James Dixon: Welcome to the oxymoron that is the WWF, a company that tries to rewrite and/or forget its history while simultaneously making money from lazy cash-grab releases like this. Michael Cole narrates, goodie! We start with Andre the Giant love, and the tape presents Hulk Hogan as a pretender to Andre, showing footage from No Holds Barred as an example of him “following Andre into the movies”. Let’s forget about Rocky III, a movie that predated The Princess Bride by some five years. Oh I do love a bit of revisionist history. Because it is a company directive to feature it on at least one release a year, we get brief footage from Hogan vs. Andre at WrestleMania III as I scratch my head and wonder what the hell any of this has to do with Survivor Series. Oh, apparently the inaugural event Survivor Series took place as a way to further the rivalry between the two. Could have fooled me, I thought it was to fuck with Jimmy Crocket. Next we get highlights from the main event of the 1987 show, and specifically Hogan getting counted out and Andre becoming the sole survivor. All the while, crappy music plays over the top of it. It’s going to be a long hour.
There is no rhyme or reason to the next segment, which focuses on Shawn Michaels and specifically his appearance at Survivor Series 1989. Sped up footage from the match he was in airs, with redubbed “live” commentary from Michael friggin’ Cole inserted into it. Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon did the honours for the event if I recall, so I can understand Jesse because of the lawsuit, but just use Gorilla’s bits! Once again it is revisionist bullshit. If it was retroactive commentary I could understand it, but this feels like they are attempting to deceive me. According to Cole, this match and performance launched the career of Michaels. He had been with the WWF for over a year by this point and it would be over two years before he turned on Marty Jannetty and went into singles, and a further four years on top of that before he won his first WWF Title, but sure, whatever you say. The focus turns to the Undertaker and his famous debut at the 1990 event. Cole claims Taker single-handedly dismantled Dusty Rhodes’ Dream Team, glossing over the fact that he didn’t win the match and was indeed counted out. This segues into the show a year later in 1991, with Hogan against Taker for the WWF Title. Interspersed between the “highlights” of their shitty match are comments from Undertaker lifted directly from The Fab 4 and Cole talking over the top of Heenan and Gorilla. Apparently Undertaker emerged from the match as a “new hero” even though he was still a heel at this point. The bullshit and lies on this tape already are beyond a joke.
It gets worse. We go to 1993 and the selling point according to Cole was the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. This is another lie. The main event was Lex Luger’s “All-American” team against Yokozuna’s “Foreign Fanatics”, and the Hart Brothers match was supposed to be against Jerry Lawler and his team. Michaels was suspended / on vacation at the time and was drafted in at the last minute when Lawler faced prosecutions for allegations of rape, which were eventually dismissed. The way Cole tells it, Bret and Shawn had been feuding for years (he references the “bad blood” left over from their match the previous year, which in reality happened and then was never mentioned again) and this was what fans were clamouring to see. Cole does at least correctly state that the match led to the rivalry between Bret and Owen Hart, but the segment is brief and doesn’t follow that up at all. Bob Backlund is the next to be featured and inevitably that means Survivor Series 1994 and his submission title match against Bret Hart. Apparently this has “all the makings of a classic family tragedy”. The music in the background is suitably dramatic and this is presented in an unfathomable way like it was life or death. They show Owen and his crocodile tears as Bret struggles in the crossface chicken-wing, and Owen convinces mother Helen Hart to throw in the towel, much to Stu Hart’s fury. This was all obviously a ploy from Owen to get the belt off Bret, and Cole’s assertions that the most painful part for Bret was the betrayal from his own brother, shows how little he has been paying attention. They had been feuding for the last fucking year, I think by now he realises his brother is a conniving dick. I am absolutely flabbergasted by the way this whole segment has been done, it just makes no sense and bears no relation to what actually happened. We remain in 1994 with the Casket Match between Undertaker and Yokozuna, meaning we get to see the horror that was their Royal Rumble 1994 match first. Thankfully, we only see Taker getting a kicking and being put into the casket, and not all the shenanigans that followed. Out of sequence highlights for the Survivor’s rematch follows, with the Chuck Norris’ involvement being shown as the most important part of the bout.
To 1995 next as “President Clinton” tries to fuck Sunny and acts in a thoroughly inappropriate way and then we go to Bam Bam Bigelow against Goldust. Naturally. I don’t have a clue what is happening when two random little bubbles pop up in the corner with Goldust talking in character in one and Dustin Runnels turning up in the other talking like goddamn Yoda. This is even more baffling than the Backlund bit. I have no idea why this match is on here; it was horrible. Steve Austin is next and we see his excellent promos calling out Bret Hart prior to Survivor Series 1996 leading to their 5* classic at the show. At least the music is improved for the highlight video here, with Austin’s theme used over the top of the two minutes aired. We stay in 1996 for Undertaker vs. Mankind in an unheralded but very good match, though we just see the finish.
Oh here we go; 1997. What the hell are they going to say about this!? We start with Kane, who “made his debut” at the show according to Cole. He made his debut at Badd Blood the month prior actually, but this is his in-ring debut. We get the full promo video for the Mankind vs. Kane match, which gets longer than any of the segments themselves have been given thus far. The match itself takes places under brothel-like red light, which made Kane’s early matches almost impossible to watch. The WWF love this gimmick and did it again with Sin Cara, but it makes no sense whatsoever. Why would the lighting man change the lights for one guy? What is it supposed to be achieving? We stay in 1997 and Steve Austin next, and we get an interview with him conducted by Jim Ross from a shitty hotel room. He discusses his injury at SummerSlam 1997 and says, repeatedly, how pissed off he is about the situation. He stays in character, but that is a shoot, brother. Austin says he has ignored his doctors and he will do what he wants, which includes making Owen Hart pay at Survivor Series. Because of Austin’s severe limitations stemming from the injury, the match between he and Owen is only about 6-minutes long, though we get a lot of it shown here.
Now, the Montreal Screwjob. “The final temper tantrum by the man who saw himself as a positive role model and a Canadian hero, was such a disappointment that it broke the hearts of his lifelong fans” says Michael Cole. No you unbearable little cretin, what broke the hearts of his lifelong fans was the despicable way he was treated by the company he had given his life to. I should have expected this kind of thing given when the tape was released, but hearing those words and from an ignorant tosser like Cole, who has limited knowledge of wrestling history as it is, is blood boiling. Naturally the music that accompanies this is high-tempo and dramatic, as the WWF builds to their big crescendo of figuratively fucking Bret Hart in the ass. I actually think for a while they were proud of what they did to Bret here. The music stops as the moments before the double-cross unfold and then the most repeated piece of WWF footage ever is aired once again. Even though when I write this in 2013 Bret Hart has made peace with the company and Vince and Shawn, it is still sickening to watch. The sight of Gerald Brisco, who is the most detestable little sycophant in WWF history, leading Michaels to the back while barking instructions at him to raise the title is also disgraceful. Vince deserved to be spat at by Bret; you don’t treat people that way.
Even though this is a Survivor Series tape, we follow that up with the “Bret screwed Bret” sit-down interview that JR conducted with Vince. Vince talks shite about how he let Bret hit him and if it was a confrontation things would have been different. Yes Vince, because you are such a tough guy. Bret would have eaten you alive if he had wanted to. Vince says he wanted to sit down and smooth things over like gentlemen. If you wanted that then DON’T SCREW HIM OVER ON LIVE TELEVISION! I know this is all very, very old water under the bridge, but it still pisses me off. Vince says he didn’t want Bret to leave, which is another lie because Vince told Bret he couldn’t afford him anymore and told him to negotiate with WCW. Apparently Bret forgot that he was in the “sports entertainment business” and “forgot where he came from”. Probably because he is a professional wrestler in the professional wrestling business and he came from a background of professional wrestling. Vince says “Bret could have showed what a true hero he was in his last ever WWF match”, and he probably would have had he been given the chance, but this was never supposed to be Bret’s last match with the company. If it WAS supposed to be his last match and he was refusing to drop the title, Vince would have been justified, but because Madusa dropped the Women’s title in the trash on Nitro, Vince was paranoid Bret would do the same thing. Let’s just forget the legally binding contract that Bret had that said he couldn’t appear in WCW until a certain date anyway. The story is that the two millionaires didn’t want to lose to each other in a worked wrestling match and the owner of the company, the guy whose “ball” it was, decided to take matters into his own hands and made a paranoia-fuelled rash decision that he thought was for the benefit of his company. Everyone came out of this looking worse than they had beforehand.
Summary: This is the worst WWF tape ever made. A sweeping statement perhaps, but I stand by it. The footage content is not so much the issue because it is all watchable, but the way it is presented and the story being told is political bullshit at its absolute worst. Michael Cole is a horrible narrator because he doesn’t have a clue about wrestling or the WWF’s past, and every other word that comes out of his mouth is a lie. Ok he wasn’t the one who wrote the material, but that doesn’t excuse him being a part of it. The choices for inclusion are thoroughly baffling as well, with barely any airtime given to the team vs. team format that made the event so unique. Instead the majority of the focus is on singles matches, and often pointless ones that ultimately meant nothing in the long run. Some of the shows (1988, 1992) are just ignored altogether. There are far too many hype videos for matches that then get a minute or so of lip-service and are all just clipped together to naff music, and the twisted angle that things are viewed from is at both times maddening and confusing. There is nothing redeeming to this at all, it is just 60-minutes of pure drivel, agenda-driven nonsense and company dogma. Don’t ever consider buying this, even just to see how horrible it is.