Posted in: Mr. Tito
Tito Rising - The Top 10 Survivor Series Moments of ALL TIME - What is #1?
By Mr. Tito
Nov 19, 2011 - 7:29:45 PM

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Here we are on the Saturday before Survivor Series 2011. I actually gave you my Survivor Series picks in my last Tito Rising column, so instead, I will simply write about the greatest moments of the past Survivor Series events that I intended to blog about before...

I will admit that this list was very difficult to construct, especially digging deep into the 2000's. Survivor Series USED to be a serious WWE Pay Per View. In fact, it was the second Pay Per View that the WWE invented. Upon the crazy success of Wrestlemania 3 in 1987, WWF management put their heads together and created Survivor Series. Back then, it was purely a Team vs. Team event and for the first few years, this concept was fresh and the WWE fans enjoyed the format. Over time, more Pay Per Views were added (SummerSlam, Royal Rumble), and then by the mid-1990's, the WWE went monthly with Pay Per Views. There existed a "Big 4" classification of Pay Per Views, but I'd argue that through 2011, it's just the "Big 2" with Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania consistently being the top drawing PPV's while SummerSlam and Survivor Series are of equals to the other 8-9 shows of the year.

It's a shame, as Survivor Series was like the "Thanksgiving Treat" given by the WWE. You knew that when November rolled around, it was time to not only carve the turkey, but to get ready for Survivor Series! The Team vs. Team elimination concept was fun and it was great in the sense that you saw many wrestlers who never fought each other finally squaring off. If you'll recall during the late 1980's and early 1990's, the WWE filled their Challenge/Superstars/Prime Time shows with jobber matches. Nowadays, every match has a name wrestler... Thus, the Team vs. Team concept has been watered down because you've seen most of those wrestlers battle each other previously. With the Team vs. Team concept losing steam, the WWE stripped the show down to being singles and tag team matches like any other show.

During the late 1980's or early 1990's, you had just the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series to look forward to. Now, it's 12-13 Pay Per Views with only just 2 of them being special. I'd like to think "less is more" made the "Big 4" shows feel special until the great Pay Per View flooding by WWE and WCW during the mid-1990's. Since then, only the show that determines the #1 contender for Wrestlemania (Royal Rumble) and Wrestlemania itself feel "special". Royal Rumble better watch out, however, as the WWE has foolishly made the Elimination Chamber PPV as the determinant of the other brand's #1 contender to begin watering the importance of winning the Royal Rumble match...

But anyway, I reviewed each and every Survivor Series match listing and attempted to jar my memory as to what felt "significant" enough to merit as a Great Moment of Survivor Series.


NOTE: These are MOMENTS and not MATCHES... Understand? This is not a match ranking!!!

#10 - Psycho Sid defeats Shawn Michaels for the WWE Title (SS 1996) - For years, promotions tried to get Sid Eudy over with fans, be it Sid Vicious in WCW or Sid Justice in the WWF. He had the awesome look of a great pro wrestler at a billed 6'9" height and everybody loves the Powerbomb as a finishing move. However, Sid had a few problems over the years backstage and had an in-ring ability that didn't match the stature of his look. His look was so impressive to Vince McMahon that he tried to headline Wrestlemania 12 with Sid Justice vs. Hulk Hogan instead of Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan (one of the WWF's biggest mistakes ever, in my opinion). When Sid left the WWF after Wrestlemania 12 and things went from bad to worse upon his WCW return. One night after an event at the hotel, Sid and Arn Anderson got into a heated argument that led to a fight. Sid, probably getting manhandled by Arn, grabbed a pair of medical scissors and began stabbing Arn Anderson (reportedly up to 20 times). Sid was soon released by WCW over this incident and it would take about a year and a half for a big promotion to take him seriously again.

Sid joined the WWF again in 1995 to replace Diesel as Shawn Michaels's bodyguard. It was a good gig and it worked out well for Sid, now named Psycho Sid. Sid would also join the Million Dollar Corporation. He did well as a heel, although nothing on the main event level. Sid suffered an injury during January 1996 and didn't return until July 1996 when he replaced the yet-again disappearing Ultimate Warrior in a 6 man tag match. In that six man match, he teamed up with babyfaces Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson. Sid seemed to work well as a babyface and was actually getting relatively over by remaining WWE audiences through the fall of 1996. Vince McMahon decided to give him a WWE Title, probably because Sid was popular and thus at Survivor Series 1996, Sid won the WWF Title over another babyface Shawn Michaels. Michaels was actually overexposed as a face and fans at Survivor Series 1996 were cheering Sid on to win the WWF Title. I know that I was happy at the time, provided that Sid remains my favorite guilty pleasure wrestler of all time. Just YouTube anything "Sid" and you'll see what I mean.

#9 - John Cena doesn't turn heel (SS 2010) - For some reason during late 2010, the "Internet Wrestling Community" (but not me) though that John Cena should turn heel. That's right, the #1 merchandise mover and houseshow draw, which directly affects the WWE's financial statements, should turn into a heel. Not only was the idea idiotic, but it didn't happen. Heading into Survivor Series 2010, there was some anticipation from the IWC that the WWE woudl turn Cena heel. The main event of Survivor Series 2010 was Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett, and if you'll recall, John Cena was forced to join the Nexus at the Hell in the Cell Pay Per View and Cena was placed as the referee of this match. The stipulations of the match were that if Randy Orton won, Cena was "fired" from the WWE but if Wade Barrett won, John Cena would be freed from the Nexus. Cena would actually help cost Barrett the match, so thus by helping Randy Orton win the match, Cena was "fired" from the WWE. How Wade Barrett even had access to John Cena's contract or could enslave him in the Nexus is unknown, but the hopes of the IWC were shattered when Cena didn't turn heel. Yes, it's another "I told you so" moment...

#8 - Bob Backlund defeats Bret Hart (SS 1994) - I'm probably a rare bird who actually liked Bob Backlund's comeback, but I'll stand by it... Bob Backlund was a former WWF Champion during the early 1980's and was actually WWF Champion until Vince McMahon Jr. bought the company from his father, Vince McMahon Sr. It was only a matter of time before Vince Jr. brought his own vision to the WWE but it had to be the right wrestler. In late 1983, that "right wrestler" was Hulk Hogan as acquired from the AWA. Bob Backlund held the WWF title from February 1978 through December 1983 with 2 slight interruptions where he got the title back. Then, in December 1983, the Iron Shiek defeated Backlund when the towel was thrown in by Backlund's manager when Shiek had the infamous Camel Clutch locked in. Just a few weeks later during January 1984, Hulk Hogan would defeat the Iron Shiek to begin the Hulkamania era.

Backlund soon left the WWF later in 1984 and wouldn't show up in the WWF again until 1992. He wouldn't amount to much until getting a WWF Title shot against Bret Hart during July 1994 against Bret Hart in a match that was actually hyped for its time and the WWF showed training montages from Backlund taking the match seriously. Bret would defeat Backlund in the match but afterward, Backland snapped and slapped Bret in a new submission hold, the Crossface Chickenwing. Backlund would then cite his anger over his WWF Title loss during December 1983 against the Iron Shiek and never officially submitting himself. He would play up the towel thing by wearing one to the ring for each match and for Survivor Series 1992, the match was a submission match (Sharpshooter vs. Crossface Chickenwing) with Owen Hart, mortal enemy of Bret's at the time holding Backlund's towel, and the British Bulldog holding Bret's towel. Of course, Davey Boy Smith would get knocked out and when Bret was slapped in the Crossface Submission hold, Owen Hart put on his best acting job to convince Helen Hart (mother of the Hart brothers) to throw in the towel. Great Survivor Series moment and awesome for advancing the storylines, but this was of course destroyed days later when Diesel (Kevin Nash) beat Bob Backlund in moments.

#7 - Team Mega Powers defeats Team Twin Towers (SS 1988) - Probably a dated match, but in terms of moments, it was another strong build-up for the Mega Powers brand. Fresh off the "Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks" SummerSlam headline match, this match was to further set the Mega Powers brand in stone. After Wrestlemania 4, when Macho Man Randy Savage won the WWE Title from the tournament, he and Hulk Hogan became fast friends. They formed the "Mega Powers" and it set the WWF world on fire. All of a sudden, the WWF had a wrestler of Hogan's equal on the babyface level and exploited this fact by branding them together... Only to have them break up and headline Wrestlemania 5 in 1989. But during November 1988, keeping the WWF fans happy by making the brand stronger by having them overcome the big and thick Twin Towers Team... What's great about the winning moment by the Mega Powers, however, was Hulk Hogan after the Survivor Series match celebrating directly with Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage becomes instantly jealous... The WWF planted the seeds perfectly for their eventual Saturday Night's Main Event break-up.

#6 - Shawn Michaels wins WWE Title in the Elimination Chamber match against Triple H, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kane, and Chris Jericho (SS 2002) - Shawn Michaels made his official WWE return during 2002 at SummerSlam and it was unsure, back then, that he'd ever make a full blown comeback. However, the WWE gave him one last "moment in the sun" by crowning him WWF Champion in the Elimination Chamber main event of Survivor Series 2002. Shawn says that the match's result came to him as a surprise as given to him by Vince McMahon. Either way, I'm thinking that this match helped convince Shawn that he was still viable at his age and his back injury to keep performing at a high level. Considering his inspirational comeback at SummerSlam, this was another great moment that made you appreciate what a great talent Shawn was and you just hoped for a few more great matches from him on occasion. Little did

#5 - Team Andre defeats Team Hogan (SS 1987) - The match itself doesn't hold up well with time, but you need to consider the context of 1987... WWF was still enjoying the crazy success of Wrestlemania 3, so thus another Pay Per View was created to milk the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre "the Giant" feud. And in this case, "Team Andre" defeated "Team Hogan". It was a great moment because it kept Andre alive as a threat to Hulk Hogan and the two would engage in 2 more big singles matches to draw easy money for the WWF. Andre vs. Hogan for the Saturday Night's Main Event where Andre defeated Hogan with the 2 Earl Hebner referees (Earl Hebner had a twin brother) and then within the WWF Title tournament of Wrestlemania 4 (tournament caused by Andre "selling" the WWF Title to Ted Dibiase after his SNME win). This match was used for bragging rights of Andre to keep the Hogan vs. Andre feud alive and in 1987, it was a big deal.

#4 - Survivor Series 2001 (in general) - I'm placing the entire 2001 show as a "moment" because it was the full admission by the WWE and Vince McMahon that he completely fumbled the "WCW/ECW" Invasions of that year. Through March 2001, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) lost their television rights with AOL/Time Warner and were thus in serious trouble to exist. Thanks to the lawsuit that the WWE won during the late 1990's against WCW for portraying Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as actual WWF invaders during the whole Outsider/NWO storyline of 1996, a condition of that lawsuit was that in the event that WCW was for sale, WWE could match the bid. For almost $5 million, the WWE bought WCW (and its entire library) and intended on making a separate WCW brand with Shane McMahon as its company owner. The WWE experimented with this idea on Monday Night RAW one night and a terrible looking Booker T vs. "Buff" Bagwell RAW Main Event later, the WWE scrapped that plan. The next week, former Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) wrestlers joined up with Paul Heyman. Later on that same RAW, the WCW and ECW wrestlers would join together and call themselves the Alliance with Stephanie McMahon acting as the owner of ECW. Having Shane and Stephanie run the Alliance and Vince McMahon run the WWE, nothing could go wrong, right?

After months of title dilution, WWE wrestlers joining the Alliance and vice versa, and complete cluster****s of shows with no serious long-term booking, Survivor Series 2001 saw a Team WWE vs. Team Alliance main event, the U.S. Title and Intercontinental Title merge, and the Tag Team Titles merge. The night after on RAW, it was revealed that Shane & Stephanie sold their WWE shares of ownership to finance the Alliance to none other than Ric Flair and a few months later, Vince would bring in Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan for the "New World Order". In 2003, Bill Goldberg and Scott Steiner would join the promotion. Where were these guys in 2001?

#3 - The Rock wins his first WWE Title (SS 1998) - If you smell... Funny how the Rock is returning to Survivor Series 2011 when it was Survivor Series 1998, 13 years earlier, where he won his first WWF Title. WWF Title "sports entertainment" between Vince McMahon/Undertaker/Kane caused the WWF title to become vacant and thus a WWF Title tournament was held, in full, at Survivor Series 1998. The Rock was actually morphing into a babyface wrestler as he went from being a member of the Nation of Domination to being a wrestler on his own whom the fans actually began rooting for. However, he became the "Corporate Champion" in the finals match by defeating Mick Foley in the finals with a full blown replay of the "Montreal Screwjob" conducted by Vince McMahon to help the Rock win his first WWF Champion. Foley getting screwed made him a natural to become the Rock's opponent and little did we know how awesome their feud would be. Putting the WWF Title on the Rock, who was developing well at this point, catapulted him into an equal to that of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin on the heel side of things and they would do crazy money months later at Wrestlemania 15.

#2 - Undertaker defeats Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title (SS 1991) - This match was bigger than probably most people realize. For one, it was the first year that the WWE began experimenting with adding a singles match to headline Survivor Series shows filled with Team vs. Team matches. Secondly, it was a big match because it put WWF fans on notice that the Undertaker was here to stay. Of course, nobody would realize that this guy would dominate the next 2 decades... But finally, I'd argue that this match put the last nail in the Hulkamania coffin in the WWF. WWF backed Hogan through his match against "Team Iraq" through Wrestlemania 7 and maybe through SummerSlam 1991, but the popularity was clearly fading after that. Undertaker defeating Hogan of the title allowed the WWF title to then be freed up for Ric Flair and Randy Savage to fight over during 1992 and eventually for Bret Hart to be crowned World Champion. Of course, Hogan regained the WWF Title in 1993 during the WORST Wrestlemania of all time, but I'd like to say that the Undertaker tombstoned (although Hogan's head clearly misses the canvas/chair during the match) Hulkamania dead that day.

#1 - Montreal Screwjob - Shawn Michaels defeats Bret Hart for the WWE Title (SS 1997) - Duh! How can you not list this as the #1 moment? If I were to have a "Biggest Moments of All Time" column, this would certainly be up there in the top 5. This single moment changed the wrestling industry forever... Before Survivor Series 1996, Bret Hart signed a 20 year, $20 Million contract with the WWF after his contract expired following Wrestlemania 12. Bret Hart did ponder joining WCW to possibly become the "3rd man" of the New World Order but opted to remain with the WWF. However, this 20 year deal had an "out clause" that the WWF could exercise at their discretion. Short on cash for most of 1997, the WWF made a financial choice to reduce their annual payroll by $1 million to save on costs or to split up Bret's salary into the salaries of multiple younger wrestlers. That, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was clearly becoming the WWF's top money making star.

However, Bret Hart was WWF Champion at the time and Vince McMahon desired for him to drop the title to Shawn Michaels. By 1997, however, Bret and Shawn's personal relationship soured to the point where by November 1997, he was unwilling to drop the title to Shawn. Better yet in Bret Hart's contract, if the WWF exercised the "out clause", Bret would have full creative control over his character for the last month with the company. Bret's "NO" couldn't be defeated, at least in the backstage world. So thus, Vince McMahon had other plans and Shawn Michaels, who personally hated Bret at the time, had no problems going along with the plan. Bret headed into Survivor Series thinking that he escape the match with the WWF Title (I'm thinking a Hart Foundation or DX run-in was booked?) and then officially hand the WWF Title over the next night on RAW.

Survivor Series 1997 was in Montreal, Canada that year and we were early into the Internet era where it was known that Bret Hart was leaving. It was contentious in that arena with both Bret's last match being in his hometown and with it known that he was leaving the WWF for WCW (agreed to terms with WCW after the "out clause" was exercised), and I'll admit that having an anxious feeling watching the show with friends that evening. Bret and Shawn actually brawled for most of the match with what I felt was a lot of improvising during the match (you can hear them calling the match when close to the camera). At one point in the match, though, it was planned that Shawn Michaels would put Bret Hart in the Sharpshooter only for Bret Hart to reverse it into his own Sharpshooter. Before the match, Vince McMahon threatened Earl Hebner to join the conspiracy and when Shawn Michaels had Bret Hart in the Sharpshooter, Earl Hebner called for the bell and then got the hell out of the arena. Shawn Michaels acted like he was pissed off about the situation and Bret Hart stood up and spit in the face of Vince McMahon who was at ringside for the end of the match. Bret made hand signals for "WCW" and then went backstage to deliver a hard righthand to Vince McMahon's eye.

The match's controversial ending was HUGE in that it drew major attention to the WWF (and Monday Night RAW milked it for weeks) while making Vince McMahon officially known as the WWE's owner. Before Survivor Series 1997, it was known in most circles that Vince McMahon was not only a WWE announcer who would scream "WHAT A MANEUVER", but he was in fact the owner of the company. What he did to Bret that night made him notorious and it set the stage for him to be a thorn in Steve Austin's side for the next 2 years. Meanwhile, Bret Hart would join WCW and be just another former WWF veteran that WCW had no idea how to use. Just as Bret began to have a decent WCW career in late 1999, Bill Goldberg gave him a concussion of a lifetime.

I would STRONGLY recommend buying Wrestling with Shadows, which was a documentary Bret Hart was preparing to show behind-the-scenes footage of his 1997 wrestling career but it ended up capturing wrestling history. CLICK HERE to order it off of

Anyway - I hope you enjoyed my look back at the Survivor Series history. Enjoy the show tomorrow night!


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