5 Greatest Traditional Survivor Series Matches of All-Time
Throughout its long, illustrious and sometimes controversial history, the Survivor Series has been synonymous with the elimination tag team matches upon which it was originally built.
Teams of four or five Superstars compete with nothing on the line other than pride and bragging rights. The mixing and matching of Superstars from all over the roster, as well as the rivalries intertwined throughout the matches, made them favorites of WWE fans across the globe.
While the idea of paying for glorified tag matches may not carry the same appeal now that it once did, nostalgic fans continue to hold the traditional Survivor Series matches close to their hearts.
Now, 26 years after the debut of the event, here is a look at the five greatest traditional Survivor Series tag team elimination matches.
5. Team Piper vs. Team Flair (1991)
Team Piper: Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Virgil and the British Bulldog
Team Flair: Ric Flair, The Mountie, Ted DiBiase and the Warlord
This match, from the 1991 Survivor Series, was a perfect example of what made the traditional elimination tag team matches work in the first place.
Four different rivalries were presented in a single package.
Ric Flair had been engaged in a rivalry with Roddy Piper almost from the moment he debuted with the promotion after SummerSlam in August. The history between Virgil and Ted DiBiase has been well-documented, and British Bulldog feuded with The Warlord for what seemed like an eternity in '91.
The only feud that had not been well defined to that point was the one between Intercontinental Champion Bret Hart and The Mountie. By the time January of the following year and the Royal Rumble event rolled around, Mountie had defeated Hart for the title.
Any match involving Hart and Flair at this point in their careers was bound to be good. They were in that mode where they could have carried a dustpan to a good match, and this was no different.
Piper was the spark that ignited the crowd, his frantic wrestling style adding attitude and character to an otherwise well-wrestled match.
Warlord, The Mountie and Bulldog were all good hands who had decent amounts of experience in the industry and knew what they had to do to ensure the success of the match, and they did it.
This finish saved face for just about everyone involved, as chaos broke out inside the squared circle, and the referee disqualified everyone involved. This left Flair, who was the only Superstar not disqualified, as the sole survivor.
This was a really strong match that had one of the weakest finishes in the history of the event, bringing it down a level.
4. Team Orton vs. Team Triple H (2004)
Team Orton: Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Maven
Team Triple H: Triple H, Edge, Batista and Snitsky
The night after SummerSlam in 2004, Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista, known collectively as Evolution, dumped brand new World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. In the weeks and months that followed, Orton would do everything in his power to get back at his former mentor and teammates.
At Unforgiven in September, he would be screwed out of the World title, but he would make up for it somewhat by defeating Ric Flair at Taboo Tuesday inside a steel cage.
There were still many issues left unsettled as Survivor Series rolled around, and the main event for that show would feature Orton leading Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit—two Superstars who had their own issues with Evolution—and Maven into battle against Triple H, Batista, Edge and Gene Snitsky.
Edge had become frustrated by his lack of opportunities at the World Heavyweight Championship and turned heel. Snitsky had taken the Raw brand of WWE by storm, thanks to a storyline that saw him cost a pregnant Lita and Kane their baby.
Prior to the match, Snitsky attacked Maven, making his status for the match unknown.
The Tough Enough Season 1 winner would eventually make his presence felt, but in the end, it would come down to Orton and Triple H.
The Game attempted a Pedigree, but Orton countered and delivered an RKO to pick up the win for his team.
The previous stipulations stated that, as a result of their victory, Team Orton would run the next four weeks of Raw. Each Monday, a member of the team would serve as General Manager and could book whatever matches he wanted, including matches for Triple H's World Heavyweight Championship.
It was a fun addition to a match that had a hot storyline behind it.
3. Team WWE vs. Team Alliance (2001)
Team WWE: The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kane, Undertaker and Big Show
Team Alliance: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon
The year 2001 was a transitional one.
The Monday Night Wars were over and both World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling had closed their doors, leaving only one company for professional wrestlers to strive to be in. WWE had purchased WCW and had signed a number of its wrestlers. The two major ECW stars not already signed to contracts, Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer, joined the company in July.
With so many different stars from the two organizations under WWE's roof, it was only a matter of time before the company ran with the Invasion storyline that fans had anticipated since the news of WWE's purchase of WCW broke.
The angle proved to be a long, bumpy one, and by the time the Survivor Series approached in November, the decision was made to end it.
Leading into the match dubbed "Winner Takes All," there were many questions surrounding Team WWE and whether or not The Rock and Chris Jericho could coexist long enough to vanquish the Alliance and restore WWE's dominance.
Those questions would be answered during the exceptional bout, as Jericho's ego and frustration boiled over. He attacked The Rock after being eliminated from the match and nearly aided the Alliance to victory in the process.
Luckily for Vince McMahon's company, however, Kurt Angle proved to be a mole for WWE. He attacked Steve Austin late in the match, leading to The Rock pinning his longtime rival and picking up the win for his home promotion.
When the match was initially announced, Mr. McMahon was a member of Team WWE instead of Big Show. To aid the quality of the match, he was replaced.
2. Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff (2003)
Team Austin: Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and the Dudley Boyz
Team Bischoff: Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Christian, Scott Steiner and Mark Henry
Following his retirement from the ring in 2003, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin tormented Eric Bischoff every Monday night as the co-general manager of Raw. The two feuded for the better part of eight months before announcing a traditional Survivor Series elimination tag match for the complete control of Raw.
Consisting of every top star on Raw, except Bill Goldberg and Triple H, the match featured a brilliant story.
With every other Superstar on his team having been eliminated, Shawn Michaels was left to defend Austin's job, despite a three-on-one numbers disadvantage. Ironically, it was Austin's win over Michaels at WrestleMania XIV that ended the Heartbreak Kid's career the first time. This was brought up by Jim Ross on commentary in the weeks leading up to the match and during the match itself.
In one of the finest, most overlooked performances of his career, a bloody Michaels reached deep down inside of himself and mustered enough gumption to eliminate both Jericho and Christian. He even looked to have control of Orton.
Unfortunately, Austin would leave ringside to dish out punishment to Bischoff, allowing Batista to sneak into the squared circle, following a referee bump, and deliver a big powerbomb to Michaels. A barely-conscious Orton would drape his arm over the fallen legend and pick up the win for Team Bischoff.
After the match, Austin expressed his gratitude to a beaten and battered Michaels before bidding ado to the fans.
His retirement would last all of a month.
1. Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination Match (1988)
The Powers of Pain, The Rockers, The Hart Foundation, The Young Stallions and The British Bulldogs vs. Demolition, The Fabulous Rougeaus, The Bolsheviks, The Conquistadors and The Brain Busters
Take Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Dynamite Kid, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard; sprinkle in the vastly underrated Demolition and Fabulous Rougeaus, and you are guaranteed an outstanding tag match.
Top it all off with a rare double-turn, and you have the greatest traditional Survivor Series tag match in history.
Late in the bout, the numbers advantage rested with the heels. WWE Tag Team Champions Demolition and the Conquistadors had a four-on-two advantage and were methodically picking apart the Powers of Pain's Warlord.
For some nonsensical reason, Demolition manager Mr. Fuji hopped onto the ring apron while Smash had the match under control. When he took off into the ropes, Fuji pulled the middle one down, and Smash crashed into the arena floor. He was counted out, eliminating Demolition in what would be a major upset.
Ax would confront Fuji before delivering a big bodyslam on the floor, severing their relationship for good.
Warlord and Barbarian of the Powers of Pain would check on Fuji and, later, accept him as their new manager. They would defeat the Conquistadors, win the match and complete a heel turn all in one fell swoop.
The wealth of talent that existed in WWE's tag team division in the late-1980s made the Vince McMahon-owned promotion a hotbed for tag team wrestling. As a result, he could book matches like this one on the Survivor Series and still have three or four other matches involving future Hall of Famers.
Unfortunately, the full match is not available on YouTube. You can watch the entire bout at WWE.com