WWE Survivor Series 1989
Thanksgiving – November 23, 1989
Rosemont Horizon
Chicago, Illinois
Watch: VoicesofWrestling.com/WWENetwork

Since we last traveled in time to the WWE Thanksgiving Day Tradition the Mega Powers have exploded, Hulk Hogan began his acting career and Vince McMahon has been busy building the next big star for the company in Ultimate Warrior. Hulk Hogan successfully defeated Randy Savage for the WWE title at WrestleMania V in March of 1989. Hogan then spent the summer feuding with actor Tiny Lister aka “Zeus” who was the antagonist in Hogan’s on screen starring debut of the movie “No Holds Barred”. The WWE decided to bring the movie to the squared circle. In the midst of Hogan pursuing Hollywood, Vince McMahon decided to continue the ascension of Ultimate Warrior to superstardom to replace Hogan upon Hogan’s potential permanent departure to Hollywood from the WWE.

The third annual Survivor Series PPV saw some changes in the event. The traditional Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination matches have gone from 5 on 5 matches to 4 on 4 with the new addition of goofy themed names for each team.

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

Dusty Rhodes made his Survivor Series debut as the captain of his own team. This PPV was also the debut of Sapphire, who would eventually become the manager of Rhodes as she was seen in the crowd cheering on her favorite wrestler. Dusty was embroiled in a feud with the evil policeman, Big Boss Man, as Dusty was fighting for the “people”. During this match Bad News Brown walked out on his team for the second year in a row.  There wasn’t much to this match, but it was apparent how much of a charisma machine Dusty Rhodes was and how much he transcended the territories as he was massively over with this hot Chicago crowd. **3/4

Elimination # Wrestler Eliminated Eliminated By Time
1 Tito Santana Rick Martel 9:16
2 Bad News Brown Count out 15:27
3 Honky Tonk Man Brutus Beefcake 17:25
4 Rick Martel Brutus Beefcake 20:14
5 Red Rooster Big Boss Man 20:59
6 Big Boss Man Dusty Rhodes 22:01
Survivors: Dusty Rhodes and Brutus Beefcake

The King’s Court (Randy Savage, Earthquake, Dino Bravo, and Greg Valentine) w/ Jimmy Hart and Queen Sherri vs. The 4X4’s (Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Ronnie Garvin, and Hercules)

Savage was crowned “King” after defeating Jim Duggan, who defeated King Haku. This led to Savage taking on a royalty gimmick with Sensational (now “Queen”) Sherri as his valet. This match took place during a part-time break up of the Hart Foundation as WWE was experimenting with Bret Hart as a singles wrestler. If you watch Bret Hart on his pre-match promo, and him jogging down to the ring with his 2×4 before this match, you will understand that with his awkward delivery Vince didn’t feel he was quite ready for the singles push.

What Bret Hart lacked in promo work he made up for in the ring as the highlights of this match were the in-ring exchanges between Hart and Savage. A feud between these two is something that is sorely missed from the annals of pro wrestling. ***¼

Elimination # Wrestler Eliminated Eliminated By Time
1 Hercules Earthquake 4:09
2 Greg Valentine Jim Duggan 7:30
3 Ronnie Garvin Dino Bravo 11:14
4 Bret Hart Randy Savage 19:02
5 Jim Duggan Count out 23:21
Survivors: Randy Savage, Earthquake, and Dino Bravo

The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, Ax, and Smash) vs. The Million Dollar Team (Ted Dibiase, Zeus, Barbarian, and Warlord) w/ Virgil and Mr. Fuji

This match was centered around the movie “No Holds Barred” in which Hogan’s character “Rip” battles Zeus. This movie transcends film and, in an awkward occurrence, breaks the fourth wall and comes alive in a real pro wrestling ring. Zeus was portrayed by actor Tiny Lister, who was untrained as a professional wrestler. Zeus was largely protected to hide these obvious weaknesses. That was most apparent in this match by being eliminated less than four minutes into the match by disqualification after shoving a referee. This lead to WWE’s follow up PPV “No Holds Barred: The Match/The Movie” that showcased the movie and then a steel cage match between the team of Zeus and Randy Savage and the team of Hogan and Brutus Beefcake.

The other story of this match was the continuation of the feud that started at the previous year’s Survivor Series between Demolition and The Powers of Pain. This was another smoke and mirrors Hulk Hogan match that was built on crowd reactions and showmanship. If you dig Hulk Hogan you will enjoy this match, which is why I’m giving it ***½

Elimination # Wrestler Eliminated Eliminated By Time
1 Zeus DQ 3:20
2 Ax Warlord 9:49
3 Smash Barbarian 13:41
4 BarbarianWarlord DQ 19:48
5 Jake Roberts Ted Dibiase 23:48
6 Ted Dibiase Hulk Hogan 27:23
Survivor: Hulk Hogan

The Rude Brood (Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Jacque Rougeau, Raymond Rougeau) w/ The Genius and Jimmy Hart vs. Roddy’s Rowdies (Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Bushwhacker Luke and Bushwhacker Butch)

Before this match Roddy Piper is scolding the Bushwhackers and Jimmy Snuka for eating giant turkey legs because Piper hired these savages for his team and wanted to keep them hungry for this match. This was built as a brawlers vs. technical wrestler’s match. Piper is widely known as a  great heel, but Piper was a great babyface as well. These late 80’s shows are just built around guys who know how to work crowds.  ***

Elimination # Wrestler Eliminated Eliminated By Time
1 Jacque Rougeau Jimmy Snuka 4:00
2 Raymond Rougeau Roddy Piper 7:47
3 Bushwhacker Butch Mr. Perfect 10:44
4 Bushwhacker Luke Rick Rude 12:14
5 Roddy PiperRick Rude Double count out 18:39
6 Jimmy Snuka Mr. Perfect 23:16
Survivor: Mr. Perfect

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

Ultimate Warrior was given the main event spot due to Hogan seeking his Hollywood career. Warrior carried this role well and the crowd ate up everything he did. Andre the Giant was very much on the way out of his in-ring career, and he was eliminated early in the match. This was Arn Anderson’s last PPV appearance for the WWE before joining Tully Blanchard in heading back to the NWA.

For the second year in a row Ultimate Warrior is the sole survivor for his team as he is left in the ring with Bobby Heenan. The crowd was eating up every second of Warrior getting his hands on the Weasel.  ***1/4

Elimination # Wrestler Eliminated Eliminated By Time
1 Andre the Giant Count out 0:28
2 Jim Neidhart Haku 3:30
3 Marty Jannetty Bobby Heenan 8:49
4 Haku Shawn Michaels 12:58
5 Shawn Michaels Arn Anderson 15:37
6 Arn Anderson Ultimate Warrior 18:17
7 Bobby Heenan Ultimate Warrior 20:24
Survivor: Ultimate Warrior

The following stats are accumulative through the first three Survivor Series PPV’s:

Top Ten Wrestlers with Most Eliminations in Survivor Series Tag Matches

Place Wrestler # of Eliminations
1 Ultimate Warrior 4
1 Randy Savage 4
1 Brutus Beefcake 4
4 Hulk Hogan 3
4 One Man Gang / Akeem 3
4 Rick Rude 3
4 Mr. Perfect 3
8 8 Wrestlers with 2 2

Top Ten Wrestlers with Most Accumulative Time Surviving a Survivor Series Tag Match

Place Wrestler Time
1 Haku 79:15
2 Jake Roberts 77:03
3 Dino Bravo 76:59
4 Randy Savage 75:46
5 Hulk Hogan 72:52
6 Warlord 72:14
6 Barbarian 72:14
8 Smash 62:42
9 Ax 58:50
10 Rick Rude 57:54

More Fun stats:

  • Randy Savage continues his streak and is the only wrestler to be a survivor at all three Survivor Series PPV events
  • Andre the Giant breaks Danny Davis’ record for quickest elimination (1:13) by being eliminated in a mere 28 seconds
  • Roddy Piper teamed up with Jimmy Snuka for the first time in their careers at this event. The next team Piper and Snuka would team together would be WrestleMania XXV when they teamed with Ricky Steamboat to take on Chris Jericho in a 3 on 1 handicap match
  • Bad News Brown holds the distinction of being the worst Survivor Series partner in history by walking out on his teams in consecutive years thus eliminating himself due to count out
  • The first two Survivor Series PPV’s saw one wrestler each year being the “sole survivor” for their team. The 1989 Survivor Series saw three different wrestlers achieve this distinction, Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, and Ultimate Warrior
  • Ultimate Warrior became a sole survivor two years in a row

Fun Survivor Series 1989 Facts:

  • The Rosemont Horizon (later renamed Allstate Arena) played host to the 1989 Survivor Series; This venue has been a historic WWE venue playing host to the following WWE PPV events: WrestleMania 2, WrestleMania 13, WrestleMania 22, The Wrestling Classic, Judgment Day 1998, Backlash 2001, No Mercy 2007, Judgment Day 2009, Night of Champions 2010, Money in the Bank 2011, Extreme Rules 2012, Payback 2013, Payback 2014, and Extreme Rules 2015
  • At 385,000 PPV buys, this was the most watched Survivor Series PPV of the first three beating out the inaugural event (325,000)
  • Earthquake was a last second replacement on the “King’s Court” team. Barry Windham as “The Widow Maker” was the original team member
  • Bobby Heenan was a last minute replacement for Tully Blanchard after Blanchard was fired the day of the event due to failing a drug test
  • Akeem was supposed to make his third consecutive Survivor Series appearance as a member of The Enforcers, but was replaced at the last second by Bad News Brown

November 1989 in history:

  • The number one song on the Billboard music charts at the time of this event was “When I See You Smile” by Bad English
  • The number one movie at the box office Thanksgiving weekend of 1989 was Back to the Future II
  • Two weeks before the 1989 Survivor Series the Berlin Wall was torn down in Germany
  • 20 days before the 1989 Survivor Series the Minnesota Timberwolves made their debut as an official NBA team
  • On the same day as the 1989 Survivor Series the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys in what was called “The Bounty Bowl” after the Cowboys accused Eagles coach, Buddy Ryan, of placing bounties on the Cowboys players