With one of WWE's "big four" pay-per-views just around the corner, and dream matches from WWE '13 still fresh in the minds of most wrestling fans, I thought it may be appropriate to compare the records* of some of this year's Indianapolis-flavored Survivor Series participants with the Survivor Series records* of their sports entertainment counterparts of yesteryear.
Sure, we all know that stats can't predict much of anything in "legitimate" sports, much less a form of entertainment in which the outcome is predetermined. But that doesn't mean that we don't love to speculate how our current favorites would match up to the heroes of our youth. It doesn't mean that we don't enjoy the occasional walk down memory lane.
How does Cody Rhodes stand up against his brother Goldust? In the classic November pay-per-view, how does Dolph Ziggler compare to Mr. Perfect? How similar is the success of John Cena to that of Hulk Hogan? Will Wade Barrett ever measure up to The Rock? Does the record* of Jake Roberts come anywhere near that of the modern-day Viper?
Join me as we compare 10 superstars already announced for Survivor Series 2012 to 10 superstars of the past.
*For the purposes of presenting a Survivor Series record for each wrestler, I consider scoring a fall in a Survivor Series elimination match as a win (one in the win column for each fall a wrestler scores for his team), and being eliminated as a loss. If someone is a survivor without scoring a fall, they are awarded a victory; no additional win for someone who scores at least one fall and survives.
There are several past superstars that people often think of when it comes to CM Punk. Everyone is dying to see Punk vs. Austin at WrestleMania. We all speculate a Punk/Rock clash at Royal Rumble. Thoughts of Foley vs. Punk at TLC makes fans drool.
But if there's any one superstar that CM Punk actually emulates, it's Randy Savage. Punk gives a wink to Savage with the stars on his trunks, and a nod when he mimicks Savage's top-rope elbow smash.
On top of that, both superstars held (or have been holding, in Punk's case) the world championship for about a year, but were still overshadowed by the number one face in the company (Cena for Punk, Hogan for Savage) who remained in the spotlight without a title. So, how does Punk's Survivor Series record match up to that of his hero, the Macho Man?
Savages's Survivor Series record dates back to the inaugural event in 1987 where Savage pinned Hercules in the first traditional Survivor Series match (TSSM) of all time, a match in which he went on to survive. It would the beginning of a very successful Survivor Series career. In 1988, Savage would eliminate both the Red Rooster and Ted DiBiase on his way to being a survivor once again.
In 1989, Savage led his team to victory again, scoring a fall over Bret Hart on his way to surviving. Savage missed '90 and '91, but returned to the PPV in '92 when he tagged with Mr. Perfect to defeat the team of Ric Flair and Razor Ramon. He made his last appearance in 1993, when he eliminated Kevin Nash in a TSSM before being eliminated by IRS.
CM Punk wouldn't make his debut at the Survivor Series until 13 years after Savage's last appearance. In 2006, Punk eliminated Johnny Nitro in a TSSM and went on to survive. The next year, he faced Johnny again, this time as John Morrison. It was a triple threat match for Punk's ECW Championship which also included The Miz. Punk retained.
In 2008 and 2009, Punk was again involved in a TSSM. He eliminated William Regal in 2008 before being eliminated by Cody Rhodes, and eliminated R-Truth the following year before being eliminated by Kofi Kingston.
Punk missed 2010, but won the WWE Championship from Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series 2011.
By my calculations, Savage has a slightly better record, what would amount to a one-game lead if the numbers were used in sports standings. But Punk has participated in two title matches and left both matches with title in hand.
Will Punk see the same success this year?
Is there anyone else that Kane will ever be compared to other than his kayfabe brother the Undertaker? You couldn't really ask to be associated with a more prominent figure in the world of professional wrestling, but at the same time, you couldn't ask for a bigger shadow to try to step out of.
While everyone talks about Undertaker's WrestleMania streak, his Survivor Series history is nothing short of impressive. Having made no less than sixteen Survivor Series appearances, I didn't even bother to check whether anyone else has even come close to that many.
The Undertaker has been associated with the Survivor Series since he made his official WWF debut at 1990s event. He was a mystery partner for Ted DiBiase's team, and he managed to eliminate two Hall of Famers (Koko B. Ware and Dusty Rhodes) in his debut before being eliminated by count out. Just one year later, he would capture his first WWF Championship when he defeated Hulk Hogan with a little assistance from Ric Flair.
In 1992, he defeated Kamala in singles action, and was once again eliminated from a TSSM by count out in 1993. In 1994, he defeated Yokozuna in a Casket Match, and then eliminated Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem (aka Kane) and Triple H on his way to being a survivor for the first time in his career in 1995.
In 1996, The Undertaker defeated Mankind in singles action. He didn't participate in 1997, and was involved in an elimination tournament for the vacant WWF Championship in 1998. He defeated Kane in the tournament but lost to The Rock by DQ in the following round. He failed to capture the WWF Championship at his 2000 SS appearance when he faced Kurt Angle.
Kurt Angle would get the best of The Dead Man again in 2001 when he eliminated 'Taker from a TSSM, and Mr. Calloway would lose a Buried Alive match to Vince McMahon in 2003. He defeated Heidenreich in 2004 but lost to Mr. Kennedy in 2006.
Batista defeated the former American Badass in 2007 in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship, but the Undertaker defeated The Big Show in a Casket Match in 2008. His final appearance was 2009 when he successfully retained the WHC in a Triple Threat against The Big Show and Chris Jericho.
Kane has no shortage of Survivor Series experience either. His first appearance came in 1995 as Isaac Yankem DDS, and he was eliminated by The Undertaker. His first Survivor Series match as Kane happened two years later when he defeated Mankind in singles action. As we noted above, he was eliminated from the WWF Championship tournament by the Undertaker in 1998.
He had successful matches in 1999 and 2000, winning singles matches against X-Pac and Chris Jericho respectively. In 2001, Rob Van Dam eliminated Kane from a TSSM, and Chris Jericho eliminated Kane from the Elimination Chamber in 2002. In 2003, Kane was successful in a singles match against Shane McMahon.
The next four years were tough for Kane. Each year, he was involved in a TSSM. Each year, he was eliminated before scoring any pinfalls of his own. From 2004-2007, Kane was eliminated by Batista, The Big Show, Viscera and Rey Mysterio. Although he didn't win his match in 2010, Kane finally ended his losing streak when his WHC match against Edge was ruled a draw.
Based on these numbers, Team Foley would have been much better off with Kane's big brother. Kane's record over the last five years is 0-4-1. Will Kane finally survive a traditional Survivor Series match this year, or will the drama between Kane and Daniel Bryan prove too much to overcome?
While Kane and the Undertaker both have over a decade's worth of Survivor Series history, Kane's tag team partner Daniel Bryan makes only his second appearance this year.
Aside from his "Yes" chants and his goatface, Daniel Bryan is most well-known for two things: being a technical and submission expert, and being a vegan. Other than his Olympic experience, Kurt Angle was most well-known during his WWF/WWE tenure for two things: being a technical and submission expert, and maintaining a wholesome lifestyle. Bryan doesn't eat meat; Angle loves his milk.
Let's not forget that Angle used to get heat from the fans by trying to get them to stop chanting "you suck!" during his entrance, much like Bryan gets heat from the fans chanting "yes! yes! yes!" during his entrance. Bryan is getting a lot of mileage from his beard; Angle worked a several-month-long angle around his head being shaved.
One of Daniel Bryan's most successful storyline involvements is a comedic faux-drama in which he resolves things by "hugging it out." One of Kurt Angle's most successful storyline involvements was a romantic entanglement with Stephanie McMahon that all started with a hug.
Kurt Angle had some big moments at the Survivor Series. In 1999, he defeated Sean Stasiak in singles competition. One year later, he captured the WWF Championship from the Undertaker. He would have 'Taker's number again the following year, as he eliminated the Dead Man from a TSSM before the Rock sent Angle packing.
In 2002, Angle teamed up with Chris Benoit but came out on the losing end of a Triple Threat Tag Team Match for the Tag Team Championship. Eddie and Chavo Guerreo won that match; Rey Mysterio and Edge made up the other team that left the match without the titles.
In 2003, Angle would eliminate both Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones from a TSSM before Brock Lesnar eliminated the Olympic Hero. In 2004, Angle eliminated Rob Van Dam before being eliminated by The Big Show. And in his final appearance in 2005, WWE Champion John Cena defeated Angle in a title match.
In Daniel Bryan's only Survivor Series appearance, he successfully defended the US Title against Ted DiBiase. Only slightly more impressive than Angle's first Survivor Series victory over Stasiak.
That was in 2010. Will Bryan continue to his winning ways this year? He'll have to survive or eliminate at least one member of Team Ziggler to maintain a record that is above .500, just like Angle.
In most of these comparisons, the current superstar will have considerably less experience at Survivor Series than the legend that I am comparing them to. Not so much when it comes to The Big Show and Andre the Giant.
For the longest time, The Big Show was seen by many as Andre 2.0. His name was The Giant. He wore a black singlet that only went over one shoulder. His mic time was minimal but his destruction was devastating. Both men received huge boosts to their careers by feuding with Hulk Hogan over a world title.
Andre may have competed in the first two editions of the Survivor Series, but that was it. The Big Show has been in Vince's November pay-per-view a total of ten times.
In 1987, Andre pinned Bam Bam Bigelow on his way to being the sole survivor in the first Survivor Series main event. The next year, the 8th Wonder of the World pinned Tito Santana before being eliminated via disqualification.
His final appearance came in 1989, when he was the first man eliminated from his team, after the Ultimate Warrior knocked him out of the ring and the Frenchman was counted out. Although he was eliminated two out of his three appearances, Andre was never pinned at Survivor Series, or made to tap.
Eleven years after Andre's last appearance, another giant burst onto the Survivor Series scene in a big way. It would prove to be one of the most successful night's in Show's WWF/WWE career. He eliminated Mideon, Prince Albert and Viscera in less than one minute in a 4-on-1 handicap elimination match. He was declared the sole survivor when Big Bossman simply left the match and was counted out.
Later in the evening, The Big Show was announced as a replacement for Steve Austin in the WWF Championship match. Show went on to defeat Triple H and The Rock in a Triple Threat match to take home the gold.
In 2001, Show was eliminated by Shane McMahon in a TSSM. But Show would bounce back in 2002 when he defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship.
In 2003, Show would eliminate Bradshaw from a TSSM before being eliminated himself by John Cena. The following year, he would eliminate Luther Reigns and Kurt Angle on his way to surviving a TSSM. In 2005, he eliminated Batista before being sent to the showers by Rey Mysterio.
In 2006, Show managed to put away both Kane and Sabu before Cena eliminated him from yet another TSSM. He didn't see action in 2007 and lost a Casket Match to the Undertaker in 2008. He was unsuccessful against the Undertaker in 2009 as well, failing to capture the World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat match that also included Chris Jericho.
In 2010, he survived another TSSM while eliminating Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre. He defeated World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry by DQ in 2011.
The Big Show surpassed Andre's Survivor Series accomplishments after his first appearance. Having been involved in four world title matches, Show has never had the title going into the November pay-per-view. He successfully captured the WWF/WWE Championship in his first two attempts, but failed to capture the WHC in his next two attempts.
Will this be the year that The Big Show finally wins a World Heavyweight Championship Match at Survivor Series?
When Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, his sons Dustin and Cody were both on hand. If you have just started watching WWE in the last five years or so, it's probably hard for you to believe that in 2007, almost everyone was familiar with Dustin (thanks to his Goldust gimmick) but very few knew anything about Cody.
Nowadays, people are not speculating if Cody will be in WWE main event, but rather when. I honestly can't remember the last time Dustin Rhodes or Goldust was referenced on WWE programming.
Goldust was a hot commodity in the late '90s and early '00s, so it's no surprise he was involved in five Survivor Series pay-per-view during that time. In 1995, he defeated Bam Bam Bigelow. He competed in his first TSSM in 1996, where he eliminated The Stalker before being eliminated by The Rock.
The following year, he was eliminated from a TSSM via count out, and lost to Ken Shamrock in the WWF Championship tournament of 1998. I'm counting a pre-PPV Sunday Night Heat match as his last Survivor Series appearance, when he teamed up with the Hurricane and lost to William Regal and Lance Storm in 2002.
Little brother Cody has seen a little more success than that, but not much. In 2007, he teamed with Hardcore Holly and lost when they challenged for the tag titles. He has been in a TSSM at every Survivor Series since then.
In 2008, he eliminated CM Punk on his way to surviving. The following year, he eliminated MVP before being eliminated by Christian. In 2010, he was eliminated by The Big Show, and in 2011, he eliminated Mason Ryan and survived yet again.
Cody already has a better record than his brother, but a 50% success rate isn't much to write home about. This year, he has the chance to improve the numbers and end up with a winning record. You can bet his fate will be heavily associated with how well Kane and Daniel Bryan get along on Team Foley.
The last three great waves of mainstream attention that Vince and company have received came along with a new face. In the '80s and early '90s, Hulk Hogan was a household name. In the late '90s and early '00s, Steve Austin was a household name. In the late '00s and early '10s, John Cena has become the household name.
When comparing Cena to either of these two living legends, the similarities between Hogan and Cena abound, whereas Cena and Austin just don't mesh. During his WWF tenure, Hogan was seen as an unbeatable champion with a positive message for the kids. The same could be said of Cena.
Austin became famous by flipping the bird, chugging beers and kicking his boss in the crotch. None of those are actions associated with the leader of the Cenation.
Hulk Hogan reached new heights of wrestling popularity because of his incredibly physique, limitless charisma and an ability to connect deeply with both youngsters and a large portion of the adult fanbase. His in-ring performance, however, came under heavy scrutiny from old-school wrestling fans. The same could be said of John Cena.
While everyone knows about the Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak, has anyone ever even mentioned Cena's Survivor Series undefeated streak? He's 7-0, outshining even Hulk Hogan's 6-2 record.
Hogan's involvement in the Survivor Series came in the first five years the event was held. He was involved in a TSSM each of the first four years, two of them in 1990. In '87, he pinned Butch Reed before being eliminated by count out. In 1988, he co-captained a team with Savage and pinned Haku en route to his survival. The following year, he survived another TSSM when he pinned Ted DiBiase as the sole survivor.
1990 was my favorite Survivor Series of all time. After eliminating Dino Bravo and the Barbarian, Hogan was the sole survivor of the team he captained. He advanced to the "Grand Finale Match of Survival," in which he pinned Paul Roma and Ted DiBiase and was deemed an ultimate survivor alongside the Ultimate Warrior.
His final Survivor Series appearance came in 1991 when he dropped the WWF Championship to the Undertaker.
Cena's impeccable Survivor Series record started in 2003 when he eliminated The Big Show in a TSSM. Although he didn't eliminate anyone, he avoided his own elimination in 2004. He defeated Kurt Angle to retain the WWE Championship in 2005, and eliminated The Big Show from a TSSM again in 2006.
Cena defeated Chris Jericho at 2008's event to capture the World Heavyweight Championship, and retained the WWE Championship in 2009 when he defended in a Triple Threat against Triple H and Shawn Michaels. In 2011, he teamed up with The Rock to defeat Awesome Truth.
This will be Cena's fourth world title match at Survivor Series, but the first time he enters as a challenger. Will getting past both Punk and Ryback prove to be too big of a task even for John Cena, or will another impressive title win be added to his already-impressive Survivor Series record?
As Dolph Ziggler continues to make a name for himself in the sports entertainment world, there are a lot of past superstars that he could be compared to.
For example, I am convinced that Jeff Jarrett's in-ring strut and arrogance had a direct influence on the character we know as Dolph Ziggler. His impressive athleticism and availability as a young playboy brings back memories of Attitude-era Billy Gunn.
But more than any other wrestler I can think of, Ziggler seems to be channeling his inner-Perfect. Limitless in-ring potential, unapologetic confidence and eloquently arrogant promos are characteristics that apply to both Hennig and Ziggler. So let's see how their Survivor Series records stack up.
Mr. Perfect only participated in three Suvivor Series events. His first appearance was as part of a TSSM in which he eliminated Jake "The Snake" Roberts and went on to survive the match. In 1990, Perfect was eliminated by the Ultimate Warrior after pinning his true rival at the time, the Texas Tornado. He didn't compete in '91, but teamed up with Randy Savage in '92 to defeat the team of Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.
In his young career, Ziggler has already competed in one more Survivor Series event than Mr. Perfect before him. His first appearance came in 2006 as "Nicky" from the Spirit Squad. He actually eliminated Sgt. Slaughter from a TSSM before Dusty Rhodes eliminated him with the Bionic Elbow. In 2009, he finally appeared as "Dolph Ziggler," but was eliminated from a TSSM by Evan Bourne without scoring any falls of his own.
The next two years would prove to be more successful for Ziggler. In 2010, he would retain the Intercontinental Championship after defeating Kaval, and he retained the US Title in 2011 when he faced John Morrison. He also competed in a TSSM, but Randy Orton hit an RKO in under two minutes to eliminate Ziggler first.
Clearly, Ziggler has been more successful when he's in a title match at Survivor Series than an elimination tag match. Will he do better as the captain of Team Ziggler, or will Team Foley have Ziggler's number?
Over the last few weeks, every time Orton's name comes up in reference to the Survivor Series, the commentators make sure to drill into us the idea that Orton is very successful at this event. But they have yet to give any specific details.
Currently in the midst of a feud with Alberto Del Rio, the Viper's place as WWE's "Apex Predator" has been called into question by the Mexican Aristocrat. But if anyone has a right to question Orton's association with a certain variety of reptile, shouldn't it be "The Snake" himself, Jake Roberts?
The first man to introduce venom to the Survivor Series had some success at the inaugural event in 1987, pinning Danny Davis and surviving the match. The following year, Roberts eliminated Rick Rude before being eliminated by Mr. Perfect.
In 1989, Roberts was a part of The Hulkamaniacs, but was eliminated by Ted DiBiase without scoring any falls. In 1990, he was eliminated by count out when he chased Rick Martel from the ring to the back.
Jake Roberts made a comeback in 1996 that would lead to one of the WWE's most successful slogans of all time, when Austin coined the phrase "Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your a**" in response to Roberts' born-again gimmick. During this comeback, Roberts competed in the Survivor Series, pinning Jerry Lawler before being eliminated by Crush.
Randy Orton's Survivor Series resume puts Roberts' mediocre record to shame. From 2003 to 2006, Orton was involved in a TSSM each year. 2006 was the only year in which he was eliminated, which came at the hands of Triple H before Orton could do any damage of his own. But leading up to that, Orton managed to eliminate Rob Van Dam and Shawn Michaels in 2003, Edge and Triple H in 2004 and HBK one more time in 2005.
His success against HBK continued when he retained the WWE Championship in 2007. In 2008, he was involved in another TSSM that saw him eliminate Kofi Kingston and Batista before being declared a survivor. Kofi would get his revenge in 2009, eliminating Orton after the Apex Predator sent Mark Henry and Christian to the showers.
In 2010, Orton retained the WWE Championship in a match against Wade Barrett, and he eliminated Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Hunico from a TSSM in 2011 before being eliminated by Barrett.
It could (and maybe should) be argued that Orton is hands-down the best choice that Foley could have made for his team. The numbers that Orton puts up in elimination matches is really unparalleled.
I'm not sure if there's more to it than the fact that Sheamus is often called the "Celtic Warrior," but WWE loves to compare him to the Ultimate Warrior. Just look at the WWE All-Stars video game which matches up current start with their legendary counterpart.
When it comes to the Survivor Series, neither man has a long list of matches. It seems almost impossible that the Ultimate Warrior will ever have another Survivor Series match, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Sheamus compete in them for another decade!
In his limited exposure to the pay-per-view, the Ultimate Warrior's performances were flawless (or at least his record was). In 1989, he pinned both Ron Bass and Greg Valentine while leading his team to victory. In 1990, he pinned Ax and survived his first TSSM, then went on to pin Hercules and survive the "Grand Finale Match of Survival."
Sheamus has not been quite as flawless. He matched the Warrior's Survivor Series debut accomplishments in 2009 when he eliminated Finlay and John Morrison in a TSSM and went on to survive. He lost to Morrison in a singles match the following year, and was eliminated from his TSSM in 2011 via disqualification.
Momentum is not in the Great White's favor as he gets a rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship and hopes to prevent a three-year losing streak. Will he be able to regain the glory he saw in 2009 and walk away from Survivor Series with another victory and another WHC reign?
It's not often that Wade Barrett gets compared to The Rock, but as I was trying to find a former Superstar to compare him to, The Rock started to make more and more sense.
For both competitors, their "past" played a big part in forming their initial gimmick. "Rocky Maivia" was first billed as a third generation blue blood, a life groomed by the sports entertainment industry from his inception. Wade Barrett, on the other hand, has a history of bare-knuckle boxing in England that helped form him into the heartless bastard he is today.
Before the Rock reached his peak in the WWF/WWE, he had aligned himself with the Nation of Domination and then the Corporation. Wade Barrett has already been associated with the Corre and the Nexus.
But the Rock really came into his own when they repackaged him to be a loner who didn't need a faction to back him up. Now that Barrett is healthy again, they've repackaged him to go at it alone, already mixing it up with guys like Sheamus and Randy Orton.
This will only be Barrett's third appearance at the Survivor Series. But what kind of history does The Rock have at the same event?
We've seen some impressive records so far. If The Rock had remained a full-time competitor after 2001, I have no question in my mind that he would have the most impressive Survivor Series resume today. Even alongside guys like Randy Orton, the Undertaker and John Cena, it could be argued that The Rock still has the best overall Survivor Series experience.
Like the Undertaker, The Rock made his WWF debut at the Survivor Series. In 1996, he eliminated both Crush and Goldust and ended up being the sole survivor for his team. The next year, as part of the Nation of Domination, The Rock eliminated Road Warrior Hawk and Ahmed Johnson before being eliminated by Ken Shamrock.
In 1998, The Rock had one of the most successful nights of his career when he eliminated the Big Boss Man, Ken Shamrock, the Undertaker and finally Mankind in the WWF Championship elimination tournament. When he tried to win the title again in 1999, he failed as The Big Show won the Triple Threat match in which Helmsley defended the strap.
In 2000, The Rock returned to his winning ways by defeating Rikishi in singles competition. Even more impressive, as part of 2001's Team WWF, the People's Champion eliminated three all-time greats in Booker T, Kurt Angle and Steve Austin, winning the match for Team WWF.
It would be ten years before The Rock competed at Survivor Series again. In 2011, he teamed with John Cena to defeat Awesome Truth.
Wade Barrett certainly has the potential to rack up a list of accomplishments as impressive as The Rock's, but it would really help his chances if he had a spectacular outing in 2012. He lost his first Survivor Series match in 2010 when Orton retained the WWE Championship in a singles title match. He fared much better in 2011, captaining a winning team and eliminating Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton along the way.
In theory, Barrett could come away from Survivor Series 2012 as a survivor with five eliminations. While that's highly unlikely, there's still a good chance he'll have a significant presence at this year's Thanksgiving Spectacular. Check back five years from now to see if his record can compete with The Rock's.
Truth be told, of all the articles and slideshows I've published for Bleacher Report, this was one of my favorites. Some people think that stats in professional wrestling aren't relevant, that the predetermined outcome voids any prediction we could make.
But I disagree. Even if the winners are decided ahead of time, statistics show trends. If you didn't know anything about professional wrestling, and you were told that the Undertaker is 20-0 at WrestleMania, wouldn't it make sense to bet on the Dead Man?
With one exception, the Money in the Bank briefcase is always cashed in successfully. Wouldn't that be a helpful statistic to know if your favorite superstar wins the most coveted briefcase in the industry?
And just as much as any other sport, professional wrestling fans love to compare modern superstars with those of generations past. Just as people will always have debates about Kobe/Jordan, Tyson/Ali or Manning/Montana, WWE fans will always debate how today's superstars match up against those of the Attitude Era and beyond. That's what this article is all about.
But there were a lot of legends who we didn't take a look at. Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kevin Nash, Ric Flair. There's definitely time for another article like this, or something similar.
If I write a follow-up to this article, which past or present Superstars would you want to read about?