Top Five Survivor Series Teams
The jury is still out on this team. Maybe it is the indy-mark in me… but I am hoping that we look back at this team very fondly. The Shield were already running over the competition at this point, but the seeds of their eventual break-up were beginning to sprout. The victory was the start of Roman’s coming-out party… which we still haven’t seen the fruits of, but perhaps Survivor Series 2015 will be another jumping-off point for his career. Swagger appears to be a lost cause, but the future seems bright for Rollins and Ambrose as of this time, and we should all agree that Cesaro belongs in that discussion as well… even if Vince doesn’t think he can connect with the fans. Team Brass Ring... or Chikara King of Trios champions in 2016?
"Vader, the team you've assembled here really doesn't seem to have a common thread."
That's an understatement from Michael Cole in the pre-match interview. The big picture angle was USA vs Canada. Survivor Series is being held in Montreal, the Bret Hart anti-American gimmick is in full effect, so we need someone to represent the States. Bulldog wrestles Vader the week previous on RAW and Steve Blackman comes out of the crowd with the save. Yes… this is Blackman's first match. Somehow Mero and "Forever Unchained" Goldust get roped into this. Four athletes, seemingly different, come together under one cause. I don’t even know the heel/face dynamic of these guys at this time. The crowd reaction was equally as bizzare.
Needless to say, they lost. Probably so the fans were happy about something because, you know, the main event didn't go over well for the Canadian crowd.
The easiest way to get a feud over was to throw two countries into a battle. Survivor Series was built for such a blow off, so I wanted to honor a great American team. Sure, I could have chosen Taker/Luger/Steiners or almost any Hogan team. But this one had such a great feel of guys coming together for a common cause, I couldn't overlook them. I also could never forget how BAD the pre-match promo was. Yikes.
Are you ready? This team easily gets a nod into my top five. But there are many other factors that go into the greatness of this squad. And no, don’t assume I am doing this because I am a CM Punk mark, because I hate the Hardys equally as much as I like the Punker. Although while we are talking about him, the pop that he got from the Philly crowd was insane. The look on Triple H’s face tells the story. Maybe the office didn’t fully grasp the reach that the Straight Edge Superstar had and this event opened their eyes to his potential, which eventually led to his monster run as World Champion. Although less than a month later, Paul Heyman wanted him to go over in the Extreme Elimination Chamber and that got shut down in favor of Lashley… and then walking papers on his wedding day, a Z-Pak and a podcast later… you know the story. Looking in teams of Survivor Series history, this is about as close as you can get to (in my opinion) 5 legitimate Hall of Famers.
Add to the mix the duo that changed the face of wrestling as a duo during the Monday Night Wars and also with two of the greatest singles runs in company history. You also have a team that revolutionized tag team wrestling in the early 2000s. Consider these stats – 11 IC titles, 5 European titles, 4 Hardcore titles, 16 Tag title reigns, 2 King of the Ring victories, an ECW title reign, 22 World titles, two Money in the Bank victories, 3 Royal Rumble victories and a Terri Invitational Tournament championship… it’s hard to find a Survivor Series team with that lineage. And for this event? They swept a very formidable Team Rated RKO 5-0. Also for you Extreme-ists, this was the first Survivor Series match that involved ECW. History is oozing off of this team.
Yes. I am serious. I will let you collect your thoughts.
This team covers so much ground. Divas championships. NXT Season 3. Second generation Superstars. Bad wedding storylines. NXT Season 3. (Yes, that must be repeated.) But most importantly it ushered in change. I am not a huge AJ fan. I think she was the best Diva in an era shallow of talent. But this “anti-Total Divas” push that she created with her version of the Pipe Bomb is still being felt today. Charlotte, Emma, Paige, Becky, Sasha… we all credit the NXT system for breeding this new Women’s Division, but without AJ and the anti-divas, it may not have happened. Ironically, out of the 7 (7? Jesus…) women on this team, I’d classify at least 4 of them as Divas and not great workers… but my opinion still stands.
This is an odd pick for me. I love Savage and I totally respect Steamboat. But I have always been more of a heel-mark in general. However, something strikes me about this team. This team embodies the 1980s WWF. Other than Savage, no one broke through that glass ceiling. You aren’t adding up the World titles, or even IC titles. But you could argue that they were the most popular wrestlers of this era not named Hulk Hogan. Even non-wrestling fans know Jake “The Snake,” Brutus “The Barber” and “Hacksaw” Duggan. These five were essentially the glue that held this era together. Look at the main event from this PPV. The partners for Hogan are a strange and random combination of guys. Anyone from this team could work circles around that team. Again, these guys were the perfect mid-card, holding everything together for the greatest era of wrestling history.
We can debate this time in history forever. Most notably – did the Invasion angle flop and what could have been done different to make it more effective? Maybe we will save that for another 20x20 Point-Counterpoint debate. I will touch on one thing that I didn’t like from the start – the Alliance immediately got rid of their WCW/ECW talent and put WWF guys in their place. Test and the Dudleys never rang true to me as “invaders.” That’s the slight issue I have with the Alliance side of this particular match; I don’t associate those guys with WCW. Regardless, this was a pivotal time in wrestling history that culminated with this match. Whether planned or not, this match seemed to be the “do-over” of the Invasion PPV main event. Why not just wait until Survivor Series. Where the team element is the gimmick? While doing research here, I came across the same issue with the Nexus – how did they do that blow-off match at a PPV other than the one that was built around multi-man teams?
The results of this match set numerous balls into motion, most notably the creation of the Undisputed Championship, Austin turning face, the WWF debut of the NWO and the return of Ric Flair. “I AM… the Consortium! I AM… the Consortium!”
History aside, just look at the wrestlers in this match. Short of Shane, multiple World titles across the board. Probably 10/10 Hall of famers when all is said and done. I can’t even go into funny gimmicks. The names here should speak for themselves.
Going over Survivor Series teams in my head, I knew there were some great heel teams, specifically Heenan Family teams. Andre’s 87 team, Perfect/Demolition, Perfect/Rude/Rougeaus – all great candidates. But this 1988 team perfectly captures all of the heels that I loved as a kid. In retrospect, the world title count amongst these five from across the world is amazing. I could argue that this group never truly reached their potential under Vince. Harley was too old by the time he came to New York, but his NWA career speaks for itself. Rude and Hennig should be on the top of everyone’s “Should have been WWF Champion but never got through Hogan/Warrior” list right beside Ted DiBiase. If they aren’t, your list is wrong. Dino Bravo, the World’s Strongest Man? I haven’t seen Ken Patera or Mark Henry bench press 712 pounds unassisted like he did. Andre was obviously a massive superstar who didn’t NEED the belt… maybe it was too little too late by the time they put him into the main event picture.
I put this team up against any other fivesome in Survivor Series history. Even in the face of that no-good cheater Duggan, a wild animal in the opposite corner and a bad call by the ref to eliminate Andre, this team was still victorious with two surviving members. Ironically, we lost four of these wrestlers far too early. But they will forever survive in my heart as the greatest Survivor Series team of all time.
As a child, if I had to line up a Survivor Series team this would be it. Could there be any more of a colorful and exciting trio as kid than the Warrior and LOD? Looking at this team on paper also, you have a clear piece for each division in the WWF at the time. World title contender? Ultimate Warrior. Tag Team Title contender? Legion of Doom. Intercontinental title contender? The Texas Tornado. All titles they would each own at some point in this era.
I know this team has its flaws. Warrior was always second to Hogan as the top guy in the company. LOD & Kerry Von Eric historically are considered better before entering the WWF. All of them have their issues when it comes to being pure performers in the ring. I don't care. Ignore all of that and take the team for what it is, the perfect mix baby face team to sum up the WWF in 1990.
This is one of the teams that makes me love what the Survivor Series use to be. Before you had 5+ hours of wrestling television that inevitable leads to 100s of 3 man, 4 man, 2 man tag matches of the heels and faces of the day, you had the Survivor Series. It was one night a year you got to see the likes of Owen Hart team with Diesel. Shawn Michaels with Jeff Jarrett. The Anvil and Big Daddy Cool. It's a time that you got excited to see 4 or 5 distinct personalties try and work together.
The teamsters on paper is just a combination heels from the "New Generation" era of WWF, but dig a little deeper and you have two of the greatest workers of the time in Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels. You have 4 World Titles, 12 Intercontinental, 15 Tag Titles and 21 Slammys. ( though only 2 really matter) This match, like the Hart Family team the year before was used to turn Owen Heel, was used to turn Diesel Face. Always a great device in Survivor Series matches. This match also, like the Rumble that year, was a showcase for Big Daddy Cool as the next big thing. He single handedly dismantles 3 team members with jackknife power bombs.
Extra points for one of the coolest team names in Survivor Series history. The Teamsters.
So I initially picked this team with the eye test. Even with The legacy being a shell of itself at this point, you still had a solid trio of third generation wrestlers. This team shows all the great traits of any heel Survivor Series team. Dissension, egos, failed championships. As bland and fast forward worthy Orton has become, late 2000's Orton was a fantastic heel. There was great promise with the young Legacy team. King William Regal. And of course one of CM Punk's best runs as the straight edge savior. And like every great heel team, this team starts strong knocking the odds down to 5-3, then 2-1 to inevitable drop the match.
Also of note, great promo from Christian to his teammates Kofi, R-Truth, MVP and Mark Henry "I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but I'm different than you guys. You know, seeing that I am the only one of us thats...ya know, from ECW."
Even though a year later we would get the staged Vince version of a "WCW vs WWF" match, this was the closest thing we would get to a team WCW vs team WWF during the Monday Night Wars. Clearly this team was a mid-card stable coming up second on the show, but it still had 4 large names every wrestling fan of this era recognized. You had two future world champions and 3 of the greatest pure workers in the business.
The Radicalz came into the WWE as your typical WCW middlecard talent. All 4 could put on great matches but none of these 4 had much for memorable characters or large storylines during their time in WCW. This match can be looked at as the calm before the storm for these 4. Latino Heat (which was right in the middle of the Chyna love drama here) Eddie and Beniot's world title reigns, Lie/Cheat/Steal, Dean the ladies man, Moppy......
Extra points for all four rocking the same color palette of black and yellow.
"Deem bones, deem bones, deem bones, deem big bones. we’re wild, we’re bold we don’t do what we’re told!"
I know your going to look at this team and scratch your head, but hear me out. Survivor Series to me is less about storylines and more about seeing a unique team. Being a child and watching these 4 maniacs is about as unique and exciting as it can get. Rowdy Piper is the only man who has the mind that can keep these 3 under control and the mind that can be just as wild and out of control! as Gorrila Monsoon puts it, "talk about a dangerous team!"
Survivor Series to me also instantly takes me to Thanksgiving. Friends, Family, Turkey Dinner...that chill in the air that at any moment can give way to a winter storm. The pre match promo is exactly that. 4 men enjoying a turkey that Piper must remind them was suppose to be for after the match! Needless to say the Bushwackers smuggle some drumsticks in their tights.
When looking at Survivor Series teams throughout the years there is one that stands out for its historically importance in professional wrestling. This is that team. There was no internet. no spoilers. There was no hot indy darling, no star form the other promotion making the jump. There was the Million Dollar Man and his blank checkbook. What possible monster could that buy?! All you knew was the mysterious dark outline was going to be the 4th member of his team. Thats all you needed.
No one would ever imagine that mystery partner would go on to become the corner stone of the WWF/WWE for 25 years to come. That alone could drop this team number one. Taker came into this match as a monster, taking out poor Jimmy Snuka in a matter of seconds. Leading to the first match in the strike, that lasted a matter of seconds. It is interesting to note Taker is taken out of the match pretty quick. Feed the people just enough and let it simmer. He would soon become must see TV.
Historical significance aside, this match also has a top notch heel team. The greatest non champion of the era in Ted DiBiase. The "greatest Intercontinental champion of all time" in the Honky Tonk Man. And the ring technician, Greg Valentine who's blond locks are died dark black for one of the funniest and underrated tag teams of the time in Rhythm and Blues.
Again, extra Thanksgiving flavor points for Ted DiBiase's "Koko B. Ware you will be another bird plucked and stuffed this thanksgiving” line in the prematch promo.
you guys all thought I picked the 1990 classic team The Alliance (Nikolai Volkoff, Tito Santana, and The Bushwhackers) didn't you?
Alright, so this lets put aside the clear issues everyone has with this match/angle. Lets just suspended disbelief and say there was a master plan by Vince's children, and thus the Alliance was formed. I enjoyed this year, and this angle on returning to it. This PPV kicks off with one HELL of a promo to hype this as a winner take all type of match, that it seems every Survivor Series since has tried to pull off to little or no effect.
There is no denying the legacy of this team. You have arguably the greatest WWE star of all time in Steve Austin. Five time, five time, five time WCW World champion booker T. The top worker in ECW, Mr. Monday Night Rob Van Dam. Kurt Angle who will go down as one of the greatest workers of all time and Shane, who at the time was super over and one of the most exciting workers in the ring.
Well folks, there you have it. The debut edition of Five Count! We hoped you enjoyed, and please feel free to share with us your favorite teams in the great history of the Survivor Series.
Happy Thanksgiving folks!