As we’re not far from Survivor Series 2014, here’s an article I wrote for WrestleTalk TV, detailing my top five favourite Traditional Survivor Series matches.
Original article HERE.
Survivor Series is one of the most anticipated pay-per-views in the WWE’s schedule, referred to as part of the sacred ‘Big Four’ along with The Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and Summerslam. As a result, it has been home to some of wrestling history’s greatest moments; from important debuts (The Rock, The Shield) to infamous betrayals (Vince McMahon, The Rock) and of course, the traditional Survivor Series elimination tag-team matches. So, WrestleTalk TV has decided to compile a list of 5 of the top traditional matches to have taken place at the Thanksgiving weekend event – let us know what you think
5. The Million Dollar Team (Ted Dibiase, The Undertaker, Greg Valentine & Honky Tonk Man vs. The Dream Team (Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, Bret Hart & Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart- Survivor Series 1990
1990’s Survivor Series was held in Hartford, Conneticut at the eponymously named Hartford Civic Centre drawing 16,000 people to the venue. Here, fans witnessed a battle between The Dream Team, consisting of wrestling’s great Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware and The Hart Foundation, competing against the The Honky Tonk Man, Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, WWE Hall of Famer, Ted Dibiase, along with his secret weapon: a newly debuting Undertaker (along with his manager Brother Love).
Chavo Guerrero has gone on record for watching tape of The Phenom and being in awe at his skill because he has “no wasted motion”. You can see this evident right from the beginning, along with his cold, unbelievably alluring appeal and the first instance of one of wrestling’s most memorable and devastating finishing manoeuvres. Not only is his star power apparent (with him facing Hulk Hogan one year on in the same PPV for the WWE championship) but so is WWE’s long-term project in building The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be. Bret Hart is given time to shine and the opportunity to constantly build; the seeds of his future world title reign can be seen to be sewn in this event and many others before his actual run at the biggest prize in sports entertainment.
I really enjoyed this match, but did Bret get taken to the Heartbreak Hotel as Dibiase predicted, or did he show enough Hart & Soul as Gorilla Monsoon requested? Watch on that 9.99 Network to find out:
4. The Powers of Pain, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation & The Young Stallions vs. Demolition, The Rougeau Brothers, The Conquistadores, The Bolsheviks & The Brain Busters- Survivor Series 1988
1987 and 1988 were very interesting years for WWE’s Survivor Series, as they both featured colossal tag-team matches: as opposed to the traditional four or five members of a team going up against another four or five superstars, 1987 and 1988 saw five tag-teams fight five tag-teams, resulting in a twenty-man elimination match (where if one member of a team was pinned, made to submit or disqualified, both members of the tag-team were eliminated).
I enjoyed the 1988 slightly more, but sadly WWE only has a clip of the 1987 match to watch on its You Tube channel. Nevertheless, in both matches I saw examples of extremely realistic, (seemingly) hard-hitting and fast-paced tag-team action like I had never seen before. The combatants alone require a paragraph to themselves.
In 1988, we saw The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord), teaming with The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty), The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid), The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) and The Young Stallions (Jim Powers and Paul Roma) taking on Demolition (Axe and Smash with Mister Fuji), The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard with Bobby Heenan), The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Borris Zukhov with Slick), The Fabulous Rougeaus (Raymond and Jacques with Jimmy Hart) and The Conquistadors (Uno and Dos). Don’t sleep on 1987 either, that was an extremely powerful contest too.
Again, we could see Bret Hart having his time to be highlighted both years (or he demanded the attention from the viewer with his captivating performance) in his seven year stint with Neidhart as one of wrestling’s finest tag-teams, and Tully Blanchard’s antics were extremely entertaining to watch. A number of golden nuggets were placed throughout this match, including the rare Double Turn that WWE unleashes once in a while. The only downside is that in terms of more believable storytelling, because there were so many guys on the apron, it made it hard to understand why team members wouldn’t tag themselves in when one of their teammates was found to be taken advantage of by the opponents.
Focusing on the positives, one thing that really makes this stand out is the personas of all these various characters and the toughness they exhibited. Whether or not people were ‘smart’ to it, it doesn’t matter – these guys looked mean and tough and if they said they could kick your ass, you believed them. That authenticity and bravado is something I really enjoy when watching wrestling, which is why The Wyatt Family, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and The Shield are so exciting to watch.
3. The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Demolition & Jake Roberts vs. The Million Dollar Team (Ted Dibiase, The Powers of Pain & Zeus)- Survivor Series 1989
In 1989, Survivor Series took place at the Rosemont Horizon and saw the Hulkamaniacs take on, no surprise, another legendary Million Dollar Team courtesy of Ted DiBiase. We saw then World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan team with cohorts Demolition and one of the greatest performers ever in this industry, and king of the missed roundhouse punch, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts.
This powerful and charismatic team would go up against the villainous ensemble of Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase with Virgil, The Powers of Pain with Mr Fuji and secret weapon: Zeus. This match had a number of interesting moments which avoids the predictability we assume is always present with wrestling matches, and even had Hulk Hogan joining Ax and Smash in their trademark pounding.
A really strong match altogether, encompassing numerous feuds which saw Jake Roberts in his fury (who was definitely one of wrestling’s strongest good guys when he needed to be) against The Million Dollar Man, with the two later facing off at Wrestlemania 6. Beyond the intricacies that the match involved, intertwining all characters, trademarks and storytelling, it would have been unblemished if not for one thing.
I thought Hulk Hogan put on a great show, with amazing charisma (along with Jake Roberts’ incredible rapport with the crowd and their thunderous DDT chants) and a believable show. He was being attacked and tended to sell his injury really well, and then of course his characteristically miraculous Hulk-Up comeback eliminated any of the story that had been built up before. If the adrenaline rush helped him get through the pain and then he went back to showing he was a little hurt, it would have been fine but he seemingly miraculously recovered with no pain whatsoever and it just made everything else that happened before seem redundant in the story I was watching unfold.
To make a comparison, I used to really dislike Cena in the past, and I know it originated from my own opinions but then was taken along on the bandwagon with the widespread feeling of seeming apathy towards him. I like him a lot more now that I’ve matured, but one thing he does that still annoys me is that he doesn’t tend to keep on acting injured when selling his opponents’ moves throughout a match (and collapses to his back far more frequently than needed, on moves that don’t seem like they would have that big of an effect on him). Similarly, with superhuman strength, Cena overcomes his injury to then celebrate as if he was never hurt in the first place (see his post-match celebrating after defeating Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship).
Nevertheless, this match was a joy for me to watch and I think it should be highlighted as an amazing match in Survivor Series history. Let me know what you think, see the match below.
2. Team Bischoff (Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Scott Steiner & Mark Henry) vs. Team Austin (Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T & The Dudley Boyz)- Survivor Series 2003
2003’s Survivor Series had high stakes with some of the best babyfaces in the company at the time standing up for ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin taking on RAW’s best heels, led by villainous General Manager Eric Bischoff in Dallas’ American Airlines Centre. The event had Team Austin, composed of Rob Van Dam, Booker T, The Dudley Boyz Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley and unlikely accomplice Shawn Michaels taking on the five-pack of Chris Jericho, Christian, Mark Henry, Scott Steiner and Randy Orton.
The list encompasses top-tier talent in the world of professional wrestling and the match’s importance was heightened with the clause that if Austin’s team lost, The Texas Rattlesnake would be fired from Monday nights. The added twist was that Austin’s fifth team member was heated rival and Wrestlemania XIV opponent, ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels. With all the rumours flying around, the magnifying glass was on HBK to see if he would betray his ‘captain’ Austin.
It makes you see that the traditional Survivor Series matches can be made to mean that much more when real stakes are added to the outcome of the contests. This also sparked the beginning of Randy Orton’s legacy and stardom at the Survivor Series. The following year, 2004 had Randy Orton’s team taking on HHH’s team in a fight to see who would control Monday Night Raw for the next four weeks (again, high stakes). 2005 saw Team Raw taking on Team Smackdown to establish brand supremacy, and had a surprise addition in Orton, as well as a surprise comeback, eerily fitting into his Survivor Series history.
But enough about the future, returning to 2003’s event, it may have felt even more special in hindsight, perhaps, if the eventual loser of the boubt did not return so quickly back into the fold. Nonetheless, Austin-Bischoff had been brewing since that year’s No Way Out back in February. That’s ten months to continue adding and building tension between two great characters in Austin and Bischoff. Notwithstanding, the tension between Booker T, RVD and The Dudleys against Christian and Chris Jericho stemmed back to the days of The Alliance. Furthermore, HBK was embroiled in feuds against Evolution member Randy Orton and also his Wrestlemania 19 opponent Y2J. With a number of strands crossing and impacting all contestants involved, 2003’s Survivor Series bout between Bischoff and Austin is one to remember.
1. Team WWF (The Rock, Chris Jerico, Undertaker, Kane & The Big Show vs. The Alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam & Shane McMahon)- Survivor Series 2001
It ought to be no surprise that the number one ranking for traditional Survivor Series encounters also had the highest stakes attached to its outcome. In 2001, the seeming fate of the WWE hung in the balance between a team led by Vince McMahon against his rebellious children Stephanie and Shane McMahon, on-screen owners of WCW and ECW respectively.
There has been a lot of criticism against the Invasion storyline, and a number of premier stars’ contracts that were only accessible in 2002 made a legitimate contest between the two factions seem watered down. Nevertheless, all ten combatants involved in this tense and closely-fought match-up were some of the best talent the wrestling world has seen.
Team World Wrestling Federation recruited the likes of Kane, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker and The Rock pitted against The Alliance’s Shane McMahon, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. From the first announcement on RAW that WCW had been purchased, the entire company’s direction had been headed towards this moment, making it arguably the most important event of the year or one of the most important match-ups of all time.
Hard-hitting and fast-paced action, fresh with backstabbing and unexpected alliances, the match is one of the most entertaining and important matches in WWE’s mythology, and it took place at The Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. Furthermore, the event was spearheaded to see arguably the two greatest superstars of all time go head-to-head in a continued feud that built from a long time ago, whether you feel it’s back to Wrestlemania XV, the Royal Rumble 2001 or Wrestlemania 17 that year that exhibited Rock vs. Austin II, and that only encompasses two of the ten stars involved.
With that said, I truly believe Team WWF vs. The Alliance is the best traditional Survivor Series match of all time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and I encourage you to provide me with your own opinions, whether you disagree with the ranking or even the selections, as everyone’s preferences are different. But most of all, let’s see what this year’s Survivor Series is able to offer us, whether you’re looking forward to the WWE or World title clashes, the epic Wyatt Family against Kings of the Independents Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, or the traditional Survivor Series match-up with The Usos, The Rhodes and Rey Mysterio against The Shield and The Real Americans with Zeb Coulter, see what you make of it compared to the great matches we’ve had the honour to witness; maybe we’ll witness Sports Entertainment history all over again.