WWF Survivor Series 1992 Review feat. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

Logo for WWF Survivor Series 1992
Image Source: WWE

WWF Survivor Series 1992

WWF Survivor Series 1992 marked a change in format for the sixth edition of this PPV. Whereas previous Survivors shows had been focused almost entirely on the elimination tag matches, here we only had one such bout, while the rest of the event resembled a traditional PPV event. This was likely due to the roster being somewhat downsized over the course of 1992, meaning that the WWF might have struggled to pad out a full PPV using the traditional Survivors model (a few outsiders were drafted in to make up the numbers for the Royal Rumble match two months later). As it turned out, even the announced line-up didn’t end up reaching fruition: The Ultimate Warrior was fired right before the event, which saw him replaced by Mr. Perfect (more on that later), while both The British Bulldog and The Mountie had also departed, meaning their match wouldn’t happen. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels had recently dethroned Bulldog for the Intercontinental Title, meaning it was champion vs. champion as he faced WWF titleholder Bret Hart, though only The Hitman’s gold would be on the line. Since my head is now spinning, let’s get to the action.

High Energy vs. The Head Shrinkers

After a pointless Coliseum Home Video exclusive consisting of Reverend Slick talking about how thankful he was, we had the PPV debut for Samu and Fatu, who had recently arrived under the management of former WWWF star Afa, one half of WWE Hall Of Fame tandem The Wild Samoans. The Head Shrinkers had previously performed under alternate names in WCW, but Fatu would start to establish himself as a force in the WWF with a tenure that lasted, on and off, for almost 12 years, even if he only truly made it once he became revamped as Rikishi in late 1999. This was a good opener; though they’re barely remembered nowadays, The Head Shrinkers often had exciting matches, especially when their opponents were compatible with their agility and pace, which Koko B. Ware and Owen Hart definitely were. Fatu pinned Koko to get the win, as The Shrinkers would begin a slow climb up the WWF doubles ranks. For High Energy, though they had only recently formed, their squad would be gone within six months, and Koko would be out of the door around the same time.

Nightstick On A Pole Match
The Big Boss Man vs. Nailz

Next up, we had the culmination of a long-running feud. Nailz had attacked Boss Man on Superstars back in May as an escaped inmate from Boss Man’s prison in Cobb County, Georgia, and only now was he finally getting full revenge on the psychotic Nailz. Beforehand, Nailz cut a ridiculous promo where he vowed to win, but in the most childish, over-the-top heel monster voice imaginable. The contest was okay but nothing special; the Vince Russo special here was about taking control of the nightstick as opposed to merely winning by obtaining it. This was one of numerous stipulation matches based on Boss Man’s gimmick (the most famous being his Jailhouse match with The Mountie at SummerSlam 1991), and given his popularity at this stage, there was only one feasible result. Sure enough, the Boss Man Slam finished off Nailz, allowing BBM to triumph in a feel-good moment. Nailz would be fired within weeks after a notorious backstage incident involving himself and Vince McMahon, while Boss Man – despite looking good and still being over – would leave the WWF in the late spring/early summer of 1993. I’m sensing a theme.

Tatanka vs. Rick Martel

Even though the WWF only held a handful of proper PPV events during this era, the Federation still managed to present a few supercard rematches. One of those happened here, as Tatanka – who had defeated Rick Martel at WrestleMania VIII earlier in the year – faced The Model once again. At least they had more of an issue by this stage, though, as Martel had taken the dastardly step of stealing Tatanka’s coveted feathers and attaching them to his cap. It’s hardly Jake Roberts’ cobra biting Randy Savage’s arm, but it was a reason for them to collide, if nothing else. By this time, Martel was coming across as a veteran who was past his prime, even if his gimmick was sufficient to provide a few amusing promos. When you also factor in Tatanka’s undefeated streak throughout 1992 and his increasing popularity with fans, it was no surprise when the Native American pinned Martel for the second time on PPV with his version of the Samoan Drop. I should mention that Doink wandered through the crowd during the bout, which he had done and would do for a good while, until he finally got stuck into a storyline with Crush at the start of 1993.

Macho Man Randy Savage & Mr. Perfect vs. Ric Flair & Razor Ramon

As noted earlier, Perfect replaced Warrior in this big tag team match, which was arguably the real main event despite going on at the halfway stage. Perfect had been Flair’s Executive Consultant for around a year, but when Savage asked him to become his partner on Prime Time Wrestling, some unintentionally offensive digs by Bobby Heenan led to Perfect not only accepting the offer, but turning babyface and even pouring water on The Brain, in an angle that was shown again here. It also marked Perfect’s first match since seemingly retiring from a back injury at SummerSlam 1991. How Perfect was suddenly able to wrestle again, I’m not sure, but it was a good way to make the most of a bad situation, considering that the Savage-Warrior-Flair-Ramon situation had been developing for months, with Savage and Flair having been linked in the storyline for virtually the entire year.

Though their match had no real stakes, this was an exciting clash that lived up to its modified hype. Perfect looked really good (if not quite perfect) in his comeback match, and any ring rust was very hard to detect as he more than held his own. Savage proved that he was still on top of his game, as was Slic Ric, and Ramon was able to keep up with the veterans in the biggest match of his career thus far. Add to that Bobby Heenan trashing Perfect as much as he possibly could on commentary, and you have a fun spectacle that is well worth rewatching. It didn’t have a great finish, though: after numerous ref bumps and related shenanigans, the heels double-teamed Perfect for long enough that a disqualification was called. This led to a post-match brawl that culminated with Perfect whacking Flair and Ramon with steel chairshots, which only angered Heenan even more. Post-match, Ric and Razor swore retribution on Mr. P, with Macho Man – previously the focus of their ire – suddenly now in the supporting role.

Yokozuna vs. Virgil

On paper, this seemed incredibly one-sided, and so it proved. Newcomer Yokozuna was already establishing himself as one to watch, primarily due to his gargantuan size and his devastating Banzai Drop finishing move. Virgil, meanwhile, had become a stepping stone for rising heels to defeat (Nailz beat him back at SummerSlam), so if anybody was foolish enough to believe that Virgil was going to beat Yoko here, then they would be backing a loser, to say the very least. To nobody’s surprise, Yoko scored a relatively easy win with the aforementioned Banzai Drop, and his rise up the charts would be faster than expected, as he would be in WWF Title contention just two months later. To that end, then, this bout served its purpose, though it’s totally skippable upon a repeat viewing.

Eight-Man Tag Team Elimination Match
The Natural Disasters & The Nasty Boys vs. Money Inc. & The Beverly Brothers

Now we come to the only proper Survivors match on the card, which involved four tag teams in a refreshing utilisation of the stipulation. Money Inc. had recently beaten The Disasters on Wrestling Challenge to reclaim the Tag Team Titles, but the opportunity had been promised to Jimmy Hart’s other clients Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags, which was a fun way to instigate a Nastys babyface turn. This followed the usual Survivors formula, with the guarantee of eliminations meaning that the action moved at a swift pace by the standards of the era. In a unique twist, if one member of an established combo was eliminated, their partner was gone too. This meant that we needed only to see Earthquake pin Beau Beverly, Irwin R. Schyster pin Typhoon and Sags pin IRS to bring the bout to a close. The Nastys had triumphed as sole survivors, but while they chased down IRS and Ted DiBiase for several months, they never really got their title shot, and they would leave the WWF in 1993. Continuing the revolving door, The Disasters and The Beverlys also left the next year (Quake and Phoon made brief returns in 1994), and DiBiase finished up by SummerSlam as well (he was back as a non-wrestler the following year). This all meant that IRS was the only one of the eight combatants still on the roster twelve months later. Damn.

Coffin Match
The Undertaker vs. Kamala

This was the second match with a stipulation that linked to a specific character, and as with the Nightstick On A Pole match, this also proved to be a one-off. The Casket match would become the regular Taker gimmick match in the future, presumably because it was simpler and quicker, as each combatant simply placed the other in the box and closed the lid. With this Coffin match, you not only had to pin your adversary, but you also had to put them in the Coffin and then nail the lid down as if it was some sort of high school woodwork project. Kamala had avoided Taker’s complete wrath at SummerSlam, but he wasn’t so lucky here: initiating the theme of Taker’s heel opponents all being scared of a giant box, Kamala tried to overcome his fear and relied on Kim Chee attacking Paul Bearer for further assistance, but it mattered not as Taker still triumphed with a Tombstone Piledriver. Kamala was then placed into the custom-designed Coffin, which Taker nailed shut in a manner that suggested he was struggling with the task. This would lead to Kamala losing Kim Chee and Harvey Whippleman and siding with Slick to turn babyface, while Whippleman rebounded by locating (shudder) Giant Gonzales to feud with Taker for a ludicrous seven months.

WWF Championship Match
Bret Hart (C) vs. Shawn Michaels

The main event would have seemed unfathomable one year earlier as a headline attraction, but times had changed due to the scandals that had caused the WWF to focus less on muscularity and more on athleticism. Bret Hart had become WWF Champion six weeks earlier, making this his first major test with the belt that he had already successfully defended several times on television. For Michaels, meanwhile, this was an unexpected opportunity to headline a PPV, with his credibility enhanced by the aforementioned IC Title win shortly beforehand.

As anyone could have predicted, this was an outstanding wrestling match. Bret was in his prime by this point, and Shawn was just starting to really find his niche as a singles talent; he had done well throughout 1992 on his own, but 1993 was when he would truly become one of the WWF’s most important players. This match occurred five years before their notorious Montreal clash in 1997, and while this was far less controversial and far less noteworthy, this was a far better match, and arguably the best televised Bret vs. Shawn match of them all. Bobby Heenan was a scream on commentary as he championed Shawn’s cause, and continuously ran down The Hitman for the simple reason that Hart was a babyface. Despite The Brain’s jibes and Michaels’ best efforts, though, Bret was able to retain his title by submitting Shawn to the Sharpshooter. Post-match, Bret celebrated with Santa Claus one month before Christmas, because the WWF did stuff like that in 1992.

Though it’s the least memorable of the four PPVs held that year, WWF Survivor Series 1992 was a really entertaining show. Bret vs. Shawn is excellent and the big tag team match was a lot of fun as well. Further exciting under-card action, along with several major mid-card feuds being settled, made this a highly entertaining and productive supershow. The Survivor Series formula might have been put on the back-burner for one year, but in its place, we got a hell of a card.