Survivor Series is the most-maligned of the big five. While it’s often spectacular, it doesn’t quite hold the same dream-match, all-roads-lead-to-here prestige as WrestleMania or SummerSlam. And just like the Royal Rumble, it’s defined by a match type in the form of the annual elimination-tag which doesn’t generate nearly the same amount of hype for wrestling fans as the annual Rumble match does. In terms of the big four, it’s certainly bottom of the pile.
However, before we write Survivor Series off as a throwback destined for the chopping block let’s remember that there have been a number of truly excellent traditional Survivor Series elimination matches in the event’s thirty-year history.
Whether it’s a case of high stakes, great spots, star-power, unusual combinations of wrestlers that you often wouldn’t see working together or hey, why not all of the above, this collection exhibits the very best of Survivor Series warfare, with most of WWE’s eras represented.
Comparing a Survivor Series match of the modern era to a golden era bout, each period having its own unique booking hangups and agendas, has been fascinating. Hey, you’ll laugh, you’ll learn and at some point, even in matches that are considered classics, you wonder, “oh god why did they do that?!”
Speaking of which…
10. Team Flair Vs. Team Piper – 1991
Ric Flair, The Mountie, The Warlord & Ted DiBiase vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Virgil & The British Bulldog
This is a tricky one. On one hand, it featured six of the best workers of the early 1990s (also Virgil and The Warlord were there) going 20+ minutes, but on the other, it’s lumbered with one of the worst finishes in the history of the five-on-five.
Let’s start with the positives. Flair was in the WWF! This was The Nature Boy’s first PPV and he was mixing it up with Roddy Piper of all people. Isn’t that nice? It was a dream meeting of two of wrestling’s gabbiest anti-heroes and the crowd was understandably cock-a-hoop at the prospect. Second, the match felt epic; there were no rushed eliminations. In fact, the first fall didn’t come until 10 minutes in. The match built and built, and the fans’ anticipation for eliminations reached a fever pitch as each man left it all in the ring. Also, Ric Flair was the sole survivor on his first WWF PPV, which again, is nice, isn’t it?
However, choosing to wrestle in this style meant that, unless the match was going to go 60 minutes (and who can say it won’t when Ric Flair is involved) then the rate of eliminations really needed to speed up, and, well, they did. The finish saw Ric Flair be dumped to the outside and the remaining five men brawl in the ring. They brawled so much that the ref DQ’d everyone in the ring, leaving Flair, who was on the outside, the sole survivor.
That’s certainly one way to make Flair 1-0 on WWF PPVs, I guess? The flat ending compromised a match that was slowly turning into an all-time great and sees something that, by rights, should be in the top five, come in bottom of a still-very-good list.