WWE Survivor Series : The Greatest Moments of the November Classic
When we talk about WWE Pay-Per-View events over the years, we talk about great matches that became classics and history in the making.
It's especially true when it's time for the "Big Four" PPVs. The annual Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series are richer in history than any other WWE wrestling super cards.
With the Survivor Series around the corner, I thought about taking a look at the past to highlight the greatest moments that took place on the stage of the November Classic.
I won't come up with the greatest matches or the greatest teams, since it's already done. Instead, I took a look back at each and every annual Survivor Series to extract the most important events that happened, not always related to the results or the quality of the matches.
As you will see, a lot of history has been written at Survivor Series and a lot of turning points in the WWE's evolution were witnessed at the traditional Thanksgiving-time PPV.
The First and Best Women Traditional Survivor Series Match (1987)
At the first Survivor Series, even the women had their place on the show. Team Moolah defeated Team Sherri, and all the women involved were not Divas; they were actual female wrestlers.
The team—captained by Fabulous Moolah—was composed of Rockin' Robin, Velvet McIntyre and the Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno).
On the other side of the ring, Sensational Sherri joined forces with Donna Christanello, Dawn Marie and The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin).
1987-88 The Tag Team Division At Its Best (1987-88)
Once upon a time in WWE, the tag team division was healthy, very healthy. Just take a look at the two tag team traditional Survivor Series elimination lineups in 1987 and 1988:
Survivor Series 1987:
- 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),
- The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid).
- Demolition (Ax and Smash),
- The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart),
- The Islanders (Haku and Tama),
- The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov),
- The New Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Dino Bravo).
Survivor Series 1988:
- 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),
- The Young Stallions (Jim Powers and Paul Roma).
- Demolition (Ax and Smash),
- The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard),
- The Conquistadors (Uno and Dos),
- The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov),
- The Fabulous Rougeaus (Raymond and Jacques).
When we look at the above tag teams, we talk about legit teams with an actual division and greatly entertaining matches. These were amazing years for tag-team action.
The First Incident Leading to the Mega Powers Explosion (1988)
In 1988, the Mega Powers became the hottest team of the year and one of the greatest pairings in WWE history. The first incident leading to the break up of the team and, ultimately, to the WrestleMania V main event occurred at the previous Survivor Series.
Hogan acted too friendly with Elizabeth for the taste of Randy Savage after the victory of his five-man team formed for the main event. If both men quickly made peace, it planted the first seeds of their upcoming grueling feud.
The Ultimate Warrior's First PPV Main Event (1989)
At the 1989 Survivor Series, an icon of the late '80s and early '90s reached the main event level by captaining a team billed as "The Ultimate Warriors."
The Ultimate Warrior cemented his main-event status with the WWF by defeating Andre The Giant and his acolytes. In addition, for a very rare moment in that era, Hulk Hogan was not in the biggest spotlight of the card.
The Debut of an Icon (1990)
On that 22nd day of November 1990, The Undertaker was introduced by Ted DiBiase as the mystery partner on his Million Dollar Team.
The fourth installment of the Survivor Series spectacle will always be remembered in pro-wrestling history books as the WWF debut of a legend who became The Phenom and the spine of the company.
The Undertaker Won His First WWF Championship (1991)
For the first time, a singles match was held on a Survivor Series stage. This match became infamous because of the controversy surrounding the result and the aftermath, but only a few men can brag of having pinned Hogan to win the WWF Championship.
No matter if Ric Flair interfered or not, The Undertaker proved he was world-championship material, and a permanent main-eventer by holding his own against the established icon that was Hogan.
All that after only one year with the company.
The First WWF Championship Match Between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels (1992)
The 1992 Survivor Series PPV was hit by many unexpected events, and the card completely changed at the last minute.
The scheduled main event, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior vs. Ric Flair and Razor Ramon, moved down on the card after The Ultimate Warrior abruptly left the company. Mr. Perfect then stepped in, but the match lost some of its flavor and, in the process, the main event status.
The British Bulldog was meant to defend the Intercontinental Title against The Mountie, but the UK powerhouse was released two weeks before the PPV, dropping the belt to Shawn Michaels.
So, with The British Bulldog and The Ultimate Warrior out following a HGH story, the Intercontinental Championship match was replaced by an impromptu champion vs. champion bout that became the main event. Bret Hart successfuly defended the WWF Title against Shawn Michaels in a classic encounter that planted the seeds of an upcoming legendary feud.
The First Casket Match in WWE History (1992)
At the 1992 edition of Survivor Series, Kamala and The Undertaker were involved in the first official casket match in WWE history.
Kamala became the first of many Undertaker victims with that stipulation.
The First Seeds of Two Epic Feuds Planted (1993)
In 1993, the Survivor Series PPV became the stage of the first incident leading Bret and Owen Hart to one of the greatest rivalries in pro-wrestling history—as you can read in an article I wrote some time ago.
After the Hart Family won their match against Shawn Michaels and his Knights, an angered and jealous Owen confronted Bret. It was the kickstart of an unforgettable feud that lasted over a year.
Another grueling feud started on the same event. The first chapter of "Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker" was written that night when they both engaged in a slugfest outside the ring. Their feud ended at the following year's Survivor Series, with The Deadman emerging victorious and Yokozuna moved out of the main event picture.
Alundra Blayze's Last Appearance with WWF and the Women's Division Deactivation
The 1995 Survivor Series PPV was marked by Alundra Blayze's last appearance with WWF, and led to the women division's second deactivation.
And, when you look at the match she was involved in, it's no wonder we saw no female wrestling action for nearly three years. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe and Lioness Asuka defeated Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparrita Asari in a traditional Survivor Series elimination match.
Some of those wrestlers were very talented, but no fan really cared about them since they were thrown in with no introduction or storyline.
A few weeks later, Blayze threw the WWF Women's Championship belt in a trash can on WCW television.
The Icon Known as the Rock Debuted (1996)
At Survivor Series 1996, a newcomer called Rocky Maivia started an illustrious career with WWE.
The icon who became known as "The Rock" was the sole survivor on his team after he lastly eliminated Goldust.
The Montreal Screwjob (1997)
One of the biggest chapters in the WWE history book started at the 1997 Survivor Series.
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. Vince McMahon and the screwjob. The mystical Attitude reached a whole new level following that night.
Need I say more?
The Rock Won His First WWF Championship and Turns Heel (1998)
In 1998, the Survivor Series PPV was the stage of a mega tournament called "Deadly Game." The tournament was held to crown a new WWF Champion after the title was vacated on September 27.
It was the first time that no traditional elimination match was scheduled on the November classic card, and it was only the second time a tournament was held on an entire PPV to fix a vacated WWF Title issue.
On that night, The Rock reached the top of the mountain for good and became the icon we all know. He defeated Mick Foley in the finals, after he went through Big Boss Man, Ken Shamrock and The Undertaker.
The whole event led to the creation of The Corporation on the following day and The Rock joined McMahon's stable, turning heel in the process.
The Big Show Won His First WWF Championship and Demonstrated Uncommon Dominance
1999 was Big Show's rookie and best year with WWE.
At the Survivor Series, after less than 10 months with the company, he won his first WWF Championship in a triple threat match also involving The Rock and Triple H as the champion.
In addition to his title match, Big Show won a traditional elimination match earlier in the evening. He was alone against four opponents as he defeated Big Boss Man, Prince Albert, Mideon and Viscera aka Big Daddy V in a minute and 27 seconds.
Stone Cold Steve Austin Put on the Sideline for Several Months (1999)
At the 1999 Survivor Series, Steve Austin was scheduled to be a part of the triple threat match main event for the WWF Championship.
However, he was hit by a car in the parking lot before the event. If the accident kept him out of action until September 24, 2000, it also ended his grueling feud against Vince McMahon in some way.
Their rivalry never really resumed, and Austin went after Triple H who was behind the "car accident".
The End of the Invansion Storyline (2001)
The tagline of the 2001 Survivor Series annual event was "Winner Takes All!" and it opposed "Team WWF" to "Team Alliance".
With The Rock, Kane, Chris Jericho, Big Show and The Undertaker, Vince McMahon assembled one of the greatest Survivor Series teams ever, and they got the job done to "save" the WWF from the WCW and EWC invaders.
WCW and WWF Championships Unifications (2001)
In addition to end the Invasion angle, the Survivor Series held in 2001 also featured the unification of some WCW and WWF championships.
On that night, the WCW World Tag Team championship was unified to the WWF Tag Team Championship, with The Dudley Boyz emerging victorious over The Hardy Boyz.
The WCW U.S. Championship was merged to the WWF Intercontinental Title. Edge defeated Test in that unification match.
Another titles' unification was also scheduled to unify the WCW Cruiserweight Title held by Tajiri with the WWF Light-Heavyweight Championship held by X-Pac. However, with X-Pac injured, the Light-Heavyweight Title was dropped in favor of the other championship, with Tajiri continuing his reign.
The First Elimination Chamber Match and Shawn Michaels' Last World Title Reign
In 2002, the Survivor Series featured the first-ever Elimination Chamber match, an innovation that still continues to please the WWE fans today.
Shawn Michaels won the historical bout and became the new World Heavyweight Champion; it was his last reign as world champion with WWE.
The Undertaker's Last Appearance as the American Badass / Big Evil (2003)
At Survivor Series 2003, in the culmination of the feud between The Undertaker and Vince McMahon, we saw for the last time the American Badass/Big Evil character.
With help from Kane, McMahon managed to win his Buried Alive match against The Undertaker, who came back nearly four months later for WrestleMania XX.
It was the starting point of another feud between the Brothers Of Destruction. It also turned the page on a chapter of The Phenom's career, who returned behind the skin of the persona that made him an icon.
Lita's Last Match with WWE as Full Time Wrestler (2006)
After Trish Stratus, who left the same year, Lita retired after her match at the 2006 Survivor Series. She lost the Women's Championship against Mickie James.
The women's division would not be the same, with the two greatest Divas of the 2000's gone. Since then, we can hardly talk about an actual women's division in WWE.
The Stage for Edge's Comeback Two Years in a Row (2007-08)
At Survivor Series 2007, Edge came back to the ring after a four-month absence. He cost The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship in a Hell In A Cell match against Batista. It was the beginning of an epic feud between The Phenom and The Ultimate Opportunist.
In 2008, the Survivor Series stage was used again by Edge to return. He was nowhere to be seen after he was "sent to hell" by The Undertaker at the previous Summerslam. Vickie Guerrero introduced her husband as a last-minute replacement for Jeff Hardy in a triple threat match over for the WWE Championship. Edge didn't waste this opportunity to get his hands on the title one more time.
Natalya Won Her First Championship in a Handicap Match (2010)
In a genuine display of dominance and actual talent, Natalya defeated both Layla and Michelle McCool to win the Divas Championship.
It gave a lot of hope to the fans who asked for a real wrestler as champion. It seemed to have given a new breath to the agonizing Divas division, but it didn't last long and, unfortunately, things didn't improve much.
The Rock Returning to the Ring After an over Seven-Year Absence (2011)
In a surprising turn of events, The Rock accepted John Cena's request and both men will team up to face R-Truth and The Miz.
With their upcoming match at WrestleMania 28, will Cena and The Rock be able to coexist?
That is what we'll discover very soon...