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Matt D

Match of the Week: 2/10 - 2/16: Survivor Series 1989: Ultimate Warriors vs Heenan Family

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Grimmas takes us as far away as last week's pick as possible. Well, it's still a tag setting. Survivor Series was my favorite PPV as a kid mainly for two reasons. One is that it's like an alternate reality where moves that normally wouldn't win a match could. It's a little more exciting and even realistic because we're not longer stuck in a finisher paradigm. Suddenly a well placed kick or knee drop or flying body press can win a fall. The second reason is that you get interactions you wouldn't normally see. For instance, Warrior with the Rockers and Neidhart. Even Neidhart with the Rockers has a certain novelty that's cool. And though they were in the same faction for the better part of a year, you don't really see Haku and Arn team up like this often. 1989 WWF is not 1991-2 WCW with all the random Dangerous Alliance tags.

 

Obviously we have Heenan replacing Tully here due to a failed drug test, one that changed wrestling. Without that, Arn and Tully would have come back into the NWA together, with a much higher salary for Arn and less friction for Flair and 1990 would have looked very different. Could you imagine face Tully vs J-Tex? I think heel Tully would have been a great foil for Lex and Sting too, but that's just speculation. What it means here is that we get Heenan directly in the match in one of his last big in ring performances (maybe the last. I'm not sure when the weasel suit matches vs Warrior hit).

 

They get Andre out quickly, really before the match even begins. I'm not sure if he just didn't want to work or if he was that physically spent. He has a great match in December vs Demolition and the SNME match vs Warrior shortly before has him doing a lot of stuff and taking a lot of stuff, so it's not like he couldn't go in his own broken down giant way in late 89. It changes the dynamic of the match, though. Neidhart and the Rockers vs Arn and Haku is a super fast affair, at sometimes a downright sprint, with a lot of really nice looking exchanges. Exciting stuff and I'm glad I saw it. You forget how Haku could go given the gimmick he'd have a few years later. You also forget how much experience he had as a tag worker. He and Arn make a great little unit. And Warrior is great on the apron. I love him in the Bulldogs vs Demolition + Fuji match as a cheerleader on the outside and he's just as good here. There are points I think he's going to kill Michaels by pushing him off the top rope without Michaels being ready for it.

 

I don't feel that this is true with every Survivor Series match, but this one definitely has different dynamics as guys leave the match, all the way til the end when you get stooging Arn + desperate Heenan vs the Warrior two on one.

 

And then it ends with such a great weasel on the run performance by Heenan and a really slimy smiling bully act(?) by Warrior which the fans do eat up.

 

It's interesting. You think that if this match had Tully and Andre in a bigger role, it'd be better, but I'm not sure it could have accomplished what it set out to do better even with two such talented wrestlers playing a bigger role.

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What it means here is that we get Heenan directly in the match in one of his last big in ring performances (maybe the last. I'm not sure when the weasel suit matches vs Warrior hit).

Heenan's last matches would have been in 1990-1991 against Big Boss Man as he replaced Rude after Rude left the company.

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This is the match I've re-watched more than any other. Part of that is nostalgia and part of that is how this match has an amazing story. Matt D wrote is up pretty great.

 

Heenan is just great in this match. Just the looks he gives and only tagging in when they have the advantage. He actually pins Jannetty, after he is killed by others. His bumping for Warrior is insane too. Jesse & Gorilla are at their height of abilities here with Jesse rooting for Heenan to win.

 

The story is not just all about the Heenan Family trying to recover from Andre getting out early. Heenan had to insert himself in the match for Tully, to stop the Family from falling apart. You also get the sense that Haku is Heenan Family through and through and Arn is starting to question it. He gets mad at Heenan at one point for tagging him back in too early.

 

There is a lot to this match and I look forward to more people actually giving this a shot, because its really unlike most WWF Survivor Series matches and WWF matches at the time altogether.

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I haven't rewatched this yet but where were Rude and Perfect? They were Heenan Family guys at this time right? I know there was a Rude's Brood match just before involving those two, but couldn't Heenan persuade one of them to pull double duty? Brooklyn Brawler was also a kind of weak ally of Heenan in 89 stepping in against Red Rooster back at Wrestlemania.

 

I can't remember now but weren't any of these things mentioned? I think there has to be a better in-kayfabe reason for Heenan himself having to step into the ring. Obviously from a fan point of view, Heenan in the ring is no bad thing, I just think it would be logical for the Weasel to exhaust all other possible avenues before going down that route.

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I hadn't watched this match since '89, so it was fun to revisit it. The match had two main storylines. Warrior had been feuding with the Heenan Family on and off through '88 and '89, and with Tully's absence and Heenan substituting, he would get a chance for vengance against Heenan for Heenan's interference in his matches. There was also the storyline of "dissension" in the Heenan Family that had been mentioned in the weeks leading up to the match.

 

With Andre eliminated by countout as soon as the match started, Anderson and Haku faced the uphill battle of basically a four on two match with Heenan playing the chicken who only comes in to beat on downed opponents. Although Haku doesn't have much personality, he looks good in this match with good execution of his moves, and of course, Anderson is one of the all time great tag workers.

 

Warrior is really fun in this match and shows a lot of enthusiasm. Like Matt mentioned, he keeps the crowd involved while on the apron. He also paces back and forth on the apron like caged cat, which really fits his character. After Jannetty is eliminated, Warrior sort of becomes the substitute Rocker by doing double team moves with Shawn.

 

They advance the Heenan Family storyline with the tired Anderson questioning why Heenan won't tag in. Warrior finally gets the best of Arn, and Heenan berates Arn as he is leaving. The crowd erupts as Warrior finally gets his hands on Heenan, and Heenan takes some great bumps. Warrior nails Heenan with a clothesline on the way back to the dressing room in a humorous final spot.

 

This was a really enjoyable match with solid work and good storylines coming together. Ventura was also good on commentary. His focusing on the action is so much better than the color commentary style of today.

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Really fun match probably better than anything on WWF PPV this year minus the Summerslam stuff. As much as I love Tully, I do think this match was for the better with Bobby in there. Andre going out early also changed the dynamic. Warrior was really protected in this match and looked like a star although he was kind of annoying as hell pushing Shawn off and constantly reaching for the tag. Shawn looked really good in this match and got great air on his dives. I agree that the family Hennan narrative was fun to watch and this really started the crumbling of his main stable as even in 1990 he seemed more like solitary Perfect's manager instead of having a family unit. Good pick Grimmas and a match worth revisiting.

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Fun match, but watching the faces eat up so much of this reminded me of why I don't like a lot of 80's WWF as much as others. That's not to say the heels didn't get there shit in, but it felt like those moments were just blips in a sea of face domination. I did love Andre's big bump, thought Arn looked really great and will never tire of Heenan's cheapshotting wrestler/manager act though. Worth watching, but it didn't knock me off my feet

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I've got to disagree completely with you there Dylan on this match at least, not 80's WWF in general. Arn and Haku basically defeat the Anvil and the Rockers 3 on 2 before going down to the Warrior. For them to dominate ala the NWA heels given these odds would have stretched credulity to the breaking point. You have Haku who I and my friends basically viewed as the heel version of Koko B Ware, a guy who might get in some offense here and there and win a rare squash of his own, but never ever beat anyone of note. And you had Arn Anderson, who had just dropped the tag titles and didn't even have his partner with him. He would be disoriented and out of focus. For them to do as well as they did impressed the heck out of me as a kid, but anything more would have been way too much.

 

Survivor Series 89 PPV version was a Christmas present from a friend (He made me a copy). It was my only wrestling tape for nearly a year. I must have watched it twice a week for a year and to this day, I can do most of the commentary verbatim from memory, which scares the heck out of my fellow viewers.

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I really liked this concept, but never had time to contribute, but this is the missing piece to the BrainBusters blog.

 

The Ultimate Warriors (Ultimate Warrior, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, The Rockers) vs The Heenan Family (Andre The Giant, Arn Anderson, Haku & Bobby "The Brain" Heenan) - Survivor Series 1989

 

Everyone is riding the white lightning in the opening promo. I have no clue how anyone could focus on a promo with Warrior grabbing their heads. He ends the promo with Shawn and Neidhart between his biceps. We need more gibberish promos (no, Bray Wyatt does not scratch that itch). I love the WOYAH~!

 

This is a fun, WWF-style match and my favorite Survivor Series match (not that I have seen many). It is action-packed, but it tells a clear story and everyone plays their roles perfectly. Andre is the Heenan Family's big weapon and Gorilla even states to the effect that the Weasel can only hide behind the Giant if worse comes to worse only to have the Warrior summarily eliminate right at the outset via countout. The look on Arn's face says it all: "We're fucked." However, Arn and Haku make the best of it. They eliminate the Anvil in a decent segment with a crescent kick. Arn & Haku could have been a great tag team as they matched up with the Rockers well. I loved Warrior pacing up down the ring like a man possessed. Hidden highlight was Warrior actually propelling Shawn off the top rope while they were doing Rockers quick tag routine. I liked how the Rockers blocked the suplex with one catching the other and double superkick both Arn & Haku and friggin' Warrior just stands there ominously in the background. Heenan lived up to his moniker "The Weasel". He tags in when Marty is down, but when Marty hits him back he immediately hightails it out. I really liked the sequence that eliminated Marty: Arn blind knee during a criss-cross, Haku crescent kick (eliminated Anvil), Heenan gets some licks and pins Marty.

 

Arn & Haku get trapped in Warrior bearhugs, but manage to get out and gain the advantage on Shawn. I am not a huge fan of lots of rope running in a match and WWF definitely has more criss cross sequences than any other promotion. Even though I don't like it, credit where credit is due this is all really friggin' great rope running by Shawn, Haku and Arn. I loved the Warrior-assisted Rocket Launcher on Haku, which I could believe was not a finish. Only for Haku miss a springboard reverse cross-body (it looked bitchin') and Warrior propelling Shawn off the top to securing a pin. We get our first taste of dissension in the Heenan Family during a sunset flip saying that Heenan was not helping. Arn is able to hit his spinebuster to eliminate Shawn. They do a short heat segment on Warrior, which is not Warrior's forte at all before Warrior sends Arn into Heenan on the apron. Gorilla press, splash, crowd is going wild and it is rubber pants time for Bobby Heenan. Heenan busts out the Ray Stevens bump in the corner and the fans lap up as Warrior revels in beating the Weasel after Wrestlemania V and all the shit he has put him through.

 

This is a match that the WWF excels at the babyfaces dominate and the whole is a crowd-please affair. You see the Heenan Family lose their big weapon, but they pick off some easy fodder. Then you some great tag work before settling down into main event: The Brain & The Enforcer vs The Ultimate Warrior. They keep it short and sweet manage to pay off Heenan Family dissension and Warrior sending the family home happy. Great popcorn match!

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My abiding memory of this match is Arn delivering a picture perfect spine buster to Shawn.

 

Although Heenan had taken a lot of punishment and humiliation from guys over the years. None of it had been in such a high profile setting as this, where the whole fanbase could see it. So this match really feels like Bobby's comeupance for years of back stabbing and trash talking,

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I haven't rewatched this yet but where were Rude and Perfect? They were Heenan Family guys at this time right? I know there was a Rude's Brood match just before involving those two, but couldn't Heenan persuade one of them to pull double duty? Brooklyn Brawler was also a kind of weak ally of Heenan in 89 stepping in against Red Rooster back at Wrestlemania. I can't remember now but weren't any of these things mentioned? I think there has to be a better in-kayfabe reason for Heenan himself having to step into the ring. Obviously from a fan point of view, Heenan in the ring is no bad thing, I just think it would be logical for the Weasel to exhaust all other possible avenues before going down that route.

 

It doesn't really live up to the level of logic I think you're looking for, but part of the storyline reasoning was that Andre the Giant was still considered (again, in storyline) a force to be reckoned with, and as long as he was on the team, they would be the favorites to win it and Heenan wouldn't have to do much. So to avoid more "dissention within the family" by asking guys to pull double duty, he thought he could sneak by in the shadow of the giant. But lo and behold, Andre was eliminated in the early stages, and the weasel caught in the headlights of the oncoming Warrior freight train.

 

This is a really, really fun match. Good mix of story, great workers and pure fun.

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