30 Greatest Survivor Series Matches

In honor of the 30th anniversary, John Corrigan counts down the greatest matches in Survivor Series history.

No matter what WWE produces in two weeks, the greatest match in our country’s history just ended. The promos were memorable, the mud-slinging was vicious and thankfully, we didn’t get a Dusty Finish ala the 2000 election.

Now that you’ve voted on America’s new president, take some time to read this list and vote once more:

What is the greatest match in Survivor Series history?

30) Roddy’s Rowdies vs. Rude Brood, 1989

Piper’s wild bunch dominated the beginning of the match, with Superfly and Piper eliminating the Rougeaus. Then Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude evened things up with a roll-up and Rude Awakening on the Bushwhackers. All hell broke loose when Piper tagged in to face Rude, and the two brawled to the backstage area for a double countout. That left Snuka and Perfect, who had a fun one-on-one match until Perfect caught the Superfly with a Perfectplex.

29) Daniel Bryan vs. Ted DiBiase, 2010

An action-packed opener, Bryan carried this U.S. Title match, bumping all over the ring and rallying back with high impact maneuvers. Michael Cole’s anti-Bryan commentary soiled my enjoyment, though.

28) Team Ziggler vs. Team Foley, 2012

Tensions were high for Team Foley as Randy Orton and Miz bickered, Team Hell No refused to get along and Kofi was stuck in the middle. The final minutes put this match on the list as Orton was left against Del Rio and Ziggler. On the outside, Foley stuffed Mr. Socko down Ricardo’s gullet, distracting Rio for the RKO. Then Orton attempted a punt on Zig, but ran into a superkick for the victory.

27) Bad Guys vs. Teamsters, 1994

Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart and Jeff Jarrett held down the fort against Razor Ramon’s posse, giving us intriguing matchups like Owen vs. Bulldog and 1-2-3 Kid vs. the Anvil. But then Diesel tagged in and cleaned house, eliminating the Headshrinkers and Kid with consecutive jackknife powerbombs. A big boot knocked Bulldog to the outside for a countout, leaving Ramon all to his lonesome.

A back-and-forth slugfest between the future Outsiders ended with Diesel power bombing Ramon, but then Shawn Michaels demanded to be tagged in after sitting out the entire match. That’s not all—HBK requested that Diesel, visibly exhausted, hold up Ramon for some Sweet Chin Music. Unfortunately, the Bad Guy slipped from Diesel’s grasp, and Michaels nailed his Tag Team Championship partner. Big Daddy was not cool about it, and knocked out his partners in hot pursuit of his cowardly mentor, allowing Ramon to be the sole survivor.

26) Batista vs. Rey Mysterio, 2009

More of a slaughter than a match, the Animal began his hot heel run by decimating his former friend with a spear, spinebuster and three powerbombs, forcing the ref to stop the match on account of TKO. It was even greater than your typical big man vs. little man match because of the personal animosity seeping out of Batista, who had Rey sign a “hold harmless agreement” before the match, relinquishing Batista from any legal repercussions for the destruction about to unfold.

25) Team Miz vs. Team Morrison, 2009

The future arrived as Miz, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus kicked off Survivor Series 2009 in dominant fashion. McIntyre eliminated Evan Bourne and Matt Hardy with his Future Shock DDT, Miz ousted Shelton with the Skull Crushing Finale and Sheamus eliminated Finlay with a Brogue Kick after the old Irishman took his eye off the Celtic Warrior for one second. It all came down to captain Morrison, who despite a valiant effort against his former partner Miz, couldn’t overcome the numbers’ advantage and succumbed to Sheamus’ High Cross.

24) Team HHH vs. Team Umaga, 2007

The Cerebral Assassin was supposed to team with Mysterio, Kane, Jeff Hardy and his brother Matt, but MVP injured the Hardy brother on Smackdown, leaving Team Umaga with a 5-on-4 advantage. Thanks to Big Daddy V and Umaga throwing their weight around, that quickly became a 5-on-2 advantage. And then one by one, Hardy and Triple H eliminated the opposing team (including Jeff getting revenge for his bro by pinning MVP), finishing off Umaga with a Pedigree/Swanton combo.

23) The Million Dollar Team vs. The Dream Team, 1990

This is how you make a star.

Ted DiBiase announced a mystery partner for his Million Dollar Team, and then brought out the mysterious giant known as the Undertaker, accompanied by short-lived manager Brother Love. Rather than build anticipation for the Deadman’s offense, Undertaker actually started the match (with Bret Hart in a cool fun fact) and tossed everyone around before eliminating Koko B. Ware in quick fashion with a Tombstone.

Taker went on to also eliminate Dusty Rhodes cleanly with a closeline after walking the ropes. The debuting monster only left the match after chasing Rhodes for beating up his manager and being counted out. Thus, it came down to Hart vs. DiBiase in a brief technical clinic before the Million Dollar Man reversed a crossbody and hooked the leg for the win.

It was a tough loss for Hitman but a valiant effort, as Roddy Piper revealed on commentary (in passionate support of his Canadian cousin) that Hart’s brother Dean passed away the day before due to kidney disease.

22) The Shield & Real Americans vs. Usos, Rhodes Brothers & Rey Mysterio, 2013

Roman’s coming out party showcased the muscle of The Shield as its breakout star. Although the heroes fought down to a 5-on-2 advantage, Rollins and Reigns rallied back with the Big Dog eliminating four opponents total and becoming the sole survivor.

21) Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian, 2004

A back-and-forth technical clinic reminiscent of the glory days of the Intercontinental Championship, Benjamin and Captain Charisma stole the show with several near falls until Benjamin kicked Tomko off the apron and reversed Christian’s attack into an Exploder suplex for the win.

20) Ric Flair vs. Triple H, 2005

A Last Man Standing match between mentor and protégé, Triple H dominated the Nature Boy early on, stabbing a screw driver in his forehead as Flair donned the crimson mask. Eventually, the Dirtiest Player in the Game rallied back with a testicle claw, followed up by wearing down HHH’s legs. After three Pedigrees with Flair consistently pulling himself up before the count of 10, the Cerebral Assassin smashed a sledgehammer into his childhood hero’s spine for the victory.

19) Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels, 2008

If the Viper got disqualified, he would lose the WWE Championship. If HBK used Sweet Chin Music, he’d lose the match. The stipulations made for an interesting matchup as Michaels outwrestled Orton, wearing him down with several holds and then trying to make him submit with the ankle lock, sharpshooter and even the crossface (just a few months after the Benoit tragedy). In the end, Michaels hesitated when attempting a superkick, and Orton capitalized with an RKO.

18) The Hart Foundation, The Islanders, The Dream Team, Demolition and The Bolsheviks v. Strike Force, The Young Stallions, The British Bulldogs, The Rougeaus and the Killer Bees, 1987

Unprecedented, this 20-man tag team never slowed down for almost 40 minutes as the greatest teams of the Rock N Wrestling Era faced off. There were several innovative finishes like Dynamite Kid hitting Haku with a flying headbutt, but taking the worst of it because Haku is a badass coconut head Samoan and nailed Kid with a thrust kick. Then Valentine attempted a figure four on Jim Powers, but Paul Roma jumped off the turnbuckle for a sunset flip. Surprisingly, the Killer Bees and Young Stallions survived.

17) Chris Jericho vs. Big Show vs. Undertaker, 2009

The Deadman fended off Jeri-Show for the entire match, never selling outside the ring or catching his breath. Of course with the title on the line, Jericho and Show wouldn’t remain cohesive so it was fun when they went at it. Undertaker catching Show in the Hell’s Gate to retain the title drew huge cheers from the Washington D.C. crowd.

16) The Rock vs. Rikishi, 2000

When it was finally revealed that Rikishi was the one who ran down Stone Cold, the porculent Samoan said he did it for his cousin Rock. After all, Samoans had been held back (world champ Yokozuna, tag champs Afa & Sika) for years in the WWF. Rock didn’t appreciate the blame so he Rock Bottomed Rikishi, who retaliated by smashing a sledgehammer in Rock’s chest and ribcage.

So the People’s Champ entered this battle at less than 100%, but he charged at Big Kish nonetheless. Every time Rock would hit a signature move, Rikishi stopped his momentum by targeting the injured ribs. The crowd rallied behind the Great One as he gasped for air. Eventually, Rock used Rikishi’s momentum against him for a spinebuster, followed up by the People’s Elbow for the win. The electricity of the fans carried this match as evil Rikishi proved to be a great foil for the uber-popular Rock.

15) Batista vs. Undertaker, 2008

A bloody brawl inside Hell in a Cell, the Animal and the Deadman used everything not nailed down to destroy one another in the culmination of their year-long rivalry. Unfortunately, a clear-cut winner was never decided as Edge, disguised as a cameraman, returned after several months away and blasted Undertaker with a conchairto on the steel steps, allowing Batista to pick up the tainted victory.

14) John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H, 2009

Within the first two seconds of the match, Shawn Michaels shocked the world by delivering Sweet Chin to Triple H. It set the tone for the match that this was truly every man for himself. This was more of three singles matches than a triple threat, as each man would sell outside the ring while the other two went at it. The finishing sequence led to everyone attempting their trademark moves until Cena hit Michaels with an AA onto HHH for the win.

13) Team Andre vs. Team Hogan, 1987

For the first time since WrestleMania III, the Hulkster and Andre would be in the same ring, and by God, it was pandemonium. Hogan’s partners included Don Muraco, Ken Patera and his former rival Paul Orndorff. Andre’s partners included Butch Reed, Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang. Shockingly, Hogan was eliminated after Bundy and Gang kept him outside the ring for a countout, leaving Bigelow to fend off the three monsters. Bammer managed to outlast Bundy and Gang, but Andre quickly suplexed him for the win.

12) John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev & Luke Harper, 2014

If Team Cena won, The Authority would be ousted from power. If Team Rollins won, everyone on Cena’s team (aside from Cena) would be fired. With the stakes so high, fans expected an all-out war and that’s exactly what we got with surprising eliminations, another Big Show heel turn and the long-awaited debut of Sting. It was Ziggler’s finest moment until No Mercy 2016.

11) Bodydonnas vs. Underdogs, 1995

Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Barry Horowitz & Bob Holly v. Bodydonna Skip, Rad Radford, Dr. Tom Pritchard & The 1-2-3 Kid

Setting the pace for WCW’s cruiserweight division, these ten athletes left it all in the ring in a can’t-blink opener. The Bodydonnas consisted of Skip, Dr. Tom Pritchard (not yet Zip, actually), Bodydonna-in-training Rad Radford and the freshly-turned sell out, 1-2-3 Kid. The Underdogs consisted of Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Bob Holly and James Ellsworth’s protégé, Barry Horowitz.

Pritchard was the first to go due to Holly, who was quickly rolled up by Skip. Radford then took out Hakushi after Kid kicked him from behind. Attempting to impress Skip and Sunny with some pushups, Radford took his eye off the ball and Barry shot the half for the pin. Then he was eliminated by a decapitating leg drop from Kid. Jannetty evened the score by hitting Skip with a awesome top rope powerbomb.

It came down to Jannetty and Kid, former Tag Team Champions and survivors just two years earlier. However, Kid showed his true colors and his new manager Ted DiBiase distracted the ref while Sid knocked out Jannetty for Kid to scoop the victory.

10) Team Kingston vs. Team Orton, 2009

Fresh off his memorable Boom Drop at MSG, Kofi Kingston was riding an unbelievable wave of momentum into this match with partners Mark Henry, MVP, Christian and R-Truth. However, Orton’s team flowed in devious cohesion, quickly eliminating Henry and Truth with attacks from behind and then cutting off the ring at every opportunity. It came down to Kofi vs. Punk, as Orton paced at ringside, a viper stalking his prey. After several near falls, Kofi reversed a roll up on Punk for the pin, and then caught Orton on the pounce with a Trouble in Paradise for the victory and thunderous ovation.

9) Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, 1992

Stark contrast from the Hogan main events at the time, WWF Champion Bret Hart and Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels settled in for a nearly 30-minute technical masterclass. The Canadian hero outwrestled the cocky up-and-comer to start, but the Heartbreak Kid raked the eyes and pulled some greasy hair along the way. Michaels took control once Hart went shoulder first into the steel post, and wore down the Hitman with several submissions.

Hart struggled to fire back and the two stars of the 90s went back-and-forth hitting their signature moves. After Michaels hit a superkick and his then-finisher suplex, the crowd popped for Hart kicking out. Exasperated, HBK jumped off the turnbuckle, but the Excellence of Execution caught him in the Sharpshooter for the tapout.

8) Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, 1997

Totally different from their match five years earlier, this was the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Although the controversial ending hurts the match’s quality, the lava hot atmosphere of the crowd earns it higher rank than their previous encounter. From his entrance to his humping the Canadian flag to the indecisive ending, Michaels has the people craving his death. Because these are the two biggest rivals in the history of pro wrestling, they obviously start the match by brawling outside the ring, through the fans and up the ramp. Hart holds nothing back, backdropping Michaels on the concrete several times.

Inside the ring, HBK counters with his signature flying forearm and kip up, but Hart halts his momentum by working the leg and wrapping it around the steel post for a figure four. The finish comes as Hart hits a double ax handle off the top rope, but Michaels pulls Earl Hebner in the way. Then Michaels locks Bret in the Sharpshooter, and Hebner rings the bell at Vince McMahon’s behest.

The show goes off the air abruptly, but the conversation of this match will never silence.

7) Elimination Chamber, 2002

Aside from The Dark Knight and The Godfather, sequels can’t top the original. The first Elimination Chamber had the mysterious aura, a great lineup of participants, the returning Shawn Michaels and a hot heel champion in Triple H.

The Game started off with Rob Van Dam in the first five minutes, demonstrating the danger of the match by slamming each other on the steel grate and crashing into the chains. Chris Jericho entered next, and despite feuding with Triple H earlier in the year, teamed up with the Cerebral Assassin to wear down RVD. Booker T then entered the fray to even up the score, carving out enough time for a Spinarooni. It was during this interval that RVD climbed to the very top of the Chamber and hit a 5-Star Frog Splash that blew out his knee and crushed HHH’s throat.

Booker eliminates RVD afterward, then Kane comes in to wreak havoc and chokeslam everyone. Jericho hits a Lionsault to pin Booker. Finally, Michaels enters and all three survivors hit their finishers on Kane to knock out the demon. So it’s back to 2 on 1 as Triple H and Jericho wear down the Heartbreak Kid, who has Madison Square Garden enthusiastically behind him. Communications break down between Y2J and HHH, and as Jericho locks HHH in the Walls, Michaels superkicks Jericho for the elimination.

It comes down to Michaels and Triple H, former friends and legendary rivals, the mentor and the protégé, clashing over the World Heavyweight Championship. HBK backdrops HHH out of a Pedigree and hits Sweet Chin Music to win the title for the last time in his career.

“Do you believe in miracles,” J.R. exclaims as confetti falls through the Chamber.

6) Team WWF vs. The Alliance, 2001

The greatest threat to the Federation since Ted Turner and the FBI, the Alliance of Shane O’Mac-led WCW and Steph-led ECW went to war against their father’s empire. Stone Cold captained The Alliance, which consisted of Kurt Angle, Booker T, RVD and Shane. The Rock captained Team WWF, consisting of Kane, Undertaker, Chris Jericho and the Big Show.

The first ten minutes or so was non-stop action as everybody tagged in and Shane incessantly broke up pins. Not surprisingly, Big Show was first eliminated after everybody hit their finishers (aside from Austin) and Shane made the cover. Well, turnabout is fair play as the Brothers of Destruction and Y2J hit their finishers to eliminate the product of Vinnie Mac’s semen. Kane and Undertaker were then taken out, leaving rivals Jericho & Rock to fend off the Alliance.

A Skull Crushing Finale to RVD, school boy to Booker and a Sharpshooter to Angle turned the tide in favor of Team WWF, until Austin reversed a roll up on Jericho to make it Rock vs. Stone Cold.

But wait! Jericho hits The Rock from behind, screwing over Team WWF…but Rock kicks out! The crowd goes bananas as the two biggest stars of the Attitude Era duke it out with referees down, Rock Bottoms and Stunners and birds flipped. Angle runs back out with the title in hand and cracks his teammate in the face with it, allowing Rock to hit the Rock Bottom for the victory.

5) Team Bischoff vs. Team Austin, 2003

If Shawn Michaels, Booker T, RVD & the Dudleyz won, then Raw co-GM Steve Austin could open a can of whoopass on anyone, at any time, without being physically provoked. If Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Christian, Scott Steiner & Mark Henry won, then Austin would have to leave WWE.

The final minutes of this nearly half-hour affair make this a classic as Michaels was trapped in a 3-on-1 situation. Even worse, Christian slingshotted him into the steel post, busting open the Heartbreak Kid. HBK fought back, though, eliminating Christian with Sweet Chin and then reversing the Walls of Jericho into a roll up. It came down to the Legend Killer and the Showstoppa as the ref went down and Bischoff interfered, prompting Austin to unleash hell on his nemesis and Stunner Orton.

As Austin pummeled Bischoff up the aisle, Batista snuck into the ring and powerbombed Michaels, allowing Orton to get the win. Austin realized his rage got the best of him and instead of stunnering the apologetic Michaels as usual, he helped his former WrestleMania foe to the back for medical attention.

4) John Cena vs. Chris Jericho, 2008

Returning to action after three months away due to neck surgery, John Cena challenged World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho in Cena’s backyard of Boston. Jericho, at the height of his methodical villainy following his classic rivalry with Shawn Michaels, targeted Cena’s neck throughout the entire match. Of course, Cena never gave up and went on to win the title in front of his beloved hometown fans.

3) Shawn Michaels vs. Sid, 1996

Not since John Cena have I seen a crowd shit all over the top babyface. But if it would happen anywhere, it would be the Big Apple.

You have to watch this match (Sid’s greatest, BTW) just for the hostile atmosphere alone. Thunderous boos drowned out orgasmic shrieks from the women in attendance as Shawn Michaels defended the WWE Championship against the monstrous Psycho Sid. Michaels works the leg to start off, but Sid overpowers and demolishes him on the outside. Back in the ring, HBK attempts Sweet Chin, but Sid catches him for a chokeslam to one of the loudest pops ever.

Michaels kicks out, kips up and turns into a decapitating closeline. Then Sid snatches a camera, and hits Michaels’ manager Jose Lothario with it, causing the elderly Mexican legend to have a heart attack. As Michaels tends to his mentor, Sid blasts him with the camera from behind, tosses him into the ring for a powerbomb, and captures the WWF Championship.

2) Diesel vs. Bret Hart, 1995

Both men tear off turnbuckle pads to start, establishing that it’s No Holds Barred. Big Daddy Cool overpowers Hart in the beginning, mauling him in the corner and on the outside. As Diesel attempts a jackknife, Hart holds the leg and then bites the champion. The Hitman then fires back by working the leg, and actually tying a chord around it. Several chair shots later, and the big man has been worn down by the renowned technician. Eventually, Diesel recovers and sends Hart flying off the apron and crashing through the Spanish announce table in an unprecedented “Holy Shit” moment.

Back in the ring, Diesel goes for the powerbomb, but Hart collapses. When Diesel picks him up again, Hart pulls him in for a small package to win the WWF Championship. Big Daddy Cool’s nearly year-long reign came to an end, which he was not pleased about. Diesel screamed “Motherfucker” after the pin and pummeled Hart along with several referees, making a monster heel turn for his last few months before departing to WCW.

1) Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold, 1996

Months before their classic WrestleMania encounter, the Hitman and the Texas Rattlesnake tore the house down at Madison Square Garden. It was Hart’s first match since losing the WWF Championship to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII, and he chose Steve Austin to be his victim. As you can imagine, Austin was happy to oblige and brought the fight to the Hitman.

Although he was the villain, Stone Cold received a massive pop from the New York City fans, and really evolved into a legit main eventer during this match. It was a see-saw battle of brawling outside the ring and technical wrestling in between the ropes. Hart kicked out of the Stunner, and Austin escaped the Sharpshooter. In the closing moments, Austin locked in the Million Dollar Dream, and Hart bounced off the ropes to reverse it, pinning Austin’s shoulders to the mat ala Hart-Piper at WrestleMania VIII.

John Corrigan
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John Corrigan

Columnist / Assistant Editor at Wrestledelphia.com
John Corrigan
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