The 5 Most Underrated WWE Pay-Per-View Of The 1980s
With all due respect to the Attitude Era, there might have been no better time to be a WWE (WWF) fan than the golden era of the 1980s. There were only 13 WWE pay-per-view events that took place during the entirety of the 1980s, but each one built slightly on the previous one. Obviously Wrestlemania was – and always will be – the granddaddy of them all; the Super Bowl of wrestling, if you will. And while each of the first five Wrestlemanias provided us with many memorable moments, there were other, less-heralded events that did the same…
The 1989 Royal Rumble
The 1989 Royal Rumble wasn’t the first Rumble, but it was the first one to be broadcast on pay-per-view television. The 1989 edition also saw an increase in the number of participants, from 20 to 30. The event itself was filled with fun moments, including the bodybuilding pose-down between The Ultimate Warrior and Ravishing Rick Rude, as well as Ax and Smash of Demolition drawing numbers one and two respectively in the Rumble match itself.
But the event will be most remembered as the telltale prelude to the Mega-Powers’ explosion that was to come at Wrestlemania V. Hulk Hogan eliminated 10 wrestlers prior to his own elimination, one of whom was The Macho Man Randy Savage, who didn’t take too kindly to the ousting. Big John Studd ultimately went on to win the Rumble, but would leave the company just a few months later.
SummerSlam ‘88 will be remembered for several things. For starters, who can forget the Honky Tonk Man grabbing a mic, and exclaiming, “Get me somebody out here to wrestle… I don’t care who it is.” And then of course, Jim Johnston’s “Unstable,” The Ultimate Warrior’s theme music hits, and Madison Square Garden went absolutely bonkers. The rest, as they say, is history. The Warrior went on to capture the Intercontinental title in less than 30 seconds.
The Main Event of this SummerSlam featured The Mega-Powers squaring off against The Mega-Bucks. Hogan and Savage were both down on the outside, when in a pre-Attitude Era decision, the company had Miss Elizabeth hop up on the apron and remove her skirt to distract Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant, thereby allowing the Mega Powers to regroup, and pick up the W (in spite of a reluctant-count from special guest referee, Jesse “The Body” Ventura).
This pay-per-view also featured The Hart Foundation’s inaugural appearance as babyfaces, as they challenged Demolition for the tag belts, and was it was also the culmination of the Rick Rude / Jake Roberts feud that began when Rude made moves on Jake’s wife, Cheryl Roberts.
Survivor Series 1988
Much like the previous year, Survivor Series ’88 was held in Richfield, Ohio on Thanksgiving eve. Fans got their money’s worth on this night, as three of the four matches on the card went 30 minutes or longer.
The main event of Survivor Series ’88 pitted “The Powers vs. The Towers” as Hulk Hogan and The Macho Man Randy Savage joined forces with “The Birdman” Koko B. Ware, The Mighty Hercules, and Hillbilly Jim, to take on The Big Boss Man and Akeem’s squad, rounded out with The Red Rooster, Haku, and Ted Dibiase. The finish resulted is a very early seed-planting of the Mega-Powers’ explosion that was to come a few months down the line.
Other bouts included a tag match that saw the rare double-turn of Demolition and The Powers of Pain, as well as an appearance from Damian, as Jake the Snake Roberts, in which he scared the living daylights out of Andre the Giant.
Survivor Series 1987
The 1987 edition of the Survivor Series was the first of its kind, and it had the unenviable task of being the next pay-per-view after the iconic and record-setting spectacle that was Wrestlemania III, headlined by Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. That doesn’t mean that Survivor Series ’87 didn’t answer the bell, though.
Hogan and Andre once again headlined this event, captaining their respective 5-man teams against one another. What made this Survivor Series such a memorable event was that it was the first of its kind, as nobody had ever seen such a large gathering of teams over the course of one night. If you’ve never seen ten wrestlers on each side of the ring, be sure to catch the tag team match, where Strike Force captained its team against The Hart Foundation’s.
The Mega-Powers’ explosion continued post-Wrestlemania V, as Hulk Hogan and his partner Brutus the Barber Beefcake took on The Macho Man Randy Savage, and “The Human Wrecking Machine” Zeus. Zeus had been brought into the fold to promote the movie No Holds Barred, starring himself and Hulk Hogan, which was released that same summer.
As far as work rate goes, The Hulkster might not have been known as a great mat technician, but you can’t deny that he was the very best at knowing how to work a crowd. This main event slips between the cracks of all-time great Hulk Hogan matches, as it delivers on all levels.
The Intercontinental title was also battled for, as champion Rick Rude defended against the former champion, The Ultimate Warrior. In a setup for the main event of Wrestlemania VI, The Warrior put on one of the greatest performances of his career, and the energy that night in the Meadowlands was so thick, you could cut it with a knife (ode to Gorilla Monsoon).
Who says the ‘80s were simply a time of cartoon characters infesting the pro wrestling ranks? These guys knew how to deliver on the grandest of stages, at a time when fans couldn’t get enough wrestling action.