With the 2017 WWE Survivor Series coming up, I decided to watch a match I had not seen in a long time: The epic, 10-team Survivor Series elimination contest from 1988.
The bout culminated in a rare double turn, as Mr. Fuji — “the devious one,” said Gorilla Monsoon during commentary — betrayed Tag Team Champions Demolition and instead sided with opponents The Powers of Pain.
Ax and Smash of Demolition had been heels since their arrival, but Fuji’s actions made them babyfaces, and the opposite happened when the Powers of Pain — Warlord and Barbarian — lifted Fuji on their shoulders after winning the match.
The other notable thing that many long-time WWF fans remember about the match is that the Conquisadores — a masked jobber tag team on any other day — made it to the final two teams. Their surprisingly longevity in the match, combined with Monsoon and color commentator Jesse Ventura openly marveling at the fact, made you think the Conquistadores had a chance to win it all.
The match itself was long, clocking in at 42:12, which made it one of the lengthiest contests in the WWF for the entire decade of the 1980s. The only longer bouts I can remember off the top of my head were the handful of one-hour draws Bob Backlund had against Magnificent Muraco in 1981 and a series of six 60-minute marathon matches between the Rockers and the Fabulous Rougeaus in 1989.
Speaking of the Rockers and the Rougeaus, they were involved with the Survivor Series tag match, along with the British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, Jim Powers and Paul Roma, Brain Busters, and Bolsheviks. The match was all action, with constant tags and little down time. Monsoon and Ventura went out of their way to note several times that Dynamite Kid was making mistakes (such as the “nonchalant cover” of his opponent), which I now recognize probably signified he had heat with the front office.
Demolition continued holding the championship and held the record for the longest WWE tag team title reign until 2016, when the New Day broke it. Ax and Smash also won the belts two other times before turning heel again in 1990 and eventually fading away.
Meanwhile, the Powers of Pain got a push with Fuji as their manager, but never held the tag title. They eventually split up and had minor success as singles stars.