Who Will Survive? It seems like it was a generation ago when we first uttered those famous words across the squared circle.
Well, it was.
2011 marks the 25th annual Survivor Series, an event that revolutionized tag-team competition as well as pay-per-view television. The Series has provided us with more ups and downs than a roller coaster, more shocks and surprises than a fun house, and more memorable moments than a high school yearbook.
Though there have been many format changes and perpetual cancellations, nothing has ever derailed this revolutionary event. As one of the “Big Four,” the Survivor Series has gone from a Thanksgiving tradition, to the pinnacle of tag-team warfare, to one of the most talked about shows in history.
And to think, it all started in the Richfield Coliseum as a response to the ever-growing national demand for wrestling in a high profile, prime-time setting. The simple phrase “Survivor Series,” generates memories that will last wrestling fans a lifetime.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Survivor Series is one of my personal favorites, as well. In fact, just behind the Royal Rumble, the Survivor Series is what I look forward to most year after year. I’m even stubborn enough to send e-mails to the courtesy department of WWEShop.com every week, inquiring as to when and where the remaining Survivor Series Anthologies will be released on home video.
So, with the 25th Survivor Series looming on the horizon, I will be publishing a special series through the next month chronicling some of the greatest matches, men, and moments that made this November staple such an outstanding event.
Our first excerpt details the 25 greatest teams in Survivor Series history. Though hundreds of superstars have competed through the years, only the best make this list. I have ranked teams based on their overall performances, individual achievements, and other major intangibles.
When reminiscing about a fantasy warfare elimination match, look no further than these ragtag crews: the 25 Greatest Survivor Series Teams.
Team Members: Andre the Giant (Captain), Butch Reed, One Man Gang, Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy
Survivors: Andre the Giant
It seems no more fitting that we begin our countdown with the original Survivor team. Heading into the inaugural Survivor Series, the wrestling world was abuzz over a rematch of sorts between Hulk Hogan and his arch nemesis, Andre the Giant.
Hogan stood poised to keep his advantage over Andre by assembling a team that included Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, and Bam Bam Bigelow. With both strength in numbers and muscles, Andre the Giant retaliated with one of the most menacing and dreaded lineups in the hemisphere.
Andre, himself a seven-foot giant, recruited the One Man Gang and King Kong Bundy to collapse the ring around Hulkamania, and finished the crew off with technicians like Butch Reed and Rick Rude. This team had already achieved legendary status before squaring off in the main event at the Richfield Coliseum.
What ultimately made the team a cohesive unit, however, was strategy.
Following the elimination of Rick Rude and Butch Reed, the three remaining wrestlers concocted a plan in which they prevented Hulk Hogan from getting back in the ring in time to prevent the count out. Furthermore, an enraged Hogan was struck with the ultimatum that he leave immediately or be forced to forfeit the entire contest for his team.
In the end, Andre, and Andre alone, prevailed, taking down Bam Bam Bigelow, the only big man his opposition was able to muster up.
Team Members: Kurt Angle (Captain), Chris Benoit, Hardcore Holly, Bradshaw, John Cena
Survivors: Chris Benoit & John Cena
The year 2003 was a pivotal one for WWE Superstars far and wide.
While 2002 was the beginning of the transitional phase from the Attitude Era to the Entertainment (Get the "F" Out) side of things, 2003 was the year which ultimately solidified next generation's stars.
Case in point: the opening contest of the 2003 Survivor Series, in which the Next Big Thing, Brock Lesnar, led a team of titanic combatants against Olympic hero Kurt Angle and his team of bold upstarts in a traditional 5-on-5 elimination match. Despite Lesnar combining the forces of Matt Morgan, Nathan Jones, Big Show, and A-Train with his own power, it would be Angle's team that would be one of the most memorable for years to come.
Angle assembled a roster that included more future World Champions than any other. In Chris Benoit, Angle acquired a technician on par with his own skills. Hardcore Holly was out for revenge and could brawl as well as anyone, save for maybe his teammate and future WWE Champion Bradshaw.
Then, of course, there was John Cena, who in just over a year had risen from a rookie with ruthless aggression to a main event player.
Chris Benoit made team captain Brock Lesnar submit to the patented Crippler Crossface for the first time in his career. And while we're mentioning firsts, Cena delivered the icing on the cake with his first of many Attitude Adjustments (then called the FU) on Big Show.
Team Members: Steve Austin (Captain), Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Shane McMahon
Let's be honest here. This team was one of the greatest single entities in the history of professional wrestling, regardless of the match's result and whether or not team members were WCW or ECW wrestlers.
Yes, truth be told, the WWF's Invasion angle in 2001 ended with more of a whimper than a bang when a traditional Survivor Series elimination match was dubbed a "Winner Take All" affair. And while the participants representing the WCW/ECW side of things were immediately discredited for their association with the WWF (save for RVD and Booker T), perhaps one should look further to see how The Alliance was perfectly represented.
Team Captain Stone Cold Steve Austin may have made his name a household one with WWF Attitude, but he got his mainstream start as a Hollywood Blonde in WCW and developed his do-anything, say-anything character later on in the land of Extreme.
Kurt Angle was originally supposed to work a program for Extreme Championship Wrestling against Taz, but one ill-fated evening involving controversial religious iconography prevented it from ever coming to be.
Shane McMahon? Well that one is a little farfetched, even for me, yet he was the "technical" owner of WCW. And though the team lost, one cannot argue with the Championship pedigree accumulated by its members.
Team Members: Lex Luger (Captain), Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, The Undertaker
Survivors: Lex Luger
In 1993, the biggest feud in the World Wrestling Federation had to be the one between All-American Lex Luger and the super-heavyweight Sumo Champion, Yokozuna. The rivalry encompassed everything about the WWF at the time, and remained up in the air after Luger scored a count-out victory over Yoko at Summer Slam that year.
By the time the Thanksgiving tradition rolled around, Luger and Yoko had drawn in even more combatants to help them in their quest. The Foreign Fanatics were captained by Yokozuna himself and included the Quebecers and Ludvig Borga. Due to an injury suffered in a match with Luger just weeks before the event, Quebecer Pierre was inevitably replaced by Crush, a former face who had just recently turned into a devastating heel by laying waste to Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Luger's team, The All-Americans, included fellow former WCW stars the Steiner Brothers, and the up and coming Tatanka. In the pivotal turning point for the feud and the match, Yokozuna and Ludvig Borga injured Tatanka before the pay-per-view, leaving the All-Americans in search of their own replacement. If Crush could fill in for Pierre, then certainly Luger could locate a suitable substitute for the Native American hero.
Enter the Undertaker. Wait, What? The Undertaker?
Yes, the All-Americans launched themselves into the stratosphere by bringing in the Demon of Death Valley to solidify one of the greatest units the Survivor Series had seen to that time. In grand fashion, Luger's team prevailed with just Luger left to celebrate the spoils alongside Santa Claus. Back in 1993, this kind of feel-good ending had one important reminder carried with it.
Tatanka may be totally awesome, but he's not the Undertaker.
Team Members: The Ultimate Warrior (Captain), Road Warrior Hawk, Road Warrior Animal, Kerry Von Erich
Survivors: The Ultimate Warrior
They were arguably the hottest stars in professional wrestling at that time.
Look at the talent represented on the Ultimate Warrior's team at the 1990 Survivor Series, and you'll see four men who were on the verge of exploding throughout the wrestling world. In fact, they already had.
To settle the score with Mr. Perfect, the Ultimate Warrior decided to recruit a team that not only knew Perfect well (Von Erich), but also knew his teammates, Demolition, just as well (Legion of Doom). The individual properties involved made it an even more compelling sell.
Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich was coming off a massive Intercontinental Title feud with Mr. Perfect and could well have been on his way to the top of the card. After spending the 80's building a reputation, Von Erich was featured on the big stage in ways that only added to his popularity.
The Legion of Doom could be categorized almost identically, as the former Road Warriors had run roughshod over the competition en route to capturing the NWA and AWA World Tag Team titles. It was only a matter of time for the greatest tag team in wrestling history to become the first Triple Crown champions ever.
All in all, the team worked as effectively as predicted. The Road Warriors helped to take out the entity known as Demolition, and though Von Erich was pinned by Mr. Perfect, he wore the perfect one down to the point where the WWF Champion had an easy time disposing of his opponents and advancing on to the "Grand Finale Match of Survival," where he and Hulk Hogan would again emerge victorious.
Team Members: Triple H (Captain), Jeff Hardy, Kane, Rey Mysterio
Survivors: Triple H & Jeff Hardy
Winning a five-on-five elimination match at the Survivor Series is impressive. Winning a four-on-five elimination match at the Survivor Series is more impressive. But winning an elimination match at the Survivor Series when you're down 5-2?
That may be the most impressive thing of all.
Prior to the contest that pitted Team Triple H against Team Umaga, Captain Helmsley found himself at a disadvantage when Matt Hardy, the fifth member of the squad, went down with injury. No Undertaker-for-Tatanka swaps happened here; Team Triple H simply went into battle and gave Team Umaga a match-long power play.
Though the team would still include the likes of Kane and Rey Mysterio, neither man managed to muster up an elimination and soon the entirety of Team Umaga stood tall against just Triple H and cohort Jeff Hardy. Then things got good, and fast.
Hardy and Trips made an improbable comeback that included the eliminations of MVP, Mr. Kennedy, Big Daddy V, and Finlay before the handicap finally stood in their favor. At the end, foreshadowing ruled as Hardy stood victorious over Umaga and planted himself as an equal to his team captain.
Team Members: Hulk Hogan (Co-Captain), Randy Savage (Co-Captain), Koko B. Ware, Hillbilly Jim, Hercules
Survivors: Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage
Back in the infancy of the Survivor Series, grudges would be settled thanks almost entirely to the teamwork and kinship shown inside the squared circle. If team members didn't play well together (or they had Bad News Brown on board), they would falter on the road to victory.
But if a team worked as well as the Mega Powers, they could do no wrong.
Perhaps the last shining moment in the lineage of the Mega Powers occurred at the 1988 Survivor Series when the two most powerful forces in the WWF, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, entered the ring against the Twin Towers.
Though the Twin Towers were comprised of the dominant tag team of Akeem and the Big Boss Man, this five-man version also included the upstart Red Rooster, dangerous Haku, and ever-clever Ted DiBiase. From all angles, the team led by the Twin Towers was as nasty as it was notorious.
Hogan and Savage, however, didn't sweat it. They brought in longtime friends Koko B. Ware and Hillbilly Jim to help even the odds, and then pulled off a major maneuver by recruiting recent defector Hercules into the fold. In the end, however, none of those three did anything to truly help out.
It would be Hogan and Savage who would outlast and outwit the competition, eliminating the Red Rooster, Haku, and Ted DiBiase with various signature moves while also setting up Boss Man for a count-out and Akeem for a disqualification.
While Hogan and Savage celebrated the amazing victory, they were imminently doomed to clash in 1989 in one of the greatest rivalries ever to unfold. Two months later, the Mega Powers exploded on Saturday Night's Main Event, setting the stage for an epic WrestleMania V main event.
Team Members: Batista (Captain), John Bradshaw Layfield, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley
Survivors: Randy Orton
WWE's Brand Extension has had many ups and downs. Typically, folks disregard the battle for brand supremacy because, well, most superstars wrestle on both shows anyway. In 2011, that statement can't hold much water given the Monday Night Raw Super Shows that continue to showcase just about anybody in tights.
But back in 2005, WWE was still trying to take the whole "brand" thing seriously. So at the Survivor Series, it was only natural to have a Raw vs. SmackDown! elimination match for some set of bragging rights (mind the pun). And, in fact, both teams showed the growth of their respective shows over the course of that year.
Raw brought to the table seasoned veterans like Shawn Michaels, Kane, and the Big Show to combine forces with young guns like Chris Masters and Carlito. It was a statement of Raw's established presence on Monday nights that also demonstrated an influx of new talent.
SmackDown responded with their own brand of high-flying, high-impact talents that included Rey Mysterio, Bobby Lashley, JBL, Randy Orton, and the World Heavyweight Champion, Batista. Though he was banged up, Batista had just exploded as the monster of the brand, and was spearheaded with the rising stocks all around him.
When it came down to the match, SmackDown quickly suffered blows at the mercy of Kane and the Big Show, losing both Batista and Bobby Lashley to only Kane. The team then rallied together to oust the Big Show, but again faced adversity as time went along.
In the end, with Batista's team in trouble, a returning main event player, Randy Orton, made the ultimate statement by becoming the Sole Survivor for his team for the third year in a row.
Team Members: Hulk Hogan (Captain), Demolition Ax, Demolition Smash, Jake Roberts
Survivors: Hulk Hogan
How do you beat a team that was bought for the sole purpose of survival? With Ted DiBiase, the Powers of Pain, and the mighty Zeus on one team, how could you possible defeat the Million Dollar Team?
If you're Hulk Hogan, you've got to do it in style. Much like The Warriors team from 1990, this team was the pinnacle of pro wrestling good guys in 1989.
Hogan, of course, wasn't on the cusp of greatness. He was the greatest; the biggest star in the industry and certainly the largest draw the WWF had at the time. His teammates, however, made it all worthwhile.
The debate can rage forever as to whether Demolition is the greatest tag team in World Wrestling Federation history, but their contributions can never be denied. Ax and Smash were the first team to ever pull off the "Three-peat" and were even synonymous with one of the rarest and best occurrences in pro wrestling, the "Double Turn." Competing against their double-turn comrades, the Powers of Pain, was a no-brainer.
Closing out the foursome was a man who had only been in the WWF for a little while, yet who was gaining traction like it was going out of style. Jake "the Snake" Roberts had all the look and skills of a man at the top of the wrestling world. But his modest style and intense promos made for an even more compelling character on screen.
The Powers of Pain and Zeus were devastating, and Ted DiBiase had been the biggest heel of the past year for the World Wrestling Federation. To think that this team could keep pace was remarkable, especially when they did and Hogan remained on top.
Team Members: Chris Benoit (Captain), Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko
Survivors: Chris Benoit & Perry Saturn
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about the following tandem is that we're discussing what they did in November of 2000, a total of 10 months after they debuted. In the hectic world of professional wrestling, the idea that any tandem can remain a unit after six months is laughable—much less a unit of four men lasting for an entire year.
The Radicalz were fresh WCW imports who were tired of their weekly burial on TNT. They wanted a change, and got it when all four opted to jump from the sinking ship and into the waiting arms of the World Wrestling Federation. A few weeks before the defection, Team Captain Chris Benoit had captured his first WCW World Title.
By November, they had been established as a solid act that had the flexibility to move up and down the card for the Federation. From their formation to this match, the faction captured three Intercontinental titles, two European titles, two Hardcore titles, and two Light Heavyweight championships. To put it bluntly, the Radicalz were the best thing going at the time, and showed it in dominating fashion at the Survivor Series.
Facing off against D-Generation X, the most established stable in the WWF at that time, was certain to be a test of merit. But DX had only one weak link, K-Kwik (Oh Hi, R-Truth), in its wings. The remaining three members of the team (Chyna, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn) had been a cohesive unit for the better part of three years.
And yet, in one fifteen minute match, they were picked apart by elite ring technicians, who, had Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko survived, likely would have been first overall in this countdown.
Team Members: Eddie Guerrero (Captain), John Cena, Big Show, Rob Van Dam
Survivors: Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Big Show
Latino Heat is, in many ways, an evil genius.
During the biggest upswing of his professional career, Eddie Guerrero took on a life that saw him lie, cheat, and steal his way to the top.
All the while the fans clamored for more from this former WCW castaway and WWE Champion.
Despite his brilliance, Guerrero often found near-equals in intelligence that he could compete with. One such example, Kurt Angle, battled Guerrero up and down SmackDown in 2004. After outsmarting the Olympic hero at WrestleMania that year, Angle drew even throughout the Summer until both men would recruit their closest comrades for a war at Survivor Series.
But to even argue, for a second, that Angle had the better draw would be horribly foolish. Guerrero's team was one of masterful ingenuity that combined strength and speed in a way only Eddie could. At the time of its formation, Team Guerrero's most successful member was its captain.
Fast forward to 2011.
John Cena is now the biggest star in the industry today hands down. His various runs with the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships are certain to make him "Legendary."
The Big Show is perhaps the most accomplished man in the business, having not only been one of five men to ever win the WWE and ECW titles (Vince McMahon, Rob Van Dam, C.M. Punk and Kane share this honor), but also being the only man to win the WWE, WCW, and ECW world titles. He's a one-man Legion of Doom.
Even Van Dam, the only member of the team not to survive, is highly decorated for accolades in WWE, ECW, and most recently, TNA. Kurt Angle's team included Carlito, Mark Jindrak, and Luther Reigns.
Team Members: Big Show (Captain), Blue Meanie, Taka Michinoku, Sho Funaki
Survivors: Big Show
Remember that last slide where I talked about the Big Show's many accomplishments? Time to talk about one of them ad nauseum.
In 1999, the Big Show had an epic feud with the Big Boss Man. This feud, which included unintentionally hilarious vignettes revolving around the Big Shows purportedly deceased father, reached critical mass in a four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match.
The angry giant was more than a little enraged heading into the match, as he destroyed his own teammates before the action ever started. He then came to the ring by himself to destroy Mideon, Prince Albert, and Viscera before setting his sights on the Boss Man.
In what was perhaps his smartest career move, Boss Man fled, ending the contest in 1:27, the shortest Survivor Series elimination match in history.
The real story, though, had just begun, as Big Show went on later that evening to take Stone Cold Steve Austin's place in the main event triple threat match, where he would capture his first WWF Championship.
Team Members: Jerry Lawler (Captain), Sleazy, Queasy, Cheesy
Survivors: Jerry Lawler, Sleazy, Queasy, and Cheesy
Beware! Some of the following entries have been rated "S" for Stupid.
So was the case in 1994, when Jerry Lawler feuded with Doink the Clown during the Fall on Monday Night Raw. Week after week, fans were subjected to a bizarre rivalry between the King and the Clown that simply wasn't big enough to contain just these two men.
Soon, both men introduced miniature versions of themselves to form one of the most bizarre elimination matches in Survivor Series history. Doink used his mini-me Dink on his team, as well as new recruits Pink and Wink. Lawler countered with three little royals, Sleazy, Queasy, and Cheesy. What followed was sure to be a terrible encounter most wanted to forget.
The match itself, however, wasn't terrible.
Lawler and Doink played off the smaller competitors for some vintage spots of what was once simply known as midget wrestling. But for Doink, the jokes ran out quickly. You see, Lawler's team was actually much better than they had been given credit for, and within about 10 minutes, Lawler pinned Doink, crippling the opposition.
Vince McMahon even formally announced that the match had already ended since nobody could eliminate Lawler from competition. And so, Wink, Pink, and Dink carried on like an episode of DuckTales sans Scrooge McDuck. The insult to injury, however, was a clean sweep as Lawler's Royal Family ran through Clowns R' Us just minutes later.
Team Members: Mabel, Mo, Bushwhacker Luke, Bushwhacker Butch
Survivors: Mabel, Mo, Bushwhacker Luke, and Bushwhacker Butch
Of course, as bad as the match in 1994 could have been, it wasn't like Doink sabotaged a Survivor Series before.
Or did he?
One year earlier, in 1993, Doink was feuding with the massive Bam Bam Bigelow and his valet Luna Vachon.
Fed up with Doink's clowning around, Bigelow initiated a four-on-four elimination match and told Doink to bring anyone who would back him up. Bam Bam showed up with the Headshrinkers and Bastion Booger to face Doink's mystery team.
Despite not knowing the identity of his opponents, Bigelow's team had already clinched the award of ugliest Survivor Series team ever.
Doink responded by unveiling quite the surprise: he wasn't even on his team. Instead, he employed the Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission to do the dirty work, donning signature Doink face paint and using several clown props on the way to the ring.
In the end, the result was mass confusion and hysteria that left Team Bam Bam reeling.
The Clown had pulled one over on the Beast from the East, initiating another 4-0 sweep by using water balloons, banana peels, and two of the best tag teams the WWF had to offer.
Team Members: Bret Hart (Captain), Owen Hart, Bruce Hart, Keith Hart
Survivors: Bret Hart, Bruce Hart, Keith Hart
Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart have one of the most storied rivalries in the history of professional wrestling.
In 1993, the Heartbreak Kid drew in the entire Hart family for a fight at the Survivor Series. Michaels promised to bring in his "Knights" to face-off against the four best Harts on the map. The Hitman responded with his brothers Owen, Bruce, and Keith for the clash. What followed was a grueling 30-minute affair that the Harts, for the most part, dominated.
Bret's brothers showed the training of the Hart Family Dungeon would always pay off, and Owen in particular, shined by scoring two eliminations. Michaels' Knights may not have been identified by anything but colors, but under the masks were savvy veterans Greg Valentine, Barry Horowitz, and indy star Jeff Gaylord. They weren't pushovers, yet the Hart Family took control.
In one of the more iconic moments of the contest, The Hart Family lost their perfect game when a collision between Owen and Bret led to Owen's defeat. He was the only member of the team to suffer such a fate, leading to his big breakout as a heel and a wonderful feud with his brother Bret. Masterfully, the match helped Bret transition from his feud with Michaels (which would rekindle years later) to one with his own flesh and blood.
Team Members: Andre the Giant (Captain), Mr. Perfect, Harley Race, Dino Bravo, Rick Rude
Survivors: Mr. Perfect & Dino Bravo
The Heenan Family stable was easily one of the strongest that the World Wrestling Federation had ever produced. With Bobby "the Brain" Heenan on the sideline, the strongest and brightest heels would flourish if they listened to him intently.
In 1988, perhaps the greatest collection of Heenan Family clients was on display in a five-on-five elimination match.
Andre the Giant had already won the WWF World Championship earlier in the year, albeit by some treacherous means. Harley Race was one of the toughest, pound-for-pound fighters in the company, not to mention a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion who was now the King of the Federation. Dino Bravo, the french-Canadian import managed by Frenchy Martin, was massively imposing.
Then we had Rick Rude and Mr. Perfect, both of whom were working their way up to the Intercontinental title picture in cocky and brash fashion. Truth be told, no amount of boulder-throwing Ken Patera could keep up with this crew.
Mr. Perfect and Dino Bravo survived the contest, but Andre would easily have been included had he not choked out Jake Roberts moments earlier in a defiant statement of his gargantuan strength.
Team Members: The Rock (Captain), Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, The Big Show
Survivors: The Rock
Really, what needs to be said about this fivesome that hasn't been said before? When the World Wrestling Federation needed its strongest individual unit to defeat the forces of the WCW/ECW Alliance, who else could it turn to? From a talent perspective and drawing power alone, this team was simply awe-inspiring.
The Rock spearheaded a team of five that also included both the Big Show and Chris Jericho, who hadn't even hit the biggest points in their careers. Perhaps even more notably, both were former WCW stars who stayed true to the WWF during the Invasion, unlike Kurt Angle and Steve Austin.
Surrounding these three were the Brothers of Destruction, themselves were as brooding and powerful as ever. The Undertaker, who had been a staple of Survivor Series since his debut in 1990, was an American Bad Ass that screamed World Wrestling Federation. His brother Kane never had his allegiance in question either. The two had previously taken out WCW's best tandem, Kronik, in convincing fashion.
In the end, the only thing that could have stopped this team was itself, as dissention between Jericho and Rock almost caused us to refer to everything after the 2001 Survivor Series as a World Championship Wrestling event.
Team Members: The Undertaker (Captain), Henry Godwinn, Fatu, Savio Vega
Survivors: The Undertaker, Henry Godwinn, Fatu, Savio Vega
Sometimes it isn't about who you have on your team, but rather, who you beat instead. The Darkside embraced everything about the Undertaker at the 1995 Survivor Series, sporting all black and purple attire as a show of solidity behind the Deadman.
Taker was looking to draw even with King Mabel, who had just recently broken his orbital bone during a vicious assault on Raw. And even though Mabel was the captain of the King's Court, one cannot overlook the valuable assets he brought with him.
Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley surrounded the massive Mabel on all sides to try and stop the Undertaker from resurrecting his spirit. That's right, both the future Kane and Triple H were teaming together to help defeat the Undertaker. And though they were still years from their greatest success, they had all the tools to take him out.
Unfortunately, the game plan was turned on its ear when The Darkside dominated, feeding every one of their opponents to a hungry and vengeful Undertaker. Lawler took a tombstone. Yankem took a tombstone. Helmsley took a chokeslam.
After such results, Mabel was likely wise to get himself counted out.
Team Members: Randy Savage (Captain), Canadian Earthquake, Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine
Survivors: Randy Savage, Canadian Earthquake, Dino Bravo
The one man we have yet to discuss in our countdown is Randy Savage.
A significant cornerstone of World Wrestling Federation programming throughout the 80's and 90's, the Macho Man absolutely loved the Survivor Series.
Now, you'll find out why.
Savage portrayed the Macho King during his 1989 appearance in a four-on-four elimination match against Hacksaw Jim Duggan and his 4x4's. And while a pre-match promo would indicate that Duggan's team, which included Hercules, Bret Hart, and Ronnie Garvin, was up to the test, the match was a bittersweet opposite.
Savage's team of bruising, breaking, bone-crushers included grappling technician Greg Valentine and strongman Dino Bravo; this was not surprising.
His inclusion of newcomer John Tenta, who was touted as the Canadian Earthquake, was perhaps the most rattling for the opposition.
Earthquake was selected as a replacement for the Widowmaker, Barry Windham. A fantastic head-to-head contest was afoot, but it wasn't long before Savage's team showed how much more capable they really were.
Earthquake matched the power of Hercules, decimating him with a huge splash that would become his signature move for years to come. After Duggan took out Greg Valentine, Savage's team countered with Dino Bravo's massive slams on Ronnie Garvin and the finishing Savage flying elbow to Bret Hart.
What could Jim Duggan do to compete? Very little as it turns out, as the King's Court pummeled Duggan so badly that he could not get back in the ring and was counted out.
Team Members: Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, Sycho Sid, British Bulldog
Survivors: Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, British Bulldog
In a time where the World Wrestling Federation was undergoing huge changes both in the ring and with its fan base, President Gorilla Monsoon was quite a busy man. He created new and more innovative wrestling matches and techniques that would go horribly uncredited as time went by. After all, it was Monsoon who gave us an incredible rematch to the WrestleMania X Ladder match, and it was Monsoon who refused to back down in the face of Vader.
But Monsoon's greatest contribution as president may have been the unique, one-time only Wild Card match at the 1995 Survivor Series. Acknowledging that wrestlers competed in traditional face or heel tandems, Monsoon challenged the conventional method by pairing up some of the company's top stars "at random."
On one side, fan favorite Razor Ramon was forced to team with Camp Cornette favorites Yokozuna and Owen Hart as well as veteran turned newcomer Dean Douglas. What could compete with that team? Probably one of the hottest teams in the history of the event, led by the infamous Shawn Michaels.
HBK's teammates included the all-new star Ahmed Johnson, his former friend turned enemy Sycho Sid, and the crafty former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, the British Bulldog. The team was talented, strong, versatile, and wildly popular. Both Sid and Bulldog had been wrestling household names for about five years, and despite his incomprehensible promos, Ahmed Johnson was gaining a lot of traction with the audience.
Then, of course, there was Michaels, who was undergoing a career change that only four months later would culminate with the Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII. You remember it, right? "The Boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels!"
Despite not really desiring to work together, the functionality of this team cannot be denied. Only Sid was eliminated, and that was mainly because his own teammate, HBK, hit him with Sweet Chin Music.
Team Members: Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Jim Duggan, Brutus Beefcake
Survivors: Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat
Pop quiz, hot shot: What team was the first to survive at the Survivor Series?
The answer, of course, would be the 1987 opening contest team of Randy Savage, Jake the Snake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Brutus Beefcake.
Introducing the whole concept of tag team, elimination warfare was the responsibility of this five-man entree as they squared off against Team Honky Tonk, which was comprised of Honky Tonk Man, Hecules, Harley Race, Ron Bass, and Danny Davis. The match was as iconic a Survivor Series affair as any other, capped off by the impressive performance that Savage and crew were known for.
In the end, former bitter enemies Savage and Steamboat were survivors alongside the Snake after disposing of men like Davis and Hercules in no more signature fashion than with flying elbows and DDTs. At any given time for pro wrestling in the late-80's and early-90's, these five guys were the most popular competitors not named Hogan or Warrior and deserve a lot more credit than they're given.
Team Members: The Miz (Captain), Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus
Survivors: The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus
If you were to turn the clock back just a few years and look at this team, you'd probably be stunned to see just how far the competitors have come. At the 2009 Survivor Series, the battle between former partners the Miz and John Morrison erupted into an all-out, five-on-five war.
While Morrison's team, comprised of fellow members Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay, was far more established, the breakout potential of Team Miz was too much to be stopped. A convincing victory for three of the five members was a small sampling of things to come.
Here we sit, two years later, looking at a team that only had one champion, that being U.S. Champ the Miz, at the time.
Now, four of the five men on this team have been recognized as World Heavyweight or WWE Champions. They've won both United States and Intercontinental championships and are merchandise money-makers.
Face facts: they're all gold in some form.
Ironically enough, it would be Drew McIntyre, once the biggest blue-chip prospect on the team, who would achieve the lowest honors of any of the four.
That's just scary.
Team Members: Jim Duggan (Captain), Sgt. Slaughter, Tito Santana, Kerry Von Erich
Survivors: Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Tito Santana, Kerry Von Erich
If you've read all this way, you probably recognize that Hacksaw Jim Duggan has been involved in a lot of Survivor Series encounters. In fact, he's had his hands in more Survivor Series pies than nearly anyone in history, and he's been as up and down as a roller coaster.
That said, 1991 would have to be the top of the lift hill for good ol' Hacksaw. You see, this was only the second year in history in which a team completed a total sweep of their opponents.
Duggan's team of faces included nothing but future Hall of Famers. That's right, each and every man in this squad was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and with good reason.
Tag team championships, Intercontinental championships, and of course, World Championships (of both the WWF and NWA variety) were present when the team bulldozed its way through Skinner, Hercules, the Berzerker, and Colonel Mustafa. Though the opponents may seem like pushovers, I remind you that two of those men were Steve Keirn and the Iron Sheik in disguise.
On a night for the WWF that saw the company's greatest hero fall in the Gravest Challenge, everyone really needed the shot in the arm that Duggan's heroes were able to provide.
Team Members: Rick Martel (Captain), The Warlord, Hercules, Paul Roma
Survivors: Rick Martel, The Warlord, Hercules, Paul Roma
So far, every team that survived without having a single member eliminated has made this list, so it's only fitting we continue that trend with the one that started it all.
In 1990, the Visionaries, made up of Rick "the Model" Martel, Power & Glory, and the Warlord, were slated to face The Vipers, an all-star team with Jake "the Snake" Roberts, the Rockers, and Jimmy Snuka. With feuds aplenty and spots in the Grand Finale Match of Survival up for grabs, certainly this would be a highly competitive match.
Competition was at a premium from the get-go, when Marty Jannetty was pinned after five minutes by the Warlord. Rick Martel used his smarts to roll-up Jimmy Snuka for the second pin of the match, and Shawn Michaels followed after a powerslam from Paul Roma. Sure enough, it was all on Jake to come back from an extreme handicap.
But the clever and decisive manner in which the Visionaries attained victory was sealed when Martel goaded Roberts out of the ring and to his inevitable count-out defeat. Though the Visionaries could not overcome the powers of the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan in the main event, their inspiring performance against the Vipers remains one of the most one-sided affairs in wrestling history.
Members: Triple H (Co-Captain), Shawn Michaels (Co-Captain), C.M. Punk, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy
Survivors: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, C.M. Punk, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy
I'm sorry, I don't care what you say.The greatest team in Survivor Series history is not up for debate.
The only team to ever go five-on-five and win 5-0 is also one of the greatest collaborative talents of all time.
Embroiled in a feud with Rated RKO's Edge and Randy Orton, the reunited DX found themselves in their first Survivor Series match in 2006. Newcomer C.M. Punk was out for justice against his ECW rival, Mike Knox. Jeff Hardy had been waging all-out war against John Morrison. And on SmackDown, Matt Hardy was dealing with his fair share of issues from Gregory Helms.
10 men, four feuds, and it all took 12 minutes to settle as absolute success.
The match started simply, with Shawn Michaels immediately scoring Sweet Chin Music on Mike Knox. C.M. Punk made Morrison tap out minutes later. Then it was Helms' turn, courtesy of Matt Hardy and the Twist of Fate.
Five-on-five turned into five-on-two before the 10-minute mark. Edge didn't last much longer, either, suffering the same fate as Knox. As Randy Orton headed for the hills, fans clamored for a definitive finish as opposed to another count-out ending. They got it, as Orton was decimated by Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree before the first real complete sweep was accomplished. 5-0.
But, as mentioned before, simple accomplishments in the match itself are never enough. Look at all the talent and admiration these men have. Look at the titles, accolades, and track record.
Here's the short list:
-13 WWE Championships
-13 WWE Intercontinental Championships
-11 World Heavyweight Championships
-11 WWE Tag Team Championships
-Five WWE European Championships
-Four World Tag Team Championships
-Four WWE Hardcore Championships
-Three Royal Rumble Wins
-Two ECW Championships
-Two Money In the Bank Wins
-One WWE United States Championship
-One WCW Tag Team Championship
-One WWE Cruiserweight Championship
-One WWE Light Heavyweight Championship
-One King of the Ring
-One WWE Hall of Famer