And Then There Was One: Survivor Series and the "Sole Survivor"
Out of WWE's big four PPV's, Survivor Series is my favorite. Wrestlemania and the Royal Rumble are bigger draws and have more importance to the company as Rumble is the starting line for the road to Wrestlemania and the grandest stage of them all is obviously the end of the road.
As we await for the next journey to the grand stage we get a slew of PPV's in the meanwhile. One big pit stop is Summerslam, the biggest party of the summer and then there's Survivor Series. The PPV is the second longest running PPV after Wrestlemania as an original.
With the success of the Andre the Giant/Hogan feud and their match at Wrestlemania III, the company sought to build on it and capitalize on the blockbuster feud.
Survivor Series is the big PPV of the fall and the very first was delivered along with our turkeys, pies, potatoes, stuffing, and all rest of the big meal in Thanksgiving of 1987.
Team Hogan clashed with Team Andre in the first traditional five-on-five elimination matchup. Both teams were armed as their captain had powerful the allies the likes of Paul Orndorf, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, and Rick Rude.
It has grown to be my favorite of the big four PPV's as their traditional five-on-five elimination tag match is a great concept that his been successful and adds to the company's history books as well as to a WWE superstar's list of accomplishments and feats.
Winning the King of the Ring was big deal and winning the Royal Rumble was huge as well as they both offered featured title shots. Winning on the grandest stage and taking home the Money in the bank briefcase are also good prizes.
The feat that Survivor Series has is a special one as it is like the others, you cannot accomplish it by any other means. Survivor Series gave birth to the "Sole Survivor," something only a handful of stars have in their list of milestones.
Though no title shot is given or any prize at all, not too many have can lay claim to this feat and very few can brag about overcoming the odds and achieving the feat multiple times.
Randy Orton has done so and has even been the sole survivor for both RAW and SmackDown teams. There are occasions where there are multiple survivors at the end of the classic matchup, so there isn't always one man left standing after the dust settles that claim the name sole survivor.
The traditional elimination tag match is the only match that a superstar can obtain the feat, but I say others were and can be sole survivors even if they don't exactly have the feat by being the last man in the tag match.
The tag matches aren't always five men against five men, Survivor Series 1991 featured the late Big Boss Man and legendary tag team Legion of Doom (LOD) taking on Typhoon and Earthquake, Natural Disasters and Irwin R. Schyster also known as IRS in a three-on-three elimination tag match. There was a three-on-five tag match featured a year before in 1990.
Survivor Series also gave birth to the Elimination Chamber, a cell composed of tons of black cold hard steel and unforgiving glass that is probably the only match and structure in the same class as the diabolical Hell in a Cell.
The very first one was held in 2002 at Cleveland, Ohio's Gund Arena. Shawn Michaels outlasted Triple H, Kane, Chris Jericho, RVD, and Booker T to become World Heavyweight champion and winner of the first ever Elimination Chamber.
The Heart Break Kid wasn't a traditional five on five elimination tag match, but he was a sole survivor in my eyes.
The way I see it is anyone who makes a huge impact and or survives after having one heck emerging as the victory of a match can also be a sole survivor or at least worthy of it.
Michaels have strong ties to the PPV as there was a tale of a heart break kid and a departing Canadian once upon time.
Michaels also took part in traditional elimination matchup, which was a four on four that included his former partner Marty Jannetty from his Rockers days as well as Jim Neidhart, Ultimate Warrior, and powerful foes in Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan in 1989.
That year, every match on the card was a four on four elimination tag match that each lasted around 20 minutes.
Many of these matches were close and often went down to the wire, but the 2006 elimination tag match between team Rated-RKO and team DX was a complete sweep as every member of team DX survived. Michaels once again left his mark on Survivor Series.
Team Rated-RKO were dissected in a little over ten minutes leaving Orton to fend for himself against all five DX members and ultimately ending his sole survivor streak in a sweep that was epic crap.
Last year Orton redeemed himself and survived for his team along with Cody Rhodes after using his teammates as scapegoats which included William Regal, Mark Henry, and Shelton Benjamin defeating team Batista.
Beth Phoenix also stood alone as sole survivor for team RAW beating the SmackDown! divas.
These last few years the PPV hasn't been as good as it should be, but hopefully this year it will bounce back. I have a feeling it will be significant this year and we might..just might witness a damn good show.
We're still in July and it'll be interesting to see the direction of feuds and characters as WWE heads to its last big four PPV of the year. Summerslam should tie up some loose ends and bring closure to feuds (for the love of all that is good, end Trips vs Orton).
We'll get to see two new PPV's before Survivor Series in the forms of Breaking Point and Bragging Rights (What a name). By time then Punk should be complete his heel transition amongst other things.
What kind of traditional elimination match will we see?
It can either be inter-promotional or it could just be between stars on one brand. There hasn't been a sole survivor since Ric Flair winning it all for team legend in 2006, hopefully there will be one this year as it does gives a little boost to a star as well as some bragging rights (no pun intended).
Besides the tag match, there should be big things going on as I'll be looking for another star to be worthy of the sole survivor status like HBK in the 2002 Chamber match. Hopefully, he'll be back by then because he always has a strong showing at the PPV.
It'll be interesting to see how things will pan out and I have projected S4, an event that would make my night as well as many others if it actually goes down at Survivor Series, but more importantly, the PPV is booked strong like a big four PPV is more vital.
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