WWE Survivor Series 2013: Best Fight Cards in Event's History
The card for any pay-per-view goes a long way in determining whether or not the paying customer is going hand over their hard-earned money to watch the show.
The ideal card features one or two marquee matches that will capture the eye of the customer and follows up with and undercard that delivers story-driven or wrestling-based matches that accentuate the main events well.
The best cards manage to incorporate a plethora of styles featuring stars from every part of the roster.
Luckily, in its 26 years of entertaining fans, the Survivor Series has been responsible for some of the best, most well-structured and promoted cards of the year.
With the majority of the 2013 card still up in the air, let's take a look back at the best cards in Survivor Series history.
Note: Cards will be judged on their construction, the matches featured and the Superstars involved. The quality of matches at the actual events hold no bearing on their placement on, or off, this list.
9. Survivor Series 2011
The Rock & John Cena vs. The Miz & R-Truth
WWE Championship Match: CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio
World Heavyweight Championship Match: The Big Show vs. Mark Henry
Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Randy Orton, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Mason Ryan and Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Hunico and Cody Rhodes
Divas Championship Match: Eve vs. Beth Phoenix
United States Championship Match: John Morrison vs. Dolph Ziggler
Recipe for Success
Take two of the biggest stars in the history of the industry, to stars who will clash in five months at the biggest event of all-time, and team them up with each other to face two of the top villains in the sport. What do you have?
A high-profile main event that returns some of the luster to a once-great event.
The Rock could have teamed with John Cena to face a dustpan and brush and it would have been a big deal. Luckily for fans, they faced The Miz and R-Truth, who were coming off a fairly hot, unpredictable angle that unfolded at the Hell in a Cell match the month prior.
The match may seem more like a Monday Night Raw main event but the inclusion of The Great One made it feel like a must-see event.
Add to that huge blockbuster match the culmination of CM Punk's quest to regain the WWE title that was taken from him at SummerSlam when Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and you have two very impressive headliners by this generation's standards.
The World Heavyweight Championship feud between Big Show and Mark Henry was hotter than most remember it being, especially coming off a great match at Vengeance, not to mention to the conclusion of that bout that saw them break the ring following a superplex. So to say there was anticipation surrounding that match would be fair.
The rest of the card, as has become the trademark of WWE over the last five years, is filled with superb in-ring workers in matches that may not be the most memorable but were guaranteed to deliver from bell-to-bell.
8. Survivor Series 2009
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Melina, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Eve and Gail Kim vs. Michelle McCool, Layla, Beth Phoenix, Jillian Hall and Alicia Fox
Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Chris Jericho vs. Big Show
Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Kofi Kingston, MVP, Mark Henry, Christian and R-Truth vs. Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase, Cody Rhodes, William Regal and CM Punk
Rey Mysterio vs. Batista
Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: John Morrison, Evan Bourne, Matt Hardy, Finlay and Shelton Benjamin vs. The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler
Recipe for success
The strength of the 2009 card was in the two three-way main events. The company took its two heavyweight champions, John Cena and the Undertaker, and stacked the odds against them in Triple Threat Matches. The opposition, in both instances, would be star-studded tag teams. Chris Jericho and Big Show, the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions at the time, would challenge Undertaker while Cena was faced with the task of fending off D-Generation X's Shawn Michaels and Triple H if he wished to retain his title.
The Rey Mysterio-Batista match was interesting in that it was a clash between two men who had been portrayed as friends for so long that there was naturally an interest in seeing what would happen following Batista's heel turn.
Would he work differently than he did as a babyface? What kind of chemistry would he and Mysterio have as opponents? Those were the types of questions surrounding the bout and fanning the flames of fan anticipation.
The two traditional Survivor Series elimination matches may have lacked legitimate star power but they made up for it with first-rate in-ring workers, drawing the attention of fans simply looking for good wrestling. The one featuring Kofi Kingston and Orton had a very solid story behind it, one that would see Kingston enjoy the greatest push of his career, while the other featured no less than four future heavyweight champions.
On one team.
The 2009 Survivor Series was really the first time that the company fought the urge to hype a return or debut or go with some sort of controversial angle that they hoped would get the fans talking. Instead, they built a really good wrestling card that showcased the next generation of Superstars while promoting two huge main event title matches.
7. Survivor Series 1990
Grand Finale Match of Survival
The Alliance (Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana and the Bushwhackers) vs. The Mercenaries (Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zhukov and the Orient Express)
The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Jim Duggan, the Big Boss Man and Tugboat) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake, Haku, Dino Bravo and the Barbarian)
The Vipers (Jake Roberts, Jimmy Snuka and the Rockers) vs. The Visionaries (Rick Martel, The Warlord and Power & Glory)
The Dream Team (Dusty Rhodes, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart and Koko B. Ware) vs. The Million $ Team (Ted DiBiase, The Undertaker, Greg Valentine and the Honky Tonk Man)
The Warriors (Ultimate Warrior, the Texas Tornado and the Legion of Doom) vs. The Perfect Team (Mr. Perfect, Ax, Smash and Crush)
Recipe for success
The first thing that stands out about the 1990 card is the awesome show opener. The Legion of Doom vs. Demolition was a dream match for fans throughout the teams' success in the late-80s. By the time the opportunity presented itself for a match between the two, Ax of Demolition was suffering from health issues and his in-ring work was limited.
That did not matter because the team had added Crush to the mix to help cover for Ax's deficiencies.
Add in WWE Champion The Ultimate Warrior and rivals Texas Tornado and Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect and you not only have one of the most eclectic mixes of talent ever but one of the coolest matches ever booked for the annual November event.
The Vipers-Visionaries match, which served as the continuation of Jake Roberts' feud with Rick Martel, boasted a one of the best tag teams in company history (The Rockers) and one of its more underrated (Roma and Hercules).
The Dream Team vs. Million $ Team featured a handful of excellent workers, guaranteeing a really good match at the very least. The promise of a mystery entrant only increased the intrigue surrounding the bout.
World Wrestling Entertainment had an incredible depth to its roster in 1990 and the card they crafted for one of their premiere events of the year showcased it perfectly.
6. Survivor Series 1992
WWE Champion Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Coffin Match: The Undertaker vs. Kamala
The Nasty Boys & The Natural Disasters vs. Money, Inc. & The Beverley Brothers
Virgil vs. Yokozuna
Randy Savage & Mr. Perfect vs. Razor Ramon & Ric Flair
Tatanka vs. Rick Martel
Nightstick on a Pole Match: Big Boss Man vs. Nailz
High Energy vs. The Headshrinkers
Recipe for success
The 1992 show was the first to dramatically move away from the format that made the event unique. With a thinner roster than in years past, the company opted not to deliver the traditional Survivor Series elimination matches and, instead, chose to feature some of their longer-running rivalries.
It featured an array of hot young stars that would help to carry the company throughout the next decade. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Yokozuna and Razor Ramon would be heavily hyped and featured while the Headshrinkers, Owen Hart and Tatanka would all make their presence felt.
The main event was one that longtime fans could never have imagined they would ever see in Vince McMahon's promotion, which had been referred to as "the land of the giants" on more than one occasion. Bret Hart captured the WWE title in a major upset in October and Survivor Series would be his first title defense.
Shawn Michaels had followed a similar career path as Hart and would compete in his very first pay-per-view main event at this show.
Mr. Perfect's return to the squared circle was another highlight of the 1992 card as he grew tired of Ric Flair and Bobby Heenan's ways and accepted "Macho Man" Randy Savage's invite to be his partner for a huge tag team match, also involving Razor Ramon, at the event.
The use of two gimmick matches to settle longtime rivalries was some unique for the period. Big Boss Man and Nailz would settle their heated rivalry in a Nightstick Match, a fitting conclusion to an angle that had seen both men use the weapon on one another on several occasions.
The Undertaker and Kamala would do battle in a Coffin Match, which would both suit the Dead Man gimmick and play up the Ugandan giant's fear of coffins.
Remaining matches featured entertaining midcard talent and the first pay-per-view exposure for Yokozuna, who would go on to have a very eventful next year.
5. Survivor Series 2005
Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Team Raw (Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Kane, Chris Masters and Carlito) vs. Team SmackDown (Randy Orton, Batista, JBL, Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio)
Teddy Long vs. Eric Bischoff
WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Kurt Angle
Last Man Standing Match: Ric Flair vs. Triple H
Women's Championship Match: Trish Stratus vs. Melina
Best-of-Seven Series Match: Chris Benoit vs. Booker T
Recipe for success
The main event of the 2005 show was the first time WWE really capitalized on the brand extension and had Raw and SmackDown feud over brand superiority. The war between the shows would set the template for the Bragging Rights pay-per-view that would come later down the pipeline.
The battle between general managers Long and Bischoff played into the Raw vs. SmackDown rivalry and made sense, even if it did not evoke thoughts of a terribly interesting or potentially entertaining match.
The meat of the card came in the form of two very high-profile secondary feuds.
A Last Man Standing match in 2005 still meant something and the thought of Triple H and Ric Flair, two old school-minded Superstars potentially pulling out a match reminiscent of the great, physical, bloody battles from the days of Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW intrigued both old and new fans.
The John Cena-Kurt Angle match for the WWE Championship had been done to death leading into the show but the two Superstars had such chemistry with one another and were perceived to be top stars in the industry so those two factors outweighed the repetitive nature of the match.
Trish Stratus vs. Melina for the Women's title was a fresh match that fans had not seen before and would introduce the MNM manager's in-ring skills to an audience who was largely unfamiliar with the talents she possessed between the ropes.
The weakest of the matches going into the show was the Best-of-Seven Series match between Chris Benoit and Booker T. Not because the match would not be good but, rather, because fans had seen it so many times in two different companies that it came across as being little more than something for two talented individuals to do to bide time.
The 2005 Survivor Series was an event that took the best and most interesting stars the company had at the time, crafted a very solid, if unspectacular, card with a number of strong stories and crowd-pleasing matches and asked the fans to buy what they were selling.
4. Survivor Series 2001
Team WWE (The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kane, Undertaker and Big Show) vs. Team Alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon)
Six-Pack Challenge Match for the Women's Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Lita vs. Jacqueline vs. Ivory vs. Mighty Molly vs. Jazz
22-Man Immunity Battle Royal
Tag Team Championship Unification Steel Cage Match: WWE Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz vs. WCW Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz
Unification Match: WCW United States Champion Edge vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Test
Tajiri vs. William Regal
European Championship Match: Al Snow vs. Christian
Recipe for success
The most star-studded main event in WWE history would be enough to warrant inclusion on this list.
Never before had so many champions, former champions and future champions shared the ring in one match. That it brought a decisive end to the historic Invasion angle made it significantly more important.
But that match was not the only alluring match on the card.
The Hardys and Dudleys had been involved in some of the most chaotic, violent, exciting and innovative matches in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment over the year to preceded the 2001 Survivor Series. With both the WWE and WCW Tag Team Championships on the line inside a steel cage, how could one not be excited about the potential that existed for another show-stealing match?
The unification match between Edge and Test featured two of the most talented young stars in the company clashing over one undisputed secondary title.
The return to relevancy of women's wrestling and a clash of former friends as William Regal took on Tajiri filled out the card nicely and, much as the 1987 show did, the company was able to spotlight talent from every level rather than just marquee main event stars and high profile midcarders.
3. Survivor Series 1987
Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco and Ken Patera vs. Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, Butch Reed and King Kong Bundy
Strike Force, the Killer Bees, the British Bulldogs, the Young Stallions and the Fabulous Rougeaus vs. The Hart Foundation, Demolition, the New Dream Team, the Islanders and the Bolsheviks
Rockin Robin, Fabulous Moolah, the Jumping Bomb Angels and Velvet McIntyre vs. Dawn Marie (not that one), Donna Christianello Sensational Sherri, Judy Martin and Leilani Kai
Brutus Beefcake, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat vs. Danny Davis, Harley Race, Hercules, Ron Bass and The Honky Tonk Man
Recipe for success
The inaugural Survivor Series card was one of the greatest cards ever put together by World Wrestling Entertainment because it featured talent from every level of competition.
Vince McMahon capitalized on the molten hot rivalry between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant by having them captain teams in the main event. The inclusion of giants King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang increased the odds facing Hogan's team while Orndorff, Muraco and Patera were established veterans who fans could buy as threats to the physically imposing heels. Bigelow, Rude and Reed filled out the teams nicely.
Tag team wrestling was at its height in WWE in the late-80s and it was celebrated with a match involving ten young, hungry, exciting teams. The Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs had dominated the division throughout 1987 but the Killer Bees had been surging heading into the show and the inclusion of relative newcomers Demolition bore watching.
The promotion even spotlighted its female competitors, despite the depth of talented performers not being what it would be later on down the road.
The most interesting match on the card, from a booking perspective, was the night's opener.
Every major midcard rivalry was involved in a single match as some of the top babyfaces of the era banded together to square off with their most hated rivals.
The fact that Roberts, Savage and Steamboat were on the same team is stunning.
2. Survivor Series 1998
WWE Championship Tournament Finals: The Rock vs. Mankind
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The New Age Outlaws vs. The Headbangers vs. D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry
WWE Championship Tournament Semifinals: The Rock vs. The Undertaker
WWE Championship Tournament Semifinals: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mankind
Women's Championship Match: Sable vs. Jacqueline
WWE Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock
WWE Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Al Snow vs. Mankind
WWE Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Kane vs. The Undertaker
WWE Championship Tournament Opening Round: The Rock vs. Big Boss Man
WWE Championship Tournament Opening Round: Goldust vs. Ken Shamrock
WWE Championship Tournament Opening Round: X-Pac vs. Steven Regal
WWE Championship Tournament Opening Round: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Big Boss Man
WWE Championship Tournament Opening Round: Al Snow vs. Jeff Jarrett
WWE Championship Tournament Opening Round: Mankind vs. A Mystery Opponent
Recipe for success
The top stars of the greatest era in professional wrestling history clashed for the right to call themselves WWE Champion. It does not get much better than a one-night tournament featuring the likes of Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane and Mankind.
Sprinkle in some great midcard characters such as Goldust and solid veteran ring workers like Big Boss Man and Jeff Jarrett and you have one of the greatest talent crops in Survivor Series.
The Women's Championship match between Sable and Jacqueline provided fans with their fix of the gorgeous blonde bombshell that rose to stardom in '98 and the WWE Tag Team Championship match allowed the New Age Outlaws to get on the card.
A great, iconic card in what would become known as the Attitude Era.
1. Survivor Series 2002
Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Shawn Michaels vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Booker T vs. Kane vs. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho
WWE Tag Team Championship Elimination Match: Edge & Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie & Chavo Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show
Hardcore Match for the Women's Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Victoria
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Billy Kidman vs. Jamie Noble
Six-Man Tag Team Tables Match: Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley and Spike Dudley vs. 3 Minute Warning and Rico
Recipe for success
The 2002 Survivor Series card was one of the most well-structured in WWE pay-per-view history.
The main event featured six elite stars and a revolutionary gimmick that fans had never seen before. Based on that headlining bout alone, fans had a reason to tune in to see what the match entailed and who would leave with the World Heavyweight Championship.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar faced Big Show in a match that was far more about the spectacle and attraction of the beast-like Lesnar squaring off against the largest athlete in the world than about gimmickry or a great match.
Knowing that the hardcore fans in New York's Madison Square Garden appreciated great in-ring work, the company provided them with two matches involving some of the finest wrestlers of the era.
First, the vastly underrated Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Noble would defend his title against former WCW standout Billy Kidman. Later in the evening, the critically-acclaimed SmackDown Six storyline invaded Survivor Series as Edge and Rey Mysterio defended the WWE Tag Team Championship against Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit and Los Guerreros in an elimination match.
It was the culmination of a three-month angle that saw the six talented competitors clash in some of the greatest free television matches in WWE history and the thought of all of them coming together in one match in front of a hot Garden crowd sent a shiver down the backs of fans of strong workrate.
Women's and hardcore wrestling would combine when Trish Stratus and Victoria were booked in an anything goes hardcore match for the Women's Championship.
A Tables match would cap off a card that completely encompassed everything that has made World Wrestling Entertainment the premiere company in sports-entertainment for the better part of thirty years.
Every style of wrestling was present while the company was able to introduce a fresh new match concept that, years later, would become popular enough to earn its own pay-per-view event.