We're building to this Sunday's massive Survivor Series pay-per-view with a look back at the highs and lows of what it WWE's longest running pay-per-view after WrestleMania.
Although the gloss of the event has somewhat been taken off in recent years thanks to the 'brand rivalry', it’s still pleasing to see the focus back on the team element of what is essentially WWE’s first-ever ‘themed’ pay-per-view. Since it’s inception thirty years ago, Survivor Series has not only seen some of WWE’s most memorable moments, but also some the most entertaining and unlikely team combinations ever seen in a WWE ring.
Ahead of this year’s event and in the first of our Survivor Series look backs, we're counting down the ten best teams from the pay-per-views illustrious history. Which unfortunately means no mention of the Royal Family, Clowns R Us or Shawn Michaels and his coloured knights…
The Shield and Real Americans
(Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro and Jack Swagger)
Survivor Series 2013
There has been less emphasis on the traditional tag format in more recent years, but for the modern WWE fan this quintet made up of some of this generations biggest names is quite the team. One year on from their infamous debut, The Shield were dominating WWE TV and teamed with Zeb Coulter’s underrated duo of Ceasro and Swagger to take on Cody Rhodes, Goldust, The Usos and a returning Rey Mysterio. Few could predict how successful The Shield trio would go on to become but the culmination of the match was a sign of things to come for WWE fans, as Roman Reigns speared Mysterio to leave as the bout as the sole survivor.
Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy and Butch Reed
Survivor Series 1987
From one era to very much another, going back to the first ever Survivor Series and this formidable fivesome. Andre the Giant captained a team of super-heavyweights that looked more like something out of a horror film than a WWE ring. Weighing in at nearly a ton combined, Bobby Heenan’s mammoth collective took on Hulk Hogan and his team of Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff and Ken Patera. And even that collection of late eighties star power couldn’t take down this opposing team, with Andre the match’s survivor amid the build to his rematch with Hogan at WrestleMania III.
The All Americans
(Lex Luger, The Undertaker and The Steiner Brothers)
Survivor Series 1993
Slap bang in the middle of Lex Lugar’s monster push aboard the ‘Lex Express’ came this coming together of all American goodness that were aiming to take down the ‘Foreign Fanatics’. Lex had been feuding with Yokozuna ever since ‘the bodyslam heard around the world’ that summer and recruited The Steiner Brothers in all their old glory and later The Undertaker (after Tatanka was removed through injury). His team of USA thoroughbreds took out Yoko – who began a rivalry with The Deadman – along with Ludvig Borga, Crush (who was billed from Hawaii) and Quebecer Jacques. Lex was the sole survivor but for the Boston crowd it was a win for the stars and stripes that even saw Santa Claus celebrate with Luger at the end of the bout.
Survivor Series 2005
(Batista, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, JBL and Bobby Lashley)
Back in the first incarnation of the brand warfare this star-studded team was put together to represent SmackDown in their ‘war’ against the red brand. Led by Batista, the cohesive SmackDown line-up consisted of the star power of Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, JBL and Bobby Lashley. Putting their own differences aside, the blue boys got the better of a Raw team that included Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito and Chris Masters, thanks to some impressive team-work that saw Randy Orton survive to win the brand supremacy.
The Rude Brood
(Rick Rude, Mr Perfect and The Fabulous Rougeaus)
Survivor Series 1989
How did one ring contain such much ego and charisma? ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude assembled a team that had aesthetics along with agility in mind when he recruited Mr. Perfect and The Fabulous Rougeaus. Put up against the stark contrast of Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and the scalp-licking Bushwhakers, these pretty boys used all their technical proficiency and pleasantness on the eye to outshine their rowdy opponents. With the undefeated Curt Hennig leaving the match as the last man standing and keeping his perfect record intact.
(Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Big Show and RVD)
Survivor Series 2004
A match that showcased the amount of sheer talent that was on the blue brand around this time, as Eddie Guerrero led a team against foe Kurt Angle and his own cronies. Latino Heat combined the aerial prowess of himself and RVD – both no strangers to a frog splash or two – with the brute strength of The Big Show and SmackDown’s franchise player John Cena. The variation of the team was too good for Angle, Carlito, Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak, with only RVD missing at the culmination of the match for Eddie’s winning side.
(Hulk Hogan, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Demolition)
Survivor Series 1989
Hulk Hogan never struggled to surround himself with impressive Survivor Series allies during his early nineties heyday, but this was probably his strongest unit. Taking on the formidable team of Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, The Powers of Pain and Zeus (As part of Hogan’s feud with the actor during promotion for No Holds Barred), the Hulkster recruited Demolition to counter The Warlord and The Barbarian, alongside master of the mind games Jake Roberts. The combination overcome the villainous antics of DiBiase and co – with three of his team members being disqualified – and saw Hogan get the better of the Million Dollar Man to earn his popular team the win.
Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Hardy Boyz
Survivor Series 2006
In 2006 the combination of these five massive names looked very much like the past, present and future of WWE. Triple H and Shawn Michaels were in the middle of a DX reunion tour and added fans favourite The Hardys to their fold along with CM Punk, who just five months into his WWE career was already firmly over with the Philadelphia crowd. It was an assemble that clearly instantly clicked, as HBK eliminated Mike Knox within in forty seconds of the match and the team went on to achieve a clean sweep; disposing of Randy Orton, Edge, Gregory Helms and Johnny Nitro. The coolest Survivor Series team ever?
(Ultimate Warrior, The Texas Tornado, The Legion of Doom)
Survivor Series 1990
We’ve counted down some popular combinations thus far, but perhaps no team was hotter or stronger going into a Survivor Series event like The Warriors. Captained by WWE Champion Ultimate Warrior, who was at the peak of his powers, and flagged by Intercontinental champion the Texas Tornado and legendry tag team The Legion of Doom, this collective looked like they’d come straight off the pages of a comic book. Really the ‘Perfect Team’ of Mr. Perfect and Demolition didn’t stand a chance against the tassels and spikes of their colorful opponents and it was the WWE Champ who prevailed and went on to the Ultimate Survivors match to team with Hulk Hogan and Tito Santana.
Team WWF/Team Alliance
(The Rock, Big Show, The Undertaker and Chris Jericho vs ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Booker T, RVD, Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon)
Survivor Series 2001
We’ve lumped both of these teams together because never has there been more star power in one Survivor Series ring than during this bout deep into 2001’s invasion angle. Vince McMahon put together the cream of the crop to represent WWF; led by The Rock and aided by The Undertaker, Big Show and Chris Jericho. On the other side of the ring Team Alliance considted of the turncoat captain Steve Austin and his team of Shane McMahon, Booker T, Kurt Angle and RVD. Two all-time dream teams of wrestling superstars that came down to the People’s Champ and the Texas Rattlesnake, with the Great One ending the invasion and cementing WWE as the industry’s number one player.