10 Things We Learned From WWE Survivor Series 2005

The one where The Undertaker returned to scare Randy Orton...

These days, the hatred between Raw and SmackDown seems especially put-on, as tensions don't conveniently mount until some point in late-October/early-November, at which point Survivor Series' card comes together, and the acrimony fades away shortly after. It is, after all, the "one night a year that Raw and SmackDown superstars go head to head" if you ignore the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank, Crown Jewel World Cup finals, etc.

Call me old (which I am), but the brand extension of the Eric Bischoff/Teddy Long era felt a little more genuine. An event like the 2005 Survivor Series was a fine example of the heat between red and blue having a scorch to it. The main event match, featuring commentary teams sniping at each other with very little restraint, was part of the event's charm. Give me that over the modern-day robotic musings.

On the whole, the 2005 Survivor Series is one of the greatest events in Survivor chronology, top five in my eyes. A heated main event, a gruesome last man standing bout, and competitive wrestling in the first two matches make it an easy thumbs-up, and one of the better shows of the middle Ruthless Aggression years. The year 2005 produced some excellent pay-per-views, this being one of them.

10. After The Leftovers


Wistful geezers like myself will hearken back to the days of Survivor Series taking place on Thanksgiving night (1987-90), and then Thanksgiving Eve (1991-94). After that, Survivor Series would take place on some Sunday prior to the Turkey day, either the one four days before the holiday, or the one 11 days before. The 2005 show parted from all these different conventions.

For the first time ever, Survivor Series would take place *after* Thanksgiving, coming on the Sunday after the holiday. So once you made it through the spate of football games, the big feast, Black Friday shopping, attending the Christmas parade on Friday night, and then beginning the preliminary holiday house decorating, it was time to settle in and watch Survivor Series. The 2006 show had the same calendar placement, but since then, it's reverted to the Sunday of Thanksgiving week.

9. Viva La Raza


The professional wrestling world was rocked two weeks before Survivor Series 2005, when Eddie Guererro was found dead in a Minneapolis hotel room, the result of heart failure and cardiovascular disease. At 38, Guerrero was still playing a prominent role in the WWE product at the time, and was actually set to take part in a World Heavyweight title bout at a double-taping on the day of his passing.

Guerrero was also supposed to wrestle in the five-on-five interbrand elimination match at Survivor Series, having qualified with a victory over Mr. Kennedy in what turned out to be Guerrero's final match, airing on SmackDown just days before his death. Randy Orton would end up filling Guerrero's spot in the match.

8. Oh My God!


The banter between the Raw and SmackDown commentary teams in the night's main event came off as authentic-sounding, a nice round of unrestrained mud-slinging among colleagues. One has to imagine it'd have been even better had Jim Ross been there to take some Okie-fried swipes at the noses of Michael Cole and Tazz, with all due respect to his replacement.

While Ross recovered from colon surgery, longtime ECW voice Joey Styles filled his chair on Raw, and was present at Survivor Series to aid Jerry Lawler and Jonathan Coachman in the repartee. At the time, Styles didn't even have a full-time contract, and was actually working on a week-to-week deal. Styles was initially on a one-year trial basis, but had impressed officials enough to have earned a full-time contract in the weeks following Survivor Series.

7. Shucky Ducky, De Ja Vu


The opening match would pit Chris Benoit against Booker T, the first match of a Best of Seven series for the US Championship that Booker had recently vacated, following a double-pin between the two men. Booker took the first match of the series, and would later go on to win the series in early-January.

WCW fans will note how familiar all of this sounds, as Booker and Benoit had squared off in a Best of Seven down in Turnerland. In the spring of 1998, Booker and Benoit feverishly competed in just such a series of matches, with the winner earning a chance to take on Fit Finlay for the Television title. When you throw in the likes of Rey, Eddie, Regal, Juvi, and Psicosis, SmackDown in 2005-06 was really just 1998 WCW, albeit with a depressing lack of La Parka and Meng.

6. Complete Vinsanity


It's common to look back at older wrestling fare, and say with a gasping chuckle, "Man, there's no way they could do *that* today!" And you know, 2005 doesn't seem like it was all that long ago, but there didn't seem to be that much backlash for Vince McMahon dropping a rather controversial word in his backstage powwow with John Cena. Done for shock value, the skit did draw plenty of "Can you believe..." reaction, though.

Ten years later, the skit resurfaced, and in rather serious fashion. After Hulk Hogan was fired in disgrace in July 2015, many felt it was hypocritical for WWE to let Hulk go, given their own dubious history. WWE was compelled to release a statement that read, in part, "It was an outlandish and satirical skit involving fictional characters, similar to that of many scripted television shows and movies."

5. Road Rage Ric


The best match of the 2005 Survivor Series was likely the gory last man standing match, in which Triple H and Ric Flair injected palpable hatred into a fight to the near-death. Less than 24 hours after losing the match, Flair turned himself in to North Carolina authorities, after which his mug shot (complete with gnarled forehead) circulated across the internet.

Just days before the pay-per-view, Flair was involved in an alleged road rage incident in his native Charlotte. Flair was charged with simple assault and battery, as well as injury to personal property, after reportedly grabbing the neck of another motorist, and kicking the door off of the person's vehicle. WWE would later mock the incident by having Edge (feuding with Flair at that time) recreate the attack, while future TNA star Robbie E played the alleged victim.

4. Wounded Animal


In the big five-on-five finale pitting Raw against SmackDown, World Heavyweight Champion Batista was wrapped in enough tape to qualify as the wrestling equivalent of Imhotep. The tape job, which would have made DDP proud, was attributed to an attack at the hands of Raw-brand monsters Kane and Big Show just weeks before the pay-per-view.

And it was actually true - at the SmackDown tapings about three weeks before Survivor Series, Kane and Big Show Chokeslammed Batista with such force that Big Dave actually tore one of his lat muscles. Batista sucked it up and worked hurt, resorting to the constrictive and unambiguous body taping. It just so worked out that WWE could use the injury to add further heat for the match.

3. Protected Species


The year 2005 saw John Cena and Batista pushed to the forefront as the absolute powers of the duelling World title scenes. Cena ascended to the top of SmackDown, Batista conquered Raw, and then they traded places to continue their unabated dominance. Given Batista's injuries, it was understandable that he needed to be removed fairly quickly and without issue in the main event, and he would go down to a Big Show Chokeslam about 12 minutes in.

To give you an idea of how strong Batista's push was, that pinfall was only the first team he'd been pinned in five months. The last time the future Drax was pinned was in an innocuous tag team match on Raw in mid-June, succumbing to Triple H's Pedigree. And this is also counting house shows, so that was quite a streak for Batista.

2. The Viper's Streak


Well, if you're going to steal, steal from the best, and there's no shame in ripping off one of the best elimination matches in show history. In 2003, Shawn Michaels had to fight back in a three-on-one situation, make two eliminations, and then fall short to Randy Orton. WWE booked the same ending in 2005 (minus a messy Michaels bladejob this time), giving Orton and SmackDown the narrow victory.

The win made Orton the fourth man in Survivor Series history to survive three times at Survivor Series, joining Randy Savage (1987-89), Ultimate Warrior (1988-90), and Hulk Hogan (1988-90). Orton also joined each man in the sense of surviving at three consecutive Survivor Series events, something that no other wrestler has done since.

1. Brand Awareness


Perhaps the war between Raw and SmackDown, and how the rivalry was handled in the fall of 2005, struck a chord with WWE audiences. Fans who were nostalgic for the brand split of old looked back at periods such as this when the 2016 re-split was announced. The audience for the 2005 Survivor Series indicates that the hype for this show was real.

The 2005 show managed 400,000 buys, tying it with the 1990 and 2000 shows for fifth most-bought Survivor Series ever. It's also one of only seven Survivor Series to do 400,000 buys, and was in fact the last one to do so. Every Survivor Series from 2006 through 2009 did worse than the previous year's event, and around the turn of the decade, the decline would be staggering.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.