Sunday, 19 November 2017

Top Ten Matches from the First Ten WWE Survivor Series matches


It can't have escaped your attention that WWE Survivor Series 2017 is this weekend. 

With bouts like The Shield vs. The New Day and a hotly anticipated champion vs. champion encounter between AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar, this year's event is likely to prove that Survivor Series can indeed hold it's own with the other three members of the 'Big Four' when it comes to delivering great matches.

Yes, it's sad that Survivor Series should have to prove anything at all, but for this writer, it often feels as though it does.

As the last major -and I mean MAJOR- events of WWE's calendar, the show is usually overlooked in comparison to 'Mania, the 'Rumble, and Summerslam with many of its best moments destined to languish forever as 'forgotten classics.'

But hey, that's part of the reason Retro Pro Wrestling exists in the first place - to make sure that we don't forget those hidden gems that may otherwise go on unloved.

If you've been following along, you'll know that I've so far covered every WWE/WWF PPV from Wrestlemania 1 up to In Your House 13: Final Four which, nicely, means I've covered the first 10 instalments of the Survivor Series franchise.

To celebrate this weekend's event, I decided to revisit those first ten events and give you my pick of the top ten matches from the first ten Survivor Series shows.

This includes all matches, singles, tags, and traditional Survivor Series elimination bouts, and is based on nothing more than my own personal preference.

I'm not scoring on work rate, crowd reaction, or anything like that - if I loved the match for whatever reason, it goes in.

Don't agree with me? That's all good. Let me know in the comments what your favourite Survivor Series matches are from the first event in 1987 to the 10th event in 1996.

Ready? Let's do it.

10: Team Flair vs. Team Piper (Survivor Series 1991) 

Ric Flair, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Warlord and The Mountie VS. Rowdy Roddy Piper, The British Bulldog, Virgil and Intercontinental Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.



Survivor Series 1991 was a mostly terrible show that served as one long, dull commercial for another PPV - This Tuesday in Texas - set to take place just six days later.

The show gave us random crud like a match pitting Sgt. SlaughterJim DugganTito Santana and Kerry Von Erich on the same team against BerzerkerSkinnerHercules and Iron Sheik (as Col. Mustafa) and a weird six-man main event in which I.R.S teamed with The Natural Disasters to take on Big Boss Man and The Legion of Doom, but it did give us a few memorable moments.

It gave us the pre-Barber Shop break up of The RockersThe Undertaker's first WWF Championship win, and this match - the best thing on the card by a mile.

The match was notable for being the first time The Million Dollar Man had wrestled on a Survivor Series team that he wasn't the captain of, and also for stand out performances by The British Bulldog and Nature Boy himself.

Sure, things were spoiled by a convoluted ending in which everybody except for Ric Flair was disqualified - but up until that point, this had the makings of a fun match.

9: Macho Man Randy Savage & Mr Perfect vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair & Razor Ramon (Survivor Series 1992)


As everybody knows, the story goes that this was supposed to be Macho Man Randy Savage partnering with The Ultimate Warrior in their short-lived Ultimate Maniacs team before Warrior left the company with just a few weeks to go.

The WWF brain trust scrambled around to come up with a replacement and found the perfect one in Mr Perfect.

Not only did this work out great for the in-ring action, but it also made perfect kayfabe sense.

Announcers Vince McMahon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan reminded us that Perfect had once been Ric Flair's Executive Consultant and even vaguely referenced the fact that Hennig and Razor Ramon had once tagged together in the AWA, meaning he was the one guy who knew both opponents better than anyone on the roster.

Storyline aside, the quality of the match was impressive.

Other reviewers have likened it to a good, modern-day Raw main event, but I honestly think that does it an injustice.

Sure, this wasn't necessarily a classic, but it was a quality match in its own right, and one of only two on the entire Survivor Series 1992 card that is actually worth watching.

What was the other one?

Keep reading to find out.


8: 'Wild Card' Survivor Series Elimination Match (Survivor Series 1995)

Team Michaels (Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog, and Sycho Sid w/ Ted DiBiase)
vs.
 Team Yokozuna (Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas (w/ Mr. Fuji)



Honestly, the only reason that this one isn't higher is that Survivor Series 1995 pretty much dominates this list, and I wanted to give some of the other shows their due.

Here we have we have what was basically heels and faces on the same team. In kayfabe, this was a concept designed by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon to frustrate and punish heel manager Jim Cornette by putting members of his Camp Cornette stable on opposing teams, though in actuality, it was just a clever storytelling device that produced some terrific action.

Personally, I didn't enjoy this match quite as much as two others on this card, but that's like saying I didn't enjoy the sex I had one day as much as I did on two other days - even if it wasn't as good, it was still fantastic in its own right.

Weird, sexual analogies aside, this really was a fantastic match, going on for 30 minutes with plenty of action from all sides.

I'll say it multiple times in this review, but Survivor Series 1995 really was one of the best editions of this event to take place in the 1990s, and this incredibly exciting match is a big reason why.

7: Teamsters vs. Bad guys (Survivor Series 1994) 

The Teamsters (WWF Tag Team Champions Diesel and Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart and Jeff Jarrett) 
vs. 
The Bad Guys (WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, The 123 Kid, The British Bulldog and The Headshrinkers, Sione and Fatu, w/ Afa and Captain Lou Albano)


The 1994 Survivor Series was memorable for a number of reasons.

It was at this show that Bob Backlund wrestled in only his second WWF PPV singles match, beating Bret 'The Hitman' Hart for the championship in a lengthy and enjoyable submission match.

It was here that The Undertaker stuffed Yokozuna into a casket and effectively buried Yoko's main event run for good.

And it was also here the that the friendship between Shawn Michaels and Diesel would finally come to an end.

After first hiring the former Master Blaster as his body, the Heartbreak Kid had developed a friendship with the big guy that had seen the two capture the tag team titles.

Yet after one misplaced super kick too many, 7ft Diesel was beginning to get sick and tired of his smaller ally.

Tonight, things would finally come to a head when Diesel ate Shawn's boot for the third time and turned on both HBK and his teammates.

It was obvious that the whole match had been designed to solidify Diesel's face turn in preparation for a WWF Championship reign that would begin later that week (and end with another quality Survivor Series match that we'll get to later), but that's not to say that the other participants simply sat around and watched the Diesel and Shawn show.

Everybody got involved. Everybody excelled. Everybody worked hard to make this a show-stealing performance.

From the 123 Kid's early exchanges with Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, to Hart's duel with brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith, to the dramatic, Diesel-turning finale, everything about this was pure gold.

6: WWF Champion Diesel vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart (Survivor Series 1995) 


Like the Jindar Mahal of the 1990s, Kevin Nash's run with the WWF title throughout 1995 had been lacklustre at best. 

After a string of terrible main event title defences against the likes of Sycho Sid (In Your House 1), King Mabel (Summerslam 1995) and The British Bulldog (In Your House IV - a match I weirdly enjoyed), Vince McMahon had decided to pull the plug on his experiment and hand the title over to a more capable worker in AJ Styles Bret 'The Hitman' Hart. 

Bret and Diesel always worked well together, and tonight was no exception. 

The two went at it in a hugely entertaining match which -along with the Wild Card match and the opening undercarders bout- helped make Survivor Series 1995 one of the best Survivor Series cards of the 1990s, if not of all time. 

5: Ten Team Survivor Series Match I (Survivor Series 1987) 

The Hart Foundation (team captains), Demolition, The Islanders, The Dream Team and The Bolsheviks vs. Strike Force, The Killer Bees, The British Bulldogs, The Rougeaus and The Young Stallions.


The first Survivor Series in 1987 already presented what was then a radical new concept in Pay Per view wrestling.

Rather than ending feuds with a card packed full of singles and tag matches, teams of five would strive to survive on a show whose original purpose had been to rival the NWA's Starrcade.

Yet as different as it was, the true stand out, the one that looked unlike anything else we'd seen on TV up to that point was a huge, 20-man elimination match in which two sides comprised of five tag teams each would go at it in a fast-paced, action-packed bout that remains highly enjoyable to this date.

The 1980s really was the golden age of tag team wrestling in the World Wrestling Federation, and here we get some of the very best in the form of The Hart FoundationThe British BulldogsThe Fabulous Rougeaus and Demolition, all colliding in one huge match.

Sure, the sequel to this match that took place the following year at Survivor Series 1988 was technically better, but that's to take nothing away from this one - it was as unique as it was fun, and like everything else on this list, well worth checking out on the WWE Network.

4: WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series 1992)


Out of the three high profile Pay Per View main event matches that Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Shawn Michaels had together, this is the one that most frequently gets overlooked.

On the one hand, it's understandable.

After all, one of those three encounters was a never-done-before-on-WWF-PPV hour long iron man match, and the other was Survivor Series 1997, when, well, you know what happened there.

On the other hand, it's a shame that Hart/Michaels I gets overlooked because it's arguable -and I do mean arguably- the best bout of the three.

Lacking the overly-long time limit of their Wrestlemania 12 match and the controversial finish of Montreal, this Survivor Series 1992 main event was just a straight-up wrestling match that was vastly different from previous PPV main events.

Though neither man were quite at their peak, the champion vs. champion clash showed what both were capable of in a match which blew away everything else on the card by a mile.

3: Ten Team Survivor Series Match II (Survivor Series 1988) 

Team Demolition: WWF Tag Team Champions, Demolition, The Conquistadors, The Bolsheviks, The Brain Busters and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers VS. Team Powers of Pain: Powers of Pain, The Young Stallions, The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The British Bulldogs


The first Survivor Series also had a huge 20-man elimination bout that I've listed elsewhere, but despite the novelty value of such a match at the time, it wasn't quite as good as this all-out classic from the 1988 Survivor Series.

Abandoning the lightning-fast pace (for the 80s) that was set in the 1987 match, all ten teams took the time to really tell a story that was as compelling as it was dramatic.

Exchanges featuring The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Brain Busters were highlights of the action, though of course, the most famous moment from this one was the original double-turn:

Demolition became the good guys whilst Powers of Pain aligned themselves with Ax & Smash's now-former manager, Mr Fuji.

A fun classic which is still great fun to watch, even 20 years later.

2: Bret 'The Hitman Hart' vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Survivor Series 1996) 


Afer dropping the title to Shawn Michaels in their legendary Iron Man match at Wrestlemania 12, Bret Hart had taken a six-month leave of absence from the World Wrestling Federation.

Whilst he was gone, Stone Cold Steve Austin had begun to propel himself into the upper-echelons of the company hierarchy via a memorable, career-altering win at King of the Ring 1996 and countless entertaining performances between the ropes.

Not content with being one of the fastest rising stars in the company, Austin had decided that what he really needed in order to truly establish himself, was to lure Bret back from his sabbatical and into the ring.

The future champion spent months trying to coax The Hitman back to the WWF, even joining his former Hollywood Blondes partner Brian Pillman and Bret's brother Owen Hart in a boundary-pushing segment at In Your House 10: Mind Games to try and push Hart's buttons.

It worked.

Bret made his long-awaited return to the ring on November 17th at Survivor Series 1996 from Madison Square Garden in New York.

His opponent?

Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Though the two would have better matches (including that legendary submission match at Wrestlemania 13), the first in-ring meeting between the two was more than enough to prove why both men deserved to considered among the sport's all-time greatest.

Despite walking away with the win (countering Austin's Million Dollar Dream into a fluky-looking pin), Bret made Austin look like an absolute star.

Indeed, whilst the 'Austin 3:16' King of the Ring speech may have been the one 1996 Steve Austin most fans still remember best, it was this match with The Hitman that truly made Stone Cold a main event player.

1: The Underdogs vs. The Body Donnas (Survivor Series 1995) 

The Underdogs (Team Captain Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Bob Holly and Barry Horowitz) 
vs. 
The Body Donnas 
(Team Captain Skip, Rad Radford, Dr. Tom Pritchard and 123 Kid, w/ Sunny and Ted Dibiase)


Yes, I know what you're thinking.

This isn't championship material. Heck, it's barely even midcard material, but I unashamedly love this match in all its wonderful glory.

After a year of tension between 123 Kid and his best friend Razor Ramon, the man we'd later know as X-Pac had finally turned his back on the babyface locker room and aligned himself with Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Corporation.

This match was designed to help establish Kid as a star (he'd eventually win by beating former tag partner, Marty Jannetty), but it did so much more than that.

It took several midcarders with not much going on, put them together, and let them let loose.

When they did, the results were nothing short of incredible.

Technical wrestlng, high-flying, the odd spot of comedy, this one had it all, and was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish.

I get the feeling that because of the star power of its participants, this one often gets overlooked, but I dare you to watch it and not find it wonderfully entertaining.

Go on, I dare you.





Beg to differ? Got your own choices for the top ten matches from the first ten Survivor Series events?

Let me know in the comments below, or let's connect on Twitter - @RetroPwrestling.

You can also catch up on all my latest reviews on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page

Thanks for reading and enjoy Survivor Series! 

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.