Over more than three decades, the Survivor Series has been one of the most influential shows in the annual wrestling calendar.

 

Beyond the traditional Survivor Series elimination matches, legendary wrestlers and characters have debuted; championships have been contested; and grudge matches have been settled. Unlike many of the regular WWE shows, it's an event often designed with some sense of finality in mind.

 

In selecting the Top 50 Survivor Series Moments, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:

 

  • Whether it was a match, a sequence within a match, an interview or any other aspect, how memorable was it (or will it be) years later?

  • Did it have an impact on the WWE or the business altogether?

  • How likely are we to see it replayed in highlight reels or WWE documentaries for years to come?

  • Could it be considered it a major wrestling happening on its own?

 

If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.

 

Ready? Here we go!

50.

The Gobbedly Gooker debuts (1990)

While not a great gain to the wrestling industry, The Gobbedly Gooker was the culmination of a two month storyline over what would hatch from a giant egg. Fans were told it would hatch at the Survivor Series. Instead of getting a new competitor, we got Hector Guerrero in a bird costume dancing with Mean Gene.

48.

Battle of the General Managers (2005)

In the early days of the brand extension, SmackDown and Raw were constantly at odds, with General Managers Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff exchanging heated words. At the Survivor Series 2005, the two non-wrestlers had an actual wrestling match, with Long winning due to interference from... The Boogeyman.

46.

Kane makes his debut (1997)

A month earlier at the Badd Blood pay-per-view, Kane made his presence known, interfering in the main event. But at Survivor Series, The Big Red Machine had his very first match, competing against the deranged Mankind. Kane won the match in a brutal back-and-forth contest.

44.

The SmackDown Six series ends (2002)

The second half of 2002 was highlighted by a three-way tag team war between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, Edge and Rey Mysterio and Eddie and Chavo Guerrero. The teams had one big final encounter at Survivor Series, a match of the year candidate that Los Guerreros won, winning the tag team championship.

42.

The Rock and John Cena team up (2011)

The Rock and John Cena were already set for an epic clash at the following year's WrestleMania, but decided to team up to take out the troublemaking team of The Miz and R-Truth. With tension between them apparent during the entire match, Rock and Cena won handily, adding even more drama to their upcoming match.

40.

Big Poppa Pump arrives (2002)

Upon his WWE arrival, Scott Steiner was declared a free agent and was unclear whether he'd sign with Raw or SmackDown. This wasn't made clearer when SmackDown's Matt Hardy and Raw's Christopher Nowinski got together during an interview segment. Big Poppa Pump then cleared the ring of both men.

38.

Kane lays out Shane McMahon (2003)

Kane and Shane McMahon had waged a surprisingly-brutal war in the weeks leading up to their Ambulance Match, including vehicular injuries and electrocuted testicles. The match saw Kane deliver his tombstone to Shane O'Mac on the floor before he was taken away.

36.

Bob Backlund wins WWF Championship (1994)

Bob Backlund captured his second WWF World Heavyweight Championship at the Survivor Series in an I Quit match against Bret Hart. While Bret Hart didn't submit, Backlund's cornerman Owen Hart convinced his and Bret's parents to throw in the towel on behalf of Bret, stripping him of the WWF championship.

34.

Triple H turns on teammate (2017)

Triple H was leading Team Raw at the 2017 Survivor Series against Team SmackDown, although his allegiance to the group was questionable. At one point, The Game pedigreed teammate Kurt Angle and allowed SmackDown's Shane McMahon to pin him... before HHH pinned McMahon for the victory.

32.

RKO to Mark Cuban (2003)

During an in-ring segment, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff goaded Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban into the ring and challenged him to a fight. Cuban stood up for himself and shoved Bischoff out of the ring. But as Cuban turned around, Randy Orton delivered an RKO to the billionaire businessman.

30.

Control of the Raw on the line (2004)

Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Maven were pitted against Triple H, Batista, Edge and Snitsky with a match that carried an unusual stipulation: the winning team would gain control of Monday Night Raw for four consecutive weeks. The team of Orton, Jericho, Benoit and Maven won the match.

28.

CM Punk wins WWE Championship (2011)

Earlier in the year at SummerSlam 2011, Alberto Del Rio had cashed in his Money In The Bank title opportunity to snag CM Punk's newly-won WWE Championship. In the return match at Survivor Series, Punk withstood Del Rio's armbreaker and latched onto his Anaconda Vice to recapture the championship.

26.

Big Show wins WWF Championship (1999)

A few years earlier, The Big Show wasn't even considered championship caliber and was a last-minute entrant into the WWF World Title match that also featured The Rock and Triple H. And while no one expected Show to end up with the championship, that's exactly what happened at the end of the night.

24.

Sycho Sid wins WWF Championship (1996)

Shawn Michaels was defending his WWF World Title against former bodyguard Sycho Sid in Madison Square Garden, when Sid clocked Michaels's manager Jose Lothario with a television camera. Concerned about his manager's safety, Michaels was thrown off his game, and reliquinshed the championship to Sid.

22.

Hart vs. Michaels (1992)

Bret Hart had recently captured his first WWF World Title and it had happened so quickly, he didn't have an immediate program. Instead, he was paired with Shawn Michaels, who had recently won the Intercontinental Championship for the first time himself. It wouldn't be their last Survivor Series encounter....

20.

Reigns wins, loses WWE Championship (2016)

In a tournament to capture the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Roman Reigns defeated Alberto Del Rio and his best friend Dean Ambrose to capture the championship. The reign didn't last long, however, as Sheamus cashed in his Money In The Bank contract and dethroned Reigns.

18.

Chuck Norris and the Casket Match (1994)

1994 was bookended by casket matches featuring The Undertaker and Yokozuna. At Survivor Series, Chuck Norris served the special outside enforcer to neutralize the heels. When rulebreakers such as King Kong Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow tried to interfere, Norris held them back, and he delivered a kick to Jeff Jarrett.

16.

Austin gets vehicular revenge (2000)

One year later, Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to action and learned that Triple H had masterminded the entire scheme to take him out of the picture in 1999. Austin beat The Game to a pulp and then tracked The Game into the parking lot, used a forklift and dropped Triple H's car to the ground - with Triple H in the car!

14.

First Elimination Chamber match (2002)

The first-ever Elimination Chamber match took place at Survivor Series, with World Champion Triple H defending against Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Kane and the returning Shawn Michaels. HBK survived his first championship match in years, winning the title belt in Madison Square Garden.

12.

Owen turns against The Harts (1993)

The Hart Family was supposed to be aligned when they challenged Shawn Michaels (originally Jerry Lawler) and his Knights to a traditional Survivor Series match. Brothers Bret, Bruce and Keith were on the same page but the youngest brother, Owen Hart, rebelled against his entire family after being eliminated.

10.

Kurt Angle debuts (1999)

For weeks leading up to the Survivor Series, the WWF ran Kurt Angle vignettes, proclaiming him to be "the most celebrated REAL athlete in WWF history" and its only Olympic gold medalist. After instructing the fans not to boo an Olympic gold medalist, he made short work of his opponent, Shawn Stasiak.

8.

Sting debuts (2014)

After decades of working as a top star for the competition, Sting debuted in a WWE ring at the conclusion of the 2014 Survivor Series. Following a tense "dream match" staredown with Triple H, The Stinger's interference led to Dolph Ziggler winning for his team and Team Cena went on to topple Triple H's The Authority.

6.

The first Survivor Series main event (1987)

At the first Survivor Series in 1987, Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Ken Patera and Don Muraco battled Andre The Giant, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang, Rick Rude and Butch Reed. Surprisingly, Andre The Giant defeated Bigelow (not Hogan) to become the main event's Sole Survivor.

4.

The Gravest Challenge (1991)

Just one year after The Undertaker's Survivor Series debut, he was matched against WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan. The match took a turn when WCW defector Ric Flair came to ringside and slipped a chair to The Dead Man, who used it to tombstone The Hulkster and win his first WWF World Championship.

2.

Team WWF vs. Team Alliance (2001)

A year-long rivalry ended at the 2001 Survivor Series when Vince McMahon's Team WWF (The Rock, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, The Big Show and Kane) battled Shane McMahon's Team Alliance (Steve Austin, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle). The Rock won, keeping the WWF in business.

49

Four Doinks are better than one (1993)

Bam Bam Bigelow was sick and tired of Doink The Clown's antics, so he teamed with Bastion Booger and The Headshrinkers to take care of Doink and his three lookalikes. In the end, Doink had wringers - Men on a Mission and The Bushwhackers - dressed up in Doink costumes to take care of Team Bam Bam.

47.

Triple H vs. Ric Flair - Last Man Standing (2005)

Triple H and his former manager Ric Flair had met in several different types of encounters, but none as barbaric as their Last Man Standing match. A disgustingly bloody Flair took three straight pedigrees from The Game and kept getting up. A sledgehammer slot from Triple H put Flair down for good.

45

Wild Card match (1995)

The only "Wild Card" match in Survivor Series history took place in 1995, with the random grouping of Shawn Michaels, Sid, Ahmed Johnson and The British Bulldog against the unusual quartet of Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas. Michaels, Johnson and Bulldog won this unique tag team match.

43.

Champions vs. Champions (2017)

2017 began a Survivor Series tradition where Raw and SmackDown champions were pitted against one another in non-title matches. The first year for this sequence featured Brock Lesnar defeating AJ Styles, Charlotte Flair defeating Alexa Bliss, The Usos defeating The Bar and Baron Corbin going over The Miz. 

41.

Team DX has a clean sweep (2006)

It was one of the best overall Survivor Series teams on paper - Triple H and Shawn Michaels of D-Generation X paired with Matt and Jeff Hardy and CM Punk. And they lived up to their hype, with the entire group overcoming the team of Edge, Randy Orton, Gregory Helms, Mike Knox and Johnny Nitro.

39.

Batista lays out Rey Mysterio (2009)

The month prior at Bragging Rights, Batista turned heel on his friend Rey Mysterio and this was the first time they would meet in the ring. The Animal wanted to show he meant business, and did so by delivering a crushing spinebuster to Mysterio on top of a steel chair. Rey was then stretchered away.

37.

Lita retires (2006)

Lita defended her WWE Women's Championship against Mickie James at the Survivor Series and it was generally understood that Lita was retiring following the match. James won, naturally, but then Lita was further shamed when the members of Cryme Tyme auctioned off her personal belongings to the crowd.

35

The Powers of Pain, Demolition switch (1988)

It was a very confusing but memorable storyline when Demolition's longtime manager Mr. Fuji assisted his team's chief rivals The Powers of Pain. Soon, Warlord and Barbarian were heels and Ax and Smash were fan favorites, although it was difficult to understand that at the conclusion of the match.

33.

Bret Hart wins WWF Championship (1995)

Throughout the year, Bret Hart and Diesel had clashed but never with a conclusive finish. At the Survivor Series, the two had a no-disqualification match for Diesel's WWF World Title. After Diesel set Hart up for his patented jackknife powerbomb, Hart slipped away and turned it into a small package for the win. 

31.

SMW Tag Team Title match (1993)

This was not only the WWE pay-per-view of The Rock 'n' Roll Express, it was the only time that another promotion's title was defended on a WWF/E pay-per-view. The Express's opponents, The Heavenly Bodies managed to capture the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Titles in this inter-promotional match.

29.

WWF vs. WCW title unifications (2001)

As part of the WWF vs. Alliance theme at the 2001 Survivor Series, WCW United States Champion Edge defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Test to unify those titles, while WCW Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz defeated WWF Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz in a cage to unify the tag team titles.

27.

Big Show wins WWE Championship (2002)

Despite having a size advantage, The Big Show was seen as an underdog in his WWE Title match against Brock Lesnar. Even with Lesnar's ribs taped up before the match, it seemed like a mismatch. But what no one counted on was Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman turning on him and siding with The Big Show.

25.

Batista wins World Championship (2006)

In a case of life imitating art, Batista and King Booker had some backstage heat going into this Survivor Series match. This was also The Animal's last chance at the World Title if he was unsuccessful here. But outside interference from Queen Sharmell backfired and as a result, Batista came out of the match a champion.

23.

NXT shows up Raw and SmackDown (2019)

For the first time in history, NXT were able to compete alongside Raw and SmackDown at the 2019 Survivor Series in a series of Triple Threat matches. The womens NXT team, Roderick Strong and Shayna Baszler won their respective encounters, losing ony the mens NXT team match, demonstrating their dominance.

21.

Hart vs. Austin (1996)

Bret Hart was making his big return to the WWF following WrestleMania XXII, and handpicked Stone Cold Steve Austin as his first opponent. Their Survivor Series encounter, which Hart won, kicked off a six-month-long storyline in which Hart turned heel and Austin became the industry's single biggest fan favorite.

19.

Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff (2003)

Feuding Raw Co-General Managers Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff ended their feud at Survivor Series in 2003. Austin's team (Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boyz) lost to Bischoff's team (Chris Jericho, Christian, Mark Henry, Scott Steiner, Randy Orton), temporarily retiring Austin.

17.

Austin hit by a car (1999)

Stone Cold Steve Austin was all set to compete in a Triple Threat WWF Title match at the Survivor Series against Triple H and The Rock and was in the parking lot before the match when a mysterious car ran him over, leaving Stone Cold in no condition to drive, much less wrestle. Austin was out for about a year...

15.

The Undertaker buried alive (2003)

Vince McMahon looked to be an underdog when he challenged The Undertaker at Survivor Series in the rarely-seen Buried Alive match. The Dead Man dominated The Chairman for most of the match... until The Undertaker's estranged brother Kane helped Vinnie Mac bury The Phenom and win the match.

13.

The Match of Survival (1990)

The fourth Survivor Series was different in that the winners of each traditional Survivor Series match would face each other in a final Match of Survival. In The Match Of Survival, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Tito Santana took on the heel team of Ted DiBiase, Rick Martel, The Warlord and Power and Glory.

11.

Mega Powers overcome the odds (1988)

Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage had their work cut out for them when The Hulkster was handcuffed by rivals Akeem and The Big Boss Man. Manager Slick held the handcuff key, and some clever maneuvering by Miss Elizabeth allowed Hogan to uncuff himself in time and help win the match.

9.

The Rock debuts (1996)

The Rock's WWF career began at the Survivor Series 1996, where - as Rocky Maivia -  he teamed with Marc Mero, Jake The Snake Roberts and The Stalker (Barry Windham) against Jerry The King Lawler, Crush, Goldust and and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Maivia was the Sole Survivor, and in The Rock's  debut match, no less!

7.

The Undertaker debuts (1990)

The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase had purchased a "mystery partner" for his team to take on a squad captained by Dusty Rhodes. That person turned out to be The Undertaker, who made his WWF debut that night and quickly pinned Koko B. Ware, beginning an iconic run.

5.

The Corporate Champion (1998)

Just two years after his Survivor Series debut,  The Rock had gone from heel to babyface and was entered in the Survivor Series WWF Title Tournament. In the final round, The Rock was pitted against Vince McMahon's handpicked henchman Mankind, when Rock turned heel and became The Corporate Champion.

3.

Survivor Series shocker (2016)

The main event of last year's Survivor Series featured Brock Lesnar against Bill Goldberg, interesting because the two had last battled 12 years earlier in Goldberg's final WWE match. The rematch was heavily anticipated, and created a classic moment when Goldberg pinned Lesnar in 1 minute, 26 seconds.

1.

The Montreal Screwjob (1997)

The most controversial moment in WWE history, WWF World Champion Bret Hart was headed to WCW and was defending the belt against Shawn Michaels. Backstage, Hart refused to lose to Michaels and vice versa. As a result, Vince McMahon ordered the timekeeper to ring the bell while Hart was "trapped" in a submission, awarding the match and WWF championship to Michaels.

Learn More About Canadian Bulldog

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Email
Grappling Gamer logo.jpg
Wrestling Merchandise and Memories podca
Wrestling Historian Mike Rickard