WWE Survivor Series. One of the “big four” pay-per-views in WWE. The Survivor Series started as a Thanksgiving tradition in 1987 and is the second-longest running WWE pay-per-view event in company history. Speaking of history — fans might be shocked to learn how many historical moments that actually took place during WWE’s 27 different Survivor Series shows. Normally we like to rank things, but in this case, we’re going to simply look at some historical moments in the history of the WWE Survivor Series franchise.
In 1990, at the fourth installment of WWE’s Survivor Series, which was held in Hartford, Connecticut, two historical moments took place. Both for different reasons, by the way. First, WWE debuted what many consider to be their most awful and pointless character in company history. Boy is that saying a lot. During the build up to the event, WWE had a giant egg. They promised that at the event the egg would hatch and something big was going to happen. Many were speculating that it would be the WWE debut of the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Nope. 1990 was the debut of “The Gobbledy Gooker.” Portrayed by Hector Guerrero in a giant turkey suit, The Gobbledy Gooker was basically a rip-off of an Major League Baseball mascot, and was thought to be the future mascot of WWE. Things didn’t quite turn out that way. Who could forget “Mean” Gene Okerlund dancing around with “The Gobbledy Gooker” or “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Gorilla Monsoon attempting to enthusiastically “sell” their excitement about this during the broadcast? Classic stuff.
Also in 1990, a true legendary debut took place. WWE Hall Of Famer “The Million Dollar Man” would introduce his mystery partner for his “traditional elimination” style match at Survivor Series. It would be none other than The Undertaker. What else needs to be said? Undertaker debuted in 1990 at the Survivor Series, and the WWE hasn’t been the same since. Undertaker is truly a WWE icon and one of the most recognizable characters in the history of the company.
Speaking of The Undertaker, he had another historical moment at Survivor Series. In Detroit, Michigan in 1991, just one year after debuting at the major pay-per-view event, The Undertaker would defeat the legendary Hulk Hogan to earn his first reign as WWE Champion.
WWE Survivor Series would return in 1992 in Richfield, Ohio. One of the main events that evening would feature Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. This was actually the first WWE Championship match on pay-per-view between the two, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last, and certainly not the last time the two would square-off in a historical Survivor Series moment. More on that later.
Also at the 1992 Survivor Series pay-per-view, WWE debuted another “first.” Although this one wasn’t quite as historical, it was still a first. The Undertaker would square off against legendary pro wrestling character Kamala in WWE’s first ever casket match. Undertaker would go on to defeat Kamala, and win his first of what would become many casket matches.
Fast-forward a few years later, at the WWE Survivor Series event in 1995 in Landover, Maryland, a pretty historical moment took place. Alundra Blayze, the WWE Women’s Champion, along with her team that consisted of Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparrita Asari, lost to Bertha Faye and her team that consisted of Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe and Lioness Asuka. Why is this historical, you ask? It was actually Blayze’s last match in WWE that year, as she would pop up on WCW Nitro a few weeks later and throw her WWE Women’s Championship in the trash live on WCW television. It was also the beginning of the end for the WWE Women’s division, as it served as the final match for the division for a few years.
At the WWE Survivor Series event in Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, WWE Superstars Bret “Hitman” Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would square off in a match to determine the number one contender to the WWE Championship, which would be decided later that evening in a match between Shawn Michaels and Sid. The Hart-Austin showdown is historical because it was one of the first major singles matches between the two, and a match that many consider one of the launching points of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin character that would go on to change the face of wrestling throughout the remainder of the 1990s and into the early 2000s.
Also in 1996, a major WWE debut took place. The happy-go-lucky and full-of-smiles Rocky Maivia debuted. Maivia was the son of WWE legend Rocky Johnson and the grandson of WWE legend “High Chief” Peter Maivia. He would take his father’s first name, his grandfather’s last name and eventually shorten it to simply, “The Rock,” and go on to entertain and “electrify” millions and millions of fans in the sports entertainment world for years to come, before ultimately crossing over as the biggest Hollywood star to come out of pro wrestling. It all started for The Rock at WWE Survivor Series.
At WWE Survivor Series in 1997, which was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, arguably the single most controversial moment in WWE history took place. “The Montreal Screwjob.” What else needs to be said? For those who don’t know the story, here it is in an incredibly shortened version: Bret Hart was the WWE Champion at the time. Shawn Michaels was scheduled to defeat Hart at the pay-per-view.Hart, who was leaving WWE after this pay-per-view to make his WCW debut, refused to drop the title to Michaels in Montreal. WWE decided to have him drop it anyways without his knowledge or willing participation. The “screwjob” was set. During the match, Michaels would apply Hart’s own “Sharpshooter” on him as an agreed upon spot in the match. Hart was supposed to escape and the match was, as far as Hart knew, supposed to end in a disqualification. Instead, while Michaels had Hart in the Sharpshooter, referee Earl Hebner, per orders of McMahon, called for the bell. Michaels was announced as the winner by submission and the ne WWE Champion. WWE screwed Bret. If Vince’s eyes, Bret screwed Bret. Either way, Hart, who was pissed, would end up knocking out McMahon with a legitimate punch backstage after the show. McMahon was viewed by millions as a tremendous heel for what he had done, and decided to run with it and play into those thoughts by portraying a dastardly heel on-camera for the first time ever. It led to the “Mr. McMahon” character, who collided with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, setting up a feud that would end up swinging the momentum in the Monday Night War back to WWE, who was losing to WCW at the time, leading to the end of the war with WWE coming out on top.
In 1998, at the WWE Survivor Series event in St. Louis, Missouri, The Rock made history once again. After debuting two years earlier at the 1996 version of the event, The Rock would go on to defeat Mick Foley in the finals of the “Deadly Games” tournament to win the vacant WWE Championship. This was The Rock’s first official reign as the WWE Champion.
In 1999, at the WWE Survivor Series event in Detroit, Michigan, another WWE Superstar would go on to win his first WWE Championship. After winning a traditional elimination match, by himself, against four other men, Big Show would receive a WWE Championship title shot against Triple H and The Rock in a triple-threat match. Big Show would go on to win the match, and his first WWE title, in his first year in the company.
The 2001 WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view in Greensboro, North Carolina is historical for one key reason: it was the end of the “Invasion” storyline. Earlier that year, WCW went out of business. WWE bought the company. They also acquired ECW and combined the two into a group called “The Alliance,” led by Shane and Stephanie McMahon. The Alliance would feud with WWE in a battle that at Survivor Series was billed, “Winner Take All.” Team WWF (at the time) defeated “Team Alliance,” and the WWE was safe from being taken over by the invading group.
In the 2002 version of the WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, two historical moments took place. First, WWE would debut a new gimmick match known as “The Elimination Chamber.” The match was so successful that it would go on to become its’ own pay-per-view. The winner of the match was Shawn Michaels, the legendary WWE performer who had returned to the company after a several-year absence as an in-ring performer. Michaels won the match, and the World Heavyweight Championship, in what would be HBK’s last major run as a world champion in WWE.
In 2011, WWE Survivor Series again emanated from MSG in New York, with two more historical moments taking place. First, WWE legend The Rock had finally returned to the company and this would serve as his first official match back with the company. Rock would team with John Cena, who he would later face at WrestleMania in a singles match, and the two defeated R-Truth and The Miz. The fans passionately chanted “you still got it” at The Rock, and he would go on to wrestle several other matches at future WWE pay-per-views.
Also in 2011, WWE Superstar CM Punk, who had finally emerged as a top star in the company, defeated Alberto Del Rio to become the WWE Champion. This was the start of Punk’s history-making run as the longest reigning WWE Champion in the modern era. Punk would hold the WWE Championship for well over a year, something that was commonplace early on in pro wrestling history, but happens very rarely these days.
As you can see when reading through this column, many historical events have taken place at WWE Survivor Series. You can also notice that there are many years at times where nothing really “historical” happens. I don’t want to jinx tonight’s show, but looking at the lineup on paper, while it seems the show could be a pretty good event that provides fans with plenty of entertainment, it doesn’t appear as though anything is going to happen tonight that will be talked about for years to come. However, in WWE “anything can happen” and we’ll see after tonight if anything does happen that ends up in a future column that looks back on the rich history contained within the WWE Survivor Series annual tradition.
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