10 WWE Superstars Who Thrive At Survivor Series

Examining those curious souls who save their best for the fourth-biggest night of the year.

We all know about the Superstars who ball out at WrestleMania. Undertaker's streak is one of the most legendary stories in wrestling history, while Shawn Michaels is renowned for stealing the show on the grandest stage of them all.

But this isn't about WrestleMania. Survivor Series may be the redheaded stepchild of WWE's 'big four', but I want to take a look at the wrestlers who consistently turn it on in November. Yes, wins and losses are innately redundant in a scripted sport, but I still find them terribly, tragically fascinating.

You might ask why, but you already know the answer. We all have that little part of our brain that loves stats and information. It's why we stay up late at night falling into Wikipedia labyrinths, and it's why we fill our mind with useless information, rather than 'the location of the fusebox in my house' or 'how to flirt'. The internet age has allowed us to know more than we ever did before, and it's robbed us of our ability to function as normal human beings. I feel it's important to celebrate that.

So come with me on a journey of the wrestlers that save their best for the fourth biggest night of the year. They may not have their priorities quite in order, but they sure know how to win at Survivor Series...

10. The Legion of Doom - 3-0


Quite a few big names sit on a 3-0 Survivor Series record: Rick Rude, Brutus Beefcake, Kelly Kelly. Yes, somehow Kelly Kelly is undefeated at the pay per view - twice coasting off the back of teams led by Mickie James. My favourite win of hers came in 2009, where she was the first member of Team Raw to be eliminated, falling to a 'side slam backbreaker' after three minutes. They still won; all hail Kelly Kelly.

My first entry, however, is dedicated to the Legion of Doom. Hawk and Animal competed on the show in 1990, 1991, and 1997. The second instance was by far the most memorable and impressive, as they outlasted Typhoon, Earthquake, and IRS in the main event to send the fans home happy.

For the tag team equivalent of Hulk Hogan (by which I mean they won all the time, just all the time), LOD's other two victories are curiously underwhelming. One year prior they were disqualified for brawling too much - for being too good at fighting, I prefer to imagine it - but team captain The Ultimate Warrior saved the day. Their return in '97 again saw the boys eliminated in dubious fashion, as they chased The New Age Outlaws to the back. Fortunately, Ken Shamrock remembered that he is a very dangerous man, and won the match for their team anyway.

For never losing at Survivor Series, and for their remarkable dedication to never putting anyone over clean, I'm delighted to include Hawk and Animal on this list.

9. Dolph Ziggler - 6-2


Further down this list, we're going to come across Tito Santana. In almost all of his Survivor Series appearances, Santana coasted on good fortune, keen-eyed officiating, and the unstoppable strength of teammates such as Warrior, Hogan, and Duggan. Ziggler - as is the Ziggler way - had to earn every single goddamn molecule of Survivor Series triumph.

That means a hell of a lot of selling, you guys.

At the time of writing, Ziggler's two Survivor Series losses sandwich all of his wins. Yes, those losses may be a tad humiliating - 2006 saw the Spirit Squad defeated by Ric Flair and his team of legends, while 2015's show featured Dolph going down to professional 'Dolph Ziggler if he was somehow even more obnoxious', Tyler Breeze.

In that Spirit Squad loss, by the way, Ziggler (as Nicky) was eliminated by Dusty Rhodes. I know you were wondering, and probably hoping for it to be someone like Tugboat in his Shockmaster getup. Well it wasn't, so calm down.

Despite all of that, Dolph's streak of six straight wins cannot be sniffed at - including, of course, his legendary defeat of The Authority in 2014. If we could ignore the fact that Triple H and Stephanie were out of power for what felt like 20 minutes, it remains a very dramatic moment - one made all the more compelling by Ziggler's emotive performance.

Which is a fancy way of saying he flip-flops around a lot, but I do enjoy watching Dolph do that. If you squint, he sort of looks like Shawn Michaels.

8. The Rock - 8-2


Mr. Maivia has a sterling - although imperfect - Survivor Series record, and his triumphs at the November PPV are some of the most heralded in his career. He was the sole survivor in his 1996 in-ring debut, won his first WWF Championship by screwing Mankind in '98, and - of course - put WCW to the sword in 2001. Of course, he last eliminated Steve Austin, the man largely responsible for actually defeating WCW in the Monday Night Wars, but we'll look past that.

I also really enjoy Rocky's smaller victories. He teamed with John Cena in 2011 to defeat The Awesome Truth, which seems really unfair on the heels in hindsight. The poor guys were expected to put up a fight against two of the strongest wrestlers in history, and it unsurprisingly became an exhibition. The Rock did some Armdrags and everybody lost their minds. It was embarrassing for poor Miz and Truth.

He also took Rikishi to school in 2000, the culmination of their feud over whether the big guy did or didn't do it for The Rock. It later emerged that he actually did it because Triple H told him to. (For the uninitiated, 'it' was brutally running down Steve Austin in a parking lot).

Before researching this article, I thought Rock's emphatic 2002 loss to Brock Lesnar came at Survivor Series, but it was actually SummerSlam a few months prior. I've owned up to my mistake in the hope that it humanises me, and that you read the remainder of this article in a more sympathetic light. It's all I have.

7. The Undertaker - 13-5


The Undertaker's inclusion feels a little cheap, not just because he's far more renowned for his WrestleMania exploits, but also because he's been around forever. Of course he's picked up the most Survivor Series wins of anyone in WWE history; he's had so many opportunities to do so.

'Taker will always be linked to this particular pay per view because he made his incredibly eerie debut here, in 1990. The Gobbledy Gooker, of course, debuted on the very same night, hatching out of a giant comedy egg.

In case you were wondering - hey, you might have been! - Gooker has a record of 0-0 at Survivor Series. Fascinating stuff.

Many of Undertaker's victories were, like the man himself, big. He won his first ever WWF Championship in '91, defeating the mighty Hulk Hogan (with the help of Ric Flair). He's also enjoyed various spooky stipulations, perhaps thanks to Survivor Series' calendar placement in those dark months leading to winter. The Deadman twice won matches by squeezing very large men into caskets, disposing of Kamala and Yokozuna in '92 and '94 respectively. The latter match even featured Chuck Norris as the guest enforcer, which is preposterous if we're being honest.

He also lost a Buried Alive match to Vince McMahon in 2003, which is surely up there with the most embarrassing losses in 'Taker's career. On the plus side, it resulted in the end of the American Badass gimmick, and the return of the MMA glove-wearing undead zombie redneck mortician we all know and love.

6. Randy Orton - 8-5


The Viper is a man I expected to be far higher on this list; my head is absolutely swimming with instances of Randy Orton standing tall at the end of an epic elimination match, often doing that thing with his arms, or maybe sometimes looking down hard cam with his very evil face.

I've bumped him ahead of guys with technically better records like Ziggler and Rock, mainly because Orton is an absolute don when it comes to Survivor Series. 8-5 may not seem like too special a record, but few Superstars in WWE history have bossed it in November quite like Randy.

Survivor Series success can actually be considered a hallmark of Randy's early career. His first three appearances at the pay per view saw the youngster earn sole survivor status, last eliminating guys like Triple H and Shawn Michaels. His debut Survivor Series appearance saw the end of Steve Austin's tenure as co-Raw General Manager, which certainly isn't the only time fans have felt let down by the result of a Randy Orton match.

(Hey, you thought that was a shot fired, didn't you? Maybe I meant the main event of WrestleMania XXV, yeah? So y'know. Just think ahead, alright?)

All in all, Orton has survived a whopping five elimination matches, and triumphed over Shawn Michaels in 2007. A quick side note - with a 7-10 record, HBK didn't make this list, but must go down as the greatest loser in Survivor Series history. Is anyone better at selling the physical and mental exhaustion of a long tag bout than Shawn?

No, is the answer. Nobody is.

Sorry, this was supposed to be about Randy.

Ultimately, I really enjoy that WWE have attempted to make Orton a sort of 'Mr. Survivor Series' over the years. The fact that five other men are ahead of him on this list kinda implies that it hasn't been a total success, but it's still a fascinating part of his career history nonetheless.

5. Tito Santana - 5-1


Oh Tito.

Tito Santana is, kayfabe-wise, the nicest man in wrestling. I'm sure he's probably a good guy in real life too - but in the tangled history of WWE, he shines like a babyface beacon among the villains, liars, cheats, bullies, zombie morticians, vengeful masked half-brothers, corrupt cops, obnoxious male strippers, and whatever the hell Kizarny was doing.

Tito's gimmick has always been that he's a heroically nice guy, and not even one also portrayed as a very skilled badass like Ricky Steamboat. He's your girlfriend's non-threatening platonic pal, one you're certain will make a move on her once you've broken up - except he never does, and you feel really bad and presumptuous.

It's therefore great to see Santana enjoy such a dominant-ass record at Survivor Series - and even better to discover that he compiled those five wins in the least impressive way of anybody on this list. Tito has been so consistently unimpressive at this pay per view over the years, it's actually quite startling.

Let's just run through it all. He appeared as one half of Strike Force at the inaugural show, taking part in that mammoth 20-man traditional tag match - and was quietly eliminated by Jim Neidhart a third of the way through. His team still won. Yes, Santana owes a small chunk of his stellar Survivor Series record to the Killer Bees.

The following year saw his only loss, and he was eliminated from his match in particularly humiliating fashion (Andre just decided to sit on his chest). 1989 saw redemption! Sort of. He was the first person eliminated in the whole show, rolled up by former tag partner Rick Martel in the opening match. Again, his team won - shout out to Dusty Rhodes and Brutus Beefcake for surviving.

1990 was Tito's finest Survivor Series hour, as he became sole survivor of his match! He last eliminated Sgt. Slaughter when General Adnan blasted him with the Iraqi flag to inexplicably get his buddy disqualified. Heroic. This high was all too fleeting, as Santana progressed to the three-on-five main event and was the only babyface eliminated, leaving teammates Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior to hog all the glory.

Finally, in 1991, he was forced to wrestle under his new jobber gimmick - El Matador. Still Tito refused to stop winning, clinging onto his teammates' coattails as they breezed to a clean sweep. A final record of 5-1; all he does is win, win, win, no matter what.

I almost shed a tear writing that summary. Truly, the worst winner (or most successful loser?) in the history of the pay per view. Beautiful.

4. John Cena - 9-2


As one of the winningest superstars in WWE history, it's no surprise that Cena makes it onto the list - but the manner of his victories may be a little surprising.

Large Match Jonathan has survived three of the five traditional elimination matches he's wrestled in, but never as sole survivor. That seems very unlikely, to me at least. Outside of tag matches, Cena has an impressive list of November scalps, including Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and Alberto Del Rio.

His most noteworthy Survivor Series bout has to be the 2009 Triple Threat against mother members of DX. The match is rightly remembered as one of the most spectacular in the history of the PPV, as Shawn Michaels shocked everybody by blasting his best buddy with a Sweet Chin Music right out of the gate. It was really cool, but nobody likes to dwell on the fact that it was a tactical blunder. You could have totally double-teamed him, Shawn, you silly goose!

I find it appropriate to mention that, for all his Survivor Series domination, Cena should also be remembered as a huge choker. In 2014 he had the chance to rid WWE of The Authority, but made the crucial mistake of trusting teammate Big Show - a man with more turns than Severus Snape and Walter White combined.

Luckily for John, Dolph Ziggler was on hand to save the day - with a considerable assist from the shock debut of Sting.

Cena's first Survivor Series loss came in 2012, largely thanks to The Shield, who crashed the party and established a new status quo in WWE - one which remains to this day. Man, they're so cool.

Out of interest, The Shield's records are as follows: Dean Ambrose 3-2; Roman Reigns 3-2; Seth Rollins 1-2.

Get it together, Seth.

3. Mickie James - 4-0

Mickie James is the winningest woman at Survivor Series, and she didn't just cruise onto this list like Tito Santana. The Virginia native actually worked for those results, which we're going to take a look at right now.

In 2006 she defeated Lita to win the Women's Championship, which would have been a great victory and a career highlight, were it not totally overshadowed by Cryme Tyme crashing the party to sell Lita's belongings on the stage. Including her underwear.

2007 saw the entire women's division shoved into a five-minute non-elimination tag match, but Mickie again stood out by picking up the pinfall over Melina. A year later she was eliminated by a Maryse roll up, but Beth Phoenix still came through for Team Raw, and in 2009 Mickie finally earned survivor status alongside old foe, Melina. Four consecutive years; four consecutive wins; zero losses. We should probably rename her The UltiMick Warrior!


(Sometimes I feel deeply alone at night, and I hug my pillow, for there is nothing else at hand to quell the black fires within my soul.)

I'm going to say a silent prayer for Mickie's Survivor Series undefeated streak, because at the time of writing, I've just watched Shane lead the SmackDown superstars in a vicious gang beatdown of Raw. It doesn't bode well for the red brand, and potentially Mickie's unblemished loss column.

I mean, professional wrestling's scripted, so really SmackDown's early dominance means nothing. But it's fun to pretend.

2. The Ultimate Warrior - 4-0


The Ultimate Warrior has the most blistering of Survivor Series records, and is only prevented from the top spot because someone dared to accrue one more win than him (also without eating a loss).

We all rip on Hulk Hogan for winning way more than he should have, but Warrior at least had the decency to condense all of that into a far shorter, more furious run. If Hogan were a legendary Homeric soldier, ferocious and undefeated on the field of battle, Warrior would be a t-rex with machine guns for arms. I hope that analogy makes sense, and I also would love for someone to draw that. I'm going to take a screenshot of this and tweet it, just in case.

When it came to Survivor Series, Ultimate Warrior was an unstoppable wrecking machine, dishing out clumsy justice to any of the charmingly-assembled heel teams before him. Here's a bullet point summary to really get across his dominance; his unreasonable, unstoppable dominance.

  • 1988 - Warrior is the sole survivor in his match.

  • 1989 - Warrior is the sole survivor in his match, this time in the main event.

  • 1990 - Warrior is the sole survivor in his preliminary match, qualifies for the main event, and again survives - this time alongside fellow dream-crusher Hulk Hogan.

Yes, nobody ever eliminated the big U.W. in Survivor Series history, placing him on the very opposite side of the winners' spectrum to poor old Tito Santana.

I wonder if he ever got bored of winning so much, a man cursed to run and win, win and run, run and win - until someone eventually figured out that he wasn't that versatile in the ring.

1. Randy Savage 5-0


First of all, this makes me very happy. The Macho Man is my favourite wrestler from the Golden Era, and one of the most astoundingly smooth in-ring workers of all time. You could pluck prime Randy Savage from the late '80s, stick him in a modern day WWE pay per view match, and he'd still impress. He was incredibly ahead of his time.

He was also, sadly, one of the most notorious second fiddlers (that sounds wrong) in WWE history. So many of his biggest moments were upstaged by Hulk Hogan, with The Hulkster 'humbly' presenting Savage with the WWF Championship, hogging the ring, dancing around with Elizabeth, and so on.

I'm therefore delighted to find that Randy has the best-undefeated Survivor Series record in WWE history, and even though it's hardly insurmountable at 5-0, he can rest at the top of the November mountain for a little while.

Savage's five wins are split between Ultimate Warrior-style domination and despicable Santana-esque luck. He started things off on the right foot in 1987, having recently turned face and aligned with WrestleMania III foe Ricky Steamboat. The pair triumphed in the first ever traditional elimination match, surviving alongside Jake Roberts. Jim Duggan and Brutus Beefcake did not, and I'm okay with that.

1988 and 1989 saw babyface and heel triumph respectively; first, Savage obliterated the competition alongside Mega Powers buddy Hogan, before creating 'The King's Court' to crush some fan favourites the following year. I hate that '89 match though, almost entirely because of Duggan. Despite three-on-one odds, Hacksaw couldn't bring himself to put anyone over - instead, getting counted out after interference from Sherri Martel. Have some bloody respect for the Macho Man, Duggan.

The last of Savage's Survivor Series triumphs are more an indication of the end of the Golden Era. In '92 he was originally supposed to team with Warrior - only for Mr. Perfect to step in as a late replacement - and help Randy to a DQ victory. The replacement of the bulging, larger-than-life Warrior with the smaller, more technically proficient Perfect can certainly be seen as a microcosm of WWF's general direction at the time. I feel like I'm writing a history essay right now.

His final Survivor Series appearance in '93 saw Savage unceremoniously eliminated by IRS (via roll-up, for goodness' sake). His team would still go on to win, but the survivors were the 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty, another sign of the changing times. Maybe more in X-Pac's case than Jannetty's, admittedly.

Despite fizzling out towards the end, Savage remains owner of the best-undefeated record in the pay per view's history. Sure, some may have more wins (Undertaker), bigger victories (Rock), or simply more impressive performances (Orton) - but in my mind, Macho Man is the reigning king of Survivor Series. Long may it last.

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Jack King

Written by Jack King

[email protected] Twitter: @JackTheJobber