So it’s Survivor Series time, which is personally one of my favourite pay per views. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the Rumble, SummerSlam is generally a hoot, and who doesn’t love WrestleMania Season?? But it’s Survivor Series that gives me warm nostalgic fuzzy feelings and leaves me with some brilliant wrestling memories.
In the spirit of those great memories, let’s take a look at my all-time top 10 Survivor Series moments, shall we?
10. The crowd has two words for DX…CM PUNK!! (Survivor Series 2006)
So I’m going to start this off with a purely self-indulgent pick. Those of you who have paid any attention to anything I’ve written for Wrestling101 at any point should know by now that I’m a HUGE CM Punk mark. Seriously, the dude walks on water in my eyes.
So imagine (if you will) how thrilled I was to be watching the run-up to Survivor Series 2006 as the rivalry between DX and Rated RKO exploded. With both teams captaining their own Survivor Series team and set to face off in a big way, I watched as the teams built up. Team RKO had Randy Orton, Edge, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and the man who provided part of my second favourite moment in this match, Mike Knox.
On Team DX we had Shawn Michaels, HHH, and the Hardy’s (THE FREAKIN’ HARDYS!! That was a fairly big deal at that point. Fast forward 5 years and…well…we’ll save that for another article shall we?), then they revealed CM Punk as their 5th man, and I damn near exploded. I couldn’t help but think “this is it, this is my favourite guy getting his big push” (okay, so I was wrong-ish, but whatever).
So it came to the actual match, the intros happened, DX start into their little “Are you ready?” bit, and how does the crowd respond? With a humongous “CM PUNK!” chant that even made Hunter raise an eyebrow. And you know what, I was joining in with them chanting along from my sofa. Punk got to deliver the “Are you ready?” line, and I got to mark out like any wrestling fan should every once in a while.
The other reason this match makes it into my top 10 is the opening 5 seconds. Who can forget Shawn Michaels superkicking Mike Knox, pinning him, then asking who he was? Just a great start to an awesome match.
9. 10 Teams square off (Survivor Series 1988)
This is one of the first Survivor Series’ that I was lucky enough to be able to rent on VHS from our local corner shop when I was a little kid. I must’ve rented this tape about 15 times, and this match is one of the reasons why. I’ve always had a soft spot for tag teams, so when all my favourites (and some I hated) got together in the same ring for the same match, it was everything I wanted.
A “veritable sea of humanity” (Yay! Jesse Ventura quotes!) swarmed around the ring. Demolition, The Bolsheviks, The Brainbusters, The Fabulous Rougeaus, and Las Conquistadors faced off against The Powers of Pain, The British Bulldogs, The Rockers, The Hart Foundation, and The Young Stallions. Just take that list in. Add to that Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Hart, and Bobby Heenan prowling around at ringside, and that right there should be a spectacular match. (How brilliant is it that there were at least 10 “proper” tag teams at that point for them to be able to do this?)
And it was. It was fairly fast-paced for nowadays, so for 1988 standards, they were going at a lightning rate. The match zipped along, allowing everyone to get some time in the ring instead of just concentrating on the same 4 guys. Everyone got to showcase their moves and abilities (check out Dynamite Kid using a Tombstone Piledriver before it was a Tombstone Piledriver), and of course, there’s Dynamite Kid’s epically epic moustache. It’s worth going back to check out for that alone!
Sure the end was a little bit flakey with the weird double turn of Powers of Pain and Demolition (the crowd didn’t really get it, because they didn’t have commentary attempting to spell it out to them), but as a whole the other 30-something minutes of the match is brilliant. Brilliant enough to make it my number 9 anyways.
8. It’s EDGE!! (Survivor Series 2008)
Triple H vs. Koslov. It sends a shudder down my spine just thinking about it. Do you remember when WWE was pushing Koslov to the moon? Even though he was…well…dire, let’s be honest. Despite having less charisma than almost every other living thing on God’s Green Earth, somehow Survivor Series 2008 was set to have the main event of Triple H vs. Vladimir Koslov vs. Jeff Hardy, with the WWE Title on the line.
Only Hardy didn’t make it to the match. Earlier in the evening, Jeff was found unconscious in a stairwell after falling prey to a “mystery” attacker. So now Jeff was out and we were left with…Triple H vs. *sigh* …Vladimir Koslov.
And boy did this match bore the bejesus out of me. I mean Koslov…in the main event…with those headbutts. Yeesh. It got to the point where I was actually glad to see Vicki Guerrero come out (and so were the crowd from the sounds of things). Was Jeff healed up enough to take part in the match and finally claim his place as WWE Champion? With a scream of “He’s HERE!!” out comes…Edge? Sporting the second most stylish facial hair in this countdown (behind Dynamite Kid’s 1988 handlebar moustache, natch), the Rated-R Superstar was back, and to blatantly steal one of the most run out lines in wrestling commentary, business was about to pick up.
This was good…no it was better than good, it was EXCITING! The last thing anyone expected was an epically bearded Edge to come Incredible Hulk-esque stomping down to ringside, slide in, and spear the holy hell out of Triple H! Edge gets ready to make the cover and snatch the title away from Hunter (and the Russian I guess, but that was just never gonna happen, was it?)…
BAM. JEFF. FREAKIN’. HARDY. Bandaged and bruised from his earlier exertions, and the pop he got from the crowd was IMMENSE! He takes Edge down and pummels him, before sliding out of the ring like a man possessed, snatching up a ring chair and looking to go do some damage. Hardy shoots back into the ring, with Edge in his sights…lines up the shot…and BLATT!! Accidentally blasts Hunter in the face as Edge drops out of the way. Hardy lays the steel to Koslov for good measure, before turning around to look for Edge, only to find himself on the receiving end of Spear for his troubles. Edge pins Hunter as everyone else lays around in varying degrees of damage, and seals the deal. The Ultimate Opportunist strikes again, and makes a match I thought was gonna be the drizzling shizzles into one of my favourite ever Survivor Series moments.
7. The first-ever Elimination Chamber (Survivor Series 2002)
Now…this was BIG. Back when the Brand Split was at it’s most competitive, then Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff promised the fans something special for Survivor Series, something that would outdo even the ominous Hell in a Cell. And the Bisch did not disappoint. This was the very first time we fans got the chance to lay eyes on the imposing structure of the Elimination Chamber, and it certainly was imposing. Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Kane, Shawn Michaels, and Heavyweight Champion Triple H were to clash with the gold on the line, and become infamous as the first men to brave the insides of the terrifying chained nightmare.
What we tend to forget when watching this match now is that this was the first time any of those tried and tested Chamber spots were performed. Just think about some of the things that happened in that match. Rob Van Dam springboarding Spectacular Spiderman style to cling to the chain-link wall. The 5-Star Frog Splash from the top of a pod. Kane throwing Jericho through the Plexiglass screens. Everyone getting thrown out of the ring and onto a level STEEL PLATFORM. None of this had happened before, and watching it through at the time it was amazing. All 6 men in this match worked their butts off to make this debut of the chamber work, and every single one of them sold it like it had absolutely killed them.
You have to give props to Shawn Michaels, with the Elimination Chamber being (as JR repeatedly told us on the night) Michaels’ second match in 4 years. Coming back from a seemingly career-ending injury, Shawn threw himself into this match, not shying out of taking the same punishment as the rest of the men involved. In fact, for a man who thought SummerSlam may well be his big send-off, Michaels looked like he hadn’t missed a step.
The First-Ever Elimination Chamber makes it onto the list not just for the gimmick itself, but because was a solid hour of 6 guys beating the hell out of each other, with Michaels’ title win cementing his return and giving us all the fuzzy happy ending we all love so much.
6. The debut of The Undertaker (Survivor Series 1990)
In at number 6, it’s Survivor Series 1990, and Dusty Rhodes’ Dream Team squaring off against Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Team. What made this interesting in the lead up is that the final member of Ted Dibiase’s team was a set to be a “mystery partner” (oooooooh). For weeks leading up to the event, rumours abounded as to who this mysterious man may be, with the Million Dollar Man remaining tight-lipped throughout.
The night of Survivor Series rolls around, and finally, Ted Dibiase announces his mystery fourth man…the Undertaker. Imagine if you will a time that Howard Finkel announces “The Undertaker”, and the crowd reacts with a “who?”. That only happened once, because after this match EVERYBODY knew who the Undertaker was. Brother Love’s newest client stalked down to the ring, his funeral dirge music stunning most of the crowd into silence. Then once in the ring, he quickly (VERY quickly) eliminated Koko B. Ware, once again to the shock of everyone in attendance.
Realistically, ‘taker didn’t do a lot in this match, but his sheer size and look made him massively memorable from the moment he stepped from behind that backstage curtain. The WWF also did fantastically well at protecting the Undertaker from his very first match, not allowing him to be eliminated under normal circumstances, but instead booking the Undertaker to essentially eliminate himself by getting counted out whilst attacking Dusty Rhodes.
The debut of the Undertaker has to feature here for the “oh sweet Jesus, what the hell is that?” factor when I first laid eyes on him as a kid. Besides without this moment, we wouldn’t be able to have…
5. “HULKAMANIA IS DEAD!” (Survivor Series 1991)
Exactly one year after his debut, The Undertaker once returned to Survivor Series, but this time he was more than Ted Dibiase’s hired help. This time around The Undertaker would be challenging for the prestigious WWF Title, held by none other than prayer saying, vitamin eating fan favourite Hulk Hogan. The match became dubbed “The Gravest Challenge”, and at the time I don’t think anyone at school thought Hulk Hogan would lose. Surely Hulk Hogan could triumph where so many others had failed, and finally stop the Death Valley Demon from snatching away the WWF Title? Personally, I was far more enamoured with the participation of “The TRUE World Champion” Ric Flair.
Watching this back now, I love this angle. Flair turned up with “his” World’s Heavyweight Title (which was intriguing because of always being blurred out), and called out Hulk Hogan on an episode of the Funeral Parlour. Hulkster starts hulking up on Flair, only for the Undertaker to appear menacingly from a coffin in the set, and cream Hogan in the head with his urn.
The match itself is great, especially the cameramen catching so many scared and shocked looking kids during ‘Taker’s entrance. Fans watched in awe as Hogan tried everything to top the Undertaker, but still, the Deadman kept on coming. Add to that commentary playing an absolute blinder, with Gorilla and Heenan selling the dominance of the Undertaker to the hilt. The ending was also exquisitely played out, with Paul Bearer distracting the referee for long enough to allow Flair to slide a chair into the ring. The Undertaker hits the Tombstone on the chair, and you can hear the glee in The Brain’s voice as he counts along one…two…three.
Go back and watch this. It’s a hoot. I maintain that Heenan’s last call of “HULKAMANIA IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE UNDERTAKER!” is one of the all-time great commentary moments. For me anyways.
4. The Corporate Champion is finally revealed (Survivor Series 1998)
As the…umm…well, crap theme song professed at the beginning of this PPV “It’s a Deadly Game”, and it was. Survivor Series 1998 was a 16-man tournament, with the winner walking out as the (well deserved) WWF Champion. Let’s get you up to speed on why they needed a tournament in the first place. Deep breath…
Back at Breakdown from that year Vinnie Mac screwed Austin out of the title, then decided to make the Undertaker vs. Kane match set for Judgement Day into a title match for the vacant strap. You think they’d be happy, but no, they break Vince’s ankle instead and put him in the hospital. The only guy to visit Vince is Mankind in one of my all-time favourite WWF/E moments, culminating in the introduction of Mr. Socko. Well…Austin visits too, but only to clock Vince in the head with a bedpan. As a thank you for his loyalty Vince awards Mick a battered and broken old title he dubs the “Hardcore Title”, which lasted waaaaaaay longer and became much more than anyone in the WWF expected.
At Judgement Day, Austin ends up as the referee and declares the match a no contest, with the title remaining vacated. Because of his refusal to crown a new champion, Vince fires Austin…for about 24 hours (see, they were running that schtick way before Cena and the Nexus.) Shane turns up on Raw, finally standing up to his Dad by awarding Austin a spanking new 5-year contract. Vince flips out, demotes Shane from his commentary position on Heat to a lowly referee, and decides to take his frustrations out on the rapidly rising “People’s Champion” The Rock.
So Mankind is Vince’s buddy, Vince has said Austin is winning the title “over his dead body”, and The Rock’s p*ssed at Vince and his associates for taking their frustration out on “The People’s Champion” (what else are you gonna do when you hate the people?). Okay? Caught up? Good. Because by the end of this PPV that’s all changed. 😀
This whole PPV was exciting stuff, with the power struggle and the multiple people who could have won this tournament making for compelling viewing. The first round began with Mankind easily beating Duane Gill (who had been billed as a “mystery opponent with record-setting win-loss record”). Austin took on Big Boss Man, which ended with Boss Man being disqualified for viciously beating Austin with a nightstick. The first round was closed out by The Rock, who was supposed to be facing Triple H, but when Hunter didn’t show, Gerald Brisco brought out Boss Man to face The Rock. For about 7 seconds. Rock quickly rolled up his opponent, eliminating him from the tournament for the second time that round.
With Steve Austin receiving a bye through to the semis due to X-Pac not being able to continue after the first round, the quarterfinals rolled around. We watched Undertaker and Kane fight, with Taker winning out. Mankind again had the “easiest” match, defeating Al Snow. And finally, in this round, we saw Rock vs. Ken Shamrock, where Boss Man would attempt to interfere again by trying to throw his nightstick to Shamrock, only for The Rock to catch it and use the weapon himself. No matter what the corporation tried, they just couldn’t eliminate the Rock from the tournament, much to the delight of the fans.
In the first semi-final, Mankind took on Austin, and now we were getting down to the nitty-gritty. The Corporation wanted Austin eliminated by any means necessary, and they threw everything at the Rattlesnake in this match. We had a Shane heel turn, Vince rising from his wheelchair, and Sgt Slaughter and Gerald Brisco attacking Austin with a chair. The match finished with Shane counting the pinfall on Austin, advancing Mankind though to the final, and leaving Austin to chase the fleeing Corporation from the arena, chasing down their limousine in his truck.
The second semi-final saw The Rock face off against The Undertaker in a great brawl that went outside of the ring, and out into the crowd. Again Boss Man attempted to get involved in this match, just to be knocked out by the Undertaker, who in turn found himself under attack from his brother Kane. The match ended with Kane chokeslamming The Rock, leading to Taker being disqualified and Rock advancing to the finals.
And this is what it all boiled down to. The People’s Champion vs. The (apparent) Corporate Champion, and they went at each other. I love this match, because it’s really the start of the whole Rock/Mankind saga, which was my most absolute favouritest thing in the whole of wrestling at the time. The match went back and forth…until an eerily familiar situation arose. The Rock locked the Sharpshooter on Mankind, only for Vince to run out to ringside and call for the bell. McMahon hands the title to The Rock, and finally, the penny drops. Mankind was just a pawn. A stooge that now takes yet another Rock Bottom and lays motionless in the ring as The Rock, The People’s Champion, celebrates with the very man who declared his utter hatred for the people. Surely this couldn’t be happening?
But it was, and it did. The Corporation was born, with the Rock installed as Corporate Champion, and the people felt rightly spurned by their former champion. Seriously, go back and watch as much of this whole angle as possible. It hasn’t lost any of its charm in the last 13 years, and still remains one of my favourite pay per views.
3. Stone Cold is hit by a car…for Da Rock. (Survivor Series 1999)
Dun dun duuhhh!! Who ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin? Yes folks, this was WWF’s attempt to do their own “who shot JR” (that’s a Dallas reference, not Jim Ross), as a way to allow Austin to recover from accumulated injuries, and it was pretty damned cool. I mean sure the PPV ended with the Big Show as champion, and had a match featuring the Mean Street Posse (yikes…Pete Gas), but no-one remembers that.
What everyone remembers is Austin being interviewed backstage, only for Triple H to interrupt and bait the Rattlesnake out into the parking lot. Stone Cold’s looking for that “little b*stard”, when a car careers through the gates, and ploughs in to “Austin” (so it’s a stuntman, come on, suspension of belief and all that jazz), leaving Stone Cold unconscious on the concrete floor.
This was sold so well by commentary who played shocked and speechless fantastically, and it was a brave move by the bookers to allow it all to play out and to watch the whole scene as medics loaded Austin into the ambulance. You just didn’t see things like that in the middle of PPV, it was more of a TV segment, but perhaps that’s what made it feel special. The fact they’d dedicate 10+ minutes of valuable PPV time to this angle showed they were going to push this angle in a big way.
And boy did they play this angle out. For a solid year, Mick Foley hunted the culprit, the finger falling on several superstars, but all evidence starting to point towards now champion The Rock. It finally ends with the assailant being revealed as…Rikishi? Okay, I didn’t really get that either, and the promo Rikishi delivered as the big reveal…it wasn’t one of the greats of our time, let that be said. Turns out he “did it for The Rock” to teach the WWF a lesson for keeping the coloured brothers down. Huh. Underwhelming, but it did lead to Triple H being revealed as the mastermind after all, reigniting the feud between the Rock and Triple H (which is always awesome), and leading to Austin gaining his revenge by dropping Triple H from 30ft upside down in a limo a year later. As is tradition.
2. The Montreal Screwjob (Survivor Series 1997)
THE SCREWJOB IS ONLY NUMBER TWO?! Yeah, I hear you, but I don’t care. This is MY favourite Survivor Series moments, and sorry, but this is only number two to me.
Surely I don’t have to explain this to you? As a loose “Cliff Notes” version for folks not in the know (shame on you), here’s what went down. Bret Hart wants to go to WCW, but Vince is concerned as Bret is the current WWF Champion. Vince wants Bret to drop the title at Survivor Series, in Montreal, Canada. Bret says he doesn’t want to drop the belt in Canada, so he’ll drop it the following night on Raw. Vince gets veeeery nervous, as he’s already had the Women’s Title turn up on WCW and get dumped in a trash can by Medusa/Alundra Blayze. Cue the match.
If you haven’t seen anything to do with this, one, do you live under a rock or something? Two, go and look it up, this is one of those vital parts of wrestling history that every wrestling fan should have at least a slight knowledge of. This is where the rules of the game changed. For years wrestlers had been able to attempt to hold up promoters for more money etc., but never before have the promoters pushed back in such a public way.
Contrary to what certain people say, during the match Vince did screw Bret. He stopped the match early and handed the title to Shawn Michaels, fact. But Bret didn’t really do himself any immediate favours by spitting in McMahon’s face (which admittedly was fantastic to watch). In Vince’s own weird way, he thought he was doing what was best for the company (which ultimately did work wonders for the WWF).
This is also where “Vince McMahon” was born, and things have never been the same since. This was when the boss finally had the ability to be “visible” on TV. And Vince did what all the greats do, he just took his own personality and amplified it to become this evil, twisted, vindictive, conniving character (some may say not much of a difference from “real” Vince, but that’s the beauty of the character).
This is a classic wrestling moment and should be the kind of thing that each generation of wrestling fans should be made aware of. Absolutely essential viewing.
So, are you ready to see what my favourite Survivor Series moment is? Here we go…
1. Owen Screws Bret (Survivor Series 1994)
I see you all looking at me like, “THIS is number one?”. Yes, yes it is. To me, as a kid, this was such an epically epic drama unfolding before my eyes. I sat through the entire match on tenterhooks, and then the ending…goddamn that ending.
For those not in the know, Owen and Bret had a spectacular falling out at the previous year’s Survivor Series when Owen was the only Hart eliminated in his family’s match against the King and his Knights (doing worse than Bruce Hart is when you KNOW you’re in trouble :P). Owen blamed Bret, and swore to set out to prove himself the better of the Hart brothers. And for a year Owen seethed and fumed, the whole time silently plotting the eventual downfall of his much-loved brother, Bret.
While all this was occurring Bob Backlund went crazy. Like, crazy-ape-nuts-bat-sh*t crazy (it’s a technical term). He competed in an old school vs. new school match against Bret Hart, which Bret won. As Hart offered Backlund a handshake, Bob snapped and placed Bret in the Crossface Chickenwing, screaming like a lunatic while he did. And so began Bob Backlund being a full-blown nut, who was prone to IED before IED was cool (take THAT Randy Orton). Part of Backlund’s rage was focussed on his belief that he was never pinned or forced to submit when he lost his title.
(Quick history lesson: Bob Backlund is a former WW(W)F Champion (1978-1983), who lost the title to the Iron Sheik (Yay!!) when Bob’s manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel to protect Backlund from further injury.)
Bob Backlund’s rage sessions were made so much better by him seemingly being horrified by his own actions when he finally snapped out of his “episode”. This crazy new Backlund was finally granted another shot at the WWF title, this time at Survivor Series in a submission match that could only end when the competitor’s respective cornermen literally threw in the towel. Bret chose his brother-in-law British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith as his cornerman, while Backlund chose the one person he knew would not throw in the towel, Bret’s brother Owen.
The match went down with Owen living up to his promise of not throwing in the towel for Backlund, even when Bret had Backlund locked into the Sharpshooter in the centre of the ring. In fact this is where it turned from a match for me into something magical. Owen hits the ring, bulldogging Bret and breaking up the Sharpshooter, only to be chased out by Bulldog. Owen dodges the charging Davey Boy, and watches as Bret’s cornerman knocks himself out cold on the steel ring steps. When Bret comes over to see what’s occurring, he finds himself locked into the Crossface Chickenwing by Backlund, who has once again snapped.
Bret is in agony from the painful hold, but has no cornerman to throw the towel in for him, so Backlund keeps the hold locked on. Minutes tick by with Bret remaining in the hold, and still the Bulldog is unconscious on the outside of the ring. This is where the magic happens. Owen seemingly has some kind of epiphany, showing serious concern for his brother’s well being. The prodigal Hart appears to break down at ringside, pleading for someone to throw the towel in and stop the torment his brother is being put through. In desperation, Owen turns to his mother and father, Stu and Helen Hart, who have been watching the whole thing from the front row. Owen begs and pleads with his parents to do the right thing, even encouraging them to ringside and placing the towel in his mother’s hands. The microphones catch Owen saying “He’s my brother”, and “I never meant for this to happen”, looking to the whole world like he’s finally realised the error of his ways. Suddenly his Mom decides she can’t take this anymore, snatches the towel from Stu’s hand and throws it into the ring. The crowd falls silent, none of them really sure that what has just happened. Then the referee confirms it for us, Bob Backlund is the new WWF Champion.
But that’s not so bad, because we’re finally about to see the Hart family reunited, right? We’re going to see Owen go to his brother, and console him in this most difficult of moments, right?
Hell to the no! What does Owen do? He throws his hands up like he’s just won the title himself, then runs off backstage as quickly as possible, leaving his parents just as shocked and stunned as everybody else in the audience. This was proper “Cain and Abel” stuff here, the tale of two brothers locked in a titanic struggle (and a crazy old man who just wanted to be champion again), and it’s my most favourite Survivor Series moment ever.
So there we have it, that’s my top 10, but what about those moments that almost made it in, or those that are so terrible they have to be mentioned? We’ve got to give special mentions to such great moments as:
> The birth of the Gobbledy Gooker (Survivor Series 1990)
For months WWF television had a mysterious egg featured. At Survivor Series it hatched. It was Hector Guerrero in a turkey costume. Yeesh.
> Chuck Norris as Special Guest Enforcer (Undertaker vs Yokozuna Survivor Series 1994)
Undertaker and Yokozuna were set to square off in a casket match. Only one man could possibly take control of that situation. Chuck F’in Norris. Ask Jeff Jarrett, you do not mess with Chuck Norris.
> Heidenreich Meets Snitsky (Survivor Series 2004)
Two men grunt at each other. One loves the other’s poetry. One loves what the other does to babies. For one awkward moment, it looks like they might kiss. Priceless.
That’s all folks, but don’t forget there’s a great big comment box down there that’s got your name on it. Think I’ve missed something? Think I’ve picked something laughable? Let me know. Do it here, or if you like, do it on the forums over at TalkWhateverOnline.com, either way, I‘m interested to hear your thoughts.
Until next time wrestling fans!