One of the truly great matches in Survivor Series history is also the most overrated.
The 2001 "Winner Takes All" match between Team WWE and Team Alliance is the most star-studded main event in the history of the event. Every single competitor sans Shane McMahon has been a WWE or World Heavyweight Champion in his career and two (Austin and Booker T) are enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Team WWE would consist of The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kane, Undertaker and Big Show while the Alliance would send Austin, Booker, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle and McMahon into action on their behalf.
It was a chaotic match that had lightning-quick eliminations in its middle and featured another in a long line of phenomenal Rock-Austin showdowns.
A swerve involving Angle, where it was revealed that he was secretly working with Vince McMahon, helped WWE to victory and put an end to the Invasion angle.
Sounds awesome, right?
And it was.
It just was not as awesome as it has the reputation for being.
Having just re-watched the match for the sake of this article, it is amazing just how little influence six of the ten men involved actually have throughout the match. Undertaker, Kane, Van Dam, Booker T, Big Show and Shane McMahon are largely unnecessary as the bulk of the work from beginning to end is done by Jericho, Angle, Austin and Rock.
Jericho, in particular, had a really uneven night as there were times in his interactions with Van Dam that the two seemed a bit "off" and the action became disjointed as a result.
The stuff between Rock and Austin is a joy to watch, as it always is, and the Angle interference leading to the finish made sense in the context of of the story told leading into the show.
The first two-thirds of the match, however, were so inconsequential to the remainder of the match that one is left to wonder if it would not have been wiser just to split the match in two, do Rock vs. Austin in the main event and have the others compete in a traditional Survivor Series tag match and go from there.
On November 15, 2013, WWE.com posted an article calling the match the greatest traditional Survivor Series match ever.
While it most certainly belongs in the discussion, this writer cannot justify placing it above a certain match from the 2003 show that unjustly was left out of the top five in WWE's rankings.
Try This One Instead:
Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff (2003)
Outstanding drama, strong storytelling, intertwining rivalries and one of the greatest performances in the Hall of Fame career of Shawn Michaels makes the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff match from the 2003 Survivor Series, in this writer's humble opinion, the greatest traditional Survivor Series elimination tag match ever.
Shawn Michaels captained Austin's team, which also featured Rob Van Dam, Booker T and the Dudley Boyz while Randy Orton led a team consisting of Chris Jericho, Christian, Scott Steiner and Mark Henry.
With control of Monday Night Raw hanging in the balance, ten of the top Superstars Raw had to offer competed in a near-perfect match that featured a number of stories at play.
Steve Austin being forced to rely on Shawn Michaels, the man he defeated and prematurely retired at WrestleMania XIV, was a powerful story and would play into the last 15 minutes of the match.
Stacy Keibler, who had been forced to accompany Scott Steiner to ringside as a result of his partnership with Test, did just that and cheered with great enthusiasm when he was eliminated.
Mark Henry's return to the company and his impressive displays of dominance continued here as he was only eliminated after taking both the 3D from the Dudley Boyz and the Five Star Frog Splash from Rob Van Dam.
As great as everything else in the match is, what really puts it over the hump is the late-match heroics by Michaels.
With his team eliminated and him being the only thing standing between Steve Austin and the unemployment line, Michaels reached deep down within himself and eliminated both Jericho and Christian, despite bleeding profusely and losing energy with every passing second.
He would fall just short of retaining Austin's job, thanks to interference from Batista, but Orton's win for Team Bischoff set him up to have a huge year for Raw.