My Top 5 Survivor Series PPVs In History
Tonight is one of WWE's Big 4 Pay-Per-Views, Survivor Series. Now the odds are that tonight will not be remembered as one of the greatest ever. Not one of the greatest PPVs ever, or even one of the greatest Survivor Series shows ever.
There are a lot of reasons why the deck is stacked against them; there's no real ramifications laid out if teams lose, there's a lack of interested in 2/3 Survivor Series matches, and the main attraction is between two part-time wrestlers. In all honesty, if they had a botch-free show, it still would't crack the Top 10 Survivor Series shows of all time.
But I don't want to rank all of them, or really get into why each is so much better than the other, I just wanted to lay out my 5 favorite Survivor Series shows for you, so here we go:
#5 - Survivor Series 1999
This show had it quirks, but it also had swerves all over the place...which is what WWE is missing most right now. One of their hottest competitors, if not THE hottest competitor, Stone Cold Steve Austin was set to fight for the Championship, and was likely the favorite by most. But he's written out of the match midway through the night. Now all bets are off. Then they insert a man who already had a match that night, The Big Show, into the main event. Most modern-day smarks (smart marks, or internet marks) would have considered Big Show to be nothing but filler...but then he won. Who the hell would see that coming in the 2016 WWE? No one. If Big Cass was put into a Championship match today, no one would consider him a viable option, so imagine if he won. WWE needs more unpredictability in their current product.
#4 - Survivor Series 2005
This might have been the best example of what WWE is trying to do today with their "brand split". The difference between 2005 and today, is the give-a-damn factor. Why do I care about today's Team Raw? They're an odd combo of 'good guys' and 'bad guys' who have no incentive or threat if they lose. There was an over-used threat of "getting fired" if they lose, but in today's WWE, that's a wasted move...we know they're not getting fired. But in 2005 you had guys you actually cared about, creating a battle you were invested in. There were actually "Smackdown loyalists" and "Raw loyalists". Mostly because the guys on Smackdown were finally getting pushes they deserved, and the Raw guys remained the same-old shtick. What they have in 2016 is pretty much two versions of the same product. We haven't seen new faces getting harder pushes on one brand or the other.
#3 - Survivor Series 1992
If you were under 18 when these Undertake promos started to roll out, you had some lines blurred. The days of the brightly colored Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, and Hulk Hogan were starting to fade, and a darkly clothed massive monster was now building coffins to bury them.
This dude was our horror movies. When you were a kid, and it was "still real to you" (dammit) you really thought this guy was going to end your favorite flashy superstars. He's out in a foggy barn hand-building caskets, that's real life when you're 7-years-old.
There are people who want to say that the 1997 Survivor Series and the Montreal Screwjob was the start of the Attitude Era, but I will argue that the moment these Undertaker promos started airing was the real start of the Attitude Era. If these seeds aren't planted in November of 1992, they don't grow into the fertile imagination land the Attitude Era was allowed to plant in.
#2 - Survivor Series 2001
So let's go from the start of the Attitude Era (at least my idea of the start in 1992) to the apex of it. In 2001, the Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWF(E) were officially over, even though there was still an effort to keep the flame alive.
Vince McMahon had purchased both of him main competitors, WCW and ECW, but didn't fully extinguish the brands. Instead he allowed them to operate underneath the WWF(E) brand. Which allowed him to create factions within his own company, much like he's trying to do now with Raw vs. Smackdown. Main difference being that in 2001, the guys on the WCW/ECW team were actually FROM the other brand, and had fought against WWF(E) for years. Giving this match-up a certain spice that can't be obtained otherwise.
Then the brilliant writing of having a "defector" within one group acted as both a potential 'red herring' and as an escape plan for the match-up. Which comes back to the whole "no idea what's going to happen" unpredictability today's product is lacking. Looking at tonight's entire Survivor Series card, I feel confident that I could predict all of the matches with a 90%+ success rate. I hope it's not that way, but that's what it has been for 2+ years now.
#1 - Survivor Series 1998
Slightly unfair, because what made this night great wasn't even a true, traditional Survivor Series match. This night was made great through the Deadly Games Tournament. You had the biggest names, some mid-card guys, and some true jobbers (sorry Duane Gill) all in the tournament. You had the now fully evil, corporate, Mr. McMahon trying to "rig the system" on screen now, and you didn't know what he was going to do.
The night started with Vince backing Mankind in some awkward partnership that seemed so odd, you knew it couldn't last. But because of the unpredictability of the product, there wasn't anyone else in the bracket you could see siding with Vince. What, was his mortal enemy Stone Cold going to join him? You think Vince could convince evil incarnate between Undertaker or Kane to do HIS bidding? Goldust wasn't about to be photographed next to Vince holding the title. The Rock had been arrested thanks to Vince, so he was a long-shot. So Mankind seemed as good of a bet as any.
So when Vince throws down the swerve at the end, and orchestrates a fully-scripted redo of the Montreal Screwjob (took place 12 months earlier to intentionally strip the title off Brett Hart before he left the company) to give Rock the title over his hand-picked entrant Mankind, all bets were off. You literally had less than 1% of those viewing who would have predicted that result.
If today's WWE wants to recapture the momentum of the Attitude Era, it honestly has nothing to do with guys mooning each other, swearing on TV, bra and panties matches, unprotected chair shots, massive blood, or anything like that. The true magic of the Attitude Era was that you had no idea what was going to happen next. You had 5-6 great stories being told at any one time, and they all were as unpredictable as the next.
Look at the biggest moments from this year, they were things you didn't see coming. Triple H shows up to help Kevin Owens win, not Seth Rollins. Zach Ryder wins the IC Title at Wrestlemania. The Brand Split actually takes place. Finn Balor wins the Universal Title in his first few matches. Ambrose chases in Money in the Bank the same night he wins in. These are all unpredictable moment,s but they're too few, and too far between.