man is a survivor, my team is a survivor. Hogan, our paths are gonna cross again, you remember what happend last time. One thing’s for sure, boy, I’m gonna hurt you, hurt you bad and leave you laying like the dog you are.
The ‘Big Boss Man’ was ready and determined to lead his team to victory.
Team Twin Towers made their way to the ring first and were comprised of Akeem, Haku, Ted Dibiase, The ‘Red Rooster’, and The ‘Big Boss Man’. Team Mega Powers were led to the ring by the Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Champion, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage who was accompanied by Miss Elizabeth. ‘Hillbilly’ Jim, Koko B. Ware, and Hercules followed soon after. Finally, the ‘Real American’ theme blasted throughout the arena as the ever-popular, Hulk Hogan made his way down the aisle, needless to say, the crowd was more than ready for their Main Event of the evening. The bell rang and Randy Savage was ready to start things off for his team against Ted Dibiase. Thus match started at an exciting pace and it was not long until ‘The Hulkster’ was tagged in. Hogan was the legal man for only a few moments but he gave the fans what they came to see. Koko B. Ware was the next in the ring against the ‘Red Rooster’, Koko softened up Rooster with a missile dropkick which led to the ‘Red Rooster’ being the first o be eliminated at the hands of the ‘Macho Man’ after taking Savage’s signature elbow-drop. Savage pinned Rooster for the elimination. Haku soon entered the ring and faced off against Hogan, Haku proved that he had what it took to stand toe to toe with Hulk Hogan in 1988. Many tags were made by both teams in efforts to keep their participants fresh, which was an incredibly wise move. Akeem went on to eliminate ‘Hillbilly’ Jim, the score was now 4-4. Koko B. Ware dared to face off against Akeem but due to the size difference, Akeem dominated and caused serious damage. The ‘Big Boss Man’ tagged in for the first time in this match and decided to feed on the scraps of Koko B. Ware. ‘Boss Man’ picked up a very quick pinfall elimination over the beaten Koko B. Ware. Hogan began to signal towards the ‘Big Boss Man’ and this was exactly what the fans wanted to see. Hogan slowly got into the ring and soon locked up with ‘Boss Man’ just to have his eyes raked. Hogan got back at it with an atomic drop and threw his opponent from corner to corner of the WWF ring. Hogan followed up with a body slam and once again, the fans in attendance let ‘The Hulkster know exactly how much they appreciated their hero. During this time, nobody was bigger than Hulk Hogan.
Team Mega Powers member, Hercules was that next to be eliminated from the match at hands of the ‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase (via distraction from the manager, Virgil). DiBiase should have been smart enough to keep his eyes on the match rather than the eliminated opponent, as Randy Savage shot into the ring, as quick as a bullet and rolled DiBiase up for a quick pinfall. Savage eliminated DiBiase! The Mega Powers now stood as two against the remaining Haku, Akeem, and ‘Big Boss Man’. Haku went to work against Savage who quickly tagged Hogan into the match. Haku tagged ‘Boss Man’ in and we witnessed the ‘Boss Man’ fighting down a deflated Hulk Hogan. Team Twin Towers made several quick tags in and out until Haku was back in the ring against Hogan. ‘The Hulkster’ began to feed off the energy that the sold-out crowd was giving him. Hogan began to ‘Hulk Up’ but it only last for a moment Haku knocked the wind out of Hogan’s chest. ‘Boss Man’ tagged back in it seemed that ‘Boss Man’ only wanted Hogan after he had been previously beaten. ‘Boss Man’ wanted to embarrass ‘The Hulkster’ so he climbed atop the turnbuckle to perform an aerial attack but Hogan managed to roll away just in time. Hogan managed to crawl towards Savage. The lively and energetic Savage jumped into the ring and cleared house. Savage proceeded to fight off ‘Boss Man’ Akeem and Haku all alone – and did so successfully until there was an outside interference by Slick, who was at ringside accompanying Team Twin Towers. The referee did not see the sly tactic. Savage was brought to a sudden halt and things we not looking good for The Mega Powers. Inside the ropes, ‘Boss Man’ had Savage locked into a bear-hug submission. Meanwhile, on the outside, we saw Slick grabbing Miss Elizabeth by the arm and dragging her away from ringside. Savage caught this in the corner of his eye but was helpless. Hogan ran after Sick and knocked him out with one shot. Akeem followed ‘The Hulkster’ and pulled him back towards the ring, where the ‘Boss Man’ was waiting. ‘Boss Man’ had dealt with Savage and decided to handcuff Hulk Hogan to the bottom rope of the WWF ring! While ‘Boss Man’ was carrying out this act, it became difficult to say who was the legal man – Howard Finkel cleared things up when he announced that the ‘Big Boss Man’ had been counted out! It was now down to Randy Savage and a handcuffed Hulk Hogan to somehow pull off a miracle and defeat the dastardly Twin Towers. ‘Boss Man’ added insult to injury when he pulled out his nightstick and battered the already bruised and helpless Hogan on the outside. Even though he had been eliminated, ‘Boss Man’ rolled into the ring and continued his beat down, this time, on Randy Savage. As the craziness rolled on, Akeem was the legal man and was stood in the ring, watching ‘Boss Man’ beat down on Randy Savage – Howard Finkel then announced that Akeem had been disqualified as there were two wrestlers from the same team in the ring at the same time – this match was bonkers. While the numbers were now in the favour of Hogan/Savage, Hogan was still tied up and Savage had just been assaulted. Savage was desperately fighting back against Haku. Slick was now up on the apron holding Savage’s arm against the ropes while Haku brought the pain. Haku geared up for a big boot to Savage’s face but luckily, Savage ducked and Haku inadvertently kicked Slick to the ground below. This was an opportunity for the ‘Macho Man’. Miss Elizabeth ran to Slick and searched his jacket under she found the keys to the handcuff – Miss Elizbeth found them and freed ‘The Hulkster’ and Haku was unaware until Hogan jumped atop the apron. Savage was in danger inside the ring and got close enough to Hogan for a tag to take place. Hogan delivered a flurry of punches to Haku, followed by the big-boot and the signature leg-drop. One-Two-Three!
Survivors: Team Mega Powers
In one of the most heartfelt, dramatic, and action-packed WWF Main Events that I have ever watched, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage managed to overcome all odds with credit to Miss Elizabeth, to pick up the victory on behalf of their team.
Survivor Series 1988 closed in the most picturesque way possible – Hogan and Savage standing side by side as the sole survivors.