Gimmick Some Lovin': The Survivor Series Match
A look back at this brand split's first show-vs-show clash at Survivor Series.
In each edition of Gimmick Some Lovin', we take a look at one iteration of a gimmick match available on the WWE Network. Some are iconic for their success, others for the extent to which they flopped, and some just... happened.
We defined a "gimmick match" as, in any way, adding a rule/stipulation to or removing a rule from a match, changing the physical environment of a match, changing the conditions which define a "win", or in any way moving past the simple requirement of two men/women/teams whose contest must end via a single pinfall, submission, count out, or disqualification.
We took a look at the first men's singles Survivor Series Match of the current brand split era, last year's semi-main event pitting Team Raw versus Team Smackdown! Live.
It's the Most Wonderful Match of the Year
Full disclosure: it's very difficult for me to be an impartial reviewer where this match type is concerned, because Survivor Series is my absolute favourite gimmick match-centred pay-per-view event (with the Royal Rumble a close second).
This is due, mostly, to the fact that the first wrestling VHS tape I ever purchased was the above 1990 edition of this event, which I bought for $2 in 1996 from a clearance bin at a video store in suburban Maryland. I'd only been a fan since the fall of 1995, and in my 11-year-old value-conscious mind, I couldn't possibly pass up that many amazing wrestlers appearing on the same tape.
That event is remembered for everything from the regrettable Gobbledygooker, to the unforgettable television debut of The Undertaker (in the immortal words of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "Lookit da size a' dat ham hock!"), to the unique Ultimate Survivor match, wherein the survivors of each of the night's preceding elimination contests teamed up for one last match
so that Hulk Hogan could close out the show to determine who was truly the Ultimate Survivor.
It's a card that is difficult to watch now, as is a lot of WWF wrestling from the era, because it lacks both the gritty punch of WCW/NWA wrasslin' of the era (like the War Games match we discussed yesterday) and the stellar moves of later years. It was an era of flash and style over substance (which defined the World Wrestling Federation for most of Vince K. McMahon's leadership) but, for sentimental reasons, it made the Survivor Series match type my favorite variation.
Apparently, though, this is one way in which Mr. McMahon and I differ wildly, as, since its incarnation, Vince soured greatly on the concept, gradually phasing it out from Survivor Series cards (like in 2002, where the closest thing to a true Survivor Series math was an elimination tables match, or the previously discussed 1998 Deadly Game edition, which featured a WWF Championship tournament but not a single elimination-style matchup).