Sunday, November 22, 2015

WWF Survivor Series 1990

November 22, 1990 was the day the fourth annual WWF Survivor Series event took place at. This event was notable for two noteworthy events; the hatching of the Survivor Series egg that introduced the world to the short-lived Gobbledy Gooker and the rather unassuming debut of the Undertaker. I will let you decide which of those two went on to become something of a big deal, but given the two choices, it's obvious which one is the correct one.

So on this day, twenty-five years to the day since that event took place, I give it something of a quick lookie at this event that would give us perhaps one of the most enduring Superstars of all time... the Gobbledy Gooker.

Oh yeah, and that other guy too.

Now, for those who have no clue what Survivor Series entails, here's the brief scoop. The event mostly comprises eight-man tag-team elimination matches where two teams of four men compete against each other. When a man is pinned, submits, gets counted out, or disqualified, he is eliminated from the match, leaving his teammates to fend for themselves. The winner of the match is the team that outlasts the other team; the "survivors" if you will. This edition featured an additional caveat where the various survivors of the match would compete in a "grand finale" match of the sorts, which is your main event for the evening.

As you can probably imagine, this doesn't seem all that interesting in hindsight. I can't say if it was interesting back in the day, but I could probably imagine not.

First Survivor Series match is the Warriors vs. the Perfect Team. The Warriors comprise the Ultimate Warrior, the Texas Tornado (Kerry Von Erich, otherwise known as the Modern Day Warrior), and the Legion of Doom, otherwise known as - wait for it - the Road Warriors. The Perfect Team comprises Mr. Pefect (obviously) and Demolition members Ax, Smash, and Crush. Ax is the first one eliminated (rather quickly) and eventually both LOD and the remainder of Demolition are disqualified, because that's a good way of keeping them strong... idiots. So that leaves us with Warrior and Kerry versus Perfect. Kerry is soon quickly disposed of before Warrior eventually pins Perfects and wins the match. I'd go into more detail, but that match was bad enough to sit through the first time, so fuck right the fuck off, I say.

Second Survivor Series match is the Dream Team vs. the Million Dollar Team. The Dream Team comprises Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and the Hart Foundation (that'd be Bret the Hitman and Jim the Anvil for you kids out there.) The Million Dollar Team comprises the Million Dollar Man (duh), Rhythm and Blues (Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine), and... the Undertaker.

The Undertaker of old is a different beast from today; his entrance doesn't last five hours, he doesn't have special lighting effects, his original theme is composed on organs, and his manager is Brother Love. And watching this now, it's amazing to see how effective that gimmick in its original incarnation was even without the extraneous crap built around it. An imposing figure, an ominous presence, the eyes of death staring straight into the soul of the unfortunate fools that dare face him. It is one of those instances where the stars are aligned and something just works. If any other man had been put into the black hat and overcoat, it could've been a disaster and a flop, but Mark Callaway made the role his own and it simply worked from Day 1. So effective was he in that gimmick that a year later, he'd beat Hulk Hogan for his first WWF championship... but that's another story for another time, it seems.

About the match... Bret starts off versus Undertaker; does not have much luck. Tags in Anvil who fares no better. Tags in Koko, who's the first recipient of the Tombstone Piledriver and thus the first eliminated. Now that's how you put someone over as a convincing threat. Bret back in and again, no luck in getting the upper hand. Finally, Taker tags in Valentine while giving Bret a cold glare. And it's a nice little touch; Taker doesn't need the extra baggage to clear this lot, but he just feels like throwing a bone to his partners. See, he's not such a bad guy.

So Honky eventually gets tagged in and pinned by Neidhart, who in turns gets pinned by DiBiase thanks to timely Virgil interference. Dusty gets a couple shots at DiBiase before Undertaker eventually finishes him off... that's about as good as I can describe it without anyone throwing a hissy fit - and that leaves Bret alone against this Dead Man and two jabronies who don't matter. Except once Dusty beats on Brother Love a bit, he gets chased to the back by Undertaker, who is promptly counted out. Well, what else were they going to do with him?

Anyway, Bret rolls up Valentine for the pin and then succumbs to DiBiase after a brief exchange that ends in a roll-up. And that concludes the match and any semblance of a recap on my part. Now it's back to brief write-ups on each match because the rest of it is really not worth dwelling into much detail.

Third Survivor Series match is the Vipers vs. the Visionaries. The Vipers comprise Jake The Snake (duh), The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and that other guy), and that other other guy whose name we're not supposed to bring up. They don't matter anyway because they are quickly and soundly eliminated, leaving Jake to face off the Visionaries, comprising Rick Martel, Warlord, Hercules, and future Horseman Paul Roma. Jake gets counted out, leaving a clean sweep for the Visionaries; the first time in Survivor Series history where a whole team survives. Too bad the match wasn't any good.

Fourth Survivor Series match is the Natural Disasters vs. the Hulkamaniacs. The Natural Disasters comprise Earthquake (RIP), Dino Bravo (RIP), Haku and Barbarian. The Hulkamaniacs comprise Hulk Hogan (duh), Big Bossman, Tugboat (the future SHOCKMASTER), and Jim Duggan. Long story short: Hulk Hogan is the Sole Survivor, because of course he is.

We get a Randy Savage promo challenging the Ultimate Warrior to a title match. Why, yes, Ultimate Warrior is your reigning WWF champion at this time. Why do you ask?

Fifth Survivor Series match... Good lord, this show is getting tedious. Some people often wonder why we can't have Survivor Series go back to having all elimination style matches with only one or two "regular" matches. Well, the reason is quite simple; it would suck. Having one or two matches in this style is probably the best way for them to go and that pretty much applies to any PPV event that's named after a gimmick match. Certainly doesn't help that the matches thus far have been pretty mediocre. So, there. Digression over.

The fifth match is the Alliance vs. the Mercenaries. The Alliance comprises Nikolai Volkoff, the Bushwackers, and Tito Santana. The Mercenaries comprise Iraqi turncoat Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zhukov, and the Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka). Long story short: Tito Santana is the Sole Survivor.

And so we come to the other infamous event that this show is known; the Survivor Series egg, after being teased for some time, hatches and introduces the world to the Gobbledy Gooker, who dances with Mean Gene for way too long. It's a gimmick that's so terrible it was killed off almost immediately. And watching this in full, I can honestly say that this would be the modern day equivalent of a Divas match. Sorry, Hector Guerrero, but nobody is going to buy into the idea that THIS was a good idea in any way, shape, or form. Even the kids hated it. Of course, if the Gooker was introduced today, it'd be a recurring bit on WWE television. But instead, the Gooker has to settle for inspiring the creation of Wrestlecrap's Gooker award for the worst angle of the year.

And so we come to the main event with Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and Tito Santana teaming up to face off against the team of Ted DiBiase, Rick Martel, Warlord, Hercules, and Paul Roma. Tito gets pinned rather early, leaving Warrior and Hogan to finish off the heel team and eventually win the match... well, that kinda sucked.

Survivor Series 1990's sole claim to relevancy is showcasing the Undertaker to the world; never mind his appearance on WWF Superstars a few days prior which was more of a "test run" than a proper debut. If it didn't have that going for it - and also, the Gooker to a lesser extent - this show would probably have been deservedly forgotten to the annals of time. What might started as an interesting or cool idea was already starting to wear out its welcome by the fourth running and for someone who wasn't around during the event's infancy, this was a chore to sit through. The following year's event would have some merit to it, as it featured the Undertaker, one year removed from his debut, defeating World champion Hulk Hogan to win his first title in the WWF.

For those curious as to how Undertaker got started, the one match he was featured in is pretty much the only thing worth watching here for that reason alone, but if you don't care for that sort of thing, I wouldn't bother with this one.

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