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Top 5 traditional Survivor Series matches

The pay-per-view has brought some classic matches as well as some iconic moments.
The pay-per-view has brought some classic matches as well as some iconic moments.
Ray Tang

Survivor Series is the second longest running WWE Pay-per-view (only behind WrestleMania) with over thirty events to date. One of the key matches for this pay-per-view is a traditional ‘Survivor Series Elimination match’, where two opposing teams have to eliminate their opponents one wrestler (or tag team) at a time until all the wrestlers from a team have been eliminated. With the exception of 1998, there have always been at least one of these Survivor Series elimination matches (or some equivalent) every year.

These types of matches can be quite difficult to pull off on an actual night for many reasons. For instance, much like a battle royal, there can be too much going on at once for the audience to be able to keep up, there can be talented wrestlers that aren’t given the time to show their strengths, or they may simply run on too long.

However, there are a handful of matches that have worked around these pitfalls to become instant classics and have set the bar for any future matches that WWE plan to do in the future for one of their oldest pay-per-view events.


#5 Survivor Series 2016 – Team Raw Vs. Team SmackDown (Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination Match)

This match was a perfect re-introduction to a 10-on-10 Survivor Series elimination match.
This match was a perfect re-introduction to a 10-on-10 Survivor Series elimination match.

Survivor Series 10-on-10 tag team elimination matches are very rare to see, with a total of only three matches having ever taken place in the pay-per-view history. Although tag team elimination matches were introduced in the earlier editions of the pay-per-view, there was a noticeable twenty-five-year gap (1989-2015) before they were brought back to Survivor Series 2016.

What made this match confusing is that the lineups for both brands felt very contrived. Many of these tag teams had little to no impact on the tag team roster (e.g The Shining Stars, The Hype Bros) and when Breezango got eliminated within the first minute of the match, it had appeared that the match wouldn’t live up to the expectation and that bringing back a Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination match would end up being a disastrous afterthought.

However, this match then threw the WWE Universe into shock when The New Day, a team that was the second longest reigning Tag Team champions at the time of the pay-per-view, were eliminated moments later.

This then left eight teams with over half of them never having accomplished a Tag Team title together. However, their lack of accolades didn’t represent their abilities on the night as it was packed with high-flying and well-executed tag team combinations.

The match eventually boiled down between Sheamus and Cesaro against The Usos, which Sheamus and Cesaro just squeezed out a victory for Team Raw after one of the toughest fights of their career as a tag team.

Since this match, three of these tag teams captured a Tag Team Championship within a few months, confirming that this match was not only a match to remember but also that the tag team division was once again at an all-time high.

#4 Survivor Series 2014 – Team Cena Vs. Team Authority

Ziggler reigned supreme overcoming a 3 on 1 disadvantage.
Ziggler reigned supreme overcoming a 3 on 1 disadvantage.

Combining The Shield, Randy Orton and Kane and led by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, The Authority was hands-down one of the most dominant stables in the last ten years. However, for all of the wrestlers that they could recruit, there was one they couldn’t – John Cena.

This was the reason for this match happening with significant consequences for either team – if The Authority lost, they would be removed from power, but if Cenas’ teammates lost, they would have been fired.

As the stakes were so high for this match, it is easy to see why each team had one common goal and unlike many Survivor Series matches, there were actually no in-team problems - until the night itself.

When it was down to 3-on-3, Big Show turned on his own team by attacking Cena and aligning himself with The Authority, which left Dolph Ziggler facing three remaining members of Team Authority.

As Ziggler managed to get it down to a 1-on-1 with ‘The Man’ Seth Rollins, the match turned on its’ head multiple times with Ziggler thwarting many of The Authority’s tactics. This match concluded when Triple H attacked Ziggler and a crooked referee came out to do the count before Sting made his long-awaited debut in the WWE, ultimately giving Dolph Ziggler one of the most shocking Survivor Series elimination match endings ever.

#3 Survivor Series 2003 – Team Bischoff Vs. Team Austin

Bischoff's team eventually stands tall.
Bischoff's team eventually stands tall.

The power struggle between Eric Bischoff and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the control of Raw was brewing for several months when Austin was announced as Co-General Manager of Raw despite Bischoff being the general manager for just under a year.

This eventually led to a showdown at Survivor Series 2003, where if Austin had lost, he would have to step down as co-general manager, but if he had won, the restriction ban that Linda McMahon put upon Austin where he wasn’t allowed to attack any wrestler unless he was provoked would be lifted.

The importance of this match to the WWE Universe was highly significant because if Austin lost, it was clear that it would be the end of an era, but if Austin won, his mere presence on the roster could have turned the company in a completely different direction.

Eric Bischoff assembled a team consisting of Chris Jericho, Scott Steiner, Christian, Mark Henry and Randy Orton, whilst Austin had Booker T, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boyz and Shawn Michaels, which eventually came down to a 3-on-1 in Bischoff’s favour. The fact that Stone Cold’s last member, Shawn Michaels, was covered in blood, made it look like this match could only end one way.

However, Michaels is called ‘The Showstopper’ for a reason and eventually fought back to a 1-on-1 against Randy Orton. Although Michaels eventually came up short due to Batista’s involvement, this still is one of the most memorable WWE Survivor Series elimination matches to date.

#2 Survivor Series 2016 – Team Smackdown Vs. Team Raw

Shane McMahon lands an elbow drop in order to incapacitate the Monster among Men.
Shane McMahon lands an elbow drop in order to incapacitate the Monster among Men.

With the ever-expanding roster of the main shows and NXT going from strength to strength, the WWE draft in July 2016 that made superstars exclusive to Raw or Smackdown was inevitable.

After the draft, there was only going to be a limited amount of interaction between these two sides and only had one brief confrontation on the go home show of Raw before they slugged it out for bragging rights on Survivor Series.

However, this didn’t stop them pulling off an absolutely spectacular main event on the night. What took place was a fifty plus minute classic (which also holds the record of the longest ever match that has ever taken place at Survivor Series), between the two brands.

SmackDown’s team consisted of AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt and Shane McMahon, whilst Team Raw had Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens.

Despite neither team gaining a clear advantage in the first fifteen minutes, the first breakdown came when AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose imploded on each other causing Strowman to take control and eliminate Ambrose.

However, Ambrose would eventually seek revenge later by coming back into the match and aligning with his former Shield brothers to deliver a triple powerbomb on the announce table to AJ Styles.

This match showed us that gold is more personal then bragging rights, a brotherhood is more important than a match and how no referee in the world would have been able to control this turbulent classic match.

#1 Survivor Series 2001 - Team WWF Vs. The Alliance

The rivalry match came down to these two icons.
The rivalry match came down to these two icons.

Although this match took place in November 2001, it was the culmination of a series of events starting on Raw nearly eight months prior when Shane McMahon told Vince McMahon he had purchased WCW from under his own father.

While we know they faced off at WrestleMania X-7, it seemed that this match was the end of the feud. That was until WCW Champion Booker T interfered in the King of the Ring in June and attacked Stone Cold Steve Austin, (the catalyst for the pay-per-view Invasion the following month).

Several months of chaos between the two teams had followed which ultimately lead to a ‘Winner-take-all’ in a traditional Survivor Series elimination match, where the losers had to disband.

The Alliance had Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon representing them, whilst the WWF had The Rock, Chris Jericho, Undertaker, Kane and The Big Show.

The teams were stacked with talent - with the exception of Shane McMahon, all of the participants were former World Champions in the WWF, WCW or ECW. While there was in-team fighting with both sides prior to this match, it appeared that everyone had put their personal problems to the side for one night.

During the match, the Alliance had found themselves with a 4-on-2 advantage against Team WWF, with the two remaining members, The Rock and Chris Jericho who had their own personal feud for the WCW World Championship title.

However, despite their own problems, the duo rallied and eventually found themselves on a 2-on-1 advantage only needing to eliminate Stone Cold - but a sneaky roll up led to The Rock and Stone Cold squaring off once again.

From here, Jericho then betrayed The Rock by attacking him before leaving the ring. However, it was ultimately Angle’s betrayal of The Alliance which gave Team WWF the win.

Whilst it can be argued that the WWF may have jumped the gun ending it without the likes of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Goldberg being a part of the Alliance (who all appeared on the show within the next 18 months), it is hard to ignore that the brilliance of the storyline leading up to this match and the quality of the wrestling ranks top in Survivor Series’ thirty year plus history.


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Edited by Nishant Jayaram

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