16th Sep2020

Ten Best: Survivor Series Matches in History

by Chris Cummings

Well, Royal Rumble has passed us by, WrestleMania is in the distance, SummerSlam is in the rear-view, and so it leaves that final member of the original “Big Four” WWE shows left for the year, with Survivor Series on the horizon for this November. I thought, then, that it might be fun to go back through the annals of Survivor Series history and pluck out ten of the very best matches from the event. Now, this wasn’t going to be a cake-walk. It wouldn’t be easy, afterall, there have been hundreds of matches at the event since its inception back in 1987. Still… I like a challenge, and I like pro-wrestling, so here we go. The ten best (in my modest little view at least) matches in Survivor Series history.

10) The Hart Foundation, The Islanders, The Dream Team, Demolition & The Bolsheviks vs. Strike Force, The British Bulldogs, The Killer Bees, The Young Stallions & The Rougeaus – Survivor Series 1987

Who doesn’t love a big, big, big ole multi-team tag extravaganza? Nobody! Nobody doesn’t love that, that’s who! This is a highlight reel of WWF 80s tag teams, with some of the best duos of the era competing in a really bloody enjoyable fray. A highlight of the early Survivor Series events, it’s one I always enjoy going back and revisiting. Man, there were some fan-flippin-tastic tandems in 1987.

9) Diesel vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Survivor Series 1995

Yes… I’m also surprised to see Kevin Nash in a top ten list that doesn’t also include the words “injuries” or “backstage politicking”. This was, in my view, Nash’s best match during any of his runs in WWE, which makes sense as seen as his dance-partner was the best there is, was or ever will be. Hart drove the match, but Diesel held his own, and it turned out to be a really good battle between two headliners at a time when WWE was really struggling to gather new viewers and ratings. 1995 wasn’t the best of years for Vince McMahon, but this event, and this match especially, was actually a damn fine one. Yes, this will be the last time you see Kevin Nash on this list.

8) Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff – Survivor Series 2003

Chris Jericho, Christian, Mark Henry, Randy Orton and Scott Steiner teamed up for Eric Bischoff, to take on Steve Austin’s team of Booker T, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam. This was an almost half-hour elimination bout that showed us just why the traditional Survivor Series matches are still so damn good, and work so well to tell stories and to build up stars. This was a nicely times and paced match that allowed most of the talents a chance to shine. It also highlighted the Bischoff/Austin rivalry that had been dominating Raw TV for weeks. Fantastic.

7) Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan – Survivor Series 2018

I wasn’t expecting much from this 2018 scrap between WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, fresh into his heel run, and Universal Champ, Lesnar. It was gonna be a Lesnar squash, right? Bryan would be slammed a few times and pinned? No. That didn’t happen. Instead, we got an entertaining 19 minute battle in which Bryan used his diminutive size and technical prowess to try to out-work Lesnar, who used his power and brutality to counter Bryan’s attacks. It was a really fantastic way to have a fresh take on David vs. Goliath, and Lesnar’s best match, in my view, since his return to WWE back in 2012.

6) Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – Survivor Series 1992

We all know where this rivalry ended up. Yea, that match from 1997, as good as it was at first, isn’t on this list because of what happened. Still… they had some damn good bouts before things went sour, and one of those was an early scrap in 1992. Shawn was in the early stages of his singles run, and Bret was also only a year or so into his time as a singles star. The two mixed it up in a really entertaining back and forth match with the classic bad guy and the classic hero. Their chemistry was obvious back here, it’s just a shame that they didn’t get along more and have more great matches together in their careers.

5) Team Piper vs. Team Flair – Survivor Series 1991

The opening contest at Survivor Series 91, this 23 minute traditional elimination match was a real who’s-who of the era’s top and mid-card. Roddy Piper led his teammates, Bret Hart, The British Bulldog and Virgil, to go to battle with Flair and his teammates The Mountie, The Warlord and Ted DiBiase. The classic heels against the beloved babyfaces. Flair bumped around like a legend. Piper hit his crowd-pleasing spots. The crowd loved it, and I still love it too, all these years later. The show, overall, wasn’t brilliant, but it sure did have a wonderful start here.

4) Team Alliance vs. Team WWF – Survivor Series 2001

Say what you will about the “Invasion” angle. I lived through it as a fan, and yes… it was disappointing, but at the time it was still must-watch television. It could have been better and felt bigger and had a result that was better for the future of WWE (and WCW as a brand), but all that aside, this match from November 2001 was still a blast. Team Alliance, compiled of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, RVD, Booker T and Shane McMahon, took on Team WWF, made up from members The Undertaker, The Rock, Kane, Chris Jericho and The Big Show. It was a star-studded affair that the live crowd ate up like Chef Boyardee Overstuffed Ravioli. It had heel turns, face turns, signature spots, comedy and intensity. It was, regardless of the overall angle it was part of, a great example of WWF at its entertaining best.

3) Edge & Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Los Guerreros – Survivor Series 2002

I mean, just look at this array of talent. Three WWE Hall of Famers. One shoe-in for the HOF in the future. One of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time. This is a real treat of a match, and each team brought their best. I remember re-watching this contest many times back then, and revisiting it 18 years on… it still holds up. The chemistry of these guys was off the charts, and they put on a spectacle of a three-way tag encounter. If you watch any tag match from Survivor Series history that isn’t one of the traditional elimination contests, make it this one.

2) Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Kane vs. Booker T – Elimination Chamber Match – Survivor Series 2002

The first ever Elimination Chamber match is still, for me anyway, the best one to have happened. Featuring six of the most popular stars of 2002, it was a thrilling brawl from opening bell to closing clang. Aside from Triple H suffering a really awful esophagus injury after RVD landed a frog-splash on his throat, this was a bloody delight. The match ended with the recently-returned Shawn Michaels picking up a big win and becoming the new World Champion. Fantastic stuff.

1) Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Survivor Series 1996

1996 wasn’t, by all accounts, the greatest year in WWE, but there were still some bloody delightful moments and matches in that twelve month period. One of those shining examples was this beautiful technical powerhouse of a battle between Bret Hart and Steve Austin. Hart was returning from a hiatus, and Austin was crawling up the crowd after winning King of the Ring in June, and the stars aligned to bring us the first bout in the legendary rivalry between “The Hitman” and “Stone Cold”. This was a masterpiece of in-ring action. The heroic and masterful Hart facing the antagonising heel, Austin. The two mixed it up in one of the best wrestling matches of that decade to create a match that still, to this day, lives up to expectations. It is, in this writers’ view, the best match in Survivor Series history.
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So there it is. The ten best matches in Survivor Series history. Will the 2020 Survivor Series replace one of these bouts? I hope so, but until then, head onto the WWE Network or your DVD collection and stick on these matches. Be safe.

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