Whenever Survivor Series comes around, the match that immediately comes to mind is always the traditional five-man tag team elimination matches.
The whole reason for the name Survivor Series is centered around these matches.
At the inception of the pay-per-view in 1987, all of the matches were elimination tag matches.
It would not be until 1991 that there was even a single match that was not an elimination tag match.
Since that time, these matches have become less and less frequent; however, they are always some of the highlights of the show.
These matches usually include top-caliber talent and are given over 20 minutes at least.
There have been so many of these matches, and so many have been great that it is hard to rank them.
Following is my personal top 10 list of traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team matches.
Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown, 2005: A good, 24-minute match pitting the two brands against one another. It was notable that Randy Orton would be the sole survivor, as he was not originally slated for the match. Eddie Guerrero had been in the spot until his untimely death (Viva La Raza, Eddie). The match was a fun match and even nabbed the main event spot of the night, making it the last elimination match to be main event of the show.
Warriors vs. The Perfect Team, 1990: A short but hard-hitting matchup that was fun to watch. It was entirely composed of great stars, including Hall of Famers the Legion of Doom, Mr. Perfect and Kevin Von Erich.
Mega Powers vs. The Twins Towers, 1988: A cool match with some huge stars that were given real time to shine with over 30 minutes for the match. It had some great stars involved, though, not everyone was top-class talent.
Team Orton vs. Team Batista, 2008: The best Survivor Series of the past few years, this match had some of the greatest stars of the time in Randy Orton and Batista, while also showing us an early sign of what stars like Cody Rhodes and CM Punk could really do. A great match to go back and watch.
Teamsters vs. The Bad Guys, 1994: Unoriginal names aside, almost the entire group in this match can be heralded to this day for their skills and accomplishments in WWE. The match itself was great, though, the ending was pretty weak, which had the Teamsters entirely get counted out at the same time even though they had eliminated all but one man on the opposing team.
Survivor Series, 1995
Participants: Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, British Bulldog and Sycho Sid vs. Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas.
The list of participants here is not the greatest collection of stars, but it has a few legends in Michaels, the British Bulldog, Owen Hart and Razor Ramon.
The main thing that made this match so fun to watch was that it was insane.
These guys went for 27 minutes on teams of guys who could not get along. Heels and faces were mixed around without much of any order.
Tag team members attacked one another and helped to eliminate each other.
Finishers were thrown around without pinfalls.
Amazingly, at the end of it all, Michaels' team had only lost one member, though, not from lack of trying.
A match that really told a story.
Survivor Series, 1993
Participants: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Bruce Hart and Keith Hart (with Stu Hart) vs. Shawn Michaels, The Red Knight, The Blue Knight and The Black Knight.
It looks gimmicky up front, and it is a bit.
However, it not only contained great performers from the Hart Brothers and Shawn Michaels, it actually had great work from every man involved, including the knights, who were actually Greg Valentine, Barry Horowitz and a wrestler named Jeff Gaylord, who would never compete seriously in WWF.
The best part of the match was simply seeing all of the Harts in action, and their opponents, the Knights, helped that.
It always helps a match to have Shawn Michaels as well.
Survivor Series, 1995
Participants: Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparita Asari vs. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe and Lioness Asuka.
Is this match a bit high for what it really was? Probably.
However, it was hard-hitting, action packed and contained some of the greatest women wrestlers of all time.
The main reason this match does not stand up to others is simply treatment.
It was only given 10 minutes to shine, but the women competing made the most of their time.
Survivor Series, 1990
Participants: Ted DiBiase, The Undertaker, The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine (with Virgil, Jimmy Hart and Brother Love) vs. Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart.
This match has been over-hyped through the years for being great.
That sounds weird talking about a Survivor Series elimination match, but this one was special.
It is remembered for being the debut of one of the greatest of all time, The Undertaker, who would go on to win his first WWE Title the following year at Survivor Series in the first-ever singles match at the PPV.
The match itself was good with talent all around, but it is always overshadowed by the great debut.
Both in a good and a bad way.
Survivor Series, 1987
Participants: André the Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed and Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan and Slick) vs. Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera and Bam Bam Bigelow (with Oliver Humperdink).
The very first main event Survivor Series elimination match.
What made this match so great was it really felt like a serious main event.
It had two giant stars in Andre and Hogan facing off with teams at their back.
It also had some clever team psychology that even to this day is rarely seen in this type of match, as the team forced Hogan to get counted out using their strength and persistence.
It wasn't a technical masterpiece, but it was certainly a spectacle.
Survivor Series, 1991
Participants: Ric Flair, The Mountie, Ted DiBiase and The Warlord (with Mr. Perfect, Jimmy Hart, Sensational Sherri and Harvey Wippleman) vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Virgil and Davey Boy Smith.
This is just a phenomenal match.
It has some amazing stars in Flair and Piper complemented by guys like Bret Hart and Ted Dibiase.
The match in general is horribly under-appreciated, mainly because it simply did not have a great finish.
Just as it happened three years later in the Teamsters vs. Bad Guys match, five men were all eliminated at once, though, this time, it was a mix of both teams by disqualification.
Why they decided on this finish I will never understand, but the work in this match up to that point is top notch.
Survivor Series, 2003
Participants: Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Scott Steiner and Mark Henry vs. Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley.
This match had so much going for it.
First, unlike most Survivor Series matches, this one had real implications.
If Austin's team lost, he would lose his job, which is what happened in the end, though, it only took Stone Cold off television for a short while.
Also, the teams here were star-studded and worked incredibly well together.
The match was a complete success all around, with this match beginning Orton's streak of lone survivor success at the PPV.
Survivor Series, 1987
Participants: Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel), The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers), The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond), The Killer Bees (Jim Brunzell and Brian Blair) and the British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), The Islanders (Haku and Tama), Demolition (Ax and Smash), The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov) and The New Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Dino Bravo) (with Jimmy Hart, Bobby Heenan, Mr. Fuji, Slick and Johnny V.).
This match was absolutely spectacular—one of the best pure matches of all time.
20 men in 10 tag teams.
Every team getting time to shine in a 37-minute match.
It was on the very first Survivor Series and still stands the test of time.
To watch the whole match, above is the start at 7:25 and then continued below:
Survivor Series, 1988
Participants: The Powers of Pain (The Warlord and The Barbarian), The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty), The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid), The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) and The Young Stallions (Jim Powers and Paul Roma) vs. Demolition (Ax and Smash), The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov), The Fabulous Rougeaus (Raymond and Jacques) and The Conquistadors (Uno and Dos) (with Mr. Fuji, Bobby Heenan, Slick and Jimmy Hart).
These two tag team contests are just so good it is hard to rank them against one another. This one was slightly getting a total of 42 minutes to shine with, in my opinion, slightly better talent.
Regardless, both were phenomenal matches.
Why this concept died out afterward is confounding and ridiculous.
This was tag team competition at its most phenomenal.
These guys all put out efforts that WWE should go back and watch as they try to restructure the tag team division today.
Again, here is the rest of the match:
Survivor Series, 1994
Participants: Jerry Lawler, Sleazy, Queasy and Cheesy vs. Doink the Clown, Dink, Pink and Wink.
I mean look at that cast.
Lawler could have used a better name to go along with his cast, but you have to love the rhyming going on here.
As you would expect, this match was poetry in motion from start to finish.
You were expecting something else?
OK, the real No. 1 is...
Survivor Series, 2001
Participants: The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane and The Big Show vs. Steve Austin, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle, Booker T and Shane McMahon.
What makes this the greatest traditional Survivor Series tag team match of all time?
First, the entire cast is phenomenal and star-studded, with Shane McMahon being the only non-main event star in the group, though, that is simply because he was not a full time wrestler.
Second, no match ever had more on the line. In fact, this is one of the few matches to really have implications, which made it much more interesting to watch.
It also allowed many stars to rise to the occasion and turn heel, which was instantly a huge deal, as Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle would ride a huge wave of momentum of this event by turning on their teammates.
It was a phenomenal 45-minute contest with change immediately following the end result.
They don't make Survivor Series elimination matches like this anymore, which is a shame.
Hopefully, we will see one, maybe two great new matches to add to this legacy come next Sunday.
Thanks for reading!