John Carbery, Craig Wilson, Brian Damage and Russ Morgan
In case you missed it, it’s WWE Survivor Series this Sunday evening. We figured that there would be no better way to continue the countdown to that event than by looking at, in our opinion, the Top Five Survivor Series matches in history.
5. 10 vs 10 Tag Team Match at Survivor Series 1988
This for me is the definitive Survivor Series match a 45-minute blinder featuring some of the best tag teams of all time. The Rockers, The Brainbusters, Hart Foundation, Demolition and the British Bulldogs were among the teams involved and they delivered a great slice of varied in-ring action for three-quarters of an hour. Just the sight of 10 distinct tag teams all in matching gear was a sight to behold and shows just how important tag team wrestling was back in the day. Well worth seeking out on the Network.
4. Undertaker vs Yokozuna at Casket Match Survivor Series 1994
I’m sure if I went back and watched this match it’d be the absolute pits but as a nine-year-old mega mark, this was such a satisfying encounter to watch. I was furious with the Royal Rumble showdown between Taker and Yoko that year. It may have seemed ridiculous to any adults watching but when The Dead Man was being bullied by a dozen or so heels and stuffed against his will into a casket but it got genuine heat with me. I knew if the playing field was level Undertaker would’ve won so when they announced Chuck Norris as special guest ring enforcer I was over the Moon. I was, of course, a big mark for Walker, Texas Ranger and completely bought into Norris as a bad-ass. I’ll never forget how elated I was when Norris stopped Jeff Jarrett from interfering in the match and allowed Undertaker to put away the man not-actually-from-Japan in a fair fight. To a kid, it was magic!
3. Sycho Sid vs Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1996
If you want to see just how good HBK really was, just watch this incredible match he had with Sid for the WWF Championship at Survivor Series 96. Sid never had a match of this quality before and never would again, Michaels worked a miracle with him as Sid was all show and no go throughout the rest of his career. The match took place in Madison Square Garden and the New York crowd had turned completely on HBK and cheered when Sid pinned him for the title. It’s one of those “moments in time” that could only really happen once and I’m just glad cameras were there to capture it.
2. Team Cena vs Team Authority at Survivor Series 2014
To be honest, I didn’t really care about this match going into that year’s Series. However, after over 40 minutes of blistering action, I had changed my tune. Dolph Ziggler put in a career performance in this match and shone brightest against the Authorities golden boy Seth Rollins who played a perfect heel here. A truly epic ten man tag encounter and a shining example of what can be done with the format.
1. Deadly Game at Survivor Series 1998
One year on from the Montreal Screwjob the WWF was without a champion due to the machinations of Vince McMahon so a tournament was called settle things. For the majority of 1998, The Rock was a scumbag heel but going into Survivor Series that year there wasn’t a hotter babyface in the company, including Steve Austin. Fans the world over were clamouring for the People’s Champion to become the WWF Champion. The deck was supposedly stacked against the Rock and in favour of Mankind who at that time was a surrogate son of sorts to Vince. Rock somehow overcame all foes in the brackets to meet his deranged foe in the finals, the people were ready for a new hero only to find a new villain. McMahon and the Rock were in cahoots all along and they screwed Mankind just like Bret Hart had been a year previous. When you look back at the tournament its an incredible piece of booking and performance especially from the Rock who looked every inch the hero up until the final moments. Now christened the Corporate Champion he was galvanised as a mega star there and then, just in time to be the perfect opponent for Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XV. His heel heat also garnered incredible babyface sympathy for Mick Foley and the two would engage in a dramatic feud before “The Great One” would do the favours for “The Rattlesnake” in Philadelphia. This really was a masterclass in how to do pro wrestling storytelling right, hats off to all involved.
5. The Bodydonnas vs. The Underdogs at Survivor Series 1995
On paper, you certainly wouldn’t expect this one to feature, that’s for sure. After all, it pitted Bodydonnas Skip, 1-2-3 Kid, Rad Radford & Tom Prichard against Barry Horowitz, Marty Jannetty, Bob Holly & Hakushi. You could argue it’s a bunch of talent wasting away in the middle of cards or you could suggest it’s a group of athletes with a point to prove. Boy did they prove it. This match set a high bar that the rest of the show struggled to compete with, bar another match but more of that later, with a mix of high flying action and hard hitting moves. A clean finish would have been nice, instead of the Million Dollar Corporation’s Sycho Sid coming to the aid of the 1-2-3 Kid and helping him get the win. That small negative aside, this was cracking.
4. Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase, The Mountie & The Warlord vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, British Bulldog & Virgil at Survivor Series 1991
Quite an interesting event all in all – with a title switch later on in the show. My abiding memory, from the first time I caught this event, was how crazy hot the fans were for the babyface team in this one. Throw in the fact that each team member was feuding with a member of the other, then you had a solid spot of action that also served a storyline purpose. And you don’t always get that.
We start with a prolonged period without any eliminations, which is unique for these type of bouts, before The Warlord and the Bulldog go. We are left with a traditional six-man tag match before Flair is tossed out of the ring and the other five men brawl which prompted all five to be disqualified and Flair being announced as the sole survivor. A silly-ish finish, but a smoking hot match-up.
3. Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, British Bulldog & Sycho Sid vs. Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, Owen Hart & Dean Douglas at Survivor Series 1995
The infamous ‘wildcard’ match from the 1995 show is the second one from that show to make this list. WWE shows from that year struggle to have one match featured in ‘best of’ lists so it says a lot about the quality of that card that two feature. In truth, there’s probably not all that much between the two in terms of quality but the star power is vastly superior in this one, hence its higher placing on this list.
Some good spots in here as forced allies turn on each other and it’s also hugely entertaining to see HBK and Ahmed team with heels as Razor is aligned with Yokozuna, Owen Hart and Dean Douglas. HBK and Ahmed both looked very good here with the former a matter of months away from his first WWE title.
2. 10 vs. 10 at Survivor Series 1988
To anyone reading the blog this week, the placing of this match won’t come as much of a surprise. As John alluded to, this was a fantastic bout. 45-minutes of top notch in-ring action. A bit fast in places, a bit of a spot fest and lacking in psychology, but any criticism of that can be countered by looking at the insane level of talent that featured.
1. Team WWE vs. Team Alliance at Survivor Series 2001
Yeah, yeah, the Invasion angle was totally botched and could, and really should, have offered so, so much more. The Invasion PPV was a swing and a miss yet, despite that, this Survivor Series match is a classic featuring a host of top names on both sides as The Rock, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kane & Big Show team up to face ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker & Shane McMahon for survival. Unsurprisingly, when it came to this entire angle, it was Team WWE that triumphed in the end.
5. Demolition/Powers of Pain Double Turn at Survivor Series 1988
This was a very shocking moment for me at the time…the Powers of Pain came into the 10 on 10 match as the up and coming babyfaces…while Demolition were the dreaded heels. Leave it to manager Mr. Fuji to switch allegiances and turn on his own team of Demolition to help aide his new charges of the Warlord and the Barbarian. In turn, Demolition would become faces and the Powers of Pain were now the heels.
4. Sting makes his WWE debut at Survivor Series 2014
It was nearly 30 years in the making, but on November 23rd, 2014, Sting finally made his WWE debut. His stare down with Triple H was an instant classic and made for really good TV. His actual career in the WWE, however, is another story…
3. The Shield Debuts at Survivor Series 2012
We certainly did not know it at the time, but on November 18th, 2012 when the mercenary faction called ‘The Shield’ debuted, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns were future main eventers. The group would totally dominate the WWE for over 2 years. It was the night of the Survivor Series in 2012 that started it all when they interfered in the CM Punk, Ryback and John Cena triple threat WWE title match.
2. The Undertaker debuts at Survivor 1990
The Survivor Series 1990 gave us the debut of perhaps the most iconic gimmicks in WWE history: the Undertaker. Originally managed by Brother Love, the Undertaker would become the surprise member of Ted Dibiase’s team. Ever since his debut 26 years ago, the dead man has won 7 world titles, main evented countless pay per views and carried on a streak that made legendary status at WrestleMania.
1. The Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997
How could I not make this the #1 Survivor Series moment of all time? It was not only a moment that changed the direction of the WWF/E but also for that moment gave a human side to pro wrestling. Fans were split on whose side they were on, either Bret Hart of Vince McMahon. But make no mistake about it, it saved the WWF from certain collapse by giving the company much needed worldwide free coverage.
5. Edge & Christian and Hardy Boys v Holly Cousins and Too Cool at Survivor Series 1999
For some reason I absolutely love this match, I don’t know why, but I do. It’s basically the old style heel v face 8 man tag match. This was before Rikishi joined so the dancing was at a minimum. This is a little gem that is worth your time.
4.Team Raw v Team Smackdown at Survivor Series 2005
I’m glad this concept is being brought back. This match had two emotionally charged teams for basic bragging rights. Heels and Faces would put their differences aside to make sure their show won. Shawn Michaels once again put on a clinic. I hope this Sunday’s match is half as good.
3. Powers of Pain / Rockers / Bulldogs / Hart Foundation & Young Stallions v Demolition / Brain Busters / Bolsheviks / Rougeaus / The Conquistadors at Survivor Series 1988
Going old school for this one. A 10 on 10 man match that lasted 45 mins. Thank goodness they don’t do them like this anymore. To be fair, this is pretty much as good as you will ever get in terms of a SS match. Every tag team in the company at the time is there and it’s a belter.
2.Team WWF v Team Alliance at Survivor Series 2001
In what should have been the ultimate Survivor Series match, but it really wasn’t. Only two members of the actual Alliance (Booker T & RVD) were actually in it. WWE totally screwed up the entire angle, so why not push it all the way until the end. The match in itself and commentary was actually very good, but was a bit of a dampener on what should have been the biggest angle of all time.
1. Team Austin v Team Bischoff at Survivor Series 2003
Michaels ending up 3 on 1 to save Austin’s job, delicious. This is my all time favourite as I was really invested in it at the time. Batista coming out of nowhere to cost Austin his job was quite emotional. Austin walking Michaels up the ramp with mutual respect is an endearing memory for me. Class.
You can read all previous ‘Top Five’ pieces here.