This weekend’s teaming of the Rock and John Cena at Madison Square Garden marks the 25th edition of the Survivor Series. I remember when that show debuted in 1987, only it and WrestleMania were on the WWF pay-per-view calendar.
As such, the Survior Series was a much bigger event during its early years than what it turned into. The show was originally founded on 10-man (or 10-team or 10-woman) tag team matches — that was it. No single matches, no title bouts. I actually enjoyed the focus on those early shows because they offered something different and allowed you to continue feuds and plotlines without necessarily having the feuding parties pin each other.
A case in point was the main event of the first Survivor Series: Hulk Hogan , “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Bam Bam Bigelow, Ken Patera, and Magnificent Murcao (who ironically at the time was going by the name Don “The Rock” Muraco) vs. Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Ravishing Rick Rude, “The Natural” Butch Reed, and One Man Gang.
Andre ended up as the sole survior of the elimination match after pinning Bigelow, which ended up making perfect sense. Andre had lost to Hogan during the famous WrestleMania III main event eight months earlier, but continued his battles with Hogan and would defeat the Hulkster for the WWF Title a few months later as the set-up for WrestleMania IV.
It wasn’t all logical, however. Orndorff teaming with Hogan in this match seemed silly at this point, given “Mr. Wonderful” had turned heel/babyface or vice versa three times since 1985 and had two major conflicts with Hogan during his heels runs. Orndorff’s career in the WWF petered out soon after the first Survivor Series.