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Greatest Survivor Series Matches Of All Time

The Best There Was

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A Brief History of Survivor Series

In 1987, the WWE (then known as WWF) had been thrust into the mainstream in ways nobody except for maybe Vince McMahon imagined. Hulkamania was running wild, Wrestlemania III packed the Pontiac Silverdome with 93,000 rabid fans and André the Giant had become the biggest heel in the world.  

Despite the ever-growing popularity of the WWE, other professional wrestling organizations were also finding huge success most notably The National Wrestling Alliance who hired top talent like The Nature Boy Ric Flair, Sting, Tully Blanchard, The Road Warriors, Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Ron Garvin and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, to name just a few.

National Wrestling Alliance also had Starrcade, an annual professional wrestling Supercard event produced by Jim Crockett Promotions under the NWA banner. Starrcade was the biggest show the NWA had to offer. It was in its fifth year and took place on Thanksgiving weekend, November 26, 1987, from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. It was also the first NWA event to be broadcast live on pay-per-view, and Vince McMahon being the megalomaniac he is, couldn’t stand the thought of his competition taking a share of the PPV market. McMahon knew that Starrcade could win over a large majority of his audience and so McMahon devised a plan to compete with NWA. He would create Survivor Series, a new annual event that would expand WWE’s library of pay-per-view action. If that wasn’t enough, he scheduled it to run on the same day as Starrcade and in typical McMahon fashion, he reportedly threatened the cable companies by telling them that if they broadcasted NWA‘s biggest show instead of Survivor Series they would not be allowed to air WrestleMania IV the following year.

Greatest Survivor Series Matches

Survivor Series is Born

McMahon based Survivor Series on the basis that fans wanted to see more in-depth tag team action. His plan was to showcase five-on-five elimination matches with his biggest stars competing and he would use the event to capitalize on the ongoing feud between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant, who wrestled with each other at that year’s WrestleMania. The main event was a Survivor Series match where André the Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude faced WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, and Bam Bam Bigelow. It proved a huge success with a 7.0 buy rate while Starrcade flopped, pushing Jim Crockett promotions to the brink of bankruptcy. Crockett sold Jim Crockett Promotions to Ted Turner in November 1988, and the promotion was renamed the Universal Wrestling Corporation. Soon after, it was renamed again, to World Championship Wrestling (WCW). The WWE had won the war and based on the success of Survivor Series 1987, McMahon decided to continue the event by returning to the Richfield Coliseum, a year later. The rest, as they say, is history.

While WrestleMania remains the biggest PPV for the WWE, Survivor Series is often referred to as the all-star game of professional wrestling. It’s now the second-longest-running WWE pay-per-view event in professional wrestling and an event in which fans get to watch the very best of the best go head-to-head in tag team elimination matches. The winners of these matches would be declared the “sole survivors,” and would usually be pushed by WWE to achieve future success.

Many notable wrestlers made their debut over the years at Survivor Series including The Undertaker, The Rock, Kurt Angle, and The Shield to name a few— and as Survivor Series carried on, the PPV delivered several truly memorable matches and a number of career-defining moments for the talent involved. Below is a list of articles written about the greatest Survivors Series matches of all time.

Simply click on the link to read about whichever match interests you most and let us know in the comments, what you think is the greatest Survivor Series match of all time.

Editor’s Note: We will be updating the list over the next few days.

Greatest Survivor Series Matches of All Time

1- Survivor Series 1996: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin

2- Survivor Series 1995: Diesel vs. Bret Hart (No Disqualifications)

3- Survivor Series 2002: SmackDown Six Tag Team Championship

4- Survivor Series 1996: Psycho Sid vs. Shawn Michaels

5- Survivor Series 2007: The Undertaker Vs. Batista (Hell in a Cell)

6- Survivor Series 1991: The Undertaker Vs. Hulk Hogan

7- Survivor Series 1992: Bret Hart Vs. Shawn Michaels

8- Survivor Series 2002: First Elimination Chamber Match

9- Survivor Series 2016: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar

10- Survivor Series 2005: Triple H vs. Ric Flair (Last Man Standing)

11- Survivor Series 1994: Bret Hart Vs. Bob Backlund

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and the NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as the Sound On Sight and Sordid Cinema shows. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

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Mauro Ranallo: Voice Of A Wrestling Generation

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Mauro Ranallo reacts

It cannot be stated enough how important a good commentator is to a wrestling show. Their voices come through over the action, guiding fans through matches and more. A great announcer provides context and hypes what’s happening on screen. They can help make a mediocre match great with a few simple words. The reality is that Mauro Ranallo is the best commentator in the game today.

Mauro Ranallo’s Backstory

If you’re not familiar with Ranallo, he has been a commentator and announcer for pro wrestling, MMA, kickboxing, and boxing. This currently includes companies like Bellator, Showtime, and WWE. He is notorious in the best possible way for his highly energetic style and for peppering in his wide vocabulary and pop culture references.

Mauro Ranallo on commentary
Mauro Ranallo’s positive energy shines through.

Unfortunately, Mauro Ranallo suffers from some serious mental health issues which he has taken in stride whenever possible. He has been open with his struggles and has become a prominent mental health advocate.

Mauro started with the WWE in 2016 as their lead commentator on SmackDown. Unfortunately, he shared the desk with former wrestler, champion, and a reputedly notorious bully, John “Bradshaw” Layfield. Mauro missed several dates in 2017 due to his mental health issues. Many believed that this was due to JBL bullying him, but Mauro later said it was primarily the schedule that contributed to his breakdown.

Mauro Ranallo with JBL
Mauro Ranallo with JBL on commentary.

A short time after that, Ranallo and WWE came to terms on a deal that would bring him to NXT. He continues to call for Bellator but also works every NXT and TakeOver, which fans around the world love.

The Voice Of NXT

Alongside Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness, Mauro Ranallo has become the voice of NXT and is more closely associated with the brand than anyone else. His talent at the announcer’s desk pairs perfectly with the talent in the NXT ring. Additionally, he, Beth, and Nigel are a distinct and impressive team.

The NXT commentary team
The NXT commentary team behind the desk.

What makes Mauro Ranallo stand out is the energy he brings to every event. His enthusiasm is infectious, but not just because he’s loud and acerbic on the mic. When all you bring to the announcer’s desk is volume, snark, and tattoos, you don’t really bring anything of substance.

Mauro Ranallo is capable of making you feel every bump in the ring with a few words. He draws you into the moment. His reactions become your reactions. Mauro Ranallo is part of the story he’s telling, whether he intends to be or not.

Truly great wrestling matches are all about the narrative they build. A great commentator is a key part of that.

In the makeup of an announcing team, you have a lead announcer, a color commentator, and someone who empathizes with the heel. It’s not always three people but those roles need to be filled. The NXT commentator team does that with Mauro, Beth, and Nigel respectively filling those roles.

Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness feed off each other.

Nigel is the perfect foil to Mauro Ranallo. He brings a similar energy level but directs his focus to the heels and what they’re doing. He and Mauro play off of each other beautifully. Beth Phoenix is still quite new to announcing but she’s progressing quickly in the role of color commentator.

Maybe she’ll pick up a second WWE Hall of Fame ring for her work behind the desk.

An Announcer Pedigree Continues

During the Attitude Era, it was Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler who were the voices of wrestling. The called a litany of iconic matches and moments that make up the history of that time. Good Ol’ J.R. is now lending his incredible talent to AEW while Lawler is back calling Raw and is better than ever. Mauro Ranallo and company are their modern equivalents.

Bobby Heenan. Gorilla Monsoon. Vince McMahon. Taz. Some incredibly talented people have sat behind the announcer’s desk in the WWE. Mauro Ranallo is a continuation of that tradition with an argument to be made that he’s the best of all time.

Like many pay-per-views, Survivor Series had a rotating group of announcers depending on the wrestling of each brand. Ranallo was noticeable due to his absence. The company line was that he injured his vocal chords calling NXT TakeOver: WarGames the night before but something worse may be at play.

Reputedly, Mauro Ranallo’s mental health issues may have reared their ugly heads once more thanks to some nasty tweets from Corey Graves. This has not been confirmed and Graves seemed to take issue with the accusation while deleting the offending tweets. Mauro has deleted his entire Twitter account.

Regardless of why he wasn’t there, Survivor Series was a largely lackluster affair that could have used a healthy dose of Mauro Ranallo’s energy.

The Future Of Wrestling

It’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot, but the voice of Mauro Ranallo is the future of wrestling.

No one sells what’s going on in the ring quite like him. One of the worst things that could happen to NXT during the Wednesday Night Wars would be losing Mauro Ranallo. If whatever is going on with Graves is even remotely true, it needs to be squared away quickly.

Mauro Ranallo with the godfather of NXT, Triple H.

When his career is over, Mauro Ranallo will be remembered as the voice of a wrestling generation. Hopefully, WWE gets that and protects that resource.

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Wrestling

NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019: Wow. Just…Wow.

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WarGames is an interesting pay-per-view for the WWE, as is NXT TakeOver in general. On the Saturday before the WWE’s big four events, an edition of NXT TakeOver happens. The problem for WWE is that TakeOver is almost always better than the main brand pay-per-view that happens the next night. The time is tighter, the matches are better booked, and the talent is more hungry.

With a pay-per-view only happening four times a year, the superstars of NXT are always fighting for one of a precious few spots on the card.

NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019 represented a huge change for NXT. It was their first pay-per-view event since NXT moved to a live two hour show on USA and became a full brand rather than a developmental one. They needed to deliver the best event they have ever put on to prove to fans that NXT is still the same high quality brand they’ve always been and they did.

Women’s WarGames Match

The opening match of the evening was the first women’s WarGames match in history. Originally a WCW match, NXT started using the format in 2017. The first two years were epic, featuring groups of male wrestlers beating the crap out of each other across two rings surrounded by a steel cage.

The women’s division delivered an epic match of their own, as they always do when given the opportunity to shine. Both teams were stacked with incredible talent going into the match, though Rhea Ripley’s teams lost Mia Yim to a backstage attack on the pre-show. Dakota Kai would take her place.

As the preliminary part of the match went on, Team Baszler was up with three wrestlers in the ring to Team Ripley’s two. The buzzer went off, allowing Dakota Kai to join the match. Instead, she turned on her own team by beating up her teammate and best friend, Tegan Nox. Neither woman joined the match. The heel turn was an absolutely brilliant piece of storytelling and left Team Ripley at a severe disadvantage.

WarGames, TakeOver
The remaining members of Team Ripley is cornered.

Everyone involved showed up and showed out. Kay Lee Ray was amazing, taking two huge bumps, including being swatted out of the sky with a garbage can. Io Shirai hit a beautiful moonsault from 20 feet in the air. Bianca Bel Air was a juggernaut of power and precision.

In the end, Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae came out on top in an outstanding performance, despite taking on four opponents. This was one of the best-booked matches of the year, a brilliant piece of storytelling from start to finish.

Triple Threat Match

The next match featured a three-man fight to decide who would face Adam Cole for his NXT Championship at Survivor Series. Killian Dain versus Damian Priest versus Pete Dunne.

The match itself was refreshing due to its line up. This was the first singles TakeOver match for both Dain and Priest. While it wasn’t Dunne’s first time out, he is a huge fan favorite and always puts on incredible matches.

WarGames, TakeOver
Dain, Dunne, and Priest destroy each other.

The match-up delivered big, with each man getting the opportunity to shine. It sold both Priest and Dain as main event players in NXT perfectly. Ultimately, the fan-favorite Pete Dunne would win and go on to face Adam Cole at Survivor Series in a show-stealing match.

Balor Versus Riddle

Finn Balor is one of the stars who defined NXT and TakeOver as the brand grew into its own. His recent return was met with great joy, though his heel turn was not. This new Balor quickly instigated a confrontation with NXT’s resident stallion, Matt Riddle. It would have been nice to see him in the WarGames match but this match was most likely prompted by Johnny Gargano’s injury.

Riddle was also kind enough to take a break from egging Goldberg on to wrestle Balor.

WarGames, TakeOver
Finn Balor is victorious.

Regardless of which side of the line he’s on, Balor is one of the best wrestlers in the business. So is Matt Riddle. Putting these two together in a match was an outstanding choice. Doubly so when you consider that this was the only straight-up, one-on-one match on the card. It was a great match and hopefully only the start of their rivalry.

Men’s WarGames Match

The main event of the evening was the Men’s WarGames match, featuring the four members of Undisputed Era against Team Ciampa. Tommaso put together a team consisting of Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, and Matt Riddle. Unfortunately, Riddle had problems of his own meaning Ciampa needed a new teammate.

He cryptically said he reached out to someone, but not who or if they said yes. With all members of Undisputed Era in the ring, they watched the clock run down and waited for Ciampa’s final partner. After a few moments, Kevin Owens walked out to a huge roar from the crowd. The NXT alum accepted the invitation to get some payback on the Era.

While the women’s match brought in toys like chairs, garbage cans, and kendo sticks, the men brought the tables in. They used the tables to their full potential, with members of Team Ciampa finding fun and special ways to put the Undisputed Era through each table. Ciampa hitting Cole with an Air Raid Crash from the top of the cage through two tables to win the match was breathtaking, especially for Dr. Britt Baker, DDS.

WarGames, TakeOver
Britt Baker in the crowd at WarGames.

In case you weren’t aware, Britt wrestles for AEW and got on camera on the NXT pay-per-view with a killer reaction shot. She’s currently on the opposite side of the Wednesday Night Wars from her significant other, Adam Cole.

It was an unreal match, and the first TakeOver event for both Lee and Dijakovic. Both men delivered big, proving they belong on more pay-per-views. Filled with huge spots and great tension from Team Ciampa’s secret partner, this was the best men’s WarGames match to date.

WWE’s Best 2019 Pay-Per-View

NXT TakeOver: WarGames was, by far, WWE’s best pay-per-view event of the year. Every match was an instant classic, thanks in no small part to the announce team of Beth Phoenix, Nigel McGuinness, and Mauro Ranallo who sold everything perfectly.

On top of the high quality of every match, it was a breakout evening for many wrestlers. Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, Damian Priest, and literally every woman involved in their WarGames match proved they are some of the best in the business. If NXT needed to show fans that they’re still the same crew and still put on an amazing show despite an upgrade, they succeeded.

The winning men’s team.

NXT TakeOver: War Games III is a hard act to follow.

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Wrestling

Greatest Survivor Series Matches Of All Time: The First Elimination Chamber

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2002 Elimination Chamber | Greatest Survivor Series Matches

Survivor Series 2002

Six-Man Elimination Chamber

Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T, and Rob Van Dam

As more WCW stars were integrated into the WWF in 2002, WWF changed their name to WWE and expanded their brand by splitting their roster in half and creating Thursday Night SmackDown. It was a year of many firsts for the WWE and on Nov. 17, 2002, six of the biggest names in WWE history stepped into Madison Square Garden for a match at Survivor Series that had never been done before.

That year, the 16th annual Survivor Series took place at Madison Square Garden in New York and for only the second time in its history, the event did not have the traditional Survivor Series match on its card. Instead, the first-ever Elimination Chamber match was presented at the PPV, and it more than lived up to the hype. It wasn’t the best Survivor Series match we’ve seen but it was the first, and being the first Elimination Chamber, it was shrouded in mystery since nobody knew what to expect. It also featured Triple H, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T,  Rob Van Dam and Shawn Michaels who had just come out of retirement earlier that year when he made an appearance at Summerslam. After more than five years out of action, Michaels finally stepped back into the ring and he was looking better than ever. All eyes were on the Heartbreak Kid who was in the midst of a long-standing war with his former best friend Triple H.

Greatest Survivor Series Matches 2002 Elimination Chamber

The Elimination Chamber was presented as the brainchild of the then-general manager of Monday Night RAW Eric Bischoff (although it was originally the idea of Triple H) and would throw all six competitors into a massive cage structure made completely of steel with four chambers of plexiglass enclosed in the four corners. It was made of two miles of chain, over ten tons of solid steel and later called the most unforgiving structure in WWE history, something designed to punish the human body. Two wrestlers would start the match with another wrestler allowed to enter the match every 5 minutes.

In 2002, the WWE’s brand extension was in its infancy, and the WWE was looking for a way to maximize its popularity by having both RAW and Smackdown compete. When promoting the match, Bischoff promised that RAW’s main event at Survivor Series would be better than SmackDown’s Hell in a Cell main event at No Mercy and described the Elimination Chamber as a cross between WWE Royal Rumble and Survivor Series’ elimination process, enclosed in a cage format reminiscent of WCW’s War Games. Despite some similarities to the heyday of WCW, the Elimination Chamber match was an original idea that had never been done before, making Survivor Series that year, a must-see event for any wrestling fan.

Greatest Survivor Series Matches 2002 Elimination Chamber

That Sunday night, the six legends would walk into the unknown, and battle for the World Heavyweight Championship in a hellacious match where just about everything went wrong. Nobody knew what to expect, not even the superstars in the ring and it became one of the most famous matches in the career of the great Shawn Michaels. It felt messy, dangerous and improvised and that’s because, for the most part, it was. Legend has it that all six men arrived hours before the Pay Per View would start in order to try and figure out how they were going to choreograph the match and despite plenty of ideas being thrown around, all six men had to improvise since the pods did not open in the right order. It didn’t help that the chamber itself began to fall apart early in the match and couldn’t hold up against the brawl within the chamber. In an interview, Chris Jericho told ESPN, “We didn’t see it until the day of the show in Madison Square Garden. And it’s one of those things that you can tell was made by somebody who’s not a wrestling person. It was very clunky, it was very dangerous. It’s made of real grated steel — you probably could have made it out of rubber and you wouldn’t have known the difference. The walls were very stiff, and they didn’t make any noise when you hit them, so it hurts like hell.”

Survivor Series 2002 Elmination Chamber

Triple H started the match off alongside RVD. Within the first five minutes of the match, Triple H was cut wide open after RVD smashed Hunter’s face into the steel chains of the chamber. In another early memorable moment, Rob Van Dam climbed to the very top of the Chamber and hit a devastating five-star frog splash on Triple H causing ‘The Game’ to wrestle the remainder of the match in a great deal of pain (it was later revealed that this nearly ended Hunter’s career). Chris Jericho entered next and teamed up with the Cerebral Assassin to wear down RVD. Booker T then entered the fray, followed by Kane who hit three consecutive chokeslams on Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chris Jericho. Jericho then eliminated Kane with a lionsault while Booker T, who eliminated Van Dam earlier, was eliminated by Jericho.

Shawn Michaels took out Jericho with Sweet Chin Music, leaving the former DX partners the two remaining survivors. Eventually, Triple H threw Michaels through the plexiglass of one of the pods causing him to bust wide open. Nearly 40 minutes in, both men were barely able to stand and it didn’t help that both men were also bleeding profusely. Triple H, who remained in the Chamber all the way through to the end, looked to be the winner when he hit a Pedigree on Shawn Michaels. The match looked to be over, only Michaels kicked out of the pinfall, avoided another Pedigree— and in only his second match since coming out of retirement, ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ hit his famous Sweet Chin Music and beat Triple H to win the World Heavyweight Championship. It was his fourth World Title the last World Title that Michaels would win.

Survivor Series 2002

The 2002 Elimination Chamber is hands-down one of the greatest matches in the history of Survivor Series and the best Elimination Chamber match that I’ve seen. Of course, it helped that it was the first-ever Elimination Chamber since nobody knew what to expect, and even more impressive is how the entire finish was said to be improvised (perhaps explaining why it took Triple H so long to try and pin HBK). Of course, it also helps that Shawn Michaels, arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, was not only a participant but the winner, something he definitely deserved. It’s a truly special moment in the history of the WWE and proved that despite the career-ending injury, HBK was still better than most in the ring.

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