Induction: Survivor Series Substitutes – Knights in Shawn’s Service

57 Submitted by on Thu, 26 November 2015, 20:00

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As long as there has been a Survivor Series, there have been replacement team members in the elimination matches. When you have eight or ten men booked in the same match, you’re bound to lose one or two to injury or pink slips by the time the pay-per-view rolls around. It’s a staple of the WWF’s annual Survivor Series pay-per-view that’s been around as long as the traditional elimination matches themselves. In fact, you could say it’s been around even longer than the “traditional” elimination matches, because back in the day, when the company actually made elimination matches relevant, the announcers didn’t need to call them “traditional” (read: “obligatory”).

From the time Don Muraco filled in for an aging Superstar Billy Graham in 1987…

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…to the time last year when Cesaro pretended to replace an injured Sheamus, immediately swerved John Cena for absolutely no reason, and then Ryback joined for real…

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…WWE’s second-stringers have been doing their part to keep the company’s second-oldest pay-per-view puttering along year after year.

But back when the WWF put thought into the Survivor Series teams with creative team names and themes, a last-minute substitute could for one reason or another really stick out like a sore thumb.

Pictured: sore thumb.

Sometimes, the replacement wrestler simply wasn’t in the same league as the rest of the team. In 1988, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts, Tito Santana, Ken Patera, and the Junkyard Dog were to team together until JYD left the company. Duggan’s team replaced him with Brian Blair. replacements04
replacements05 Then Blair quit, so they recruited Sam Casey, a man best known for… well, wrestling on Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s 1988 Survivor Series team.
How obscure a talent was Casey? For starters, his name was Scott Casey, not “Sam Casey,” yet I doubt you even noticed. Hell, that last picture wasn’t even Casey; it was David Sammartino. This is Scott Casey: replacements06
replacements07 The following year, Tully Blanchard was fired from the company, leaving a spot open on the Heenan Family team the night of the pay-per-view.
He might be called “The Brain,” but you’ve really got to question Bobby Heenan’s wisdom in replacing the missing team member with this black winter glove: replacements08
replacements09 Sorry, let me get my facts straight. Okay, Bobby Heenan chose himself as a substitute for the former Horseman, which turned out about as well as expected.
Other times, the substitutions don’t make any kayfabe sense. One such ill-advised substitution at Survivor Series was for that same 1989 event, when Bad News Brown rounded out The Big Bossman’s team of Enforcers, only to bail out on his team the exact same way he did at the previous Survivor Series. Maybe Brown was notoriously unreliable, but the heel team did need a replacement for Akeem, the African Dream.
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replacements99 Speaking of a Caucasian black man, that brings us to Steve here.
See, sometimes, the only member holding the team together went AWOL. Case in point: What do Steve Blackman, Vader, Goldust, and Marc Mero have in common? If you said, “They were all born in the United States,” I would suggest you stop being such a smart-ass. replacements10
replacements11 But in this case, that was the WWF’s exact answer. See, The Patriot, who as you may have guessed had an America-loving gimmick, was scheduled to captain Team USA. However, after a torn biceps, he was replaced by a debuting Steve Blackman and never seen again in the WWF. If it’s any consolation to the Federation, the last-minute switch saved Team USA from doubling as Team WCW 1994.
The only thing red-white-and-blue about the remaining members was Marc Mero’s bandanna, which Davey Boy Smith used as toilet paper shortly into the match. replacements12
replacements13 Backstage, Vader explained that the only common thread the random selection of Team USA members had was that they hated bossy Canadians. So why not just call themselves “Team Not Canada”?
Probably because the other team was one member away from being “Team Not Canada” themselves: Americans Jim Neidhart and Doug Furnas joined the British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and the team’s sole Canadian, Phil LaFon, who was originally billed as hailing from France. “Oklahoma barbecue with French seasoning” was how Jim Ross described the team of Furnas & LaFon, although the WWF’s merchandising department failed to capitalize on that million-dollar catchphrase. replacements14
 replacements15 It’s a real shame that, after booking the five-man Hart Foundation into a Canada vs. USA angle for the better part of 1997, Vince and company couldn’t muster a full-fledged Hart Foundation team come Survivor Series. A number of factors contributed to this missed opportunity, from Brian Pillman’s untimely death (leaving the Hart Foundation a man down) to Owen Hart injuring Steve Austin (necessitating a rematch at Survivor Series) to Bret Hart’s WWF title run (putting him one-on-one against Shawn Michaels in the main event, which, as we all remember, ended in a schmozz).
While we’re on the subject of (inter)national pride, 1993’s Foreign Fanatics originally consisted of the quasi-Japanese Yokozuna, the Hellraiser from Helsinki Ludvig Borga, and the Quebecers. replacements16
replacements17 When Lex Luger knocked Quebecer Pierre out of action, however, Jim Cornette, Johnny Polo, and Mr. Fuji recruited the meanest foreigner they could find: the big Hawaiian Crush. Of course as you history buffs know, by 1993 Hawaii was one of the fifty United States and had been for decades, but the WWF couldn’t expect its fans to keep up to date on the finer points of geography.
And sure, Hawaii hadn’t been a foreign country since 1893, but what’s a mere century to a wrestling promoter? replacements18
replacements19 The Foreign Fanatics’ opponents had themselves already suffered a loss to their team when Tatanka was put on the shelf by Borga and Yoko. This ruined the perfectly well-themed team of the collegiate All-Americans the Steiner Brothers, the Native American Tatanka, and the American Original Lex Luger.
In Tatanka’s place, the remaining three members recruited The Undertaker, who showed he belonged on the team by modeling this very patriotic trench coat.
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Lex declined to re-name the team, “Death to America.”

replacements21 Nifty cloak or not, you can’t expect us to believe a wrestler changed his entire attitude just by draping him in an American flag.
The new, patriotic Undertaker soon took to talking about the Founding Fathers, wandering around colonial cemeteries, and showing off the Betsy Ross flag. In other words, he wasn’t fighting for all Americans, just the dead ones. They could have stuck him in the Four Doinks and had him cut promos about Emmett Kelly and Chuckles the Clown. replacements22
replacements23 And speaking of Four Doinks, the Prince of Pranks didn’t even wrestle on his own team that year, as the original Doink Matt Borne had been fired weeks earlier.
This left Men on a Mission and the Bushwhackers to take up the Doink mantle and pretend that the “We Want Doink” chants were meant for them… replacements24
replacements25 …all while the new full-time Doink stayed backstage the whole time.
I might as well have just inducted the whole 1993 Survivor Series, since Doink wasn’t even the first team captain to no-show his match that night. Jerry Lawler, who was engaged in one of the most personal feuds in WWF history at the time with Bret Hart, was all set to lead his three knights into battle against four Hart brothers in the “Family Feud” match. replacements26
replacements27 After months of berating Hart parents Stu & Helen and screwing Bret out of his King of the Ring crown , Lawler was to finally get his comeuppance from Bret and his family. However, some *ahem* legal issues forced Jerry Lawler off the card and put the feud on hold (coming to a head two years later in a “Kiss My Foot Match”).
Thus, instead of Jerry “The King” Lawler and his Knights, we got Shawn Michaels and his… uh, Knights. Not even Sexy Knights, either. replacements28
replacements29 To spark some semblance of a feud between the Harts and Shawn Michaels’s team of mystery men, the Heartbreak Kid poked fun at Stu and Helen in a skit the weekend before the event. A few “old people” masks were apparently enough to drag Bruce and Keith Hart out of retirement.
And while we’re on the subject of lousy replacements, Ray Combs served as master of ceremonies instead of Richard Dawson. replacements30
replacements31 In 1995, with Pierre Ouellet out of the company and missing yet another Survivor Series, the statuesque Bodydonnas team needed a suitable replacement, and boy did they get one in the form of the Dead Body-Donna himself, The Undertaker!
Just kidding. It was the 1-2-3 Kid, whose physique had, admittedly, always set him apart from the whole rest of the roster. replacements32
replacements33 And hey, if “Heavenly Body-Donna” Tom Prichard and “Bodydonna-in-training” Rad Radford could be on the team of supposed Adonises, why not the 123-pound Kid?
On a side note, the opposing team had Bob Holly replace Avatar, who was suffering from the debilitating condition known as “sh***y debut on live television.” AV-12
replacements35 Say what you will about all of the replacement wrestlers, but at least the WWF bothered to put fill in the holes in those elimination matches. That wasn’t the case in 1991, when Sid Justice got injured. The opposing team’s Jake Roberts later sicked a cobra on the retired Macho Man, who had been campaigning for reinstatement, just a week before the event. Hmmm… hot feud, an open slot on the babyface team… are you thinking what I’m thinking? Then you know exactly what the WWF did: they kept Randy Savage off the card and suspended Jake Roberts.
What, was that not what you were thinking? Well it’s what I was thinking. By the way, have we been formally introduced? The name’s Jack Tunney. replacements36
replacements37 This kayfabe suspension led to the first and only three-on-three elimination match at Survivor Series, with LOD and Bossman beating The Natural Disasters and IRS. And it closed the show.
   

I have no idea why the WWF didn’t just replace Sid. What, was Scott Casey not available that night?

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Again, that’s David Sammartino.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
57 Responses to "Induction: Survivor Series Substitutes – Knights in Shawn’s Service"
  1. Justin Henry says:

    Good stuff, but no mention of Bad News Brown replacing Akeem in 1989, just so they could rehash the spot where a partner hits him, and he walks out?

    Of course, why would Bad News team with a southern prison guard and a white dude named Honky in the first place?

    • Art0Donnell says:

      You know, I originally wrote that up but I didn’t think it would fit with the rest of the article. I’ve just put it back in and edited it a little.

      • Justin Henry says:

        Smooth edit. Props.

        • Sean Bateman says:

          How about the Earthquake subing for the WIdowmaker in the 89 Survivor Series?

          • James says:

            Ray Combs was as good as Richard Dawson, in his own way. They were tied for first as Family Feud hosts, IMO. I know everyone nowadays loves Steve Harvey, but he needs penis jokes as a crutch.

            • Ferry says:

              Not to mention Combs went mad after losing his job and eventually killed himself in a loony bin. Art really should have known a lot better than to write such a comment, especially given how PC he is about race and gender issues.

            • CP says:

              I’ve taken “penis jokes” to be code. They’re hardly as prevalent as everyone seems to think.

          • James says:

            Vince voice hastily dubbed in : “ANDTHEEARTHQUAKE!”

        • Jimbolian says:

          I’m still mystfied One Man Gang turned into Akeem because watching OMG fight at Wrestlemania IV, and then seeing him as Akeem months later convinced me they were two different people and not a simple gimmick change (I use change lightly)

  2. Sean Bateman says:

    Also at the 1989 Survivor Series, Earthquake took Barry Windham’s spot and Bad News Brown took Akeem’s spot.

  3. The Doctor of Style says:

    Glad to see the Undertaker’s Betsy Ross coat finally make it to the site!

  4. Hulk6785 says:

    It may not have been a traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Match, but in 1992, they replaced The Ultimate Warrior with Mr. Perfect to team with the Macho Man against Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.

    By the way, 1992 was a weird Survivor Series. They had only one Elimination Tag, and it was for tag teams, with each team consisting of only two teams: The Nasty Boys and Natural Disasters VS Money, Inc. and the Beverly Brothers.

    • Herc says:

      2002 Survivor Series was more weird , it didn’t even had a traditional tag elimination match. There was 6-man tables elimination match & triple threat tag team elimination match for tag team championship.

  5. Anthony "A-Log" LoGatto says:

    Actually, now that I think about it, Team Canada was supposed to have a one-night appearance by a talent in the developmental league named Glenn Kulka. He was taken out and replaced by Furnas and LaFon.

  6. #OPC says:

    I’m not complaining about Steve Blackman replacing the Patriot.

  7. Cpt SuckerPunch says:

    ya know rd’s the man and all that, came up with this awesome site, but i gotta say art is fuckin hilarious…if you ask me hes written the best stuff this site has to offer…

  8. Philip says:

    Are you perhaps suggesting the Vaudevillains are anachronistic? Fisticuffs are the only logical reaction to that, good sir!

    • Gotchism For Life says:

      I must say good chap, that was most uncouth. We must maintain proper decorum and not see this fine forum degenerate into a donnybrook.

  9. Doc 902714 says:

    Also at the 1991 Survivor Series, Ricky Steamboat was replaced with El Matador Tito Santana since he had left the company to go back to WCW to appear on a WTBS Clash of the Champions as Dustin Rhodes’ mystery tag team partner one week before the event. Sgt. Slaughter replaced Jim the Anvil Neidhart who got injured by the Beverly Brothers following a match with Ric Flair. Rounding out the four-man team were Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Texas Tornado. On the opposing team Hercules replaced Big Bully Busick because he had presumably left the company by then and rounding out their squad was Col. Mustafa, Berzerker & Skinner.

  10. King Of Kings says:

    I remember two other replacements. One was at the 1990 survivor series (yes the same one where Undertaker debuted) which featured the Mercenaries. Sgt Slaughter was team captain joined by the Orient Express and Boris Zhukov however originally Akeem was on the team during the build to the event until he was fired or something so they got Zhukov to replace him.

    One other I recall happened at the 1996 event which featured the team of Marc Mero, The Rock (Rocky Miavia at the time making his debut, wow another SS debut) Barry Windham, and Mark Henry were set to fight Crush, Jerry the King Lawler, Triple H, and Goldust. Mark Henry was injured prior so they brought out Jake the Snake Roberts as his substitute.

  11. King Of Kings says:

    You know I just got to thinking, when are you guys going to induct Survivor Series 1995? That whole event was a head scratcher for me save for mabey Bret Hart vs Diesel.

    • Art0Donnell says:

      I think 1995′ Survivor Series was one of the best of the 90s. Besides Bret vs. Diesel, there was the women’s 4-on-4 and the Bodydonnas/Underdogs match.

      • King Of Kings says:

        Those were ok sure what I mainly was referring to was the main event wild card match where the heels and faces were working together. I never understood that but ah well.

  12. E-Squared says:

    Not that it’s the same thing, but I think I have an idea for a follow-up piece. What about the inclusions of Maven and Snitsky in the main event at Survivor Series 2004? They were not replacements, and I am sure that Snitsky was over, but Maven was the one who stuck out like sore-thumb. Of course, he was not in the match for too long. It would have made more sense if Shelton Benjamin was on the face team and maybe Christian or Flair to be on the heel team.

    • Penguin says:

      It was the highest push Maven ever received in his career. After that he just went back to lower card, feuded with Shelton Benjamin , teamed up with Simon Dead & got squashed by Snitsky, Kane, Batista etc.

  13. Dave says:

    Also at the 1988 Series, Don Muraco was originally on the Beefcake/Warrior team. He left the company and was replaced by either Sam Houston or Jim Brunzell, I forget which.

    • Krendall says:

      I believe Brunzell was the replacement and Houston was either always going to be on the team (since the heels had Danny Davis, who Houston was kinda feuding with) or he replaced someone else.

  14. Guest says:

    Wow and I thought the 2015 SS match was weird and awkward.

  15. Jonathan Michaels says:

    And I just noticed the GIF of the week seems to be clapping in association with New Day.

    • Mister Forth says:

      Well the U.S. Express knew Taker was going to win, so they needed someone to support.

      P.S. Orndorff likely wasn’t supposed to kiss his biceps, but really, no one was going to say anything.

  16. Ferry says:

    A mediocre induction by your standards, dragged down to offensive thanks to the disgusting remark about the late Ray Combs.

  17. simongr81 says:

    Scott Casey had a decent run in World Class. Held both the Texas and Television titles.

  18. Sean Bateman says:

    96 had Jake Roberts replacing Mark Henry

  19. Brad H says:

    The entire 1991 Survivor Series was a fraud. It was just basically a 3 hour commercial for the ill-conceived Tuesday Night in Texas event they were doing a few days later.

  20. Zac Campbell says:

    Also in 1990 Haku replaced Rick Rude. And as photos indicated Bad News Brown was supposed to be on The Million Dollar Team but got replaced by the Mystery Partner who turned out to be The Undertaker

    • James says:

      I thought it was going to be Dustin myself. I mean, after buying Dusty’s manager, why not go after his son next?

      So were there pix of the M$T with BNB, or did the silhouette just look in his shape?

    • Scrooge McSuck says:

      First I’ve ever heard this, but then a short google search later…

      http://www.wwe.com/shows/survivorseries/2012/historical-survivor-series-teams-photos

      Maybe it’s WWE revisionism, but I don’t see the point in faking something most people would find meaningless.

  21. J says:

    After reading this I see some on is a fan of Weekend update

  22. Max says:

    There is one thing positive I can say about the 93 Harts Vs Knights match; Heenan was on fire that match. There was a video highlighting his commentary in that match, but it’s not on YouTube anymore.

  23. theMOESOAH says:

    You’re doing a fantastic job, Art.

  24. 80's Guy says:

    Wrestlecrap, why you no use Disqus for comments? Would make conversation about topics and seeing comments to what you’ve written easier. 🙁

  25. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, Survivor Series 1993 was unwatchable.

  26. Brad says:

    “FOREIGN FANATICS, WE’RE GONNA LAMINATE YOU!” -a young, mulletted Scotty Steiner, proving he cannot blame the bleach seeping into his brain for his promo style

    • RexKidd says:

      “YOKOZUNA, YOU GOT NO CHANCE. WELL YOU HAD A CHANCE, AND IT WAS IF YOU RUN LICKETY SPLIT, BUT YOU CAN’T RUN CUZ YOU GOT A FAAAAAT ASS”

  27. Steve says:

    Anyone have video of that Shawn video with “Stu and Helen”?

  28. Saint Stryfe says:

    I’m saddened there was no reference to the redone art for the Survivor Series poster with the All-Americans versus the Foreign Fanatics. After Tatanka (Buffalo) Went down, they redrew it with the Undertaker…. doing Tatanka’s war dance. Holding a fork and a knife.

    Found it on the cover of the Coliseum Home video release:

    http://vsplanet.net/multimedia/graphic/posters/survivorseries1993.jpg

  29. Nutella Marella says:

    Fun trivia: the two people in the Stu and Helen masks were Johnny Polo and Harvey Wippleman. They did another skit on a King’s Court that never aired ending in “Stu” having a heart attack and “Helen” having to revive him with mouth to mouth. Harsher in hindsight.

  30. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    I love inductions that are not only hilarious but also make a lot of good points, and this is one of them! Nicely done, Art! 🙂

  31. CP says:

    Is it just me or does David Sammartino look like his chest was inflated?

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