Traditionally, Survivor Series is one of WWE’s big four pay-per-view events. Debuting in 1987, the show featured primarily team elimination matches. Sadly, the fall classic has lost its luster over the last several years. The longtime fan in me will always have a soft spot for the event, especially when it aired on Thanksgiving night. 1990 is my favorite installment not only because it marks the debut of The Undertaker, but also because of the main event, The Ultimate Match of Survival.
The Ultimate Match of Survival pitted the winners of the traditional Survivor Series matches against each other in a final elimination bout with the babyfaces on one team and the heels on the other. This added extra drama throughout the event because every match was crucial in determining the end result. The Ultimate Warrior and Ted DiBiase were the sole survivors of their matches which meant a singles bout for the time being. Rick Martel captained his entire team to victory which meant bad news for the Warrior as he found himself in a five on one situation. Hulkamania ran wild on Earthquake thus the Warrior got some much-needed backup. Sgt Slaughter pinned Tito Santana. Six against two were bad odds even for the two titans. However, Slaughter cheated and the referee reversed his decision. Tito Santana was the winner and advanced to the finals.
The main event was set. Ted DiBiase, Rick Martel, The Warlord, Paul Roma, and Hercules vs. Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Tito Santana. It was five on three and DiBiase brilliantly set the stage in his pre match promo, teasing dissention between Warrior and Hogan from their WrestleMania VI encounter while welcoming a weary Tito Santana to the party. The match started off with a bang as Tito Santana cold cocked The Warlord with his trademark flying forearm, eliminating him in 0:28 seconds. Santana’s had emptied his gas tank in that endeavor and DiBiase pinned him two minutes later. Hogan took out Roma and DiBiase, Martel walked out on the match, and Warrior pinned Hercules, making he and Hogan the ultimate survivors.
This was a fun match that only had one outing. I didn’t know the terms mid-card and main eventer then, but I knew Tito Santana wasn’t on the level of Hogan and Warrior. Still, seeing him team with them was super cool because for one night, Santana rubbed shoulders with the gods. It was an event to see the big names clash and it was even a bigger deal to see them team up once a year. Unfortunately, the concept wouldn’t work today because it’s the product of a era when superstar vs. superstar was primarily a pay-per-view attraction. Today, jobber matches are extinct and seeing the names team up together has no special appeal because we see it weekly on Raw and Smackdown. Oh the nostalgia.