WWE Survivor Series: Power Ranking the Top 10 Teams in Survivor Series History
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
As the second-longest running pay-per-view in WWE history, Survivor Series certainly has a storied past. Perhaps a little more history will be made during Sunday's 2012 event, but it likely won't come in the form of a traditional elimination-style Survivor Series match.
There is one on the card this year, but it figures to be little more than an ordinary bout when compared to its predecessors. Both Team Foley and Team Ziggler possess a lot of talent, but I'm not sure either will be mentioned among the greatest Survivor Series teams of all-time.
In order to qualify for that honor, there are a lot of incredible teams to compete against. Survivor Series has been a WWE tradition since 1987, and while the format of the event has changed greatly over the years, I'll always remember the entertaining elimination matches. There have obviously been some bad ones over the years, but the Hall of Fame-worthy teams overshadow them.
Whittling down the list of great Survivor Series teams wasn't easy, but here are the 10 best squads to ever compete at WWE's November classic.
10. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake, Jim Duggan
It's only fair to start this list with a team from the very first Survivor Series in 1987. Although they competed in the first match on the card, they ultimately stole the show. Randy "Macho Man" Savage led the way and was joined by Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.
Those five wrestlers were among the most popular stars in wrestling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so all of them being on the same team was something to behold. Earlier in the year, Savage and Steamboat faced off in what many consider to be the greatest professional wrestling match of all-time at WrestleMania III, but they proved to be a cohesive unit.
This particular team took on a rag-tag group of Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Danny Davis, Ron Bass and Harley Race. Not surprisingly, the face team came out on top quite decisively. Savage, Steamboat and Roberts were all left standing at the match's conclusion.
Both Steamboat and Duggan are already in the WWE Hall of Fame, and Savage is a good bet to be inducted posthumously in the near future. Both Roberts and Beefcake figure to be strong candidates as well moving forward, so this team will always be remembered as one of the most star-studded squads ever.
9. Lex Luger, The Undertaker, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner (1993)
One of the most interesting Survivor Series teams of all-time was formed at Survivor Series 1993, as Lex Luger captained a team known as The All-Americans. Luger recruited The Undertaker as well as the Steiner Brothers to defeat a squad of un-American heels who called themselves The Foreign Fanatics.
That team featured Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga and The Quebecers, but they were no match for Luger and his well-rounded bunch. Perhaps The All-Americans haven't stood the test of time as well as some of the other teams on this list, but it's important to look back at the time period in which they competed. Luger was the hottest thing going in WWE back then, Taker was reaching his prime and The Steiners were already established as a top tag team.
While it never really made sense to have Undertaker on the team since he didn't exactly fit with the theme, it was an interesting conglomeration nonetheless. Luger ultimately ended up being sole survivor after Taker and Yokozuna eliminated themselves by brawling outside the ring. Luger last defeated Borga, and his mega push continued.
This was generally considered to be the start of WWE's lull prior to the Attitude Era, but Luger, Taker and The Steiners made for a great team, especially since they weren't all in the WWE together for very long. Undertaker may be the only iconic superstar in the match, but all of them had great careers.
8. Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, Rob Van Dam, John Cena (2004)
Team Guerrero is a Survivor Series faction that most fans remember because it brought top stars at various points in their respective careers together. Eddie Guerrero captained the team alongside Big Show, Rob Van Dam and John Cena. Guerrero, Big Show and RVD were already well-established, but Cena was still on the ascent at this point, and his participation in the match helped him take that next step.
Looking at the foursome that Team Guerrero contested only serves to make Latino Heat's troop look even better. Team Angle feature one bona-fide star in Kurt Angle, but he wasn't backed up well by the likes of Carlito, Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak. All of those guys had talent, but none of them amounted to be much of anything in WWE.
Team Guerrero was dominant in this match, with Guerrero, Big Show and Cena all lasting until the bitter end. Angle received plenty of punishment as the last man remaining on his team, as he took an FU from Cena and a frog splash from Guerrero before Big Show covered him. It was an impressive effort that matched the squad's overall talent level.
While it was Team Triple H vs. Team Orton that headlined this particular Survivor Series, Team Guerrero was unquestionably the most well-rounded team on the card.
7. Hulk Hogan, Demolition, Jake Roberts (1989)
Hulk Hogan was probably dominant enough to beat an entire team of four on his own back in 1989, but he had a little help in his quest to defeat The Million Dollar Team. Hogan's team, which was appropriately called The Hulkamaniacs, also included Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Demolition Ax and Smash.
The quartet was a sensible one, as all of them can stake claim to being the best at something. Hogan was the unquestioned top guy at the time and perhaps the biggest draw ever. Roberts was great in his own right, and while he never held championship gold in WWE, most consider him to be the best never to do so. Also, Demolition is most definitely in the conversation for the best tag team of all-time right next to Legion of Doom.
With a team like that, it's no wonder The Hulkamaniacs came out on top. The Million Dollar Team had a great leader in Ted DiBiase, but the rest of his group was lacking. Zeus was a novelty act in 1989 due to his involvement with Hogan in the movie No Holds Barred, while the Powers of Pain, Warlord and Barbarian weren't exactly marvels in the squared circle.
As it so often did back in the late 1980s, this match came down to Hogan and DiBiase, with Hogan overcoming the odds and picking up the victory. Hogan's three partners did get eliminated from the match, but they still made for one heck of a unit.
6. Edge, Christian, The Hardy Boyz (1999)
The teams of Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz spent most of their time in WWE feuding with each other, but for one night in 1999, they combined to form one of the most exciting Survivor Series lineups of all-time. Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz squared off in the original TLC match the following year, so there wasn't as much bad blood at this point.
Conventional wisdom would seem to indicate that Edge Christian and The Hardys won this match easily, but it was actually the team of Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly and Too Cool that came out on top. While Edge, Christian, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy are all viewed as top stars in the business in retrospect, they were still just tag-team competitors at that point who were trying to make a name for themselves.
Hardcore Holly dominated the match, as he eliminated both Edge and Christian en route to being the sole survivor, but that doesn't change how great the losing team was. Many consider Edge and Christian and The Hardys to be among the greatest tag teams during the Attitude Era and among the best tag teams in professional wrestling history.
There weren't too many times that we were afforded the opportunity to see them working together, but they did precisely that at Survivor Series 1999. The result was somewhat unexpected; however, fans are likely to always remember the brief alliance forged between two elite tag teams.
5. Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect, Harley Race (1988)
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan usually didn't get his way when trying to beat some of the biggest stars in WWE, but he managed some all-time greats in his own right. In 1988, his team of top heels reigned supreme at Survivor Series, as the squad of Andre the Giant, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect and Harley Race was victorious.
Aside from Bravo, all the participants on the team were also part of the Heenan Family. The faces were usually able to overcome Heenan's stable of superstars, but that wasn't the case in this specific match. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Scott Casey, Ken Patera and Tito Santana simply didn't have enough firepower to beat Heenan this time.
From a talent standpoint, the Heenan side had an obvious advantage, and it showed. The match got to the point where Roberts had to contend with Rude, Andre, Mr. Perfect and Bravo by himself. The Snake did stage a comeback, as he eliminated Rude with a DDT and Andre got himself disqualified, but Perfect ultimately took advantage of Andre wearing Roberts down as he pinned him.
There is no denying that this team is one of the most star-studded ones ever. Andre was a legend in the business, Rude and Perfect were among the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all-time, Race was a multi-time world champion in other promotions and Bravo was an underrated strongman in his own right. Heenan undoubtedly built the best heel team in Survivor Series history.
4. Powers of Pain, Rockers, British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, Young Stallions
While the first couple editions of Survivor Series featured mostly five-man teams, they also had matches that allowed the WWE to showcase its incredibly-deep tag team division. This was especially true in 1988, as 10 of the best teams the company had to offer squared off in a match. The stipulation was that if one member of a tag team was eliminated from the match, then his partner was eliminated as well.
Both teams had some incredible talent, but I'm partial to the victorious face team. The Young Stallions were nothing to write home about, and although The Powers of Pain were cool, they were limited in the ring. Alongside them, however, were three of the greatest tag teams in WWE history: The Rockers, The Hart Foundation and The British Bulldogs.
Not only were they great teams, but Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart went on to become top singles stars in their own right, while Davey Boy Smith had a successful career as an individual as well. That team took out a 10-man squad that featured Demolition, The Brain Busters, The Bolsheviks, The Fabulous Rougeaus and The Conquistadors.
Not only is this match known for its future stars and the fact that it went for over 40 minutes, but it also featured one of the oddest double turns of all-time as Mr. Fuji turned his back on Demolition and helped The Powers of Pain win the match. To top things off, the jobber team of The Conquistadors somehow managed to be the last duo remaining on its side. This match truly had it all, and so did the winning side.
3. Ultimate Warrior, Legion of Doom, Texas Tornado (1990)
My love for The Ultimate Warrior's team at Survivor Series 1990 has as much to do with the premise behind the team as the talent on it. Warrior led a squad known as The Warriors, which may seem like an obvious name, but it had some meaning behind it. Warrior's teammates for the match were The Legion of Doom, as well as "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich.
The reason why the name is so fitting is that it offers a nod toward what The Legion of Doom and Von Erich did in other promotions. LOD was famously known as The Road Warriors elsewhere, while Von Erich's nickname was The Modern Day Warrior, so it truly was a team full of warriors. On top of that, it featured four of the biggest names the business has ever seen.
Warrior was a WWE Champion, LOD held the Tag Team Championships in every promotion they ever competed in and Von Erich won the Intercontinental Championship in WWE, but he is best known for being an NWA World Heavyweight Champion. With that much firepower on one team, The Warriors were destined to come out on top.
The Perfect Team of Mr. Perfect and Demolition Ax, Smash and Crush put forth a valiant effort, but The Ultimate Warrior pinned Perfect to be the sole survivor. As individuals, I actually was never a huge fan of Warrior, LOD or Von Erich, but the team made a lot of sense and there is no question that there was a sense of greatness surrounding it.
2. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Hardy Boyz, CM Punk (2006)
For the most part, Survivor Series hasn't really been known for its elimination matches since around 2001, but Team DX stole the show at Survivor Series 2006. The 2006 edition of the pay-per-view had a renewed focus on the traditional elimination match with three of them on the card, but most fans probably remember the incredible talent that resided on Team DX.
It was naturally anchored by Shawn Michaels and Triple H, but it also included The Hardy Boyz, as well as CM Punk. Michaels and Triple H are already considered legends, Jeff and Matt Hardy formed one of the top tag teams ever, and Punk is now one of the faces of WWE. Team DX simply had the perfect mix of past, present and future stars, and that is what made it such an interesting aggregation.
Team DX took on Team Rated RKO, which had some strong members in its own right, such as Edge, Randy Orton and Johnny Nitro, but it also had some throwaways guys in Mike Knox and Gregory Helms. Team DX will always be remembered for the guys on the team, but it was also one of the only teams in Survivor Series history to win without having a single member eliminated.
Everyone on Team DX reacted well together, and the highlight of the match came when Michaels eliminated Knox. He then went to the corner and asked his teammates, "who was that guy?"
Looking back, Team DX may have been the most fun teams in Survivor Series history, and it was one of the best as well.
1. The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show (2001)
The point of Survivor Series was always for some of the biggest names in the business to join forces when they normally wouldn't, and that is precisely what happened at Survivor Series 2001. At the time, The Invasion storyline was still going on, but it would come to an end based on the events of the main event. That match pitted Team WWF against The Alliance and ultimately led to the dissolution of The Alliance after Team WWF came out on top.
The Invasion most definitely made for strange bedfellows, and that was the case in this match. The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane and Big Show all teamed up to stop The Alliance from taking over the company. All of the men on Team WWF had disagreements in the past, and many of them would feud in the future as well, but they were among the biggest stars in wrestling, and it was awesome to see all of them together.
While The Alliance didn't have quite the same star power, it did feature "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon. It made for an incredible match with high stakes, and it ultimately ended with The Rock pinning Austin thanks to Angle's defection from The Alliance to Team WWF.
Part of the reason why I'm still so awestruck by Team WWF to this day is the fact that there aren't even five stars of that caliber in the WWE right now. Aside from John Cena and CM Punk, the draws are few and far between, but there were a ton of them back in 2001. Team WWF definitely makes me long for the Attitude Era and the days when Survivor Series was truly a special event.