When WWE’s first Survivor Series took place at the Richfield Coliseum on November 27th, 1987, it must have felt like a dream to so many fans. The idea of seeing some of the biggest, larger-than-life wrestling stars come together to form “dream teams” and fight against each other in a massive match was absolutely surreal.
Since then, Survivor Series has gone on to become a staple event, one of the “Big 4” of the WWE calendar year. It has given the fans numerous classic moments that have, at this point, been seared into their brains. Conversely, there have also been many instances that the WWE Universe would like to just forget.
Heading into the 29th edition of this event, we take a look back on some on the less appealing moments in WWE’s Survivor Series history.
10. Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels (1997)
What can be said about this match that hasn’t been said already? One of, if not, the most infamous moment in WWE’s history: “The Montreal Screwjob.”
The match was supposed to end on a disqualification that would lead to Bret Hart vacating the title shortly thereafter to make way for the Hitman’s departure to WCW. That’s not what happened.
The story goes that Vince McMahon, fearing that Bret might jump ship to WCW with the WWE Championship in tow, was persuaded by Triple H and Shawn Michaels (Hart’s biggest rival) to concoct this elaborate plan to insure that there would be no such occurrence.
What followed was a disaster of a main event that culminated in Shawn Michaels putting Bret Hart in a sharpshooter only to have McMahon force Earl Hebner to ring the bell early, effectively “screwing” Bret Hart over. A shell-shocked Hart, stunned by the decision to relieve him in such a manner, in front of his countrymen, was absolutely dejected. Ultimately, this lead to an incredibly heated physical confrontation with Vince McMahon before Bret Hart was, for all intents and purposes, unceremoniously dumped.
9. Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior & Tito Santana vs. Ted Dibiase, “The Model” Rick Martel, Warlord & Power and Glory (1990)
The 1990 entry of Survivor Series featured a main event pitting the two massive stars in Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior together in an unbalanced match against a team led by Ted DiBiase.
Nothing much to see here, as Hogan and Warrior ran through a group of mid-card wrestlers (and DiBiase) in a terribly quick match to secure the victory. Ultimately, this was pretty much a match only really worth seeing if you wanted to get an image of the two stars working together.
8. Big Show vs Randy Orton (2013)
2013 was shaping up to be a decent year for WWE – at one point anyway. Simply put, it was supposed to be Daniel Bryan’s year.
After building up a ton of steam and a swell of fan support, Daniel Bryan finally went big time by defeating John Cena clean at SummerSlam. It was his moment to shine! A moment was actually all he was given.
Randy Orton cashed in his Money In The Bank case and had help from a heel-turning Triple H to defeat Daniel Bryan mere minutes after his victory over Cena. Fans thought this would lead to a rivalry between Orton and Bryan, and it did… for a couple of seconds, before Bryan’s role seemed to be scrapped and Big Show was illogically inserted into a feud with Orton for his championship.
This lead to a very, very drab affair between the “World’s Largest Athlete” and the “Apex Predator” that many fans would like to forget, and, with Daniel Bryan’s eventual rise back to the top, thankfully, they can.
7. The All-Americans vs The Foreign Fanatics (1993)
This match was arguably as “campy” as WWE would ever get with its characters.
The “All-Americans” team was led by Lex Luger, the heir apparent to Hulk Hogan’s throne, and featured the Steiner brothers and The Undertaker (we didn’t know evil, undead zombies could be so pro-America!). They squared off against a “Foreign Fanatics” team consisting of then WWE Champion Yokozuna and his team of Quebecer Jacques Rougeau, Crush, and Ludvig Borga.
The match ended in as hokey a manner as possible, under the circumstances, with Lex Luger scoring the victory over Ludvig Borga. This was followed by having Santa Claus come out to bring a snowy celebration to the “All-Americans.”
Overall, it was a dull affair.
6. Triple H vs Big Show vs The Rock (1999)
1999’s edition of Survivor Series was a bit of a curious case. It was supposed to feature “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the main event. It did not.
Austin, who was supposed to headline the program, was written-off near the beginning of the show as having been struck by a car driven by an unknown assailant. This would lead to a Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship between Triple H, The Rock, and Big Show.
The match itself was a bit clumsy, didn’t feature The Rock very much, and ultimately ended with Big Show winning the championship in a clustered, messy finish.
In the end, it wasn’t really one of the finest matches from that era.
5. Undertaker vs Yokozuna (1994)
The second casket match between the two behemoths headlined the 1994 edition of Survivor Series. It was a match that would feature an appearance by actor/martial artist Chuck Norris as the “Special Guest Enforcer”.
Evidently, Chuck Norris’s appearance would be the most exciting part of this fight, as the two giants missed the mark a bit in trying to build off of their previous encounter. It would finish with The Undertaker finally getting his redemption over the “Japanese” star.
This bout would ultimately prove to be one of Yokozuna’s last as a main event-level attraction.
4. Undertaker vs Hulk Hogan (1991)
The main event of Survivor Series 1991 saw a young, up-and-coming Undertaker against the established, but declining, Hulk Hogan for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. Given what you might know about the two careers of these wrestlers, you’d assume it was good. It wasn’t.
The match was a long, sloppy affair between two fighters who had little to no chemistry together. They didn’t seem to be on the same page. Add to this Ric Flair’s presence and Hogan’s baffling resilience to Undertaker’s Tombstone, and you had a newly-crowned champion win his first title in a less than convincing manner.
The match is worth a watch if you fancy yourself a WWE historian, but it won’t be anything to be thrilled with.
3. Booker T vs Batista (2006)
Survivor Series 2006 is regarded by many fans to be among one of the weaker entries in the pantheon of the event. This criticism is not exactly unmerited.
Having arguably one of the most stacked rosters in WWE history, the event failed to live up to expectations. If you were to read the names on the card, it would read like a “who’s who” of some of the best wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots for the company.
The bouts, for the most part, were short, uneventful, and clustered. It would ultimately lead to the main event being looked to as a point of salvage for the night. However, the match between “The Animal” Batista and “King Booker” was nothing more than serviceable, at best, and was simply not good enough to lift the show up from disappointment.
2. The Ultimate Warrior, The Rockers and Jim Neidhart vs. The Heenan Family – Bobby Heenan, André the Giant, Haku and Arn Anderson (1989)
“The Ultimate Warrior Show” is what this event should have been called.
This PPV took place during Warrior’s peak time at the top of the WWE as the programming was shifting away from Hulk Hogan and towards the face-painted wrestler. Survivor Series 1989 was very much a reflection of this.
While the face team had their fair share of talent, they didn’t really seem to get time to shine in this bout. This hazy brawl ended, as expected, with Warrior coming out on top and standing, more-or-less, unquestioned in the spotlight.
1. Goldberg vs Triple H (2003)
Bill Goldberg’s time in WWE was nothing short of a wreck. While he retained his status as a “top tier” guy, he had in no way made anything close to the impact he had in WCW.
At Survivor Series 2003, he was placed in the main event against a recovering (from injury) Triple H. He sought to defend his championship against the leader of Evolution. He would ultimately, but not before a lengthy match exposed his in-ring weakness and The Games’ recovery-induced slow pace. It wasn’t a very pretty sight.
It was a time that both performers would most likely care to forget.