WWE Survivor Series 2013: Most Overrated Clashes in Event's History
When discussing a wrestling match, using the word "overrated" is often times mistaken for dislike or hatred of the bout.
Sometimes that is the case and others times, it is far from it.
With the Survivor Series pay-per-view right around the corner, I recently took the time to look back at the 26 shows that have taken place each and every November since 1987. I have come across five matches that have been held on a pedestal for years, championed as some of the best in event history but are actually overrated for a number of different reasons.
What are these matches and what should fans check out as an alternative?
The answers await you inside.
5. Wild Card Match (1995)
The Wild Card match at 1995 was an interesting concept that paired villains and faces and programmed friends against one another.
The teams were put together by on-air WWE President Gorilla Monsoon. One featured Shawn Michaels, Sycho Sid, British Bulldog and Ahmed Johnson and the other touted Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Dean Douglas and Razor Ramon.
The talent involved was unquestionable and, in this writer's opinion, has a lot to do with why the match has been overrated for as long as it has been.
With so many talented individuals, all of whom were fairly big stars throughout the decade, there is a rush to remember the match as being better than it actually was.
To see babyfaces clashing with babyfaces was interesting, especially since it was rarely done in the first half of the decade, and the overarching story of the match was fun. But the in-ring action itself never got out of first gear, even with Michaels and Ramon carrying the bulk of the match for their respective teams.
The match was perfectly serviceable and managed to accomplish three things at once: Shawn Michaels picked up a big win in his first match back from injury, Ahmed Johnson was booked strong in his first pay-per-view match and British Bulldog continued to build moment heading into his WWE title match at the following month's In Your House 5.
Despite accomplishing what it did and staying entertaining for most of its 27:00, the match was little more than an average Survivor Series elimination tag bout that is remembered as being one of the best in event history when it really is not.
Try This One Instead:
The Underdogs vs. The BodyDonnas (1995)
An eclectic mix of hungry young stars kicks off the 1995 show and nearly stole it had it not been for the outstanding main event.
The exchanges involving Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Skip and the 1-2-3 Kid made the match one of the most unexpectedly awesome matches in Survivor Series and an example of what can happen when talented Superstars are given the opportunity to shine on pay-per-view.
A far better match than the Wild Card match later in the evening.
4. WWE Championship Tournament Finals: Mankind vs. the Rock (1998)
The story surrounding the WWE Championship Match at the 1998 show was so strong and so good and the angle that proceeds it is so memorable that the match at the center has escaped criticism for its rather disjointed nature.
The Rock entered the match as the babyface to Mankind's Vince McMahon-backed heel, and it seemed as though the two struggled to tell the story of the match in those roles. The fact that they had only competed against one another in two other high profile pay-per-view matches (IYH: A Cold Day in Hell and IYH: Breakdown) may have indicated a lack of in-ring chemistry at that point.
Rock and Mankind would go on to have some truly excellent matches against one another in the weeks and months that followed, but their match in the finals of the tournament to crown a new WWE Champion at Survivor Series '98 was a rare miss for the entertaining duo.
Try This One Instead:
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mankind (1998)
The best match from the 1998 Survivor Series was the semifinal match between Mankind and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
The two in-ring veterans had worked against each other in two outstanding matches earlier in the year and added to their legacy of phenomenal bouts with a hard-hitting match that would set up the major angle that occurred later in the evening.
Speaking of major angles, this match had one as well.
Austin planted Mankind with a Stunner and was well on his way to appearing in the tournament finals when referee Shane McMahon shocked the world and turned on Austin, revealing an alliance with his father that dated back weeks.
Mankind would win the match and, later in the night, it would be revealed that he too had been a victim in the McMahons' deadly game, so to speak.
3. World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match (2002)
The Elimination Chamber match at the 2002 Survivor Series was the first of its kind and featured six former and future world champions.
Triple H entered Madison Square Garden in New York as the World Heavyweight Champion and defended his title against Rob Van Dam, Kane, Booker T, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels.
The hype for the match was really good, and coming off of the legendary Unsanctioned Street Fight between Triple H and Michaels at August's SummerSlam, there was reason to be optimistic about the match heading into the event.
Unfortunately, an early-match injury to The Game (crushed trachea) sent the match spiraling downward from a quality standpoint as he was clearly set up to be the workhorse of the match, but that went out the window the second Van Dam's shin landed across his throat.
Chris Jericho would do an admirable job picking up where Triple H was likely supposed to and gave the performance of the match from many perspectives, but he, Van Dam, Kane and Booker T were largely fringe players in the larger Triple H-Michaels story.
Speaking of Michaels, he was very good but his performance here was nowhere near the phenomenal showing he delivered at SummerSlam. With that said, him celebrating his title win at the end of the night was a nice moment that capped off an improbable comeback.
Over the eleven years of its existence, the Elimination Chamber would be featured in some legitimate Match of the Year candidates.
This was not one of them.
Try This One Instead:
Batista vs. Undertaker, Hell in a Cell (2007)
For a better gimmick match from the long and illustrious history of the Survivor Series, check out the Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship between The Undertaker and Batista from the 2007 show.
The two biggest stars of the SmackDown brand had done battle over the prestigious heavyweight championship numerous times in 2007, including a classic at WrestleMania 23 and an underrated brawl the following month at Backlash, and this was to be the blowoff of the feud.
They used the cell effectively and the match was a hard-hitting test of wills.
The return of and interference by Edge late in the match cost Undertaker the title, interjected the Rated R Superstar into the top rivalry on SmackDown and set up a Triple Threat match at the following month's Armageddon event.
A great gimmick match that oftentimes gets overlooked when discussing the best Hell in a Cell matches in company history.
2. Team WWE vs. Team Alliance (2001)
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.
1. WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (1997)
The most overrated match in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment, thanks largely to the controversy that surrounds it.
The match has become such an iconic one in the annals of professional wrestling that fans tend not to remember how big of a mess it was.
The brawling early in the match was great and made sense considering the intense hatred the wrestlers had for one another. Unfortunately, there was a mass of referees and officials surrounding them throughout, giving Hart and Michaels little room to work.
The action between the ropes was fairly average for the quality of workers that they were and as a result, the match itself does a great disservice to the talents of all involved.
Try This One Instead:
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (1992)
A much better match between Hart and Michaels came at the 1992 incarnation of the event and featured two young stars determined to prove that, despite their smaller stature, they could deliver a main event unmatched by their peers.
Bret was the newly crowned WWE Champion coming off a huge victory over Ric Flair and Michaels had recently defeated the British Bulldog to win the Intercontinental Championship.
It was the first chance either future Hall of Famer had to main event a major pay-per-view broadcast and they lived up to the moment.
In many ways, the match served as a changing of the guard and signaled the beginning of the new generation of WWE Superstars.