Corrigan’s Corner: Ranking Every Survivor Series, Ever

Where does the night Goldberg squashed Brock rank in Survivor Series history?

I had high hopes for Survivor Series 2016, and WWE delivered albeit in unpredictable fashion. Although some finishes left a lot to be desired (Miz/Zayn, Kendrick/Kalisto), there wasn’t a bad match on the 3.5 hour show. And the ultimate finish, well, I hadn’t felt like that since WrestleMania XXX.

So where does last Sunday rank in the history of Survivor Series?

30) 2015

Drizzling shits.

In what could have been a fun tournament to crown a new champion after Rollins vacated the belt due to injury, WWE went the most predictable route possible by having Roman Reigns beat Alberto Del Rio and Dean Ambrose in sub-par matches to hold the title for about five minutes until Sheamus cashed in the Money in the Bank. Pissing in the proverbial wound, Undertaker’s highly promoted 25th anniversary culminated in yet another Brothers of Destruction reunion, squashing the Wyatt Family.

29) 2010

As Cena made the three count, and Randy Orton successfully retained the WWE Championship against NEXUS leader Wade Barrett, Matt Striker exclaimed, “Cena’s free!”

Except he wasn’t. He was actually fired. That’s how convoluted the storyline was.

And then he showed up on Raw every week and wrestled by TLC, rendering the entire thing a waste.

28) 1991

This entire show was designed to hype This Tuesday in Texas, a failed experiment to make weeknight pay-per-views a thing. In order to draw maximum interest, Undertaker (with the help of Ric Flair) beat Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Championship, causing a rematch to be scheduled for Texas a few minutes after the title change. Speaking of Flair, he was the sole survivor in the only good match of the evening, but it had the worst ending—everybody brawled in the ring and got disqualified and since Flair was outside of the ring, he was exempt.

27) 1993

Too many replacements hurt this show as Mr. Perfect, Jerry Lawler and Doink were all featured in big matches but didn’t show. Although Macho Man was a nice consolation prize in the opener, perhaps saving him for last would have saved the event from boring matches, illogical eliminations and a general feeling of apathy. Even Santa Claus couldn’t help!

26) 1999

Perhaps the biggest bait-and-switch in WWE history, Survivor Series 1999 was supposed to feature a triple threat main event of Stone Cold vs. The Rock vs. Triple H for the WWF Championship. However, because of lingering injuries, Austin was “run over” in the parking lot midway through the show by a mystery assailant. So instead of a star-studded 3-way dance, or even a one-on-one bout between the Great One and The Game, the Big Show filled in and somehow, someway, won the title.

25) 2013

The Authority storyline was running on all cylinders as Randy Orton successfully retained the title against Big Show in a snoozefest. It was a night of predictable outcomes as Bryan and Punk defeated the Wyatts and Cena retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio.

24) 1988

The co-captain format was introduced this year as the Mega Powers led Hercules, Hillbilly Jim and Koko B. Ware against the Twin Towers, DiBiase, Red Rooster and Haku. You’re probably surprised to see Koko and Rooster in the main event, but jobbers were par for the course throughout this show as Sam Houston, Scott Casey and the fucking Conquistadors filled out other matches. Aside from Mr. Fuji betraying Demolition, there were no true payoffs to any of the rivalries in the other bouts.

23) 1989

Teams shrank to 4 vs. 4, spawning five matches in total and a much quicker pace. Each team also had its own cool name like Roddy’s Rowdies, the King’s Court and the Rude Brood. There was heavy star power sprinkled throughout the show, but the match order should have been switched: the Hulkamaniacs went on before intermission to hype the special No Holds Barred Movie/Cage Match in December, leaving Ultimate Warrior’s team in the main event against the Heenan Family. Originally, Tully Blanchard was on the team, but a failed drug test led to Heenan himself filling in, and Andre was so immobile by this time, he simply took a countout seconds into the match.

22) 2006

I attended this one in Philly and brought home a cool PPV chair. The highlights were seeing Ric Flair team with Dusty Rhodes, Lita’s last match and a clean sweep from Team D-X. The last two matches – a predictable Team Cena vs. Team Big Show match and Batista winning the World Title from King Booker at a glacial pace – sunk the show.

21) 2012

Could CM Punk hold onto the WWE Championship for a year? That was the question on everyone’s minds as the Best in the World defended the gold against Cena and Ryback in a triple threat main event. After months of shenanigans including paying off referee Brad Maddox, Punk’s time with the title looked to have run out until The Shield debuted and mauled Ryback, allowing the champ to pin a prone Cena. Aside from Team Ziggler defeating Team Foley, it was a pretty lackluster show.

20) 2000

Three marquee matches carried this Attitude Era showcase as The Rock overcame the odds of the freshly turned heel Rikishi, Kurt Angle retained the WWF Championship over Undertaker due to his brother acting as a decoy and in the main event, Stone Cold gained revenge over Triple H orchestrating his hit-and-run attack a year earlier by dropping The Game from a forklift outside the arena.

19) 1990

In a format never duplicated, each of the survivors throughout the night would enter a main event match appropriately titled the Grand Finale. Although it wasn’t necessary to see Warlord twice in one show, there was some intrigue as to who end up teaming with the Ultimate Warrior at the end of the night. From a historical perspective, this show shines as the greatest debut (Undertaker) and the biggest flop (Gobbledy Gooker) occur. From a time-killer perspective, it’s worth a watch as the teams are fun and the matches are entertaining albeit not significant.

18) 1994

Walker Texas Ranger showed up so you know this show was badass. Shawn Michaels split up with Diesel, casting aside their Tag Team Titles and more importantly, their friendship. Chuck Norris roundhoused Jeff Jarrett, preventing the country crooner from interfering in Undertaker’s casket match with Yokozuna. And Bob Backlund, more than a decade since last wearing the gold, defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Championship after Owen manipulated his mother into throwing the towel for Bret.

17) 2003

A mix of Attitude and Ruthless Aggression, this show had all the fixins but lacked a meaty substance. The Brothers of Destruction fought the McMahons: Kane sent Shane packing in an Ambulance Match and Vince buried Undertaker alive with the help of…Kane. Goldberg retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Triple H in a so-so rematch from Unforgiven. The main attraction was Stone Cold’s co-GM run ending as Randy Orton led Team Bischoff to victory over Team Austin’s Shawn Michaels. WWE treated this as the Rattlesnake’s farewell, only for him to resume his duties as “Sheriff” a few weeks later.

16) 2004

The undercard carries this show as the cruiserweight opener, Intercontinental Title and Team Eddie vs. Team Angle match delivered while JBL retained the gold in a snoozer with Booker T and Randy Orton survived in the main event, allowing him, Jericho, Benoit and MAVEN to be in charge of Raw for one week each.

15) 1992

Ultimate Warrior quit the company less than two weeks before the show, leaving a huge tag team match in disarray. Luckily, Randy Savage persuaded Mr. Perfect to fill Warrior’s role and turn his back on the camp of Ric Flair, Razor Ramon and Bobby Heenan. It was Perfect’s first match as a face in the WWF and the crowd erupted for it. In the main event, WWF Champion Bret Hart and Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels settled in for a nearly 30-minute technical masterclass, a stark contrast from the less steak, more sizzle style perpetuated by the Hulkster for many years.

14) 2005

Team Smackdown defeated Team RAW in a pretty exciting, yet illogical main event. World Heavyweight Champion Batista was Smackdown’s captain, despite he and teammate Randy Orton moving to Smackdown only that summer. Orton ended up as the sole survivor and celebrated with the Smackdown roster until Undertaker emerged from a burning casket and cleaned house in the ring. Plus, Triple H defeated Ric Flair in a hellacious Last Man Standing match and John Cena retained the WWE Championship against Kurt Angle in a 3-ref circus.

13) 2014

A one-match show, but that match delivered. The stakes were high as either The Authority was ousted from power or John Cena’s partners Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback were all fired. It was a roller coaster with surprise eliminations, another Big Show heel turn, and the long-awaited debut of Sting. It was also Ziggler’s greatest performance until No Mercy 2016. It’s just a shame that the stipulation was rendered pointless as the Authority resumed power only a few weeks later.

12) 2016

In a finish more shocking than the Montreal Screwjob, Goldberg squashed Brock Lesnar in under two minutes. Plus, RAW and Smackdown went to war in three solid traditional elimination matches—the best being the main event where the Wyatt Family (Orton included) outlasted Team Raw.

11) 2001

The WWF faced extinction in a “winner take all” war against The Alliance. Aside from unification matches between Edge and Test and The Dudleyz and Hardyz, this show mattered because of the five-on-five elimination match between Stone Cold, Shane O’Mac, Kurt Angle, Booker T & RVD and The Rock, Chris Jericho, the Brothers of Destruction and Big Show. Much like Survivor Series 2014’s main event, there were twists and turns such as Y2J attacking Rock after elimination and Angle turning on The Alliance, but it was truly about Rock vs. Austin at the end. Obviously, you know who won.

10) 1997

An anomaly due to the Montreal Screwjob. The undercard was rubbish aside from a couple of elimination matches and Stone Cold getting revenge on Owen Hart for breaking his neck at SummerSlam. But the main event, c’mon, it changed everything. You already know what happened, but you might not know that it was a pretty damn good match.

9) 2007

Hell in a Cell finally came to Survivor Series as Batista and Undertaker attempted to culminate their year-long rivalry with a bloody brawl; however, Edge, disguised as a cameraman, interfered and costed the Deadman the title. In the semi-main event, Shawn Michaels unsuccessfully challenged Randy Orton for the WWE Championship in a match where Sweet Chin Music was banned. Overall, the show was good, but 2008 gets the higher rank due to the historical ramifications.

8) 2008

This was a tale of two cities: John Cena returning after three months away due to neck surgery to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Jericho in Cena’s backyard of Boston, and Jeff Hardy being found incapacitated in a hotel the morning of. So the triple threat originally scheduled became Triple H defending the WWE Title against Kozlov in a match I enjoyed but the fans loathed, until Edge made his shocking return and won the gold.

7) 2011

FINALLY…The Rock came home! After seven years away from the ring, The People’s Champ returned to team up with WrestleMania opponent John Cena against The Miz and R-Truth. Obviously, the Awesome Truth never had a prayer, but the hype surrounding Rock’s comeback match, his tension with Cena and his return to Madison Square Garden made this show electric. Plus, CM Punk, fresh off the Pipebomb and perhaps the hottest hero in the company, won back the WWE Championship from Alberto Del Rio.

6) 1998

A World Heavyweight Championship tournament done right, the Deadly Game featured all of the Federation’s top stars and a couple surprises in an entertaining finale to Mr. McMahon’s crowning of a corporate champion. Although the matches were either short or unspectacular, the drama surrounding the event with shocking twists and satisfying payoffs made for a memorable evening and set the wheels in motion for the next great chapter in the Attitude Era: Rock as the Corporate Champ, Mankind as the naïve underdog and Stone Cold as the screwed hero hellbent on vengeance.

5) 1987

Ah, where it all began. The team concept was fresh as it forced top stars to pair up against other top stars in a deviation from the squash match formula of the time. Putting the event on Thanksgiving also added a fun flavor to the team format, evoking elements of family and football. The inaugural was the best at dividing the matchups: a midcard, women’s, tag team and main event featuring Andre and Hogan in the same ring for the first time since WrestleMania III.

4) 2002

Eventful is an understatement—this show changed the game for WWE. Every title that was defended changed hands, the Dudleyz reunited, Scott Steiner returned, Paul Heyman screwed Brock Lesnar, the Elimination Chamber debuted and Shawn Michaels won the World Heavyweight Championship in only his second match since returning from a four-year sabbatical.

3) 1995

Big Daddy Cool’s nearly year-long reign came to an end as Bret Hart small packaged the giant for the victory. The aftermath was even crazier than the No Holds Barred affair as Diesel drops an F bomb and rampages on Hart and several referees. The rest of the show was great, too, with an unpredictable wild card match of villains teaming with heroes, a fun spotfest between Japanese women, an exciting opener that set the pace for WCW’s cruiserweight division and the Undertaker, donned in a Phantom of the Opera mask, staging a one-man massacre.

2) 1996

Sweet Jesus, I wish I attended this one. Sid dethroned Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship to a massive pop from the NYC crowd. Bret Hart returned to action for the first time since WrestleMania, tearing down the Garden with Stone Cold. Plus, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment debuted.

What holds this show from the top spot is a couple of traditional elimination matches which sucked the life out. Luckily, Austin & Hart and HBK & Sid revived it.

1) 2009

This may be the perfect WWE PPV. The two traditional elimination matches, featuring a collection of veterans and rookies with feuding captains, ended with future prospects (Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre and Kingston) as the survivors. Continuing his hot heel run, Batista destroyed Rey Mysterio in a short, but effective David vs. Goliath match. The World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship were both defended in triple threat matches with each champion battling tag team partners, yet both matches were distinctly different. Jeri-Show mostly remained on the same page while fighting Undertaker, whereas D-X split within the first two seconds while challenging John Cena.

The show never slowed down and the fans popped for everything, cementing Survivor Series 2009 as an all-time classic.

John Corrigan
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John Corrigan

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